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How can I keep my teeth and gums healthy

Published on Sun, 05 Aug 2012 17:55:04 +0530

How can I keep my teeth & gums healthy?

A bit of advice on what you eat and drink: Your body is like a motor vehicle. For smooth running, a motor vehicle needs a good quality fuel to generate power, needs regular maintenance, and periodic servicing by experts.

Even for your body, the same principle applies. You need:

  • A good healthy diet to produce energy and repair the wear & tear
  • Stick to good practices of personal hygiene, and
  • Needs regular check-ups by doctors to detect & treat abnormalities at early stages.

So when we consider the health of teeth and gums, the same principles applies. What you need to do is:

  • Have a balanced diet rich in nutrients and restrict sugars & in-between snacking
  • Brush your teeth & gums well at least twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste
  • Visit your dentist for regular checkups

Have a balanced diet

Your diet may contain variety of items. But to get a maximum nutritious value of your diet, it should have six basic elements of nutrition in correct proportions. These are: Starch, Proteins, Fat, Minerals, Vitamins and Water.

However, a single food item does not contain all essential elements in correct proportions. Some foods are rich in starch; some are rich in fats and so on. So when you eat, you have to mix food items appropriately to get the correct balance. The diet that contains correct proportions of those elements is called as a 'balanced diet'.

If you do not get a balanced diet, you may fill the stomach but you may not get the adequate nutrition that is needed for your body and as a result, your health can go down. For example, if your gums do not get good nutrition, resistance to disease diseases will be lower and may contribute to periodontal (gum) disease. Similarly if your teeth do not get a good nutrition during the period of tooth development, it can affect the teeth adversely and such teeth can decay easier than normal teeth.

It is also important to remember that taking excess of one element more than the required can sometimes cause ill health. For example people who eat a lot of 'fatty' foods tend to develop heart diseases. Therefore, eating patterns and food choices among people are very important.

Form the oral health point of view, the following are some poor dietary practices that can harm your teeth & gums.

  • Eating lot of sugars of any kind, (for example: toffees, chocolates, biscuits, sweetened soft drinks, pastries, buns etc) can cause tooth decay.
  • Frequent snacking makes food particles to stick in the mouth for longer time and that might leads to tooth decay.
  • Getting used to carbonated drinks be able to dissolve teeth (tooth erosion).
  • Use of tobacco of any kind (like betel-chewing, smoking), use of areca-nut, taking alcohol, may cause cancer to develop in your mouth.

So here are some dietary tips that you can practice to keep good oral health.

  • Have a balanced diet with variety of natural food items like vegetables & fruits that are rich in nutrients.
  • Restrict sugars and processed foods whenever possible.
  • Stick to main meals whenever possible and try to limit the number of snacks that you take. When you need a snack, choose nutritious foods, such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, or a piece of fruit.
  • Do not get addicted to harmful habits like smoking, betel-chewing and drinking alcohol.

Brush your teeth & gums

There are a few things you should consider when brushing your teeth... The device, ingredients, method, duration and frequency.

What device should I use for tooth brushing?

For tooth brushing always use a toothbrush.

Choosing a toothbrush

To select a good toothbrush you need look for only two features.

  • Small head (to move the brush inside the mouth without much difficulty)
  • Soft bristles (to remove the soft plaque without damaging the gums).

The other features of a toothbrush, that is the shape of the head, angle of the neck, shape of the surface of bristles are not that much important and it all depend on your personal choice.

When you buy a toothbrush for a child of 2-3 years, buy a one with small head and thick handle to grip it easily.

Electric toothbrushes can also be useful, particularly for people who find difficult to practice correct brushing techniques.

What ingredient should I use for tooth brushing?

For tooth brushing always use toothpaste. Tooth powders are not suggested as most tooth powders contain ‘larger abrasives particles’ and that will remove the outer portion of teeth gradually resulting tooth wear (tooth abrasions)

Selecting good toothpaste

The best toothpaste is one that contains recommended amount of fluorides, manufactured and endorsed by a reputed company /organization. Therefore when you want to buy a toothpaste look for its fluoride content displayed on the carton. Accepted amount is 0.1% (or 900 -1000ppm) of fluoride.




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