Healthy Happy teeth for that perfect smile
Thursday 5th October
Tomorrow is international smile day – the first Friday in October when Harvey Ball created the smiley logo in 1963
Sue Visser chats to Zuleikha on the radio about easy ways to look after teeth and help others to smile
1 Sue, why do some people turn away from the camera and try not to smile?
Usually they are self-conscious about their teeth, not about looking happy. They feel it better to keep the mouth closed. By the way, showing your teeth to an angry dog encourages aggression but we should not worry about grinning and smiling at other people. A little smile goes a long way. It goes even further if you fix up the blemished teeth and control tooth decay.
2 Can we really control the stains we get on teeth?
Yes, especially the ones caused by drinking coffee or smoking. Regular brushing, especially after eating or drinking will help to stop the discolouration as well as tooth decay, that adds to plaque that attracts these stains. Chewing raw celery, crunching carrots and apples are a better substitute for caffeine and alcohol. Children used to chew sticks of sugar cane. Chewing helps to massage the gums and promote saliva – the best mouthwash in the world!
3 What about tooth whitening treatment?
We do not really have natural white teeth although we all think we need them. Most of our teeth are yellowish brown and will stay that way, as healthy teeth but we really want them to be super white. The use of light treatment with an aggressively caustic gel will bleach the teeth temporarily and may burn the gums if it is not done professionally. It is expensive and needs to be repeated a few times a year to maintain that super “unnatural” white smile.
4 How about using natural things like peroxide, turmeric or charcoal?
A lot of people brush with bicarbonate of soda mixed with hydrogen peroxide. You tube has many demonstrations on home tooth whitening. Bicarb is OK to use a few times a week, but it is abrasive and can scratch tooth enamel. For a quick blitz it will make the teeth look cleaner and whiter but drinking coffee, wine and acidic fruit juices, eating curry and drinking wine will soon ruin that dazzling smile. Some people recommend turmeric – but it stains everything else yellow! The latest tooth whitening toothpaste contains salt and charcoal. Try it and let me know! That is probably why cavemen used to dip sticks in ash to scrub their teeth.
5 Does fluoride help to whiten teeth, freshen breath and prevent tooth decay?
Many claims are made about fluoride and yes, it does help to strengthen bone. However, we get enough in a normal diet. When the dentist gives you a fluoride pack, it can damage the gums. Even fluoride mouthwash and toothpaste can attach the live gum tissue, causing t to rot and cause bad breath.
6 Is there a way to keep plaque at bay without brushing your teeth?
Yes, by chewing gum that contains xylitol. This natural sugar free sweetener actually kills the bacteria that causes tooth decay and stops plaque from adhering to teeth. Staining components from food and beverages stick to the plaque, so xylitol helps to prevent staining. It also stimulates the flow of healthy saliva that helps to rinse food particles out of the mouth.
7 Can our diet affect the colour of our teeth? Not really as we inherit tooth our colouring, so blame genetics! However, the side effects of some medications can ruin the colour of tooth enamel. Tetracycline, a popular old fashioned antibiotic, for instance, makes teeth go a pearly grey and it weakens the enamel in places. Children or babies who are exposed to a lot of this drug at an early age will suffer from grey teeth in later life.
8 Can you recommend something we can eat to really keep teeth clean and healthy?
Yes – sunflower seeds! They are rich in vitamin E and have an oily consistency that helps to polish teeth and make them smooth, shiny and able to ward off plaque. Mix them with a little xylitol and you have the perfect tooth -friendly snack.
Links to more information about oral hygiene:
by Sue Visser aka Yindee