Say Cheese (Dental Health)

Look after your teeth and you’ll be laughing all the way to the dentist.

Healthy teeth look great and feel great. But if you want to keep that gleaming smile, you’ll need to look after them properly.

Your teeth bite and chew food so that it’s small enough to be swallowed and digested. They also help you to form words so you can speak properly. You have different kinds of teeth that are designed for different jobs.

Your incisors are for cutting food;
Your canines are for tearing food; and
Your molars and pre-molars are for grinding food up for swallowing.

Teeth have two parts. The crown is the part of the tooth you can see in your mouth, and the root is “planted” in your jawbone to keep it in place.

There are three layers to a tooth:

Enamel is the hard outer covering that protects the crown;
Dentine is a second protective layer that covers the nerves in your teeth; and
Pulp is the soft middle part of the tooth that gets blood supply and contains nerve endings.

Keeping your teeth and gums clean can protect you from disease, infection and decay. Tooth decay can cause broken or infected teeth or gums, which can lead to a filling (the dreaded drill!), swelling and pain, and may even lead to the loss of the tooth.

Your teeth need to be cleaned properly every day. If you don’t clean your teeth, germs in your mouth will grow around your teeth and gums. These germs are known as dental plaque, and they make acid that attacks your teeth and gums. Keeping your teeth clean protects you from problems like tooth decay, toothache, bleeding gums, yellow teeth and bad breath.

Follow these tips for clean, strong and healthy teeth and gums:

Clean your teeth for at least three minutes twice a day ” after breakfast and before bed.
Use fluoride toothpaste;
Use a small toothbrush with soft bristles. Hard toothbrushes can damage your teeth and gums;
After eating, drink water as this washes your teeth;
Don’t smoke ” this stains your teeth and can lead to mouth disease.
Keep your toothbrush clean ” rinse it after brushing, store it in a cool, dry place, don’t share it with others and replace it often;
See your dentist regularly.

Eating the right foods can also help you to keep your teeth healthy. For a tooth-friendly diet:

Eat a wide variety of healthy foods each day;
Calcium-rich foods are great for strong teeth. Dairy foods like cheese and milk have lots of calcium in them;
Avoid sugary snacks between meals;
Drink water. Tap water is best as it contains fluoride, which keeps your teeth healthy.

Note: If your family uses only rain or spring water, or you live in a country area that does not have fluoridated water, check with your dentist about using fluoride drops or tablets.

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