Tag Archive for: dental health

oral health month

Every year in March, oral health care providers commemorate oral health and its promotion. This year was no different and was running with a theme, “Mind your mouth.” At Ezza Dental Care, we would like to remind you about how to be mindful of our mouths and oral health through the three important facets of tooth brushing, diet, and dental visits.

Brushing your teeth

Brushing one’s teeth is a form of oral hygiene practice which involves the removal of food debris and plaque from the teeth and the other oral structures.

It has obvious benefits such as

  • Preventing tooth decay
  • Reducing halitosis (bad breath)
  • Preventing gum disease

Any of the above can have detrimental effects on one’s psychosocial wellbeing and can also be a gateway to other illnesses.

Many times, we brush the same way we walk; just going through the motions. It is however important that we are mindful of each step of brushing our teeth in order to reap full benefits from the act. One must brush their teeth for a minimum of two minutes, taking care to clean all the tooth surfaces, palate, and tongue.

Below is a suggested sequence for brushing your teeth;

  1. Place a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush.
  2. Slightly wet the toothbrush using clean water.
  3. Brush your teeth using rotary movements as opposed to the horizontal or vertical scrubbing motions that we often use. Your dentist may recommend otherwise depending on the condition available but this is the baseline and most protective movement.
  4. Spit out as much foam as you can.
  5. Do not rinse your mouth after.
  6. The thin layer of toothpaste provides a fluoride-releasing mechanism and also acts as a protective barrier.
  7. Rinse your toothbrush with clean running water and then store it in a clean and dry space, away from other people’s toothbrushes.

The minimum number of times one must brush their teeth is twice, the night after they are done eating for the day and on one other occasion.

It is wise to change one’s toothbrush once it is not efficiently cleaning anymore and that is often between 3-6 months after the index use. In addition, it is advisable to change one’s toothbrush after recovery from a respiratory illness to avoid reinfection.

The option of whether to use a manual toothbrush or an automated one comes down to preference. Care must be taken to assist those less capable of brushing their own teeth for example the invalid, the disabled and the children since their oral health matters just like anyone else’s.

Remember to be mindful of your mouth by brushing your teeth.

Diet

Be mindful of your mouth by paying attention to your diet. Our diet consists of everything we consume as food. As much as we may enjoy eating the numerous things available, not everything that we indulge in is good for our health. Food contains a number of nutrients that play different roles in our bodies for example proteins are important for growth, carbohydrates are important for energy, vitamins are important for natural immunity, and so on.

Just like the rest of the body, our mouths benefit or suffer from the kind of diet we choose to indulge in. If we eat healthy nutritious food, we have healthy mouths and the reverse is true if we choose to eat unhealthily.

Some of the nutrients that are important for the health of our teeth include

  • Calcium
  • Phosphate
  • Magnesium
  • Iron

These are micronutrients that the tooth comprises and so including them in the diet in form of foods like

  • Milk
  • Vegetables
  • Fish, can strengthen the teeth and keep them healthy.

Vitamin C plays a big role in maintaining the integrity of our gums. Fruits and vegetables are a rich source and consumption of these are therefore vital in preventing gum disease.

On the other side of the coin, there exist foods that are bad for the teeth and the related oral structures. Foods rich in processed sugars like cakes, biscuits, white bread, and so on are bad for the teeth. This is because when one does not brush, they are broken down by the bacteria present in the mouth to form acids which in time break down the tooth structure causing decay.

Foods that contain a lot of acids like lemon juice and some soft drinks can also cause erosion of the tooth structure and thus cause sensitivity and tooth decay.

The latter groups of foods must be consumed in utter moderation and with rigorous oral hygiene measures to accompany them while the former must be included more in the diet for stronger teeth.

Dental visits

For many people, visiting the dentist is reserved for when they have teeth that are paining or when they are in some discomfort pertaining to their mouth. This is a mindset that should be changed considering that the earlier a disease is recognized and diagnosed, the easier and cheaper it is to treat it.

Routine dental visits are those where the mouth is examined and x-rays are taken in a bid to identify any present pathologies so as to plan treatment for them. They are commonly referred to as dental check-ups.

During these visits, the dentist can observe any abnormalities such as caries, calculus, gingivitis, and food impaction areas among others. This then enables them to put in place interventions to treat or prevent the disease from worsening. Often, the cost of treatment is thus less and the quality of life is improved as most can be caught before they begin to inflict pain.

At routine dental visits, tooth cleaning is also often offered. This is a professional dental cleaning done to remove the plaque and calculus that are difficult to remove when using a toothbrush or flossing. Extrinsic chromogenic stains are also removed and so one leaves with a clean mouth which minimizes the conditions necessary for the disease to develop.

Routine dental visits also alleviate the anxiety that comes with visiting a dentist as one gets psychologically conditioned to the environment of a dental office and the instruments used there and so they are more likely to seek treatment early for themselves and their loved ones.

It is advisable to have a routine dental visit at least twice a year, coinciding with the appointments for the dental cleaning.

toothbrushes

A toothbrush is one of the staple household objects that everyone uses. With the multiple choices in the supermarkets, one might wonder if there is such a thing as a bad toothbrush and if so then what is a good toothbrush? There are a number of factors to take into consideration when choosing the right toothbrush and these include:

  • Hardness of bristles; for the average person, their toothbrush should have bristles that are neither too hard nor too soft. If they are too hard, they will destroy the tooth structure and if they are too soft, they will not effectively remove the plaque.
  • Shape of the bristles; on the market, the two common shapes are the rounded bristles and the square bristles. The rounded ones are the better option because of how gentle they are on the rest of the tissues which minimizes trauma to them.
  • Size of the toothbrush head: this is dependent on the size of one’s mouth which often correlates with their chronological age. For those with small mouths or children, the toothbrushes with smaller heads are more effective as they induce minimal trauma and are easier to control. The head shouldn’t be too big or too small.
  • The size and shape of the handle; toothbrush handle designs have evolved over time and this has resulted in a wide range of options. Your toothbrush handle should be easy to grip and comfortable to ensure that the brushing process is as smooth as possible.
  • Approval by a quality control body e.g. UNBS; is important as these bodies ensure that you get quality that is as good as advertised. Always check for the official seal and preferably, choose toothbrushes that have it on.
  • Manual or electric toothbrushes; the end goal of both these types is the same and that is good oral hygiene. Both can give stellar results if used correctly and both can be disastrous if used inappropriately. The choice between these often comes down to personal preference, however, there can be instances for example in individuals with poor manual dexterity where the electric toothbrush would be the preferred option.

In some cases, the dentist will recommend a specific type of toothbrush to fit the individual contextual needs and this is when they may also recommend a particular brand. Do not forget to change your toothbrush once every 3 months, not too often and not too far apart.

Teeth affected by gum disease

Jane was excited for a new day. She jumped out of bed and started preparing herself for work. In the bathroom, she had a pretend concert using her toothbrush as a makeshift microphone. She then lined it with toothpaste and started to brush her teeth, the song becoming a hum. She looked at her reflection in the mirror and she was amused at what she saw. There was foam around her mouth and she thought she bore a resemblance to Santa Claus. Laughing, she spat out the foam. In the sink basin, her attention was however drawn to the color of the spit.

 Jane’s toothpaste was white so the reason it had red stains was not adding up. To be sure, she spat more and her heart sunk as her taste buds caught on what was undoubtedly dying her spit; blood. Her concert ended, and anxiety took its place. What was this? What was happening to her? Why today? All these questions ran through her mind as if they were on a relay running track. What Jane was to find out later after she called her dentist is that she had just experienced one of the commonest signs of gum disease.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is a condition characterized by deteriorating health of the gingivae and the other tooth supporting structures. It has two broad categories, gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis involves inflammation of the gums which are also called the gingivae and periodontitis involves inflammation of the tooth supporting structures. The latter develops after the former and is a worse stage; however gingivitis does not always result in periodontitis.

When we don’t brush our teeth as often as we ought to, we consequently reap from seeds we did not intentionally sow. These may not stop at people facing the other way when we talk to them because we have what they call “dragon breath”(bad breath).

Causes of gum disease

Unless removed, food sticks to our teeth and harbors bacteria which form plaque. Plaque is a mass of bacteria contained in a biofilm and grows on any of the surfaces within the mouth. The presence of the bacteria causes the body’s immune system to respond and this acts in conglomeration with the toxins produced by the bacteria causing inflammation of the gum tissues and eventually, it destroys them. In case the tissues get infected, the microorganisms keep digging and destroying the tissue until the gum line recedes and the tooth socket gets eroded which leads to the teeth falling out.

Inflammation causes the gums to swell, change in color, become tender and fragile which makes them easily bleed. This is the most common path of development of gum disease but it is not the only one. Hormonal changes during menstruation, menopause or pregnancy, illnesses which compromise the immunity of the body like HIV/AIDS, cancer or diabetes, some medication for example Procardia or NSAIDS can all lead to one getting gum disease.

Signs and symptoms of gum disease

There is a range of signs and symptoms and one may be experiencing just a single one or even all of them at a go. These include;

  • Gums that bleed easily during or after tooth brushing or eating food
  • Painful swollen gums whose color could have changed
  • Bad breath
  • Shaky teeth
  • Pockets forming between the teeth and the gum

Treatment for gum disease

Gum disease can worsen either slowly or very rapidly and the earlier it is treated, the better the recovery and the less expensive the treatment. Depending on the stage, treatment can range from an antiseptic mouth wash to emergency surgical procedures considering that it can become fatal if the infection reaches the blood stream. It is important to consult with us at Ezza Dental Care to get a personalized treatment plan.

As they say, prevention is better than cure. Prevention is especially paramount for the people at high risk for gum disease. These include the pregnant, lactating mothers, those in their periods, and those on predisposing medication or the immunocompromised. First things first, oral hygiene practices must be paid attention to including brushing teeth a minimum of two times a day, flossing, changing a tooth brush every three months et cetera.

Diet too plays a role in how strong our immunity is henceforth, vegetables should be integrated because they have antioxidants and vitamin E and C which are important for the mouth’s health. Stress breaks down a lot of things in the body and the mouth is not spared. Efforts must be made to decrease stress levels. In case you are using medication which puts you at a risk, talk to both your physician and dentist so that a regimen can be adjusted.