Expert Interview: Look After Your Mouth Because it’s Looking After You

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Dr. Markijan Hupalo Oral Health

Many of us don’t consider our mouth to be as important as other parts of our body. Sure, we all know about the connection between what we put in there and what eventually ends up on our hips, but what about the links between poor oral health and a whole range of diseases?
Type 2 diabetes; heart disease, premature labour, respiratory diseases and even some type of cancers are all connected to periodontal disease.
Recently Mybabybaby had a chance to catch up with Dr. Markijan Hupalo – director at Sydney Prosthodontics, who shared some fascinating information about the “Seven Deadly Sins” of dentistry and what we all need to do to maintain a healthy mouth.

Here is a snapshot of what he said

•    We all need to prioritise our oral health and view tooth maintenance and gum care as a daily part of our lives.  Having a healthy mouth doesn’t “just happen”.
•    “Prevention versus Intervention” is the key both as individuals and parents.  Because no matter how advanced dental technology has become, we can’t come close to engineering the integrity or function of a natural, intact and whole tooth.
•    Decay and restorations weaken teeth and they are never as strong as they are in their original state.  This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to look after our teeth and to understand the consequences of poor oral health. Caring for our teeth starts before birth and a mother’s oral hygiene habits play a huge role.
•    A child’s early intra-uterine life can affect them throughout their lifetime, in all sorts of ways.  A mother’s oral habits have a direct influence on her child’s chances of contracting decay causing bacteria.   Some oral conditions are thought to increase the risk of premature birth.
•    Hopefully, we are raising a generation of children who will never know what it means to have a tooth filled. Better general health; nutrition, education and fluoridated water have all made a significant difference in the types of mouths our kids will have.
•    Tooth decay, like many other contagious diseases is completely preventable.
•    Dr. Hupalo says our first teeth help us to practice oral health habits, our second set we get for free   and we should cherish these, because the third set, if we need them, we have to pay for. And it is this restorative work which can be very expensive, painful and labour intensive.
•    A rise in dental tourism has made decision making even more difficult and the option tempting particularly for those people without health insurance or the funds to pay for dental work at home. Seeking a second opinion if unsure and being fully involved in all treatment planning is important.
•    Dentistry, like many other areas has experienced an evolution in the way it is being marketed. Different advertising models, information provision and a shift by some dentists from being health care providers to retailers of dental services has contributed to consumer confusion.

Tips for having a Great Mouth

•    Value your mouth and your teeth.
•    Maintaining oral health takes daily attention but it’s always worth it.
•    Brush and floss every day – at least once and do a thorough, careful job.
•    See your dentist every six months for a check up. If you’re unsure about the treatment plan they’ve suggested consider a second opinion.
•    Appreciate that dentistry, like medicine, has a range of specialists who are experts in particular fields. The mouth is a complex organ and complex problems require particular skill sets. There’s often a huge amount of skill, training and expertise required to assess and treat dental problems.  You are best to avoid them in the first place.
•    Understand that some foods and drinks are particularly corrosive on tooth enamel. Foods containing high amounts of sugar and acid and drinks containing electrolytes or caffeine can be particularly destructive and cause erosion.
•    Saliva is a naturally occurring defence against decay. Drink plenty of water.
•    Avoid snacking – this raises the acid level in the mouth and starts the cycle of decay.
•    Remember that children need to see their parents caring for their own teeth. Positive role modelling is an important influence for kids.

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