KOCHI: The National Oral Hygiene Day, marked on August 1 every year, is meant to spread awareness on periodontal diseases and their impact on general health. Dental caries or tooth decay affect about 60 per cent of the Indian population while 85 per cent suffer from periodontal problems.
Over 70 per cent of school children suffer from dental caries. Smoking and diabetes are some of well-established risk factors causing periodontal diseases. Diet plays an important role in periodontal health by leading to plaque build-up and impacting body’s immune response. Stress has also been linked to periodontal diseases.
The vast majority of gum diseases can be prevented by thorough plaque removal. However, irregularities around the teeth such as overhanging edges, poorly contoured fillings and some types of partial denture designs make cleaning difficult. In such cases, dental floss and interdental brushes can be used.
The presence of calculus or tartar may cause plaque to accumulate and require professional removal or scaling. Periodontal diseases can indicate an increased susceptibility to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory problems. Hence, maintaining proper oral hygiene will help curb other systemic ailments. Another major threat is oral cancer.
10 tips for oral health
- Don’t use mouthwash without dentist’s instruction. It may cause chemical burn.
- Clean your tongue once daily with toothbrush. Using stainless steel cleaners can damage taste buds
- In case of tooth ache, gum bleeding, swelling or ulcers, consult dentist. Avoid self-medication
- Clean dental appliances or dentures using cleansing tablets or solutions. Make sure they are disinfected daily
- Avoid hard toothbrushes, vigorous brushing and gel-type pastes. Use toothbrush with flexible handle and brush using vibratory up-to-down strokes twice daily
- Avoid using toothpicks, safety pins and other sharp objects to remove food from teeth. Interdental brushes or dental floss is advisable for the same
- Don’t leave the feeding bottle in the child’s mouth while putting him or her to sleep
- Avoid snacking in between main meals
- Self-examine mouth to check for red and white patches. Ulcers that don’t heal for more than two weeks could turn into oral cancer
- Undergo dental checkup twice annually
Dr Manikandan G R is the convenor of Council for Dental Health and Awareness, Indian Dental Association, Thiruvananthapuram