So much of ourselves is held in our mouth.
We hold our breath, we hold our tongue. It is equally the expression of us whether awake or asleep. Lives have been made and broken by what comes out of it. It can be beautiful, it can be ugly, it can bite and it can kiss. It feeds the hungers and drives of our physical and emotional worlds in a way unique to us, because it is uniquely ours.
It’s the legacy of our evolution. It is a constant inspiration throughout the history of literature and the arts. Our mouth can be a shorthand descriptor of us: big, smiley, smart, sour. It develops in our fourth week in the womb and from the very moment it allows us our first breath it is our connection to life.
From the moment we take our first breath, our time on this earth is spent opening, closing, filling and emptying it.
Mouths are resilient, and vulnerable, and the beginning of the process of everything we digest. Taste keeps us safe from the rotten and the rancid. Our entire wellbeing is reliant on its health. The chronic inflammation of untreated gum disease is linked to dementia, osteoporosis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The thoughts we have, the emotions we do or don’t express, all impact our dental health.
Human physical independence begins with the emergence of our teeth, and the ongoing quality of life is directly related to them. When that life ends, our teeth are so much the story of us, that they can tell everyone exactly who it is when that’s all there is left.
I like the thought of teeth talkin’ even when you’re not. Ever.
On every level our mouth is amazing and we rarely consider how much so. Its watery softness houses teeth that for millions of times, break food without breaking; built from the very same raw materials as the food they chew. Tooth enamel is the hardest material of the human body.
Nature truly is an inspired engineer who knows life is not a dress rehearsal.
We’re given only one set of teeth and we’ve known about the importance of good oral health since at least 5000 BC with remedies of powdered ox hooves, burnt eggshells and pumice. In the 1400s, a high protein, low sugar diet and the use of herb, ash and salt toothpaste preparations averaged 1-in-5 teeth decaying. By the 1900s it was 9-in-10 after sixty years of the Industrial Revolution and a change in diet. It’s certainly improved since then, yet according to the Global Burden of Disease, untreated tooth decay is the most common health condition in the world.
When you live in a country with world-class dental care and access to it, the way to show your gratitude for actually having that because many, many don’t – is by using it. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be aware of its value.
Unless you’re a millionaire, we all think it’s expensive to go to the dentist. It isn’t when it’s preventative by going regularly. It only has to be twice a year. Thinking you’re saving money by not going is a cheap trick to play on yourself. Even if you’re cavity-free with the pearliest choppers in town doesn’t mean you’re immune to gum disease. Put your money where your mouth is. You’ll be truly glad you did.
Research shows that eating or drinking anything other than water on more than five different occasions each day puts teeth under acid attack for most of the day, making decay, enamel damage and tooth loss inevitable.
Brushing and flossing twice a day every day is the foundation for great oral health, and not the only strategy for healthy teeth and gums into your golden years that will be much less golden with a denture glass. The lifestyle choices you make today shape the oral health of your years ahead.
And what a time that may be.
Top Tips For Maintaining Teeth & Gum Health For Life: The Storied Journey Continues …
Scientists at Princeton University have created a tooth tattoo that monitors mouth bacteria. It’s a thin, removable layer of gold, silk and graphene that adheres to tooth enamel. Antimicrobial peptides to latch onto germs and detect bacterial types. Under further development to withstand brushing, the expectation is that this personal art, and personal reader will become a mainstream monitor of oral health.
In the same way teeth are both hard enamel and soft dentine, they’re well designed and really messed up. For most of us, unless we’ve had dental work, there are impacted, crooked or crowded teeth, an overbite, underbite or jaw misalignment that’s slight or prominent.
Other animals tend to have perfectly aligned teeth. Our hominin ancestors did too; as do the few remaining peoples living traditional hunter gatherer lifestyles.
Dental anthropologists working with the Hadza foragers of the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania noticed that they have a lot of teeth. Most have 20 back teeth in comparison to the usual 16. Hadza also typically have a tip-to-tip bite that aligns in a flawless arch. Hadza tooth size and jaw match perfectly. The same goes for our fossil forebears and for our nearest living relatives, monkeys and apes.
The short answer to why the difference, is that jaw size depends on both genetics and environment. More chewing creates bone growth because of the way bone responds to stress. We don’t have too many teeth – we don’t have enough jaw. We eat soft and tender foods. We’re not fat; just short for our weight.
Human teeth don’t regenerate because they’re covered with a hard cap of enamel that forms from the inside to leave a trail of enamel and die.
Seems kind of heroic.
The jaw is a different story. Its size depends on genetics and environment; it grows longer during childhood with regular, heavy chewing. Orthodontic treatments often involve removing teeth to match jaw length and some clinicians are beginning to consider that from an evolutionary perspective, the focus should be on lengthening and strengthening the jaw as children. There are already surgical options for stimulating bone growth in adults, and if nothing else, it’s all such a stark illustration of how our diet affects our teeth.
If you brush your teeth with a manual, rather than an electric toothbrush, it can feel like you’re spending forever every time you brush. Recent research of course, shows it’s only 48 seconds. Dentists recommend at least two minutes. An advantage of the electric toothbrush timer if you don’t want to sing Norwegian Wood.
So brush for longer than you think, get a new one every three months (really, not just pretendy) and keep it away from the dunny for reasons I don’t want to explain because there are much more interesting things to be said.
A professional clean by your dentist every six months is imperative; it gives someone who has a degree or two in oral health the chance to keep yours optimum. Cavities and periodontal disease don’t just show up overnight like monied Melbournites to the northern rivers – both have very early symptoms only your dentist can detect. You’re not stupid; you understand the advantage of early treatment for anything.
Everyone’s teeth are not the same. There are natural variables in shape, enamel thickness and shade; all are perfectly healthy.
So how do you look after your teeth?
By thoughful reasoning. About the food you eat. What’s in, and on your mind. Thinking about the long term impact of choices you’re making.
Find a dentist you really like.
A full set of healthy teeth is so strongly linked to self-esteem there is a billion dollar industry attached to it. A lot of it really is lack of decent DIY. Floss daily, or fancy it up with a water pik. Stay hydrated. Stay away from refined sugar.
You already know the importance of whole foods and I’m not going to treat you like you don’t. Vitamin C is absolutely crucial in maintaining regenerative gum tissue and fighting off infection. Think scurvy. It killed more than two million sailors between Columbus crossing the Atlantic and the rise of the steam engine. Ship owners and governments assumed a 50% death rate from scurvy on any major voyage. It was responsible for more deaths at sea than storms, shipwrecks, combat, and every other disease combined. Its devastation was such that the search for a cure was considered “a vital factor determining the destiny of nations.”
How happy is the colour and cure orange.
A recent study of the State University of New York found that a daily intake of less than 60 milligrams of vitamin C gives a 25 percent more likelihood of suffering gum disease. Get it from fresh fruit and produce rather than a bottle but if over-the-counter is the only way you’ll do it, know the difference between the brands and check the sugar content.
Drink green and black teas for their antioxidants and truly consider the usefulness of soda and soft drink. There is none as far as your fangs are concerned. Even carbonated water affects tooth enamel.
Sleeping well, not smoking, and equally, not giving yourself a hard time if you do, lets you find your way from stress and unhappiness to exercise, self observation, and self expression. Be incremental. Be mindful when you can; we’re not all great at it until we are.
The best way to look after your teeth is by doing what puts a smile on your face.
Note: All content and media on the Elevate Dental website and social media channels are created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.
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