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59.DIY check-ups

DIY check-ups & Personal Hygiene - Teeth
Adults have 28 to 32 teeth depending whether the person finally grows their wisdom teeth, which do not appear in everyone. In many cases, wisdom teeth don't emerge fully from the gum because of over-crowding. Your dentist will determine whether they are best left alone or taken out. Teeth are largely made up of dentin on the outside and a pulp on the inside where blood vessels and nerve endings are situated. The crown, or visible part of a tooth, is covered with about 2mm of enamel. Below the gum line, the root of the tooth is made from cementum. Both dentin and cementum are tough bony substances. Teeth are 'glued' by a special membrane that anchors them to the surrounding socket. Poor oral hygiene or the failure to clean and floss your teeth regularly weakens the mouth's ability to fight off infections and the membrane that fixes your teeth to the sockets. Consequently, despite the best efforts of saliva, which is you body's natural answer to bleach, you are more inclined to get mouth ulcers and bleeding gums - obvious gateways for bacterial infections like gingivitis and viral infections like hepatitis and HIV.

Bad breath

Bad breath is caused by bacteria, tooth decay, smoking or rich and spicy food. It can seem particularly unpleasant when you wake up in the morning after you've been drinking the night before. During the night your body produces less saliva (a natural mouthwash) and a thin creamy coating forms over your teeth, tongue and gums. Healthy bacteria break it down producing mild toxins which smell and taste horrid. However, in some cases bad breath can be caused by medication and stomach ulcers.

Plaque

Plaque is a sticky coating on the teeth made up of saliva, bacteria and particles of food. It is the main cause of tooth decay and gingivitis (an infection of the gums). If allowed to accumulate it will become hard and increasingly difficult to remove. Plaque begins to form within hours of cleaning and is responsible for the furry feeling of un-brushed teeth. If the gums are unhealthy the plaque tends to spread more quickly. The bacteria can also rapidly erode teeth enamel and voilà... a cavity! Or voilà, voilà, voilà... lots of cavities. Plaque should be removed at least twice times a day using a toothbrush and dental floss.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is usually caused by a build-up of plaque. It is thought that the toxins produced by bacteria within the plaque irritate the gums causing them to become infected, tender and swollen. Gingivitis can also result from injury to the gums usually from rough brushing of teeth or flossing as if you're lassoing a steer. Healthy gums are pink or brown and firm. Poorly gums become a reddish-purple, mushy, shiny and swollen. The gums bleed easily during brushing and are often tender. Good oral hygiene is the main means of preventing and treating gingivitis - and not letting the plaque form in the first place. In some cases, a special mouthwash will ease the symptoms.

Tips for teeth


You should visit a dentist every six months. If not, or if you leave it until pain and discomfort occurs you are storing up potentially horrific problems for later on.
Clean your teeth at least twice a day, ideally after each meal. This should take no less than 3-4 minutes.
Renew your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every couple of months, or per instructions.
Electric toothbrushes are recommended, especially for removing plaque.
Floss your teeth at least once a day to help prevent your gums from receding (a major cause of tooth loss).
After meals use a tooth pick to dislodge food from between your teeth.
Chewing gum produces saliva which breaks down bacteria. Choose a sugar-free variety.
Sugar rots teeth so choose foods, sweets and drinks with reduced or no sugar.
Mouthwashes and freshener sprays mask bad breath, they don't sort it out.
Teeth whiteners which use bleach can produce results but can damage the enamel. Check with your dentist first.


DIY check-ups & Personal Hygiene - Nails
Like skin, nails are made from keratin and protect our fingers and toes from wear and damage. They also help us pick up objects and allows us to scratch the little bastard's eyes out when he cheats on us. Fingernails usually take five or six months to grow from base to tip (just under a millimetre a week). Toe nails take twice as long to grow which is why we don't have to cut them so often(some of us seem to forget about them altogether).

Damage and indicators

Nails are susceptible to damage through injury, pressure or crushing (in a door, for example) but more usually through bacterial or fungal infections and general illnesses. Brittle or ridged nails, black splinter marks beneath the nail itself, blue and green discolouration may be signs of vitamin deficiency and generalised disease.

Nail biting

Nail biting is a nervous is nervous habit. A badly-bitten nail is more susceptible to infections, pain and bleeding. The usual treatment is to paint the nails with a clear solution which tastes horrible, but this has obvious limitations. Examining why you bite your nails can be helpful in devising a strategy to break the habit. Perhaps the best reason for quitting is being able to see a full set of neatly trimmed nails - it will only take a month to see significant improvements. Nail care tips


Clean your nails carefully by prising out dirt beneath them. (A nail brush may be helpful).
Soften your nails in warm water before cutting them.
Don't cut your nails too short.
Cut your toenails straight across to stop them in-growing.
Don't bite your nails. It doesn't just look tacky, it really shows you up when you're holding a glass, shaking hands or he's trying to suck your fingers romantically. (He may as well nibble them for you).
To protect against nail infection, wear rubber gloves when your hands are being continually immersed in water.
See a doctor if your nails become discoloured or brittle as this could be due to a fungal infection or vitamin deficiency (which are usually easily treated).

Feet and toenail tips


If you shower (rather than bath) don't forget to clean your feet, toes and toenails everyday making sure your dry them properly, particularly between the toes.
If you are prone to bacterial or fungal infections a range of creams, powders and sprays from your chemist can help combat this. Keep a separate foot towel (which you don't use on your face).
Change socks daily to prevent foot odour.
Use a pumice stone to gently remove dead skin from the heels and balls of your feet.
Discard shoes that are worn beyond repair, or no longer fit properly.
Wear natural materials, such as cotton socks and leather shoes to reduce sweating. If you suffer from smelly feet, wear insoles made of activated charcoal, which absorbs sweat and odour particles.
If you develop a foot problem, such as a callous, bunion or verruca, see your doctor or chiropodist.




DIY check-ups & Personal Hygiene - Hair
Like skin and nails, hair is made from keratin. Hair acts as a protective barrier. For example, eyelashes protect the eyes, hairs in the nostrils and ears trap and prevent the entry of foreign bodies and eyebrows prevent sweat dripping into the eyes. Attached to the base of each hair is a minute strip of muscle which is stimulated by cold or emotional stress. When the muscle tightens, the hair stands up trapping air and conserving heat. Each hair grows for up to five years before entering a 'resting' phase. As the growth stops, the hair falls out and after about three months a new hair begins to grow to take its place. Obviously, the number of hairs varies between individuals but, on average there are about 100,000 hairs on your head and you might lose anything between 40-120 hairs a day. Colour is determined by how much pigment hair contains. As we get older, we tend to produce less pigment which is why hair goes grey.

Hair loss

The reasons for hair loss are various including physical ailments, skin conditions, allergic reactions, and mental stress. The most common type of hair loss is baldness which is caused by hormonal change in the body as we get older. Unless you intend to stick the bum of a Canadian beaver to the top of your head - get used to it, it's a fact of life! Shorter hair - properly groomed - can be dead sexy in a man of any age. For some men, however, hair loss is a major upset particularly when their young. If hair loss causes you stress, depression or makes you feel inadequate talk to your GP before spending money on potions or transplants.



Dandruff

Dandruff is a common but relatively harmless condition where dead skin cells are shed from the scalp. This produces white flakes which are best noticed on dark suits. The usual cause is a scaly rash called seborrhoeic dermatitis that can also affect the chest, face and back. Treatment involves regular use of a medicated anti-dandruff shampoo from your chemist although a cortico-steroid or anti-fungal drug are sometimes required (through your GP).

Hair care tips



Shampoo your hair regularly to remove any build up of dirt and grease.
Beware of harsh anti-dandruff shampoos - ask your hairdresser, chemist or perhaps barber for advice.
When washing your hair massage your scalp to stimulate blood flow and to release tension.
Rinse your hair thoroughly (under a shower stream if possible).
Use a conditioner to smooth the outer surface of the hairs.
Keep hairdryers at least 15 centimetres away from the head to avoid heat damage.
Don't brush your hair when it is wet, as it is at its weakest then.
Avoid over-vigorous rubbing of wet hair, which can cause split ends and tangling.
If you cut your own hair with electric clippers make sure you choose the correct setting. (Once it's cut - it can't be undone!) Make sure that you cut evenly; uneven patches or tufts of hair which have not been trimmed look truly dreadful.
Ear and nose hairs can get long and straggly but can be kept short with a trimmer, or plucked out(which does a better job).
Stray eyebrows can be plucked.





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