Brushing up on dental hygiene

Dental hygiene is important to avoid gum disease.
Dental hygiene is important to avoid gum disease.

Sarah Masina is an unemployed single mother of four who has gone most of her life without ever going to the dentist. 

“I never thought by neglecting my teeth all those years could have serious health consequences,” the 45-year-old woman told Health-e News. “I was embarrassment of my appearance – a lot of my teeth had fallen out – I was ashamed to seek treatment.” 

Keep your teeth clean

But recently Masina put her feelings of shame aside and went to her local clinic to seek help.

“I was diagnosed with gum disease. The dentist told me the reason my teeth had fallen out over the years was because of the gum disease.”

Masina said her family was poor and they couldn’t afford toothpaste and toothbrushes so dental hygiene wasn’t a priority. 

According to dentist Dr Innocentia Mbatha, oral hygiene is the regular practice of keeping your mouth and teeth clean to prevent dental problems such as cavities, gingivitis, gum disease and bad breath.  

Damage to soft tissue and bone

Gum disease is a condition caused by bacteria and food debris that build up on teeth and form a sticky film known as plaque. As the plaque hardens, it forms tartar and more plaque continues to form. Ultimately, this results in the gums becoming swollen and red. As it worsens it can cause teeth to become loose because of the damage it causes to the soft issue and bone underneath the teeth. 

Mbatha said gum disease can be prevented by brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing, changing your toothbrush regularly and visiting a dentist every six months for a check-up and cleaning. – Health-e News 

Image credit: iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
34% - 9269 votes
66% - 17898 votes