Oral Hygiene

Taking care of your teeth and gums
Medically reviewed by:  Dr. Ania Mohelicki

What is oral hygiene?

‘Oral hygiene' is a general term that describes the practice of keeping your mouth clean and free from disease or infections.

At a basic level, this means brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily. This helps remove harmful plaque that has built up on your teeth. Some people like to use a tongue scraper too, to remove debris from their tongue.

If you're not a fan of flossing with traditional string floss, you could try a water flosser instead. These electric devices shoot a jet of water between your teeth to dislodge food and plaque stuck there. They are less fiddly to use than floss, and also considerably quicker.

And what about brushing your teeth? You may have done this every day for as long as you can remember, but it's helpful to remind yourself of the correct technique from time to time. Rather than brushing from side to side, you should use small circular motions to be most effective and avoid harming your gums.

Your choice of toothpaste and toothbrush can make a big difference to how enjoyable and effective your oral hygiene routine is.

If you often find yourself forgetting to brush, or you're guilty of stopping short of the recommended two minutes, perhaps a smart toothbrush would be a good investment. AI technology can track where you brush, and feed this information back to you via an app. In this way, you can immediately see whether you missed any teeth the first time around.

Visiting a hygienist

Taking care of your teeth and gums doesn't stop at home. Even the best toothbrush in the world can only do so much, and it's a good idea to also visit your dentist or hygienist for regular cleanings and check-ups.

A dental hygienist uses specialist cleaning equipment to dislodge any plaque that has hardened into tartar. Tartar can't be removed by brushing alone, so if you notice a visible white buildup on or between your teeth, it's time to book a hygienist appointment for a scale & polish.

The frequency of your hygienist appointments will depend a little on the condition of your teeth and mouth. Some people only need to visit every 12-18 months, whereas others might need cleanings as often as every three months, if they are at particular risk. You should follow the advice of your dental team on this.

If you take good care of your oral hygiene then you shouldn't have to worry about bad breath. However, this can be a result of other problems such as digestive issues. If you're concerned about bad breath even though you take good care of your mouth, it might be worth getting it checked out by a doctor.

All in all, the more you pay attention to your oral hygiene now, the less likely you are to experience expensive and painful problems with your teeth later in life.


Medically reviewed by:
Dr. Ania Mohelicki, practicing dentistry since 1994, maintains her practice in Boulder, Colorado. Dr. Ania obtained her Dental Surgery degree from the University of Minnesota and continues her studies in all aspects of dentistry as a continuous student at the prestigious Las Vegas Institute. Her experience, expertise, and commitment to combine artistry and technology work to give her patients a smile that exudes confidence, beauty, and well-being.