A Confident Smile.

As we all are aware that our topic is A Confident Smile. Let’s examine the word smile.

It is often said that a smile is the most beautiful curve in a woman’s body. It is like an outfit always in fashion. A smile is reassuring, it gives hope and encourages.
But then imagine not being able to wear one not because you do not want to, but because there is something hindering you from doing so. How would u feel?
If you take time to look around you would notice different kinds of smile. Some people don’t smile ever, some smile halfheartedly (fake smile) & then there is that full smile; that kind of smile that comes from deep within, one that is neither self conscious nor worries if the gap or crack in the front teeth will show or if the brown teeth or mouth odour will be noticed. Wouldn’t you like to have this kind of smile? I’m talking about a smile that is healthy; one that cannot be overlooked and many a time it is returned in kind, it is worn like a priceless jewel. it is a confident smile.
Let’s consider 3 different scenarios;
 1. Just recently, a young lady walks into my clinic & I noticed she was somewhat self conscious. She complained that her front tooth has been missing
for a while from a road traffic accident she had a long time ago. She has apparently been unperturbed until recently when her friends began to make fun of her, she said she was feeling so bad & could not even smile again.
2. There was this young man who came to the clinic, he was very jovial & we talked about all what not until he opened up to me about his mouth odour. He said it was so serious that he could no longer talk in public, let alone smile. He said he felt comfortable talking to me because he knew I understood.
3. Lastly there was this young lady who came with her dad. The father said she was very bright but he noticed her academic performance has not been as before. This young lady was feeling so shy & lacked confidence because her teeth were brown & not properly arranged. Her friends have nicknamed her “brown teeth” & “vampire teeth”
These are just a few true instances of people who had one issue or the other that prevented them from proper expression & smiling confidently.
Without wasting time I will mention a few conditions that can rob one of this priceless confident smile. I’ll explain a few for the sake of time
These conditions include-
1. Missing teeth especially at the front of the mouth.
2. Broken teeth (half teeth).
3. Teeth which are not well arranged.
4. Mouth odour.
5. Discoloured teeth.
6. Pain.
I’ll talk a little more on 4&5.
Mouth odour also called bad breath, oral malodor or halitosis is a serious condition. It is one of the commonest reasons why people present themselves to the Dentist.
There are many causes of mouth odour. Some causes are from locations not related to the mouth, like respiratory tract infection, kidney disease, diabetes etc
The major causes are from the mouth e.g. a hole in the tooth where food get trapped, starts decaying and smells, bleeding gums (of course blood smells), & in majority of cases from accumulated debris called plaque & calculus.
 As I was saying, mouth odour could also occur from the type of food we eat. Highly pretentious foods like suya and beans, those that also like chewing onion & garlic.
There is a type of mouth odour that is said to be psychogenic. That means it is only in the mind, the person thinks he/she has it but he/she does not.
 I will discuss all remedies together, so let’s move ahead.
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Discoloured teeth is also common. There are different colours; I’ve seen brown to yellow to green to almost black. Some are from our diet e.g. from too much coffee, tea or chewing of tobacco. However, most serious types are genetic i.e. one is born with it. it has something to do with drugs taken during pregnancy e.g. tetracycline, drugs taken as a child (tetracycline too) or if one was very sick during pregnancy or as a young child. So take note: tetracycline should be avoided in children & in pregnancy. We can pass this message to our siblings & mothers.

Scattered teeth could be genetic i.e. it runs in the family. It mostly occurs when they either have small jaws with normal size teeth hence, no space; or from big teeth with normal jaw size with same effect. For example, I have notice that my dad & brothers have this; probably from big teeth in a normal jaw. It can also result from oral habits children engage in e.g. thumb sucking, tongue sucking, tongue thrusting etc. These effects are seen later on in life when “all the teeth have entered the mouth”.
Also, as someone has mentioned, “open teeth” is usually seen as a good thing, but I have seen cases where it is too wide or there are many open teeth round the mouth. This can be quite uncomfortable.
Now to the “kpim” (focus) of this discourse.
What can we do to avoid, prevent or treat these issues in other to have a confident smile?
First of all, we need to have a change of attitude towards our health. I’m sure we all have at one point or the other had one challenge with your teeth before, be it pain, mouth odour, missing teeth, gum pain. But in this part of the world we often overlook our health. I’m sure we have used different remedies probably suggested by someone who knows someone with that same issue from fuel to diesel to engine oil, “to touch & go”
I had an elderly woman who had toothache & was told to use fuel by someone. She came the next day with burns on her lips, cheeks & gums. In short, the issue at hand was no longer the toothache but the burns. Or the lady who went to the chemist to buy pain relief for her pain who was given a combination of drugs, she had stomach ulcer & one of the said drugs triggered a severe bleeding. It was God that saved her life. I can go on & on but if we take nothing away today let’s be more conscious about our general health first of all and dental health in particular. Let’s not wait until “just like my mum often says” “e don pass be careful” (it gets out of hand) before we seek health attention. It is a duty we must perform.
Secondly we need to develop good oral health habits.
As it is often said, proper tooth brushing alone can eliminate up to 60% of mouth issues.
  • Proper tooth brushing involves brushing twice daily every day, after breakfast & last thing at night. Yes I said after breakfast. I know we have always known that you brush immediately you wake up, but we have been giving it a wrong approach all along. Let’s reason it together. If I brush last thing before I sleep, my mouth is fresh when I’m awake. I can just rinse with water, and then have breakfast. Then I brush after breakfast so I can properly remove all the soup or meat, be able to talk & smile confidently. Or what do you think?
  • Then brush all teeth properly, from front to back. Do not be in a hurry when doing it. Your tongue should not be left out too, because most mouth odour originates from there.
  • Also your brush is not for permanent use. It is recommended to change it once the bristles start to open. That’s like in every 3-4months. I know many of us are guilty of this. The thing is once a brush is beginning to open it doesn’t do its job any longer.
  • Keep your brushes in an open place with lots of air preferably in a cup or brush holder with the handle downwards. Keeping the brush in a closed place doesn’t do any good. It helps breed Bacteria. Instead of cleaning, it introduces Bacteria into the mouth
  • Also use a good paste. One that contains Fluoride. You can check the contents to be sure. Try as much as possible to avoid herbal paste.
  • A medium strength brush is recommended. It is usually written in the brush container. A hard brush causes wear of teeth & leads to shocking teeth. A soft brush is mainly for kids
  • Let’s avoid use of toothpicks. Yes I know it could be very sweet when using it, but it causes damage to the gums by opening space for food to hide & causes mouth odours. Instead, let’s make use of dental flosses to remove food stuck in between our teeth.
QUESTION: Can one use smokers tooth brush?
Participant. That was what caused bleeding for me
ANSWER: Exactly dear. The effectiveness of cleaning is not by how hard the brush is but by your technique. Even chewing stick can clean properly if well used.
Another point is to visit your dentist regularly. There is no dental problem without a solution. For those that want white teeth; scaling, polishing (that’s using our instruments to clean your teeth) & tooth bleaching can be done. This can solve most cases of discoloured teeth or a type of thin filling called a veneer; can be placed to make the teeth whiter.
QUESTION: How do we get dental flossess?
ANSWER: It is sold in most supermarkets or dental clinics. Take note that it is the rope part that is to be used not the pointed type. Gently slide d robe part in between the teeth, move it up and down then bring it out. You will see d stuck food particles come out.
Also scattered teeth can be arranged by what we call braces. All cases of pain can be treated based on the causes.
In conclusion I will like to say that your oral health is up to you, take charge of it, be happy, & wear a confident smile always. It’s been a long discourse but I’m sure we all have learnt a thing or two.
QUESTION: People that wake up with mouth odour, what’s the cause?
ANSWER: Yes, I almost forgot that the mouth is not perfumed. Every mouth get “one kain odour” especially when you wake up in the morning. For some people, it’s worse, but if after you brush & throughout the day there is no odour it’s just a normal thing. If you have not talked for a while also there is also a smell. You can combat this by drinking plenty of water & chewing sugarless gums e.g. orbits & Clorets.
QUESTION: My gum bleeds though my brush isn’t hard!
PARTICIPANT: what causes bleeding gum by itself even when you are not brushing, like waking up with a bleeding gum
ANSWER: Bleeding gums is a sign of gum disease. It is one of the earliest and common signs. Usually there is an accumulation of debris. If you look into the mirror, you might see some yellowish or even greenish hard substances surrounding the teeth. You need to see a dentist for scaling & polishing.
QUESTION: Teeth that doesn’t have space how can the floss be used?
ANSWER: Floss can be used for all teeth it is a very thin rope so it can pass. For very tight spaces, there is a special type of floss called waxed floss. It is designed to pass through very tight space
QUESTION: I’ve done scaling and used antibiotics according to the dentist, but bleeding reoccurred after three months again.
ANSWER: Bleeding gums occur usually as a result of gum issues however there are other causes not related to the mouth & we consider them if after proper scaling it doesn’t resolve. It’s nothing to worry about. Just relax & see your Dentist again. It will be a matter of the past soon.
For all of us professional scaling is not what you do once in a lifetime. We advice you do it 6monthly
QUESTION: what causes the pain that comes from the pre-molars or molars once in a while that you get swollen gum at the end and it’s as though a salty fluid comes from it. It happens one can hardly chew anything.
ANSWER: I think what you are describing here is from a growing wisdom tooth. We call it pericoronitis, but that’s just big oyibo. The swelling & pain is periodic. Sometimes it could be from a wisdom tooth that did not grow properly. Usually, the wisdom tooth comes out between ages 17-24. If u are within this age range we treat it using drugs, warm water & salt rinses. However after the age of 24, it’s a different ball game which depends on a lot of factors.
QUESTION: Is it good 2 use plenty of toothpaste when brushing???
ANSWER: It’s not usually by how much toothpaste you use dear. A pea-sized toothpaste i.e. like a seed of beans is just enough. It is more of the effort than the amount of paste. Just like washing clothes; if you put plenty soap but you don’t wash well it’s of no use.
I hope we all had a wonderful time.
May God bless you all richly & do have a wonderful day. See you all at the TOP and smiling confidently as we go.
Dr Orhorhoro Enameguolo is a graduate of the prestigious University of Benin Dental School. She is a Lover of God with a passion for young people & health care Advancement in Nigeria. She is an excellent wife, mother & Dentist. She is multi-talented; loves cooking, baking, sewing & reading.
Dr Enameguolo was our guest on our active whatsapp group strictly for ladies. We had a really long session but we learnt alot.
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