August 6, 2020
Oral health during Covid-19 lockdown
Teeth may be the last thing on your mind in priority when other matters in daily life demand urgent attention. As a dentist, I am biased in my push to encourage people to keep their natural teeth. But I would like to highlight a few points which impact your daily life when you lose your teeth.
The mouth is the gateway to your gut. There are mounting medical studies showing that the bacteria colonies of your gut impacts general health. The evidence is increasing proving the bacteria in our digestive system are our valued allies for good health. Keeping your mouth healthy (see previous article about tooth brushing and flossing) is important because the bacteria colonies start in your mouth extending throughout your digestive system.
Teeth act to reduce the bulk of food before it enters the digestive tract. They mash, grind and cut pieces of food into smaller pieces increasing the efficiency for digestion enabling the body to absorb important nutrients. The lost of teeth makes this initial process of food digestion less efficient. Even though we have means of pulverizing foods to sludge consistency for consumption, this removes the pleasure of eating. The simple joy of living to eat is removed!
Humans are social creatures. We value interaction with each other for emotional and psychological support. The withdrawal from society affects our mental well being. There are numerous articles espousing the merits of social interaction for a good quality lifestyle.
Our appearance, especially when smiling and talking have a huge impact on first impressions. This affects our self esteem and confidence when we seek to engage with other people. Teeth are the objects filling the space framed by our lips when we open our mouths to speak. Irregular teeth shapes, non uniform colour of teeth, missing teeth and significant misalignment (see cosmetic articles) draws the observers eyes when interacting. Front teeth provide confidence when interacting with others. We need it more than you think!
Speech is very much affected by the presence or lack of front teeth. Anyone who has lost teeth will attest to this fact. Formulating words and enunciating sounds for everyday speech becomes impossible. This can also happen when the teeth are misaligned. Lisping is one example of poor teeth positions but not exclusively. Tongue tie and poor habitual tongue positions from a young age affect speech as well.
Modern dental technology have made it possible for those who have lost teeth to be restored with prostheses replacing missing teeth. However all artificial products have limitations with inherent complications (see dental implant article). Nothing man made will ever come close to mother natures gift to us. Natural teeth will always be the better option for a good quality of life compared to artificial replacement. Some think maintenance of dentures are less costly than natural teeth. I beg to differ. The personal cost and continued maintenance of the denture, in my opinion, is much higher than a life time of dental maintenance of natural teeth.
Keep smiling with those pearly whites!