There’s nothing worse than having a chat with someone with bad breath and rotten teeth. So, don’t be that person everyone avoids because of bad oral hygiene. Although your dentist can repair teeth that have been damaged by decay or gum disease, it is always better to prevent these problems from manifesting in the first place.
Good oral hygiene is essential in maintaining overall dental health. It provides numerous benefits, such as healthier teeth and gums, a more enticing smile, and fresher breath. However, people don’t change their toothbrush often or brush their teeth, which can create lots of problems.
Care for sensitive teeth
Yonela Makinana, from Springs, KwaThema in Gauteng, says she learned in elementary school to clean her teeth when she wakes up, before breakfast, and in the evening before going to bed, which she has kept with her till today.
“Because of my sensitive teeth, I then use warm water to rinse my teeth and mouth, as well as my toothbrush.”
She claims that because she uses warm water, her toothbrushes don’t last long; in a year, she can buy or use three or four toothbrushes.
Nothing worse than a stinky breath!
Mivuyo Malo, from eMaHlubini village in Tsomo, Eastern Cape, expresses her strong aversion to having bad breath. In that regard, she utilises a range of oral care products, including toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash.
Malo points out that certain foods can contribute to poor oral hygiene. If someone goes to bed without brushing their teeth, the strong aroma of foods like garlic and ginger can lead to bad breath and tooth decay due to the presence of food particles.
“I prefer to use cold water. I believe that using warm water can negatively affect the quality of a toothbrush.”
She says that chewing gum is also useful when she eats anything like chocolates or flour-based foods to help clear the food out.
What does proper dental hygiene look like?
According to Dr Mohamed Mayet of Athlone, Cape Town, the mouth is a vital functional organ related to the digestive system through the mastication of food facilitated by saliva production.
“It is also connected to the trachea as part of the respiratory process. Other functions include breathing and speech.”
Mayet emphasises the importance of brushing the teeth, gingiva (gums), and tongue, among other adjacent structures, with a toothbrush with soft bristles and fluoride-containing toothpaste, particularly in the Western Cape, where the fluoride content of the water supply is low.
“At least once a day, these structures should be brushed in a circular motion, rinsing with lukewarm water.”
He recommends that a toothbrush may be used for up to a year and should be well-cleaned with warm water.
“A toothbrush should not be shared with anyone because it can alter the normal oral bacterial flora, introducing pathogens and resulting in infection.”
You can also disinfect your toothbrush by swishing it in an antibacterial mouthwash for 30 seconds. If you don’t have mouthwash, you can use two teaspoons of baking soda mixed into one cup of water instead. Soaking your toothbrush in white vinegar once a week may also help disinfect it.
Brush this way
If you’ve been battling bad breath without results, it might be due to your routine, or your health is screaming for help.
Some oral health issues, according to Mayet, cannot be resolved with toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash.
The easy procedures below will help you reduce bad breath by reducing bacteria buildup. Don’t only concentrate on your teeth, he says.
“Remember to pay attention to the tongue because it may be loaded with decaying food particles and bacteria that cause bad breath.”
Drinking enough water and washing away food particles is a basic step towards good dental hygiene. However, if you have a history of cavities or gum disease, you may need to visit your dentist more frequently, he recommends.
People with gum disease should see their dentist every three to four months. This is because oral bacteria proliferate more quickly in certain people.
“Ask your dentist about the best cleaning schedule for you.”
Regular dental appointments also assist your dentist in detecting and treating issues before they develop, says Mayet.
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