Tag Archive for: dentist in kampala

oral health month

Every year in March, oral health care providers commemorate oral health and its promotion. This year was no different and was running with a theme, “Mind your mouth.” At Ezza Dental Care, we would like to remind you about how to be mindful of our mouths and oral health through the three important facets of tooth brushing, diet, and dental visits.

Brushing your teeth

Brushing one’s teeth is a form of oral hygiene practice which involves the removal of food debris and plaque from the teeth and the other oral structures.

It has obvious benefits such as

  • Preventing tooth decay
  • Reducing halitosis (bad breath)
  • Preventing gum disease

Any of the above can have detrimental effects on one’s psychosocial wellbeing and can also be a gateway to other illnesses.

Many times, we brush the same way we walk; just going through the motions. It is however important that we are mindful of each step of brushing our teeth in order to reap full benefits from the act. One must brush their teeth for a minimum of two minutes, taking care to clean all the tooth surfaces, palate, and tongue.

Below is a suggested sequence for brushing your teeth;

  1. Place a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush.
  2. Slightly wet the toothbrush using clean water.
  3. Brush your teeth using rotary movements as opposed to the horizontal or vertical scrubbing motions that we often use. Your dentist may recommend otherwise depending on the condition available but this is the baseline and most protective movement.
  4. Spit out as much foam as you can.
  5. Do not rinse your mouth after.
  6. The thin layer of toothpaste provides a fluoride-releasing mechanism and also acts as a protective barrier.
  7. Rinse your toothbrush with clean running water and then store it in a clean and dry space, away from other people’s toothbrushes.

The minimum number of times one must brush their teeth is twice, the night after they are done eating for the day and on one other occasion.

It is wise to change one’s toothbrush once it is not efficiently cleaning anymore and that is often between 3-6 months after the index use. In addition, it is advisable to change one’s toothbrush after recovery from a respiratory illness to avoid reinfection.

The option of whether to use a manual toothbrush or an automated one comes down to preference. Care must be taken to assist those less capable of brushing their own teeth for example the invalid, the disabled and the children since their oral health matters just like anyone else’s.

Remember to be mindful of your mouth by brushing your teeth.

Diet

Be mindful of your mouth by paying attention to your diet. Our diet consists of everything we consume as food. As much as we may enjoy eating the numerous things available, not everything that we indulge in is good for our health. Food contains a number of nutrients that play different roles in our bodies for example proteins are important for growth, carbohydrates are important for energy, vitamins are important for natural immunity, and so on.

Just like the rest of the body, our mouths benefit or suffer from the kind of diet we choose to indulge in. If we eat healthy nutritious food, we have healthy mouths and the reverse is true if we choose to eat unhealthily.

Some of the nutrients that are important for the health of our teeth include

  • Calcium
  • Phosphate
  • Magnesium
  • Iron

These are micronutrients that the tooth comprises and so including them in the diet in form of foods like

  • Milk
  • Vegetables
  • Fish, can strengthen the teeth and keep them healthy.

Vitamin C plays a big role in maintaining the integrity of our gums. Fruits and vegetables are a rich source and consumption of these are therefore vital in preventing gum disease.

On the other side of the coin, there exist foods that are bad for the teeth and the related oral structures. Foods rich in processed sugars like cakes, biscuits, white bread, and so on are bad for the teeth. This is because when one does not brush, they are broken down by the bacteria present in the mouth to form acids which in time break down the tooth structure causing decay.

Foods that contain a lot of acids like lemon juice and some soft drinks can also cause erosion of the tooth structure and thus cause sensitivity and tooth decay.

The latter groups of foods must be consumed in utter moderation and with rigorous oral hygiene measures to accompany them while the former must be included more in the diet for stronger teeth.

Dental visits

For many people, visiting the dentist is reserved for when they have teeth that are paining or when they are in some discomfort pertaining to their mouth. This is a mindset that should be changed considering that the earlier a disease is recognized and diagnosed, the easier and cheaper it is to treat it.

Routine dental visits are those where the mouth is examined and x-rays are taken in a bid to identify any present pathologies so as to plan treatment for them. They are commonly referred to as dental check-ups.

During these visits, the dentist can observe any abnormalities such as caries, calculus, gingivitis, and food impaction areas among others. This then enables them to put in place interventions to treat or prevent the disease from worsening. Often, the cost of treatment is thus less and the quality of life is improved as most can be caught before they begin to inflict pain.

At routine dental visits, tooth cleaning is also often offered. This is a professional dental cleaning done to remove the plaque and calculus that are difficult to remove when using a toothbrush or flossing. Extrinsic chromogenic stains are also removed and so one leaves with a clean mouth which minimizes the conditions necessary for the disease to develop.

Routine dental visits also alleviate the anxiety that comes with visiting a dentist as one gets psychologically conditioned to the environment of a dental office and the instruments used there and so they are more likely to seek treatment early for themselves and their loved ones.

It is advisable to have a routine dental visit at least twice a year, coinciding with the appointments for the dental cleaning.

baby teeth

In some cultures in Uganda, when a child is 4 to 8 months old, there’s a norm where they are taken to a traditional healer who extracts their unerupted teeth. This is done because it is believed that these tooth buds are a cause of the illness that commonly ails infants this age. This however is a form of Infant Oral Mutilation and has a number of disadvantages which will be elucidated later in this article.

When a child reaches 4 to 6 months, the immunity which was inherited from the mother starts to wear out and the child’s own immunity begins to take over. This may leave a gap during which the child can have a range of symptoms for example fever, diarrhea, rashes, irritability. This is a normal occurrence and can be easily managed by supportive treatment as prescribed by a pediatrician.

Unfortunately in many cultures when this happens, the baby is taken to a traditional healer who rubs the gums with some herbs and then later extracts the tooth bud. This is dangerous and has even resulted in fatalities in a number of incidents.

The dangers that an infant is exposed to include;

  • Excessive bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Missing milk teeth,
  • Damage to the permanent teeth.
  • Malocclusion.

The effects of these are profound on the life of the child as they grow up. This is done out of ignorance and misinformation and superstition and it falls upon each of us to educate those who are less fortunate than us in that regard so that this practice can be fully eliminated from our communities.

tonsilitis

Tonsilitis is an inflammation of the tonsils which are two masses of lymphoid tissue on either side of the throat. They play a role in fighting infection that may use the oral cavity as a gateway into the airways. In some cases, they can get overwhelmed and henceforth get infected and inflamed resulting in the plethora of symptoms that characterize tonsillitis.

Signs and symptoms

These include;

  • Sore throat
  • Red tonsils
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ear-ache
  • Fever and chills
  • Difficult swallowing

What causes tonsilitis

Tonsilitis is caused by both bacterial and viral infections which are not ordinarily pathogenic in the mouth for example Streptococcus family of bacteria, adenoviruses, influenza viruses, herpes simplex viruses, and so on.

The disease can be either acute where it lasts for less than seven days, recurrent where it keeps coming back up to several times in a year or chronic where an episode can go on for months at a time.

Due to the highly contaminating nature of the causative agent, tonsillitis can be easily spread and contracted through airdrops, sharing toothbrushes or utensils with infected people, or through kissing an infected person.

Managing tonsilitis

When one has tonsillitis, it is important that they maintain a rigorous oral health regimen to prevent episodes from recurring. They should brush their teeth a minimum of twice a day, floss, and also use a prescribed mouth wash.

It is also important that they address any oral diseases they may have for example gingivitis as these can trigger the disease and prevent it from healing.

Tonsillitis is best managed by an Ear Nose and Throat specialist who will prescribe medication and further definitive treatment. For symptomatic relief, you can use warm saline rinses three times a day.

dental flossing

Flossing is a form of interdental cleaning in which the debris in the area between two teeth is removed using a dental cord also known as dental floss.  It is a habit that should be taken up as part of one’s oral care routine because of its importance. Toothbrushes are effective when cleaning tooth surfaces but due to their nature, they cannot effectively clean the area between teeth as this is usually small. Dental floss is small and flexible enough to remove interdental plaque without causing undue damage to the teeth or to the gum.

There are various types of floss on the market, for example, the string floss which has a long cord, or the floss picks that have a handle. The choice comes down to personal preference and ease. If you have braces or bridgework in your mouth you may need to use some special types of floss which are dental tape and super floss respectively. It is recommended that you floss your teeth before brushing them so that all the debris can be eliminated from your mouth after you finish brushing.

How do you floss?

 The string floss is the more commonly used and so it will be our case study.

  1. Break off a piece of floss, about 20 inches long. Wind it around your middle fingers such that there is about 1 to 2 inches free.
  2. Hold the string tight with your thumb and forefingers.
  3. Place the floss between two teeth, gently gliding down the side of one and then switching to the side of the proximal tooth. Gently slide the floss up and down so you don’t bruise your gum.
  4. Gently remove the floss by pulling it out and then reorient it to clean the next tooth using a fresh segment.
  5. Rinse your mouth after and then brush your teeth.

Flossing takes a short period of time once it has been mastered and is invaluable in preventing interdental/proximal caries.

dental fillings

You may have been to the dentist before and told them that you don’t want the black filling. This might have been due to a number of reasons that you honestly believed in, for example, the filling contains mercury which accumulates in the blood, the filling has an effect on your health, and so on.

These validate why you may request a different dental filling. However, there are even more reasons why your dentist may choose to use the black filling or as it is scientifically known, amalgam. Amalgam is an alloy of majorly silver and mercury and has many properties that make it a perfect material for filling a tooth cavity. These include;

  • strength
  • inertness
  • wear resistance
  • longevity.

These influence the common decision to use it to fill the back teeth which need more strength and do not require as much attention to aesthetics.

Before a material is approved for use by the different monitoring bodies, its safety has to be proven and so amalgam is safe. The mercury released from the fillings is less than that taken up from the environment and both these are minuscule and the effects are negligible if the amounts remain constant. This makes it a safe material in addition to the other qualities mentioned above. There are protocols for handling dental amalgam which ar followed by dentists to even further minimize the exposure to mercury when they are placing an amalgam filling or even when they are disposing of the waste.

The next time you visit a dentist and they recommend that the tooth is filled with amalgam, do not be anxious because dentists like all other healthcare providers have your best interests at heart.

toothbrushes

A toothbrush is one of the staple household objects that everyone uses. With the multiple choices in the supermarkets, one might wonder if there is such a thing as a bad toothbrush and if so then what is a good toothbrush? There are a number of factors to take into consideration when choosing the right toothbrush and these include:

  • Hardness of bristles; for the average person, their toothbrush should have bristles that are neither too hard nor too soft. If they are too hard, they will destroy the tooth structure and if they are too soft, they will not effectively remove the plaque.
  • Shape of the bristles; on the market, the two common shapes are the rounded bristles and the square bristles. The rounded ones are the better option because of how gentle they are on the rest of the tissues which minimizes trauma to them.
  • Size of the toothbrush head: this is dependent on the size of one’s mouth which often correlates with their chronological age. For those with small mouths or children, the toothbrushes with smaller heads are more effective as they induce minimal trauma and are easier to control. The head shouldn’t be too big or too small.
  • The size and shape of the handle; toothbrush handle designs have evolved over time and this has resulted in a wide range of options. Your toothbrush handle should be easy to grip and comfortable to ensure that the brushing process is as smooth as possible.
  • Approval by a quality control body e.g. UNBS; is important as these bodies ensure that you get quality that is as good as advertised. Always check for the official seal and preferably, choose toothbrushes that have it on.
  • Manual or electric toothbrushes; the end goal of both these types is the same and that is good oral hygiene. Both can give stellar results if used correctly and both can be disastrous if used inappropriately. The choice between these often comes down to personal preference, however, there can be instances for example in individuals with poor manual dexterity where the electric toothbrush would be the preferred option.

In some cases, the dentist will recommend a specific type of toothbrush to fit the individual contextual needs and this is when they may also recommend a particular brand. Do not forget to change your toothbrush once every 3 months, not too often and not too far apart.

teeth happy holidays

Remember

The festive season is upon us and felicitations to us all. As we celebrate this joyous season and allow ourselves to indulge, it is important that we do not forget to take care of our mouths and teeth. Below are some reminders that you will benefit from if practiced and prevent suffering painful consequences as a result of enjoying yourself a little too much.

  • Do not forget to brush your teeth twice a day. After your last meal at night and at one other time during the day.
  • Use the extra time available to show the young ones how to brush their teeth and use this as a bonding activity.
  • If possible, floss your teeth. This will ensure that no food particles get stuck between your teeth.
  • Eat sweets and cakes in moderation and always rinse your mouth after so that tooth decay is prevented or slowed down.
  • Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into the meals as these contain nutrients that are important for strong teeth.
  • As you make your yearly plan, set up your routine dentist appointments for checkups and professional cleaning.

Happy holidays from Ezza Dental Care and a prosperous new year.

image of nail-biting

A habit is a tendency towards an act that has become a repeated performance, it is relatively fixed and easy to perform by an individual. We all have habits, some are beneficial to us and some we would rather do away with. For example, laying one’s bed every morning or jogging three times every week are good habits and on the other hand, smoking is a habit that is considered bad.

What are some of the habits that affect your oral health?

  • Nail-biting
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Thumb sucking
  • Mouth breathing
  • Bruxism

How do they affect oral health?

Nail-biting; nails are made of a hard material called keratin and when it is repeatedly exerted on teeth, it can cause them (especially the front teeth) to chip and eventually tip or rotate which affects how one’s smile looks.

EZZA DENTAL CARE
Nail-biting causes tooth chipping

Tongue thrusting; this involves continually pushing your tongue forward. The tongue has one of the most efficient muscle systems in the body and henceforth continued exertion of the powerful forces generated can cause the teeth position to change. This in turn affects the appearance and function of the oral tissues negatively.

Tongue thrusting
The habit of tongue thrusting

Thumb-sucking; human babies resort to sucking their thumb or any other finger as a replacement or option to suckling. Beyond 5 years, however, this becomes a detrimental habit that is an indicator of deeper underlying issues. Thumb-sucking causes the teeth to be displaced anteriorly, resulting in someone having an open bite, and sometimes the lips close with difficulty.

oral habit of thumb sucking
thumb sucking affects oral health

Mouth breathing; individuals with respiratory problems especially in their early ages sometimes develop a tendency to breathe through their mouth instead of the nose. The continued mouth opening messes with the balance of the oral health structures and can lead to misalignment of teeth. It can also increase the risk of caries as the mouth is often dry.

EZZA DENTAL CARE
mouth breathing affects oral health structures

Bruxism; this involves grinding one’s teeth and it can either be done when one’s asleep or awake and sometimes even in both states. Grinding teeth leads to attrition of the teeth where they lose part of the tooth substance and this can lead to a number of problems for example; sensitivity, malocclusion, and muscular fatigue or pain.

How can these habits be managed?

Oral habits are effectively managed when the factors that cause them are managed. This lowers the chances of recurrence or relapse.

  1. Most are signs of psychological stress and so a consultation with a psychiatrist would benefit some of the patients.
  2. In children, the use of mechanical means for example habit breakers which are designed by the orthodontist or bandaging the fingers and chemical means like applying pepper on the preferred finger can also be effective.

Treatment of the effects of oral habits is important to restore the health-related quality of life of the individual and so it is important that if one has a habit such as these, or their child has or is developing one that they seek professional help as soon as possible. It is imperative that we try to unlearn some of these habits as their effects may not be immediate but are drastic and can be expensive to reverse.

HIV oral health care

Every year on December 1, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. This day brings light to the battle against stopping the HIV/AIDS plague. It also discourages stigma against those living with HIV/AIDS and shows that they too can live rich and fulfilling lives when they are on medication. People living with HIV/AIDS represent a special demographic within oral healthcare and they need even extra attention given the risk they have towards contracting opportunistic infections for which the mouth can be a portal.

How HIV/AIDS affects oral health

The mouth being the proverbial mirror of the body can be a sight where the early manifestations of HIV/AIDS and its associated illnesses can show. People infected with HIV/AIDS may experience the following signs;

  1. Oral thrush which is a whitish membrane-like lesion
  2. Kaposi Sarcoma which may appear as purplish lesions
  3. Ulcers that take long to heal
  4. Red band gingivitis
  5. Dry Mouth

These can help in early diagnosis and this management before the disease progresses to debilitating stages. It is thus very important that people living with HIV monitor their oral environment and discuss any changes with their dentist or physician.

How can one cope with dental issues related to HIV

It is imperative that people with HIV maintain an even more meticulous oral hygiene regimen. They can do this by;

  1. Brushing twice a day
  2. Doing interdental cleaning
  3. Having routine dental visits to ensure that their oral health is in check
  4. Taking a very healthy diet including many fruits and vegetables for optimal health of both the teeth and the other tissues in the mouth
  5. Trying to remove all possible foci of infection in the mouth including tooth decay

When you visit your dentist, do not be shy to let them know about your status so that they can ensure that you are handled appropriately and they also can protect themselves from the virus. Unless the illness is compromising to treatment, the dentist can provide all routine treatment that may be needed just like they would in any other patient. Let us all aim to keep ourselves and each other safe while we aim to make AIDS a disease of the past.

dry socket

What is a Dry Socket?

Dry socket or alveolar osteitis is a complication that occurs after extraction of a tooth due to compromised healing of the extraction wound and is characterized by extreme discomfort or pain in the area which has the socket. It occurs as a result of failure to form or disruption of the formation of a clot in the socket after the tooth is removed. The formation of a clot precedes proper healing and eventual closure of the socket and when it is annihilated too early, the nerves at the bottom of the socket are exposed which results in a painful sensation.

Signs and symptoms of a dry socket

Alveolar osteitis occurs 5-7 days after an extraction was done. It takes on one or all of the following symptoms.

  • It has symptomatic pain which is spontaneous, relentless, and may radiate to the temples, the mandible, or frontal region.
  • It may be accompanied by headaches, swelling, and fever.
  • The extraction socket appears empty but can sometimes have a yellowish deposit which when accompanied by pain is a cause for worry but is otherwise part of the healing process.
  • Pain post-extraction is a normal occurrence but if it exponentially increases with time, this could be indicative of a dry socket.
  • Visible bone in the socket
  • Bad breath or a foul odor coming from your mouth
  • Unpleasant taste in your mouth

Risk factors for developing a dry socket

How well we practice the post-extraction instructions determines if we will get dry sockets but is not the only factor involved. The socket being on the lower jaw, history of having a dry socket, being on oral contraceptives, multiple extractions, and so on are other contributory factors that could lead to one experiencing alveolar osteitis. The post-extraction instructions will be delineated in the upcoming blog so stay tuned for those.

Treatment of dry socket

This condition can only be managed effectively by a dentist and preferably the one who carried out the extraction. They will debride the socket, clean it and put a dressing. They will also prescribe you antibiotics and pain killers which will aid in symptom relief and faster healing. After dressing a dry socket, you must not rinse your mouth for 24 hours, and after, you should do light rinsing in order to allow the clot to stay in place.

However, in case you cannot see a dentist, you can take over-the-counter medications for the pain and also do warm saline rinses gently in order to get some symptomatic relief. It is imperative that this condition is managed early and appropriately to prevent escalations to more dire conditions which can be fatal.