Dental hygiene is often overlooked by the general population and being involved in raising awareness about this issue, and Prof Dr. S M Iqbal Hussain, the ex-Principal of Dhaka Dental College and Hospital, was happy enough to share his views on the importance of visiting the dentists at least twice a year. He has long been a veteran in dentistry with multiple degrees from countries around the world.
How important is dental hygiene to our overall well-being?
Our mouth is the gateway to the gastrointestinal tract and a healthy oral cavity is the gateway to a healthy body. If the teeth are not brushed regularly, dental plaques accumulate, which can cause demineralization of the teeth. This is called dental caries, and are commonly known as tooth decay. The dentin of a tooth gets broken down and consequently, teeth are loosened over time. Swelling of the gums and irritation of the gums are notable symptoms.
The inflammation of the gums is called gingivitis, and prolonged gingivitis is called periodontitis, which not only inflames the gums, causing much swelling, but also causes toothache. Accumulation of puss is a common predicament, and a root canal is often necessary to rectify the problem.
Problems in the gum such as inflammation and swelling need to be quickly checked by a dentist. If left unchecked, they may even prove fatal.
Caries are caused in teeth when bacteria break carbohydrates, which disintegrates the enamel, causing denting. A sharp pain is felt when eating, and the teeth become sensitive and create tingling sensations of discomfort.
Inflammation of the dental pulp tissue causes pulpitis. This is caused by bacterial infection, which causes tooth decay. The pulp dies when the tooth decay spreads to it, emitting a foul odour in the process. This is due to food particles stuck in the teeth and odour-causing bacteria that accumulate around it.
The nerves are under constant pressure and it affects the fifth cranial nerve, which is linked to the brain causing intense and excruciating pain. A patient must visit a dentist twice a year, once in every six months for an overall check-up.
What are the major preventive measures and ways one can tend to one’s teeth in absence of a visit to the dentist?
A major preventive measure is that brushing must be done right after every meal if possible. Instead of relying on artificial sweeteners in food, natural fruits should be consumed.
Consuming fast food and chocolates should be reduced, and intake of fibrous meals should be increased.
After eating, alongside brushing, gargling with salt water should be made into a habit. Mouthwashes such as Listerine can be used as an aid as well. Gum massages should be done to increase the flow of blood in the arteries. Flossing is also helpful to get a fresh breath while also helping to get rid of small chunks of food stuck in the teeth.
Prevention is the best cure and alongside these habits, patients should at least try to visit their dentist twice a year.
What do you have to tell children about their dental hygiene?
Children should also come for dental check-ups. Brushing should be inculcated in them from the time they start having milk teeth. Even milk teeth should be rubbed softly with tissue to keep them clean.
At times, the child and mother both fall asleep while the milk in the child’s mouth accumulates, causing nursing bottle syndrome. The child falls asleep with the nursing bottle and thus the name. This is a major cause of tooth decay as the child grows up.
“BDS Nah Toh, Daater Daakter Nah” – What do you have to say about this campaign?
BDS stands for Bachelor of Dental Surgery. This is needed in order to be a dental surgeon, and is awarded after 5 years of studies.
Patients should be on the lookout for these type of frauds. False treatments, complications, and lack of knowledge is most common amongst these people.
Dentists are certified and registered by BMDC (Bangladesh Medical Dental Council). Any malpractices carried out by these dentists must be detected and patients must be careful, as faulty treatments might be costly to the patients in terms of health effects.
Patients should be more aware of their oral hygiene and must take care, and visit a dentist as soon as they detect gum bleeding, foul smell, or toothache. As socio-economic conditions improve, people should, in general, be careful about their intake of food, especially sugar.
Photo courtesy: Prof Dr. S M Iqbal Hussain