Asiri Blog

A Guide on Pearly Whites

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The Sri Lankan smile in all its glory is pretty famous. And, really why not? Sri Lankans are known for their warmth and hospitality. As a young woman a perfect toothy smile is the goal. It gives you a boost of confidence and this leads to a positive outlook on life. There might be the little things that will try to shake your self-assurance, but, more often than not, a solution is always available. Thanks to lifestyle choices and other issues, your pearly whites may not be so pearly. But, it’s really no big deal. A routine checkup at the dentist should help catch any problems in good time.

Cosmetic dentistry refers to any dental work that improves the appearance of teeth, gum and/or bite. It focuses on improving your dental aesthetic in colour, position, shape, size, alignment and overall smile appearance. According to Dr. Shiamala Narangoda, Dental Surgeon at Asiri Central Hospital, it is not uncommon that teenagers and young women need corrections for crooked teeth, gaps and discolouration. "I see many who have spaces in between their teeth due to genetic unevenness, or teeth that are broken or worn out. I’ve also dealt with youth who have lost their teeth due to various reasons and wish to fill in the gaps to get back their beautiful smile. But, the primary problem appears to be discolouration from smoking, wine consumption or drinking too much coffee."

Aligning teeth is another area that Dr. Narangoda focuses on. Not to be confused with shaping, aligning is changing the angle or position of the teeth when it is not in the proper angle or arch. "Shaping is something different," explains Dr. Narangoda. "For example, let’s say you have smaller teeth but the arch is wider, resulting in gaps in between the teeth. In shaping, we ensure the same tooth is big enough for it to cover the gums and close all the spaces. In some instances, you may have a genetic defect where your teeth are conical-shaped, so we shape it in such a way that it becomes more square, and we reduce the gaps with restorative methods."

Braces keep your choppers aligned, like pushing protruding teeth back or aligning overlapping or overcrowded teeth. “Sometimes, the spaces are too great and can’t be fixed through shaping because your teeth will look too big. So we use braces to get the teeth as close as possible and then shape it. In the past braces were metal, but, now transparent versions and lingual braces which are fixed to the back surface of the teeth helps reduce self-consciousness while wearing them and are more convenient,” reveals Dr. Narangoda.

Teeth whitening is another popular service many tend to get. There are a variety of toothpastes that claim to do the job, but they will work only as long as you use it. What’s more, you won’t see immediate results (you’d have to wait for at least 3 months). But with a trip to the dentist, you’ll see a difference in an hour! Your teeth are first cleaned, then a paste applied to the surface and left on for nearly 45 minutes. Once it comes off, you’ll see the results. Depending on how discoloured your teeth are you may need to repeat the paste application soon after. Irrespective of whether you have an issue or not, a routine dental checkup is always recommended. Maintenance and regular trips to the dentist (every 6 months is what Dr. Narangoda recommends) are necessary to minimize issues. “A cleanup, that will take place during your checkup, will help reduce tartar build up and discolouration,” she says. “Keeping your teeth clean is the key. If you consistently take care of your teeth, brush and floss properly, it is not necessary to visit a doctor every 6 months.”

Sometimes all you really need is proper technique, irrespective of how often you brush your teeth. A few things to remember are to not brush too hard as the enamel can wear off, be sure to brush from the gums onward (they need attention too!) as that’s where the deposits first start from. Brush both horizontally, vertically and on the inside of your teeth — the upper and lower jaw, the inside of the upper and lower jaws, and the biting surfaces. You need to make sure that the brush reaches all the areas. Follow through with regular flossing. Yes, it sounds like a lot of work, especially when you’re late and trying to rush to the office, but it will make all the difference.

“Not many are in the habit of flossing,” shares Dr. Narangoda. “If you make this a habit, it takes about two minutes to brush and another two to floss. But, you tend to assume it takes much longer and you may skip this very important step. In the long run, it will save you a lot of time and money.” If, for instance, you obtained a permanent filling and in under one year it falls off, chances are you didn’t brush and floss adequately. This results in food particles remaining inside, decaying your teeth. Dr. Narangoda recommends skipping mouthwash unless it’s prescribed by your dentist. Instead, rinse your mouth with warm salt water when required. At the end of the day, regular visits to the dentist are important, as well as proper brushing and flossing habits. Using a toothpaste with fluoride will help avoid cavities. But, if your problems are beyond cavities, a trip to the cosmetic dentistry section at Asiri Central Hospital will be useful. The surgeons there will help determine what your issues are and what corrective measure can be taken to help you achieve a pearly, even smile.