For a healthy smile

Published On: July 14, 2017 11:36 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Toothache, bleeding gums, and sensitivity are a few common problems that most of us battle with on a regular basis. Experts say that these problems occur when we don’t brush our teeth properly. The Week’s Swasti Gautam spoke to Prof. Dr B.K Shrestha, head of the department of Dentistry, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj and preceptor of post-graduate orthodontics program to find out more about the importance of oral hygiene. Here is a conversation with Dr B.K Shrestha that will help you understand where you are going wrong with your daily dental hygiene routine.

What is dental cavity?
One must always keep in mind that when nature created us it also designed a self-cleansing mechanism for our teeth. Green vegetables and fruits such as sugarcane help in cleaning our teeth naturally. However, the problem began when the so-called civilization came about. Cakes, chocolates, junk food and soft drinks are the main causes of dental cavities. Dental cavities or caries are caused when soft tenacious deposits such as carbohydrates, glucose, and fructose get stuck to your tooth. The bacteria present in your tooth then starts eating the deposits creating acid that removes the minerals from the outermost layer of the teeth which, if left untreated, can cause dental cavity.

How often should we brush our teeth?
One must always brush before going to bed as this helps to clean all the germs that have been accumulated in our teeth throughout the day. Since our body is least active at night, cleaning our teeth before going to bed is extremely crucial for our dental hygiene. At night, the body fails to produce adequate amount of saliva to facilitate the self-cleansing process. There is no harm in brushing as soon as you wake up in the morning but brushing your teeth after breakfast will help you keep your teeth clean for the next few hours. Make sure you rinse your teeth after having any kind of sugary liquid such as tea or coffee. Brushing immediately after eating sugary, sticky food such as chocolate or cake is vital as acid formulation in such cases takes place within half an hour and there is a high chance of cavity formation.

Is there a correct way to brush our teeth?
There is a specific technique as to how you should brush your teeth, and learning this method is extremely important to maintain oral hygiene. The correct way to grip a toothbrush is by holding it like you hold a pen. Make sure you use optimal force while you brush your teeth. Optimal force means adequate force without damaging the outer layer of the teeth. Place your brush at 45 degrees angle to your gum and gently move the brush back and forth. Make sure to focus on only two teeth at a time. Also sweep the brush upward by focusing on only two teeth. This way, you should brush the outer surface, inner surface, and chewing surface of your teeth.

What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste should one use?
There are two types of toothpastes found in the market. One is the plain toothpaste that only helps you clean your teeth and the other toothpaste has fluoride that prevents dental cavities and makes the teeth stronger. Fluoride is supposed to be present in the drinking water but the quantity of fluoride in our water is very less. Hence, buying a toothpaste containing fluoride is a must in our country. Make sure you limit the amount of toothpaste that your kids use to a peanut size. Talking about toothbrushes, your toothbrush should be straight and 2.5 centimeters long that, again, covers only two teeth at a time. Your toothbrush should also not be too hard or too soft. I recommend you use toothbrush with medium flexibility and change your toothbrush every three months.

How often should we visit a dentist?
Everyone should visit the dentist once in six months. The germs present in your mouth are extremely insidious and the symptoms of tooth decay are seen only in the final stages. Dental plaque facilitates cavity that cannot be removed with a simple toothbrush. So it is imperative for everyone to visit the dentist regularly as it can prevent a lot of oral diseases.

Does our oral health affect our overall health?
Not taking care of your oral health can lead to serious consequences, much more than a simple toothache. The germs from your mouth have the ability to enter your blood stream and pose a threat to various vital organs of your body such as the heart. The germs may even enter your lungs and intestine causing numerous health problems.

What is the most prevalent dental problem in Nepal?
The most common oral problem in Nepal is periodontal disease. This is caused when there is infection around the structures of the teeth such as the gums, the periodontal ligament, and the alveolar bone. Many people still think bleeding gums when they brush or floss is normal. But, if your gums start bleeding while you brush, you must consult the dentist immediately to prevent further severe infections of the supporting tissues of your teeth.


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