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What really damages our teeth

by Wolfgang JOHANNES

Let’s start by saying that, of course, you are the first dentist of yourselves. Bad habits like smoking, alcohol, coffee and excessively sweet or fatty foods have a decisive impact on dental hygiene. Although this is well known, it must be specified, however, that despite what one thinks, sugars have a less preponderant impact than would be expected on dental and gum health.

What really makes the difference is not so much the amount of sweet foods that are ingested but the amount of time these foods stay on the gum arch and on the tooth enamel. This once again underlines the importance of brushing your teeth well and frequently. In addition to the various products that can be purchased in the pharmacy after consulting with your dentist, you play the decisive role in dental prevention and care.

Don’t be lazy, always brush your teeth before going to sleep because the night is a key moment. During sleep, the amount of saliva decreases, exposing us to greater risks of contracting infections and tooth decay. For the same reason it is advisable to avoid snacks before going to sleep; leaving these substances on the teeth for a long time can be very harmful, especially if you do not brush your teeth or do not do it properly. It is superfluous, on the other hand, to underline the harmful effects of smoking.

The most harmful foods for the teeth are those with high acidity, like strawberries and lemons, sugary drinks and chewing gum and, surprisingly, bread and pasta! Yes, because the latter two, as well as potatoes, pizza and starchy foods in general, are carbohydrates which, if they become trapped between our teeth, require the production of acids by the metabolism that affect the well-being of the enamel in the teeth.

Furthermore, it is highly advisable to avoid bad habits such as nail-biting and chewing small objects, as often happens for example with pen caps.

Preventing tooth decay and infection does not require particular procedures or excessive amounts of time and money; it is sufficient to take certain precautions and be constant in maintaining them. The first step consists of a correct oral hygiene and this is divided into four simple tools: toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and mouthwash. There is no doubt that the first two are used by everyone, the doubts arise when you ask yourself if you use the right ones and in the right way. Toothbrushes are not all the same: it is important that you use soft and artificial bristles (natural bristles have a jagged shape that damages the gums and facilitates the creation of bacterial colonies). Alternate toothpastes with a strong bleaching effect with other more delicate ones, so as not to stress the enamel too much.

Remember that dental floss is the only tool that can remove deeply embedded residues and is essential to avoid the creation of bacteria, which in turn give rise to plaques, tartar and infections. A mouthwash, although not essential, is a strongly recommended accessory, valuable for disinfecting and protecting oral hygiene. Opt for alcohol-free mouthwashes rich in fluoride.

In any case, the specialists recommend a six-monthly check-up. Go to your dentist at least every six months in order to ensure lasting protection of your smile, an asset to be safeguarded in all ways possible.

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