A healthy mouth is our first basic step to eat foods that we all need for good nutrition. It also gives us the confidence to smile, talk, and laugh without apprehension. If you have a “bad” mouth, or unclean teeth, it affects your self-belief. Reason: when you speak, it is the mouth that gets all the attention!
Made to last for a lifetime, teeth come across as our primary forts of cosmetic appeal.
The easy part – it does not take too much time for you to take care of your teeth and gums. Yet, what most of us do is give passing reference to dental care – a big mistake in the long-term.
Tooth decay is not a problem limited to children. It can affect just about anyone. Your tooth decays because of the acid produced when bacteria act on food. You would, of course, do well to remember that bacteria do not attack healthy gums. It is actually the unwanted build-up of plaque and tartar that causes inflammation and subsequent infection.
Yes, you sure have heard of the term, plaque. Plaque is nothing but a sticky film of bad bacteria. When it is not brushed away, it develops into tartar. More of this later.
You know this too, don’t you? That it is not without reason your dentist prescribes fluoride toothpaste for good dental care. Whether you are a grown-up or a child, using fluoride toothpaste, along with a fluoride gel, or mouth rinse, protects your teeth. This is not all. You may also have seen your dentist offer you fluoride treatment at the clinic, if you have cavities.
Gum infections harm the gums and bone that hold the teeth in place. They are in medical parlance called periodontal or gingival diseases.
When the plaque build-up expands, and resides on your teeth for too long, a hard, harmful covering is formed. This is called tartar. When it comes, it stays – and, no amount of brushing can help you get rid of it. In the long run, plaque and tartar cause great damage to your teeth.
In long-standing cases, gums can become red and swollen. They may also bleed quite easily. The condition is called gingivitis, which when untreated pulls your gums away from the teeth. This may lead to infection [periodontitis]. If neglected, periodontitis can destroy the bone, gums, and tissues that support your teeth. Further deterioration can sometimes lead to the removal of teeth at the dentist’s office.
Your dentist, as you’d also know, may prescribe a bacteria-fighting mouth rinse to help control plaque and swollen gums. The mouth rinse may be used in addition to careful daily brushing and flossing.
If you have dentures or false teeth fixed, you may feel uncomfortable to begin with. This is quite like wearing spectacles for the first time. Getting used to dentures may sometimes be a problem you never wanted… You need to first start eating soft non-sticky food with dentures. The best way to doing this is by cutting your food into small portions. Try to chew food using both sides of your mouth… You will slowly get used to your dentures.
You need to be also careful before you get used to dentures. Dentures often make your mouth less sensitive to hot food and liquids. They may also make the mouth hard – so much so, you may sometimes not distinguish harmful objects like bones.
Your dentist, during the first few weeks, will make sure that the dentures fit you properly. Over a period of time, it is possible for your mouth structure to change. When this happens, your dentures would need to be replaced or adjusted. Your dentist will know how best to deal with the situation and/or your requirement.
Things to do
- Try to keep your dentures clean and free from food. Foods can cause stains, bad breath, or swollen gums
- Brush all surfaces, once daily, with a denture care product
- Remove your dentures when you go to sleep. Place them in water, or a denture cleansing liquid
- If you have partial dentures, you need to impart the same care, because bad bacteria can accumulate under the clips. Clean the area, once daily, with a denture care product.
Sometimes, your dentist may place small metal pieces in your jaw to hold false teeth or partial dentures in place. These are called dental implants. They are, of course, not suitable for everyone. Implants are recommended after a complete dental and medical check-up, provided your dentist feels that they are right for you. Another important consideration is: your gums must be healthy, so also your jawbone to support the implants.
Speak to your dentist if you want to explore the idea of using dental implants.
Once thought to be a problem of old age, dry mouth [xerostomia] is caused when the salivary glands don’t work properly. A dry mouth can make it difficult for one to eat, swallow, taste, and even speak. It is also an invitation for tooth decay and infection… It may be mentioned that some diseases or medical treatments – for instance, head and neck radiation therapy – including some medications can cause dry mouth. It is best to discuss them with your dentist – to find out the cause of the problem.
- Drink water generously
- Avoid sugary snacks
- Avoid drinks that have caffeine or alcohol
- Make your mouth wet by using artificial saliva, available at drug stores, if you have a dry mouth. Sucking a hard candy is also one simple way of reducing dryness
- Green tea is good for your teeth and gums, and, of course, overall health. Take 4-6 cups of distilled green tea a day [without sugar and milk].
9 Easy Steps to Dental Care
- First things first: gently stroke your teeth on all sides with a soft-bristle brush and toothpaste
- Make small round motions and short back-and-forth strokes. They work best
- Take time to brush gently along the gum line
- Light brush your tongue – not roughly
- Clean around your teeth with dental floss. This keeps your gums healthy and removes plaque, and leftover food that your brush cannot reach
- Rinse gently
- Use mouth fresheners, mouth wash etc., when needed
- Avoid the use of extremely hot or cold food/drink; it harms your enamel
- If, for any reason, brushing or flossing leads to bleeding of the gums, or hurts your mouth, visit your dentist.
Preventing Tooth Decay
- Brush your teeth morning and night, daily, preferably with fluoride, or good herbal [neem + holy basil] toothpaste
- Floss once a day
- Visit your dentist for check-up and cleaning, at regular intervals
- Incorporate a well-balanced diet, with at least 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables
- Avoid the use of tobacco in any form.
Points to Ponder
- If you smoke, give it up
- Avoid alcohol. If you drink, drink only in moderation
- If you use a lip cream, use it with sunscreen
- Eat at least 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables, every day.
Oral Cancer: Early Detection Crucial
- The possibility of oral cancer affecting people increases after age 40.
- The earlier the disease is detected, the better is the response. Because, treatment works best before the disease has spread.
- Also, since pain is not an early symptom of the disease, a dental check-up offers your dentist the best chance to look for early signs of oral cancer. This also applies to older people who have lost all their natural teeth.
- Another important thing is: consult your dentist when you have problems such as swelling, numbness, sores, and lumps in your mouth.
- You need to also look out for hardness, especially when you chew, swallow, or move your jaw or tongue. They are signs of oral cancer.