Dental Hygiene: What Is It And Why Is It Important?

Our oral health will depend on maintaining a correct dental hygiene routine.

A daily dental hygiene routine can help us to have a good oral health.
A daily dental hygiene routine can help us to have good oral health.

Dental hygiene should be a fundamental imperative in anyone's life. If you brush your teeth and use dental floss correctly on a daily basis, you will have correct dental hygiene and try to avoid oral health problems in the future, such as cavities or periodontal diseases. 

Due to its great importance for our overall quality of life, in this article, we will explain what dental hygiene is and why it is so important to take care of it. We will also review how we should brush and floss.

What is dental hygiene?

Dental care consists of the daily practice of maintaining our mouth clean and healthy, using a brush and dental floss; as to prevent dental and gum diseases, such as periodontitis, gingivitis or cavities.

The primary objective of dental hygiene is to prevent the accumulation of dental plaque, as well as other associated oral conditions. Plaque is an adhesive layer of bacteria and food that builds up on our teeth. This layer generates little by little acids which, when not removed regularly, deteriorate the protective surface of the teeth and cause dental and gingival diseases.

Brushing and using dental floss are practices that are included in dental hygiene and help to put an end to dental plaque. The use of antiseptic mouthwash can also help to eliminate more bacteria that are responsible for the plaque. 

What else can we do?

Apart from all the daily oral attention that we have mentioned previously, it is essential to know that to be able to keep good dental care you should go to the dentist regularly. 

In addition to cleaning the plaque on our teeth that cannot be removed by regular brushing and regular treatments (fillings, bridges, etc.), the dentist can also perform diagnostic services  such as x-rays and oral cancer detection.

Dental hygiene is important from the beginning of childhood.
Dental hygiene is essential from the beginning of childhood.

Why is dental care important?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention inform that dental cavities are the most prevalent infectious diseases in children. More than 40% of all children have cavities when they get to pre-school, and it's necessary for parents to know the importance of oral health in early ages and that they teach their children appropriate dental hygiene. 

Good dental care should start from the beginning of a child's life and even before they start teething. Pregnant and nursing women should be careful with the intake of medication, because some of them, such as tetracycline (a kind of antibiotic), can cause decoloration on the babies teeth. 

Maintaining oral hygiene should be a lifelong habit. A baby's gums and later teeth should be kept clean using a damp cloth or a soft toothbrush. However, only a very small amount of toothpaste should be used, as too much fluoride can be toxic to babies.

How to take care of your teeth

We should brush our teeth and use dental floss on a daily bases at least 2 times a day, although 3 would be ideal. We should do both things thoroughly, but not pressing hard, as abrupt mechanical actions can irritate or damage sensitive oral tissues.

To ensure good brushing, you should change your toothbrush about every 3 months. The ideal brushes are usually those that have soft, nylon bristles and rounded in size and shape that is adequate to reach all surfaces of the teeth with ease.

Due to the great importance of knowing how to use these two tools for our dental hygiene, in the following lines, we will explain the necessary steps you have to follow to brush our teeth correctly and look after our oral health. 

1. Brushing

As we know and we have described before, dental hygiene is one of the main preventive measures for oral diseases.

We should brush our teeth at least twice a day and preferably after every meal. In order to do effective brushing, we have to clean every external, internal and flat surface of the teeth.

To clean internal and external surfaces, the toothbrush should be held at a 45-degree angle against the gums and has to be moved back and forth in short movements. The chewing surfaces of the back teeth, on the other hand, should be brushed with the brush flat and moving it back and forth.

It is also important to clean your tongue as well to eliminate all bacteria and food particles that can accumulate in that area. It should be cleaned with a backwards sweeping movement.

Although we maintain a correct dental and oral hygiene is important to make at least one visit to the dentist a year.
Although we maintain a correct dental and oral hygiene, it is important to make at least one visit to the dentist a year. 

2. Dental floss

Dental floss should be used at least once a day. Its regular use can prevent gingival illnesses by eliminating food and dental plaque that is left under the gum lines and between the teeth.

To start using this tool, most of the thread (45 cm) must be wrapped around the third finger of the hand. The remaining section (2.5 cm) is then held firmly between the thumb and index finger of each hand.

The floss should then be inserted between each pair of teeth and moved gently up and down several times in a rubbing motion. In addition, in the gum lines, the floss is first curved around one tooth and then the other by gently sliding into the space between the tooth and the gum.

Finally, it is also important to decide what type of floss you want to use. It is available in different forms (waxed, without wax, flavored, etc.) and can be chosen according to each person's personal preferences.

There are also other types of interdental cleaning devices such as brushes and spikes for people who have difficulty flossing.


Swartout-Corbeil, D. M., & Thivierge, B. (2006). Oral Hygiene. In K. Krapp & J. Wilson (Eds.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Children's Health: Infancy through Adolescence (Vol. 3, pp. 1354-1357). Detroit: Gale.

Thivierge, B. (2002). Oral Hygiene. In D. S. Blanchfield & J. L. Longe (Eds.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine (2nd ed., Vol. 4, pp. 2405-2407). Detroit: Gale.