Tuesday, 15 December 2015

A chocolate a day keeps the dentist away...and more for your sweet tooth!

"Never fall in love with a dentist", said my senior colleague and good friend in the first year of dental school. If we were to heed every word of wisdom from our well wishers, wouldn't this world have been a wonderful place? The falling in love was a beautiful experience - the youthful euphoria of a new found meaning of life, the heart pumping adrenaline every time I thought of her, a different world where every little thing was poetic, and a sudden ear for music that sank deep and echoed long. But it was his words that echoed back when the time came to voice my feelings to her. You see, complicated as girls are, she "simply loved" chocolates as a girl and "really hated" chocolates as a dentist. With her having showed me both her sides on two different occasions, was my proposal supposed to include this evil bliss or not? After having a word with her best friend, I asked her out one evening - "The sweetness in your person eclipses the sweetness of my chocolates", hoping to hold my feet in both the boats. Did I succeed in making the sweet dentist smile? 

"Never fall in love with a dentist"

 Chocolates have been proven to be good for the health of your gums and teeth, and they have other health benefits as well. Why then the common belief that chocolates cause dental cavities and bad teeth? It is actually other ingredients in your chocolate bar, like sugar and caramel, that will stick to your teeth and cause cavities. So if you love chocolates, don't let the thought of your dentist keep you from giving in to the temptation next time. Just make sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly after you have had a chocolate. 

 Here are 5 reasons why chocolates are good for your teeth:

1. Chocolates prevent cavities in teeth: Chocolates are made from cacao beans, which contain a compound theobromine. Theobromine, along with some other minor constituents of cocoa, like oleic and linoleic acids, inhibit the bacteria that cause dental cavities. The amount of theobromine contained in a one ounce dark chocolate bar can make the tooth harder than the routinely done anti-cavity fluoride treatment. It comes as no surprise then, that theobromine toothpastes are already in the making.

2. Chocolates are good for gums: Cocoa is also rich in another group of useful compounds - flavanoids. Flavanoids have strong antioxidant properties. While we have all read about the numerous health benefits of antioxidants in the body, when it comes to teeth, antioxidants prevent the progression of gum disease. Tannins, that give dark chocolate its dark color and bitter taste, prevent the formation of plaque - which is the beginning of gum disease. 

3. Chocolates prevent bad breath: Polyphenols in chocolates fight off the bacteria that cause bad breath. 

4. Chocolates can help prevent memory loss: How is memory loss linked to dental health? Well, no studies on it yet, but you might just remember to brush and floss before getting into bed!

5. Chocolates release feel good hormones: Endorphins are the feel good chemicals of body, that produce a sense of euphoria when for example, you laugh, exercise, meet a loved one or have sex. Chocolates produce the same hormones from the brain. It also contains phenylethylamine and anandamide ("anand" in Sanskrit means bliss or delight), which give you a high. Again, how is feeling good linked to dental health? Lots of studies have shown a correlation linking anxiety and depression to poor dental health.

 She opened the box of chocolates. "Why are two chocolates missing from here?"
 "I was feeling nervous on the way here. Needed something to boost my endorphin levels, so had one!"
 She frowned, and I thought all was lost. She did like confident guys, I knew. 
 "What about the second one? You had that too?" There was an obvious tone of displeasure in her words. 
 "Yes I did", I said, trying to sound unperturbed. 
 "So that I don't forget the promises I make to you today for the rest of our life."
 "Our life?" 
 And she smiled. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Dentist's hands in your pockets!

Are you one of those who doesn't like going to the dentist with full pockets? Many don't. They have a feeling, dentists tend to empty them out. They will tell you a lot of reasons why, mesmerize you with terms more dreadful than the germs that cause them. Gingivitis, periodontitis, halitosis. But in the end, it all boils down to your pockets. It seems how deep your pockets are, the more trouble you are in with your teeth.
 Wait! What pockets were you thinking here? I am talking about gum pockets!
 In a healthy mouth, gums firmly encircle the tooth all around, with very little space between the gums and the tooth. When the gums are not cleaned by proper brushing, germs anchor in these spaces and start to form deposits called as calculus or tartar. The calculus or tartar pushes the gums away from the teeth forming pockets. As gum disease progresses, the gum or gingival pockets keep deepening and the teeth become weaker. This gum disease causes problems such as bleeding gums, swollen gums, bad breath and loose teeth.

So is proper brushing alone sufficient to prevent gum pockets? Here is what more you need to do for healthy gums:
1. While brushing will clean the gums at the front and back, you also need to clean the gums in between the teeth. This is done by flossing. 
2. Rinse your mouth thoroughly after every meal. 
3. Ensure a healthy, nutritious diet rich in fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes and dairy products. 
4. Do not use toothpicks regularly. If food gets stuck in between your teeth very frequently, consult your dentist. 
5. Smoking is a strict no for healthy gums. 
6. Visit your dentist once every 6 months or annually for routine check-up and dental cleaning. 
 Dental cleaning (dental scaling) is done to remove the tartar from gums and restore their health. If the gum disease has progressed to very deep pockets, after removing tartar the gums and root surfaces of the teeth may need to be cleaned surgically too. Having healthy, natural teeth is always better than having any artificial replacements like dental implants or crowns and bridges; and advanced gum treatments offer hope when deep gum pockets threaten to take a tooth away. 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Capping a tooth after RCT: 'Trick or treat?'

If you think dentists are scary, ever wondered how good a dentist's costume would be for a Halloween treat? Knowing what all I do as a dentist, I wouldn't have any kid pulling a dental prank on me for sure!

 Whenever you get a root canal treatment (RCT) done, you are always advised to get a cap, or more technically a crown done for the tooth to keep it from falling apart. And it often sounds like "Get the cap treatment done or you will be tricked into more dental treatments". How true is that?  If you are reading this blog hoping I will say otherwise, you have knocked the wrong door. Here are some of the many reasons why you should get a tooth capped after RCT:

  1. The tooth was already weakened by the cavity that made the root canal treatment necessary. Your dentist further drilled a big hole right in the center of the tooth to get to the canals. So your tooth is now basically like a hollow shell, ready to cave in the next time you treat it with popcorn or hard candies. A cap or crown will encase the tooth from the outside and bear all loads. 
    A root canal treated tooth is liable to fracture without a cap or crown because its core structure has been removed. 
  2. When the root canals are cleaned, their blood supply is cut off. This dehydrates the tooth and makes it brittle. 
  3. When the root canals are cleaned, their nerve supply is cut off. This means you are less likely to realize when you are putting excessive pressure on the tooth. 
  4. If a root canal treated tooth fractures, there is little the dentist can do. It needs to be removed and all the time and money spent for your root canal treatment goes in vain. And if you think, losing the tooth is getting rid of the problem once and for all, you are in for more trick or treat! The empty space will, over time, cause shifting of other teeth with more cavities and gum problems. To prevent that, you need a dental implant or a bridge done.
  So, a cap or crown after RCT gives the tooth strength to bite like your natural tooth, longevity to survive like your natural tooth and beauty to look like your natural tooth. The only trick now is in making the right choice for your crown.