What is more universal than the beauty of a smile?
“From Boston to Beijing from Caracas to Cairo, a smile on a person’s face speaks the common language of happiness and hope. “This universal language has many facets to it however good oral health is key to our smile. The world celebrates oral health day every year on 28 Sep every year. Good oral health amounts to overall wellbeing of individuals and very simple methods of oral health and hygiene from a very tender age can bring in long lasting results and safe guard our precious smiles.
Dental care and oral health has advanced leaps and bounds in the past two decades that has brought in radical changes and has been instrumental in improving quality of life. Each one of us is trained at home and sometimes at schools regarding the right brushing technique and oral hygiene. If of us follow and few of us neglect it with certain lame excuses. We may find several articles and write up on oral health and hygiene but very few focus on doable simple methods that can keep your 32 intact with an impeccable smile on top!
How many times do you brush your teeth?
Many do it once and with recent evolution of twice brushing norm new generations have started brushing twice. It’s good for them since with every 10 years of progress we also see a new variety of sticky sugary carbs showing up as special foods. I remember as a kid we used to eat an ice-cream bar which we felt was exotic but it just had some vanilla essence and frozen milk solids. Never the less now with enhanced flavours and quality of ice-creams the amount of sugars, chocolate, corn starch and sugar syrups, jellies, jams and creams added to ice-creams its evident that there is more for the teeth to face the acid attack from these foods than an ice cream which existed 3 decades back. Hence if you have opted for twice a day brushing its good for you!
While brushing is made popular no one has thought and advertised the benefits of mouth rinsing or khullu /khulla etc as used in Hindi. Why? Since mouth rinsing does not require any special product it’s as simple as it can be, since it needs only water. While this can be the most effective one if practised religiously after each of your meal and drink. I think at least most of the Indian households encourage children to rinse mouth after each meal, it should be further stretched to mouth rinsing every time you eat or drink a sugary stuff. This simple method of mouth rinsing is one of the most effective way to regulate Ph balance in the mouth and prevent dental caries.
Thanks to commercials of toothpaste and brushes who have reached intensively across the world promoting brushing twice using a toothpaste. But actually speaking u need to brush your teeth which you can do using simple salt. However, toothpaste was introduced as medium of foaming while brushing and improve breath. Traditionally India has been using the datoon made from neem or babool and a religious practice of rinsing every time you eat or drink. However, things change for good and sometimes we make a full circle, that is what is happening with current dental products and its promotions. Recent past there was a commercial which made rounds on Facebook and whats app talking of coal, lime and salt in tooth paste as special ingredient to brush your teeth sparkling clean. However, I still remember the Colgate add of two wrestler’s way back in 1980s, “sehat keliye doodh badam aur daton keliye koaila! “(You have milk and almonds for body building and use coal for brushing your teeth) then the doctor explains to him that coal is coarse and it will cause caries and infection and make teeth weak etc, and hence switch to Colgate toothpaste fine soft white powder that make teeth smart. So we all religiously took to tooth paste and powders, gradually with advance research its now the turn of carbon/coal, lime, salt, Meswaak and baking soda making news as these are fortified in various toothpastes. Film actors promoting the same asking what you have in your tooth paste?
And if there is no salt or lime or coal or neem it’s a sin J Well this is adding loads of confusion to one of the simplest and important hygiene routine amongst the people at large. What to follow to maintain good oral health?
Well here’s a summary of things that we can follow to keep our pearly smiles intact:
A 2010 study published in the British Medical Journal concluded that people who brushed less than twice a day had an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, due to inflammation and loss of connective tissue and bone support of the teeth. In the BMJ study, people who brushed their teeth less than twice a day, habitually, had a 70 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Oral hygiene is important not just for general health and wellbeing of an individual but also for heart health. “A thin film of organic matter, called a biofilm, forms quickly on our teeth throughout a day. Left undisturbed, this turns into plaque, which can harden within 24 hours.” So what is ideal method to maintain oral health and hygiene?
How many times to brush once or twice?
- Well we need to brush at least once but ideal is to brush twice every day.
- Followed by a plain water mouth rinse and cleaning teeth with finger every time we eat or drink in the entire day.
- To be more precise rub and clean the teeth with finger till you get a squeaky noise as you clean.
Traditional method of cleaning using twigs of Neem or Meswaak with a bit of salt is very effective. Since these twigs have anti Anti-plaque, Anti-cavity and Antibacterial. In fact, Meswaak stalks also have high concentration of cavity fighting fluoride. These methods have been researched and assessed and have been accepted as effective methods. Additionally, what I like about this method is its eco-friendly and perfect hygiene of the tooth brush since the tip used for brushing is new everyday! unlike the tooth brushes we use which have volley of germs on them irrespective of whatever tooth brush and paste you use. In fact, our tooth brushes are adding more germs in the mouth as we brush!
What is ideal agents for cleaning and brushing your teeth?
- Use of any fluoride based tooth paste is ideal
- Using a traditional herbal preparation or herbal tooth paste will also bring in equal effect like commercial toothpastes
- Since tooth paste is only a medium of foaming to clean and remove acid and maintain Ph balance and it does not effectively remove plaque.
How long do you use your tooth brush and how to clean the brush?
- Tooth brushes ideal get worn in close to 3 months it’s good to change tooth brush every 3 months
- After brushing, however, let your toothbrush dry in the open air and sunlight for some time, to help reduce the spread of germs.
- Avoid storing tooth brushes in closed boxes when wet and do not leave them open in a bathroom it will turn a breeding ground to several germs from and might impact oral hygiene
- It is also important to change toothbrushes after you’ve had a cold, the flu, a mouth infection or a sore throat.
- That’s because germs can hide in toothbrush bristles and lead to reinfection.
- Even if you haven’t been sick, fungus and bacteria can develop in the bristles of your toothbrush —another reason to change your toothbrush regularly.
Kids Dental Care:
Start cleaning the milk teeth as early as the teeth erupts and use a thin muslin cloth dipped in sterile water and rub gently and clean and the tongue as well. Encourage them to eat more of fresh fruits veggies and wholesome cereals and limit consumption of refined foods, sugary snacks and drinks which promote dental caries and early degradation of of deciduous or milk teeth.
- Avoid night feeds of milk in case the baby is used to make a point and have patience to clean the babies mouth with a wet muslin cloth
- Train your child as early as 1 year to brush teeth twice a day and at least for two minutes every time
- Train children to rinse the mouth each time they eat or drink water this will help in preventing plaque building from a very early age and thus creating happy smiles!
Geriatric Dental Care:
With greying hair, we also see tainted teeth and teeth loss in old age. However, tooth lost in the natural course of aging causes no trauma and not pain and you might still be able to eat food a little less and chew it a little less so also your gut function slows down with age which compels you to eat less and probably falling teeth are a sign to eat less. J However, with advancements in cosmetic dentistry you have varied methods of dental care and protection. Which will improve your quality of life and smile!
- If you have been in a habit of chewing tobacco, smoking, etc it will lead to early decay of the tooth. Hence avoiding substance abuse is ideal to safe guard dentition for longer time.
- Also remember frequent gum infections and pain in the teeth with chronic pre-existing conditions like diabetes can worsen the condition.
- It’s ideal to seek dental advice and follow up from time to time to prevent serious infections.
Diet and Dental Care
Eating whole grains cereals pulses, and colourful fruits and vegetables and less of refined flours and sugars will do good to overall health including the dental health. Adding too much of sugary colas, bakery snacks and vacuum packed snacks, poor oral hygiene will only add to more tooth decay and oral health issues.
Dental care is usually not followed seriously until you have agonising pain and affecting your chewing and eating your food. Brain fog, autoimmune disease, gut infection or imbalance, heart diseases and fatigue can be some of the problems caused by inflammation and your mouth is sometimes your first line of defense against foreign material.” Hence its ideal to have a dental check at least once in a year especially if you suffer from the following conditions
- Gum diseases (bleeding gums), inflammation and pain while eating and shrinking gums
- dental caries, mouth ulcers and frequent boils in mouth
- staining on teeth, crooked teething, impacted tooth etc
This will help in preventing and saving tooth/teeth loss, preventing major health issues that start from the oral cavity and improve you overall quality of life. So never ignore dental troubles and attend to resolve these issues at the earliest.