Keeping Your Teeth For Life
Keeping Your Teeth For Life
22nd June 2020
The key message of World Oral Health Day was “Think mouth, think health”. Your mouth is like a mirror that reflects your general health
We only get one set of adult teeth, so it is important to adopt good oral hygiene habits and have regular dental check-ups. Studies report that only one in four people brush their teeth every day! Even fewer brush twice a day and worryingly, the average brushing time was found to be only 47 seconds. Sadly, flossing is even less common.
Mouths are one of the “filthiest” parts of our bodies, with dental plaque containing 600 different types of bacteria and over 100 million bacteria in total! A healthy mouth has good and bad bacteria. Good oral health means limiting the damage that bad bacteria can do to your mouth and body.
What is Dental Plaque?
Plaque is not leftover food but rather a biofilm that sticks to teeth and gums and is filled with bacteria. These bacteria convert sugars to acids, which attack the hard outer tooth enamel. When bacteria enter the inner dentine, pain and even tooth death can occur.
Harmful bacteria are often transferred between people (including to infants) by kissing. Yet another reason to have good oral hygiene before kissing other people! Many elderly people have died from pneumonia caused by plaque finding its way into the lungs. Plaque is not just harmless white stuff on your teeth!
Chronic Gum Disease – The ‘Silent Assassin’
Mouth bacteria are also the primary cause of gum diseases. Superficial and reversible gum disease is called gingivitis. Chronic, deep and serious gum disease is known as periodontitis. Periodontitis results in bone loss around the teeth, thus resulting in loose teeth. Gum disease is generally painless, however, the warning signs are bleeding gums and bad breath.
Research has shown that chronic gum disease is associated with:
- Low birth weight babies, in affected pregnant mothers
- Heart disease in adults.
Smoking and diabetes are risk factors, which can result in more serious gum disease. These both decrease the circulation of protective cells to the infected tissues.
Sugars and Acids
Aim to reduce sugar intake. For parents, honey and sweeteners on pacifiers must be avoided, along with any liquid in nursing bottles other than milk or water.
Although ‘sugar-free’ soft drinks may not contain real sugar, they are highly acidic. All acids dissolve the enamel and result in sensitivity. Should you consume soft drink, wine or other acids, rinse your mouth with water to neutralise the acids and don’t brush for 20 minutes afterwards.
Protecting Your Teeth
- Saliva provides protection for your teeth.
- In our North Queensland heat, it is important to stay hydrated to help produce more saliva. Drink plenty of water.
- Remember that alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, radiation therapy and medications can all cause a dry mouth.
- There is no dental material as good as natural enamel. Protect your enamel from decay, trauma, acids and tooth grinding.
- Brush for four minutes at least twice a day, spit out the toothpaste but don’t rinse.
- Don’t forget to brush your tongue and gently on your gums.
- Flossing is required to clean effectively between your teeth. Small Interdental brushes can be used if flossing is found to be difficult.
- Mouthwashes will not remove plaque and are not a substitute for good brushing and flossing!
- As always, prevention is better than cure.