It is the first week of the month and everyone has received their paychecks. If you ask people about their self-grooming essentials, you will be amazed to see the similarities. It comes down to skincare, hair care and even nail-care. But, out of everything, one essential care is most likely to get neglected. That is concerning their dental health.
A visit to the dentist is what we miss amid our fast-paced lives. Unless we face a dental problem, we do not pay enough attention to our teeth, jaws or gums. Surprisingly, nearly 90% of adults suffer from dental cavities that lead to several other health concerns. More surprisingly, dentists attend to only 47% treatments, while the rest of the population rely on home remedies and advise from the local chemists.
We recognised this alarming situation and set out to seek answers about India’s Dental Health issues from the finest specialists in the field.
Common Questions about Dental Health
We interacted with Dr. Anjali Sharma, Endodontist/ Root Canal Specialist from Apollo Spectra Hospital. Read on to understand her floss-ophy (read philosophy) on the field on dentistry in India.
Ques 1. A new study says that 8 in 10 school going children suffer from some kind of oral health problems. These problems include visible caries, gum inflammation, bad breath, and gum bleeding, plaque and more. What do you think is the prime reason behind these high numbers? What should parents do to prevent this problem?
Ans. Well, the most important reason why school children face all these problems is that they are into the habit of snacking quite frequently. Also, they consume fast food, junk foods and sugary drinks, especially soft drinks. They are also in the habit of eating candies. They forget to rinse their mouths after consuming such items. This is the prime reason why children are predisposed to such dental problems.
As far as parents are concerned, I think they cannot completely curtail these habits of their children. But they should minimise the consumption of acidic food and beverages. Parents should make sure that their children are not snacking all the time. Whenever the child eats a product high in carbohydrates or sugary food or drink, parents should ensure that the kids rinse their mouth. This is a habit that parents should inculcate in their children for the prevention of dental problems.
Ques 2. Do Indian traditional practice interrupt your clinical practice?
Ans. Yes, many-a-times these practices do interrupt our practice as dentists. It is very difficult to convince the patients against these traditions because they have preconceived notions in their minds. It is very difficult to make them understand that these notions are not true.
For instance, there is a very common myth that by regular scaling, your teeth become weak. Another myth which people believe in is that going for extraction of your upper tooth makes your eyesight weak. These beliefs are not true. So yes, such traditional notions are very difficult to deal with.
Ques 3. Despite the consistent promotion of dental care products and recognition for the need for proper oral hygiene, nearly 76% of adults in India either have cavities or are at a high risk of developing them. What additional precautions should be working and non-working adults take to prevent cavities?
Ans. First of all, everyone should go for regular dental checkup, every six months. These checkups should be mandatory.
Apart from that, we have a lot of preventive procedures for decay. One such procedure is called pit and fissure sealants. In this, we seal the pits of the teeth so that a tooth does not get decayed or a cavity does not occur there.
There are other procedures for children like fluoride treatment. If a tooth is floriated, then the tendency for it to get decayed decreases.
Besides that, one should maintain good oral hygiene. People should take oral health measures, like brushing their teeth twice and flossing every day.
Ques 4. How can the patient know if the pain in their mouth is related to dental health or some other ailment?
Ans. Oral cavities are called the mirror of the entire body. In case you experience pain in the mouth, you should visit your dentist. The dentist will guide you on whether it is related to the entire body or is of teeth origin. The point is, you cannot diagnose it on your own. If you have pain in the mouth, visit a dentist.
Ques 5. What are the early signs of mouth cancer? Can these signs and symptoms be reversed?
Ans. Cancer signs can be variable. But oral cancers are mostly seen as an ulcer. Precisely, a non-healing ulcer which has been there for more than fourteen days. If there is any irritation in the mouth caused by a sharp tooth or a denture which is cutting oral cavity somewhere, one should visit their dentist immediately.
The reversing of these symptoms depends on the stage of cancer. If it is in the initial phase, by the cessation of unhealthy habits like tobacco chewing or smoking, the symptoms can be reversed. But if cancer has progressed, then probably surgery is the only option.
Ques 6. What limitations do you face while operating on someone with Dental trismus?
Ans. Dental trismus is a condition which is characterised by intense pain and an inability to open the mouth. So, this is a real challenge for both the dentist and the patient. There are a lot of causes for trismus. The first and foremost cause is an infection. Any insult to the muscles of mastication results in trismus.
Treating a patient with trismus is a real challenge because the patient is unable to open his or her mouth. It is extremely painful for them. So, when we treat such patients, we aim to correct the cause first, whatever it is.
If it is an infected tooth, we extract the tooth or treat it. Otherwise, in case it is due to insult or injury to the muscle, we manage it with medications. So, the treatment depends on the cause but yes, treating the patient is quite difficult.
Ques 7. It is believed that surgery is the only option to treat oral cancer. What are your views about that? What is the approach of treating oral cancers here at Apollo Spectra?
Ans. Like I have mentioned before, we aim to remove the causative agent. Be it tobacco, smoking or any irritation in the mouth. Also, this step depends on the stage of cancer. If it is in the initial stage, the removal of the causative agent will remove the symptoms.
Many a time, we encounter patients who come to us in pre-cancerous conditions. In such a case, we educate the patient and make them understand the importance of oral health.
But when the lesion has turned cancerous, we do a biopsy and send it for histopathological testing. If it turns out to be cancer, we go for a surgical option. There is no other option left in such cases.
This write-up was contributed to Credihealth by Dr. Anjali Sharma Endodontist/ Root Canal Specialist from Apollo Spectra Hospital.
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