Prioritise health while celebrating, says orthodontist

National 2 minutes, 51 seconds


WHILE it is important to take time out to celebrate with family and friends, it is also important to not get carried away with the food.

Seeing that feasts are usually the centrespread of Hari Raya Aidil Fitri celebrations, over-indulgence of sugary treats and fizzy drinks were clearly the things to avoid in order to prevent tooth decay and long-term damage to the teeth, said Dr Balekudru Vishwanath.

Consultant orthodontist at the Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC) Dr Vishwanath said, “Although some people feel it is impolite to reject or say no when one is offered sweets or carb-filled food while visiting a relative, friend or neighbour during Hari Raya, it is important to put our health a priority.

“Unfortunately, many people tend to overload their bodies with large amounts of unhealthy food and drinks during this festive period,” noting that this may have long-term effects on the teeth and gums.

He said sugar infused food and drinks, especially carbonated sodas can damage the teeth as it contains carbonic acid which results in the thinning of the teeth’s layer and even worse, in some cases when consumed too much may even dissolve the teeth.

“Although teeth are the hardest parts of our bodies, they do have one weakness. They can be easily destroyed by acid. Acid is the weapon of choice that plaque use to ruin our teeth and they can be found in many of the drinks that we consume,” adding that overindulging in sugar infused canned drinks can also lead to rapid weight gain which can lead to obesity and type two diabetes.

Dr Vishwanath added that tooth decay, also known as dental caries or tooth cavity is a bacterial infection that causes destruction of the hard tissues of the teeth.

Tooth decay and its complications represent the number one cause of tooth loss.

“Tooth decay is mainly caused by three factors. Food factor, tooth structure and bacteria that is already normally present in the mouth,” he explained.

He went on to say that indulging in too much food or drinks that are high in carbohydrates produces acid and if teeth are not brushed properly it can begin to break down the surface of the teeth.

“The plaque will first start to soften the enamel (the hard outer coating of a tooth) by removing minerals from the tooth. Over time, a small hole known as a cavity can develop on the surface which eventually will cause toothaches,” said Dr Vishwanath.

Dr Vishwanath said while it is alright to give into the Hari Raya food temptation and indulge in sugary traditional cakes and drinks, we must eat in moderation.

“Eat and drink food and fluids in moderation. When offered a selection of different foods choose the healthier options such as fruits, vegetables, while grains, avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar such as white rice, sweets and pastries. Instead of sodas try fruit juices instead,” he advised.

Dr Vishwanath said some of the ways people can avoid tooth erosion is by drinking acidic drinks through a straw and by maintaining a good oral hygiene.

“By using a straw, you are pushing the drinks directly to the back of your mouth and avoiding some of the contact that the acid has with your teeth. Also we must Rinse our mouth out after drinking acidic drinks to help flush away some of the acid,” he added.

The Brunei Times