Preventive Dentistry
Expert tips on oral care

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a wider variety of illnesses, including oral disease.

- Dr May Sidki, Specialist Dentist (Periodontist) at Canadian Specialist Hospital

Dr May Sidki is a Specialist Dentist (Periodontist) at the Canadian Specialist Hospital, Dubai. In this article, she talks about maintaining good oral health, the benefits of using fluoride and how vitamin D deficiency is connected to several illnesses. She also provides oral care tips for smokers and elderly people.

Q&A with the periodontist

1: Can you give 10 top tips in maintaining good oral hygiene?

  • Brush for 2 minutes – twice daily
  • Floss every night
  • Use mouthwash
  • Eat healthy food choices that help keep teeth and gums well-nourished
  • Protect your teeth by wearing a mouthguard when engaging in sports
  • Do not smoke
  • Consider the use of fissure sealants to protect children’s permanent teeth from possible decay
  • Examine the inside of your mouth regularly
  • Limit the consumption of pop and sport drinks
  • Visit the dentist regularly twice a year

2: Is fluoride good or bad? How can an ordinary person determine whether or not their family is getting enough fluoride?

  • Fluoride is a chemical typically found in our bones and teeth. It is present in the air, in the soil, in rocks, plants, and even in water. It is also a popular ingredient found in many products that are related to oral hygiene like toothpaste and mouthwash. It is good and effective when used at a low percentage which is what most toothpaste and mouthwash manufacturing companies follow but like most things, it is not good when one exceeds the necessary dose.

When used in the prescribed amount, it will prevent tooth decay and fight dental cavities. An excessive amount of it however, can cause Enamel Fluorosis which is characterized by tiny white spots or more noticeable dark brown patches on the enamel surface of the tooth. In the UAE, we have it at 0.1% in our bottled drinking water.

3: Can you offer some tips for smokers to help them maintain their oral health?

Smoking can cause many serious problems for our teeth and our soft oral tissues commonly known as gums. Bacteria that accumulate in our teeth and gums due to excessive smoking can cause periodontal disease.

There are few tips smokers must follow to prevent dental and oral problems:

  • Have a regular check up with your dentist, have your teeth cleaned professionally, and watch out for any signs of developing gum diseases
  • They should brush, floss and use a tongue cleaner with mouthwash at least twice every day
  • Smokers should use a toothbrush that is designed for the trouble areas in the mouth, preferably one with bristles that can reach difficult areas between the teeth.
  • Smokers should avoid eating food that can cause staining and enamel erosion, coffee and soda are common drinks that stain the teeth
  • Avoid acidic food and drinks like citric juices as they cause enamel breakdown
  • They should perform a self-examination of long lasting sore lesions around their mouth, face, tongue and neck

4: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many health issues and over 80% of residents in UAE are vitamin D deficient. How does vitamin D deficiency affect teeth and how can one reverse the bad effects of poor oral health because of this?

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a wider variety of illnesses, including oral disease. The deficiency is mainly caused by impaired vitamin D synthesis. It is not only limited to having a direct effect on tooth mineralization, but also extends through anti-inflammatory function. Studies have shown an association between alveolar bone density (osteoporosis) and tooth loss and suggest that low bone mass may be a risk factor for periodontal disease. Vitamin D may be beneficial for oral health as it has a direct effect on bone metabolism. It also functions as an anti-inflammatory agent and stimulates the production of antimicrobial peptides

5: How can we reverse the effects of bad oral hygiene?

  • Make healthy changes in the diet and reduce sugar intake
  • Add vitamins and supplements to your diet
  • Eat food that contain natural probiotics
  • Be aware of the pH value in the food and drinks consumed
  • Develop a better oral care regime

6: What oral care routines must be taken by people in their 50s or 60s to mitigate the ageing of their teeth and gums?  

Having healthy teeth and gum makes it easy for you to (eat well) and enjoy good food. Several problems can affect the health of your mouth, but proper care should keep your gums and teeth strong even as you age. So they should avoid gum diseases and recessions, by proper brushing and flossing. People with false teeth (dentures) are required to replace badly damaged teeth, partial dentures may be used to fill in one or more missing teeth, this prosthesis should be brushed daily with denture care products and soaked with denture cleaning liquid.

On dry mouth:

Dry mouth happens when you do not have enough saliva to keep your mouth wet, it can make it hard to chew food, swallow, taste or even speak. It can accelerate tooth decay and other mouth infections. Many medicines can cure this problem, sugarless gum (Xylitol) may help and a specialist dentist may advice using artificial saliva.

7: Has Western medicine discovered any way to reduce the formation of cavities and protect teeth?

Use fluoride. It is a mineral that can help prevent tooth decay from progressing. It can even reverse, or stop tooth decay.

More Interviews