Teeth affect our physical, mental, and social health. Good teeth are needed to chew food into pieces small enough for the digestive system to handle. They also help us look and feel good. Neglected teeth become diseased and cannot perform their function. They may cause bad breath and spoil a smile as well.
Dental care [photo gallery]
Being regular with mouth and tooth care can help you avoid tooth loss, painful gums and other dental problems. Here are some tips to keep your teeth problem-free:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Rinse your mouth frequently during the day
- Floss your teeth at least once a day.
- Don't smoke or chew tobacco.
- Ask your doctor if your medicines have side effects that might damage your teeth. (For example, some medicines may cause you to have a dry mouth.)
- Look inside your mouth regularly for sores that don't heal, irritated gums or other changes.
- See your dentist regularly.
It is not just brushing and flossing that keep teeth healthy. You also need to be careful about what you eat and drink. Certain foods with sugars and starches can lead to tooth decay. It is not necessary to avoid these foods completely, but moderation is the key. Eating vegetables may be a healthy choice since they help in removing some deposits on the teeth. Nutrition tips for healthy teeth:
Major dental problems and their treatments
- Avoid foods with high concentration of sugar such as ice cream, halwa, gulab jamun, barfi and other sweets.
- Eat more nutritious foods with less sugar such as milk, rice, meat, fruits and fish etc.
- Most of the refreshing drinks and aerated drinks have a high concentration of sugar, and hence should be restricted.
- It is advisable to eat sweet dishes along with the rest of the meal instead of taking them in between meals. This is so because during meals saliva production is increased , and this helps in neutralizing the acid that may damage the teeth.
- It is also important to note the food structure:
- Wet foods act for only a limited amount of time
- Tough foods are the safest because they increase saliva production and help in the self-cleaning of teeth
- Soft and sticky foods should be avoided because they attach and get between the teeth providing a favourable place for bacteria to grow.
Besides low sugar foods, low fat choices like raw vegetables, fresh fruits, or whole grain breads are also good choices. Eating the right foods can help prevent tooth decay and other diseases.
Most dental problems can be easily prevented and treated. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, eating teeth-friendly food and regular dental check ups are essential for preventing dental problems. Some common dental problems are:-
- Bad breath - Most people suffer from bad breath occasionally. However, if it becomes permanent you should consult your dentist. Bad breath is usually due to the breakdown of proteins by bacteria somewhere in the mouth. Maintaining good oral hygiene, eliminating gum disease and scheduling regular professional cleanings are essential to reducing bad breath. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Brush your tongue, too. Once a day, use floss or an interdental cleaner to clean between teeth. If you wear removable dentures, take them out at night. Clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning.
- Tooth decay - Also know as dental caries, tooth decay is a very common problem. Bacteria normally reside in the mouth. They mix with the proteins present in the saliva (spit) to form plaque and attach to the hard enamel surface of the tooth. The bacteria feed on food sugars and starches and produce an acid. This acid eats into the tooth enamel damaging the tooth.
- Gum disease - Gum disease (also called periodontal disease), is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. These include the gums (gingiva), the tooth socket, and the periodontal ligaments. Gum disease is caused by plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria, mucous and food debris that constantly forms on the teeth. Regular and proper brushing along with good dental hygiene are important for preventing gum disease.
- Mouth sores - Various types of sores can appear anywhere within the mouth, including the inner cheeks, gums, tongue, lips, or palate. Mouth sores generally last for 10 to 14 days and even last up to 6 weeks. The following tips may make you feel better:
Gargle with cool water or eat popsicles. This is particularly helpful if you have a mouth burn.
Avoid hot beverages and foods, spicy and salty foods, and citrus.
Take pain relievers like acetaminophen.
- Tooth erosion - Tooth erosion is caused by acidic foods and drinks that dissolve away the surface of the tooth. It is becoming increasingly more common, especially due to greater consumption of fizzy drinks – including diet brands. The best to prevent tooth erosion is to cut acidic foods and drinks from your diet.
- Tooth sensitivity – Tooth sensitivity is tooth pain due to a wearing away of the tooth's surface or gum tissue. People with sensitive teeth experience pain or discomfort from sweets, cold air, hot drinks, cold drinks or ice cream. Some people with the condition even experience discomfort from brushing and flossing. Sensitive teeth can usually be treated successfully. Your dentist may prescribe a brush-on fluoride gel or a fluoride rinse. You can also try low-abrasion toothpastes with formulations made especially for sensitive teeth.
- Apart from the above listed common dental problems, there could be dental emergencies like severe tooth ache, which needs to be addressed by an immediate visit to your dentist.
Remember that your mouth is a busy place where many tiny bacteria move constantly on your teeth, gums, lips and tongue. While some of the bacteria can be harmful, most are not and some are even helpful. It is important to keep your mouth clean to prevent unhealthy bacteria sticking to your teeth and causing dental problems.
Wednesday, 28 July 2010