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Dental and Personal Hygiene for Families

The connection between good hygiene and good health is a strong one. By keeping the body clean, you equip it to avoid and resist illness. Hygiene involves washing the body and performing other personal care tasks such as trimming fingernails and combing hair. When raising children, it’s important to teach them good personal hygiene habits. Your example of personal cleanliness is also an effective teaching method with children as they will watch and learn to perform these tasks as they see you do them.

Mouth and Teeth

Brushing teeth two times every day is an important part of oral hygiene. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles in a size that fits into all areas of the mouth easily. Flossing between teeth once each day is also important for removing bacteria from between teeth and under gums. Not brushing and flossing teeth regularly can lead to issues with teeth. Bacteria will cover teeth, which leads to plaque and tartar build-up. Over time, cavities will occur and tartar will damage teeth and become hard to remove. Not brushing could also lead to unhealthy gums because the brushing action stimulates gums and keeps them healthy.


Hand-washing has a direct correlation with overall health because it eliminates germs that could enter the body by fingers touching the mouth, nose, eyes, and ears. Any time hands become visibly dirty, it’s important to wash them. It’s also necessary to wash hands after blowing your nose or sneezing into your hands, before eating or drinking, after handling raw meat, after touching garbage, after petting or touching animals, and after caring for a sick person. Proper hand-washing involves lathering the hands generously for at least 15 seconds and rinsing them under warm water. Dry hands with a clean towel to finish.

Head and Hair

Washing the scalp and the hair regularly can help avoid issues such as folliculitis and seborrheic dermatitis. Over time, hair collects environmental dirt, sweat and oil from the scalp. This accumulation will lead to dirty hair and a dirty scalp. Chemicals contained in shampoo have special formulations for cleaning hair and the scalp to remove oils and dirt. Lack of cleanliness is a myth associated with head lice and dandruff; however, head lice and dandruff are not a result of poor hygiene. Head lice spread from close physical contact. Dandruff is simply flaky skin from the scalp that results from over-productive scalp oil.

Feet and Nails

Taking care of the feet is important for overall foot health. Washing the feet every day can help eliminate foot odor. Take care of toenails and fingernails regularly. File nails with a nail file or emery board. Push cuticles back gently with an orange stick. Moisturize nails and cuticles with moisturizer. Toenail fungus is an infection that grows under the surface of toenails. When it’s present, toenails become dark and odorous. Toenail fungus can spread to other toenails. A podiatrist can detect and treat toenail fungus. Sometimes, toenails become ingrown, which involves the toenail growing into surrounding skin. Ingrown toenails are painful, and they can become infected. A physician may need to perform a procedure to alleviate the pressure on surrounding skin.

Body Odor

Daily bathing removes dead skin cells, dirt, sweat, and body odor. Body odor can result if the underarms and groin area are not kept clean. Changing clothing daily also helps to avoid body odor. Body odor is generally considered socially offensive, so it’s important to maintain good personal hygiene. Teach children the importance of staying clean to avoid body odor.

Other Hygiene Practices

Most cuts are minor, but it’s still important to clean them carefully to avoid infection. Clean a wound with soap and water and then apply antibiotic cream before covering the wound with a bandage. While pets can be loving members of a family, always wash hands after petting and handling pets to avoid ingesting germs that could cause illness. And anytime you have contact with an ill person, wash your hands thoroughly to remove all germs from your hands.

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