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Care for Your 32 Pearls
by Dr. Anjana Maitra

A beautiful smile is always an asset. The smile makes the best first impression. A smile is said to be an investment with a cent per cent return. The moment you smile at someone, he immediately smiles back. Since nice teeth make for the best smile, taking good care of your teeth makes a lot of sense.

The first thing to know about your teeth is that they will never be at their absolute best without the regular help of a dentist. Though most of us are reluctant to visit a dentist, it should be borne in mind that he is our best friend as far as our teeth are concerned. A regular visit to the dentist every 4-6 months is absolutely essential.

It is indeed surprising that many of us do not know the correct way of brushing our teeth. The best way to brush is to keep the bristles of the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the gum-line. Brush with short, gentle, scrubbing strokes – in a downward motion for upper teeth and an upward motion for lower teeth. Most dentists recommend soft bristled brushes because they get between teeth easily and are gentle on gums and tooth enamel. For best results replace your tooth brush every 3-4 months.

The main idea of brushing one’s teeth is to sweep food particles from the gums towards the tips of the teeth, to be washed off later. Start at one end of your upper (or lower) teeth and brush each area atleast twice – the surfaces next to the cheeks and next to the tongue, the upper and lower chewing surfaces – before moving down the line. Brushing not only removes food particles thus warding off decay, but also discourages film from accumulating and stimulates the circulation of blood through your gums.
Dentists recommend that one should brush within 10 minutes of eating. This is essential to dislodge the food particles before they start to ferment and decay. The mouth with its warm temperature is a perfect incubator for decaying food and bacteria. Acids form on teeth within a few minutes after sugars and other refined carbohydrates are eaten.

Massaging your gums regularly is a part and parcel of dental care. Healthy gums are vital for healthy teeth. By healthy gums is meant those which are pink and firm and cling snugly to the teeth. The simplest method of massaging your gums is to place your thumb and forefinger over one section of your gums at a time and go over each area with a gentle circular motion. This can be done either first thing in the morning or last thing at night. It stimulates the circulation of blood through the gums and keeps them supple and healthy.

If your teeth aren’t pearly white, don’t despair. Actually very few people have chalk white teeth. The color of the enamel (the tooth’s hard outer covering) is the determining factor, and since this is hereditary you cant do much to change it. To make the teeth as bright and shining as possible, brush regularly, have a professional cleaning done every 6 months.

Rubbing your teeth with table salt also helps to whiten them. Another quick method of making your teeth glisten is to polish them with a piece of linen. An excellent tip for having shining teeth is to soak your toothbrush in lime juice before brushing. An apple is a wonderful tooth cleanser. According to dentists, an apple taken after a meal has the same effects as a toothbrush in cleansing the teeth, with the added advantage that the acid content of the apple assists in promoting the flow of saliva in the mouth, which is also beneficial to the teeth.

As far as possible avoid stain-encouragers like tea, coffee, tobacco, grape juice etc. Discolored or stained teeth look very unattractive. If you notice tan-colored stains building up (they are often noticeable first on your front lower teeth), try cutting down on these culprits and see a dentist for a cleaning to remove these stains.

Another common problem is that of bad breath. When the bacteria normally present in your mouth break down food particles, gases are produced and the result is bad breath. The process of eating which produces saliva actually helps control mouth odors by washing down old bacteria and dead cells. You can minimize bad breath by brushing your teeth and tongue (which harbors the most mouth bacteria) regularly, by rinsing your mouth with water and eating well-spaced meals. Some mouth washes also help prevent bad breath.

The health of your teeth is directly related to your diet. There are certain foods that don’t do your teeth any good. These include refined starches and sugars (including all types of sweets, chocolates etc), pastry, syrups, jellies, soft drinks, chewing gum etc. These are the foods from which mouth bacteria produce the acids responsible for tooth decay. These acids attack the enamel of the teeth causing the teeth to become porous. Small cavities begin to appear in the molars as sticky food gets lodged there. More and more food particles tend to get lodged in these minute cavities and this vicious cycle goes on, causing bigger cavities and even in the loss of a tooth.

On the other hand some foods do your teeth a lot of good. Some actually have a cleansing action like oranges, apples, guava, celery, carrots and cabbage. These have a natural cleansing-cum-exercising function. Some foods by requiring the teeth to chew harder give them the “exercise” they need to help develop the jaws and maintain healthy gums. These foods include nuts, whole wheat bread, toast and also raw apples, celery, carrots and cabbage. In general a balanced diet rich in calcium and phosphorus is essential for healthy teeth and gums.

A few other hints to remember about dental care is not to misuse your teeth. For example do not use them to open bottles, crack nuts or cut strings. Never chew a pencil with your teeth. Nail biting, cuticle chewing and clenching your teeth are also to be avoided.

Thus the few tips mentioned above can go a long way in caring for your 32 pearls and helping you to have a dazzling smile.   

Image under license with Gettyimages.com

7-Dec-2008
 
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