Why regular trips to the dentist are essential for oral hygiene in Dubai
Time Out Dubai staff
Dr. Bayan Aljamal, founder and medical director of Al Massa Polyclinic, shares her advice for maintaining good oral hygiene, and explains why regular visits to the dentists are so important.
Why is maintaining a good dental healthcare regime important, and why is it important to schedule regular check-ups? Dental healthcare is often more important than people realise. Neglecting to take care of your oral health can have huge impacts on quality of life and affect daily necessities like eating, drinking and swallowing. People also often forget that healthy teeth and gums are important for self-confidence and, therefore, mental health. It’s essential to schedule regular dental visits for every six months, at least, in order to maintain a good standard of oral hygiene and prevent oral diseases.
What dental routine would you recommend following on a daily basis at home? Some basic steps can be taken to prevent tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease, and other damaging conditions. Making sure to brush your teeth at least twice every day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste containing fluoride and floss at least once a day, most importantly before you go to sleep. You should also try to avoid heavily acidic or sugary foods.
What are the most common dental problems among adults and children? The most common oral diseases are dental cavities and periodontal (gum) disease. Both are mainly caused by poor dental care and irregular check-ups, and both problems can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
What symptoms should you look out for? There are several symptoms that should never be ignored. The first is changing gums: swollen gums that feel spongy; receding gums that make the teeth look larger or reveal the roots; odour; new spaces forming between the teeth, or a change in colour from pink to red or bluish-red. All are signs of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), which can lead to periodontitis (advanced gum disease). This is caused by plaque build-up and you should contact your dentist if you experience any of the above.
Secondly, white spots on teeth are a sign of the hard enamel dissolving due to acid produced by bacteria. White spots are the first sign, but when decay begins, particularly if this is happening between teeth, you probably won’t be aware of it, which is why regular check-ups and x-rays are so important in order to identify the decaying areas and prevent them turning into cavities, which will require fillings.
Third: an increased sensitivity to hot and cold. Once decay moves through the enamel and into the centre of the tooth where the nerves and blood vessels are located, you are likely to experience increased sensitivity to hot and cold or certain foods. Always visit the dentist if you notice these symptoms so that treatment can begin in the earliest stages possible.
A fourth symptom to look out for is persistent tooth pain, which indicates a serious problem. Even if the pain subsides after a few days, you should still visit the dentist because the infection could easily return.
Lastly, pay attention to any changes to your cheeks, tongue and under the tongue, as well as teeth, to check for persistent or spreading red or white patches or lumps. Any significant changes should be checked out.
What measures can be taken to prevent these symptoms? Proper and regular dental care and periodic dental check-ups, as well as proper nutrition and a healthy way of life.
Are there any common misconceptions regarding dental care and hygiene? A big misconception is that the whiter your teeth are, the healthier they are. Tooth colouring varies and someone with healthy teeth could have duller-looking teeth than someone with tooth-decay. Another is that you should not brush your teeth if your gums begin to bleed. This is not the case: if plaque remains unremoved it can cause inflammation, which leads to bleeding, but regular brushing and flossing will rectify this. You should also floss regularly as it removes plaque that cannot be reached by a brush and, therefore, prevents tooth decay between the teeth, which cannot be seen and is less easily identifiable.