Bengaluru: Only six months after working in the operations department of a reputed investment bank, 26- year-old Sapna Chowdhury (name-changed), started falling sick frequently with stomach pain, digestion issues, and flu and viral infections. In addition, she had bleeding gums and ulcers in her mouth. A team of dentists found that Sapna had multiple cavities, several areas where her teeth showed signs of decay, ulcers and infected gums. Their verdict was that her bad oral health was the result of her snacking and drinking during the night.
"It is amply clear that there is a relation between oral health and night shifts. The nocturnal variation of saliva reduces at night and this impacts oral health. With so many people involved in back-end services for the West it is not just the call centre employees who work late, but also IT professionals," said Dr Srivats Bharadwaj, founder, CEO and chairman of Vatsalya Dental, who sees some five to six such cases across its clinics in the city.
Observing that that the main function of saliva is to cleanse the mouth of food, he says at night the flow of saliva slows and the cleansing effect drops by almost 50 to 75 per cent. "Anything that one eats or drinks while the mouth is dry, sticks onto every part of the teeth, inner lips and gums resulting in stagnation of food. This increases the acidic environment in the mouth, causing bacterial colonisation or dental plaque. When this happens regularly over a period of time, the oral health deteriorates," he explained.
In view of the downtrend in the oral health of people, it is crucial they understand that snacking is not good at night, he emphasises. "They should thoroughly rinse their mouth and switch to healthier eating options," he advised.
Dr Mridula Radhakrishnan, who leads dental care at Nighingales Home Health Services in the city, too advises people to stay away from caffeine, junk food and switch to munching healthy eatables if at all at night. "Brushing your teeth according to your body clock is essential and twice a day is preferable," she added.