Brush smart, not hard
Do you find chunks of the person's last meal when you do check-ups?
Yes, most of the time you can find traces of chocolate, sticky toffee, vegetables and meat. I've even found fish bones and hair without the patient realising.
Just by looking at a person's teeth or smile, what can you diagnose?
Besides checking for tooth decay and gum disease, a person's teeth can also tell age, gender, dietary habits, smoking history and medical conditions like blood disorders and even cancer.
White teeth: Is it an ideal conjured up by marketing folks?
Teeth whitening has become the most requested procedure in cosmetic dentistry today.
But tooth bleaching is not a modern invention. Ancient Romans, for example, used urine and goat's milk in an attempt to make and keep their teeth whiter.
How much toothpaste do we really need on our toothbrushes?
Toothbrushing twice a day with a pea-size amount is most effective.
I always tell my patients that if they don't brush before bed, the bacteria will have a wonderful feast.
A gentle mini-scrub technique with very short horizontal movements to dislodge plaque at the gum margins is effective. Avoid excessive pressure as it may lead to gum recession and tooth sensitivity. Hence brush smart, not brush hard.
What's the weirdest question someone's asked you about dentistry or their condition?
"Pull out all my teeth, and just give me dentures", and "If I pull out my teeth, will my face sag or will I lose my memory?"
What bothers me is when there is a medical problem which the patient understands, but refuses or delays treatment until he has consulted his family, friends, girlfriend or fengshui consultant.
So, halitosis. What do you do to deal with it? Politely?
The odour is often caused by bacteria present below the gumline and on the back of the tongue. The remaining 10 per cent is accounted for by many different conditions, including disorders in the nasal cavity, sinuses, throat, lungs, oesophagus, stomach or elsewhere.
Very rarely, halitosis can be one of many symptoms of a serious underlying medical condition such as liver failure. Management of halitosis includes gentle cleaning of the tongue surface, proper oral hygiene, a healthy breakfast, chewing gum and probiotics.
Flossing is a pain in the neck for most of us. Why do we have to do it?
Flossing and alcohol-free mouthwashes are aids to good plaque control. Flossing is needed to clean interdental spaces which can't be reached by a toothbrush. I don't sleep till I floss.
What is the grossest thing you have seen?
Probably a condition called oral myiasis, where there is an infestation of larvae and maggots in the mouth. I've also had cases of very bad infections of the jawbone (osteomyelitis) ending up with jaws being removed.
What's the best thing about your job?
I feel satisfied if my patients walk out of my clinic pain-free, with a smile and renewed confidence with their teeth - be it a very simple routine of scaling and polishing, or a major jaw reconstruction. These patients become friends for life.
Dr Baldev Singh is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Gleneagles Medical Centre