Thursday, February 26, 2009

For healthy teeth

For healthy teeth
Thu, Feb 26, 2009
The Star/Asia News Network

By Wong Li Za

IF you have been diligently brushing your teeth twice a day and think cavities will not hit you, think again.

Oral health studies indicate that brushing our teeth alone may not be able to maintain an oral hygiene level that adequately controls the formation of bacterial plaque on teeth.

Plaque, when accumulated, can lead to development of dental cavities, gum inflammation and related diseases. Plaque is a generic term describing a sticky film of bacteria that collects on teeth above and below the gingival margin or gumline.

"When plaque remains in the mouth for as little as one day, calcification or hardening may occur, leading to tartar formation," said dentist Dr Arunee Unsook. "Brushing our teeth alone cannot adequately remove the plaque in our mouths because the teeth represents only about 23 per cent of the oral cavity surface," said Dr Arunee, also senior manager of scientific and professional affairs with Johnson & Johnson.

Brushing cleans about a quarter of the mouth and does not thoroughly rid impurities in between teeth and hard-to-reach areas. Several studies in different countries also show that the vast majority of people are unable to maintain a level of oral hygiene sufficient to control plaque formation using brushing alone due to insufficient time or lack of the appropriate technique.

The Malaysian Adults Oral Health Survey last conducted in the year 2000 showed that the general oral health status of adults aged 15 years and above has improved, largely due to the fluoridation of water supplies.

Despite this, there still exists areas with serious problems and inadequate availability of resources, such as dental treatment, oral hygiene instructions and extraction.

Under the 2010 National Oral Health Plan (NOHP), goals have been set with the objectives of achieving optimum oral health among Malaysians.

These goals focus on the reduction of four oral conditions, two of which are dental caries and periodontal disease, a gum inflammatory disease that leads to loss of teeth.

Gingivitis is an early, reversible form of gum disease resulting from inadequate plaque removal. Gingivitis can lead to periodontitis (advanced gum disease), which left untreated can result in eventual tooth loss.

"Patients can help reduce their risk of developing periodontal disease by controlling the accumulation of plaque," said Malaysian Dental Association president Dr S. Sivanesan. "This can be accomplished, in part, by adhering to a daily oral hygiene regimen that includes brushing, flossing and adding an antiseptic mouth rinse for better plaque control."

Dr Sivanesan added that the concept of mouth rinsing as an oral hygiene measure dates back thousands of years, with the first reference to it as a formal practice being attributed to Chinese medicine.

However, it was only in the 1960s when the relationship between plaque accumulation and the development of gum inflammation and diseases was clearly demonstrated that the use of antiseptic mouthwash was widely introduced.

Through clinical trials, it was scientifically established that the daily use of an effective anti-plaque mouthwash can be a valuable component of oral hygiene regimens.

In an effort to educate Malaysians on proper oral care, Johnson & Johnson, in collaboration with the association, launched the Complete Your Daily Oral Care with Mouthwash campaign recently.

The campaign illustrates the importance of complete oral care in a fun and comprehensive way via the Listerine Mobile Mouth, a mobile truck that will tour Peninsular Malaysia during the campaign periods of February and June.

Will antiseptic mouthwash strip away good bacteria in the mouth?

Dr Sivanesan said good bacteria will not really be affected if antiseptic mouthwash is used in the therapeutic way recommended.

"Basically, we advocate brushing, flossing and rinsing for good oral health care. Our mouth and its health is a complex thing that affects the whole body, not just our mouth,? he said.

Dr Sivanesan stressed that rinsing our mouth after every meal was very important.

"There is added value if one uses antiseptic mouthwash," he added.

For people who cannot get used to the burning sensation of mouthwash, Dr Arunee suggested two ways to get around it.

"If you use the full strength, start by rinsing for five seconds, slowly increasing it to 30 seconds. The other way is to use less mouthwash than indicated at first and slowly increase it to full strength," he said.

There have also been some recent studies linking the use of mouthwash containing alcohol and oral cancer. According to Dr Arunee, various epidemiological studies have found no association between cancer and the use of mouthwash with alcohol.

The Star/Asia News Network

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