Most people blame their bad teeth on their genes. However, anyone can have good teeth provided the fight against tooth decay and gum disease starts as early as possible.
We are lucky to have very strong, healthy tooth in Africa, but the adoption of a western diet is beginning to take its toll on our teeth. Children are often affected, as the best way to appease most children is to offer sugary treats, sweets, chocolates, biscuits and cakes as well as the other sticky things that children love are prime candidates for tooth decay.
Her are some tips to help you look after your teeth:
- Caring for the teeth starts with regular thorough cleaning of the mouth with toothpaste and toothbrush.
- Avoid all sugary things as far as possible. If you must eat them, always brush your teeth afterwards.
- Have a regular teeth check with your dentist at least every six months. Do not wait until you start having problems.
- Use a toothbrush with nylon bristles, flat along the top and densely packed. The bristles must be soft enough to flex over the tooth surfaces, reach into the gum crevices and into the bits between the teeth. The belief that soft bristles clean less than hard is unfounded. The truth is that hard bristles may cause pain when used which in turn prevents proper brushing around the gums, hence the build up of plaque.
According to research on oral care, 32% of Nigerians for instance, claimed that they change their toothbrush every two to three months, 38% change theirs every six months, and only 5% change theirs every month. Get into the habit of changing your brush as soon as the bristles wear out. Used judiciously, a tooth brush should last three months.
- Proxy products like herbal chewing sticks, ash charcoals, ground porcelain or salt are still used widely in rural areas. Users swears by them, particularly the chewing sticks, which they claim are effective against mouth odour and gum diseases. If these work for you, fine, but it is important to make a habit of an occasional dental evaluation to be on the safe side.
- Go to the dentist if your teeth are badly stained and have it professionally cleaned. Avoid using tooth powders, whiteners or gel stain remover.
- Dental flossing is not a common practice whereas it is still been seen as foreign and too much trouble. Flossing is good in removing plaque between tooth surfaces. It is available in waxed or unwaxed form. Whichever onebyou choose, flossing needs a certain amount of skill, which comes with practice. However if you find floss too cumbersome try the dental floss ''holders' which hold the floss tightly between two prongs, making sliding between teeth much easier.
- Brush teeth thoroughly once a day, but preferably twice (ideally first thing in the morning and in the evening after eating), to ensure that the bacteria within the plaque will not permeate the gum tissue, scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper or a toothbrush to remove built up food deposits, which can cause mouth odour.
- Finally, choose your dentist wisely. If you are visiting a General Hospital for dental treatment, you may be limited for choices in terms of the demands you make, unlike if it is a private dental clinic.
Your teeth and mouth are beauty assets and as such are worth maintaining. So try and keep those teeth of yours clean and healthy.