Oral Health


Why is a healthy diet important for my oral health?

Every time you eat or drink anything sugary, your teeth are under acid attack for up to one hour. This is because the sugar will react with the bacteria in plaque (the sticky coating on your teeth) and produce harmful acids. So it is important to have sugary foods or drinks just at mealtimes, limiting the amount of time your mouth is at risk.

Acidic foods and drinks can be just as harmful. The acid ‘erodes' or dissolves the enamel, exposing the dentin underneath. This can make your teeth sensitive and unsightly.

A diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals and fresh fruit and vegetables can help to prevent gum disease. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and cause bad breath. The diagram below is a good example of what you should eat as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay damages your teeth and leads to fillings or even extractions. Decay happens when sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque. This forms the acids that attack the teeth and destroy the enamel. After this happens many times, the tooth enamel may break down, forming a hole or 'cavity' into the dentin. The tooth can then decay more quickly.

What foods can cause decay?

All sugars can cause decay. Sugar can come in many forms. Usually ingredients ending in ‘ose' are sugars, for example: sucrose, fructose and glucose are just three types. These sugars can all damage your teeth.

Many processed foods have sugar in them, and the higher up it appears in the list of ingredients, the more sugar there is in the product. Always read the list of ingredients on the labels when you are food shopping.

When you are reading the labels remember that 'no added sugar' does not necessarily mean that the product is sugar free. It simply means that no extra sugar has been added. These products may contain sugars such as those listed above, or the sugars may be listed as 'carbohydrates'. Ask your dental team if you are not sure.

Can food and drink cause erosion?

Acidic food and drinks can cause erosion - the gradual dissolving of the tooth enamel. Listed below are the 'pH values' of some food and drinks. The lower the pH number, the more acidic the product. Anything with a pH value lower than 5.5 may cause erosion. 'Alkalis' have a high pH number and cancel out the acid effects of sugars. pH 7 is the middle figure between acid and alkali.

  • mineral water (still) pH 7.6
  • milk pH 6.9
  • cheddar cheese pH 5.9
  • orange juice pH 3.8
  • grapefruit pH 3.3
  • pickles pH 3.2
  • cola pH 2.5
  • red wine pH 2.5
  • vinegar pH 2.0

Can I eat snacks?

It is better for your teeth and general health if you eat 3 meals a day instead of having 7 to 10 snacks. If you do need to snack between meals, choose foods that do not contain sugar. Fruit does contain acids, which can erode your teeth. However, this is only damaging to your teeth if you eat an unusually large amount. Try not to have a lot of dried fruit as it is high in sugar and can stick to your teeth.

If you do eat fruit as a snack, try to eat something alkaline such as cheese afterwards. Savoury snacks are better, such as:

  • cheese
  • raw vegetables
  • nuts
  • breadsticks

Can I eat sweets?

The main point to remember is that it is not the amount of sugar you eat or drink, but how often you do it. Sweet foods are allowed, but it is important just to have them at mealtimes.

To help reduce tooth decay, cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks and try to have sugar-free varieties. Confectionery and chewing gum containing the artificial sweetener Xylitol may help to reduce tooth decay.

Sugary foods can also cause a range of health problems including heart disease and being overweight.

What should I drink?

Still water and milk are good choices. It is better for your teeth if you drink fruit juices just at meal times. If you are drinking them between meals, try diluting them with water.

Diluted sugar-free fruit drinks are the safest alternative to water and milk. If you make these, be sure that the drink is diluted 1 part fruit drink to 10 parts water. Some soft drinks contain sweeteners, which are not suitable for young children - ask your dental team if you are not sure.

Fizzy drinks can increase the risk of dental problems. The sugar can cause decay and the acid in both normal and diet drinks can dissolve the enamel on the teeth. The risk is higher when you have these drinks between meals

Should I brush my teeth after every meal?

It is important that you brush last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, with a toothpaste containing fluoride.

Eating and drinking foods containing sugar and acids naturally weakens the enamel on your teeth. Brushing straight afterwards can cause tiny particles of enamel to be brushed away. It is best not to brush your teeth until at least one hour after eating.

Eating and drinking foods containing sugar and acids naturally weakens the enamel on your teeth. Brushing straight afterwards can cause tiny particles of enamel to be brushed away. It is best not to brush your teeth until at least one hour after eating.

Does chewing gum help?

Chewing gum makes your mouth produce more saliva, which helps to cancel out the acid in your mouth after eating or drinking. It has been proven that using sugar-free chewing gum after meals can prevent tooth decay. However, it is important to use only sugar-free gum, as ordinary chewing gum contains sugar and therefore may damage your teeth.

BAD HABITS


Thumb Sucking

It's normal and healthy for infants to suck their thumbs, fingers, pacifiers, or toys. Object sucking gives children a sense of emotional security and comfort. But if thumb sucking continues beyond the age of 5, when the permanent teeth begin to come in, dental problems can occur. Depending on the frequency, intensity, and duration of the sucking, the teeth can be pushed out of alignment, causing them to protrude and create an overbite. Your child may also have difficulty with the correct pronunciation of words. In addition, the upper and lower jaws can become misaligned and the roof of the mouth might become malformed.

Pacifier

Pacifiers can affect the teeth in essentially the same way as does sucking on fingers and thumbs. However, pacifier use often is an easier habit to break. If you offer an infant a pacifier, use a clean one. Never dip a pacifier in sugar, honey or other sweeteners before giving it to an infant.

If a child does not stop on his or her own, parents should discourage the habit after age 4 years. However, excessive pressure to stop can do more harm than good.

Tongue Thrusting

Tongue thrusting is the habit of sealing the mouth for swallowing by thrusting the top of the tongue forward against the lips.

Just like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting exerts pressure against the front teeth, pushing them out of alignment, which causes them to protrude, creating an overbite, and possibly interfering with proper speech development.

If you notice symptoms of tongue thrusting, consult a speech pathologist.

This person can develop a treatment plan that helps your child to increase the strength of the chewing muscles and develop a new swallowing pattern.

Lip Sucking

Lip sucking involves repeatedly holding the lower lip beneath the upper front teeth. Sucking of the lower lip may occur by itself or in combination with thumb sucking. This practice results in an overbite and the same kinds of problems as with thumb sucking and tongue thrusting. Stopping the habit involves the same steps as for stopping thumb sucking.

Nail biting risk factors

Nail biting can wear down your teeth over time, causing enamel wear and uneven biting surfaces. Your teeth need a break between meals, but chewing your nails means they are essentially being used all day. This puts stress on your front teeth, which can cause them to become misaligned.

Nail biting is bad for your jaw. It can contribute to temporomandibular disorder, which causes jaw pain, headaches, and locking and popping of the jaw. Additionally, people who bite their nails are at greater risk for bruxism. Beyond the effects on your teeth and jaw, there are also sanitary concerns. Even if you wash your hands regularly, they are still one of the most germ-laden areas of your body, and your nails are doubly so. When you bite your nails, you are exposing yourself to illness causing germs that transfer from your hands to your mouth.

Make sure to ask your dentist for advice if you can’t stop your nail biting in order to reduce your levels of stress and receive proper dental care related with this pathology.

Bruxism

The unintentional grinding or clenching of the teeth, which brings its own negative effects. Over time, patients may experience jaw pain, tense muscles, chronic headaches and sensitive teeth. Forceful biting when not eating can also cause the jaw to move out of proper balance. If bruxism is not treated, a patient may have to deal with serious injury to his or her tooth enamel or receding gums in some areas because of the damage done to the alignment of the jaw. If vigorous grinding occurs at night, it can lead to crumbling teeth and, in some cases, teeth can be worn down to the gum line.

Your dentist can examine your teeth to determine whether you may have bruxism and, if so, can suggest the best method of treatment. Bruxism therapy helps to change a bruxer’s behavior by teaching him or her how to rest the tongue upward with teeth apart and lips shut. Simply becoming aware of the problem can be enough to stop the habit. One of the best ways to stop teeth grinding is to remove the source of stress.

Your dentist may suggest wearing a mouth guard for teeth grinding at night. Custom models made by your dentist cost more than over-the-counter ones, but they generally fit better and work better, too. Sometimes, it helps simply to be aware that you are grinding your teeth and find another way to disperse the nervous energy or deal with the anxiety.

Crunching, sucking and sipping

You finish an ice-cold drink and then crunch, crunch, crunch the leftover ice. What's the harm? The brittleness and cold temperature of ice cubes can actually cause teeth to fracture. Or they can cause microscopic cracks in the surface of the enamel, which could lead to bigger dental problems over time. Crushed ice is less harmful than bigger cubes, but it still doesn't get the blessing of most dentists.

Right up there with ice cubes are popcorn kernels, which can also put undue stress on a tooth and cause it to fracture. Some people also try to crack nuts such as walnuts or hazel nuts with their teeth, which can be equally hazardous to teeth.

Sipping sugary drinks throughout the day is another bad habit, research suggests. The constant exposure to sweet and acidic beverages can foster tooth decay.

Be mindful of these practices when you eat or drink. Swap to crushed ice in drinks, or better still, substitute something that’s healthier to chew, such as baby carrots. Sip drinks through a straw to minimise contact with your teeth. Make sure that the straw is positioned toward the back of the mouth, not resting against your teeth.

Using teeth as tools

Dentists report that patients rely on their teeth for a number of odd jobs: to tear open a bag of crisps, uncap a bottle of nail varnish, pull out a watch stem, straighten a bent fork tine, or rip a price tag off a piece of clothing. This can be hard on your teeth, traumatising them or causing the edge of a weakened tooth to chip off or even break.

Think about what you are putting in your mouth before you use your teeth as tools, and keep simple, real tools such as scissors and pliers handy to do the work so you can maintain good dental health.

Using a hard-bristled toothbrush

Some people think the firmer the toothbrush, the better. This isn’t so, especially for older adults. With age, the gums push back and the roots of the teeth become exposed, often increasing sensitivity. The root is covered with cementum, which is worn away more easily than enamel. A brush with too-firm bristles may irritate the gums and lead to sensitive teeth.

Ask your dentist or hygienist what toothbrush might be best to maintain your dental health, depending on your individual gum and tooth problems.

Brushing Techniques


Tilt the brush at a 45° angle against the gumline and sweep or roll the brush away from the gumline.

Gently brush the outside, inside and chewing surface of each tooth using short back-and-forth strokes.

Gently brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen breath.

Flossing Techniques


Use about 18" of floss, leaving an inch or two to work with.

Gently follow the curves of your teeth.

Be sure to clean beneath the gumline, but avoid snapping the floss on the gums.

Get in Touch

Tabrizi Dentistry
       Al Muwaiji,  Al Ain
       POBox: 66225
Tel: 037661178
Email: info@tabrizidentistry.com

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