What can you do to look after one of the most important parts of your body?

FIRSTLY, RECOGNISE THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR TEETH.

Do you realise all the benefits which derive from having a healthy set of teeth?

1. SEX APPEAL.

A nice smile, and nice looking teeth, are one of the most potent aids to sex appeal around. It is no coincidence that all the models you see advertising products with any sort of appeal to the sense of aesthetics, have beautiful smiles. It is also no coincidence that when people want to create the image of nastiness and evil then it is a common ploy to have the character showing a missing tooth in the front. You have all seen it in the movies and in plays and you know what I mean. The people whose job it is to shape public awareness and perception know that things like this create an impression and you should too. It may not be fair to judge people on things like that but that is how people react both subconsciously and consciously. There is also an element of truth in this perception. If somebody cares so little about themselves, then it is reasonable to speculate about the consequences of this lack of selfworth on other aspects of that person’s life and work.

2. HEALTH AND WELLBEING.

Imagine a diet of tinned mush, pureed veges, with custard for dessert for your meals…bleh!

What do you think allows you to enjoy the feeling of biting into a thick slice of crusty fresh, wholegrain bread. Or that crisp apple which gives off that satisfying crunch as you bite down hard.

A director of the world famous Mayo Clinic once commented that a healthy set of teeth added 10 years to a person’s life. Just imagine, 10 extra years AND enhanced sex appeal.

How will you get the fibre your body needs to function properly if you can’t chew the foods which are rich in fibre? How can you eat the variety of fruits and vegetables and nuts etc., that will allow you to bring together all the nutrients that your body needs? In other words, how can you eat the foods you need to stay healthy if you can’t chew the food to allow your body to assimilate the nutrients it contains, and how can you chew the foods if you don’t have an adequate number of teeth which

- are strong enough to withstand the pressures of chewing
- meet evenly so that all the pressures of chewing and biting together are evenly distributed.

This means that there is less chance of food catching and jamming between teeth and it also means that the Temporomandibular joints are protected from excess pressure with much less likelihood of joint degeneration in later years.

3. FEELING GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF

People often feel a little hesitant about getting something done that will make them look better.

The contribution to your health, which comes from feeling good about yourself should not be underestimated nor derided.

It has been shown that mental attitude is a very important factor in the maintenance of health. People should be encouraged to feel good about themselves both physically and mentally. If they feel good about themselves they will also tend to feel good about others and a more positive atmosphere will tend to exist.

If you look good, you feel good, if you can chew comfortably and enjoy a variety of foods with no restrictions because your teeth can’t handle it, you can’t help but be ahead on the path of health.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO EFFECTIVELY LOOK AFTER AND MAINTAIN YOUR TEETH?

There are 2 main areas:

  1. Diet
  2. Plaque Control

DIET

The foods you eat will effect your health in more ways than one. If you continually eat foods which are unsuitable for your body then the longterm effect is one of tissue breakdown. This is as true for your teeth as it is for any other organ in your body.

Of most immediate concern to the teeth is the acidity of the foods which are eaten and their sugar content. An excess of citrus fruits can have a damaging effect on the teeth because it will tend to dissolve the enamel. We are looking at a continuous and constant consumption over a period of time and anyone with such a habit would be well advised to rinse their mouth with water immediately afterwards, at the very least. Concentrated fruit juices in large and frequent quantities could also be a problem. Lest anyone reading this starts to feel that maybe they shouldn’t have that glass of orange juice, be assured that unless you are having glasses of the stuff day in, day out, then you have little to be concerned about.

Of more serious concern is the consumption of refined carbohydrate which is present in processed foods including sweets, chocolates and softdrinks like Coke, which are a chemical conglomeration of acids, loads of sugar, preservatives and additives. Products such as these (I refuse to call them foods) which are high in refined carbohydrates bring about more plaque formation and higher levels of acid in the mouth. The higher acid levels come about because of higher concentration of sugar which is converted by the bacteria in the mouth leaving high acid levels as a by-product.

In a nutshell…

ANYONE WHO EATS OR DRINKS THESE THINGS ON A REGULAR BASIS, SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASES THEIR CHANCES OF HAVING DENTAL DISEASE.

The better our diet, the better will be not only our dental health but also our general health. As a general guide, the type of foods we should be considering are in the following categories:

- dairy products
- poultry
- fish
- lean meats
- fresh produce
- wholegrain products
- starch vegetables

Specific vitamins and minerals found to have an influence on dental health include:

- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B complex
- Zinc
- Calcium
- Magnesium
- Phosphorous

PLAQUE REMOVAL

There are 2 very important inventions now available to Australians to assist them in this most important task. They go by the acronyms ‘hapra’ and ‘fipra’.

These 2 inventions have transformed the dental futures of hundreds of thousands of Australians and have allowed them to look after their teeth simply and effectively in such a way that, barring accidents, these people can confidently look forward to keeping their teeth for the rest of their lives.

Wouldn’t you like this to be true for you too?

The acronyms stand for
Hand Activate Plaque Removal Appliance and
Flexible Interdental Plaque Removal Appliance

I refer of course to the toothbrush and to dental floss.

Brushing should be carried out in an up and down fashion so that the bristles can flex between the teeth as much as possible on the outside as well as the inside of the teeth. Because the inside is harder to reach, a lot of people have healthy gums on the outside but inflamed gums on the inside. Spend a little more time on the inside and make sure to get right in at the back. On the biting surfaces, you can brush backwards and forwards. Some people have difficulty with hand brushes and I have no hesitation in recommending an electric toothbrush. Originally I thought this was a gimmick of the consumer generation but after using one for over 7 years I can heartily recommend them as a valuable aid to dental care. It is particularly useful in a family where there are young children who may lack the coordination to use a hand toothbrush. They are readily available and are a very inexpensive form of insurance...get one!!

Flossing is very, very, important. It will get to the areas where the toothbrush can’t i.e., between your teeth. These are the areas most prone to problems. Flossing is like riding a bike. It is much easier to show than to write about. Basically, it consists of wrapping a length of floss around the finger of one hand, and the finger or thumb of the other hand. Arranging it in such a way that these fingers are about 1 to 2 cms apart, the floss is then manouvered between the teeth and rubbed up and down against the surface of each tooth in much the same way you might polish the side of a cabinet. This is then repeated on all the teeth…top, bottom, left, right, back, front.

If you do this, you will effectively remove all the plaque from your teeth. If you remove the plaque you will:

- stop gum disease and infection
- stop decay
- stop bad breath
- stop bleeding gums

If your fillings are rough and corroded and make it difficult to keep your teeth clean…have these fillings replaced. You must be able to clean your teeth easily and thoroughly if you are to be able to keep your teeth for the rest of your life.

Ideally, brush after each meal if you can. Floss at least once every day…usually after the evening meal so that you go to bed with a clean mouth. Avoid in between meal snacks if you can’t brush your teeth, unless you are having health foods…nuts, carrots, etc.

So there you have it.

Eat properly and make sure that you use your ‘hapra’ and ‘fipra’ effectively and you should SMILE IN STYLE for the rest of your (10 years longer and more sex appealing) life.

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