Poor Oral Health Affects Billions Worldwide
Dental cavities and periodontal (gum) disease are the two most common oral diseases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Gum diseases include gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (where pus-filled pockets from between the teeth and gum) that affect many adults. Dental cavities, on the other hand, affect 60 – 90 percent of schoolchildren worldwide.
“The burden of disease in many areas can only be estimated: about one-third of the populations in developing countries or close to 1.3 billion people will require oral/dental pain relief (including extraction of teeth) on three occasions during their lifetime; most of the remaining two-thirds, approximately 2.4 billion people, will need five or more extractions,” according to the WHO.
Tooth decay starts when bacteria in the mouth convert the sugars and carbohydrates you eat into acid. All these form into plaque, a sticky deposit that clings to teeth. Over time, plaque destroys the tooth’s outer enamel surface and cavities are formed.
“Tooth decay takes time to develop, after a year or two in permanent teeth but less in primary teeth. The initial formation of acid occurs within the first 20 minutes after you eat,” said Dr. David E. Larson, editor-in-chief of the “Mayo Clinic Family Health Book.”
To reverse this trend and preserve your teeth, what should you do? How can you save your teeth and avoid joining the ranks of many toothless people? Follow these simple steps and encourage your children to do the same:
Brush your teeth at least twice a day (in the morning and in the evening) or after every meal or snack. Use dental floss before brushing, preferably at night, to clean areas your toothbrush can’t reach.
Clean baby’s gums twice a day with a moist cotton ball. Once his or her primary teeth erupt, clean this with a soft cotton towel until he or she is ready to brush.
Visit the dentist at least twice a year or more frequently if you have dental problems. A child should start seeing a dentist at age two to three years.
Use a fluoride tooth paste when brushing. You can also get fluoride from supplements, mouthwashes, apples, eggs, sea foods and tea.
Eat a well-balanced diet, especially foods rich in calcium and phosphorus, to make your teeth strong. Calcium is found in milk, cheese, sardines and salmon. You can get phosphorus from lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, dried peas and beans.
Avoid chewy foods, hard candies, chewing gum, caramels, dried fruits, and other sweets that stick to the teeth. These promote tooth decay than soft drinks, fruit juices, ice cream and other foods which are cleared from the mouth quickly. If you can’t control your appetite, brush afterwards or rinse your mouth with water.
Don’t put the baby to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice. That can damage his or her teeth. Fill the bottle with water instead.
Research shows that some foods can neutralize the effects of sugar on teeth when taken with carbohydrates. Eat raw, coarse foods like carrots, celery, lettuce, cheese and nuts. They increase the production of saliva which fights tooth decay.
Avoid thumb sucking for this can interface with the normal growth of teeth.
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