Your Dentist knows Best

Good dental care is an important part of our overall wellbeing

At dentistA healthy mouth is more than just an attractive smile. In many cases, the condition of the mouth reflects the condition of a person’s general health.

Careful and regular brushing with a toothbrush and flossing can help prevent build-up of plaque and tartar, which lead to cavities.

Recent studies indicate a relationship between periodontal [gum] disease and heart disease, stroke and pre-term low-birth-weight babies. Likewise, more than 90 per cent of all systemic diseases have oral manifestations – meaning your dentist may be the first healthcare provider to recognise a problem.

Regular examination, at the dentist’s office, allows us to keep our mouth in tip-top shape and watch for developments that may point to problems elsewhere in your body. A dental examination also picks up on poor nutrition and hygiene, growth and development problems, and improper jaw alignment.

What to drink and eat?

ADHA [American Dental Hygienists’ Association] says that foods that help your muscles and bones also help teeth and gums. Dairy contributes vitamin D. It strengthens teeth. Breads and cereals are rich in vitamin B while fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C, both of which contribute to healthy gum tissue. Lean meat, fish, and poultry provide magnesium and zinc for healthy teeth.

Some people recommend that teeth be brushed after every meal and, at bedtime, and flossed at least once per day, preferably at night before sleep.

Good foods

Some foods may protect against cavities. Milk and cheese appear to be able to raise pH values in the mouth, and so reduce tooth exposure to acid. They are also rich in calcium and phosphate, and may encourage remineralisation.

All foods increase saliva, and since saliva contains buffer chemicals, this helps to stabilise the pH at just above 7 in the mouth. Foods high in fibre may also help to increase the flow of saliva. Unsweetened [basically sugar free] chewing gum stimulates saliva production, and helps to clean the surface of the tooth.

Bad foods

Sugars are commonly associated with dental cavities. Other carbohydrates, such as cooked starches, e.g., crisps/potato chips, may damage teeth, albeit to a lesser degree. This is because starch is not an ideal food for bacteria.

Dental visit

You don’t have to wait for a toothache to visit your dentist. People who visit their dentist on a regular basis [every six months] have a much greater chance of diseases being identified in their early stages. Remember, it is also important to provide your dentist with a complete medical/dental history and relate any recent problems, even if they seem unrelated to your mouth.

Gum disease

Gum disease is one of the leading causes of adult tooth loss. If diagnosed in its early stages [gingivitis], it can be treated and reversed. If treatment is not received, a more serious and advanced stage of gum disease called peridontitis may follow. Regular check-ups, dental cleanings, flossing daily, and brushing twice a day are key factors in preventing gum disease.

Oral cancer

According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, US, someone dies from oral cancer, every hour of every day, in the United States alone. When you go for your regular dental check-up and cleaning, your dentist and hygienist will also screen you for oral cancer, which is curable if diagnosed early.

Avoid losing your teeth

Since gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults, visiting your dentist on a regular basis and maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for avoiding false teeth and keeping your natural teeth.

Prevent dental emergencies

Many toothaches and dental emergencies can be easily avoided just by regular visits to the dentist. Your dentist can detect any early signs of problems with your teeth or gums.

Early detection of cavities, broken fillings and gum disease are easily treatable. If these problems go untreated, root canal, gum surgery and removal of teeth could become the only treatment options available.

Heart disease

Studies have shown a connection between gum disease, heart disease, and stroke.


Many people with diabetes were initially diagnosed with the disease as a result of a routine dental visit. Your dentist is not the healthcare provider who can diagnose whether or not you have diabetes; however, dentists often suspect diabetes when they treat gum disease. Periodontal disease can complicate diabetes and vice versa.

Chewing Gum Helpful

Studies have pointed to soft drinks as being responsible for adult and childrens’ tooth decay and obesity problems. Many sodas contain acids and sugars that can erode tooth enamel over time. While sugar in soft drinks is at least partially to blame for tooth decay, there are also other factors. The acidity from certain drinks plays a role. If mouth acidity increases – and, if it happens often enough – the chemical reaction hurts teeth to a greater extent. Over time, the result is tooth decay.

The chewing of gum is said to be the world’s most common habit, with about 1,00,000 tons of it being consumed every year. Most of us are familiar with the negative aspects of chewing gum, when we find it on chairs, stuck under desks or contaminating pavements and, therefore, our shoes. However, there are also many benefits to chewing gum.

Studies have shown that chewing gum can have an indirect, positive effect on dental hygiene, teeth health. Chewing gum after meals helps to stimulate the production of saliva and overall salivary flow. Saliva helps to wash away and neutralise the acid produced by bacteria in plaque. This acid is responsible for dental decay and bad breath. Chewing gum can also help relieve pressure in your ears and sinuses by encouraging jaw movement. It can also relieve stress and tension!

Magnifying lens over an exclamation markSpot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!

Ashwini Ranade
Ashwini Ranade, who holds a master's degree in biochemistry, is a zealous writer, dabbling in a host of subject - including health and nutrition.


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