Daily cleaning of your teeth, gums, and tongue, combined with annual check-ups helps ward off harmful bacteria and microbes that may cause tooth decay, bleeding gums, and oral infections. Proper oral hygiene is also important in helping you stay healthy, especially if you have risk factors such as diabetes and heart problems. Plus, oral hygiene elevates your sense of self-esteem. This is especially true for teenagers and adults who frequently interact with others at work or in social situations. Maintaining proper oral hygiene ensures that you won’t experience embarrassing conditions, such as plaque, tartar, and bad breath. It also lowers the need to treat dental problems that could otherwise be inexpensively prevented. For example, according to Kaiser Health News reports, dental costs make up approximately 20 percent of a child’s total health care expenses, and the costs are escalating rapidly.

Proper oral hygiene is important in helping you stay healthy if you have risk factors such as diabetes and heart problems.

Oral Hygiene for Kids

Enforcing good oral hygiene habits early in a child’s life is essential for his overall well-being. According to a 2007 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of cavities in children between the ages of two and five has escalated by 15 percent. Proper oral hygiene habits must start as early as the child begins to bottle feed. This is when babies are prone to tooth decay if they are given a bottle filled with sugary liquids, like milk or juice, when put to bed. While baby teeth should be cleaned using a washcloth, young babies should eventually have their teeth and tongues brushed using soft brushes. It is important for parents to teach children the proper way to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste, to take them for regular dental check-ups, and to serve foods that will help strengthen teeth. These include milk, cheese, and vegetables.

Oral Hygiene for Adults

Many adults experience significant dental problems that could be prevented through basic oral hygiene practices, like regular dentist appointments. For example, in 2009 alone, CDC data indicated that only 62 percent of adults surveyed had visited the dentist. To maintain optimal oral health, adults should brush their teeth at least twice a day, preferably after each meal and before going to bed. Flossing is also an essential part of an adult’s daily oral hygiene regimen. Regular brushing and flossing can prevent unpleasant conditions, such as plaque and bad odor. However, over-brushing or flossing may result in mouth bruises and bleeding, which can lead to infections. Adults should visit their dentist regularly for routine check-ups and before using over-the-counter medication.