Choosing the right toothbrush

There are many different options of toothbrushes currently on the market. The most important things to look at before purchasing is: toothbrush head size and bristle softness.
Always look for a toothbrush with a smaller head – this will enable you to get to the back teeth and the hard to reach places a bit easier. Soft or ultra-soft bristles are also advisable, anything harder than this could potentially cause damage to the enamel tooth structure particularly if used with the incorrect technique.
A powered/electric toothbrush is a good alternative to a manual toothbrush. It can do a better job of cleaning the teeth, especially for those who have difficulty brushing or who have limited manual dexterity.

Charcoal, friend or foe?

A recent trend in oral health has been that of using charcoal to accompany or even replace toothpastes however there are some risks associated with it’s use.
Charcoal is very abrasive and as a result can affect the surface of the teeth by beginning to wear away the shiny and protective outer layer (enamel) of the tooth. This damage can lead to abrasion wear facets, a matte/scuffed looking enamel and sensitivity. As well as wearing away the enamel of the tooth abrasion can also wear away the gums and cause recession, making the tooth appear longer and possibly exposing the neck of the tooth which is generally darker in colour than the enamel and more open to sensitivity.
In some cases charcoal may have a negative effect in the mouth including discolouration of non-natural material such as filling material. Some people, especially those that experience minor abrasions and ulcers may find that their soft tissue is also affected by charcoal as it may cause some irritation to these areas.
Studies are being currently being conducted and early results are showing that on a microscopic level the abrasives in charcoal products are doing significantly more damage to the surface enamel of the teeth than a standard toothpaste. There have been no proven studies to show whether clinically the charcoal in these products are effective in tooth whitening, oral hygiene and prevention.

Why are ‘baby’ teeth so important?

It can be difficult to get kids on board with brushing and taking care of their teeth and while they do lose their deciduous (baby) teeth the early habits and oral conditions can have an effect on the permanent adult teeth that follow them.
Teeth aid in a child’s ability to smile, speak, chew and gives structure to the face all of these things can affect a child’s social interactions and self-esteem. They are space maintainers for the permanent teeth so that they may hopefully be guided into the correct position in the mouth and promote correct oral health behaviours that will be used for a lifetime.
To aid the baby teeth it is important to look at several factors including:
Diet – while diet has an effect on oral hygiene it can also change when a child is severely affected by caries as children may be continuing to eat foods that have a negative impact on oral health or may turn to softer easier to chew foods. Be sure to monitor a child’s sugar intake as sugar is metabolised by the bacteria that is able to create decay.
Systemic disease – certain diseases such as diabetes can have an effect on oral health both at a young age and later in life. Building good habits at a young age will aid in allowing children to keep their teeth healthy and hopefully prevent need for major dental work.
Brushing and flossing – it is important to brush twice per day (morning and night), when plaque builds up on the teeth for prolonged periods of time it can begin to affect the enamel surface of the tooth. This change will first it will appear as a new white spot on the tooth (at this stage if it is kept clean it may not result in a cavity) and after this may further progress into a cavity. It is important to brush your child’s teeth from the appearance of the first baby tooth up until an age where they have the dexterity to brush alone. Assisted/shared brushing is advised even to the age of 8-9 often with the adult doing the nightly brush and the child being allowed to handle the morning one. After ceasing to brush it is still important to monitor the child/adolescence’s teeth so that a high standard of oral health can be achieved.
Behaviour – there are several behaviours that can affect the placement of the teeth and the promotion of jaw growth including sucking on a dummy or thumb, a tongue thrust, clenching and grinding and open mouth breathing. Each of these actions may have an effect on baby teeth but may also have long term consequences and effects on adult teeth that may require intervention at a later point.
Taking children for regular dental check-ups (especially when nothing is wrong) is an important step in building trust, pointing out any areas of concern early and creating a good hygiene habit for later life. Early dental visits can make intervention much easier on the child, parent and practitioner as they have previous good experiences to reflect back upon.

Why does my dentist ask for my medical history every visit?

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When first attending a new dental surgery, patients will be asked a series of questions regarding their health including things such as allergies, previous dental history, previous and current medical history including conditions and medications, smoking status and even dietary information.
All allergies are important to disclose as there may be products that are used in a patient’s mouth that contain surprising ingredients or agents that a patient may react to; this includes food, medication, preservatives, dyes, metals, minerals and compounds.
While some questions may seem trivial they play an important role in the dental experience. There are some conditions and surgeries for which a patient may be required to take antibiotic covers before any treatment these may include some heart conditions, joint replacements and prosthetics or as advised by a GP or specialist.
Oral disease can be affected by the state of one’s oral health and vice versa, poor oral hygiene has been linked as a contributing factor for conditions such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s and therefore may require some thorough attention. Alternatively, conditions and lifestyle choices such as diabetes, systemic disorders, radiation therapy, diet, alcohol intake and smoking status can affect the teeth, gums and tissues of the mouth and may explain some changes that are observed over subsequent appointments.
Medications play a significant role in the treatment of oral disease, there are a high number of medications that cause xerostomia (dry mouth) which can have a significant impact on some patients. Certain medications such as those to treat osteoporosis (such as Prolia) and blood thinners (such as Warfarin) may require treatment such as extractions to be delayed to lower the risk of bone necrosis or excessive bleeding.
All medical information is confidential and kept on record for the purposes of dental treatment.

What are veneers?

Veneers are a thin layer of material that sits on the front surface of the tooth to change it’s appearance. They can be used to improve the appearance of the teeth including colour, shape and position by coating the surface in a thin layer of porcelain or composite.
Porcelain veneers are prepared and fitted over two appointments, they are more robust, have a high lustre and require less maintenance however they may still chip or break with certain habits such as a heavy bite, fingernail biting and grinding.
Composite veneers are more cost effective and can be completed in a single appointment (depending on the number of teeth), they are colour matched to each patient’s needs using several shades of composite material for a great aesthetic result. This material requires some maintenance and polishing and is slightly more prone to chipping than porcelain.
To find out whether veneers are suitable for you feel free to make an appointment with us on (02) 4324 1181.

How do I know if I have gum disease?

The signs and symptoms associated with gum disease will vary from person to person but may include:
– Tender gums
– Red or purple appearance of the gums around the teeth
– Bleeding when brushing or flossing
– Bad breath (halitosis)
– Swollen or spongey looking gums
– Recession
– Suppuration (pus)
The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis and at this stage considered reversible. The gums may show some of the symptoms including bleeding and inflammation however with a thorough cleaning and a good home oral care regime it may be rectified with no long-term repercussions.
If left unchecked or continued poor oral hygiene gingivitis may progress to periodontitis at this stage not only the visible gums (gingiva) are affected, but also the underlying structures and bone (periodontium) that hold the teeth in place. The destruction of these structures is irreversible and may lead to tooth mobility and even tooth loss.

Gum disease

Gum disease

Gum disease has been linked to medical conditions such as heart attack and diabetes as well as general ill health. Although symptoms such as bleeding or receding gums, bad breath and loose teeth are common, they are often ignored as there is no associated pain. It is important to understand that gum disease leads to loss of bone support which in turn leads to loose teeth and finally tooth loss. It is important to have these issues attended to by our staff so feel free to ask about your gums at your next visit. Plan and act so as to keep your own teeth for life as dentures are not inevitable.

Pregnancy can induce an increase in gum disease and not only affect the mother’s health but also that of her unborn child. A good reason to have your teeth and gums checked whilst pregnant.

Oral piercings

Before you decide to get an oral piercing, always consider the effect it can have on your mouth. Possible risks of oral piercings (particularly tongue piercings) may include:

  • infection
  • chipped or cracked teeth
  • gum damage
  • nerve damage (resulting in loss of sensation in the tongue)
  • interference with speaking and swallowing
  • potential blockage of airways due to excessive swelling
  • excessive drooling
  • excessive bleeding from the accidental piercing of a blood vessel or artery
  • ongoing pain (neuralgia)
  • HIV or hepatitis from the use of non-sterile equipment
  • internal damage which may be caused by accidentally swallowing loose jewellery
What you can do

Before you get your mouth pierced, it is wise to check with your doctor if you are pregnant, have allergies, heart disease, diabetes or a skin disorder.

If you want to get an oral piercing, get it done professionally and seek after care advice from your piercer. In particular, request information and evidence of their sterilising processes. Do not pierce yourself or get a friend to do it.

Immediately after a piercing

  • Minimise swelling by consuming cold, icy drinks and sleeping with your head slightly elevated during the initial healing process.
  • Rinse your mouth with anti-bacterial mouthwash regularly – especially after eating (preferably use non-alcohol based mouth washes).
  • Avoid smoking and do not drink alcohol or eat spicy foods until the piercing site is fully healed.
  • Do not pick, tug or put unclean hands near the piercing.
  • If pain and swelling continues after several days, or if you have severe redness, bleeding, pain or pus around your piercing, visit your doctor or oral health professional immediately.

Once your piercing has healed

  • Try to keep your tongue away from your teeth and gums to minimise damage.
  • Ask your piercer for jewellery alternatives which are less damaging to your teeth and gums (e.g. bioplast rather than stainless steel).
  • Tighten the ball ends of your jewellery with clean hands regularly to minimise the risk of accidental digestion.
  • Maintain good oral health by brushing twice per day (including the tongue area around the piercing).

If you notice any damage to your gums or teeth or experience any pain, visit your oral health professional.

Article originally appeared on https://www.dhsv.org.au/dental-health/teeth-tips-and-facts/piercing

 

I’m looking at changing health funds. What should I do?

Albany Dental is affiliated with Bupa, HCF and CBHS. This means we follow their fee schedule for preventative care.

We recommend that you investigate which fund/s would offer you the best cover for your medical requirements. The Australian Dental Association now has an online comparison tool so you can compare health funds or perhaps lodge a complaint with the Commonwealth Ombudsman if you’re unhappy about the service you’ve been receiving from your health fund. We accept all health fund cards and process on the spot through Hicaps. Danielle | Receptionist.