What is oral health?
Oral hygiene is the process by which you keep your teeth, mouth and gums clean and healthy. When a person practices good oral hygiene, the teeth will be clean and free of plaque, gums will be uninflamed, pink and healthy and the entire mouth will appear in a good state of health.

Good oral hygiene is accomplished with the proper use of the toothbrush, floss, interproximal cleaning devices and mouth rinses. When effective oral hygiene is performed, restorations, bridges and dentures can often be maintained for longer periods of time, potential for recurrent decay decreases, and your systemic health can be improved.
Oral health touches every aspect of our lives but is often taken for granted. Your mouth is a window into the health of your body. It can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. Systemic diseases, those that affect the entire body, may first become apparent because of mouth lesions or other oral problems.

You can practice good oral hygiene by always brushing your teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between your teeth once a day with floss or another interdental cleaner, replacing your toothbrush every three or four months and by eating a balanced diet and limiting between-meal snacks. Your dentist may also recommend an antimicrobial mouthrinse as part of your oral hygiene routine. Don't forget to schedule regular dental check-ups to keep your smile, and yourself, healthy.
Oral health means taking care of your entire mouth, including the teeth, gums, tongue, jawbone, and any mouth tissues. With good oral health, you can prevent tooth decay and gingivitis or gum disease that becomes more common with aging.

While the mouth heals very rapidly because of its excellent blood supply, you can blame bacteria for serious problems that happen in your mouth. These germs that live between the teeth and gums use sugar from food to create acids that wreak havoc on the outside of teeth. Bacteria also cause diseases of the gum such as gingivitis, a milder form of gum disease. When bacteria mix with debris and food, the result is plaque that sticks to the teeth. When you don't see the dentist regularly to get plaque removed, it turns to tartar, a hard substance. Over time, plaque and tartar cause gum disease with symptoms of swollen, red, and bleeding gums.
For good oral health, make it a daily habit to brush and floss your teeth regularly. Use a fluoride toothpaste and brush thoroughly at least twice a day and after eating. Regular flossing each day can also help to prevent tartar buildup, as the floss cleans between your teeth and stimulates the gums. Flossing is one self-care technique that can greatly reduce your chances of developing serious gingivitis. Also, see your dentist every six months. Get a regular cleaning by a dental hygienist to remove plaque and tartar. 
Oral Health refers to the health of your mouth (oral cavity) and includes hard tissue (teeth and bone) as well as the soft tissue (gums, cheeks, tongue, floor of the mouth, lips,  palate and throat). The importance of oral health and its vital connection to total body wellness has been demonstrated in thousands of studies throughout the world. In 2006, following a study on over 145,000 patients, improved oral health was found to result in an average of a 21% decrease in health care costs related to the maintenance of patients with major systemic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Watch as Dr. Oz explains the importance of oral health in this video from Discovery Health.

Good oral health does not just mean you have pretty teeth. Your whole mouth needs care to be in good health. The word "oral" refers to the mouth, which includes your teeth, gums, jawbone, and supporting tissues. Taking good care of your oral health can prevent disease in your mouth. Oral health can also affect the health of your body. It is easy to take your oral health for granted. But good oral health is key to your overall health.

This Answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center .

Continue Learning about Healthy Oral Hygiene

Healthy Oral Hygiene

Healthy Oral Hygiene

Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily constitute the basics of good oral hygiene. Keeping other parts of your mouth, such as your gums, healthy can benefit your overall health by preventing the spread of germs and dis...

ease. At-home care should be supplemented by professional care. When plaque or tartar develops, a dentist or oral hygienist will use special tools to scrape (scale) the teeth clean without damage. Flouride treatment can help keep teeth cavity-free. Learn more about healthy oral hygiene with expert advice from Sharecare.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.