It is ironic that amongst all the experiences that we relate to pain, root canals top the list. However, lets bust that myth. Well, how much pain can you feel when your jaw has been numbed with anaesthesia? The pain associated with a root canal actually comes from the infection and disease that youve ignored not the procedure itself. The truth is, good teeth and oral health are really a case of prevention over cure. Starting from early childhood up until the end of your life, regular visits to the dentist, coupled with awareness and proper care can go a long way in ensuring you never ever have to get yourself that root canal!In November last year, the WHO released a report, which shows that nearly half the world suffers from some type of oral disease. Of this, 75 per cent live in low- and middle-income countries. As part of the goal set by the World Health Assembly for Universal Oral Health Coverage by 2020, the report also listed the barriers to this goal, such as cost, lack of specialised providers, and tackling disparities. The most common oral health issues were listed - tooth decay, tooth loss, and severe gum disease. It is interesting to note that women are more prone to these diseases than men; on the upside though, they seem to realise this and tend to take better care of their mouths!Dr Shilfa Nigar, chief dental surgeon at Apollo Dental ECR believes that oral and dental care is for everyone, but women need to keep a few extra pointers in mind while looking after their teeth and gums. Here are some key pointers we must take into consideration according to Dr Nigar:1) Women need to go to the dentist once every six months for teeth cleaning, as we are more prone to gum infections, bleeding and gum disease than men are. Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, menopause can all cause fluctuating blood supply to the gums. In fact, bleeding gums just before and during your periods can sometimes occur, and this usually reduces soon after your periods. Mouth ulcers are also another common occurrence during this time. So regular teeth cleaning is a must.2) Brush using a white toothpaste, not a coloured one or a herbal one as many brands advertise. Also, how you brush makes all the difference. Dont brush from side to side; this is a common mistake that a lot of women (and men!) make. Rather, use gentle up-and-down movements to brush. Two minutes of brushing with moderate pressure should do. Some people brush for five minutes or above this is a strict no-no as youre stripping your teeth of the protective enamel layer. And yes, a soft-bristled brush is very important.3) Flossing is another important step in your oral health routine to remove food particles and debris from between the teeth. Although string floss is still very common, I would recommend that women use the water flosser. The string floss can sometimes be abrasive for the gums and cause bleeding and sensitivity. The water flosser is a spray that aims jets of water between the teeth and cleans the area without the abrasion caused by the string floss. Please dont share your water flosser with anyone else just like your toothbrush, it is sacred!4) Dilute mouthwash with water before rinsing your mouth with it. Swirl for a few seconds before you spit it out. However, mouthwash is just an added safety precaution. They are not a substitute for other essentials such as brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist for a half-yearly cleaning.4) Eat a diet that is rich in calcium and Vitamin D for strong teeth. Include leafy green vegetables and protein-rich foods on your plate. If you have a sweet tooth, avoid colas, desserts and other artificially-sweetened food. Instead, eat plenty of fresh fruits.She adds, 'Dental treatments can be conducted during pregnancies in special cases. You have to tell your dentist that youre pregnant so that adequate safety measures can be taken. Ideally, treatments should be avoided during the first and third trimesters. Based on your gynaecologists green signal, some treatments are safe during the second trimester. You may encounter loose teeth during your pregnancy as well, but this usually settles down post-delivery if youve given your teeth the proper care they need all through.'A survey conducted by the Government College of Dentistry in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, revealed that 60 per cent of pregnant women in Central India had dental problems and no proper access to healthcare. Data published by the Indian Dental Association reveals that there is one dentist for every 9,000 people in urban areas, and one for every 2,00,000 people in rural areas. So while 80 per cent of dentists live in urban areas, 70 per cent of Indias population lives in rural areas. In addition, 62 per cent of registered dental surgeons are concentrated in just six states Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry. Even in health policies that are formulated in India, other, more pressing issues always tend to feature prominently while oral and dental health takes a backseat.According to gynaecologist Kaveri Prakash, women face difficulties in dental health at every stage of their lives, because their bodies and hormones are constantly changing. She says, Women dont realise that oral health is impacted by factors other than your daily care and hygiene routines. The first major hurdle is puberty. Young girls going through this can contract gum disease more easily because of the increasing estrogen levels in their blood. They are also more susceptible to cavities and bad breath. The second hurdle is pregnancy. If youre already prone to gum disease, be extra careful with your daily routine since dental treatment during this period is not advised. Morning sickness throws up stomach acids during your first trimester, which can strip your teeth off its protective enamel layer. Acidity and heartburn can also cause damage. It is important to consult your dentist for a proper preventive plan if you are suffering from any of these symptoms. Finally, with menopause comes the loss of bone density and tooth health. Start taking your calcium supplements in your 30s to mitigate this eventuality. This will help delay dental implants and dentures by a few years or decades.