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When excessive dental hygiene can be BAD for your health 


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Do you suffer from an intestinal disorder? The answer could lie in an excess of dental higiene.

On one of my trips to South America, I saw a child crawl through the dirt of a street market and put his finger to his mouth. I remember thinking: “My mother would scream in the sky!”

She had other things to worry about. Her other son, more grown-up, helped her in the tasks of her fruit and vegetable stall, while she nursed her patient and not so patiently her clients. The child, left alone, rolled among empty cardboard boxes covered with a blackish layer of dirt.

 In Europe, mothers constantly rebuke their children when they roll on the floor, walk barefoot or carry anything. It is not just a matter of hygiene or protocol, it is also a matter of precaution against illness, flu or poisoning.

I doubt that the market boy was sick, at least he did not look like it, and he looked happy between leaves of half rotting lettuce, although I do not know if he suffered from chronic gastroenteritis or infections. What I do know is that practically all the Europeans I met in these cities did suffer them on a regular basis.

 Springe Nature’s scientific journal, with its “Change the World, One Article at a Time” initiative, has selected 180 papers from every scientific genre of 2016 that are supposed to change the world. One of them is dedicated precisely to excess hygiene. What this University of Colorado research concludes is that the lack of exposure in modern urban societies to “old friends”, that is, to microbes, has made our immune system more vulnerable.

 An example. A group of researchers from the university hospital, the Karolinska Institutet and Örebro in Sweden monitored between 1973 and 2012 10,162 individuals to examine whether there was a link between dental hygiene and certain intestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease.

Experts concluded that those who practised worse dental hygiene had a lower risk of these diseases. But let’s not fool ourselves. Poor dental hygiene can also lead to serious oral, intestinal and even cardiovascular problems, which is why health care institutions and clinics recom-mend brushing our teeth three times a day. No more no less.

 The hygienist staff at Artedental clinic in Puerto de la Cruz presents a series of recommendations so that hygiene abuse does not become a problem.

Excessive brushing: “It is advisable to avoid thick bristle brushes and shaking it vigorously, as this could damage the enamel and cause bleeding in the gums. Cleaning them three times with a soft bristle brush for two minutes is enough.

Mouthwashes are often used to prevent bad breath and achieve deeper cleaning. However, they sometimes contain a proportion of alcohol between 18 and 26%, which can lead to not only burning, but poisoning if too much is consumed. “The purpose of brushing is to clean the teeth and gums, not disinfect the mouth. Oral flora is as important for the gastrointes-tinal as it helps to initiate digestion and self-regulates to maintain the balance and not favour the proliferation of harmful bacteria. Just like we do not shower with Betadine or disinfectant soaps, as it would lead to disorders in the skin due to imbalance in the flora; using a disinfectant rinse could also damage that balance, “says Victor Cubillo, medical director of Artedental.

Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps combat cavities, and is therefore present in toothpaste. However, its excess may cause dental fluorosis, generally mild, and consisting of white spots on the enamel.

Whitening, in spite of improving the appearance and hygiene of the teeth, can also be harmful if it is abused or used without supervision. Exceeding this treatment can damage the enamel irreversi-bly, as well as exposing the dentin (the tissue below the enamel and protecting it from fractures) to cavities.

Chaxiraxi Leal