Anuoluwapo Adebayo: @anu_chayil shares Tips on effective Oral Hygiene

We often do not feel the need to visit the dentist until we have an ache threatening to pull down half of our face; we go through our lives believing taking care of our teeth is only about avoiding bad breath. Dental care includes preventing diseases that cause pain, loss of teeth and in some extreme cases damage to the gum and bones.

A Dental care routine like any other habit can be inculcated once we understand its importance and discipline ourselves; running a soft tooth brush through your mouth absentmindedly for 30 seconds once a day would not permanently save you from experiencing any form of mouth affliction.

Most of the discomfort or illnesses we may suffer in our mouth are caused by plaque; which is the main reason we keep our teeth clean. Plaque is formed from bacteria and bits of food/drinks stuck on and between our teeth. These plaque produce acids that cause cavities that cause tooth decay or gum infection and if left untreated can destroy bone and tissues around the teeth.

Basic dental care practices include:

Brushing the teeth– This process cleans our teeth, getting rid of particles left in the mouth following consumption. Brushing removes plaque from the surface of the teeth and prevents bad breath. Brushing our teeth should be done at least 2 times a day (morning and night) and is an intentional process of cleaning every part of the mouth; the inside of the cheeks and the roof of the mouth inclusive.

Type of oral care tools – We need to consider the type of brush to use; hard brushes often bruise the gum however can be recommended for smokers or to get rid of teeth stain. Tooth brush should be changed often as it becomes frail, ineffective and can breed germs. The type of toothpaste we use is also essential; whatever the brand, make sure it has ingredients that promote healthy teeth. You can use other tools like mouth wash, chewing stick, baking soda and frequent gargling with warm water and salt.

Cleaning the tongue – The tongue is part of the mouth that is often ignored but should possibly receive the most attention; bacteria builds up on the surface of the tongue causing bad breathe and other illnesses. The tongue can be cleaned by scraping with a soft toothbrush and a tongue scraper to get rid of these layers of bacteria.

Flossing – Flossing removes plaque from between your teeth and under the gum. Proper flossing removes particles in places where a toothbrush cannot easily reach and prevents plaque build-up.

Vitamins, Minerals and Diet- Lack of certain Vitamins can cause mouth sores, bleeding gums and weak and lose teeth. Vitamin D, C and Calcium are some of the most common that ensure healthy teeth. These can be found in fruits like Lemon, Oranges and Apples; in vegetables and dairy foods. Minerals like Calcium can be taken in form of medication or in foods like Almonds, Sardines and green vegetables. Also include drinking Green tea and a lot of water in your diet as it cleanses the whole system and keeps your breathe fresh and mouth healthy.

Be careful in your consumption of garlic, coffee, sweet drinks, alcohol and habits like smoking as these can cause foul breathe and dry mouth; it is advised to chew sugarless gum, drink a lot of water or clean your mouth immediately after consumption (which may not often be realistic) so it is better to not indulge in high quantity. Note that sometimes bad breathe is an indication of a more severe problem, if it persists despite your efforts please see a doctor.

Stop dangerous habits like using pins to pick between the teeth in the absence of floss, frequent use of toothpick, biting and opening bottle covers or excessive chewing of ice cubes which can worsen the condition of sensitive teeth.

Visiting your dentist – It is recommended that you visit your dentist every 6 months not just for aesthetic reasons but for proper cleaning and check up to ensure there is no problem to fix as the dentist will know exactly what to look out for. When visiting your dentist, ask questions as well as commended practices or products. However good oral hygiene would save you the stress and funds of more frequent visits to the dentist.

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