Welcome to the final episode of my 2-part series titled “Mouth Proud!” The aim of this series is to empower Ghanaians to value and take care of their mouths because good oral health can help you live a longer and healthier life. Last week, I touched on the need to start good oral health habits early by taking care of your offspring’s mouth at a very young age. I also expatiated on the importance of eating a balanced, low-sugar diet to reduce the risk of tooth decay, obesity and diabetes. Today, I will be highlighting on the remaining two (2) key areas to help you become proud of your mouth.
- Practice a good oral hygiene routine:
This point may sound cliché especially if you are the type who brushes the teeth every morning. One may ask, “Isn’t brushing in the morning enough?” Well, practicing a good oral hygiene entails other routines such as brushing before bedtime, replacing your tooth brush every 3 months, flossing your teeth, brushing your tongue, using a fluoride-containing toothpaste and spending two (2) minutes to brush your teeth. If you do not brush before bedtime, food residues lodged in your mouth during the day are left untouched. Consequently, sleeping for 6-8 hours with these food residues promotes decay-causing bacteria to feed on them and produce acids that weaken the outer structure of the teeth. This ultimately results in tooth decay. Nevertheless, it is also very important to replace your toothbrush often because brushing with an old brush may not be effective in removing food residues and bacteria. Additionally, flossing your teeth at least once a day helps to clean difficult-to-reach areas in your mouth and this helps to reduce chances of gum disease and tooth decay. Brushing the tongue prevents tongue coatings which are the major culprits for bad breath. When it comes to toothpaste, I always advise my clients to use a fluoride-containing toothpaste even though there are so many toothpastes on the market that tout certain qualities such as whitening power, hot taste and amazing flavours. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral incorporated in toothpaste to help strengthen your teeth. Kindly look out for it on the ingredients section of a toothpaste. Also, do not rinse with water after brushing but rather spit out any excess toothpaste because washing with water can dilute and wash the protective fluoride away.
- Visit the dentist regularly:
A stitch in time truly saves nine when it comes to oral conditions such as tooth decay and gum disease. Just because you do not see or feel anything doesn’t mean everything is fine in your mouth. Tooth decay often starts without any pain and that is why 6 monthly check-ups at the dental clinic are essential. Tooth decay commences as a painless white spot discoloration on the tooth. At this stage, the decay is reversible by fluoride application at home and other non-invasive procedures at the dental clinic. If nothing is done about it, it progresses into a visible hole in the tooth. You may or may not feel any pain or sensitivity at this stage. This type of decay cannot be treated at home and needs to be filled at the dental clinic. When the hole gets deeper, one will begin to experience severe pain, food entering the hole easily, sensitivity and sometimes a swelling around the tooth and this requires the dentist to assess it properly, treat the infection with medications and perform a delicate procedure called a root canal treatment. If the decay is still ignored, constant chewing forces will render the tooth to become badly broken down and this will require an extraction (tooth removal) followed by a replacement with a dental prosthesis (bridge or implant). As the situation advances, the treatment becomes costly. In actual fact, dentistry is not expensive; negligence is.
I conclude this series by reassuring all my awesome readers that oral health diseases or conditions are preventable and they can be treated in the early stages so let us all endeavour to put our best foot forward when it comes to oral care because maintaining a good oral health has a positive impact on our general health, well-being and quality of life.
Thanks for reading.
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