Updated 05 October 2018

Brushing up on dental hygiene

Gum disease is a condition caused by bacteria and food debris that build up on teeth and form a sticky film known as plaque.

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


Ask the Expert

Oral health expert

Dr Imraan Hoosen qualified from the Medical University of South Africa in 1997. Together with his partner, Dr Hoosen now runs a group of dental practices around Johannesburg (Lesedi Private Hospital, Highlands North Medical Centre , Brenthurst Clinic, Parklane Clinic, Simmonds Street Medical and Dental Centre, Soni Medical Centre- Newclare). Dr Hoosen can be contacted on 011 933 4096.

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