The mouth serves as a vital organ for many basic functions such as breathing, speaking and eating. While the acts of eating and speaking have no negative effects on the mouth and its functioning, eating may cause various problems and even substantial damage to the teeth, gums and tongue.
The effects of food on the mouth can be divided by the following characteristics:
- The type of food
- The temperature of the food or drink
- The form of the food
- Activity taken after eating
Very hard food may cause teeth to break or damage the enamel which will result in bacteria being able to more easily attack the tooth right down to the root.
Excessively spicy food may cause damage to the mouth including the gums.
Chemical additives to foods may cause dental problems to people with a sensitivity to those additives, in addition to the allergic reaction which may result.
Very hot food can do damage to the inside of your mouth. Eating and swallowing too hot food doesn't just hurt, but also allows bacteria to attack parts of the mouth in a dangerous and destructive manner.
Frozen foods are also not recommended to eat, certainly not on an ongoing basis. The best way to eat frozen foods is to slowly lick with caution.
Some foods and spices are likely to change the color of your tooth and compromise the natural whiteness. This most commonly occurs when there is artificial coloring.
Cigarette smoking on an on-going basis gradually colors the teeth a yellow-brown stain and creates a neglected unaesthetic appearance.
The importance of oral hygiene
Even if we are careful to avoid food which we know is not good for our teeth, it is still important to maintain good oral hygiene. When the mouth isn’t cleaned properly after eating, it is almost inevitable that there will be damage. After each meal it is imperative that the mouth be cleaned of remaining food particles. These naturally penetrate to the spaces between the teeth and between the teeth and the gums where the slow process of decay begins. As a result, the gums are affected and pull away from the teeth. Their retention of the teeth loosens and the teeth finally start to wiggle. The bacteria penetrate deep until the root. Usually at that point there is no choice other than extracting the tooth.
Oral care protection is a daily task which can prevent needless damage and pain. Doing it consistently and properly is important.
How can you make oral hygiene a part of your daily routine?
Being consistent in the following habits can insure you will maintain a high level of oral hygiene:
- Cleaning between your teeth (interdental)
How to carry out the hygiene routine:
- Use dental floss for interdental cleaning. It is preferable to complete the flossing with the aid of a small dental brush which can reach between teeth and remove any food particles remaining after flossing.
- Use only quality toothbrushes with the proper amount of toothpaste on it (about the size of a pea). The angle and circular wrist motion must be proper in which the toothbrush also reaches between the teeth and the gums. It is advisable not to brush too hard.
- After brushing, rinse with water.
- After snacking, rinsing with mouthwash is sufficient. Since most of us snack it is very important to maintain cleanliness by some means, throughout the day.
- It is important that your toothbrush be suited to the build of your mouth. There is a large selection from different manufacturers with varying designs, sizes and soft or harder bristles. We recommend using softer bristles to avoid injury to the gums.
- Interdental brushes: These are designed to remove remaining food particles from between your teeth. These also come in varying sizes and it is important to find the right size for the space between your teeth to maximize the cleaning effect.
- Electric toothbrushes: Electric toothbrushes often clean your teeth better than you can do manually. Ask the hygienist if she recommends that you use one.
Everyone can find the toothbrush that they feel most comfortable with, but it is wise to ask the hygienist if the brush you chose is the best one for your mouth.
Waterpics which clean between the teeth with a stream of water, are recommended for people with bridgework or implants, where it is hard or impossible to use dental floss.
- The various toothpastes are designed to fight decay and to whiten teeth. They also freshen your breath.
- There are toothpastes for sensitive teeth which work by creating a protective layer on your teeth and gums to prevent sensitivity during brushing or eating hot or cold foods. These toothpastes can be used on a daily basis.
- Natural Toothpastes: Natural "green" toothpastes are available on the market which are geared to protect the gums and teeth. While the percentage of the active chemical ingredients is much lower in the natural toothpastes, even the natural toothpastes have some chemical agents to fight bacteria.
- Whitening Toothpastes: There are differing opinions on whitening toothpastes. Those who oppose it claim that whitening should be done under the supervision of a dentist who can oversee the process and make sure the enamel is not being affected and that the ingredients are safe.
- Children's Toothpastes: From the time your child's first tooth comes in, you need to start taking care of his oral health. It is better not to give overly sweet drinks and it is desirable to teach your child how to brush his teeth and maintain oral health. There are toothpastes available which do not contain any ingredients which should not be swallowed. Such toothpastes can be used even with very young children. The major goal of toothpaste is to eliminate bacteria, and that should be your primary goal in selecting a toothpaste. It is wise to consult with the dentist or hygienists regarding your choice of toothpaste.
Despite all your best efforts in following all the above, there is no escaping the fact that there will nonetheless be an accumulation of plaque on your teeth in hard to clean areas which will need to be professionally removed. Therefore, at least once a year, or as often as the hygienist recommends, you will need to see your hygienist for a periodic cleaning.
Consistent care on your part by regular daily brushing and flossing as well as regular visits to your dentist and hygienist will help eliminate various dental conditions, pain and unnecessary expense.