Varieties of Oral Hygiene

By: vaderwest
The importance of oral hygiene goes above and beyond an ordinary toothbrush. In fact, proper oral hygiene helps to maintain more than just teeth and gum. It determines factors such as bad breath, comfort, taste in food, and to some people, the longevity of their lives.

The most common and most recommended toothbrush type is soft. Brushes too firm can irritate and even damage the gums; while prolonged use will cause receding gum lines. Nevertheless, the perks of each brush type will never be ideal over a variety of different mouths. The method, however, will always be identical: brush vigorously, dive deep behind the molars, and use a circular motion to stimulate the gums. Do not brush the tongue with the toothbrush. The bristles are made for sweeping away debris and plaque, and are not made to be rubbed against the buds of the tongue. Doing so may only push the bacteria around; it will also trigger an unpleasant gag reflex. For this, a specially shaped tongue scraper should be used. The V-shaped head is better suited to scraping away surface plaque and saliva, without a gag reflex. Other shapes and heads are available, all with one thing in common: the lack of large bristles.

The prevalence of bad breath is most commonly attributed to the tongue and, surprisingly, not to the teeth and gums. Once again, the toothbrush, unless equipped with a special head, is not enough to combat bacteria on the tongue (specifically the soft spot near the tonsil). Tongue scrapers may seem excessive, but in fact it aides the toothbrush; because the toothbrush is primarily suited to cleaning the tooth and the tooth alone.

However, electric toothbrushes can be excessive. Studies show only a marginal gain over their manual cousins in the removal of plaque and debris. Take into consideration the price and maintenance, and electric toothbrushes show even less to gain. Their only benefit is to users with arthritis or like symptoms, where brushing the teeth by hand for over one minute (the minimum recommended brush time) can induce pain in the joints. Those who prefer electric over manual toothbrushes can also take pleasure in the vibration of the brush's motor.

And if electric toothbrushes are popular, then floss is not. A survey indicated that very few people who brush their teeth really ever floss; and of those that floss, a majority do not floss correctly. Improper flossing can lead to receded and bloody gum lines. This is often the case with people who put too much pressure on the silk strand to clean. Proper flossing requires that the string wrap in a C-shape over one edge of the tooth, in an upward motion that starts from the gum line. In the case of flossing, electric flossers can actually improve the method. The vibration from the motor forces the floss to clean with less resistance.

This leads us to mouthwash, which contrary to popular belief, should not be used before brushing. Mouthwash is able to coat parts of the teeth that brushing and flossing and tongue scraping may not touch. But it is most essential to clean the back of the tongue and the throat via gargling.

The benefit of this, outside of better breath and hygiene, is a clearer voice.
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