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These problems can’t be brushed aside Health & lifestyle

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PREVENTIVE CARE: Check ups at regular intervals help avoid dental problems.
PREVENTIVE CARE: Check ups at regular intervals help avoid dental problems.

R. Sujatha

CHENNAI: A winsome smile could be yours, provided you take good care of your teeth. By not addressing irritants such as tooth caries and dental decay promptly, the health of teeth is affected, dentists say. Delaying treatment prevents dentists from offering conservative treatments.

Dentists in the city say that they see more children coming with dental problems. Children are prone to having tooth decay because of their food habits, according to B. Saravanan, a surgeon attached to Government Royapettah Hospital. “If there is a black spot in the teeth, which cannot be removed by brushing, then it is time to see the dentist,” he says.

Soft food with less fibre, snacking between meals and poor dental hygiene must be addressed to prevent tooth decay, he says.

Fifteen out of 100 youngsters who visit a dentist have the habit of chewing gum constantly. These youngsters complain of pain in the temporo-mandibular joint, which is the result of constantly chewing gum. Such patients are put on pain killers and advised to kick the habit, he says.

A common complaint among parents is that the child grinds its teeth in sleep. The cause may more often be worm infestation but it could also be induced by stress, says V. Rathna Prabhu, who is a consultant at Kanchi Kamakoti CHILDS Trust Hospital.

Among the older population, a problem of a different kind is noticed. Besides stress-induced teeth grinding, wear and tear of the teeth also needs to be attended to. Older persons develop sharp teeth, caused by ageing. As the teeth wear out the edges become sharp.

Also, older people tend to bite their cheeks while eating and thus injure the cheek mucosa.

In such cases, dentists smoothe the sharp edges and if the tooth is shaky, they advise its removal.

Simple activities such as brushing teeth twice a day, massaging the gums, gurgling after every meal and avoiding snacking could help maintain the health of the teeth and prevent frequent visits to the dentist.

But, dentists say, since most of those who visit a dentist forget these rules they fall prey to a number of problems.

Corrections and Clarifications

You gargle after every meal. The ninth paragraph of a report "These problemscan't be brushed aside" ("Health amp; Lifestyle", Chennai city, July 17, 2009,page 3) gave it as "gurgle". (To gargle is to wash one's mouth or throatwith a liquid that is kept in motion by breathing through it with agurgling sound. It is of 16th Century origin, from the French gargouiller.)

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