How To Have Good Oral Hygiene
More often than not, people consider good oral hygiene include predominantly our teeth, and perhaps our tongue. A random survey conducted showed that most people would consider that they have good oral hygiene if they brush their teeth twice a day; excellent if they remember to scrape their tongue, or floss their teeth after meals.
Partly true yet not the complete picture.
Please do us a favor and go get a mirror. Got it?
Find a well lit place and peer into your mouth with the mirror. What we will see is that the mouth comprises of more than just the above two structures. Now, since we are going to explore oral health care together, I thought a wonderful way would be to start off with the very basics – the anatomy of the mouth.
We want to emphasize the importance of distinguishing between teeth care and mouth care. We would find more people equating teeth care to oral care, but as we have just reminded ourselves with the mirror that our mouth is simply more than just teeth and tongue, having the shift in mindset would affect how we would do oral care, and drastically improve the condition of our oral health. So without further ado, let’s start!
BOB (Basics of basics), the mouth is made up of both hard structures (teeth, jaws in which teeth is set) and soft structure (tongue, soft palates and tonsils).
A diagram below is simplified and general enough to start.
|Teeth||To chew food, also the place where food sticks in some of our most embarrassing moments|
|Gums||Holds teeth to jaws, and performs shock absorbing function when we chew|
|Soft Palate||Muscle tissues behind the hard palate, helps with the mixing|
|Hard Palate||Forms most of the hard structure of the roof of the mouth, helps with the mixing|
|Uvula||Like a goalkeeper, prevents bolus from going down the respiratory tract|
|Tongue||To taste! Also helps with chewing and sending food down the digestive tract, as well as speech. Other tongue action included, you know what i mean.|
|Lips||You mean, other than for kissing?! Well, it does allow food intake, speech articulation and facial expressions|
|Tonsil||Contains lymphoid tissue which affects the immune system. You know, the places where it hurts when we have sore throats.|
What the picture did miss, was important salivary glands (parotid glands-located along the hard palate, the sublingual glands-underneath the tongue and the submaxillary glands-sides of cheek). These glands produce saliva that contain helpful enzymes that breaks down carbohydrates to simple sugar, and makes it easier for food to go down the esophagus.
Function wise, the mouth is the gateway to digestion, where:
1. our food gets chewed into smaller pieces;
2. mixed up with saliva ( digestion happens when the enzyme present in the saliva-amylase, starts breaking carbohydrates into simple sugars), before
3. the mashed up food (bolus) makes its way down our digestive tract.
As we can see, our mouth is functions like a mixing bowl, and sees a fair bit of action throughout the day, especially during meal times. As the food swishes in our mouth, it comes into contact with every structure within it. When left alone, bacteria attacks and problems ensues.
Now this is a time to be honest (nobody’s peeking). Do you have the habit of cleaning every structure that we listed above? Most people don’t either. So how would it then be logical to decide that our oral hygiene is complete if we still have contaminants on surfaces that we did not clean? Which is why, often despite our best efforts, we still end up with oral problems – bad breath, inflamed gums, and decaying tooth.
One of the main takeaway points we hope from this article, is to remember that our mouth is a system made up of many structures, all interlinked and connected. Oral care does not just involve brushing our teeth and tongue, but a concerted effort to include all structures.
How then, can we ensure that we are taking good oral care? Here is a 5 step process that should not take more than 10 mins that we recommend;
- Floss or irrigate your teeth and rinse upon completion
- Brush your teeth with a toothbrush (here’s a list of the top 5 electric and manual toothbrushes we like) and take care of those hidden places with the interdental toothbrush (here’s a list of the interdental toothbrushes we recommend). Rinse.
- Gently massage your gums by brushing your gums in a circular motion.Rinse.
- Rinse your toothbrush and brush the inner cheeks in an outward motion (meaning start from inside, and finish where the lips are. Don’t forget the area behind your lips. Rinse.
- End by brushing your tongue gently. Rinse and give us a big smile!