There are certain things in life that we take for granted. So much so that we do not realise how important they are till we have to live without them — like healthy teeth and oral cavity.
Oral health is just as important as every other part in your body, and in order to keep you informed about all the important things about oral health, we reached out to Dr Mirza Md Arifur Rahman, Assistant Professor at Holy Family Red Crescent Medical College, Dental Unit and asked him about important concepts and issues that encompass the idea of oral health.
What exactly is conservative dentistry?
Just like the word says, conservative dentistry is a part of dental treatment where we focus on preserving the tooth as much as possible. 'Conserve' is the key word here.
The visible part of a tooth has an outer layer that we call enamel. Sometimes there is damage in this layer, which we call dental caries. Conservative Dentistry aims to preserve the natural tissue of the tooth. Preventing damage is the focus. However, when there is damage, reversing the damage if possible and in worst case scenario, preserving the tooth through repair, reconstruction, whatever can be done, to save the tooth.
Could you explain what is Endodontics?
Endo means inside. Endodontics deals with the inner layer of the tooth, often referred to as the root. We call it dental pulp. This is mostly the invisible part that we cannot see from the outside. This root is linked to nerves and when the damage is deep, you might notice sharp pain in tooth or hypersensitivity in your tooth when exposed to cold temperature.
Endodontics aims to repair any damage done to this central layer of tooth. If the damage is reversible then the aim is to repair and keep it functioning and maintain the vitality. We always use biocompatible elements to make sure that it has no negative effect on the body.
But these are the concepts that come into consideration when there's already damage in the teeth. Isn't there a way to avoid all these?
Prevention is always better than cure. And the best way to maintain good oral health is to brush your teeth regularly. Twice a day is highly recommended, but if you are too busy for that, brush your teeth before sleep.
We always hear that, but why is it different than brushing in the morning?
Because, when you are awake, you are eating, talking, and these activities keep the muscles in your mouth active. As a result, saliva can flow and that keeps the mouth somewhat clean itself. During sleep, however, the muscles are at complete rest and that makes the mouth dry. As a result, bacteria start to grow. Brushing at night ensures that these bacteria are cleaned before they start their invasion.
There's a common culture in our people of avoiding doctors and trying to treat themselves or wait till things get worse. What do you think about that?
People in Bangladesh are apprehensive of doctors, and the last person they want to visit is the dentist. This should not be the case. One should not wait to consult a doctor until the health issue gets too serious. The earlier you consult your doctor, the easier it is for them to treat you, thus saving you from suffering.
What's your take on the campaign: BDS na to daater doctor na?
I think it's a good campaign and makes a valid point. I will tell you why.
A lot of the work that the dentists do, involves technical equipment. If you watch closely, anyone can learn to do them in a few months. But that does not make them a doctor, neither does it give them the licence to practice on people. If they don't have the proper knowledge, it's very easy for them to spread diseases like hepatitis B through the wrong use of these equipments.
A BDS doctor would know how to prevent that, others would not. You do not want to go to the dentist and come back with a bigger health issue just because you did not go to a real dentist. It should be kept in mind that BDS doctors have studied and practiced before they became dentists. They know what they are doing. So, I will have to agree with the slogan of that campaign: BDS na to dater doctor na!"
Photo courtesy: Dr Mirza Md Arifur Rahman