“Hello, Dr. Shilpa.. See I finally managed to convince my husband that he should visit you for a dental check up for healthy teeth. It’s been years since he has had one!!” It is always a pleasure to meet Mrs. Veena Sharma. A fifty-year-old smiling lady who reminds all of us of our favorite school teacher and that is because she is one. She teaches science and maths to high school students at a well-known school. Teaching is her passion and curiosity is her middle name. The whole team of Sparkle knows her. Of course being a science teacher she is very particular about health and hygiene and regularly visits us for scaling or cleaning of teeth. A procedure is known to improve the health of gums and in turn, increase the life of permanent teeth. Mr. Sharma was clearly brought in against his wishes But gracefully bowed to his loving wife’s wishes! After a quick check up we realized that he was one of the blessed souls who does not need much dental treatment to keep his teeth healthy. While discussing his treatment needs in the consulting room I told this happy news to Mrs. Sharma and she looked doubtful.

“How is it possible Shilpa? I know he has not even had a dental check up for years. How can he not need any treatment? Even cleaning of teeth is not urgent you said. Are you sure?” I realized Mrs. Sharma was concerned as well as curious about this unexplained mystery. So I had to tell her in detail. “See through our bodies basically function the same way, still there are some differences between us as individuals. For example, I and my sister may look the same but medically we are different. She has a delicate stomach and has to be very careful of what she eats. But not me! I, on the other hand, suffer from a cough and cold at every minor weather change but she does not!! Similarly, Mr. Sharma has been a lucky man because his mouth as such is almost perfect though he is not extremely careful about oral hygiene!! Lucky because very few people fall into this category.” This everyday example made sense to her but Mrs. Sharma was still curious. “Then what is different in me that makes me need regular teeth cleaning appointment in spite of me being more regular at twice a day brushing?”

“See our mouth is unique. It is constantly bathing in saliva. And saliva is like water from a well. It has lots and lots of salts dissolved in it. Now, what will happen if I allow well water to stand in a copper container for a long time? The salts will settle down (or in scientific language precipitate), right? Same happens in the mouth. Saliva pools near tongue and calcium from saliva precipitates on teeth. Once this happens then you have to visit a dentist to clean these salts cause toothbrush can’t remove these..” Speaking to a science teacher has its advantage. She clearly understood what I was talking about.

“Do you mean to say he does not need cleaning so much because his saliva composition is different from mine?” she asked.

“Precisely! ” I say.

“If the salt layer that settles on my teeth is kept as it is and not to remove then what will happen?” I suddenly felt like I was appearing for my final year oral exam all over again But we and Sparkle believe that a well-informed patient deserves scientifically correct answers and we tried our best to explain.

“The salts that settle near tooth and gum margin irritate the gum. An irritate gum starts bleeding easily, becomes red, appears swollen and becomes weak. It also moves lower down on root and we call it receded gum and bad part about it is… All this is absolutely painless. Another thing, there are many ways of saving a carious tooth but a tooth that has a weak foundation or gum is not saved so easily. So we advise patients to visit for cleaning of teeth as soon as they notice salt deposition and never to wait for the pain to develop as it almost never does!! Once a tooth becomes shaky due to weak gums its difficult to make it firm.”

“So, in short, my husband gets away with skipping dental visits and his irregular night brushing but I do not!! All because he is immune to gum diseases? Life is surely not fair!” Mrs. Sharma seemed resigned to her fate. But she was also happy to know that her worries about her hubby’s dental health were unnecessary. Something tells me Mr. Sharma is going to be happy he visited Sparkle! In fact, he is going to wish he had visited it sooner!!!

Dr. Gauri S

Consultant Periodontist