By Mansi Agarwal June 2006 Protect your teeth from disease and decay through these curative and preventive measures. Twelve-year-old Nitin Jain confesses, ‘I hated brushing my teeth, but one day my dentist told me that I had a cavity. That scared me; since then I have been very regular.’ Dental health tends to be appreciated only when it is impaired. Alarmingly, every fourth Indian has a gum problem and every second Indian is threatened by it. Part of the reason lies in our ignorance of what constitutes dental hygiene. Sunil, a Delhi-based 29-year-old share broker, is probably symbolic of the average Indian when he says, ‘I am free from toothache, which means my teeth are healthy.’ Unfortunately this attitude could well breed complications down the line, unless we decide to undertake a regular dental hygiene routine. Importance of Dental Hygiene‘The teeth and mouth are vulnerable to many diseases and there is a lot that can go wrong,’ explains Dr. Pankaj Dhawan, a Delhi-based dentist. ‘Symptoms such as bleeding gums or pus around the teeth, bad breath, bad taste or loosening of the teeth, require intensive cleaning and aggressive oral hygiene measures. Regardless of how good your diet and lifestyle is, plaque will accumulate.’ Plaque is a thin sticky coating of bacteria on the teeth. Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste will enable the tooth to mend itself after being attacked by plaque acids. Neglecting such minor measures can lead to ulceration in the mouth, decay, pyorrhea or mouth cancer. Brushing and Flossing RightAn average person spends just half a minute brushing his teeth. Dr. Nishant Jaiswal, a Delhi-based dentist, emphasizes the need to brush teeth at least twice a day, in the morning on waking and at night before going to sleep. Every tooth should be brushed gently, using short circular motions with a medium soft brush. Dental floss helps clean between the teeth where the brush fails to reach. Flossing is an important but ignored aspect of tooth hygiene. How does one floss teeth? Dr Dhawan explains, ‘Use a piece of floss about eight inches long. Wrap the ends around the middle fingers of each hand leaving two-three inches between the first finger and thumb. Then gently slide the floss between two teeth and put it round one tooth next to the gum using your fingers. The floss is then moved between the teeth several times. This is repeated for every tooth.’ Another tool for oral hygiene that is indigenously Indian is the tongue cleaner. This humble U-shaped steel strip is used to scrape the tongue of accumulated toxins and keep the mouth clean. Hate dentistry? Try alternatives. YogaYoga has a remedy for several human disorders. The sitkari asana is extremely beneficial in curing pyorrhea, which is inflammation of the gums and teeth sockets. This asana is done by keeping the lips open, joining the upper and lower teeth together, inhaling through the mouth with a hissing sound, and exhaling through the nostrils. Through this asana, the air passes via the tongue and imparts a soothing effect as the mouth is cooled. AyurvedaAmong the many steps outlined in the ayurveda dinacharya (daily routine) is the regular gargling of the mouth and throat with til oil. It is reputed to keep one’s teeth in ace condition and inhibit all bacterial advances. Another tooth care tip, says Mumbai-based ayurvedic physician Dr Smita Naram, is to eschew commercial toothpastes for the following homemade tooth powder. Mix together ½ tsp haldi, 1 tsp triphala, ½ tsp rock salt powder, ½ tsp neem bark powder and ½ tsp khadir bark powder (you should get all these at an ayurvedic pharmacy). Apply and brush a pinch on the teeth. Ensure that these churnas do not stay on the teeth by gargling vigorously. A good astringent, this mixture tightens the gum and eliminates swelling. AcupressurePress the midpoint of the first joint of the left and right thumb or the foot for three minutes for relief from tooth pain or for other dental issues, says Anjali Nevrekar, a Mumbai-based acupressure practitioner. She also suggests pressing the section of the jaw directly below the aching tooth. She also recommends hypnotherapy to cope with toothache, or particularly the discomfort and terror of the drill. To do this, relax yourself, and guide your subconscious mind with positive suggestions. Say to yourself, ‘I am releasing discomfort and feeling perfectly fine.’ If filling a cavity, tell yourself, ‘I am feeling more and more relaxed as the drill works on my tooth.’ NaturopathyAcharya Keshav Dev, an expert in ayurvedic and naturopathic techniques, prescribes various methods for maintaining the general health of the teeth.o Neem datun has been used for thousands of years as an extremely effective method of total oral hygiene. Take a clean neem twig, chew it from one side and make it soft like a brush, then clean the teeth with it. This method is very effective in destroying bacteria, enhancing mouth immunity and preventing plaque buildup. It has helped millions of people avoid cavities and even bleeding gums have healed and secretion from pockets around the teeth has stopped. Bluish-colored gums turn a healthy pale pink color.o Mud-pack for mouth: Mix enough water in pure and clean mud and make into a paste. Apply that paste on the infected area for several minutes and then spit out the mud and rinse the mouth. Mud acts a cooling agent and soothes the aching tooth.o While passing stool every day, clench the lower jaw with the upper jaw. This method makes the teeth healthy and strong. The change can be experienced within three days.o Applying mashed mango leaves to the affected area is also effective in relieving toothache.o Make a powder of roasted alum and rub it on the teeth to make it strong and shining white. As the years go by, teeth and gums come under attack and decay; and erosion of teeth is to some extent inevitable. But the process can largely be prevented or avoided altogether by regular attention to oral hygiene. A few minutes every day can save unpleasant, unattractive and unhealthy consequences in future years. Contact: Vivekananda Hospital Yogashram 9312242570Dr Pankaj Dhawan: 9810050103, Dr Nishant Jaiswal:9811816700. Inputs from the book Dental Healthand Oral Hygiene by Pustak Mahal publishing house
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