Tessa's Tête-à-Tête
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Saturday, 14 May 2005
Looking After Your Teeth
Topic: Health Issues
I see that a recent study by British researchers has found that only up to one-third of people diagnosed with gum disease, actually follow the advice given to them by their dentists. If only they knew the problems that could arise from poor dental hygiene - do you? How often do you brush your teeth and for how long? If you own an electric toothbrush, it should be one of those which has a two-minute timer. It is! Good - dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for at least two minutes at a time. But - when did you last buy a new head for your electric toothbrush, or a new toothbrush, if you don't have an electric one? Aaah, I thought so! What is it with us British? We will happily fork out loads of money for a meal out, for a theatre seat, for designer clothes, for a holiday, for music cds and countless other things, but not for that new toothbrush. A flattened toothbrush head, electric or otherwise, such as the one I saw in someone's bathroom recently, is COMPLETELY USELESS for cleaning in between your teeth!

Another thing, do you clean your teeth with an up and down motion or do you scrub horizontally like my grandchildren tend to do? If I leave them to it, the whole tooth-cleaning process takes just about 30 seconds with a quick scrub and one rinse - despite the advice of the Tooth Fairy! I reiterate the importance of cleaning teeth properly and try to brush their teeth for them. However, two minutes is completely impossible as they don't keep still for that long! Luckily, it is only once a week that Grandma has the job - I just hope my daughter does it better!

I remember seeing a television interview with the film star, Jim Carrey some while back. He was asked about his teeth and treated viewers to an enormous, dazzling, smile. His teeth are PERFECT - and all his own. He flosses. All Americans are more conscious of oral hygiene than we British, it seems. Flossing is very important as it helps to remove plaque, that sticky deposit which can harden into tartar (calculus) on the backs of our teeth and work its way down in between the teeth and the gums. Plaque is full of bacteria and toxins which irritate the gums and which, if left, will break down the tissue and the bone that supports your teeth. Eventually, your teeth can become so loose, they have to be removed.

If your gums tend to bleed a little when you brush your teeth, you probably have Gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease. Did you know that periodontal disease is now thought to be a contributing facture to complications in pregnancies, such as preeclampsia? It may also be a risk factor for low birth weight and premature births and also for cardiovascular disease. Although further studies are needed, it's just not worth taking the risk, is it?   So, do you floss? Do I floss?! Well, when I remember - but I am trying very hard to do it more often! Ideally, you should do it every day. I recently bought some of those floss sticks with a 'gum stimulator' at the other end, you know, the one's that look a bit like a miniature version of a child's y-shaped toy catapult. They are very easy to use - until I got one trapped in between one of my back teeth. "Oh, *bleep*!" - (I once pulled out part of a filling with some dental floss!) Thank goodness I had some small scissors in the bathroom cupboard!

When my mother was in her forties (I think) she was told by the dentist that her gums were diseased, "You have pyorrhoea" (periodontitis), was the diagnosis. "Your teeth will have to come out!", was the verdict. And come out they came, there and then, ALL of them, before she could even think about it! Whether it was severe inflammation or not, no treatment for the cause was suggested in those days, other than removal! (If you ever wondered as a child why so many elderly people seemed to have false teeth, now you know). A full plate of false teeth is not to be recommended! I remember something my poor old Dad once did; he had an uncomfortable top plate which he would put off wearing until meal times. One day, he caught the early train up to London; he was meeting someone for a business lunch. And, yes, he forgot to put his teeth in! I found them still sitting in a glass in the bathroom and my Mum confirmed they were indeed his! I don't think he enjoyed his meal very much despite trying to order the softest food on the menu!

These are the top tips for looking after your teeth. So, unless you really want to have false teeth and clean them over-night in a glass - ignore them at your peril:-
Using an antiseptic mouthwash each day can also to help prevent gum disease.

We often chew sugar-free gum after our evening meal. However, never give anyone with false teeth or a partial plate, chewing gum to chew! Out of politeness, I once offered a stick of gum to a visitor (my eldest sister, actually). Oh dear! I saw her nibble a bit off the end - she had never encountered chewing gum before. "It's not candy, you can't swallow it", I gasped. Well, to cut a long story short, the gum stuck all over her plate. It took her a good twenty minutes in the bathroom trying to remove it all! And, you know how chewing gum can stick to the fingers! — They should put a warning on chewing gum packets!

Posted by Noviomagus at 16:53 BST Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink

Monday, 16 May 2005 - 08:04 BST

Name: doubledog

My grandpa often warned us kids, "Be true to your teeth, or they'll be false to you."

Monday, 16 May 2005 - 18:49 BST

Name: Dave Denyer
Home Page:

When I was about 7, my demon dentist told my mother I needed most of my teeth either removed or worked on. She didn't believe him, and took me elsewhere.
I still have all my teeth - in perfect condition. Never been worked on.

But I'm ok:

  • I brush my teeth at least twice a day, often three times
  • Polish them twice a day
  • Very rarely ever eat sugary food
  • Don't smoke
  • Chew sugar-free gum fairly often

The only thing I tend to fall down on is using floss - I'm not really a fan of it. I find on the rare occasion I suffer gingivitis (the most common disease in Britain, apparantly), a chlorhexidine mouthwash normally stops it dead in about 2 days...

Tuesday, 17 May 2005 - 11:30 BST

Name: Tessa

Excellent!   Your mother did a very good job teaching you oral hygiene.   And, I will put mouthwash on my shopping list!

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