Take Care of Your Teeth

One part of our body known to have tremendous effect on our total health is our teeth. Many major diseases can be linked to our oral health and whether or not we have been able to eat and chew our food properly throughout our life. Furthermore, infections in the mouth caused by unhealthy teeth and gum tissue may directly affect the rest of the body by traveling through the bloodstream and causing secondary infections.

Prevention is the key to good oral health. This includes home care—doing all we can individually to care for our teeth—as well as regular visits to the dentist for a checkup and cleaning (usually every six months). If we wait until we experience discomfort before going to the dentist, the expense is many times greater, often results in major reconstruction work, and may mean the loss of some or all of our natural teeth.

The major cause of dental disease is plaque, an almost invisible film of decomposed food particles and millions of living bacteria which builds up on the teeth every day. If not removed, the bacteria in plaque feed on food left in the mouth (mostly sugars) and produce acids that eat into the enamel, causing cavities. Plaque also affects gum tissue, causing periodontal (gum) disease. As it accumulates on the teeth, it releases more and more irritating substances which cause gum tissue to become sore and swollen, tending to draw away from the plaque and the teeth as well. If the plaque is not removed regularly the gums continue to recede, become detached, and form pockets where food particles settle. This, in turn, leads to destruction of the bone holding the tooth in place and to eventual loss of the tooth.

Home care should include brushing and flossing immediately after eating. Where this is not possible, the mouth should be rinsed thoroughly with drinking water, which will dilute and wash away a good share of the food particles that can cause decay.

Brushing technique is important in maintaining healthy teeth and gum tissue. Improper brushing may cause wearing away of the teeth along the gum line as well as irritated gum tissue, both of which cause tooth sensitivity.

In terms of preventive measures, fluoride plays an important role in modern dentistry because it hardens the teeth and makes them more resistant to decay. There are many different types of fluoride home care programs now available that enhance the effects of fluoride on the teeth. Indeed, the more effort you put into proper care for your teeth, the greater will be your dividends in comfort and better overall health. Roger C. Tullis, D.D.S.

[illustrations] a. Place head of toothbrush alongside teeth, bristle tips angled against gum line. Move brush back and forth several times; be sure to brush at least 1/16″ of gums at the gum margin.

b. Brush outer surfaces of each tooth, keeping bristles angled against gum line. Use short (half-a-tooth wide) strokes.

c. Use the same method on all inside surfaces.

d. For front teeth, brush inside surfaces vertically, using gentle strokes with “toe” (front part) of brush over teeth and gum tissue.

e. Brush across chewing surfaces. Also, brushing tongue will help freshen breath.

f. To floss: Work floss gently between teeth, stopping just before edge of gum. Scrape up and down side of tooth until you get a squeaky feeling; then move floss to adjoining tooth.

Sewing by Hand

A few years ago, I succeeded in fulfilling an unusual desire. In the corner of the house stood a perfectly good electric sewing machine—and I had decided to make a garment entirely by hand.

Our grandmothers and their grandmothers had sewn by hand, we have all seen their handiwork and exclaimed over the time spent and the infinite patience they must have exercised. Wondering just how much extra time it involved and having more time than money, I chose a boy’s collarless jacket for my experiment. My husband’s old suit was resurrected and soon became pieces as our son’s coat emerged.

I learned that it did not take as much time as expected, and there were a few advantages I had not foreseen. One of them was the saving on thread. When using a machine, there has always been considerable waste of thread. Another advantage was the garment’s more precise fit, especially at the shoulders. As I sewed, I found I could ease the sleeve onto the shoulder with a bit more confidence. And there were fewer mistakes because I could see exactly where I was stitching.

I use two basic stitches. One is the back stitch, which consists of simply inserting the needle behind the last stitch and coming up in front of it. This is best used where there will be seam stress. The other, the running stitch, is done minutely (like a fine quilting stitch), mostly at the side seam. By the time I get to that point I am anxious to see the finished product and so abandon the more sturdy, but slower, back stitch. I always use a double thread, however, and the running stitch holds well on the side seams. Whenever possible, I use quilting thread for added strength.

Many people still do hemming by hand. One of our Relief Society sisters taught us to lock the stitch when hemming, and I have found it invaluable at those times when a heel catches the hem and loosens only part of it. Place the garment inside out, with the hem away from you. Stitch toward you, catching a good deal of the hem, and a very tiny bit of the inside of the material in your stitch. Bring the needle over the thread, locking it so that it will have less chance of unraveling in an accident. The stitch lies flat against the hem and looks very professional.

When the jacket was finished, I felt very humble and experienced a sort of kinship with our pioneer ancestors.

The next time I made something by hand was when we were taking a trip to visit relatives and I needed some blouses. I cut them out, planning to use my mother-in-law’s machine. She informed me that it needed repairing; so I found myself again sewing by hand, this time from necessity. The blouses fit nicely, and I again marveled at our wonderful grandmothers.

I recently finished my twelfth piece of clothing, and I’m “hooked.” I sincerely enjoy sewing by hand, and it is a welcome change from needlepoint and knitting. Thanks, grandma! Oreen Jackson, Seattle, Washington

[illustrations] The back stitch. The hemming stitch.

Self-Help Clothing

As a home economist, I am painfully aware of the problems and frustrations the disabled face in dressing and grooming. You may consider dressing a fairly trivial matter, but you quickly discover it is not an easy task when the process is complicated by braces, crutches, casts, a wheelchair, limited arm or hand movement, or blindness.

I remember an eight-year-old boy with a withered right hand who found manipulating small buttons impossible. In desperation he finally pulled to get the shirt open, and of course the buttons always popped off.

The boy’s mother was advised to select shirts with front openings and to permanently attach the buttons on the outside of the clothing. Velcro nylon tape fasteners were stitched to the inside of the closure, just behind the button positions. The task was not difficult or time-consuming for mom, the appearance of the shirt was not changed and, best of all, the fastener was quick and easy for the child to pull open. He felt a sense of satisfaction at being able to accomplish the task himself and with buttons still intact!

Finding or creating clothing that meets special needs in a world which relies on mass production and standardization is a difficult and frustrating challenge. Yet it can be done. Many ready-to-wear clothes actually incorporate features required for certain disabilities. Garments with large neck openings, raglan sleeves, larger buttons, and ring-pull type zippers are easier to put on and take off Wrap-around slacks, skirts, and shirts also lend themselves to ease dressing. Wise selection is essential.

Ready-to-wear clothing may also be successfully adapted or altered, and home-sewn clothing may be designed to meet special needs. These may include dresses with detachable or bib-type front panels, shirts with velcro or snap shoulder openings, slips with a front zipper, and slacks with a seat flap.

I’ll never forget a former student, Melanie Anderson, who, following a serious motorcycle accident, found herself forced to wear leg braces. Like most teenagers, she wanted to wear slacks to school, not just for the sake of fashion, but because they hid braces from view. Her problem centered on the difficulty of getting her slacks on and off.

The solution involved inserting two-way zippers in the side seams from hem to hip. Not only were they totally functional, but the top stitching took on an added decorative effect. She looked and felt terrific.

Medical and technical advances have led several small businesses to begin manufacturing clothing and grooming aids for the disabled persons. The solutions to many problems may be found in mail order catalogs which will allow “shopping” at home.

If and when you need help, you might contact home economics teachers, state extension offices, fabric stores staffed with professionals who know about fibers, fabrics, design, and clothing construction. You’ll find helpful information, too, in the following references which may be obtained through your local library or bookstore: Clothing Designs for the Handicapped (University of Alberta Press, 1978); Independent Living for the Handicapped and the Elderly (Houghton Mifflin Co, 1974), and Clothing for Handicapped People, (University of Arizona Division of Clothing, Textiles and Interior Design, 1979). Judith Rasband, Provo, Utah

[illustration] Shown above are some possible adaptations of clothing for the handicapped.