Dr Jitendra Revamkar, dentist who has several years of experience in teaching and treating patients, answers general questions on oral hygiene and dental health.
Interviewed by Sheela Krishnaswamy, Director - Wellness, ChiHealth
Sheela Krishnaswamy - Is it really necessary to brush our teeth twice daily and floss once a day?
Jitendra Revamkar - Yes, it is absolutely necessary to brush your teeth twice daily because when you go to bed without brushing, all the food stuck on and around your teeth is used by the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids which cause decay. This happens more at night because the production of saliva is minimal during sleep.
SK - Do acidic foods like lemon, citrus fruits, etc cause tooth decay?
JR - Acidic foods do not cause tooth decay directly, but long term and overuse of these foods cause chemical erosions of teeth which leads to thinning of enamel and sensitivity.
SK - If one keeps an aspirin next to a tooth does it relieve toothache?
JR - It's a myth that aspirin can relieve toothache if kept next to a tooth. On the contrary you can end up with burns on your gums or inner cheek because of it.
SK - Does one always know if one has a cavity or can it be a silent problem?
JR - At least half the cavities are usually not seen or felt by an individual till they become a critical size. Usually even a dentist will need x-rays to detect some cavities which form between 2 teeth.
SK - If there are gaps between teeth, will the teeth move horizontally to fill the gap?
JR - If a teenager or an adult has natural gaps between teeth they usually do not close on their own. Teeth usually move horizontally (drift in to the gap) to some extent when a person loses a tooth due to extraction or injury.
SK - Why are teeth sensitive while brushing?
JR - General cause of sensitivity is due to excessive loss of ENAMEL (by over brushing or tooth decay) leading to exposure of DENTINE which is the sensitive layer of the tooth.
SK - Does clenching and grinding of teeth lead to damage?
JR - Clenching or grinding of teeth during sleep is known as BRUXISM. It is a rampant problem these days even in small children due to stress. It damages the grinding surface of teeth and also eventually affects the gums due to excessive pressure of clenching.
SK - How does one pick the right toothbrush?
JR - Firstly, a toothbrush should be of the right size to fit an individual's mouth and secondly it should have medium or soft bristles depending on the requirement. However, the brushing technique is always more critical than the toothbrush itself.
SK - Are fluoride toothpastes better than regular ones?
JR - Fluoride is not always required in toothpaste especially in our country where there is no standardization of salt content in water. Sometimes the amount of salt (also fluoride) is 20-30 times higher than permissible limit for drinking. Fluoride is essential in toothpaste only for children or adults who have high caries index.
SK - There are so many varieties of toothpastes in the market each one being promoted with a different ingredient. How does one choose the best toothpaste?
JR - Most toothpastes have the same basic composition, but some are better off than others. As a general rule stay away from very cheap, low-cost brands. Don't change your toothpaste frequently especially one which suits you.
SK - If the gums bleed while brushing, is it an indication of disease?
JR - As a rule bleeding gums while brushing or otherwise is an indication of gum disease.
SK - How does clove help in relieving tooth ache?
JR - Keeping a clove or concentrated clove oil directly in the mouth will definitely burn your gums. It sometimes can give you pain relief by numbing the nerves in that area.
SK - Are tooth powders useful in cleaning the teeth and gums?
JR - Tooth powders should generally be avoided as they are highly abrasive to the teeth. In our country they are marketed basically for a class of the population which graduates from using things like salt, charcoal powder, etc to clean their teeth.
SK - Does gargling help in preventing oral problems?
JR - Gargling or rinsing with salt water or a mouth wash recommended by a dentist will definitely give you long term benefits in preventing oral problems.
SK - Are mouth fresheners harmful? If not, how often can they be used?
JR - Mouth fresheners in my opinion are like spraying a perfume without having a bath. They are okay to be used occasionally but not for long term.
SK - Is it ok to use mouth washes daily?
JR - Medicated mouth washes should be used only on recommendation by your dentist. Some mouth washes available over the counter can be used daily but please consult your dentist before you use them.
SK - How often can a person get his / her teeth whitened?
JR - The need for teeth whitening is a very relative and cosmetic requirement. I do not recommend teeth whitening unless it is very essential and definitely not more than once a year.
SK - Does chewing gum daily damage the teeth?
JR - Chewing regular gum daily is not recommended, but studies have shown that one can use the new xylitol based gums to prevent tooth decay.
SK - How often should one change the toothbrush?
JR - A toothbrush should be changed approximately every 3 months or when the bristle gets bent and frail. If your toothbrush gets damaged faster that means you are brushing too hard.
SK - How frequently should a person visit the dentist for a routine check-up?
JR - Visit your dentist once in six months for a routine check-up.
Many Thanks to -
Dr Jitendra Revamkar
No 578 and 581, III Stage, IV Block, Basaveshwaranagar (opp Axis Bank), Bangalore -560079.
Ph: 080-23220191, 9886760191
Web site: www.allspecialitiesdentalclinics.com