Dumaguing: Good and healthy oral hygiene

To Your Health

FOR those gleaming white teeth and fresh breath, work on to achieve an ideal oral hygiene which involves brushing before and after breakfast and before bedtime. Some dentists are quick to add, that if possible, after every meal. Flossing daily to remove plaque can effectively control the decay of the smooth surface of the tooth.

Brushing correctly, with and up and down motion, prevents cavities from forming on the sides of the teeth while flossing gets between the teeth where the bristles of the brush cannot reach. Recommended duration of brushing is three minutes.

Fluoride can make the teeth, particularly the enamel, more resistant to the acids that erodes and cause cavities. Fluoride taken internally is particularly effective while the teeth are growing and hardening, which is up to age 11. Water fluoridation is the most effective way by which government agencies can supply its citizens.

However, too much of a good thing can also be harmful, because if the amount of fluoride is excessive, there is dental fluorosis in which the teeth becomes spotted or discolored or becomes chalky white. There are sodium fluoride drops for children and tablets for adults. Or more commonly done nowadays is the application of fluoride directly on the teeth by the dentist. Of course, toothpastes also contain fluoride.

Your columnist treasures the learning experience gained while teaching basic medical subjects to dental students in the two schools in Baguio, example is the use of sealants, to protect hard-to-reach grooves on the back teeth. The procedure involves thorough cleaning of the area, then the dentist conditions the enamel and places a liquid plastic in and over the grooves of the teeth. When the liquid hardens, it forms an effective barrier so that microbes cannot penetrate and go inside the groves.

As a rule, sealants last long, about 90 percent remains after one year and 60 percent after 10 years. Obviously, occasional repair and even replacement must be done.

Although carbohydrates can cause tooth decay to some degree, it is the sugars that are the biggest culprits, whether it is the sucrose in table sugar for your coffee or tea, or the honey or the fructose in fruits - atis, lychees, longan, chico, cantaloupe or honeydew melon - or the sugar in milk, lactose, the microbe or bacteria Streptococcus mutans starts to produce acid after 20 minutes of contact of sugar on the tooth.

It is important to emphasize and stress at this juncture, that it is not the amount of sugar which is crucial but rather the duration by which the sugar is in contact with the tooth. Thus, whether it is cookies, candies or soft drinks, rinsing the mouth or better yet, actual brushing would greatly prevent the formation of cavities. By the way, diet colas or soft drinks have ingredients in them that may contain acids which promote tooth decay.

The needs of humans are food, clothing and shelter. We eat in order to live; although for some people - pun intended - they live in order to eat. A society which thrives in a democratic atmosphere enjoys the freedom of choice, thus if food-tripping is your ultimate high experience, so be it. Thus, take good care of those *pearls’ in your mouth. Cheers!


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