Insight into oral health | Sunday Observer

Insight into oral health

Dental Surgeon Faadhil Rizvy
Dental Surgeon Faadhil Rizvy

The mouth is the gateway to good health, most would agree. Everything that we consume in terms of food and beverage enters through our mouth - which makes our teeth an important element in maintaining good health, which in turn leads to an active vibrant lifestyle. Today more than ever we are blessed with so much of choice in terms of food. The menu choices are unlimited and so are the accompanying sauces and dips. In terms of beverages again there is much choice leaving your mind in a realm of decision. While all this is cool and fun we tend to forget the importance and influence oral health has on the operation of the entire human body.

I spoke to Dental Surgeon Faadhil Rizvy who explained “Troubled teeth and gums aren’t always just a dental problem. Sometimes they indicate deeper issues. Your mouth can indicate a lot about your overall health condition. We look around the mouth for colour changes - ulcers – spots around gums – worn teeth - breath.

Some of the disease that manifest their symptoms via the mouth include- diabetes, kidney disease, liver related issues, acid reflux, oral cancer, tuberculosis and even HIV. So as we see oral health and general health are inseparable and bidirectional.

“Dental health plays a major role in oral health and focus will be on this. Tooth decay and gum disease (gingivitis and periodontal disease) are the two main dental diseases. While dental caries is the major cause for tooth loss in the younger age group, periodontal disease is the reason for many older patients losing teeth. Dental plaque is the evil of both these conditions”.

Plaque is the soft sticky film that sticks to your teeth after a meal. If not brushed away after a meal, more plaque builds up on tooth surface and gum margin and bacteria accumulates. Plaque has bacteria that feast on sugars from food and produce acids. Overtime these acids break down the strongest outermost part of the tooth enamel and create cavities. Initially the minerals in saliva and fluoride in toothpaste help to re-mineralise enamel.

Some of the common mistakes that young folk do are trying to open drink bottle caps using their teeth and trying to bite and open packets of polythene and plastic. This puts undue strain on teeth and can even break the tooth.

Dr. Faadhil spoke on the importance of brushing and cleaning our teeth saying “Aim is to remove plaque, not to polish your teeth so be gentle, no need to brush hard and damage teeth. For the same reason don’t use a medium or hard brush, it will wear down your enamel, causing tooth sensitivity. A tooth brush should have soft nylon bristles with round ends.

* Start from back and move forward. *Brush outer surfaces first then inner and finally the biting surfaces.

* Place the bristles of your brush along the gum line at a 45 degree angle in contacting with tooth surface and gum line. *Brush upwards from the gum line towards the biting surface in sweeping motions or in a vibrating circular motion.

* Repeat for inner surface of all teeth similarly maintaining the 45 degree angle. *Brush for at least three minutes- this gives time for fluoride in tooth paste to go in and the job is thorough.

Explaining the importance of good eating habits the doctor added “When it comes to health of your teeth you really are what you eat!

“All foods have pH values and the more acidifying your diet gets, more loaded the tooth gets with harmful bacteria that cause plaque buildup and tooth decay.

Strike a balance and opt for diet rich in alkalinizing crunchy food.Enjoy fresh unsweetened fruit juices and plenty of water. Sugar free drinks like sodas and citrus drinks – can be worse than drinks with sugar.

Most of them usually contain phosphoric acid, citric acid, tartaric acid and have more eroding effect on enamel. Although it is better not to snack between meals so that saliva can have time to neutralize acids, eating cheese will help do this fast. So limit sugary and acidic foods.

Cigarettes have nicotine and tar. Nicotine makes smoking an addictive practice. Tar makes the plaque in the mouth stickier increasing risk of caries and more gum disease. Smoking causes constriction of blood vessels .As a result even with progressed gum disease, due to less blood supply, gums may not bleed and mask the signs of the disease. Excessive indulgences in alcohol are known to cause not only brain and liver disease, but affect the mouth as well. Heavy drinking with smoking increases the risk of oral cancer.

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