This is an overwhelming time for a lot of us, with so many uncertainties, where it seems everything is on pause but time is still going. Your oral health should still remain a priority.
- Tooth decay is a process that may have sensitivity as the first sign: In my 8 years of practicing dentistry & specializing in Ghana, and even with research it seems most people only visit the dentist when their toothaches become a nuisance, that is to the point they can’t sleep at night. That means that you reading this article, there is a likelihood you may have had a history of toothache that came and went, and you have not seen the point of going to as dentist because the pain is gone right? Well No! Tooth decay is an infection and it’s a silent disease process, that gives off warning signs sometimes. It may start with sensitivity to cold fluids, hot liquids or even air. Do not neglect those signs, see a dentist for a check-up. The decay progresses and the pain may be sharp and of short duration. Do not ignore this second sign. The infection progresses even though you have decided not to chew on that side of your mouth, do not ignore this third sign. There has been a swelling near the tooth or even your face has swollen before or its currently swollen. This is a dangerous time to ignore this sign, now is not the time for herbal application or blaming the witch in your village. Now is the time to make an appointment to see a dentist before it too late, and the infection spreads further to other parts of the body.
- Oral health is much more than teeth: Most people when they think of a dental check-up or talk about their oral health, they think of teeth and boast of the fact that they have never had “kaka” in their life even if they brush only once a day, they wear the badge of honour with pride. That is a great achievement but there is more to oral health. Let’s look at the definition: Oral health is multi-faceted and includes the ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow and convey a range of emotions through facial expressions with confidence and without pain, discomfort and disease of the craniofacial complex.
A visit to the dentist aims to provide a complete examination & a comprehensive treatment plan with these seven specific goals to ensure your oral health is optimal
a. Freedom from disease in all masticatory system structures
b. Maintain a healthy periodontium (tooth supporting structures)
c. Stable TMJs (temporomandibular joint)
d. Stable occlusion (ensure your teeth are well aligned & if there is any malocclusion refer to the appropriate specialist)
e. Maintain healthy teeth (checking for any fractures, cavities and restoring appropriately)
f. Comfortable function
h. Optimum esthetics
- There are two main ways you can lose your teeth: Either the teeth break down, or the supporting structures break down. We are already familiar with how a tooth can break down from decay or from fracture or wear from physical or chemical substances. Although the tooth is the strongest in the body and can survive decades after death of the body, the truth is without its supporting structures the gums and the bone it has a very slim chance of surviving in the mouth. So your tooth may not have cavity, but the gums may be receding, there may be bone loss and the tooth may already be mobile (shaking) from either stress from occlusal load during chewing from malaligned tooth or teeth or a disease process in the periodontium and a visit to a dentist for a dental check-up can identify all these conditions before they become worse.
Thanks for reading and I hope I have been able to convince you and not to confuse you of the wonderful reasons why you should schedule a dental check-up after the COVID-19 lockdown has been lifted. (I miss school debate days lol)
This too shall pass, I hope these tips have been helpful and we are all doing the best we can, to stay home and to protect ourselves by washing hands at least 20secs with soap and water often, avoid touching your face and avoid close contact with people who are sick and keep a 2meters distance even if they are not sick. Remember to check up on your family and friends via various online ways. We need each other and we shall overcome.
Stay connected to the vine, Stay Gorgeous & Stay Professional.
Credit: Dr Oyaks
Specialist Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon (MGCS)
A member of the Ghana Dental Association (GDA)