Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 1: Your Own Teeth and Gums

Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!

Make a giftMake a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.


HealthWiki > Where There Is No Dentist > Chapter 1: Your Own Teeth and Gums


Next time you look in a mirror, look at your teeth and the skin (gums) around them. Look in your children’s mouths, too. Look at both gums and teeth, because the health of one often depends on the health of the other. To be strong, teeth need healthy gums. Healthy gums need clean teeth.

DENT Ch1 Page 1-1.png


What can good teeth give you?

  • GOOD HEALTH
  • GOOD LOOKS
  • GOOD SPEECH
  • GOOD EATING
  • GOOD BREATH

And when you think of your teeth, think of your gums. Gums are important for holding each tooth in place.

You need strong teeth to eat different kinds of foods. Different foods are important for health. Nuts, maize, fruits, and meat are some of the best foods — but they are difficult to bite and chew if your teeth are loose and hurting!

You can usually tell if your teeth and gums are healthy or not. See pictures of what to look for and compare them with your own mouth. If you find a problem in your mouth, look for its name in Chapter 6 and look for its treatment in Chapter 7.

Most important: when you are not sure of a problem or how to treat it, talk to an experienced dental worker.


If you notice a problem early, often you can stop it from getting worse. It is even better to prevent the problem from starting. You can do this if you know how to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

a man asking a woman a question, which she answers.
But how can
I keep my teeth and my gums healthy?
By eating only good healthy food and cleaning your teeth everyday!

Learn to take care of your own teeth and gums before you try to teach others. A good example is one of your best teaching tools. People will see that you are healthy, and they will want to know why. When you tell people ways to care for their teeth, they will believe you if they know that you do these things yourself. First take care of your own teeth and gums. Then teach your family what you have learned. They, too, will be good examples for others to see.



This page was updated:19 Feb 2018