Hygiene in general refers to the practices used to ensure good health and cleanliness. Poor personal hygiene can lead to inflammatory skin conditions and other bacterial infections. Poor oral hygiene such as not brushing your teeth or flossing daily can cause tooth decay, gum disease and other bacterial and inflammatory conditions.

Oral hygiene refers to both your own habits and to the methods used by the oral health profession to control the plaque that grows on tooth surfaces. If not removed regularly, dental plaque can lead to tooth decay and gum/periodontal disease. Toothbrushing as a daily routine is the most important method of plaque control.

Good oral hygiene should begin in early childhood and be part of the daily routine at home, and also be included in guidelines for personal hygiene taught in schools.

Studies have also shown a health related link between poor oral hygiene (gum/periodontal disease) and higher risk levels of cardiovascular disease.

Poor oral hygiene in older people in residential care settings has been linked to a higher risk of contacting bacterial pneumonia in the elderly. It is estimated that one in ten cases of pneumonia, results in death among older people in care settings which could be reduced by improving oral hygiene. Guidelines should be used for the care of the chronically ill, those with special needs and older people in residential care. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellance has developed the guidelines (2017) which has a wealth of information for further reading - Oral Health in Care Homes.