- Has lockdown affected your teeth
- Are you at risk of being the new Shane MacGowan look-a-like?
- Discover the simple secrets to keeping your teeth in order
One of the casualties of lockdown has been my check up at the dentist.
In some ways I am not too upset as Mrs Collins’ big boy is not the bravest when it comes to sitting in the chair – and now the kids are old enough to look after themselves I don’t have to be brave in front of them!
For some people though I know the last few months have been torture as they have been struggling with loose fillings, lost dentures and even abscesses.
Hopefully most surgeries are now re-opening, at least for emergency care.
Indeed, there has been an email from my dental practice telling me that they hope to restart ‘normal services’ in the near future which will include the hygienist.
Something I will certainly avoid!
But it seems that this is a service that many people really benefit from, and I had found out a few days earlier that cosmetic teeth whitening is big business.
Not just in the US, where demand is driving a boon for dentists who charge $1000-$2000 a go – but also here in the UK where even children are asking to have their teeth veneered.
It was a shocking thought that as a nation we have become obsessed with having perfect pure white teeth, and are prepared to pay huge amounts to get them.
In the 1970’s I remember one of my aunts being called vain because she started to use smokers toothpaste to get tobacco stains off of her teeth; but now every supermarket dental aisle is full of special potions, gadgets and gizmos aimed at giving you brilliant gnashers.
I saw part of one of the ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ programmes on Channel 4 earlier this month which showed a young man with teeth which were rotting in his head.
He described how he hadn’t been to a dentist since he was twelve, but what must he have been doing to himself to get teeth that were so bad?
I mean Shane MacGowan, the lead singer of the eighties band The Pogues, had a history of drink, drugs and rock & roll to blame for the shocking state of his teeth, but I can’t believe this lad had come even close to those sort of excesses.
Do your bit for your teeth
It’s a sad certainty of aging that we begin to loose our teeth for the second time, with no more waiting to replace them, other than the false kind.
So it is worth considering what we can do now in order to look after this important part of the body.
It goes without saying that regular visits to the dentist are a must, but remember that you have the right to ask your dentist to discuss options with you for any treatment they are proposing.
Sometimes the dentist may have several courses of action available, and unless you ask you’ll not find out that there may be better alternatives, or at least cheaper or less painful ones.
As previously stated, I’m not brave when it comes to teeth so I have a simple three point plan to do my bit to protect my bite;
- Do a water wash out; We should avoid acidic drinks as much as possible. These are things like fizzy cans and bottled cordials (which tend to have high sugar content as well) but also include the juices and smoothies that we think of as the healthier option.
Now this doesn’t mean that we just drink water, which is the safest drink to have, it just means we have to be sensible about consuming our favourite white wine, or fruit juice. After drinking take a good mouthful of water and slosh it around your teeth and swallow – you don’t have to do the dentist style spit out!
This simple act will wash away the residues which can stick to the teeth and damage the enamel.
- Eat sensibly, be Bugs Bunny; I’m not talking about just avoiding sugary sweets and desserts here though, it is much more about trying to eat things that really do look after our teeth.
Carrots, for example, are great for the health of our teeth as they make them stronger by massaging our gums. They also contain beta-carotene which has been proven to prevent cancers developing especially those of the mouth, gut and lungs.
Carrots are also fantastic natural teeth whiteners because they contain high levels of fibre which scrub the surface of the enamel.
At your next dinner party serve crudités of carrots, celery and cauliflower just to allow your guests to have sparkling teeth to go along with their sparkling conversations!
Then serve cheeses for dessert as (along with all other dairy products) the lactic acid they contain helps prevent decay.
- Stay calm; Ask your partner about whether you grind your teeth in your sleep. This activity will quickly wear down the teeth, and is a major cause of loosening them from the gums making it more likely that you will loose them prematurely.
Grinding your teeth is a sure sign of being under stress, or worrying about things and can be managed by taking exercise before bed, staying calm and avoiding TV programmes or books about distressing subjects (that’s right those late night re-runs of Inspector Frost might be damaging your teeth!).
If it get’s really bad you might need to speak to your dentist about what you can use to protect your molars as they have a range of night-time mouth guards that you can use – but it’s best to try to deal with it yourself before you end up going to bed looking like a boxer.
Take good care of your pearly whites, because you won’t get the chance to have new ones, and I’m pretty certain there won’t be anything under the pillow for you from the tooth fairy if you lose them!