Four out of five people in the UAE suffer from preventable tooth decay, according to a 2009 study. Further research by another Dubai dentist recently found that 48 percent of school children in the city suffer anxiety over visiting the dentist.
With health implications that extend far beyond needing another filling, it’s no wonder the Dubai Health Authority recently launched an initiative targeting children.
The idea is to try to understand how much young people know about oral healthcare, and stem the rising number of dental complaints as the population grows older.
‘Clinical papers show evidence of the correlation between coronary heart disease and gum disease,’ explains Dubai dental hygienist Victoria Wilson. She adds that gum disease has also ben linked to low birth weight, as well as suppression of the immune system.
Meanwhile, Dr Claudia Lorenz, GP dentist at the German Dental Oasis in Healthcare City, describes the mentality towards dental care in Dubai as ‘very different’. ‘People here don’t seem to care about their teeth as much as people in Europe. There isn’t the same education in schools, so people often come to us too late. They end up having to have major treatment, such as extraction, implants, crowns… There seems to be a different mentality.’
Whatever the reason, Dr Claudia agrees that raising awareness is vital, as dental complaints often manifest themselves in other unpleasant and potentially lethal ways. ‘Bacteria in the mouth can cause big problems, particularly in patients who already have heart conditions or artificial valves – bacteria particularly like to collect at these valves. These bacteria can get into the bloodstream any time there is an open wound in your mouth,’ she explains. ‘And of course the teeth are connected to the whole body. If you don’t have a proper ‘bite’, you can get neck and back problems too. People need to see the teeth as the centre of your
body. So many times, in seemingly unrelated complaints, the main problem is in the teeth.’
Everyone’s basic dental routine should be the same, Dr Claudia explains, regardless of age, gender or nationality. ‘First, brush your teeth twice a day. In the morning before breakfast, brush to remove the bacteria that has accumulated overnight. Otherwise when you eat, they eat,’ she says. ‘In the evening, brush about 30 minutes after your last meal, then drink only water afterwards – no juice. This is very important.’
Just before bed, Dr Claudia recommends rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash. She suggests alcohol-free versions are best, as they are less corrosive on the gums – and even though it’s medicinal, the alcohol in mouthwash can actually leave you with bad breath. ‘Don’t drink anything after your fluoride mouthwash,’ she adds. ‘That way it stays in your mouth overnight and will have a re-mineralising effect.’
It’s also essential to visit a dentist for check-ups and cleaning twice a year. This ensures any decay can be detected early enough so only a small filling is required. At the moment, hygienist Victoria believes that only 10 to 20 percent of people in Dubai actually stick to such a routine.
Five minutes twice a day is surely worth setting aside to prevent months of agony later. Considering so few health insurance providers include dental treatment in their basic coverage, making two check-up trips a year could end up costing far less than a root canal procedure two years down the line – not to mention far less painful.
German Dental Oasis is offering a free consultation to all readers. Quote this article when booking. Al Razi Building 64, Dubai Healthcare City (04 363 5367). For more information on caring for your teeth in the UAE, and to put questions to professional dentists, visit www.dentalhealthme.com.
Free dental check-ups around town
British Medical Consulting Centre
Open Sat-Thu 9am-6pm. Jumeirah Beach Road, opposite Mercato Mall (04 344 2633).
Dr Ravari’s Dental Clinic
Open Sat-Wed 10am-7pm, Thu 10am-5pm. Al Aman House, opposite Deira City Centre (04 295 5590).
Dubai Sky Clinic
Open daily 9am-9pm. Burjuman Business Tower, Trade Centre Road, Bur Dubai (04 355 8808).