Dental decay (caries) and periodontal (gum) disease are among the most common diseases afflicting mankind, especially in the so-called advanced nations. The higher the standard of living, the more likely it is for tooth loss to occur. As has been shown already, both dental caries and periodontal disease are the result of bacterial action, in the plaque, which collects on the teeth and gums. If it is possible to cleanse the mouth completely of the bacterial plaque and maintain it that way, there would be low incidence of tooth decay or any other gum problems.
Dental diseases are not considered to be lethal and therefore attitudes on the part of governments and public are of a different nature. However, the cost of dental disease in pain, suffering, treatment and loss of work is enormous. Measures to reduce or eliminate dental problems would result in a vast benefit to the population.
Here are some things you can do to improve and maintain good dental health:
1) Cleaning the Teeth
You cannot be taught to play tennis or golf by reading about them. You must be instructed, and you must practice. Similarly, you should learn the right way of brushing under the close supervision of your dentist.
The tooth has five surfaces – front, back, the two sides and the chewing surface. Brush the top and bottom teeth separately. Most dentists agree that the bristle tips should be applied at 45 degrees to the gum area just above where the teeth emerge and should concentrate on the gum margins (where most people miss). The bristles are moved back and forth with a gentle circular scrubbing motion and short strokes. Do not forget the teeth right at the back of the mouth and also the inside surface of the teeth. Finally brush all the biting surfaces. It often takes three or four visits to teach someone to brush effectively!
Tips on Brushing
Do not put too much toothpaste on the brush, it will foam up and make you want to spit and rinse too soon. Studies show that once people get to the spit and rinse stage they stop brushing even though some teeth have not been brushed.
Do not wet your brush before applying the paste or before starting to brush. It alters the action of the bristles and prevents them removing plaque effectively.
2) Diet and Dental Health
The prevention of dental decay begins with cutting down the amount of sugars taken in all forms. Most people think we refer only to sweets as the culprits. But there are other dangerous sugar-containing foods as well.Some of them are:
1. All sugars (including honey)
2. Soft drinks such as colas and
3. Nearly all cereals
4. Cakes, biscuits and puddings.
5. Jam on your bread, marmalade on your toast.
6. Chocolates, sweets and toffees.
7. Peppermint sweets (they are the most dangerous because people believe the peppermint taste to be ‘medicinal’. These sweets are almost pure sugar).
As has been shown already, both dental caries and periodontal disease are the result of bacterial action, in the plaque, which collects on the teeth and gums. A chocolate candy bar of about 50 grams may contain the equivalent of ten teaspoons of sugar! A slice of two-layer chocolate cake may be the equivalent of fifteen teaspoons of sugar!
These sugars are not an essential part of a normal diet. Hence reducing the total intake, will not only benefit the teeth, but also the general health. However, it is the frequency of sugar intake, more than the total consumption, which is important in influencing tooth decay. It was shown that the acid formed on the tooth in seconds from sugar might take twenty minutes or more to disappear from the mouth. Thus, small sugary snacks every two or three hours throughout the day will keep the teeth bathed in a dangerous acid state.
If Children must have sweets, they should have them only once a day (preferably during meal time). But it is better to recommend sugar-free snacks. A good list would contain:
Fruits: Apples, Oranges, Pears, Bananas.
Vegetables: Carrots, Celery, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Cucumber, also Nuts, Crisps, Cheese (in cubes), Eggs, Milk, Yogurt.
In this way if we eliminate sugar, we reduce the formation of plaque by depriving the bacteria of the food, from which they form the acid. The damage by erosion that, say, lemon juice can do to the enamel will have to be seen to be believed, So avoid frequent tooth contact with lemons, grapefruit, vinegar and other strongly acid substances. The chemist’s shop may also be a source of danger to the teeth, many cough and throat sweets, lozenges, syrups, and elixirs are loaded with sugar, sometimes up to 50-60 percent. This is to make the product palatable.
3) Dental Floss
Many dental health educators assert that even the most careful brushing does not remove all the harmful substances from the crevices between the teeth, areas where even the bristles cannot reach to reach such areas the use of dental floss is recommended which is nothing but a special kind of silk of nylon thread this floss is passed into the space between the teeth with a gentle to and fro sawing motion.The floss is then gently worked up and down the tooth into the gum crevices. The floss is purchased wound in a spooland is either waxed or unwaxed.The waxed floss is easier to handle. Using floss is not easy and children especially have difficulty with it. It takes a dedicated and tireless parent to floss the children’s teeth every day. It is far better to spend the effort on careful brushing.Tips on using Floss
This is difficult. Your dentist must help you by seeing that you manipulate the floss correctly and safely. It is usually easier to handle the floss if a length of about twelve inches is tied in a circle. Do not be taken in by special gadgets, which promise to make flossing easier. None of these does anything except add problems. What must be done is to get the strand of floss between the teeth, then wrap it starting from the gum and ending at the biting surface. Do this sweeping motion tow or three times and then repeat with the adjoining tooth.
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