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Periodontology (Treatment of Gum Diseases)

Oral Hygiene

Providing oral hygiene is not only essential for the health of oral tissues, but also important for the general health.

The main purpose of oral hygiene is to eliminate the dental plaque:

Dental plaque is a white/pale yellow "slime layer", that is commonly found between the teeth and along the cervical margins and consists of food debris and bacteria. When oral hygiene is neglected, dental plaque accumulates over gingival margins and between tooth-gingival tissues. Then, it leads to the formation of dental calculus by precipitation of minerals from saliva.

Long-term presence of dental plaque on the teeth causes decays and gum diseases. Untreated decays and gum diseases not only cause the loss of the teeth, but also affect general health (see Relation of General Health and Dental Health).

There are several tools to provide oral hygiene:

1. Toothbrush: Teeth need brushing twice a day; after breakfast and before bedtime. The purpose of tooth brushing is to remove accumulated dental plaque on anterior-posterior and chewing surfaces of all teeth.

2. Floss: Since tooth brushes are unable to reach interface areas of teeth, tooth brushing is insufficient for adequate cleaning. Neglecting interfaces results in decays on sides of the teeth in long term. Flossing reaches interfaces of teeth easily and thus, dental plaque and food debris on these surfaces can be removed. Flossing should be applied once a day.

3. Inter-dental Brushes (Proximal Brushes): Inter-dental brushes are usually recommended in gum recession cases. They are brushes in small bundles that remove the dental plaque and food debris between the teeth and improve blood circulation in inter-dental gums by massaging, which slows the gum recession.

4. Tongue Brush: Harmful bacteria for teeth and gums also accumulate on tongue surfaces. Therefore, tongue has to be brushed after tooth brushing. However, tongue surface is sensitive and can be damaged by tooth brushes. Thus, custom brushes for tongue should be used.

5. Super Floss: It is special floss that should be used by patients with bridges and braces and enables the cleaning of areas that are unreachable by regular floss and tooth brush.

6. Interspace Brush: Interspace brushes are used for the teeth that are hard to reach by regular tooth brushes and also for the patients undergoing an orthodontic treatment.

7. Waterpik (Jetpik): Waterpik is a device that allows removing of dental plaque and food debris under fixed prostheses by pressurized water and air.

8. Denture Brush: Denture brushes are used in order to clean removable dentures.

9. Denture Cleansers: Denture Cleansers help the hygiene of removable dentures in addition to the use of denture brushes.

10. Mouthwash: Mouthwash alone is unable to provide oral hygiene. They are used to support oral hygiene after tooth brushing and cleaning of teeth interfaces. Medical mouthwash sold in pharmacies should be used according to  the instructions of the dentist. 

Keywords: oral hygiene, hygiene, dental plaque, gum disease, decay, tooth brush, floss, inter-dental brush, proximal brush, gum recession, tongue brush, super floss, interspace brush, waterpik, jetpik, denture brush, denture cleanser, mouthwash