FIVE TIPS FOR HEALTHY TEETH AND GUMS
Did you know that one third of Australian adults suffer from tooth decay?
And it’s the most widespread chronic disease for children!
We don’t fare any better when it comes to gum disease, it turns out. At least 30 per cent of Australians have this condition, according to the National Study of Adult Oral Health.
These oral health problems often cause pain, difficulty eating and embarrassment when socialising with others.
Even more alarmingly, research suggests that people with untreated oral infections are more likely to develop chronic illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and dementia.
The good news:
Many oral health problems are easily prevented by taking care of your teeth and gums.
Why is this?
Sugar-feeding plaque is the main culprit behind oral infections, especially when left to linger on teeth and gums. Your best defence against decay is being diligent with your oral hygiene, and lowering your sugar intake.
Five tips for oral care:
- Brush your teeth twice a day, for at least two minutes each time.
A dentist told me that most people brush their teeth incorrectly.
The up-and-down or back-and-forth motion the most people use isn’t the best approach. You should brush in tiny circles, and include your tongue (to improve breath freshness and eliminate the potential for plaque to build up).
And don’t forget to floss your teeth every second day or so, otherwise food particles will build up between your teeth.
2. Cut down on the sugar
The bacteria Streptococcus feeds on sugar and causes havoc in your mouth if it isn’t cleaned away. I’m not saying you should completely eliminate sweet foods and drinks, but don’t go overboard. Limit sugar to the occasional indulgence. And if you can’t brush your teeth straight after indulging, at least rinse your mouth to wash away some of the sugar.
3. Eat more nourishing foods
Your gums and teeth need healthy microbes to protect against decay, so it’s a good idea to consume foods and beverages that are high in certain vitamins and probiotics. Examples include fermented cheese, sauerkraut, yoghurt, apples, eggs, carrots and leafy greens.
4. Quit smoking
If you smoke, bad bacteria is more likely to build up on your teeth and cause problems (thanks to the tobacco). Smoking can also aggravate a dry mouth, and bad bacteria thrives in this environment as there isn’t enough saliva to rinse it away.
5. Chew sugar-free gum
This is one way to stimulate more saliva production, to help keep your mouth clean. If you’re taking medication that causes dryness in your mouth, ask your doctor if there are any alternatives (but don’t stop taking the medication without talking to your doctor first). Limiting caffeine and frequently sipping on water can also boost saliva levels in your mouth.
Finally it’s a good idea to visit your dentist on a regular basis (at least once a year) to get your mouth thoroughly cleaned. Your dentist will also check for any problems and intervene quickly.
It’s also important to get your children comfortable with seeing the dentist too, so they set up good oral hygiene habits from a young age. Your children may be eligible for basic dental services covered by the federal government – whether you’re seeing a dentist in Double Bay or any other location in Australia.