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WORLD ORAL HEALTH DAY – What You Need To Know About Dental Caries

World Oral Health Day, March 20, is a set aside to emphasize on the benefits of good oral hygiene and its connection with the general health, as well as its consequences on the total well being of individuals. 

This implies that the state of oral health of any individual impacts greatly on the person’s general health. There are many health conditions resulting from the state of oral health and the most common is Dental Caries.

What Is Dental Caries?
Dental Caries commonly known as tooth decay or cavity occurs when plaque-(the sticky whitish/pale yellow substance) that forms on teeth, combines with the sugar or starch of the foods that we eat. This combination produces acids that attack the enamel of the tooth which creates holes and decay in our teeth.
How Do We Prevent Tooth Decay?
The best way to prevent tooth decay is by brushing twice a day in the morning and in the night after our last meal. Eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables and avoiding snacks and drinks that are high in sugar are also ways to prevent decay.
What Kind Of Food Is Good /Bad For The Teeth?
Healthy foods are generally good for not only our teeth, but for our whole body. They include whole grains such as rice, beans, maize etc; dairy products, fruits and vegetables. Similarly, unhealthy foods are bad for the teeth and for our bodies in general. We should limit our intake of things like sticky snacks like sweets, chocolates, toffees, cakes, ice cream etc. These foods if taken we should endeavour to brush or rinse our mouths after talking them.
What Happens When I Have A Hole On My Teeth?
Usually, dental caries is first noticed as a brownish or darkish discolouration of the surface of tooth/teeth involved. After a while this discolouration becomes a hole or a cavity and food will tend to pack in the cavity anytime we eat. This food can sometimes give out an offensive odour when it has stayed hidden in the cavity for several hours. If the hole is not promptly treated, the tooth thereafter becomes painful and proper chewing with affected tooth becomes difficult.
What Should I Do When I Notice A Hole On My Teeth?
Whenever there is a hole in the tooth, the ideal step to take is to see a dentist who would usually fill the hole or manage it appropriately. If this is not done, there is a greater chance that the hole will continue to get bigger and more painful as it progresses.
Should I Visit The Dentist Only When I Have Toothache?
Do not wait until you have a problem before you see your Dentist or Dental Therapist for regular check up or professional cleaning of the teeth called SCALING AND POLISHING done every six months. Help prevent dental problems before it happens by seeking professional advice from a dentist/dental therapist for regular checkups and professional cleaning(S & P) every six months. This is one of the most important factors in maintaining good oral health. Regular checkups can prevent cavities, gum disease and other dental conditions.
Taking Care of Your Teeth
CHANGE YOUR TOOTHBRUSH every 3 months and do not share toothbrush. Your toothbrush should be medium textured or soft textured (in children).
Fluoride Toothpaste
Fluoride helps to strengthen the tooth against acid attack and tooth decay. Check if your toothpaste contains FLUORIDE!
Brushing Time
Make time to clean all surfaces of your teeth thoroughly at least for 3 minutes.
How to Brush
Apply the brush horizontal to the surface to the teeth, Repeatedly move the brush upwards and downwards ensuring that both outer and inner surfaces of the teeth are brushed. Floss your teeth regularly & brush your tongue and avoid vigorous or harsh scrubbing which can irritate your gums.
When to Brush
Ideally, twice daily brushing should be after breakfast and last thing at night before going to bed.
Visit a Dental Clinic
At least once every six months stubborn stains, plaque and hard deposits called calculus or tartar are better removed by Professional SCALING AND POLISHING by a DENTAL THERAPIST!
Kanu Uchechukwu Oji
Dental Therapist
Federal Medical Centre Owerri
Imo State Nigeria

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