Mouth Matters

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mouth-matters-2Gokul (8) wore a forlorn look hanging on to his mother’s pallu and cupping a palm to his cheek. “My tooth is aching,” he cried. Vaishnavi looked agitated because her daughter had a fall the previous night and had a chipped tooth. Both were present at the MGR Janaki ­Engineering College campus in ­Chennai, where the Dental Expo and Education Fair was held by Rotary District 3230 in association with Indian Dental Association (IDA), Chennai Chapter. Thirty Rotary clubs of the District sponsored this mega fair.

RI President Gary Huang and his wife, Corinna Yao, were the chief guests. RI staff Kristin Brown and Michelle Berg also attended the fair along with District Governor I S A K Nazar and other Rotarians. While dentists screened and treated minor ailments of visitors, students from 17 dental colleges across the city had put up stalls to explain the various options available for school students in the field of dentistry. Going by the crowd at one particular stall, the post graduate course on ‘Forensic Odentology’ seemed to interest several youngsters. Teeth can tell if a person is male or a female; teeth are also studied in investigations during bomb blasts… such gyan was unveiled at these stalls.

School and college students, accompanied by their teachers, were educated by dentists and senior students of the dental colleges on the importance of oral hygiene. “Oral health is intimately connected to overall health. Our mouth is teeming with bacteria — most of them harmless. Unhygienic oral practices may lead to oral infections such as tooth decay and gum disease. Oral healthcare such as regular brushing and flossing can keep these bacteria under control,” explained a dentist.

“White coloured toothpastes are better than coloured pastes. The chemicals that go to add colour in the coloured toothpastes cause abrasion to the teeth and the gums, wearing them off. Some people develop reactions like mouth ulcers because of these chemicals. The colour is only to make the paste attractive. Regular brushing is more important than the toothpaste,” said IDA President Dr Rangarajan.

The now-familiar advice from all quarters: ‘Brush your teeth twice a day,’ was again reiterated by the dentists, who demonstrated the right method of brushing: The Bass Brushing Technique. It works like this: Direct the brush towards the roots of the teeth at a 45 degree angle. Press lightly but not enough to bend the bristles and brush back and forth in a vibratory manner, with short ­movements. This method of brushing effectively removes plaque from around the gum line. The visitors understood this better through an electronic model set up in one of the stalls.

Senior citizens, who have lost their teeth but find the dentures cumbersome, take heart! Dr Rangarajan described the new age implants — surgical components that interface with the bone of the jaw or the skull to support a dental prosthesis such as a crown, bridge or a denture. Implants are permanent fixtures and unlike dentures, need not be removed at the end of the day. A decent set of implants costs around Rs 50,000, he said.

What are the common dental problems in children? Is there any connection between chocolates and tooth caries? The IDA President explained: More than 85 per cent of oral problems suffered by children account for tooth caries, apart from genetic issues like mal-alignment of teeth. And chocolates are harmless, provided you brush your teeth after eating them. The sugar in the chocolates produces an acid which reacts with the good bacteria in your mouth, causing tooth decay. So the secret is not to let the sugar remain in the mouth for long enough to produce the acid.

On wisdom teeth, he said that in the West dentists remove them as they are believed to cause cysts and tumours. “Here we remove them only when we face problems.” All dentists at the Expo warned the people to promptly treat oral ailments or they will lead to other complications affecting the liver, heart, lungs and kidney. Use of tobacco spoils the teeth. There was a tobacco de-addiction stall at the Expo. Oral cancer screening was also carried out for the visitors.

A painting competition on ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ was organised by the District for school students. RI President Gary Huang judged and distributed prizes for the best three paintings He complimented the Rotarians and dedicated his trademark ‘Happy Clap’ and now-familiar ‘Zan’ to the District Governor for this remarkable Fair, which came close on the heels of the Guinness World Record for the largest Human Flag formation. By day end, the Expo had around 10,000 footfalls and had screened 1,000 special children, said Dr Nandakumar, the District’s Director, Community Health Service. Powered tooth brushes for use by mentally-challenged children were handed over to IDA President Dr Rangarajan by First Lady Corinna.

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