Dental experts from Aster Clinics in the UAE take you through the latest advances in treatment and steps to ensure optimal oral health
Oral health in the 21st century is not just a drill-and-fill routine, says Dr Sana Shaheen, Specialist Endodontist at Aster Clinic, Business Bay. “While earlier efforts in dentistry confirmed to removal of diseased tissue and restoration of lost tooth structure, newer advances are emphasising prediction and prevention of the disease process,” she explains.
“A key element in overcoming barriers to effective oral health is the principle of self-care, in which patients actively participate and contribute to improving their own health.
“Over the past 5-10 years, we have seen remarkable advancements in computer technology and prosthetics production, disrupting the entire dentistry workflow – from the way patients are diagnosed to the design of prosthetics to how surgeries are planned and conducted and how patient data is exchanged and stored. Digital solutions are not just becoming more accessible, they also consistently provide better and controllable outcomes while drastically reduce time requirements.
“In recent years, stricter treatment guidelines recommend employing digital solutions to ensure outcome or production quality. When it comes to patient management, stricter documentation and administration is necessary.
“Since the introduction of intra-oral scanners, the technology has improved remarkably. The most recent versions, which are smaller in size, offer quick scanning and instant visualisation and have the ability to navigate seamlessly in the oral cavity.”
With stronger and durable filling materials with superior bio-compatibility and incorporation of nanotechnology, dentists are now able to restore cavities and fractured teeth to its natural form and function, explains Dr Geevus Cherupanakkal Chakkunny, Specialist Prosthodontist and Implantologist at Aster Beauty Clinic, Al Warqa.
“Digital technologies, from computer-assisted local anaesthesia to guided implant surgery make the treatment more comfortable, fast and predictable,” he adds. “With the help of computer tomographic scans, surgeries can be planned digitally and dental implants can be placed in accurate positions with the best predictable outcomes and less post-operative discomfort. Digital scanners are used to make the accurate impression of the teeth and jaws. This data is transferred to a software programme for computer aided designing and computer aided milling. This along with 3D printing technology is used to make crown and bridge, dentures and for making orthodontic aligners instead of conventional brackets.
“Laser dentistry includes soft tissue lasers and hard tissue lasers. Soft tissue lasers are used for minor surgical procedures such as tongue tie release and frenectomy. Laser gum surgery makes the healing faster and less traumatic. It is also used in root canal treatment for effective disinfection of the root canals, which help in better healing of the infected tooth. Hard tissue lasers are used for managing tooth sensitivity, cavity detection and tooth preparation for dental fillings.”
Impact of diet
When reading on dental care, most encounter the usual advice – brushing teeth twice a day, flossing, and regular dental visits. However, hardly do we come across material on how diet impacts the health of our teeth, says Dr Nishat Ashrafali Lakhani, Dentist at Aster Clinic, Arabian Ranches. “What you eat and drink directly affects the health of your teeth and gums. If you enjoy acidic and sweet foods and drinks regularly, the bacteria in your mouth could be creating an acid, which then attacks your enamel. Acid erosion can dissolve tooth enamel that leads to sensitivity and cavities.
“Some common food and drinks that contain high levels of acid include soft drinks, energy drinks, citrus fruits (lemons, oranges), and vinegar. Enjoy these less frequently to protect your smile. And instead of immediately brushing your teeth after consuming these kinds of foods, wait at least 30 minutes. These acids leave your teeth vulnerable and brushing them immediately after can do more harm than good. Instead, rinse your mouth out with water first and wait to brush your teeth. For teeth that may have been damaged due to acidic erosion, it is best to use fluoride toothpaste or oral rinse to make the tooth strong. If the teeth are very sensitive, it is advised to meet your dentist.”
Even if you take good care of your teeth and gums at home, it’s still important that you regularly visit your dentist who is professionally trained to check for problems you may not see or feel yourself, explains Dr Aarthy Viswanathan, Specialist Prosthodontist and Implantologist at Aster Jubilee Clinic, Bur Dubai. “The truth is, many dental problems like cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer don’t become visible or cause pain until they are in the more advanced stage, which makes treatment and follow-up all the more extensive,” she adds. “Even if you are healthy today, your risk for dental disease can change over time and can be affected by factors like illness, diet changes, new medication usage, and more. So why risk it?
“The frequency at which you visit your dentist should be based on several factors. This includes your current oral health condition, individual oral hygiene habits, general health status and medical conditions, as well as your own self- and dentist-assessed risk for oral health problems. Without regular visits to the dentist, untreated conditions will likely become painful and difficult to treat down the road.”
Our teeth are capable of handling immense forces day in, day out. For this apparatus to function flawlessly the teeth, the gums and the jaws need to work harmoniously. Our cars, to run trouble free, require regular maintenance, similarly the teeth and its supporting structures, explains Dr Vijay Raj Mrinal, General Dentist, Aster Clinic, Dubai Silicon Oasis. What can we do to maintain these priced possessions?
“We already do quite a bit by brushing and flossing regularly. Unfortunately, however well we brush at home there is always an accumulation of plaque and calculus that cannot be removed with normal brushing. This accumulation over a period of time leads to bleeding and weak gums. If left untreated it loosens our teeth. It is imperative that we get our gums professionally cleaned in a time frame between six months and a year depending on the severity of the situation.”
Dr Arif Kandoth, HOD Dentistry – Aster Clinics and Hospitals, and Specialist Prosthodontist at Aster Clinic, JLT, says, “Some of our teeth are more prone to decay due to its shape. Add a sugary and refined food diet to this and we have a recipe for disaster. Early decay of our teeth is asymptomatic and sometimes it starts showing signs of a problem rather late. Our biannual check-ups are a life saver in these situations since your dentist can catch it early and act accordingly.”
Dr Prince Job Kollanoor, Specialist Prosthodontist at Aster Clinic, Fujairah, lists out measures to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
l Brush teeth properly for 2-3 minutes with fluoride toothpaste twice a day to remove dental plaque. Use small circular motions to brush the front, back, and top of every tooth. Replace your toothbrush in every three months.
* Flossing removes plaque and bacteria from between the teeth, where a toothbrush is unable to reach.
* Visit your dentist at least every six months, even if you have no natural teeth or have dentures. During a routine dental examination, dentist will clean the teeth and remove plaque and hardened tartar. The dentist will check for visual signs of cavities, gum disease, mouth cancer, and other oral health issues.
* Do not use any tobacco products.
* Limit alcoholic drinks, sugary foods and starches. Consuming sugar can lead to cavities.
* Use mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine, an antibacterial ingredient, which helps control plaque and gingivitis.
* Diabetics need to control their blood sugar levels, which will decrease the risk for other complications, including gum disease. Treating gum disease may help lower your blood sugar level.
* Consult a dentist if you have bleeding gums, ulcers, crooked, sensitive, missing decayed and impacted tooth.
Dr Isra Wasim, Dentist at Aster Clinic, Shaikh Zayed Road, clears some common misconceptions around dental hygiene.
* Sugar is the main cause of cavities
Not only sugar but anything sticky that stays in the mouth for a long time can cause an acidic environment in the mouth leading to cavities.
* The harder you brush, the better it is
Brushing harder causes injury to the gums and wearing of the teeth that may cause sensitivity.
* Removing teeth affects eyesight
There is no evidence linking tooth extraction to loss of one’s vision or memory.
* No problem means you don’t need a check-up
Even if you don’t notice any problems your dentist can often spot issues such as the early signs of a cavity.
* White teeth are always healthy
White teeth look great, but they’re not necessarily healthy. You could still have issues like cavities and gum disease, no matter how white your teeth are.
* Only kids can wear braces
There is no age limit on who can wear braces or aligners to correct orthodontic issues. Braces are effective at any age.
* Whitening damages your teeth
Professional teeth whitening performed by a dentist is generally considered safe. Dentists are now using safe and non-acidic bleaching methods to help whiten your teeth making modern teeth whitening safe and effective.