Dental Care: What are the Functions of Teeth?

In Indian Ayurvedic literature record of decayed teeth and gum diseases have been described. Sushruta, an ancient old surgeon has given a wonderful description of teeth and gum diseases. He states that pyorrhoea is due to obstruction of blood-flow to the teeth and their supporting structures. It causes oozing of pus and looseness of tooth, it should be treated with herbal medicines. If the treatment is inadequate, the tooth should be removed. These methods indicate that he knew the gum-disease treatment including removal of tooth. This proves that he was not only a general surgeon but also a dentist. To my knowledge Sushruta is the first dentist of the world.

Around the year 1920 concept of dental health originated in India. Gradually the preservation and prevention of dental diseases started. The physicians started taking a keen interest in dental problems associated with over-all health of the patient. The oral cavity is analogous to other body cavities. All of them are governed by the same physio-chemical laws and physiologic principles and have a common source of nourishment.

Health tends to be appreciated only when it is impaired. Early symptoms of disease frequently go unnoticed or are regarded as of no significance. This tendency applies to dental disease also. Every fourth Indian is having a gum problem and every second Indian is threatened by it. Don’t get surprised? This increase is not due to increase in population but due to high consumption of soft drink and fast food, which makes teeth & gum less defensive. Moreover the soft food is wedged between the teeth.

Irregular Cleaning of teeth causes germs to proliferate causing decayed teeth. This pattern is playing a havoc not only with health of elderly but with that younger generation too. In India there is no primary preventive dental care, in addition people are reluctant due to ignorance and negligence. And when the tooth says goodbye they wake-up to realize the punishment. They still feel that this is duty of dentist and the drugs given to them will cure the gum diseases. They have their general health to maintain, oral hygiene is out of their reach. Well informed, intelligent and cautious person will naturally take initiative if he has knowledge of the symptoms of gum disease.

Dental health services need to be more integrated with general health services. Since oral diseases are preventable, all oral health personnel must be involved in the prevention and solution of oral health problems. This calls for a sound working relationship among physicians, dentists, nurses, dental technicians, dieticians, social workers and paramedical personnel.

Other major obstacle is the undramatic nature ol most dental diseases. Dental decay (caries of teeth) hints ol alleasl pain sensation but the gum disease symptoms are painless.

What are the Functions of Teeth ?

1. Mastication
First the food is cut and pierced by the teeth. Then it is chewed so that it is easy to swallow.

2. Support
The teeth give a sound support with the help of jaw bones to the facial structures.

3. Protection and guidance
The teeth protect the dust, germs and any foreign objects entering in the mouth with the help of lips.

4. Appearance
With their pearly white glaze they give elegant appearance.

5. Holding
It serves purpose of holding an item, like pipe, cigar etc.

Responsibility of a Dentist

Although most of the treatment procedures now employed require a highly developed technical ability and are based on broad biological concepts, they require good clinical judgement and call for a thorough understanding of the patient’s attitude, economical background and education. Restoration of a tooth on a partial or full denture is no more a mechanical procedure than is tonsilectomy or nailing of a fractured femur. All require knowledge of the anatomic structures and the physiological functions of the affected parts in relation to the body as a whole.

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