Source: DayBreak Newspaper
Have you ever come across posters and billboards in town that describe a particular herbal concoction that can be used to cure tooth decay, hypertension, diabetes, and stomach ulcer all at once? Or perhaps, your grandmother described to you that whenever you experience bad breath, it comes from the head?
Information is very easy to come across with the invent of the internet and technology. With the click of a button, one is able to access information about their oral health and even diagnose themselves from the comfort of their homes. One question still remains: Do we always have to believe everything we see online? In this three-part series, I will discuss with you common facts and myths pertaining to our oral health
There is no need to take care of baby teeth Myth
Baby teeth are as important as adult teeth. Baby teeth come in (erupt) at the age of about 6 months and fall out (exfoliate) at various times during childhood. It may seem logical that since children eventually lose their first set of teeth for the second set of teeth to appear, there will be no need to waste time and money taking care of the baby teeth. However, this is false. Ensuring good oral hygiene at a young age such as brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups help the child to maintain good habits throughout their life. Baby teeth are important for speech and facial development, tooth alignment, and position, proper health, and nutrition as well as to ensure healthy permanent teeth when they finally appear in the mouth.
Tooth decay can kill you Fact
Yes, it is possible to die from complications of an infected tooth. It is not the pain that kills an individual but rather the sequelae of the infection which is left untreated. An untreated jaw swelling (abscess) spreads from the jaw area to the neck region and it can obstruct your airway and interfere your breathing, causing death. Delayed treatment can also cause other life-threatening complications such as sepsis (severe reaction to bacteria) and septic shock (infection that leads to low blood pressure).
Gain a child, lose a tooth Myth
This old wives’ adage that warns a woman to expect a lost tooth for every baby is false. However, pregnant women are susceptible to gum disease(pregnancy-induced gingivitis) and tooth decay due to their increased body hormones which affects the body’s response to fight plaque (a sticky film of germs that forms on teeth). Furthermore, untreated gum disease in pregnant women may be linked to pre-term and low weight birth according to recent literature. Consequently, it is advisable that pregnant women maintain good oral care by brushing and flossing regularly as well as periodic visits to the dentist for a check-up and professional cleaning.
The harder you brush your teeth, the cleaner it will be Myth
Even though this may also sound logical, it is totally false. Brushing hard damages the teeth and causes sores and recession on the gums. The use of a hard bristled brush also causes a lot of wear on the outer protective layer of the teeth leading to a sensitivity of the teeth. According to dental associations around the world, it is advised that you use a soft-bristled toothbrush alongside a fluoride-containing toothpaste to brush your teeth at least twice daily for two minutes to keep the germs at bay.
Brush your teeth immediately after every meal Myth
The keyword here is “immediately.” Brushing immediately after a meal can cause more harm than good to your teeth. According to research, you should allow approximately 30 minutes before you brush your teeth so that you do not disturb the acidic balance in your mouth. It is best to allow. saliva to self-cleanse and balance the acidity in your mouth before you attempt to brush. Brushing immediately weakens the protective layer of your teeth due to the acid attack from the food we eat. The best you can do during the 30-minute period is to swish and swallow with a cup of water or chew sugarless gum to aid in more saliva production in your mouth.
Thanks for reading!
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Credit: Dr. Michael Awua- Mensah (@Dr_Awua) on Instagram
A member of the Ghana Dental Association (GDA)