Health Matters - Caring for your Teeth

Health Matters - Caring for your Teeth

Postby Richard Akindele » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:16 pm

We're going to look at how to care for your teeth.

We've all heard the following terms applied to teeth: tooth decay, plaque, cavity, enamel, floss, etc.

Unlike the whale that changes teeth like humans change clothes, we humans only get two sets of teeth in our lifetime. The first set grows in childhood, and those are soon replaced by a more permanent set. If you lose any of that later set, it's lost forever. So, it behooves you to take utmost care of your teeth, so they last as long as possible.

Apart from losing your teeth outright, you can also lose the hard outer coating called the enamel. You absolutely don't want to lose your enamel, since that would result in varying degrees of discomfort at best, to an outright inability to eat anything sour, salty, acidic, etc. Without your enamel, you get a sharp pain each time you try.

Tooth cavity is a serious problem that most people encounter. Many end up at the dentist's to get their cavities filled with some kind of metal compound. Periodically, the filler loosens, and it has to be redone. I can imagine this is a painful procedure, but surely expensive in terms of the pocketbook.

One of the most common challenges faced by every single one of us is that of plaque. Plaque is an ugly colored deposit around each tooth. If plaque is not immediately dislodged, it builds incrementally.

The best way to solve any problem, is to understand the root cause of it. We'll later look at what causes plaque, and based on that knowledge, how to remove it. But most importantly, we'll see how to keep from getting plaque in the first place.

The number one thing you need to know about your teeth and mouth, is that when you eat anything sugary, the sugar molecules linger for a while in your mouth. With the help of enzymes in your mouth, the sugar later gets converted into acid. The acid does damage to your teeth by corroding them slowly. Since sugar corrodes your teeth, does it then mean that you should not eat or drink anything sugary? No it doesn't mean that. What it does mean is that you should not allow anything sugary you eat to remain in your mouth. However, that is easier said than done.

When you eat or drink something sweet, it does not get digested right away. It actually soaks into your tongue, where it's going to remain for some time. It's therefore a good idea to brush your teeth after eating to remove the lingering pieces of food.

As it turns out, it's not always possible to brush after every meal. Hence, you should at least, thoroughly rinse your mouth after each meal. Unfortunately, even with rinsing, what you've eaten is still harbored in your tongue for a while. It trickles out slowly, and gets converted to acid. As we said before, the acid then eats away at your enamel.

So, if it's not always possible to brush, and rinsing wouldn't remove everything in your tongue, what other methods exists to keep from enamel erosion? One solutions is to chew gum. The act of chewing gum causes a lot of saliva to be released into the mouth. Saliva has opposite properties as acid, i.e. saliva is a base. Therefore, saliva serves to neutralize any acid in your mouth. Keep chewing gum, and you'd reduce the negative impact of a sugary meal.

Your teeth is most at risk when you sleep. Whatever sugary substance you have in your mouth is converted to acid, which conveniently eats away at our enamel.

The earlier suggested solution of chewing gum is not possible when you sleep. Hence, the way to forestall teeth problems when you sleep is to not eat too close to the time you go to bed. You should also always brush not only your teeth, but also your tongue before you go to sleep. It is suicidal on your teeth to drink anything sweet, and then go to bed without brushing first. This pretty much guarantees that you'd wake up with holes in your teeth, leading to difficulty brushing, and trouble eating foods like fruits, because of their sharp taste.

That brings us to plaque. We know that sugar is transformed in your mouth to acid. Does the acid have anything to do with the formation of plaque? The human mouth is full of harmful bacteria. The bacteria react chemically with the acid in your mouth to form plaque around your teeth. If you do not care daily for your teeth, the plaque builds, giving you unsightly smile.

One way to remove plaque is by flossing. While regular flossing is good, it's always best to minimize the chance of plaque forming, by brushing and rinsing regularly after a meal, particularly before going to bed.

Other types of bacteria in the human mouth may lead to tooth decay, gum disease, gingivitis, halitosis, etc. In the worse case scenario, you could lose your teeth prematurely.

In summary, it's not too difficult to care for the teeth. All it takes is discipline. Here are things to keep in mind...

- Brush or at least rinse your mouth after every meal.
- Do not snack between meals. But if you do, rinse your mouth thoroughly.
- Chewing gum is your friend. It helps neutralize any acid in your mouth.
- Keep from eating, particularly sugary foods, just prior to going to bed.
- Never go to bed without brushing your teeth and tongue.
- Floss daily before bed to remove plaque, and dislodge food wedged between your teeth.
- A child's teeth is highly susceptible to acid, since the enamel is rather brittle. So it is worthwhile to watch your child's sugary food intake.

With these bullet points, your enamel would thank you, and you'd reduce the chance of needing teeth fillers. Remember, once your enamel is gone, it's gone. It cannot be replaced. Some toothpastes claim to rebuild enamel, but it's debatable how well they really work. So do your level best to preserve your enamel, so you don't end up with highly sensitive teeth that prevent you from eating what you want.
Richard Akindele
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