Young people in particular spend a lot of time and effort on their looks, to follow actual trends or their own style. This is evidenced by the tons of new clothes, make up, and other accessories, which fill the storefronts of boutiques day in and day out. They spend a lot of time on the colour and style of their hair, not to mention their nails. But what about their teeth?
Although a smile can be the most important aspect of your appearance, it can be stated that oral hygiene is the area most neglected by the youth of today, even though it is a vital part of appearance. Often times the front teeth, which are always visible and in plain view are kept in order, the back teeth are frequently decayed or damaged, due to improper oral hygiene.
Dr. Katalin Polgár is one of the dentists at Forest and Ray, and started practicing at our Budapest clinic this spring. Since then we have seen that she is an incredibly charming person, an awesome colleague, and an excellent dentist. We asked her why these problems persist among young people, among other things. In this interview she speaks from experience, and gives tons of useful tips and valuable insight on trends in oral hygiene among young people.
What is your opinion about the general status of your patient’s mouths?
Most Hungarian patients are very ignorant of oral hygiene in general. They have no idea that we are one of the leaders among European nations in the development of oral cancer, for example. They are ignorant of proper at home oral care techniques, and are afraid of dentists. They have bad instincts and are distrustful of doctors and of dentists in particular.
What kind of problems do you usually come across during consultation and diagnosis?
Mots problems stem from teeth that need a root canal treatment, and wisdom tooth related ills are also quite common, which people are afraid to get removed. Around 80-90% of patients have tartar; getting these removed regularly is one of the most basic elements of oral hygiene.
Out of 10 patients, how many need more serious dental treatment?
Usually around 7-8 out of 10 people I see in Hungary would greatly benefit from more serious dental treatments. This is a pretty big number. I am sad to say that our oral health is much worse than the European average.
Do you see any specific division based on age? Do young people or middle aged people have worse teeth?
The truth is young people have more and more dental problems. The older you are the less problems there are because of tooth loss. The main problem is the disintegration of the jawbone because of tooth loss, these cases need more serious interventions, like bone grafts and sinus lifts if the teeth are to be replaced.
What is your subjective opinion of the patients?
I frequently encounter young adults who are in perfect condition everywhere outside of their mouths. They spend a lot of time, money and effort on their looks, but do not spend any time on their teeth. They think that what is not visible on a day to day basis cannot be that important. This is far from the truth, because even if you neglect your health, your teeth are a vital part of your smile, which is very important in terms of looks.
Middle aged patients tend to be more conscious of their health. They come to me to get treatment for an existing problem, whereas younger patients usually only come in when there is already pain or visible decay.
Tips for preserving teeth
Winter is coming, and hot drinks and sweets will be on the menu for many people. Does the cold season require a heightened awareness of oral health?
The same rules apply as always: brush ta least twice a day, use dental floss, and go to see your dentist once every six months. It is important to not brush too vigorously, as this will ruin your enamel. This makes teeth sensitive to hot and cold, making winter a very uncomfortable season indeed.
An interesting fact is that spring and fall are when we see a rise in patients, usually, and I think it is due to the fact that New Year’s resolutions start to really take effect by then, and people usually come back from vacation in the fall with dental problems.
What positive or negative experiences have changed the way you practice dentistry?
Most of my experiences are personal victories. Most of the times my patients come in terrified, and by the time they leave the chair, they are grateful that they have come. They understand that their health is the most important thing when it comes to dental treatments, and that there is no need ot be afraid of dental treatments. Patients have returned to our dental practice with small gifts and tokens of gratitude, these are much appreciated and make us feel great.
Common misconceptions regarding dentistry
What misconceptions would you like to dispel? What are the most common misconceptions and things that are being done wrong in the world of oral care?
Many people believe that once you get a tooth filled, you will never have a problem with it ever again. Another surprising misconception is that you only need to visit the dentist when you are already in pain. It would be great if patients would forget these ideas, as teeth are already inflamed when they hurt, and inflamed tissues will have a harder time absorbing anaesthetic, thus treatment can become more painful.
The most common problem comes during at home oral care, as most people brush way too hard, and they spend way too much time brushing tooth surfaces that clean themselves (because they are in constant contact with the lips and tongue), and they neglect the gaps, which is where tooth decay usually spreads from. If you take molars for example, of the 5 surfaces only 3 can be effectively cleaned with a toothbrush. This means only about 60% of our teeth are cleaned properly. This is in ideal cases, as without proper technique event hat 60Í% will be done haphazardly. It is thus very important to clean the sides facing other teeth with dental floss and mouthwash, only in this way can we be sure that our at home routine is satisfactory.
Don’t use alcoholic mouthwash either, as these dry out the mucus membranes, which keeps the mouth clean naturally.
Prevention and the importance of routine check-ups
Most dental problems can be prevented by attending regular, half year check-ups, and the small conservative dental treatments that are performed at these sessions. Would you care to comment on this? How often do you think people who have undergone a given treatment (for example, root canal treatment) should go and see their dentist for check-ups?
We can determine the condition of fillings and prostheses like crowns and bridges at these appointments, and we can spot a problem and replace a filling before there is a problem. Getting your fillings replaced every 5 years is a great idea though, as the space between the filling and the tooth can become infected and decayed. This is not due to any problems with the fillings, this is simply because fillings shrink over time.
A properly root canaled tooth should last you a lifetime, so if there are no problems with it in the future, you should not have to get more treatment on that tooth.
The holidays are coming, so I feel I must mention to everyone to be really aware of their teeth, as there will be sweets and nuts galore. It is wise to visit your dentist before the holidays for a check-up, to make sure you can fully enjoy them without the threat of toothache. I wish all of our patients happy holidays and a successful New Year!