Tooth Care - Gistyou


Sunday, 19 August 2018

Tooth Care

Our teeth are designed to help chew food and speak clearly. They also affect the way our faces and smiles look. Maintaining oral hygiene is very important and brushing should be supplemented with regular visits to the Dentist and Dental hygienist to prevent common dental problems such as tooth decay (dental caries), gum disease (periodontal disease) and dental erosion.
Tooth Care
Tooth Decay occurs when plaque attacks the enamel of teeth. Soon after brushing your teeth, a thin sticky layer of bacteria forms on the surface of all the teeth. This layer is known as Plaque. Once sugar containing food is eaten, the bacteria feast on this for energy and in turn produce acid. This acid removes minerals from the hard surface of the tooth known as the Enamel. This process of demineralisation softens the enamel which may eventually lead to tooth decay.

The saliva in the mouth helps to neutralise the acid and contains minerals thus replacing the minerals lost during the acid attack. This process is known as remineralisation. The processes of demineralisation and remineralisation occur each time we consume sugar containing food and drinks. If sugar is consumed too often, the saliva does not have the chance to fully remineralise the enamel of the teeth leading to a gradual weakening and eventual decay. A hole or cavity forms which is usually painful.

Gum Disease which is also known as periodontal disease is very common and affects most adults. When plaque is allowed to form for extended periods of time, it collects near the gums forming a hard calcified substance known as Tartar or Calculus. As a result, the gums become red, swollen and irritated signaling the
early stage of Gingivitis.

If gingivitis is left untreated, the gums separate from the teeth leaving gaps known as periodontal pockets. More plaque and tartar may get trapped and infected in these pockets leading to loosening of the teeth and possible need for extraction. Prevention is geared towards controlling plaque and tartar build up.

Dental Erosion describes the gradual wear of the tooth surfaces from acid present in juices and fizzy drinks. Dental erosion is irreversible and may lead to sensitivity and pain. Drinking such drinks with a straw placed near the back of the mouth will help reduce the amount of contact between the teeth and the acid contents. Babies and toddlers should not drink juice or fizzy drinks out of a feeding bottle as this may lead to severe erosion.

To prevent tooth decay and gum disease, teeth should be brushed 2 times a day with a fluoride containing toothpaste, sugar consumption should be checked and regular visits to the dentist (every 6 months) should be routine. Children’s teeth should be brushed by parents until they are old enough to do it properly themselves (at about 7 years of age). Cleaning between the teeth with dental floss or inter-dental brushes helps remove plaque and food particles from places toothbrushes can’t reach.

Flouride containing mouthwash may help remineralise the enamel of teeth and antiseptic mouthwash may reduce plaque forming bacteria.

Chlorhexidine containing mouthwashes are very effective but over time, may stain the teeth and blunt the taste buds.

Disclosing tablets may be used to identify the presence of plaque. The tiny tablets are chewed for about 30 seconds turning plaque bright pink. Saliva production may be stimulated by chewing sugar-free gum after a meal to neutralise acid. Plaque forming bacteria may be suppressed by the sweetener Xylitol used in some gums. Refined sugar is the main culprit responsible for tooth decay and it is advisable to control its consumption. Natural sugars found in fruit, vegetables and dairy are less likely to lead to decay.

Alcohol and tobacco are bad for the teeth. Smoking stains the teeth and increases the risk of developing gum disease and tooth loss. Alcoholic beverages and mixers used with them may contain lots of sugar thus increasing the risk of tooth decay. Alcohol consumption, smoking and chewing tobacco are also associated with the development of Mouth Cancer.

Regular dental check-ups help identify problems in early stages so that they may be tackled accordingly which will in turn help prevent tooth loss. Scaling and Polishing at visits help remove stains, plaque and tartar build-up. A special scaling instrument is used to remove hard to reach tartar and teeth are polished with a rotary brush and abrasive paste to remove stains. Fissures and deep crevices may be sealed with a resin film to prevent plaque damage to the enamel. These sealants may last several years but brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and regular dental checkups are still required.

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