Believe it or not, poor dental health will not only cost you a fortune when you seek emergency dental care but may also lead to serious health problems such as gum inflammation, tooth loss, bone issues, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Failure to maintain oral hygiene is emerging as a new area of concern as people now live longer and gorge more on junk foods. Dr Deepil Mehta, a Navi Mumbai-based dental surgeon who has been practising for nearly a decade, calls it a lifestyle disorder, adding that many people often neglect simple things like brushing their teeth at night (brushing should be done twice a day, every day, along with flossing). Such negligence, coupled with unhealthy food habits over a long period, can have a damaging impact on dental health.
"Typically, if you consume 300 ml of aerated drink (one bottle) every week for two years, you could end up destroying 50 per cent of the tooth enamel, the hard, outer surface that protects the inner part of the tooth," the doctor says. It is quite serious as addiction to aerated drinks is on the rise. The erosion of tooth enamel exposes nerve endings and leads to rapid tooth decay after that. Sugar, included in some food flavouring agents or food additives, is also bad for your teeth while regular intake of tea and coffee is likely to stain them. Here is Dr Mehta's quick word of caution about cleaning your teeth, "What we eat matters, but what we do after that is even more important." If food particles are not flushed out after a meal and stay in our mouth for 8-12 hours, there will be bacteria and plaque build-ups and tooth decay will follow soon, he says. Doctors will also ask you to use the good old tongue scraper as most of the bacteria are there on your tongue. Also, be careful about the kind of toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, tooth whitener and bleach you are using - they should only contain effective and safe ingredients.
According to Dr Alluri Surendra Kumar, a dental surgeon from Hyderabad with more than two decades of experience, gum care is of critical importance and negligence in this respect may lead to gingivitis (gum inflammation and bleeding) and other gum diseases, which are often linked to diabetes, stroke, heart conditions and lung infections. In brief, oral hygiene cannot be ignored just because one has a hectic work schedule.
Interestingly, there is a growing demand for cosmetic dentistry as more people are seeking solutions to improve their looks and smiles, says Dr Mehta. This branch of dentistry includes several procedures, right from teeth whitening to getting veneers where super-thin and shell-like material is glued on a tooth to improve its appearance. Costs could vary between Rs 40,000 and Rs 4 lakh, depending on how far you would go to enhance your smile.
Digital dentistry is all about using tech tools for dental procedures. According to Dr Mehta, a digital scan helps a dental surgeon simulate an implant on screen before attempting it in real, thus leading to better outcomes. But computer-guided surgical interventions are expensive and a tooth implant could cost between Rs 35,000 and Rs 1 lakh. Dr Surendra Kumar thinks there will be a huge demand for implants as part of rehabilitation dentistry, helping people who have lost their teeth due to decay/diseases or trauma. And costs often vary depending on the quality of implant materials (usually imported). Titanium and zirconium implants are generally preferred (the latter is more expensive) as these are biocompatible and do not cause inflammation or other complications.