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Dental problems can be overcome with savvy technology and innovative self-help products, writes Dr Shalini Pradhan
Tooth loss, like wrinkles, was an inevitable part of ageing. No more. Dentistry can not only enhance a smile but also help maintain a youthful and healthy appearance.
No more dentures
To replace lost teeth, elders traditionally had to make do with the inconvenience and embarrassment of dentures. Today, implants, more comfortable and secure, have emerged as a viable alternative. Tooth root substitutes for missing teeth, implants are surgically placed below the gum margin, and then exposed three to six months later. Thereafter, a tooth made of porcelain is placed over the implant. Pioneering implant technology also allows front teeth to be replaced instantly and painlessly with immediate implants.
Over time, worn out and discolored teeth alter a person’s appearance. The height between the nose and the chin decreases, causing the muscles of the face to collapse. The chin starts to recede, wrinkles start to form around the lips, and the fold below the lower lip starts to become more prominent. Commonly called ‘puckering’, this adds to the ageing effect. Cosmetic dentistry can rejuvenate the ageing smile, and creased, wrinkled face by restoring teeth to their full shape, size and color. Thin layers of individually crafted porcelain are used to fashion a new, younger appearance and simultaneously recreate and enhance the original contours of the face. Digital imaging allows a sneak preview even before treatment begins.
Age thins the enamel (the outer layer of the tooth) and the teeth turn darker. In addition, they become stained through substances such as food and nicotine. Bleaching, a tooth-whitening technology, has eliminated the need to live with a dark teeth. A number of do-it-yourself teeth whitening toothpastes and gels are available over the counter today. Dental clinics can also dramatically lighten color using bleaching systems. A combination of both gives the optimal result.
Sticky bacteria in the form of plaque, a thin film, cover the teeth and gums. Left unchecked, they stick to teeth, especially around existing fillings and roots that are exposed as the
Dental dos and don’ts
Brush teeth twice a day with a medium to soft, small head toothbrush. I there is loss of manual dexterity, an electronic toothbrush is recommended. In case of visual impairment, a magnifying mirror improves brushing efficiency. Inter-dental brushes help remove food stuck between teeth.
Floss every night.
Use a mouthwash or rinse your mouth after every meal.
Take nutritional supplements of calcium and vitamins.
Cut down foods with refined sugar.
A dental check-up twice a year is mandatory, and dental problems should be attended to immediately.
Choose your toothpaste and mouthwash carefully; fluoride protects teeth against cavities but is toxic to teeth in excess. If you live in an area where ground water levels of fluorides are high, like Rajasthan and New Delhi, opt for non-flouride products.
Source – Harmony, June 2004, Page 78