A consultant family dentist, Dr Basil Ojuku, has advised against the use of toothpicks in picking the teeth because it is a bad practice and harmful to oral health.
Mr Ojuku who is also the head of public health at the Inter-country Centre for Oral Health for Africa, Jos, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, on Tuesday in Jos.
He explained that the practice of using toothpicks to pick debris in between the teeth could be harmful by causing injury to the gum in between the teeth and narrowing the space in between the gum.
He further said that the act would lead to periodontitis — a serious gum infection that damages the gums and could destroy the jawbone.
He advised that people should use dental floss rather than a toothpick to pick or remove debris stuck in the gum between the teeth.
The dentist cautioned against the act of teeth filing as it can lead to the erosion of the protective part of the tooth which is known as the enamel which exposes the tooth to further damage.
He further cautioned parents from chewing food such as meat and feeding it to their babies or toddlers, observing that doing so might result in the transfer of the bad bacterial from the mouth of the adult to that of the baby through the chewed food.
Mr Ojuku further advised that Nigerians should desist from using their teeth in opening bottled drinks as the act was highly detrimental and could cause the fracture of the tooth or teeth.
He disclosed that it was salient for people to know the right methods for oral hygiene care.
He said that that oral hygiene involves home care which entailed brushing rightly and visiting a dentist to carry out dental checks at least, once a year.
The dentist said that the right way to brush the teeth was after breakfast and the last thing at night.
He explained that brushing before breakfast makes some food particles to be trapped in between the teeth enabling the bacteria’s in the mouth to feed on the debris and this causes bad breath.
He advised that people should rinse their mouths with mouthwash or lukewarm water after every meal.
According to him, the right way of brushing the teeth is using the toothbrush to rub the toothpaste round the teeth first before proceeding to brush the teeth.
“When you’re done rubbing the toothpaste, you start with the lower teeth and you brush by sweeping the bristles upwards to remove the debris and the upper teeth you sweep the bristles downward to remove the debris.
“The only place you do a back and forth movement is on the chewing surfaces (the molars) to enable the bristles to clean the surface.
“You also brush the tongue, when you are through, do not rinse your mouth as most people do, because the toothpaste contains a lot of components which is necessary to fight tooth decay and other oral diseases, not rinsing helps to kill the bacteria’s in the mouth and prevent bad breath,” he explained.
He explained that the component of the toothpaste left in the mouth would help sustain a fresh breath.
He also advised against the use of toothbrushes with hard bristles as the bristles get to cause injuries to the gum, recommending that people should see the dentist at least once a year and ensure they brush twice daily.