As the Nepal Dental Outreach Project begins this weekend, we looked at the top ten bits of dental advice that we could give to villagers.
Watch your diet - You've heard it before - a good diet will do wonders for you. What you might not have realised is the effect of food on your teeth. High fibre foods not only stimulate saliva (which fights bacteria) it gives your teeth a good scrubbing as you chew. Tofu, leafy greens, beans, whole grains and poultry contain vitamins A, C and D and along with dairy products, plenty of calcium.
- Drink water - rinsing your teeth is really important as it washes away all the foods and sugary drinks that are left in the mouth.
- Enjoy a cup of tea - Green and black tea contain polyphenols that interact with the bacteria that causes plaque. They either kill or supress bacteria which prevents them from growing or producing attacking acids.
- Snack on nuts - they have so many vitamins and minerals in they make perfect snacks for healthy mouths.
- Avoid fizzy drinks and juices - Some bottles of pop contain as much sugar as a king - sized chocolate bar. Even diet drinks, despite being sweetened, contain tooth-eroding acids. And fruit juices.... if you think about the fact lemon juice is as a cleaning or bleaching agent, you get a good idea of what could be going on with your teeth! If you can't avoid them, use a straw.
Don't dry out - If you've had a few beers or are taking medication that leaves you with a dry mouth, watch out - this is very damaging to your gums.
- Say no to the sweet bowl - The big problem is how long your teeth are exposed to sugar. With sticky sweets or dried fruit the sugar clings to your teeth and attacks. Sugars should stay in your mouth as briefly as possible.
- Beware the hidden sugars - White breads, chips and pasta easily get lodged in the teeth. They may not taste sugary but the starch converts to sugar straight away.
- Avoid crunch time - The only thing you want to crunch is your food. Ice, popcorn and hard sweets are all culprits for breaking teeth.
- Brush, brush, brush! - Brushing is recommended after every meal. If you have had something acidic, rinse with water first as tooth enamel is vulnerable after a full on acid attack.
Keep an eye on the Work the World website to see how we're getting on with the Dental Outreach Projects. We have programmes running this year in Nepal and Ghana.