But did your know that by taking good care of your teeth, you can limit or even eliminate some of the problems associated with your teeth?
Teeth play a very important function for our health and wellbeing. Other than the more obvious job of chewing our food, they also have an important role in our digestion. (Imagine swallowing some of the food you eat without chewing it first!) Without teeth, we wouldn’t be able to eat certain foods. Nor would we be able to speak clearly — take the time to listen to a child who has just lost their two front teeth if you don’t believe it.
Once all of our baby teeth have fallen out and our adult teeth have come in, that’s it! They have to last you for the rest of your life. So it pays to take care of them.
There are several things that can go wrong with our teeth and our mouth:
Gum Disease — Gum disease affects the visible gums and the deeper tissues of the bone, root surface and the ligament that connects the teeth to the bone. Untreated gum disease can lead to periodontal disease, which can cause tooth loss.
Early symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bleeding gums when you brush your teeth
- Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Receding gums
- Sensitive teeth or gums
- Loose teeth or teeth that have moved.
Dental decay —Dental decay, causes cavities and discoloration of both permanent and ‘baby’ teeth. As the disease progresses, the tooth becomes weaker and may be prone to nerve damage or the loss of the tooth.
Practicing good dental hygiene is the best thing you can do to prevent gum disease and other tooth-related problems.
The Australian Dental Association recommends you have a thorough dental check-up at least once a year, where your dentist will check for problems with your teeth and for early signs of gum disease. They may also take x-rays to determine the health of your teeth and gums in areas that cannot be seen from a normal examination.
While regular check-ups are important, you should also visit your dentist if you experience:
- A toothache
- Bleeding gums or gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Red, tender or swollen gums
- Gums that are pulling away from your teeth
- Loose teeth
- Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold.
While a dental check-up is important for the health of your teeth there are some things you should do at home to keep your teeth and gums clean. For example:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day using a proper brushing technique. If you are unsure, ask your dentist.
- Use a toothpaste containing fluoride
- Use a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles
- Floss your teeth every day
- Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods
- Limit your intake of sugary snacks and drinks that are sugary and acidic (e.g. soft drinks, juices, cordials, etc.)
- Drink plenty of tap water.
So don’t take your teeth for granted. Look after them and keep your smile for the rest of your life.