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Poor Oral Hygiene

Dental neglect causes many problems.

Figure 1: This patient has many signs of poor oral hygiene and dental neglect, including heavy plaque, enamel demineralization, stained teeth, large cavities (caries) and inflamed gums. All of these conditions are preventable with good oral hygiene, proper nutrition, and awareness counseling.


Failure to remove food debris and bacterial plaque from the teeth and other oral structures leads to gingivitis, tooth decay (caries), and eventually periodontal disease and tooth loss. These conditions, which are often accompanied by pain, infection, and halitosis; and which may cause general health problems are completely preventable, and account for significant unnecessary expense and discomfort.

It is common for children to overlook their oral hygiene, and they definitely require assistance with tooth brushing through the age where their fine motor skills allow them the dexterity to effectively clean their teeth; and they are capable of understanding the reasons for maintaining good oral hygiene. Their efforts should be monitored by a responsible adult through the age where they consistently perform adequate oral hygiene. Even adolescents can be difficult to motivate, and frequently require encouragement and reminders to take care of their mouths. Continued neglect can be devastating to the condition of the teeth (Figure 1).

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Author: Thomas J. Greany, D.D.S. / Editor: Ken Lambrecht

This page was last updated on March 6, 2018.

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