Most of us consider our smile one of our most important and influential characteristics, so it’s essential to take good care the teeth and gums and make an effort to reduce the risk of oral disease and aesthetic problems, such as staining and chipped teeth.
When it comes to health, many people take their teeth for granted, but there is a high risk of dental damage and injury and oral diseases are common. The good news is that it’s actually very simple to keep oral
health problems at arm’s length and even the most minor changes to your lifestyle can have a very positive effect on your oral and general health. Both decay and gum disease are preventable, yet thousands of people in the UK suffer from these ailments; here are some of the biggest barriers to a healthy smile and some simple tips to help you enjoy strong and healthy teeth and gums:
A poor diet: diet has a major part to play when it comes to oral health and increased consumption of sugar in the modern diet has contributed to high rates of decay, especially among young children. Sugar leads to enamel wear and an increased risk of gum pain and inflammation because it causes bacteria present in plaque to release acids, which erode the enamel and irritate the gums. It is particularly damaging to eat or drink sugary foods between meals, as when you eat the enamel softens temporarily and grazing during the day means that the enamel never has chance to remineralise and re-harden. It is best to keep an eye on your sugar consumption and try to choose healthier alternatives to foods such as cakes, sweets, chocolate and ice cream.
Poor oral hygiene: brushing your teeth is simple and it only takes 2 minutes, but many people admit that they neglect teeth cleaning, especially if they are in a rush. Skipping brushing in the morning or evening increases the risk of plaque build-up, which is the main cause of decay and gum disease. Poor oral hygiene is also linked to bad breath and it usually results in tooth discolouration. A good daily oral hygiene routine should include twice daily brushing (for at least 2 minutes each time) and flossing; interdental brushing is also beneficial, as it targets the tiny spaces between the teeth, which are hard to clean properly with a normal toothbrush.
Avoid the dentist: seeing a dentist on a regular basis is really important. Many people feel slightly anxious as their appointment date creeps closer, but in reality, check-ups are very quick and they are not painful and if you keep up to date with your routine appointments, you’re much less likely to need more complex treatment. Dentists recommend 6 monthly check-ups.
Dental fear: many people blame poor attendance records at the dentist on dental fear and this can be an obstacle to good oral health. Seeing a dentist is important because dental issues can get worse with time and regular appointments ensure that any problems are treated quickly at an early stage. In cases where patients haven’t seen a dentist for years on end, there is a very real risk that they will have serious dental issues, which may also contribute to general health problems. There are various treatments and techniques, which can be helpful for patients who are anxious about going to the dentist, from painless injections to sedation.
Stress: stress is often linked to an increased risk of general illness, but it can also increase the chances of tooth wear and damage, as anxiety and stress are linked to bruxism. Bruxism is the medical name for tooth grinding. Grinding the teeth can damage the enamel, as well as contributing to aches and pains in and around the temporomandibular joint (the joint that joins the lower jaw to the skull), headaches and migraines. Dentists can provide patients with bite guards to prevent tooth grinding.
Richard is a Manchester based writer focusing on wellness and dental health. Currently he is working with the dental professionals at: http://www.diabetesclinics.co.uk/ to educate people on the importance of a healthy smile.