In an enlightened world in which we are more
aware than ever of what we put in our mouths – and how it can impact on the
health of our teeth and gums – it would be rather delightful to think that
there is little need for professional oral health advice.
However, despite knowing we should follow a strict dental hygiene regime at home – passionately adhering to the ‘two minutes, twice a day rule’ for teeth brushing and using interdental brushes to get in between teeth – how many of us actually do so? Each and every day?
A recent study reveals that teenagers who go to bed late on a regular basis have a higher risk of developing dental decay. The studyfound that adolescents who prefer to stay up late at night are at a significantly higher risk of tooth decay. Some were up to four times as likely to have tooth decay than those who preferred to get their heads down early. Researchers believe the increased risk is due to night owls neglecting to brush their teeth regularly before bed and frequently skipping breakfast, leading to snacking throughout the day.
But they’re not the only age groups to ditch good oral hygiene habits when the going gets tough. Busy lives get in the way, we run late, we skip time and tell ourselves ‘we’ll do it properly tonight’, little realising the damage has already been done.
A healthy mouth requires efficient and regular maintenance – and it’s far easier to ruin a smile than rebuild one, which is why a dental hygienist is perfectly placed to help in your endeavours to carry on smiling – healthily.
Even with the best home oral hygiene routine, plaque accumulates and stagnates in tight, overcrowded mouths, causing gum inflammation, poor dental hygiene, periodontal disease and unsightly stains.
A dental hygienist is specifically qualified to help you maintain healthy gums and teeth. Not only will she scale and polish your teeth to make them feel sparkly and clean, she will also offer you advice and tips in how best to clean teeth, give dietary advice to guide you and avoid the pitfalls of any food and drinks that can lead to erosion and decay, and she can help eliminate any malodour caused by bacteria, too.
Regular hygiene appointments are paramount to your health. An oral examination reveals a lot more than just the health of the oral cavity and a dental hygienist will screen you for any nasty dental diseases and oral cancers – particularly important now that we know of the links between the health of the mouth to the rest of the our body, with poor dental health having implications for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even childbirth.
Equally, when the dental hygienist records your medical history at every visit, she can often highlight any risks that your lifestyle habits may bring and help you to address them. Switching to a diet focused on reducing inflammation, for example, may help those of us with gum disease.
Your dental hygienist can also demonstrate appropriate techniques to help you find effective cleaning ‘tools’ that are tailored to meet the needs of your mouth.
It’s therefore a great idea to visit your dental hygienist regularly for these plaque and gum checks and she will ensure your mouth stays in tip-top condition.
Of course, straighter teeth make the task of dental hygiene so much easier as it’s simpler to clean teeth when they are in one straight row. So, why not ask you dental hygienist about your cosmetic tooth-alignment treatment options so your smile won’t just be healthy, it will look fab, too!
Dr Biju Krishnan
Dr Biju Krishnan has published in many international journals and recently authored the first book on cosmetic orthodontics. He is on the board of the British Academy of Restorative Dentistry and the editorial board of the journal Aesthetic Dentistry Today.