What is oral health care?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) good oral health is a state of being free from chronic mouth/facial pain, oral/ throat cancer, oral sores, birth defects(cleft lip and palate), periodontal /gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss and other diseases/ disorders that affect the oral cavity. Oral health goes much beyond the care for teeth. Oral disease if left unchecked may lead to systemic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and pre-term, low birth weight infants.
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What are the two common issues in oral health?
The most common forms of oral disease are:
- Gum disease/gingivitis/ periodontitis is an infection caused by bacteria under the gum tissue that destroys your gums and bone. Your teeth become loose and chewing becomes difficult. So your teeth may have to be extracted. Gum disease may also be a symptom of disease elsewhere in the body.
- Dental caries/cavities/tooth decay-a common problem for people of all ages.
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What are the other forms of oral disease?
- Infections caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi.
- Congenital defects such as cleft lip and palate.
- Manifestation of systemic diseases.
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What is dental hygiene?
Dental hygiene is the systematic and regular practice of keeping the mouth, teeth and gums clean and healthy to prevent disease.
How can I practice dental hygiene?
- Have regular nutritious meals.
- Avoid snacking in between meals.
- Protect your teeth by using fluoride toothpaste. According to dentists, fluoride is safe and beneficial for teeth.
- Floss your teeth regularly to remove plaque between the teeth.
- While brushing your teeth, make sure to clean around the gums and the backs of the teeth.
According to a new American study, brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste can lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
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How can I prevent yellowing of teeth?
- Eliminate foods and beverages that contain tannins such as wine, tea, coffee, dark sodas and juices.
- Avoid acidic foods that can make your teeth look yellow by wearing down the enamel. Such foods include citrus, coffee and soda. Always brush your teeth if you consume them. Dentists recommend waiting 30 minutes after eating before brushing the teeth.
- Eliminate tobacco products which pose the risk of nicotine stains, tooth decay and gum disease.
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How can I check gum disease?
- Brush and floss twice a day. Flossing helps to remove food and plaque from between the teeth and gums. This can lead to tartar-a hard buildup of bacteria that only a dentist can remove. Tartar can lead to gum disease.
- Choose the right toothpaste.
- Take care when rinsing out the mouth.
- Use a mouthwash.
- Quit smoking. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) opines that smoking makes you susceptible to gum disease because it weakens the immune system.
- Chewing sugar-free gum can help improve dental health.
- Have regular dental checkups which include a professional cleaning of the mouth which is the only way to remove tartar from the teeth. It also helps eliminate the plaque that you may have missed when brushing your teeth. Your dentist can help identify early signs of gum disease and gingivitis.
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