Dental hygiene and Diseases …. Dr. Geraldine Ankrah (Dentist, Dental unit, 37 Military Hospital, Accra)

Dental Hygiene and Disease is one of the most undermined topics in the Ghanaian part of the world but the consequences of this neglect can lead to many lethal infections.
Dr. Geraldine Ankrah, a Dentist at the Dental unit at 37 Military Hospital in Accra indicated that the most common of dental diseases in Ghana is Caries (locally known as kaka).
“The World Health Organization defines caries as “localized post-eruptive pathological process of external origin, involving shortening of hard tissue and progressing to the formation of a cavity”, she stated.
She further explained that dental caries is caused by the action of acids on the enamel surface. It involves processes where acid is produced and sugars known as sucrose in foods or drinks react with bacteria present in the dental biofilm on the tooth surface.
The disease is most common in Ghana because of our generic sticky carbohydrate diet which is widely consumed by Ghanaians
This, she added that while the process affects the enamel, victims rarely experience pain and that dissuades them from seeking dental assistance. When the process is left to continue, it reaches the pulp which contains our nerves and blood vessels and that is when the pain gets deadly.
Dr. Ankrah also noted that “the Bacteria digest the food remnants on our teeth producing acids in the process.
”The acids demineralize our tooth tissue, making the hard part we see soft, and causing a hole to be formed with time”.
“The infection goes through the vessels and may spread, leading to more serious infections like Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis, a formation of blood clot at the base of the brain which drains deoxygenated blood from the brain back to the heart and the most common type, Ludwig’s Angina which comes with swellings making breathing difficult” she mentioned.
Sharing advice on how to keep good dental hygiene, Dr. Ankrah observed that Ghanaian’s understanding of ‘teeth brushing must be improved, educating that, “a hard toothbrush does not provide correct cleaning instead, it encourages gum recession”.
She further cautioned that dental diseases can be curbed by brushing the teeth twice daily, flossing after eating, and regular dental consultation for at least twice a year.
So many complications like loss of eye sight, difficulty in breathing, septicemia and subsequently death can arise from untreated caries. She therefore cautioned that seeking dental help early from dentists to correct caries is advised, instead of relying on touché (a drug which ‘kills’ the pulp where the nerves are hence providing some form of pain relieve).
The discussion was adjourned at 8:30pm and the summary presented by Mr. Ignitious Aggrey.