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Dental Hygiene

020 3199 4518
St John’s Wood
020 3199 4519
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What is Dental Hygiene?

Dental Hygiene is the term given to the daily routine of keeping your mouth clean and healthy. You can maintain good oral hygiene by following the correct brushing technique, flossing, using interdental brushes, rinsing with mouthwash and by seeing your dentist regularly for a professional clean. A good Dental (or Oral) Hygiene regime will minimise the formation of plaque. If plaque in not removed, it will irritate the gums which can lead to gingivitis (gum disease), bad breath, unsightly staining, tartar and tooth decay.  Please see our oral hygiene page .

Signs of Poor Dental Hygiene

  • Yellow or discoloured deposits on the teeth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Teeth becoming loose
  • Gaps in between teeth that were previously not there
  • Gums bleeding when brushing teeth
  • Painful gums


Why is dental hygiene important?

There are a number of reasons why you should maintain the highest level of oral hygiene possible. A few serious examples of problems caused by improper oral hygiene are:

  • Gum disease and periodontal disease
  • Unsightly stained teeth
  • Plaque build-up
  • Bad breath
  • Dental caries
  • Tooth decay
  • Cavities

How does poor oral hygiene cause cavities?

Incorrect brushing techniques and poor dental hygiene can result in the accumulation of plaque on the hard surfaces (enamel) of the teeth. This appears at the margin between the teeth and gums and in between the teeth. If left unremoved this can then calcify into tartar/calculus.

When you eat, the bacteria in the plaque feeds on the sugar and starch consumed from food. Over time, acid is produced which corrodes the tooth’s enamel causing decay, holes and cavities. The constant accumulation of plaque causes the formation of Tartar / Calculus (hardened plaque) which can be seen on the teeth as hard yellow or brown mineral deposits. Once plaque or tartar starts to form below the gum line, gum disease known as gingivitis can occur. The main signs of gingivitis are inflamed gums and or bleeding of the gums when brushing your teeth or flossing. If Gingivitis is not treated and is ignored, it can lead to a more advanced form of gum disease known as Periodontitis, in 10% of people.   As the gums become more inflamed, due to the bacteria in the plaque and tartar irritating the gums, the gums separate from the teeth causing periodontal pockets. These pockets allow the tartar and bacteria to spread under the gum line which can (or the immune response to the bacteria) destroy the bone and ligaments holding the tooth firmly in the mouth. Once the bone is lost the teeth become loose and mobile eventually resulting in them falling out.


Dental Hygiene treatment

Please see here for information on the correct oral hygiene technique when brushing teeth.


It’s best to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. When you brush, the fluoride in your toothpaste reacts with the enamel of your teeth making them stronger and more resistant to the acid created in your mouth over the day. The best way to brush is by using a soft or medium tooth brush or an electric toothbrush. Although studies suggest that using an electric toothbrush can remove plaque better than a manual brush, the right technique in using the manual toothbrush can also go a long way.

When brushing your teeth, all areas must be covered (e.g. bite, inside and outside) including the margin of the tooth and gum line.  Brushing the teeth should be done in small rotating movements at a 45°C angle (into the gum line), covering all the areas for about 2 minutes per arch (top and bottom).


Flossing is recommended when the area between the teeth is too small for interdental brushes to reach. Some types of floss will allow you to insert the floss from the top whereas others will need to be pushed in between the teeth. It’s best to floss at least twice a day up and down over the tooth and back and forth.

Interdental Brushes

Most people are recommended to use interdental brushes (Please see here). These are small brushes that come in sizes ranging from 0.4 mm to 1.3 mm.  These brushes are to be used in between the gaps of the teeth. Your dentist can advise you which interdental brush size(s) is/are best for you. Some people have various sized brushes for all the different gaps between their teeth. The correct use of interdental brushes can help improve the health of your gums and prevent long-term damage i.e. decay, gum disease and periodontal disease.


Mouthwash is a handy adjunct for patients who have dental problems. Speak to your dentist to get advice on the best mouthwashes for you. Some brands of mouthwash are specific for patients with gum disease, some for patients who need that extra bit of fluoride protection. When using a mouthwash be aware that some will stain your teeth (read the back label of the bottle to be sure about the mouthwash you are using).

Regular Visits

Aside to maintaining your oral health at home twice a day, it is advised to visit the dentist regularly. The dentist will be able to recognise any problems. A clean by the hygienist or dentistwill remove all plaque and tartar built up in places a toothbrush cannot reach leaving your teeth wonderfully clean.

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