Tending to Teeth
Issue 98 November 2012
Everyone wants a Hollywood smile, but it can only be achieved through constant and meticulous care of your teeth. Shireen Hilmi looks at the ways in which you can ensure your teeth stay squeaky clean.
For the same reasons that people need to take a shower every day, your mouth also needs regular cleaning. A healthy mouth is full of bacteria that are in a delicate balance; tip the balance and you start to get problems. Frequently eating or drinking things that contain sugar and a lack of regular cleaning, both of which lead to the presence of plaque, favours the growth of nasty bacteria. The tricky thing about plaque is that you can’t see it. It is a soft, creamy white substance that usually accumulates in sheltered areas within your mouth, most commonly along the gum line, in between your teeth and on the biting surfaces of molar teeth. When plaque is left there and not brushed away, it hardens to form calculus, or tartar. This stuff is even more tricky because not only is it hard to see, unless there is a lot, it’s also hard to remove. The bacteria from the plaque and calculus produce acids and other products that cause teeth to soften and decay, and cause your gums to become irritated. Irritated gums bleed and can also lead to periodontal disease, where the bone that supports the teeth starts to break down. The teeth become wobbly and, in some cases, are eventually lost. For most people, looking after teeth and gums only needs to involve two things: brushing and flossing.