5 myths about oral care that you may have taken seriously

You must have heard the joke about brushing meticulously just before going to the dentist.  It ain’t gonna help improve your oral hygiene nor your standing with the dentist. It is a daily process (yes, boring I know), and the earlier you incorporate it into your lifestyle, the better the results will be. Here are 5 myths about oral care and hygiene:

  1. Brushing using more force or for longer periods results in cleaner teeth. This is not true. It is the technique of brushing that is important. The right technique ensures removal of plaque without excessive abrasion of the enamel on your teeth. Brushes that get worn out in a month indicate you are applying too much pressure on your teeth while brushing.
  2. An expensive toothbrush does a better job at cleaning teeth. Continue Reading…

Why should we get missing teeth replaced?

Earlier, if you had cavities, you got the affected tooth removed. Nowadays we have more options instead of just getting the tooth removed. But people still opt for getting them removed at times, maybe because they can’t afford better treatment. Or, like one of the patients I came across recently, who got her teeth removed since she was studying and didn’t have the time for multiple appointments required for root canal treatment. Or, it could be that your tooth is so badly affected, that it has to be removed.

But what many people don’t realize is that it is important to get the missing teeth replaced as well. The teeth being removed most commonly at present are for orthodontic purposes. The space created in this case will be closed by the adjacent teeth during the process of the treatment. Continue Reading…

6 Points to Healthy Dentures

Natural teeth replacements in the mouth are referred to as dentures. They can be for a single tooth or for multiple teeth, and either removable or fixed. They can take their support from an adjacent tooth or an implant or rest on the bone. Here are a few points to keep in mind for those who have removable dentures – complete (replacing all teeth), or partial (replacing only a few) :

  • If you get sore spots soon after getting your denture, like within a few days time, it would probably be due to any rough edges or high points on the denture. Your dentist will be able to smooth them out for you.
  • Keeping your dentures clean, should be an essential part of your daily routine. It is equally important to ensure your gums and palate are clean and plaque-free. Painful inflammation of the mucosa of the mouth often occur associated with improperly cleaned dentures. Continue Reading…


Toothpicks. They often come free at restaurants, on flights. So no one really gives much thought to how beneficial they are. Oh yeah, they can remove the most annoying piece of meat stuck in between your teeth. But how effective is it for the long run.

As comforting as their use maybe, toothpicks are not indicated for long term usage. In fact, all overzealous toothpick-users will have tell-tale signs of injury caused by inserting toothpicks into the region between teeth. It can cause ulcers too if you prick yourself in the wrong spot or push too hard. A groove or notch can often be seen where people habitually bite into toothpicks.

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Is mouthwash safe to use?

When it comes to good oral hygiene, the rule is to brush twice and floss daily (and to visit your dentist regularly). But have you ever heard any dentist say “Use mouthwash daily to maintain good oral hygiene”. Yet it’s funny how most people still manage to make this a part of their daily oral hygiene regimen.

It’s Valentine’s day and I’m sure everyone is relying heavily on their mouthwashes and breath fresheners today. But bad breath is an indicator that something is not right in your body. You may be having an overload of bacteria in the calculus on your teeth, causing inflammation of your gums. Or you may be having a dry mouth due to an underlying medical condition like Sjogren’s syndrome. Or it may just be the colds, making you breathe through your mouth (since your nose is blocked), drying it up and causing the bad breath. Whatever it may be, treat the root cause, don’t cover up the symptoms.

Visit your dentist and see if your oral hygiene is good. If not, you can definitely have bad breath, which should be relieved after you get a scaling, followed by good oral hygiene. If the bad breath doesn’t go away, you need to check with your physician for any underlying medical conditions. If you are having dry mouth due to a medical problem, salivary replacements are available to help keep your mouth moist.

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Why should you worry about your child’s teeth? And what you can do about it.

Is it okay to ignore your child’s primary teeth (or milk teeth) because they are going to get replaced with permanent teeth anyway? Or, is it okay for kids to not brush regularly or binge on sugary treats without bothering to clean their teeth later? Since milk teeth fall off, most parents believe that it is okay if kids are not very diligent about their daily brushing regimen. On the contrary, it is very important for children to be disciplined when it comes to brushing their teeth. Here’s why: Continue Reading…

How do I know if I have got my wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth, as it’s popularly known, is the last of the three molar teeth (or the grinders at the back) that an adult has in each quadrant of their mouths. Unlike the other teeth, which have already taken their places in the mouth by the beginning of adolescence, the third molar only erupts after the age of 17. A person is generally at a certain level of maturity by the time he gets his third molars, and that’s how the term ‘wisdom’ teeth got coined. Some patients mistakenly believe that this tooth is directly linked with their levels of wisdom and do not permit their dentist to remove them, even in case of an infection. This is a myth and if you have an infection, you need to get treatment at the earliest to keep it from spreading to the surrounding areas.

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Is it possible to use medication to repair hurting roots that aren’t as damaged to warrant a root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment (RCT) is the cleaning of the innermost chamber of the tooth, the pulp. It is the pulp that provides the blood and nerve supply to the tooth and hence the source of pain. Once a cavity has touched the pulp of the tooth, or is very close to it, a root canal treatment is recommended.

The dentist removes the infected pulp and replaces it with a bio-compatible material. The pulp has to be removed from both the crown (the portion of the tooth that you see) and the canals of the root (the portion inside the bone). Hence the name, root canal treatment. Since this area is inside the bone, it is also the reason why the dentist requires some form of radio-graph  to determine the outline of the root and its canals.

At this level the cavity is very deep, since it has already infected the enamel, passed through the dentin layer of the tooth as well, and is now near the pulp. Once the cavity has reached dentin itself, a person will begin to have sensitivity and pain as it proceeds deeper towards the pulp. Any medication at this level, can only be placed by the dentist. What the dentist would do in such situations is, remove any infected dentin in the cavity, as much as possible, and apply the medication and then seal up the tooth with a temporary filling material. And then wait and watch, for a short period of about 3-4 weeks, approximately.

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Does more toothpaste mean cleaner teeth?

Most people think using a larger quantity of toothpaste ensures cleaner teeth. But in reality it is the right technique of brushing that gets better results. In fact, brushing improperly, using more paste can be injurious to the teeth. Imagine using something abrasive, like sandpaper for instance, on the same spot over and over again. Initially of course you get a nice, polished surface. But if you keep at it, you may even succeed at scraping away a few layers, that were meant to stay.

That is the same principle involved in brushing. You want to use just enough quantity of paste and pressure on the brush to get rid of the plaque adherent to your tooth, without abrading away precious tooth structure. A dab of toothpaste and gentle pressure on the tooth would be sufficient to ensure clean teeth (unlike the typical – toothpaste enough to cover the head of the toothbrush), especially when you brush twice daily. This is also the reason why dentists recommend soft brushes. But it really depends on the amount of pressure you apply while brushing, level of your gums and a couple of other factors. Your dentist can recommend the right brushing technique for you, based on these criteria.

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What do toothpastes like Sensodyne do that regular toothpastes do not?

Ever wonder what is the difference between regular toothpastes and those senso-toothpastes? What do they do and why are they more expensive? Are they meant for old people? or sick people?

The short answer – those toothpastes are meant for sensitive teeth.

Tooth sensitivity is experienced during the intake of cold or hot beverages. At times a sudden blast of air or chewing on something sweet can also trigger this sensitivity. This is caused by the movement of fluid within tiny tubules present in the layer of the tooth called dentin. Ideally these are protected from the changes inside the mouth by the outermost layer of the tooth called enamel. But when the enamel gets worn away, the inner layer (dentin) gets exposed. Enamel can get worn away due to improper brushing, demineralization by acidic foods, cavities and abnormal grinding forces on the teeth. Regurgitation from the stomach or constant vomiting, as seen in bulimia, can also result in wearing away of the enamel since the tooth comes in contact with the stomach acids. Sometimes, bleaching the teeth can trigger sensitivity.

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