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Dental Hygiene: A Staple not fully


Author: Jaime Rivera

Abstract: To discover if personal dental practices help determine peoples overall

health. A literary approach was taken in which a small group of twelve people were
randomly chosen. The test subjects were asked three personal questions regarding
their opinion on proper dental hygiene practices. The results showed an equal
balance between people who were less concerned about their oral health and those
who were actively engaged in caring for their teeth. Dental hygiene is an uphill
battle around the world that needs to be taken more seriously for a better, healthier

Good dental hygiene is an important habit not only for oral health, but in the
eyes of society. Poor dental hygiene is not caused solely by the individual, but also
by a fear of the dentist. In addition another factor that can contribute to poor dental
hygiene is demographics. Poor dental hygiene is not only caused solely by the
individual, but fear of the dentist However, if proper precaution is taken, people can
develop better dental habits and overcome their fears.
Dental hygiene has always been important due to the bacteria that is in
human mouths. The consequences of poor care are numerous. In contrast daily
flossing and brushing brings many benefits such as strong enamel which helps
prevent tooth decay and tooth loss. These are staple dental practices that helped
people promote good hygiene through the use of dental such as mouth wash and
toothpaste. (Bakdash).
Some people have the idea that there is more to proper dental hygiene than
the average daily dental routines, like theres a secret remedy or method to good
dental hygiene. The truth is, there is nothing special about proper dental hygiene.
Learning and having proper dental habits are essential and easy to learn. A study
was done on children with special needs regarding their overall dental hygiene
performance. The results concluded that all the children knew very well how to
properly care for their teeth and practiced good dental habits due to the simple idea
of brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily. (Modupe)
Dental hygiene and proper tooth care is well known in the United States,
however some parts of the world do not have that luxury. One article describes the
oral health in nursing students at Kilimanjaro. Although these were bright students
in their respected field of health, the results showed that these students had poor
basic oral health skills. In order to improve dental hygiene these students were
given some educational information on the subject so that they would be examples
to others and more able to give better medical advice to their patients (Rwakatema)
When brushing and flossing fail or no longer help the individual, professional
help form the local dentist is needed. There are more positive outcomes by going to
the dentist compared to personally brushing and flossing. A cohort study was done
to monitor the dental hygiene in New Zealand. The study was conducted by
recording the amount of return visits of patients based on whether they experienced
good or poor service. The results conclude that more frequent visits to dentists
improve the overall oral health of their patients. Frequent visits also decrease tooth
loss (Thomson).
When deciding whether or not to go to the dentist one of the biggest
challenges the average American faces is fear. A survey study was conducted
showing the results that many people dont go the dentist regularly because they
experience high anxiety in relation to dental visits. The survey also shows that the
fear those people felt about the dentist was a result of painful, traumatic
experiences (liddell). People today fear the dentist for many reasons including the
embarrassment of having bad teeth. Many people fear the dentist mostly because

they feel that they will be lectured or reprimanded, like a student going to the
principals office for not being obedient to the rules.
Good dental habits should start in the beginning of peoples lives so that they
will retain them throughout the rest of their lives. When fear of the dentist starts to
hinder peoples visits, their overall oral health starts to worsen. A cross-sectional
study in Spain has proven this claim and also that children have poor teeth because
they lack the proper information on how to properly take care of them (Diaz). If
dentists were not feared, especially at a young age, then perhaps people would
suffer less gum disease and tooth decay.
It is no coincidence some people suffer poor dental hygiene, which is why
people are more concerned about their oral health. Today more people that can
afford and make the effort to see the dentist are taking more precautions. For
people who suffer from poor dental hygiene, they are more likely to get more than
one referral and medical advice regarding their teeth. People are going to more than
one doctor and are willing to do the most they can to better their oral health (Villa).
Minorities in the United States are often looked at as underprivileged because
of that they tend to be lacking dental insurance. This could be a possible reason
why people would suffer from poor teeth, but actually it is the minorities that take
more advantage of the dentist (Eisen). Many minorities also dont go to the dentist
because of improper communication between the doctor and patient. Their
experience is not what they would have hoped and this discourages them from
returning or adhering to the dentists advice. Personally being a first generation
Hispanic in the United States, my parents immigrated about 30 years ago, I could
understand where the article is coming from. My parents, although bilingual, still
prefer communicating in Spanish and now since they are getting older I can see how
learning more about their oral care has made them more aware and willing to seek
more treatment. (Davis)
Another factor that contributes to someone having poor dental hygiene is
smoking. A comparative study was performed between smokers and non-smokers
one of which brought obvious results. The article reported that smoking has a strong
association with people contracting gingivitis. At this point it is recommended to
smokers to see the dentist and get treated however, due to embarrassment some
do not take the initiative and instead increase their risk of gingivitis (Arowojolu)
The reason why I chose these articles was to get my point across that dental
hygiene is important. I tried to address the situation in a BBH sense, taking into
account the demographics of people from various ethnicities, to a persons ideals on
oral health. I attempted to have these articles touch on all topics to expound and
bring awareness to better dental hygiene. The articles caught my attention and
really helped answer why people would not adhere to dental appointments and why
they have a fear of the dentist. Oral Health is important and as simple as it is, it
should not be taken lightly.

A narrative literary approach was taken to gather data from twelve

individuals. They were interviewed by a series of three open ended questions asking
them about their personal opinions regarding dental hygiene. With reference to
their own personal experiences and dental hygiene habits, the subjects answered
critically and truthfully. The ages of the test subjects ranged from eighteen to
twenty-eight. The interview was conducted through friends that agreed to answer
these questions. The interview was done personally one on one. The responses were
backed up by peer-reviewed journal articles form Pub-Med and google Scholar. The
three questions asked were the following
1. What do you personally think about dental hygiene?
2. How important do you think it is to floss daily and brush your teeth at
least twice a day?
3. It is said that one of the top fears in America is going to the dentist. Are
you afraid of the dentist? Do you think this fear could be a reason why
people would suffer from poor dental hygiene? What other factors do you
think could play a role?
The answers given after all the data was collected varied greatly. The
answers fell on both sides of the spectrum from either very supportive of the dentist
and the dental practices, to little support in which only self-efficacy is enough. I
noticed my data was within my expectations. Compared to other countries, the
overall dental health in the United States is greater than other countries
as Korea and greater than others from foreign nations (Rahbari). This study was
done to see not only the differences in dental hygiene, but the attitudes and
behaviors from different cultures and the influences that they have.
One of the test subjects supported this statement when writing about her
positive experiences growing up with the dentist and having a consistent history of
good dental hygiene. My dentist often told me that my teeth were boring a
statement that meant the subject has great teeth. The subject also mentioned
receiving toys and stickers as a reward for taking proper care of her teeth.
Parents, especially mothers, have a huge impact on their children. A study
was conducted with pregnant mothers recording their dental habits. The results
show that mothers who have better dental hygiene would have a positive effect on
their children in developing the same habits and eventually having better teeth
Another test subject related their positive experience with good dental habits
by telling about their good habit of brushing daily, but not flossing enough. The
subject referred it as getting away with not flossing and still have good teeth, but
when it comes to brushingits a different story
Aside from the positive outcomes from about half of the test subjects, the
other half had opposing remarks concerning not only their own dental practices, but
their experiences with the dentists.

A couple of subjects reported similar responses of having less active dental

hygiene. One of them reported I only brush my teeth so that my breath doesnt
stink . Another test subject reported dental hygiene as a really unpleasant chore.
Like you have to do it if you don't want your teeth to hurt or fall out but it still
sucks... A study to complement these responses referred to people who
experienced high social anxiety. This feeling was caused and greatly influenced by
the experiences and thoughts of their friends and family. This made it even more
uncomfortable having check-ups from the dentist and resulting in poor adherence
and no change in dental habits (Hathiwala).
A journal written regarding adults fearing the dentist reported one of the
main reasons why adults fear going to the dentist is because of the discomfort and
pain they feel when they visit the dentist. The journal continues reporting that the
pain and discomfort lead to traumatic experiences resulting in less visits and selforal care (Mollashahi).
One common response that the majority of subjects mentioned was a
persons lack of insurance and expenses. Many of the subjects mentioned generally
and through personal experience that lack of medical insurance along with paying
for the expense is a major factor if not, the main reason why people would suffer
from poor teeth and lack of proper dental hygienic practices. A study done in
California recorded the visits of adults going to the dentist and later on identifying
the reasons for not returning. The results showed that adults from ages eighteen to
thirty-four showed lower activity and visits from the dentists compared to those
over the age of thirty-five. The results also reported higher activity with those who
had dental insurance compared to those that didnt. The subjects reported the
reason why people go less to the dentist was not for no reason, but rather the cost
involved. (Tomar).
The main findings to the experiment did meet expectations. The focus group
gave emphasis on both sides of oral health from daily brushing and flossing, to only
brushing to benefit physical appearance, such as fighting off bad breath or
removing something stuck in between their teeth. The results did support the main
hypothesis of whether the choices of people fully influence their overall oral health.
The hypothesis was supported in an equal basis for the focus group. A factor that
could have possibly confounded the data greatly would have been the honesty of
the subjects answers to the questions.
Compared to the research given, there were similar results that support the
statements made. The reports from authors Hathiwala, Mollashahi, and Tomar
supported common themes that many people face. Hathiwala discussed that the
influence of friends or family can change the perception of the dentist to either a
good or bad experience. Mollashahi stated that traumatic experiences at the dentist
may lead to someone to not adhering to the dentists advice. Tomar reported costs
and a lack of insurance can inhibit visits from the dentist, therefore avoiding proper
treatment needed. The reports used had a good correlation to the results presented.

Possible limitations for the test could have the size of the focus group. If the
group size were bigger, perhaps the results would have skewed to more or less
emphasis on dental hygienic practices. The questions asked to the subjects could
have possibly been too simple or not detailed enough to see any drastic differences
in the data. With the possibility of more questions asked, there could have been
more depth on the subjects opinion regarding the matter at hand. The group of
people chosen is a factor that could have the least limitations. The sample was
randomly chosen from different backgrounds and from different ethnic upbringings.
A possible approach that could have been more effective would have been a
cross-sectional study. The form of a survey with an array of simple personal
questions could have proven more effective, in depth data for the subjects. The
questions answered could have been from a range from unlikely to very likely. The
questions would focus on matters such as how often do they brush twice and floss
daily. The population would be at least three to four times bigger, including students
from The Pennsylvania State University ranging from ages eighteen to twenty eight.
The results of the surveys would have a greater effect on the hypothesis.
The results would still have the same conclusion that overall health is
strongly influenced by peoples choices. The results would show similar themes that
good dental hygiene is a struggle for people, some more than others. The
importance of this practice is being taken seriously by many, but there is still far
better improvement for everyone to have better, healthier, cleaner teeth.

The results of the interviews covered both sides of the idea of dental hygiene,
both positive and negative. The subjects although from different backgrounds,
showed very similar responses with respect to which side they supported. The data
concludes that dental hygiene is an uphill battle not only among people around the
globe, but within the United States which many people view as an underrated topic.
Dental hygiene is more important than we think. It is not only an image to
ourselves, but to our society as healthy, responsible people.

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