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What to know about dental care


Taking proper care of teeth goes beyond just brushing and flossing. Sustaining oral health is essential to ward off dental problems along the line. Without proper oral care, harmful bacteria can get out of control. In this interview with GERALDINE AKUTU, Professor Olugbemiga Ogunlewe, consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Lagos/Lagos University Teaching Hospital enlightens on oral care.

What causes tooth decay?
Tooth decay, also known as dental caries is caused by the action of acids produced by the bacteria in the mouth. The acid is produced, when the bacteria in the mouth act on the refined sugar in foods or drinks.Tooth decay results from the inter play of such factors as susceptible tooth surface, oral flora (bacteria in the mouth), refined sugar and patient’s immune status.

How can tooth decay, gingivitis and other dental problems be prevented?
Prevention of tooth decay, gingivitis and other problems begin with the practice of good oral hygiene. Brushing of teeth in the morning and last exercise before going to bed at night, consumption of balanced diet, avoiding in-between meals/snacking, and if it must be done, then, the individual should take fruits. It is imperative that the individual presents himself/herself for routine dental check twice a year. Brushing of teeth with toothpaste that contains the right proportion of fluoride is also important.


There are so many brands of toothpastes. How do people know the appropriate one(s)?
Any toothpaste that contains the appropriate quantity of fluoride can be used. Hence, it is important to look for the Nigerian Dental Association endorsement. All toothpastes endorsed by Nigerian Dental Association are fit for use.

What is tooth sensitivity and what causes it?
It is a painful condition that occurs, when the inner layer of the tooth is exposed. It is experienced when an individual takes hot or cold drinks and sometimes with air or breeze on the exposed tooth. People with tooth abrasion or erosion will experience tooth sensitivity. This can result from brushing habit and style of brushing i.e. horizontal stroke instead of vertical stroke, use of hard brush instead of medium bristles, regular intake and holding of lime or acidic drinks in the mouth. It is advisable to use straw, when taking such drinks, and not opening bottles tops with the teeth, engage in bad oral habits like bruxism (tooth grinding), finger nail chewing and holding of sharp objects in-between the teeth.

How often should one go for dental checkup?
Dental checkup is mandatorily twice a year i.e. every six months

How can bad breath (halitosis) be managed or dealt with?
Bad breath can be managed or dealt with in the following ways: The individual that has the perception of bad breath must seek intervention by consulting a qualified dental surgeon. The dentist will make proper diagnosis and take appropriate steps for management. It must be ruled out that there is no underlying causes or habit or food intake that can result in halitosis.


How safe are dental X-rays?
Dental X-ray is very safe considering the x-ray dose and the infrequent exposure. The patient should always ask for lead apron to cover some vital organs
while taking dental x-ray.

Is dental implant safe?
Dental implant is quite safe and can be done by both trained general dental practitioner and specialist. The implant material does not react with the body tissues and quite inert.

What are the best ways to practise good oral hygiene at home?
You can practise good oral hygiene at home by brushing twice daily, eating balanced diet, changing tooth brush every three months, avoiding in-between meals and going for routine dental checkup twice a year.

In this article:
Olugbemiga Ogunlewe
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