FEBRUARY is love month; it is also Oral Health Awareness month. The amiable assistant secretary of Department of Health, paused for a while in his vigorous campaign for measles vaccination, to encourage Filipinos to pay attention to dental health. No less than the Dr. Arlene Reyes, president of the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) spoke on national television to echo the importance of keeping our teeth in healthy and perfect condition.
For the basics, humans have 20 deciduous or the so-called “milk teeth”; so that in infants born full term (38-42 weeks or 9 calendar months) the first to erupt is the lower incisor- middle lower tooth- at six months and the rest will follow, until the 20 deciduous teeth are formed.. As children grow, depending on their oral hygiene and dietary preferences, these milk teeth would fall one by one, with a lot of variability in terms of when they fall. Eventually the so-called adult set of teeth – succedaneous teeth- will take their place, hopefully in their proper location, position and alignment, with the pesky wisdom tooth erupting last during late teens to complete the 32 set of adult dentition.
The hardest part of the human body is found in the tooth; the enamel is the outermost layer, made of hard combination of calcium phosphate (hydroxyapatite), then the middle layer is the dentine, and the pulp is the so-called root of the tooth which contains the blood vessels, and nerves that supply oxygen and nutrients.
Dr. Arlene Reyes emphasized the importance of the sequence of BFR-brush, floss and rinse. As for toothpaste, the lady dentist stressed the amount of fluoride, which should be 1.5 million ppm- which your columnist must admit, is not something he looks for when purchasing toothpaste. Anyway, the ideal is brushing the teeth after every meal, with the up and down motion, contrary to the usual practice of lateral or side to side motion; or at least, circular motion.
Apparently, there is no specific kind of bristles that are recommended, according to Dra Reyes, even soft or medium soft bristles could do the job. In fact, hard bristles could be harmful especially for those who have periodontal-gum diseases- diseases which could lead to bleeding. For busy bodies, who may not be able to follow, the three times a day, flossing after lunch, is a practical substitute as long as the evening brushing is more thorough- my dentist friends suggest 2 minutes- to be completed with tongue brushing and rinsing.
It also makes sense that a person should limit the intake of sugars; with caramel candies identified as notorious cause of tooth decay. Limiting tobacco products and alcohol help keep the mouth and teeth healthy. Tobacco, whether smoked as in cigarettes/cigar or chewed or dipped, makes gum disease worse. Also as a warning, the combination of alcohol and tobacco use for a long time has been identified as a leading cause of mouth cancer.