Health Corner

Dental care first

Published On: March 2, 2018 09:44 AM NPT By: The Week Bureau

Dr Astha Karki shares that many of her patients still come to her only when they are in pain. Where dental care is concerned, Nepalis continue to have a rather careless attitude. According to Dr Karki, many of the cases she deals with on a daily basis could have been prevented had the patient been more conscious about getting regular checkups. Even though this is a point that has been made several times before, Dr Karki believes they need to maintain regular dialogue with patients to help bring about more awareness. So here with The Week, she addresses some common dental care queries.

Is flossing mandatory? Isn’t it enough that we brush twice a day, every day?
I would certainly recommend flossing at least once a day and the reason is simple. When we brush we can’t reach the spaces between our teeth. Regardless of the kind of brush you choose, this is impossible. So when you don’t pay attention to these tight spaces between your teeth, it is more likely that bits of food will remain there and this becomes a breeding ground for harmful bacteria to grow. These are bacteria that can thrive and then develop into plaques and often lead to issues like tooth decay and gum disease. But when you floss, you can remove these bacteria and plaque from your teeth so I definitely don’t consider flossing to be optional. 

Having said that, I wouldn’t recommend people to start flossing randomly. One must know the right technique first. This is very important. When patients come to us, we make it a point to teach them flossing techniques. These are tips like how you should hold the floss, how you can wrap the tooth with the floss in a C-shape, then ways to flip it over and get the other side. These techniques are crucial to ensure a safe, thorough clean.

What are the common causes of tooth sensitivity?
The reasons for tooth sensitivity can be different for each patient. When we are talking about tooth sensitivity, we are basically referring to the dentin – the underlying layer of your teeth being exposed because of receding gum tissues. The roots that are not covered by hard enamel contain thousands of tiny tubules. These tubules allow stimuli – often hot, cold or sweet food – to reach the nerve in your tooth. This is why you feel a certain type of pain.

Now as for the factors that cause tooth sensitivity, there are many. Some may experience it because they are brushing too hard with a hard bristled brush. This wears down the enamel. Mouthwashes have been known to cause similar harm as well. Those who have a habit of eating acidic food on a regular basis or have a habit of grinding their teeth are also known to suffer from tooth sensitivity. Other than that, certain gum diseases or plaque buildup may also be the culprit. We can identify the causes once we check the patient. If you maintain a regular dental appointment, we can even help you prevent it.

Is noticing blood while brushing always a troubling sign?
As a general rule, your gums should not bleed when you brush and floss. But there may be instances where you switch your tooth brush to a more firm variety or change your flossing routine, as in you begin to floss more frequently after forgetting to do so for a few days, which can also result in bleeding gums. You may spot some dark spots on your brush or floss. However, this should clear up within a couple of days.

When the problem doesn’t go away or worsens, then you should make an appointment with your doctor because these could be indicators of gum diseases. Unfortunately, gum diseases often don’t cause any pain even as it gets worse so you don’t notice the damage until its too late. But considering red swollen bleeding gums is one of the most common reasons of our patients’ visits, we can see it’s a very common dental issue.

If you leave it untreated, there is a good chance that your gums will start bleeding on its own. This means the inflammation has reached a more serious stage. And there is a good chance it is going to get worse, even resulting in the patient losing their teeth. So prevention is key when it comes to this problem. It’s important that you remove the plaques and bacteria in your teeth with a regular brushing and flossing routine. 

What causes the enamel to wear off?
We call this tooth erosion. Enamel is the hardest substance in our bodies but, over time, it can erode. Since enamel covers and protects the outside of our teeth, you can feel and see the symptoms of tooth erosion. Some suffer from discoloration, uneven edges, some experience sensitivity while some may even have to go through more severe consequences like cracked tooth and dents. 

As for the factors that bring on tooth erosion, foods and drinks that you choose to consume is one of the leading causes. We are referring to those high acidic content food and drinks like soda, citrus fruits, sugary snacks, and such. 

When you brush too hard or too much, that can also contribute to enamel loss causing your teeth to become sensitive. Not all enamel loss is preventable though. Studies have shown that weak enamel may also be caused in utero. 

Either way, to avoid tooth erosion, we would recommend that you cut back on sugary drinks and snacks, even sugary gums as much as possible. It’s best not to have soda at all but when you do don’t make it a habit to swirl the liquid in your mouth. Always rinse your mouth after eating and go for regular check ups to get necessary treatments on time.

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