GET­TING YOUR TEETH INTO GOOD HEALTH

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY BUSINESS -

The once con­tro­ver­sial is­sue of flu­o­ri­da­tion of wa­ter now has broad national sup­port. More than 70% of the Aus­tralian pop­u­la­tion has ac­cess to ar­ti­fi­cially flu­o­ri­dated drink­ing wa­ter con­sis­tent with the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) guide­lines. And, since the 1960s and 70s when this oral health strat­egy was in­tro­duced, the in­ci­dence of den­tal caries (tooth de­cay) in Aus­tralia has been sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced. Nev­er­the­less, just drink­ing flu­o­ri­dated wa­ter doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily guar­an­tee a life­long mouth­ful of strong teeth and healthy gums. So, dur­ing the re­cent Den­tal Health Week the Aus­tralian Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion re­leased The Young Per­son’s Oral Sur­vival Guide. This pub­li­ca­tion aims to help young adults en­sure their teeth make it well past their 30th birth­day. The Guide, which is down­load­able from www.den­tal­health­week. com.au, tack­les the oral health im­pacts that can arise from life­style is­sues such as binge drink­ing and smok­ing and the more ta­boo sub­jects of drug use and oral sex. For some good tips on how to keep your teeth long term, and how to keep those tis­sues that sup­port the teeth healthy as well, you should also get a copy of the “fact card” ti­tled Oral Health. It’s avail­able from pharmacies around Aus­tralia that pro­vide the Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal So­ci­ety’s Self Care health in­for­ma­tion. The most com­mon cause of oral health prob­lems is plaque. Plaque is a thin, sticky film which builds up on the teeth. It is pro­duced by a com­bi­na­tion of saliva, bac­te­ria and food. The bac­te­ria fer­ment sug­ars in the food form­ing acids that erode the tooth enamel. Plaque also dam­ages the gums as well. To com­pletely re­move plaque and food from be­tween the teeth we should not only brush twice a day with a soft tooth­brush and a flu­o­ride paste, but also floss once a day (rinse thor­oughly af­ter floss­ing) or use in­ter­den­tal brushes. The ap­pro­pri­ate floss­ing tech­nique is de­tailed on the Oral Health card. A low-flu­o­ride toothpaste is rec­om­mended for chil­dren aged 18 months to 6 years, and for chil­dren un­der the age of 18 months brush­ing with­out a paste is best. Healthy eat­ing makes healthy teeth and gums. Avoid sweet sug­ary drinks and snacks; and if you do snack be­tween meals, rinse the mouth with wa­ter af­ter­wards. Ap­ples are said to keep the doc­tor away, but prob­a­bly, along with other fi­brous foods like cel­ery and car­rots, they could more likely keep the den­tist at bay. They won’t ac­tu­ally clean the teeth; but th­ese healthy foods don’t in­crease the risk of de­cay like con­fec­tionery; and they do stim­u­late the flow of saliva. Saliva (we nor­mally se­crete about 1.5 litres a day) as­sists speech, taste and swal­low­ing and pre­pares food for di­ges­tion. And a good flow of saliva also helps pre­vent tooth de­cay and pro­tects against mouth and gum in­fec­tions. Saliva pro­duc­tion com­monly de­creases with age; and there are other more pre­ventable fac­tors which re­duce the flow of saliva such as smok­ing, al­co­hol and caf­feine con­tain­ing drinks (they can be de­hy­drat­ing), snor­ing and breath­ing through the mouth, and also cer­tain medicines. In fact medicines are the most com­mon cause of dry mouth. If you’re suf­fer­ing from chronic or con­tin­ual dry mouth, check with your phar­ma­cist to see if one or more medicines could be the cause. Of course, some­times th­ese medicines are es­sen­tial, but there are ways to min­imise the dry­ness. Spe­cial gels, sprays, tooth­pastes, gums and mouth­washes are avail­able. For more in­for­ma­tion on keep­ing your mouth, teeth and gums fresh and clean and dis­ease free, the Self Care fact cards are a use­ful source of in­for­ma­tion. As well as the Oral Health card there is an­other ti­tled Dry Mouth; both avail­able at one of the 2000 or so Self Care pharmacies around Aus­tralia. For the near­est lo­ca­tion go to the Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal So­ci­ety web­site www.psa.org.au and click on “Find a Self Care Phar­macy”.

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