Dr Puneet Ahuja
As the charm of Diwali fades away, Delhi-NCR has gotten enveloped in smoke and haze once again – reasons are aplenty, despite many ‘environment-friendly’ initiatives. While the Festival of Lights is associated with fireworks and crackers all over India, the effect is significantly noticed in the National Capital Region. The Air Quality Index (AQI) has already crossed the EMERGENCY mark and it alarms the worst level of pollution ever in the month of November. As a result, an advisory has been released for people to stay indoors. While one always relates harmful effects of pollution with respiratory and skin problems, we fail to imagine how hard oral health is affected by pollution as well.
The vibrant colours we see on ignition of crackers are due to presence of elements like copper, cadmium, sulphur, aluminium and barium. Toxic gases thus released on burning crackers are acidic in nature. They remain suspended in air and get dissolved in water bodies as well. Such pollutants find their way in human body along with food and result in teeth erosion. Even direct exposure to polluted air deteriorates the quality of oral health, resulting in damaging the upper layer of teeth, called enamel, and increase the chances of dental caries.
Chlorine, a major pollutant, causes pigmentation of teeth. It softens the enamel and leads to chipping of teeth. The polluted air and water quality in a particular topography has serious effects on oral health, as it may lead to several gum diseases, tooth loss and even oral cancer.
An exposure to pollution during pregnancy can affect the oral health of child significantly, since it can result in impaired mineralisation and hypodontia (less number of teeth). A delay in moral tooth eruption is just another effect.
We have numerous preventive measures to protect ourselves from adverse effects of pollution, but oral health gets minimum attention on this front. Having healthy teeth is a strong indicator of an overall well-being. A proper awareness drive is required to awaken the people and make them sensitive towards oral health.
In order to safeguard against ill effects of pollution, one must avoid going outside till the Air Quality Index improves. Simple preventive measures like brushing your teeth twice, rinsing your mouth with water at regular intervals, and flossing teeth properly should be ensured. While self- care is the best care, do not miss to pay a visit to your dentist for a complete oral check-up, this “post-Diwali” season.
Dr Ahuja is OMR dentist at Clove Dental