As part of activities to celebrate the World Oral Health Day on March 20, the World Dental Federation highlighted the importance of maintaining oral hygiene and cautioned against the frequent consumption of certain foods because of the risk they pose to one’s life. And anyone who has ever experienced toothache can properly comprehend that message.
Tooth decay, which is usually a result of poor oral hygiene, can cause dental cavities which, according to doctors, are as dangerous as the other diseases.
“Cavities can cause diseases such as arthritis, and death in certain cases, if neglected. Therefore people should take good care of their life,” says Dr Valentin Omonte, a dentist at Kigali Adventist Dental Clinic.
“Periodontal (gum) diseases are common in Rwanda because people eat a lot of sticky foods and don’t go to the dentist until they start feeling pain,” he adds.
Impact of cavities
Some people don’t mind about cavities but experts warn that they can be more dangerous than imagined.
Experts say cavities can damage one’s teeth and produce pus in the mouth if not treated quickly. They also lead to bad breath and discomfort which eventually affects one’s self esteem. In addition, cavities, if not treated early, could eventually cause arthritis.
How to prevent cavities
Dr Susana Tito, a dentist at Kigali Adventist Dental Clinic, says cavities can be avoided by practicing good oral hygiene every day.
“One should visit a dentist at least once every six months, while children should be checked every three months,” Tito says, adding that a tooth brush should not be used for more than three months.
Dr Omonte also advises consumers to mind their diet.
“Besides brushing your teeth every day, you should take more carbohydrates and reduce the consumption of foods containing a lot of sugars. But that does not mean you should not visit the dentist,” he says.
Tips on having healthy teeth
l Eat nutritious and balanced meals. When one eats sticky foods like posho or bananas, they should brush their teeth as soon as they are done. For children, try to limit the consumption of candy and chocolates which remain on the tooth surface.
l Brush your teeth every after a meal or at least twice a day using quality tooth paste and a good tooth brush.
l Make inquiries on antibacterial treatments when your teeth are so vulnerable, ask for treatments that can help fight bacteria in the mouth.
l Check for food labels to see how much sugar they contain. Sugar comes in many forms and if it appears on top of the list of ingredients it means that it is high.
l Chewing sugar-free gum after you have eaten may also help prevent tooth decay. When you chew gum, your mouth produces saliva, which neutralises the acid in your mouth before it can damage your teeth.
l Brushing your teeth in the right way also matters with caution not to harm the gum. Place the head of your toothbrush against your teeth in an angle that is just against the gum line and then move the brush in a circular movement.