How to prevent Tooth Decay? Importance of Dental Hygiene

Significance of Dental Hygiene:

Dental hygiene is very important since teeth play an important role in chopping and grinding of the food before digestion. If proper care is not taken the teeth and the gums get infected and ultimately the teeth undergo decay and fall out.

Dental Hygiene

Dental Hygiene

While mastication the food particles enter into the space between the teeth and lodge. These particles of food should be cleaned thoroughly otherwise they get decomposed cause infection of the gums slowly damaging the teeth produce decay and extend into the root of the teeth cause severe pain and ultimately the tooth has to be removed.

Therefore regular brushing and flossing of teeth should be done in proper method. Before going onto the details of care of gums and teeth, let us know the structure of the tooth which helps to understand the preventive measures to be taken.

Structure of the tooth:

We have two sets of teeth in our life time. The first set appearing in childhood are the primary or milk teeth and the secondary permanent teeth erupting in the later part of childhood replace the milk teeth. The gums hold the teeth firmly in the jaw and protect the teeth from decay.

English: Cross section showing parts of tooth....

English: Cross section showing parts of tooth. Deutsch: Querschnitt eines Zahns. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The teeth have got two parts. The outer visible part in the mouth is called the ‘crown’ and the portion embedded in the jaw is called the ‘root’. The root is fixed firmly in the jaw bone. The crown is covered with a hard material called ‘enamel’. This is the hardest material in the body.

However due to constant grinding and aging the enamel gets worn out in small patches and decay of the tooth starts. Beneath the enamel the layer another hard layer which is ivory like material called ‘dentin’ is present and covers the ‘pulpy’ portion of the tooth. This layer is sensitive to heat, cold and pain since this portion of the tooth is supplied with tiny nerves and blood vessels.

The part below the gum line is the root which is fixed into the jaw bone firmly. Primary teeth are 20 in numbers appears between 6 months to 3 years. These are also known as deciduous or milk teeth. Secondary teeth are 32 in numbers appear at the age of 6-21years. The primary teeth are replaced by permanent teeth. The secondary teeth are maintained throughout the life of the individual.

The teeth are classified into three categories according to the nature of the work they perform grinding, cutting or holding the food as Incisors, canines and molars. By the action of the jaws the food is cut and grinded before it goes into the stomach for digestion.

What are the measures to be taken to keep the teeth healthy?

Brushing Teeth

Brushing Teeth

Brushing of the teeth:

Brushing of teeth should be done twice once in the morning and for the second time in the night before going to the bed. It is better to do brushing after every meal practically it is not possible. Brushing should be done carefully and methodically to remove all the food particles trapped in between the teeth.

  • Use always a soft and small headed brush.
  • Use a tooth paste containing fluoride.
  • Clean all the surfaces of the teeth both outside and inside.
  • Gently clean the junctions of the gums and the teeth to prevent injury to the gums.
  • Brush the teeth in small circular motions at about 450 angle.
  • After finishing brushing thoroughly gargle the mouth to clean all the particles present in the mouth.

Flossing of the teeth:

During grinding, the food enters the space in between the teeth. It is difficult to remove them by ordinary brushing. Therefore flossing is required to dislodge them. Flossing should be done daily. ‘Floss’ is a smooth thread or tape used for cleaning the space in between the teeth. The floss is passed carefully in between the space and with a firm grip with the two middle fingers it is rubbed gently making like a letter ‘C’. All the teeth are cleaned carefully without harming the gums. After flossing dispose off the floss and gargle the mouth thoroughly.

What are the other measures to maintain good oral health?

  • Avoid sweets, Chocolates and candies which are the agents causing tooth decay. Gargling of the mouth should be done after meal.
  • Do not prick the space in between the teeth with sharp objects which may damage the gums.
  • Take well balanced diet containing more calcium to make the teeth strong and to keep them healthy. Include green vegetables and fresh fruits in the diet,
  • Along with calcium Vitamin D also should be taken to help for absorption of calcium. Milk and milk products contain Vitamin D. Body can also synthesize Vitamin D from the sunlight through the skin.
  • Regular check up with a qualified dentist periodically helps to identify the problems early and treat.
  • Children should be taught from young age itself the proper method of brushing the teeth.
  • Chewing tobacco, smoking cigarettes, drinking excess amounts of coffee and tea should be avoided. Avoid eating Pan (Betel leaves) and supari responsible for staining of the teeth. Exposure to certain drugs also causes staining of teeth.

See the dentist immediately if you see the following symptoms:

  • Black spots on the teeth or cavities in the teeth
  • If you are experiencing any pain or sensitivity if you take hot or cold substances
  • Bleeding through the gums
  • Pain in any teeth
  • Swollen gums
  • Offensive smell through the mouth
  • Excessive formation of tartar and tanning of teeth
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