What is basic dental care?

Oral health is an integral part of overall general health and well-being. Good dental health enables a person to effectively communicate, eat healthy nutritious food and generally improves his/her quality of life and self- confidence. Oral diseases affect comprises of a range of diseases which often includes dental caries (tooth decay), gum diseases (periodontal diseases), oral cancers etc. These diseases are highly prevalent and present and seen through history to as old as mankind. The impact of these diseases range from pain, discomfort, sleepless nights, limitation to eat food, absenteeism and few also lead to systemic disorders; hence these have a significant overall impact on both individual as well as on society.

These diseases are largely preventable and the basic challenge is to create conditions for the individual as well as a community to enjoy good dental health. Hence regular dental care which is obtained by a dentist or practised through self-care at home comprises of basic dental care.

Routine brushing and flossing of teeth, having health nutritious food, using safety devices/following safety precautions while playing, regularly checking for signs of initial dental diseases can be taken care by individual and by visiting to the dentist for regular check-ups and undertaking preventive, curative and rehabilitative dental procedure forms a part basic oral care.

Why is it important?

Basic oral care is to be practised by all from womb to tomb. The advantages are many and few to mention are related to dental and gum tissues:

  • Incipient diseases are treated at the earliest avoiding complications and disability
  • Cost of treatment of initial diseases is less compared to advanced ones
  • Less time spent with dentist/ healthcare provider leading to more productive work hours
  • Decreased morbidity and mortality as a dental disease which shares common risk factors with systemic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular        
  • Diseases and low birth weight babies born to pregnant women etc. are taken care off
  • Increased life expectancy due to healthier lifestyles and fewer diseases and their complications
  • Improves overall health

Oral diseases and conditions

The most common oral diseases are dental cavities, periodontal (gum) disease, oral cancer, oral infectious diseases, trauma from injuries.

Dental caries/cavities

Worldwide, 60–90% of school children and nearly 100% of adults have dental cavities, often leading to pain and discomfort and subsequent tooth loss.

Periodontal disease

Severe periodontal (gum) disease, which may result in tooth loss, is found in 15–20% of middle-aged (35-44 years) adults leading to bleeding gums, bad breath, loose teeth and decreased mastication ability and tooth loss.

Tooth loss

Dental cavities and periodontal disease are major causes of tooth loss. Complete loss of natural teeth is widespread and particularly affects older people. Globally, about 30% of people aged 65–74 years have no natural teeth leading to impairment in speech, mastication, malnutrition and low social esteem and confidence.

Oral cancer

The incidence of oral cancer ranges from one to 10 cases per 100,000 people in most countries. The prevalence of oral cancer is relatively higher in men, in older people, and among people of low education and low income. Tobacco and alcohol are major causal factors

Fungal, bacterial or viral infections in HIV

Almost half (40–50%) of people who are HIV-positive have oral fungal, bacterial or viral infections. These often occur early in the course of HIV infection. If not detected early then may lead to systemic diseases and life-threatening complications.

Dental trauma

Across the world, 16-40% of children in the age range 6 to12 years are affected by dental trauma due to unsafe playgrounds, unsafe schools, road accidents, or violence

Tips to do proper dental care?

  1. A healthy diet during pregnancy is to be ensured for proper development of teeth of a newborn.
  2. Care of deciduous teeth is of utmost importance. These help in the development of jaws, speech, mastication and aesthetics and also in an eruption of permanent teeth avoiding malalignment of teeth.
  3. Diet rich in Vit A, C and D, Ca, P and traces of fluoride helps to form strong, caries resistant teeth. Eat raw vegetables and fruits, which are more in fibrous content and require rigorous chewing to stimulate salivary flow and provide protection against dental diseases.
  4. Refined carbohydrate, especially the solid and sticky type, consumed frequently between meals, increases caries prevalence. Eating brown bread instead of white, using jaggery in place of refined sugar crystals in sweet preparation are some of the examples of dietary modifications, that can help to reduce caries incidence.
  5. Healthy snacks for in-between meals like cheese, nuts and fruits avoid dental caries.
  6. Oral hygiene maintenance by brushing twice a day using soft bristle toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste cleaning and gum massage helps to maintain optimum oral health.
  7. In addition, regularly rinse your mouth after every meal to remove food debris from the mouth.
  8. Cultivate a habit of regularly checking your mouth for signs of new diseases and approach immediately to a dentist if you notice any changes. Note that you avoid self-medication practices.
  9. Get your dental check-up done every 6-month by a dentist.