Our teeth have a lot of work to do like chewing, grinding, biting, and also face the aging process. Hence, they need the proper care to keep them away from dental diseases. Brushing the teeth twice a day and flossing the mouth are age-old mantras to keep them healthy and safe. Other than this, attending routine dental check-ups and watching what you eat and drink are vital factors in deciding the health of your teeth.
The diseases of teeth are:
Also called tooth decay, this happens due to adult bacteria which survive on refined white sugar. When we eat candy or other sugary food, some morsels stick to the teeth, gums and in between teeth. Bacteria feed on this sticky food and thrive, releasing a toxin which causes tooth decay. The solution is to brush teeth regularly and floss the mouth. Avoid eating sticky sugary food.
This is a gum disease and occurs in the mild alkaline to the mild acidic environment in the mouth. The cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene and lack of the certain type of enzymes which can digest food substances. Gingivitis is a reversible condition with proper dental treatment.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it progresses into periodontal disease. In this disease, the plaque bacteria form crystals, which attach to the teeth, and these crystals destroy the ligaments, which attach teeth to the bone. As a result, pockets are formed, in which more food particles can be trapped and lodged. This causes the disease to progress, and eventually, it may lead to the removal of the tooth. The damage to the tooth and gum caused by periodontal disease is permanent and irreversible.
Also called bad breath or halitosis, mouth odor is due to remnants of food particles in the mouth. Enteric bacteria feed on these food particles and release an odor. Again, good brushing and flossing habits and the kind of food we eat play a key factor in preventing bad breath.
Good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist will help you maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Here are some tips to help you look after your teeth.
Brush at least twice a day. The best time to brush teeth is after meals. Choose a toothbrush with a small head for better access to back teeth. Soft bristles are kinder on your gums.
Use fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride helps to harden tooth enamel and reduces your risk of decay.
Brush thoroughly. Tooth brushing should take between two and three minutes.
Floss your teeth daily. Use a slow and gentle sawing motion.
Limit acidic drinks like soft drinks, cordials and fruit juices. Food acids soften tooth material and dissolve the minerals in tooth enamel, causing holes (cavities or caries). In severe cases, teeth may be ‘eaten’ right down to the gum.
Limit sugary foods. Bacteria in dental plaque change sugars into acids.
Protect your teeth from injury. Wear a mouthguard or full-face helmet when playing sports.
Try to save a knocked out tooth. If possible, hold the tooth back in place while you seek immediate dental advice. If this is not possible, wrap the tooth in plastic or place it in milk and seek dental advice immediately.
Avoid using your teeth for anything other than chewing food. If you use them to crack nuts, remove bottle tops or rip open packaging, you risk chipping or even breaking your teeth.
See your dentist for regular check-ups. You should also visit your dentist if you have a dental problem such as a toothache or bleeding gums.