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Oral Health is Overall Health

Often, as children, we were encouraged and compelled by our parents to ensure that we brushed and flossed our teeth twice a day. Although many of us back then might not have understood the insistence of our parents to inculcate these habits into us, as we got older we started to appreciate the good oral hygiene habits that we were exposed to.

1. Why is oral hygiene necessary?

Our oral and maxillofacial (jaws and face) components consist of 32 adult teeth and the upper and lower gums. When referring to oral health and oral hygiene, it is generally understood to reflect the condition of the teeth and gums.

The oral and maxillofacial cavity forms the starting point of our digestive system. Without the process of chewing of the jaws and the teeth, we would not be able to eat or digest the food that is necessary for our sustenance. In order to ensure that the rest of our body maintains its functions using the nutrition we derive from food, we first need to ensure that our teeth and gums are pain free and well maintained. Poorly managed oral hygiene can lead to conditions such as cavities, loss of teeth and gum inflammation that hinder our ability to eat healthy food.

The hindrance to eating however only forms the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the detrimental effects of poor oral hygiene. Some of the most common oral diseases and conditions are:

* Dental cavities: According to the WHO, 60% – 90% of school children and a 100% of adults worldwide have cavities that become a source of pain and discomfort.

* Periodontal disease: More commonly known as gum disease, is a condition in which the gums become red and inflamed in response to a bacterial infection and spread to the bone.

* Tooth loss: The direct effects of long term cavities and gum disease is the loss of teeth, especially true in older adults.

* Oral cancer: Regular consumption of alcohol, smoking and tobacco use, along with sub-standard oral hygiene can serve as a cause of oral cancer.

The aforementioned dental disorders are a direct result of poor oral hygiene. However, the consequences of bad oral hygiene can extend to other parts of the body as well. Not taking care of teeth and gums can result in the bacteria entering the blood stream and subsequently causing more serious illnesses such as:

* Cardiovascular disease

* Dementia

* Respiratory infections

* Diabetic complications

Without the practice of good oral hygiene, it is very difficult to prevent and combat the onset of any of the above conditions. It is highly recommended to visit a dentist to get their advice on how to improve your oral health on experiencing any discomfort within the mouth or jaw area.

2. What are the causes of dental disorders?

The risk factors for oral and maxillofacial disorders include an unhealthy diet, tobacco use and excess alcohol consumption. Within the context of the GCC and UAE, tobacco use stands out as a pertinent factor

in the cause of various teeth and gum disorders. According to the World Conference on Tobacco or Health, approximately 25% to 30% of adult males in the UAE smoked tobacco.

Smoking tobacco is one of the most widespread causes for the development of periodontal disease. Studies have shown that smoking tobacco products can hasten the spread and severity of gum disease. Furthermore it was shown that it was more difficult to treat periodontal and other disorders in patients who smoked. However, the greatest health threat that smokers face is, oral cancer. Smokers are six times more likely to develop oral cancer, studies have shown that nearly 90% of patients diagnosed with mouth or throat cancer had a history of smoking tobacco.

Apart from direct causes, the prevalence of oral diseases also depend on geographical region, availability and accessibility of oral health services and social determinants of oral health.

3. What does good oral hygiene entail?

Many individuals, despite having healthy diets and not partaking in the consumption of liquor or tobacco could still fall victim to bad oral hygiene. Dental professionals undertake a holistic view that combines good oral care with a healthy lifestyle. Good oral hygiene can be practiced using the following steps:

* Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste: Dentists recommend brushing twice daily; before breakfast and after dinner. This is to ensure that the bacteria and plaque that accumulate during the day and while sleeping, are gotten rid of immediately.

* Floss daily: Many people tend to skip this vital step. Flossing helps remove tiny food particles, plaque and bacteria that have lodged themselves in areas of the teeth that a brush cannot reach.

* Eat a healthy diet: The consumption of fast food and fizzy drinks can lead to wear of the enamel resulting in sensitivity eventually resulting in cavities and tooth pain. Increased exposure to confectionaries, unhealthy dietary practices and improper oral hygiene is a major cause of dental caries in children. Professional fluoride application and use of pit and fissure sealants help preventing tooth decay in children.

* Replace your toothbrush: The effectiveness of a toothbrush starts to wane after 3 to 4 months. Dentists recommend replacing a toothbrush once you notice a slight fade in the color of the bristles.

* Avoid tobacco use: Tobacco is one of the leading causes of dental and maxillofacial disorders in the UAE. Tobacco in any form increases the risk of gum disease. A smoker is twice as likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers.

* Diabetes: High blood glucose can worsen gum problems. Diabetes is a chronic condition causing various other health conditions. Keeping good control over blood glucose levels in vital for oral health.

Practicing proper dental hygiene is extremely important in more ways than one. Encourage your family to practice good oral hygiene by brushing twice every day, flossing daily and using a mouth wash to kill bacteria. These practices, coupled with regular visits to a dentist can go a long way in preventing the onset of serious dental and other health disorders. In order to create a greater awareness about oral health and hygiene, countries of the GCC have established the GCC Oral Health Unified Week that takes place every year in the last week of March.

From the 26th to the 31st of March, countries of the GCC host a variety of activities and events aimed at promoting good oral hygiene in order to commemorate the GCC Oral Health Unified week. With the systemic rise in oral and dental disorders, health ministers of the various GCC countries decided to adopt the resolution of conduction a dental awareness campaign for one week, every year. This year as well the GCC Oral Health Unified Week will reach out to both local and expatriate residents in order to raise awareness about good oral hygiene and talk about ways to prevent dental disorders.


Dr. Nisha Velayudhan

GP Dentist

Aster Clinic, Al Nahda




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Men's Health

5 most common yet ignored men’s health conditions


1. Cardiovascular diseases

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are a class of conditions involving the heart and affecting arteries, blood vessels, veins etc. that could cause heart attacks or strokes. Cerebrovascular heart diseases, affecting the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain, congenital heart disease causing malformation of the structure of the heart since birth, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism causing blood clots in the leg veins are common CVD.

While conditions of the heart are  among leading causes of deaths in the world, they are generally ignored because heart diseases can even occur with symptoms that do not involve the heart at all. Something that seem as simple as snoring, gum bleeding or fatigue could be a symptom of heart problems.

Common symptoms

Symptoms causing heart diseases can manifest itself in any part of the body. These include sweating, inflammation and shortness of breath. Discomfort in the chest for a few hours, severe pain in the neck, jaw, heartbeat that is slower or faster than usual, fainting, changes in vision and loss of coordination include important signs that show up.



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Young business man holding his lower back at work

Lose the Back Pain at Work

In today’s time and age with the wide scale spread of the corporate culture, the majority of the people spend their days working at a desk and in front of a laptop. Despite not having to do anything physical or strenuous that might strain the back directly, this makes people susceptible to back pain irrespective of the age. Long working hours coupled with long commutes only serve to exacerbate the gradual damage that can be caused by having a bad posture.

The ill-effects of sitting with poor posture for a few hours is not immediate, but over time the stress that poor posture places on your spine can lead to anatomical changes in your spine. This, in turn, can provoke back pain through the constriction of your blood vessels and nerves. Back pain due to poor posture is characterised by the following symptoms, firstly, it is worse at certain times of the day. Secondly, it starts in the neck and moves down to the upper and lower back. Thirdly, the pain subsides once you switch positions or stand. And finally, it might coincide with a chair or a new car. However, despite the ill effects of slouching during work or while driving, there are a few remedies to prevent the onset of back pain. These include;

  • Straighten your head: Ensure that your head is straight above your neck and shoulders. Straining forward to work on your laptop can put pressure on your spine.
  • Change the position of your mouse: Your mouse should be right next to your keyboard. This prevents your wrist and shoulder from over-reaching and twisting.
  • Pick a comfortable chair: Pick a chair with good back support and a comfortable cushion at the base so that your tailbone is not subjected to additional pressure.
  • Adopt the correct breathing posture: Make sure that when inhaling your stomach moves outwards, away from the spine. And when exhaling, it comes inwards towards the spine. A correct breathing posture maintains the stability of the core, which in turn maintains a correct form for the upper body.
  • Sit within reach: Sitting too far away from the laptop can cause you to lean forward while typing and reading, thereby resulting in a curved back which would gradually manifest itself as your default posture while sitting.
  • Feet on the floor: Ensure that your feet are planted on the floor in order to ease the tension in your knees and ankles. When your feet are planted on the floor it also ensures that you lean back and use the lumbar support of your chair.
  • Take breaks: Getting up to use the washroom, to walk till the water cooler or even to stretch reduces pressure on the spinal disks and boost circulation.
  • Stretch your shoulders: Shoulder rolls and shoulder raises help to make your neck more flexible and allows for a greater blood circulation.
  • Do not sit cross-legged: Sitting cross-legged makes it difficult to keep your spine straight and shoulders squared, and you risk overstretching the muscles around the pelvis, increasing your risk of varicose veins by interrupting blood flow.
  • Do not cradle your phone: Cradling your phone while multitasking puts enormous strain on your neck. This should be prevented by using a Bluetooth headset or headphones.

Most of us get backaches at some point in time caused by repeated activities at work or at home. There is a lot that can be done to prevent this from happening. Being physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight are ideally important to have a healthy lifestyle. In addition to this certain simple practices by maintaining a good posture can help go a long way. However, if any of these practices do cause increased pain, it is best to consult a physician.

Dr. Abul Kalam Kolangara Parambath

Specialist General Medicine

Aster Clinic, Abu Hail  

Dr. Abul Kalam - Abu Hail



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World kidney day

Obesity Fuels Chronic Kidney Diseases

A health survey conducted by the Dubai Health Authority in collaboration with the Dubai Statistics Centre revealed that 11.9% of people in Dubai suffer from obesity.[i] The growing issue of obesity plays a key role in reducing people’s life expectancy and causes several severe health conditions. Obesity is a combination of factors including high calorie intake, lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle practices etc. Obesity is now a growing phenomenon across the globe and is one of the key factors responsible for a number of chronic diseases including kidney diseases.

Obesity causes mortality due to diabetes, stroke, conditions of the heart, certain cancers etc. However, a rarely discussed and rather unknown fact is the link between obesity and its consequences on the kidney. Obesity is directly linked to chronic kidney diseases (CKD) and its progression because obesity facilitates diabetes and hypertension which are the two common causes of kidney conditions. Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most used parameter to determine obesity, however, the waist circumference or waist to hip ratio is a better indicator of chronic health conditions. Obesity influences chronic kidney conditions in two ways; an obese individual is at a higher risk of diabetes and high BP which are causative factors of CKD. On the other hand, an obese individual’s kidneys will have to function much harder for the process of filtration in order to meet the demands of a person with higher BMI. An obese individual can also be at the risk of having kidney failure.

Obesity is reported to be one of the leading causes for chronic kidney conditions and end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The end stage of chronic kidney conditions is called ESRD when they kidneys are no longer able to function to its ability on a daily basis.

The most common kidney damaging conditions are;

Polycystic kidneys: is a condition where a person has multiple cysts in the kidneys causing it to enlarge. This condition is generally a birth defect.

Kidney stones: or Nephrolithiasis are hard mineral deposits made of acid salts that form inside the kidney or urinary tract. People who take medicines for gout are at a risk of kidney stones, dehydration is also a cause for the condition.

Proteinuria: a condition developed when there is abnormal protein in the urine. Albumin is a protein found in the human blood because the body needs it to fight infections, build muscle etc. The function of the human kidney is to filter the blood and remove things that aren’t required by the body. There will be an underlying cause for proteinuria which needs evaluation.

Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis: is a condition caused by scarring of the kidney. This condition may be caused due to primary or secondary reasons. The primary reason of scarring being no obvious cause, the secondary reason may be caused by another pre-existing condition, a prescribed drug, obesity or any other underlying condition.

Glomerulonephritis: is a condition causing inflammation of the Glomeruli (the kidney cell). This can lead to Hypertension, blood in the urine and proteinuria. In certain cases, this can progress to acute kidney failure.

It is extremely important to keep your kidney healthy for it to function to its full capability. Your blood sugar needs to be in control, failing which will cause diabetes. Keeping your body and mind fit by staying active helps in keeping the body fit and healthy. Water is key to prevent kidney conditions, drinking water flushes out the toxins from the kidneys and reduces the chance of kidney stones. Smoking is a causative factor for a number of health conditions, and it is always best to quit it. Certain over the counter medications may also cause kidney damage. This does not mean that they should not be taken at all, however, a physician must be consulted before self-medication. Routine medical checks are important to screen for chronic kidney conditions and for those who aren’t aware of the health risks they have. An obese individual must be aware of the positive impacts of losing weight which will include prevention and reduction of various chronic health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases and kidney conditions.

Every year, March 9th is celebrated as World Kidney Day with the aim of educating people about the importance of kidney health and the diseases associated with the kidney. This year World Kidney Day goes by the theme of ‘kidney disease and obesity’ because obesity is a potential risk factor for kidney diseases which is an unknown fact. Obesity and chronic kidney conditions are both preventable, upon undertaking healthy lifestyle practices. This kidney day lets us all promise ourselves to ensure adopting and advocating healthy lifestyle practices to beat the harmful health consequences of obesity and related kidney diseases.

Dr. John Cherian Varghese

Specialist Nephrologist 

Aster Clinic & Hospital 

Dr. John Cherian

[i] –  http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/health/survey-12-of-dubai-population-is-obese-1.1838295


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