Take Control of your Oral Health. Teeth are for life! Here's what you need to know about a healthy mouth.
For Fresh Breath make a habit of brushing your teeth and be aware of what you eat and drink. It's easy to forget that everytime we eat or drink something containing sugar, it causes a reaction in your mouth. Foods, fluids and saliva mix together and produce deposits of bacteria and the hidden, almost colourless sticky bacterial film plaque in your mouth breaks down the sugars and produces acid. This acid then attacks teeth and gums and dissolves the surface of the enamel underneath the plaque, to cause tooth decay and gum disease. If tooth brushing and flossing are not a regular habit, then plaque can buildup, and harden and form 'tartar'. It is not removed by rinsing with water and can cause permanent damage.
A simple formula to remember is PLAQUE + SUGAR + TEETH = TOOTH DECAY.
Always brush twice a day, at bedtime and one other time for 2- 3 mins using a soft/medium toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste (at least 1,000 ppm), and change your toothbrush when the bristles are worn.
Don't skip flossing! Floss daily and if you wear braces, brush thoroughly every time you eat. It's a good idea to bring a travel toothbrush to school. Learn how to do it properly for fresh breath, healthy gums and teeth. Ask your dental team for advice on technique. Here's a useful video on flossing.
- Choose healthy snacks and drinks between meals such as whole fruits and limit sweets, chocolate, biscuits, probiotic and yoghurt drinks and sugary drinks to mealtimes only.
- Unflavoured milk and water are the best drinks. Milk will aid muscle recovery after exercise. Avoid high sugar sports drinks.
- Limit pure fruit juice or fruit smoothies to a small glass once a day, with a meal and always choose unsweetened.*
- Read food labels for sugar content. Less than 5g per 100g is low sugar.
- Regular intake of carbonated drinks, including sparkling water, can lead to enamel erosion of the teeth and should be avoided.
*Fruit juices are an important source of vitamins in the diet. However, they should be taken with meals for two reasons. The frequent consumption of these can lead to enamel erosion and although pure juices may not contain sucrose they are rich in fructose and can also be cariogenic (cause tooth decay). As fructose in whole fruits pose little or no threat to dental health, whole fruits rather than fruit juices/smoothies should be consumed between meals.
Sports and your oral health
Playing sports can be a great way make new friends, have fun and of course get some exercise! Wear a mouthguard when playing sports to help reduce the risk of dental injuries. If you play a contact sport (hurling, camogie, football, rugby boxing, hockey etc) you can be at risk of a dental injury for e.g. a fractured, cracked or knocked out tooth. Mouthguards can protect you from these injuries.
Some people have problems with crowded or crooked teeth or with incorrect bites (malocclusion). Sometimes the problems are inherited, for example, missing teeth or extra teeth, while other problems are caused by factors such as thumb sucking or early loss of baby teeth. Crowded, crooked or prominent teeth are usually treated with braces which can be either fixed (train tracks) or removable. Straight teeth are easier to keep clean and less susceptible to tooth decay and gum problems. If you wear braces, make time to keep your teeth and braces clean, brushing thoroughly every time you eat. Top Tip: Carry a travel toothbrush!
Interdental brushes and floss are also very helpful in removing trapped pieces of food. This video on flossing with braces may be useful. Your dental team or orthodontist will be able to show you special techniques for cleaning your brace and to make sure your teeth and mouth stay healthy.
Click HERE for further information on what you need to know about braces.