From The Dentists: Things You Must Know
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Cancer Epidemiology found oral cancer to be the top three cancers in India. Here are little-known facts about dental health you need to know.
1. Handy reminder: You only need to floss the teeth you plan to keep! Patients who don't floss are missing out on cleaning over a third of the surface of their pearly whites.
2. Dentists screen for more than just cavities. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Cancer Epidemiology found oral cancer to be the top three cancers in India. Regular visits to your dentist can help in an early diagnosis. Tell your dentist about any persistent sores, discoloured patches or difficulty chewing or swallowing.
3. Aerated drinks aren't the only beverages that destroy teeth. "Colas and energy drinks contain high concentrations of sugar and acids. Regular consumption alters the pH level of saliva---the more acidic the environment, the more susceptible your teeth are to decay," says Dr Nandita Grover, consultant, dentistry and endodontics, Max Hospital, Delhi. Limit intake of such drinks and rinse your mouth with water afterwards, she suggests.
4. A dental cleaning isn't just a glorified tooth brushing. Only a professional can remove tartar or calculus, a hardened form of plaque.
5. Periodontitis---also known as gum disease---may increase your risk of heart disease. Oral exams at least once a year are a must.
6. Dental-phobes, speak up---staff are trained in non-pharmacological techniques to make your visit less stressful. "Apprehensions of going to the doctor come from the fear of pain and lack of proper information on oral care and treatment. Talk to your doctor; most are happy to explain treatments and that goes a long way in allaying fears!" says Grover.
7. Dentists aren't judging you. Grover emphasizes the need for early diagnosis and treatment, as it prevents painful conditions and infections, reducing the need for invasive treatment later.
8. They're not trying to swindle you. Globally the cost of dental treatment prevents people from visiting their doctors, but luckily the cost of dental treatments is not as high in India. Additionally, your health insurance can help cover some of the costs.
9. Baby teeth need fillings, too. It's a myth that cavities in young children's teeth don't matter. Neglecting oral health in the early years can lead to serious problems with permanent teeth, gums and even speech.
10. Bleaching your teeth does not weaken them. The gels used in bleaching are available in low concentrations and are generally a safe procedure, according to Grover. "In case the bleaching procedure causes sensitivity, it should be stopped immediately." She does caution against using home-bleaching kits.
11. Dental health should be made a priority. In smaller towns and villages in India, education is an important factor in dental awareness, especially among women. In a study in the Journal of the Indian Dental Association, only 56.9 per cent of the women sampled had ever visited a dentist. Another study in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology stressed the need for greater focus on oral health for pregnant women, which is largely neglected.
12. There is no separate dental insurance in India; your health insurance covers some aspects of your dental needs. The government has schemes such as the National Oral Health Card and community deal centres under the National Oral Health Programme, an initiative of the Indian Dental Association.
13. The field is physically and psychologically taxing. Like other healthcare professionals, dentists are prone to perfectionism and are known to prioritize the needs of patients over their own. The upshot? Dentists have higher levels of stress as compared to the general population.