It's probably the first thing people notice about you. With the potential capacity to melt polar ice caps, a smile, when genuine and beautiful, can win almost anyone over. Forget how beautiful your eyes are and all the talk about "Oju loge" (that means beauty is in the eyes); I totally agree with the song that says "who cares what you're wearing... you're never fully dressed without a smile!" Now that is truth! Today is World Oral Health day people, and we need to talk about our mouths!
We live in a world where you are judged by what comes out of your mouth. Now as important as your words may be; however full of wisdom and laced with fine salt, if the portal that carries them is flawed no one is going to want to listen, unless of course you stay restricted to speaking on the radio or television and never make any form of social contact.
How do we keep our mouths clean and our breaths fresh at all times? How do we ensure that people are dazzled by our smile and that we don't have to worry about a thing after dinning at an Indian or Chinese restaurant or simply after eating "Isi ewu" (a goat head delicacy) or cow tail at our favourite "lungu" or "mama put"?
Here are simple steps to making that happen (and I don't want to hear that they are difficult routines to follow). Between choosing these steps and having my teeth fall out by the time I'm fifty or people turning away when I speak, I think I'll go with any routine no matter how tedious!
Brush your teeth twice daily or better yet after every meal and snack.
I'm pretty sure dentists have rung this bell into our ears for decades now and most of us are tired of hearing it said over and over. I once asked a dentist, "How do you tackle bad breath?" His response, "Brush twice a day". "But what about mouth washes?" I said. His response, "They would be a waste of money unless you brush twice a day". "Okay, so how do I deal with bleeding gums?" "Floss, rinse with warm saline and BRUSH TWICE A DAY!" So really, this answer never gets old. The whole essence of brushing is to remove food debris which bacteria in our mouths feed on leaving foul smelling whitish or yellowish plaque in their wake. In order to avoid this build up of plaque, brushing after breakfast and after dinner everyday is the way to go. If you happen to be a midnight "snacker", brush after that snack. For those who think brushing is a tedious exercise, have you ever seen how actors in hollywood movies brush with just a pea sized amount of toothpaste and in two minutes they're done? Well, if you brush after breakfast and diner everyday you'll find that you don't need a full toothbrush length of toothpaste and you only need about three minutes.
Floss at least once a day
A lot of times food particles or fibres get stuck between the teeth and brushing doesn't get them all out. Why floss and not toothpicks? Well dentists recommend this because toothpicks can cause damage to your gums and lead to other oral health problems. Always try to have a floss pack in your bag or pocket and floss after every meal (please take care not to do this in front of people) or at least once everyday.
Avoid taking sugary drinks and when you do brush right afterwards or rinse your mouth thoroughly
A lot of soda drinks have up to 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving. sodas also contain citric and phosphoric acids, which eat away at tooth enamel (the white outer layer). Diet, soft drinks, though sugar-free, may contain even more acid in the form of the artificial sweeteners so don't think you're safe with them.
The dread of garlic.
Don't chew raw garlic! If you must take raw garlic as part of a therapeutic regimen, swallow the garlic capsules whole with water but don't chew.
Visit a dentist at least twice a year
Yes, let a dentist be your second best friend. on second thought, maybe even your first, because let's face it, how many people can look their friend in the eye and say, "you've got bad breath". A lot may be going on in your mouth without your knowledge. Don't wait for a toothache or sensitive teeth before you call on a dentist.
Eat a variety of foods
Eat fewer foods containing sugars and starches between meals. If you must snack, choose nutritious foods, such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, or a firm fruit (such as an apple).
Mouth-Healthy Foods and Drinks
The best food choices for the health of your mouth include cheeses, chicken or other meats, nuts, and milk. These foods offer protection for tooth enamel by providing the calcium and phosphorus needed to remineralize teeth (a natural process by which minerals are redeposited in tooth enamel after being removed by acids).
Other food choices include crunchy and firm fruits like apples and pears, and vegetables such as carrots and cabbage. These foods have a high water content, which dilutes the effects of the sugars they contain, and stimulate the flow of saliva (which helps protect against decay by washing away food particles and buffering acid).
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Poor food choices include candy, such as lollipops, sweets, and other hard candy. Cookies, cakes, pies, breads, muffins, potato chips, french fries, bananas, either contain large amounts of sugar or can stick to your teeth, providing a fuel source for bacteria.
The best choice of beverage is mineralized water (clean tap water or most bottled water), milk and unsweetened tea. Limit your consumption of soft drinks, sugary juices, and coffee or tea with added sugar. Also, avoid day-long sipping of sugar-containing drinks. This exposes your teeth to constant sugar and, in turn, constant decay.
So dear readers, let's be good to our teeth. Next week I'm going to share with you some really bad habits that could make your teeth fall out before you're fifty.