What is oral health? Learn the importance and care tips

From a young age, we learned that brushing your teeth after meals is essential to prevent cavities and make your smile whiter. But many people think that oral health care is reduced to brushing.

Not to mention that a significant portion of Brazilians do not maintain frequent cleaning habits.

While dental floss, toothbrush and toothpaste are used by only 53% of the population, according to IBGE research, 89% cleans less than twice a day. That is, that old lesson of brushing your teeth after each meal is not being practiced.

The data reflect a serious problem that is related not only to cavities or bad breath . Many are still unaware, but the lack of care with oral health can cause damage to the entire organism.


What is oral health?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), oral health comprises a state in which the person is free from pain, discomfort and changes in the mouth and face, covering the conditions of oral or throat cancer , infections and mouth ulcers , illnesses and any disturbances that may affect the quality of life, preventing the patient from eating, smiling, speaking or feeling socially comfortable.

Just as it is necessary to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine to assist in the correct functioning of the body, giving attention to oral health is essential.

The most common care – although not always followed – is to brush your teeth right after meals. But it alone is not enough, as it is necessary to invest in dental floss, mouthwash and dental consultations for evaluations.

What is the importance of caring for your teeth?

In addition to reducing the risk of tooth decay, toothache, weakening or dental fractures, maintaining the health of the entire mouth in a day improves breath, ensures good chewing and consequently digestion as well.

As our organism is a complex and interconnected system, a problem in the mouth can trigger digestive, immunological and even cardiac dysfunctions, since the bacteria can migrate to other organs through the bloodstream.

To give you an idea, according to the Heart Institute, approximately 45% of cardiac diseases in the State of São Paulo originate from oral problems, involving untreated cavities that compromise the dental canal, inflammation of the gums, abscesses and fractured teeth that facilitate bacterial proliferation.

Most common oral problems

Caries and yellow teeth are usually the most immediate complaints of those who seek a dentist. But there are several other conditions that must be monitored by the professional and that could be prevented if there was more attention to oral health.

It is important to remember that in addition to aesthetics, changes in teeth and gums can be quite uncomfortable, painful and dangerous. Some of the most common are:


The mouth is full of bacteria that live harmoniously in the place, that is, they do not cause any harm to the organism as long as the habits of life are adequate.

When cleaning is not done frequently or correctly, leftover food starts to accumulate between your teeth, serving as food for these bacteria.

In general, it is the sweet and sugar-rich foods that generate the greatest proliferation of microorganisms, which start to multiply and form a bacterial plaque that covers the teeth, turning them yellow.

The process continues and the plate, which was thin, becomes thicker and more rigid. At that time, it can no longer be removed with just brushing.

It is mainly close to the gums that bacterial accumulation occurs, being called tartar, which is related to gum problems, pain and even the need to extract the tooth.


Caries are black specks that start to appear on the teeth, causing demineralization of the tooth. The condition is quite associated with childhood, but it affects a significant portion of adults.

Although there are biological conditions that facilitate the installation of cavities, such as the pH of the mouth, hygiene and food factors are the main causes of damage to teeth.

When bacteria – especially Streptococcus mutans – that live in our mouths start to proliferate thanks to the presence of food between the teeth, they produce and release acids that destroy dental minerals and affect the enamel (a resistant layer that protects the tooth surface. ).

The acid is so corrosive that it causes an opening in the place, allowing the bacteria to enter the structure and cause a great compromise.

In the beginning, while they affect the outer part, they do not usually cause pain, which makes it difficult to identify caries if the person does not visit a dentist regularly. But when the pain comes, it is a sign that the corrosion is already close to the pulp of the tooth, a region formed by very sensitive nerves and blood vessels.

Bad breath

Bad breath, or halitosis, is a very uncomfortable problem and can have different causes, from smoking , medication use and, of course, bad brushing.

Between the taste buds of the tongue, structures called crypts are formed, which contain food residues, desquamated epithelial cells and bacterial plaques. Gradually, these remains ferment and begin to release sulfur odor, characterizing the main cause of bad breath.

There are still other aspects that must be considered, such as the consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and certain foods that can also cause an unpleasant odor in the mouth.

However, these situations are very specific. In general, the bad smell disappears after brushing your teeth.


The condition is common and results from inflammation of the gums, manifesting symptoms such as pain and bleeding.

When bacterial plaques are formed, they have a viscous and whitish appearance, and can be removed while brushing. But, over time, the accumulation becomes more rigid and adherent, requiring removal with a professional.

If left untreated, this plaque promotes inflammation of the gums, which can become redder and even purplish. Bad breath and tenderness are other signs that appear.


If gingivitis is not treated and progresses, reaching the bone, it is called periodontal disease, or periodontitis .

The main trigger is plaque, but behaviors and other diseases such as smoking, stress , use of some medications and diseases that affect immunity are also related.

As the inflammation affects the bone region, spaces begin to form between the tooth and the gum – called periodontal pockets -, causing the destruction of the gingival and bone tissues.

Mouth cancer

The disease can manifest on the lips, buccal mucosa, gums, roof of the mouth and tongue, usually manifesting wounds that are difficult to heal, which can be painless, and whitish or reddish spots.

Among the habits most associated with cancer risks are the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes, age over 40 years and poor oral hygiene.

Read more: 11 tips to prevent cancer and fight risk factors

What are oral health care?

Taking care of the health of the mouth guarantees a good functioning of the whole organism. In addition to routine care, it is necessary to consult a dentist regularly, so that dental evaluations are carried out and, if necessary, treat oral problems, preventing them from getting worse.

Teeth Care

The simplest way is to pay attention to the frequent and correct cleaning of teeth, maintaining habits such as:

  • Brush your teeth after meals, at least 3 times a day;
  • Use soft brushes to not hurt the gums and sensitize the teeth;
  • Change the brush regularly, preventing the bristles from becoming worn and not being able to remove food residues;
  • Use fluoride-based products, such as toothpaste and mouthwashes;
  • Floss daily between all teeth.

Caring for life habits

With an adequate oral hygiene routine, it is also necessary to evaluate the care with food and behavior. For this, it is important to:

  • Do not smoke;
  • Reduce alcohol consumption;
  • Pay attention to food, reducing the consumption of foods rich in sugar;
  • Take care of food intake between meals, especially sweets, such as candies;
  • Pay attention to the treatment of chronic diseases or those that may interfere with immunity;
  • Reduce stress;
  • Be attentive to health in general, with the practice of physical activities and regular consultations.

Read more: How and why to quit smoking?

How to brush your teeth?

It is not enough to change the toothbrush every 3 months, invest in good oral care products and brush your teeth after every meal if the way of cleaning them is not appropriate.

In general, it is recommended that each brushing lasts 2 minutes and is performed with short, smooth movements, so as not to hurt the gums. It is important to pay attention to areas that are difficult to reach, as it is there that bacteria can accumulate more easily.

In addition, the language should not be forgotten, as there is a large accumulation of food residues on the surface.

In markets and pharmacies, there are specific tongue cleaners or toothbrushes with small bumps on the end that make cleaning easier, but brushing the tongue can be done with normal brush bristles.

Floss should be part of the routine, regardless of the order. Before or after brushing, the most important thing is to use it correctly, passing it between each tooth, with movements from top to bottom.

Finally, mouthwash can be used, but it is not always necessary, as good brushing and flossing are sufficient, in most cases, for effective cleaning. Talk to your dentist and follow the recommendations.

Nutrition and oral health

In general, the first thing related to food and oral problems is over-consumption of sweets – which is actually quite harmful, but not the only problem.

In addition to the importance of reducing sugar consumption, paying attention to a healthy diet and nutritional balance is essential.

This is because food is able to provide the necessary nutrients to maintain stronger immunity, making the body less susceptible to infections. That is, periodontal diseases can be more difficult to establish if the diet is balanced.

It is worth remembering that foods such as cookies, cookies, cakes and candies are rich in sugar and considered to be highly sticky, that is, they adhere easily to the teeth. If there is a deficiency in brushing, cavities and tartar can easily occur.

Therefore, the ideal is to prefer natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables, always balancing with proteins and whole grains.

Children’s oral health

Teeth care should be encouraged from an early age so that the hygiene habit is more easily maintained in adulthood. Therefore, teaching children how to care for their teeth is a simple way to avoid future risks.

It takes a few months before the first teeth start to emerge, but that does not mean that oral health care does not deserve attention. The ideal is to avoid giving sugary or carbohydrate- rich drinks to babies, especially around bedtime.

As recommended by pediatricians, it may be indicated to offer a bottle of water or to clean the gums with a soft, damp cloth after feeding, including breast milk or other foods.

In general, the first visit to the dentist should be made between the appearance of the first tooth – which occurs at around 6 months – and the 1st anniversary.

When the child has the first teeth, it is time to start brushing, encouraging and giving autonomy for self-care. It is important that fathers and mothers do the cleaning at the beginning so that it is done correctly and then continue to follow the routine.

Between 2 and 4 years, there are products suitable for the age group, which have a pleasant taste and are more delicate with the mucosa of children. But it is important to always talk to the dentist.

Children should use age-appropriate products, always making sure that they do not swallow the foam.

In addition, example is the best way to teach about the importance of oral health. Therefore, it is necessary that children, from a young age, see their parents maintaining proper brushing habits.

Health care involves attention to the whole organism. Simple measures should be adopted on a daily basis, it is important to maintain correct oral hygiene habits and regularly visit a dentist to ensure more health and well-being.

Learn more about prevention and quality of life at Hickey solution!