90% Pakistanis suffer from dental problems

– Dr Ayesha Ashraf

Farhan Khan, Special Correspondent of The CONSUL recently interviewed Dr Ayesha Ashraf Assistant Professor Consultant Orthodontics, Children’s Hospital Lahore.

Excerpts from the interview:

Question: What are the preventive measures everyone should adopt to keep away from dental problems?

Ans: increase in food intake can worsen problems relating to oral cavity. For better oral hygiene. you need to brush your teeth every night before going to bed and in every morning after taking your breakfast. In addition to this, one must

also use dental floss , specially if there is meat present in ones meal. Dental floss is a type of waxed thread which helps you to remove meat fibres especially from teeth at the back..

Question: In Pakistan people usually do not take dental problems very seriously. If there is pain we usually wait until it disappears by itself or take a pain medication for it. But we avoid visiting a dentist until the damage is done. What is the reason for this behaviour?

Ans: This is the era of internet. Every person wants to find answers online which is convenient and you can get any kind of information without going anywhere. But we should know that you cannot always get the correct treatment according to your symptoms or the underlying condition that is causing the issue. You have to visit your dental consultant for the right diagnosis and treatment. Everyone should visit the consultant every six months for the maintenance of your dental health. So, that if there is any cavity, or impaction of food, or there is any start of infection it can be diagnosed and treated at the right time.

Question: The most common cause of not visiting the consultant is said to be its being very expensive. Do you think by regular visits or visits at right time can reduce the cost of dental healthcare?

Ans: Consulting a dentist when the problem is at its initial level will help in reducing the cost. But delay can lead to extraction or root canal and other expensive procedures. Prevention is better than cure.

Question: What are conditions or diseases which can result, if we do not take care of our oral hygiene?

Ans: Our oral cavity is very important, as it is the first part of our digestive system. There are a number of diseases that can enter our body through it. Oral cavity includes teeth and its supporting structures. Supporting structures include gums, and surrounding bones. We can take tooth decay as an example which can result if teeth are not properly cleaned. This decay can lead to pain and ultimately formation of cavity due to softening of tooth structure by growth of bacteria. Secondly Gingivitis is very common disease of gum which is commonly known as inflammation of gums, and can be identified by bleeding of gums. This can result if one does not remove the food particles properly. Thirdly we can consider gum recession, which is pulling back of gums which can lead to sensitivity, pockets around teeth or in more severe cases it can lead to increased mobility of teeth or loss of teeth.

Question: We are usually advised to do our brushing properly. What is this mean? Is there any specific technique to brush your teeth?

Ans: Absolutely, there is a specific technique, which most of the people don’t follow. Firstly we have to choose the right type of toothbrush. Our tooth brush should not be very hard, because very hard tooth brush can sometimes cause cavities, it should be soft. Then there is time of brushing involved. Most of the people brush for only thirty seconds, which is not enough. Minimum two to three and half minutes are needed for proper brushing. Thirdly, you need to brush all around teeth surfaces , specially internal side of your front teeth, and at the back side of you upper and lower jaw where we chew our food. Usually people just brush their front teeth and don’t brush their back teeth.

Question: How to choose a toothpaste. Is there any specific requirement or we can use any paste?

Ans: Toothpaste is basically a vehicle to do brushing. While choosing your toothpaste, just make sure it contains flouride, because it is an agent which actually protects against cavities. Secondly, don’t use any medicated paste unless prescribed by your consultant, because it has side effects. demineralization.

Question: For how long one toothbrush can be used?

Ans: After one and half to two months toothbrush should be changed. Because after this much time the filaments of the brush get damaged and due to lack of sterilization bacterial growth can also occur.

Question: What advice you will give to parents to take care of their children’s dental health?

Ans: At around six years of age, children get their permanent teeth. If there is any problem in their milk teeth for example a cavity is present or infection has reached the blood supply of tooth it should be addressed accordingly. In some cases, there is jaw imbalance present in children which cannot be detected in growing age, it can be addressed at puberty. And in severe cases a surgery may be needed.

Question: When anyone has any kind of dental problem, they usually visit any nearby dentist. Most of us don’t know exactly that there are specialized  doctors  for  different  problems.

Please guide us about this a little.

Ans: Most people are not aware that dentistry has different specialised fields. Any normal dental problem can be addressed by a general dentist but specialised issues which needed specialised treatment must be addressed by consultants. First speciality is orthodontics, which deal with jaw imbalances, misaligned teeth, and care of cleft lip and palate children. Then there is maxillofacial surgery, restorative dentistry which deals with procedures like root canals, crown bridges and implants . Then there is prosthodontics which deals with dentures and also implants. People should make themselves aware of these specialities, so they can visit the right type of specialists.

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