Getting Your Teeth Into Good Health

For some good tips on how to keep your teeth long term, and how to keep those tissues that support the teeth healthy as well, you should also get a copy of the “fact card” titled Oral Health. It’s available from pharmacies around Australia that provide the Pharmaceutical Society’s Self Care health information.

The most common cause of oral health problems is plaque. Plaque is a thin, sticky film which builds up on the teeth. It is produced by a combination of saliva, bacteria and food. The bacteria ferment sugars in the food forming acids that erode the tooth enamel. Plaque also damages the gums as well.

To completely remove plaque and food from between the teeth we should not only brush twice a day with a soft toothbrush and a fluoride paste, but also floss once a day (rinse thoroughly after flossing) or use interdental brushes. The appropriate flossing technique is detailed on the Oral Health card. A low-fluoride toothpaste is recommended for children aged 18 months to 6 years, and for children under the age of 18 months brushing without a paste is best.

Healthy eating makes healthy teeth and gums. Avoid sweet sugary drinks and snacks; and if you do snack between meals, rinse the mouth with water afterwards. Apples are said to keep the doctor away, but probably, along with other fibrous foods like celery and carrots, they could more likely keep the dentist at bay. They won’t actually clean the teeth; but these healthy foods don’t increase the risk of decay like confectionery; and they do stimulate the flow of saliva.

Saliva (we normally secrete about 1.5 litres a day) assists speech, taste and swallowing and prepares food for digestion. And a good flow of saliva also helps prevent tooth decay and protects against mouth and gum infections.

Saliva production commonly decreases with age; and there are other more preventable factors which reduce the flow of saliva such as smoking, alcohol and caffeine containing drinks (they can be dehydrating), snoring and breathing through the mouth, and also certain medicines.

In fact medicines are the most common cause of dry mouth. If you’re suffering from chronic or continual dry mouth, check with your pharmacist to see if one or more medicines could be the cause. Of course, sometimes these medicines are essential, but there are ways to minimise the dryness. Special gels, sprays, toothpastes, gums and mouthwashes are available.

For more information on keeping your mouth, teeth and gums fresh and clean and disease free, the Self Care fact cards are a useful source of information. As well as the Oral Health card there is another titled Dry Mouth; both available at High Wycombe Pharmacy

Published by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and written by John Bell

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