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If you have been diligently brushing your teeth twice a day and think cavities will not hit you, think again. Oral health studies indicate that brushing your teeth alone may not be able to maintain an oral hygiene level that adequately controls the formation of bacterial plaque on teeth.

Plaque, when accumulated, can lead to development of dental cavities, gum inflammation and related diseases. Plaque is a generic term describing a sticky film of bacteria that collects on teeth above and below the gingival margin or gumline.

`When plaque remains in the mouth for as little as one day, calcification or hardening may occur, leading to tartar formation,' said Dr. Arunee Unsook. `Brushing your teeth alone cannot adequately remove the plaque in your mouth because the teeth represent only about 23% of the oral cavity surface,' said Dr. Arunee, senior manager of scientific and professional affairs with Johnson & Johnson.

Brushing cleans about a quarter of the mouth and does not thoroughly rid impurities in between teeth and hard-to-reach areas. Several studies in different countries also show that the vast majority of people are unable to maintain a level of oral hygiene sufficient to control plaque formation by brushing alone due to insufficient time or lack of the appropriate technique.

The Malaysian Adults Oral Health Survey last conducted in the year 2000 showed that the general oral health status of adults aged 15 years and above has improved, largely due to the fluoridation of water supplies. Despite this, there still exists areas with serious problems and inadequate availability of resources such as dental treatment, oral hygiene instructions and extraction. Under the 2010 National Oral Health Plan (NOHP), goals have been set with the objectives of achieving optimum oral health among Malaysians. These goals focus on the reduction of four oral conditions, two of which are dental caries and periodontal disease, a gum inflammatory disease that leads to loss of teeth.

Gingivities is an early, reversible form of gum disease resulting from inadequate plaque removal. Gingivities can lead to periodontities; advanced gum disease, which if left untreated can result in eventual tooth loss.

`Patients can help reduce their risk of developing periodontal disease by controlling the accumulation of plaque,' said Malaysian Dental Association president Dr. S. Sivanesan. `This can be accomplished, in part, by adhering to a daily oral hygiene regimen that includes brushing, flossing and adding an antiseptic mouth rinse for better plaque control.'

Dr. Sivanesan added that the concept of mouth rinsing as an oral hygiene measure dates back thousands of years, with the first reference to it as a formal practice being attributed to Chinese medicine. However, it was only in the 1960s when the relationship between plaque accumulation and the development of gum inflammation and diseases was clearly demonstrated that the use of antiseptic mouthwash was widely introduced. Through clinical trials, it was scientifically established that the daily use of an effective anti-plaque mouthwash can be a valuable component of oral hygiene regimens.

He said good bacteria will not really be affected if antiseptic mouthwash is used in the therapeutic way recommended.

`Basically, we advocate brushing, flossing and rinsing for good oral health care. Our mouth and its health is a complex thing that affects the whole body, not just our mouth,' Dr. Sivanesan said. He also stressed that rinsing our mouth after every meal is very important.

Answer the following questions using complete sentences

a) From paragraph 1, is brushing teeth sufficient for good oral hygiene ?

b) From paragraph 2, what is plaque ?


From paragraph 4,

a) what happens when you brush your teeth ?

b) why are most people not able to maintain a good level of oral hygiene ?


From paragraph 5,

a) state a reason which contributed to improved oral health.

b) mention two oral conditions targeted by the National Oral Health Plan.


a) From paragraph 7, how can patients reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease ?

b) Which word in paragraph 7 means 'fixed plans' ?

  5. Explain in your own words how effective mouthwash became a component of good oral hygiene regimens.
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a) No. This is because it may not be able to maintain an oral hygiene level that controls the formation of bacterial plaque on teeth.

b) It is a generic term to describe a sticky film of bacteria that collects on teeth above and below the gingival margin or gumline.



a) Brushing cleans a quarter of the mouth.

b) Brushing alone is insufficient to control plaque formation due to insufficient time or lack of the appropriate technique.



a) This is due to the fluoridation of water supplies.

b) Dental caries and periodontal disease



a) By controlling the accumulation of plaque by adhering to a daily oral hygiene regimen.

b) regimens



It was when research proved that there was a relationship between plaque accumulation and the development of gum disease in the 1960's.

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Comprehension 1


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