Dentists always advise people to maintain good oral health, and this includes brushing teeth regularly, flossing and visiting the dentist from time to time, among other things. This guidance is for a good reason, as there are several problems that can affect the health of your mouth, including the teeth and gums if you are careless. Daily brushing and cleaning between your teeth is important because it removes plaque. If the plaque isn’t removed, it continues to build up, feeding on the bits of food left behind and causing tooth decay and gum disease.
Gonzalue Niyigaba, a dentist at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), says it’s important to first get to know the conditions that come as a result of poor dental hygiene.
Niyigaba says teeth are covered in a hard outer coating called enamel. Every day, a thin film of bacteria called dental plaque builds up on your teeth.
He explains that the plaque produces acids that can harm enamel and cause cavities.
“For this reason, brushing and flossing your teeth can prevent decay and further damage. Once a cavity forms, the condition can be irreversible. In addition, one can use fluoride toothpaste to protect the teeth from decay, especially those who are at a higher risk for tooth decay,” he says.
Niyigaba goes on to add that understanding gum disease is important, noting that gum disease forms when plaque builds up along and under the gum line. Plaque causes an infection that hurts the gums and bones that hold your teeth in place.
He explains that a mild form of gum disease may make gums red, tender, and more likely to bleed. This problem, he says, is known as gingivitis which can be avoided by brushing and flossing every day.
The dentist adds that to prevent gum disease, one should brush their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
Also, flossing regularly is important as well as visiting a dentist routinely for a check-up and cleaning.
This happens when one doesn’t have enough saliva or spit to keep their mouth wet. It can make it hard to eat, swallow, taste, and even speak.
Epimak Kayiranga, a dentist in Kigali, says dry mouth can increase one’s risk of tooth decay fungal infections of the mouth, and cavities. Many common medicines can also cause this problem.
For example, the medicines for high blood pressure, depression, and bladder control issues often cause dry mouth.
Kayiranga says there are things you can do that may help. For instance, he says drinking water or sugarless drinks is recommended in this case. Also, avoid smoking and alcohol, caffeine, soft drinks, and acidic fruit juices.
He also suggests avoiding spicy or salty foods. “Brush your teeth the right way. It’s ideal to gently brush your teeth on all sides with a soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste. The toothbrush should be replaced after every three to four months,” he says.
Brushing carefully and gently along your gum line is also important, Kayiranga says.
Niyigaba says regular dental visits are important because they help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
He says only during dental check-ups can one be tested on their overall oral health.
“During the cleaning, the dentist will help remove any plaque and tartar build-up and may polish your teeth, thus making you free from dental problems,” Niyigaba adds.