Nurturing Healthy Smiles: Dr. James Ho’s Guide to Oral Wellness

As we bid farewell to the Lunar New Year festivities, we can’t help but indulge in the sweet and savoury treats that are a staple of this joyful occasion. From pineapple tarts and yusheng to pa kuo ho (tray of luck), nian gao, bak kwas, and festive drinks, we tend to overindulge, risking the health of our teeth and gums.

Oral diseases are widespread across the globe, and Singapore is no exception. According to Changi General Hospital, a whopping 90% of adult Singaporeans struggle with some form of gum disease, ranging from the mildest gingivitis to the most severe periodontitis. To combat this, Dr. James Ho, Founder of GPlus Dental Centre and GDental Centre, who has over two decades of dental practice across the United States and Singapore, aims to educate Singaporeans about the importance of prioritising oral health, especially during the festive season.

Good oral hygiene is not just about brushing your teeth. We must also take care of gums, which are just as important. Gum care is essential for good overall health since gum disease has been linked to heart disease and diabetes. Healthy gums also provide support to the teeth, preventing them from becoming loose or falling out. In fact, investing in gum care is more cost-effective than treating advanced gum disease and its associated complications. So, don’t neglect gums when taking care of your oral health.

First off, Dr. James urges us to make conscious choices to safeguard our oral health by avoiding extremely sticky or hard candies. These sweets can adhere to your teeth and combine with bacteria to form acids that damage tooth enamel, potentially leading to cavities. Instead, he recommends opting for regular sweets and avoiding hard candies to prevent dental issues.

To satisfy our cravings and contribute positively to our oral health, Dr. James recommends healthier snacking alternatives like fruits, vegetables, or nuts. Remember to eat a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and dairy products to help promote good oral and overall health. Whenever possible, avoid consuming too many sugary or acidic foods and drinks, as these can be harmful to your teeth and gums. By making smart food choices, you’ll be better able to maintain a healthy and beautiful smile for years to come.

Additionally, he advises limiting alcohol consumption to avoid dry mouth, which decreases saliva secretion and increases the risk of cavities. Acute heavy alcohol drinking causes a decrease in the secretion and a change in the electrolyte concentration in the saliva as well as a decrease in protein synthesis in the salivary glands.

Dr. James provides practical tips for maintaining healthy gums and teeth during the festive season. He advises individuals to exercise caution with hard or sticky foods that can lead to dental emergencies like broken teeth or lost fillings. He discourages using your teeth as tools for tasks such as opening bottles and packages or cracking nuts to prevent damage. Many people like to use their teeth as a “third hand” to hold things like nails, pens, sewing pins, and clothes pegs.

But using your teeth to keep things can cause long-term damage. Storing objects in your teeth can also be a choking hazard if you hiccup or sneeze and can even result in oral severe injuries if you trip and fall.

Flossing is crucial to maintaining healthy gums and teeth, and Dr. James recommends incorporating it into your oral care routine. For those with a penchant for sugary treats, drinking plenty of water can help rinse away particles and acids, reducing the risk of tooth decay. You may also choose cheese as a snack option since studies suggest it may increase saliva production, elevate pH levels in the mouth, and significantly modify oral pH, causing a shift toward primary conditions which are kept for a few hours, potentially preventing cavities.

Dr. James stresses the importance of good oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing and flossing, the use of antibacterial mouthwash, and timely dental check-ups. He also recommends using fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash for added protection, ensuring a comprehensive approach to oral wellness.

With Ramadan coming up soon, Dr. James Ho’s insights serve as a valuable guide to maintaining oral health amid indulgent celebrations. By making informed choices, adopting practical tips, and prioritising consistent oral hygiene practices, you can enjoy joyous moments while nurturing healthy smiles. Dr. James’s mission to empower Singaporeans underscores the importance of incorporating oral health into the fabric of our festive traditions, ensuring that the season brings not only joy but also lasting oral wellness.


Images: Envato

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