The 2011 National Monitoring and Evaluation Dental Survey in the Philippines (NMEDS) reveals that 87% of the population suffers from tooth decay and 48% suffers from gum disease. This data should be taken seriously as these two diseases of the mouth can be portals to serious diseases such as heart diseases among others.
Every Filipino should take care of his oral health with the help of a dentist. A good start is having an oral health care plan that is realistic and easy to follow.
1. Visit your dentist regularly.
Visit your dentist not only when there is a need or when in pain, but make it a habit to visit him/her regularly. Your dentist will explain to you how dental decay and gum disease happen and will give you professional advice on how to care for your teeth. A regular visit to the dentist will also allow him/her to examine your teeth for those “white spot lesions” or decay that are just starting and prescribe ways to stop the decay before it becomes a hole or a cavity.
2. Brush at least twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste.
Make sure that the toothpaste contains at least 1000 ppm of fluoride. Don’t worry, fluoride toothpaste is SAFE.
3. Floss your teeth daily.
Food debris and plaque in between teeth that cannot be removed with tooth brushing are removed effectively with a dental floss.
4. Develop effective lifestyle habits.
Limit snacking and sugar consumption (sweets, soda, pastries, etc.) to no more than 3x daily.
Limit intake of alcoholic drinks.
Limit intake of acidic food and drinks as they can erode the teeth.
Eat a well-balanced diet.
5. Stress, depression, and certain drugs (e.g. antihypertensives, antianxiety, antiallergy, and weight loss drugs) inhibit salivary flow.
Saliva is important in keeping the mouth healthy as it keeps the pH of the mouth neutral, flushes out bacteria and food debris, and aids in remineralization by providing calcium and phosphate. If you are undergoing stress or depression or taking these drugs, consult your dentist. Chewing sugar-free gum can increase salivary flow.
6. Ask your dentist about your caries risk.
Preventive oral health care should be individualized according to the oral health needs and caries/tooth decay risk of the patient. The dentist will examine your mouth and teeth and evaluate your lifestyle habits to assess your caries risk and will base your preventive oral health care on your assessment. Low risk usually requires brushing twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste and regular check-ups at 1 to 1 ½ year intervals. High risk will require regular visits of every 3 to 6 months and the dentist may prescribe antimicrobials and other forms of remineralization therapy.