World Oral Health Day: 5 oral hygiene routines you might think are healthy but can turn harmful

The theme for this year is “unite for mouth health”, which aims at encouraging people to take a pledge to look after their oral health.

Myupchar March 20, 2020 14:24:58 IST
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World Oral Health Day: 5 oral hygiene routines you might think are healthy but can turn harmful

Every year 20th March is internationally observed as World Oral Health Day. The theme for this year is “unite for mouth health”, which aims at encouraging people to take a pledge to look after their oral health. The hope is that, with everyone’s combined pledges and efforts, the burden of oral disease would reduce worldwide.  

Regular brushing and flossing of the teeth is required to keep them healthy and free from cavities. But, what everyone wishes to have instead of healthy teeth is a set of shiny pearl-like teeth. In order to get that, apart from brushing with toothpaste, people use many other products to make their teeth whiter. Some of these can harm the enamel, the outermost layer of the teeth, which protects the nerves and arteries of the teeth from the external environment. Damaged enamel makes one prone to sensitivity and cavities. 

World Oral Health Day 5 oral hygiene routines you might think are healthy but can turn harmful

Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

We spoke to Dr Sonia Bhatt, a dental surgeon associated with myUpchar, about the effectiveness of five such things which people use to clean their mouth. 

1. Baking soda

Baking soda, chemically called sodium bicarbonate, is a common ingredient used in every kitchen. Some people often use it to brush their teeth and argue that it makes their teeth look shinier. 

Professional take: Baking soda is a mild abrasive so it can remove the superficial layer of plaque present on the surface of the teeth if used in less quantity. Overuse and regular use of baking soda grind the surface of the enamel and make the teeth sensitive. Baking soda can also cause irritation and abrasion on the gums.

2. Vinegar

Vinegar is an acidic solution which is used in cooking, baking and food preservation. Some people use vinegar to clean their teeth.

Professional take: Since vinegar is an acid, it’s repetitive use can erode the enamel making your teeth prone to sensitivity. 

3. Neem or babool twigs

The ancient Indian civilization has been reported to use twigs to clean their teeth. Twigs are still being used in many Indian houses. Some people even claim them to be better than modern toothbrushes.  

Professional take: Neem and babool twigs have antimicrobial properties and can effectively fight against the cavity-causing bacteria (S.mutans). The major disadvantage of these twigs is that their small pieces can get embedded deep in the gums. These pieces lead to the formation of pus (abscess) in the gums. Rarely, the bacteria from the abscess travels to the heart, causing a life-threatening condition called bacterial-endocarditis. 

4. Mouthwash

Brushing of teeth is not the only way of maintaining your oral hygiene. Some people use commercially available mouthwashes on a daily basis for cleaning their mouth.

Professional take: Mouthwashes help in masking the foul odour from the mouth and keeps the mouth protected from cavity-causing bacteria. However, regular use of mouthwashes can lead to brown staining of the teeth and cause damage to the taste buds. You must dilute the mouthwash before using it. Mouthwashes should only be used for 21 days and then discontinued for at least one week before starting again.

5. Charcoal 

Some people use charcoal to make their teeth naturally white.

Professional take: The binding ends of activated charcoal powder help in absorbing the stains present on the surface of the teeth. It can help in removing the plaque and minor stains present on the surface of the teeth, but it does not change the colour or hue of your teeth.

For more tips, read our article on Oral Hygiene Tips.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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