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The importance of taking care of the mouth

The mouth is also part of the body, and therefore needs to be taken care of for the health of the whole body.

  • Strong healthy teeth are needed to chew food well, before it can be passed to the stomach where it can be made finer for use by the body. Teeth also help you to speak properly.
  • Decayed or rotten teeth and gurn disease, which are caused by not cleaning our teeth, can cause serious diseases in other parts of the body. The mouth also looks and smells bad.

WHAT CAUSES TOOTH DECAY AND GUM DISEASE?

If you scrape your teeth with your fingernail you will see a soft, white substance - this is called plaque. The common enemy of both teeth and gums is plaque. It is always present on your teeth, and it contains a lot of germs. These germs feed on the food you eat, especially food that has sugar in it, and form acid. The acid then eats away the teeth to form holes - this is the beginning of tooth decay. This happens when teeth are not brushed regularly.

When teeth are not brushed regularly, the germs collect and start to irritate the gums. The gums then become red and swollen, and also bleed easily when you brush or eat something hard like an apple. Plaque also becomes hard to form tartar and destroys the bone that supports your teeth. Your teeth then become loose and may even fall out or need to be taken out by your dentist.

 

What most people do not realise is that food is also important for healthy teeth and gums. People who do not eat the right food have more gum disease and tooth decay and are generally not healthy.

DO YOU KNOW THAT TOBACCO IS ALSO BAD FOR YOUR MOUTH?

Not only does smoking leave brown and unattractive stains on your teeth, but this habit also causes bad breath. It also causes severe gum disease, and can cause mouth cancer.

Smokeless tobacco, either chewed or in snuff form, is also harmful. Smokeless tobacco can be chewed, placed against the gums or inhaled through the nostrils. Many people do not realize that it can cause cancer, especially on the gums and soft tissues of the mouth. It can also cause unsightly stains on the teeth. Mouth cancer, if left too long, can be very difficult to cure, and it can also spread to the rest of the body and can kill you.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT THE CONDITIONS AND DISEASES IN THE MOUTH?

KEEP YOUR TEETH CLEAN ALL THE TIME

  • Brush at least twice a day
  • Use a soft toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride for strong teeth.
  • Rinse your mouth after eating, especially sweet foods.
  • FOLLOW THIS METHOD TO MAKE SURE YOU BRUSH CORRECTLY:

    Starting at the back, brush two teeth at a time with round (circular) movements

    Do the same for the inside of the teeth

    Brush the chewing part of the teeth with back and forth movements. Do this for the upper and lower teeth.

    Brush the front upper and lower teeth with short strokes. Do not forget to gently brush the tongue.

    EAT THE RIGHT FOOD

    Like your body, your teeth need good food to stay healthy: fruit, vegetables, dairy products like milk and cheese, and starches found in porridge and brown bread are foods that will keep your mouth and body healthy. You do not have to buy expensive food - do you know that morogo has vitamins and mopani worms have lots of protein?

    Foods like cakes, biscuits, sweets, honey, and syrup are not good for your teeth. Try to eat them during mealtimes, and not between meals. What you may not know is that it is the length of time that your teeth are exposed to sugar, and not the amount of sugar that is important. The longer the sugar stays in the mouth the more the chance for acid to be formed. That is why it is very bad to eat sweet things the whole day or to eat sticky sweets, as they stay longer in the mouth.

    If you need to snack, use foods that do not have added sugar, for example, popcorn, carrots, apples or otherfruit.

HAVE YOUR TEETH CHECKED REGULARLY

Sometimes things go wrong in our mouths, even when we take the utmost care. It is therefore important to have our mouths checked regularly. In this way gum disease, tooth decay and other conditions can be seen before they can get worse. A small hole can be filled, and you do not have to lose the tooth, gum disease can be treated if seen early, and even mouth cancer if treated in time can be cured. You will also receive advice on how to prevent or control these conditions.

Source: Department: Health - Republic of South Africa


  Article Date: 23 October 2006

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