Get those pearly whites to shine in confidence as we speak to Dr. Joharia Azhar. She is a Professor in Oral pathology & medical education, a consultant laser dentist, cosmetologist, and aesthetic physician. One of the pioneers of Laser dentistry and Laser-assisted Pain control clinics, Dr.Joharia has practiced in and around Rawalpindi and Islamabad since 2005. She gives her insights on some of the most common concerns a person would have trying to ensure their oral health is well taken care of. Read On:
SD: What are the most common dental issues you encounter in your practice?
Dr. Joharia: The most common dental issue is dental carries, which is the attack of cavity-producing bacteria on our teeth. The second most common problem in Pakistan and especially in Islamabad is gingivitis, also called gum disease.
SD: Can you explain the importance of preventive care in maintaining oral health?
Dr.Joharia: The healthcare sector has seen this paradigm shift recently and is moving more towards prevention as compared to cure. According to rough estimates, about 90 percent of all diseases are preventable. So, I must emphasize early detection and prevention strategy and the importance of six-monthly regular checkups and screening followed by early detection, prevention, and early intervention.
SD: Are there any specific demographics or age groups that are particularly vulnerable to certain dental conditions?
Dr.Joharia: The two most vulnerable groups are children and the elderly. Children carry the most significant problem and in the geriatric population gum diseases and tooth loss are rampant.
SD: How can I improve my daily oral hygiene routine?
Dr.Joharia: Brushing teeth with proper technique twice daily and flossing once or twice every day is an absolute must-do. Apart from this, six monthly hygiene maintenance visits and regular checkups can prevent many diseases.
SD: What toothbrush and toothpaste do you recommend for a person’s specific needs?
Dr.Joharia: Every mouth is unique and to be specific we need an oral exam. Generally speaking, a medium-hardness brush with long bristles that can reach far-flung areas of the mouth is recommended. The toothbrush should be changed every three months.
SD: How can a person manage tooth sensitivity or gum discomfort at home?
Dr.Joharia: Tooth sensitivity can have many causes and as such management without a proper check-up can lead to further aggravation of the condition. If someone starts feeling sensitivity, it is prudent to have a checkup as soon as possible. At home, this can be managed by using kinds of toothpaste containing potassium nitrate, strontium chloride, hydroxyapatite, arginine, fluoride, and calcium.
SD: What are the potential risks of neglecting regular dental check-ups and cleanings?
Dr.Joharia: The most potent risk is tooth loss and gum diseases. The presence of harmful bacteria in the oral cavity has been associated with the development of cardiovascular disorders, heart diseases, and diabetes. Some very dangerous diseases like oral cancer, sometimes appear as small painless nodules or ulcers, and a person can remain unaware until it spreads and becomes more dangerous.
SD: Can you explain the importance of fluoride for oral health?
Dr.Joharia: Fluoride is really good for teeth for fighting cavities and carries. However, its overuse can also lead to problems like alteration of good bacterial colonies in the oral cavity, crystallization of pineal glands, etc. Therefore a balance has to be maintained. The people of KPK and Gilgit Baltistan already have enough fluoride in the water supply. Some research studies have shown the water in Punjab to be sufficiently fluoridated and even extra fluoridated in many areas. They don’t need any added fluoride unless they have rampant carries etc. The safe amount of fluoride in drinking water should be 1.5 mg/L or 0.7 PPM. Which is present in most of Pakistan’s drinking water.
SD: What are some common habits (like teeth grinding or nail biting) that can affect oral health?
Dr. Joharia: Teeth grinding or bruxism, clenching of teeth under stressful conditions, nail-biting and cheek biting are all habits that can produce tooth wear, attrition, and mechanical loss of teeth. These habits not only affect the teeth but also the muscles of mastication and the jaw joint also called TMJ. There is a whole range of diseases, teeth and neuromuscular and joint disorders that can be produced due to these habits. These habits need to be modified on a priority basis in order to maintain optimum health.
SD: What is the role of saliva in maintaining oral health, and how can we ensure healthy saliva production
Dr.Joharia: Saliva plays an extremely important role in maintaining oral health, fighting disease-causing bacteria, healing the oral tissues, developing the sense of taste, and maintaining a good immune system in the mouth. Consuming 8 to 10 glasses of water and maintaining good oral hygiene contributes towards good salivary flow. If you feel a reduction in salivary flow. Dryness of mouth, or difficulty in speaking or swallowing, contact your dentist immediately.
SD: Are there any specific foods or drinks I should be cautious about consuming for the sake of my teeth
Dr.Joharia: All carbonated drinks, sodas, caustic drinks, and extra-sweetened artificial juices are very harmful to your health, not only orally but also in general health.
SD: How can we help our children establish good oral hygiene habits from a young age?
Dr.Joharia: Children learn by example. If they see the elders in the family and their parents following a strict oral hygiene maintenance routine they are sure to follow. Make the morning and bedtime teeth cleaning a family activity and rituals and do it together as a family. The children will develop lifelong habits this way.