Srinagar: Oral health is an indicator of overall health. However, only a handful of people across Kashmir take oral healthcare seriously.
For the most part, Kashmiris only approach a dentist when faced with a crisis, and usually only after they turn 40. Then, they blame dentists for expensive and prolonged sessions.
It is imperative to know that oral care is important as the mouth is where the digestive system begins. The mouth is the starting place for keeping bacteria out, and it should be properly maintained.
Dentists reiterate that problems in the mouth could easily affect the rest of the body. For instance, gum disease is a bacterial infection. If not treated in time, it is capable of affecting other body organs through the bloodstream. Further, people suffering from periodontitis (a gum disease) are at higher risk of coronary artery disease. The bacteria might enter the bloodstream while chewing or brushing and this would contribute to the formation of clots in the arteries, which can cause a heart attack.
That said, gum disease could also be a sign of diabetes. It is one of the most common issues of diabetes sufferers. Gum disease occurs when plaque accumulates over time and hardens. Gums become red, swollen, and may also bleed. This could lead to the advanced stage called periodontitis if not addressed timely. Also, it is a two-way journey, not only can diabetes lead to gum problems, but also worsen uncontrolled diabetes and affect blood glucose levels.
Most importantly, there are very several confusions, doubts, or myths regarding the maintenance of oral hygiene. On World Oral Health Day which is observed on March 20 every year, The Kashmir Monitor tries to bust some common myths and raises awareness around oral health.
Myth 1: Brushing one’s teeth is enough for good oral health
It is often believed that brushing twice means one is adhering to good oral hygiene practices. However, no matter how efficiently brushing is done, it cannot clean the entire mouth as teeth constitute only 25% of one’s mouth. To ensure that the entire mouth is clean, rinsing with mouthwash daily after brushing is equally important to remove leftover germs that cause major oral health problems like tooth decay, bad breath, and gum problems.
Using a mouthwash with essential oils will help to clean the whole mouth of leftover germs from under the tongue, the roof of the mouth, and between the cheeks. But be mindful, do not gargle the mouthwash. It is best to use the mouthwash as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Myth 2: Mouthwash only settles bad breath
One of the most common myths is that mouthwash only resolves bad breath. People are always under the impression that mouthwash can be a quick fix and can also replace brushing to overcome bad breath. However, that is not the case, a mouthwash not only helps to overcome bad breath but also gets rid of leftover germs in the mouth which usually are not cleaned even after brushing. These germs are the root cause of bad breath and lead to plaque which can cause the breaking down of teeth over time and even gingivitis or gum problems.
Myth 3: Hard toothbrushes are better
This is a highly prevalent misconception. Toothbrushes with hard bristles followed by harsh brushing can damage the tooth enamel. On the other hand, softer bristles are a better option as they are less abrasive to the teeth and gums, but the best option is using a medium toothbrush. However, having the right toothbrush, an excellent brushing technique, and brushing twice is not enough. An overall good oral hygiene regime is important to ensure the cleaning of the whole mouth.
Myth 5: One need to visit a dentist only during an Emergency
The perception of dental treatment to be painful often leads people to avoid regular dental check-ups. Many of the oral issues are asymptomatic and hence, a regular dental visit at least every six months is always recommended.
Myth 6: One should use mouthwash only when they have oral problems
A common misconception regarding mouthwash is that one should use it only when they have issues like bad breath, swollen gums, or cavities. This however is not true, using mouthwash twice daily and making it a routine will help to prevent several oral hygiene problems.