Dental hygiene, also known as oral hygiene, is the process by which preventative dental care is provided to avoid dental emergencies. At the core of dental hygiene is the in-home dental care regimen you perform. Your at-home regimen is supplemented with professional preventative dental care provided by dentists and licensed dental hygienists.
Tooth brushing is fundamentally important, though it alone will not remove the calculus (also called tartar or dental plaque) that builds up over time. Calculus must be removed by a dental hygienist to lower your risk of toothaches, cavities, periodontal disease or even the loss of all your teeth. By removing calculus, you can reduce your chances of needing root canals, tooth extractions, dental bridges, crowns and more.
Getting to the Root of Dental Hygiene
Plaque builds up on your teeth daily, and it needs to be removed by brushing and flossing. Over time, plaque turns into calculus. If calculus forms below the gum line, you can develop gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gingivitis is reversible with brushing, flossing, and mouth rinse. Periodontal disease however includes loss of bone support which does not grow back.
Regular dental visits are critical at any age for the maintenance of dental hygiene. The American Dental Association recommends that patients visit with their dentist and dental hygienist a minimum of two times each year to maintain proper dental hygiene. If you've had periodontal disease the interval is 3 months.