Tag Archive for: Oral 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.

image of nail-biting

A habit is a tendency towards an act that has become a repeated performance, it is relatively fixed and easy to perform by an individual. We all have habits, some are beneficial to us and some we would rather do away with. For example, laying one’s bed every morning or jogging three times every week are good habits and on the other hand, smoking is a habit that is considered bad.

What are some of the habits that affect your oral health?

  • Nail-biting
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Thumb sucking
  • Mouth breathing
  • Bruxism

How do they affect oral health?

Nail-biting; nails are made of a hard material called keratin and when it is repeatedly exerted on teeth, it can cause them (especially the front teeth) to chip and eventually tip or rotate which affects how one’s smile looks.

EZZA DENTAL CARE
Nail-biting causes tooth chipping

Tongue thrusting; this involves continually pushing your tongue forward. The tongue has one of the most efficient muscle systems in the body and henceforth continued exertion of the powerful forces generated can cause the teeth position to change. This in turn affects the appearance and function of the oral tissues negatively.

Tongue thrusting
The habit of tongue thrusting

Thumb-sucking; human babies resort to sucking their thumb or any other finger as a replacement or option to suckling. Beyond 5 years, however, this becomes a detrimental habit that is an indicator of deeper underlying issues. Thumb-sucking causes the teeth to be displaced anteriorly, resulting in someone having an open bite, and sometimes the lips close with difficulty.

oral habit of thumb sucking
thumb sucking affects oral health

Mouth breathing; individuals with respiratory problems especially in their early ages sometimes develop a tendency to breathe through their mouth instead of the nose. The continued mouth opening messes with the balance of the oral health structures and can lead to misalignment of teeth. It can also increase the risk of caries as the mouth is often dry.

EZZA DENTAL CARE
mouth breathing affects oral health structures

Bruxism; this involves grinding one’s teeth and it can either be done when one’s asleep or awake and sometimes even in both states. Grinding teeth leads to attrition of the teeth where they lose part of the tooth substance and this can lead to a number of problems for example; sensitivity, malocclusion, and muscular fatigue or pain.

How can these habits be managed?

Oral habits are effectively managed when the factors that cause them are managed. This lowers the chances of recurrence or relapse.

  1. Most are signs of psychological stress and so a consultation with a psychiatrist would benefit some of the patients.
  2. In children, the use of mechanical means for example habit breakers which are designed by the orthodontist or bandaging the fingers and chemical means like applying pepper on the preferred finger can also be effective.

Treatment of the effects of oral habits is important to restore the health-related quality of life of the individual and so it is important that if one has a habit such as these, or their child has or is developing one that they seek professional help as soon as possible. It is imperative that we try to unlearn some of these habits as their effects may not be immediate but are drastic and can be expensive to reverse.

HIV oral health care

Every year on December 1, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. This day brings light to the battle against stopping the HIV/AIDS plague. It also discourages stigma against those living with HIV/AIDS and shows that they too can live rich and fulfilling lives when they are on medication. People living with HIV/AIDS represent a special demographic within oral healthcare and they need even extra attention given the risk they have towards contracting opportunistic infections for which the mouth can be a portal.

How HIV/AIDS affects oral health

The mouth being the proverbial mirror of the body can be a sight where the early manifestations of HIV/AIDS and its associated illnesses can show. People infected with HIV/AIDS may experience the following signs;

  1. Oral thrush which is a whitish membrane-like lesion
  2. Kaposi Sarcoma which may appear as purplish lesions
  3. Ulcers that take long to heal
  4. Red band gingivitis
  5. Dry Mouth

These can help in early diagnosis and this management before the disease progresses to debilitating stages. It is thus very important that people living with HIV monitor their oral environment and discuss any changes with their dentist or physician.

How can one cope with dental issues related to HIV

It is imperative that people with HIV maintain an even more meticulous oral hygiene regimen. They can do this by;

  1. Brushing twice a day
  2. Doing interdental cleaning
  3. Having routine dental visits to ensure that their oral health is in check
  4. Taking a very healthy diet including many fruits and vegetables for optimal health of both the teeth and the other tissues in the mouth
  5. Trying to remove all possible foci of infection in the mouth including tooth decay

When you visit your dentist, do not be shy to let them know about your status so that they can ensure that you are handled appropriately and they also can protect themselves from the virus. Unless the illness is compromising to treatment, the dentist can provide all routine treatment that may be needed just like they would in any other patient. Let us all aim to keep ourselves and each other safe while we aim to make AIDS a disease of the past.