Why “whole of mouth” cleaning is important!
Having great looking teeth is important for a large section of the population and an increase in the number of patients seeking treatments such as teeth whitening and veneers indicates that this trend may continue for some time. However nice our smile looks though, if we pay insufficient attention to the less visible parts of our teeth, we may soon run into trouble, with decay and gum disease becoming real possibilities.
If we only clean our teeth superficially, just focusing on the easy-to-reach front surfaces or those near the front of our mouth, then there is an increased risk that we will need to have dental treatment to restore them at some point.
Although they are very important in the chewing and breaking down of our food, our rear teeth are generally less visible, apart from when we yawn or laugh out loud. This can lead to some people giving them only a cursory brushing; but to do this would be a mistake and cavities and gum problems are a likely consequence if you do.
Even those who try to brush diligently, may still miss out some of the important areas at the back of the rear teeth. These can be quite tricky to reach but you should still clean the area as best as you can. We also recommend that you use floss and see the hygienist at Alexandra Dental Care on a regular basis as an aid to keeping all of your teeth strong and healthy.
A look at the internal structure of our teeth.
If we look in the mirror and smile, our teeth appear to be individual, solid objects. Although they may look like straightforward blocks of enamel though, nothing could be further from the truth and they are far more complex structures than that. Here at Alexandra Dental Care, we feel that if people understood the structure of their teeth better, it also helps them to understand how to care for them better too. So to help our Swadlincote and Ashby patients with this, today’s blog takes a look at the three main components of a healthy tooth.
The enamel on our teeth is the part that we all know best. Good strong enamel will help to protect our teeth from problems like decay, as well as providing much of their strength. If we keep them clean and avoid teeth staining food and drinks, it is perfectly possible to also have attractive white enamel, at least until the ageing process catches up with us. Even when this finally happens, a fast acting teeth whitening procedure can be carried out to restore it.
Survey shows a lack of understanding about keeping children’s teeth healthy.
A recent survey carried out during National Smile Month showed that parental understanding of children’s oral health issues is often quite poor. Many said that they didn’t think that baby teeth mattered and that cavities were not important. With the wealth of knowledge now available at our fingertips, this is quite surprising.
Although ‘baby teeth’ are temporary, they do still matter, and, contrary to popular belief, these can sometimes still remain in our mouth in early adulthood and do not always fall out when we are very young.
Why baby teeth matter
Aside from not wanting to see your young child in pain with a severe toothache, there are a number of reasons why you should help your child keep their teeth and gums in a healthy condition.
Eating – Once a child’s teeth have come through, they should be eating solid food. If their teeth are painful due to decay, they may revert to eating softer foods, potentially limiting their nutritional intake.
Speech development – Our teeth affect the way that we speak. This is especially important in a young child and could even affect their whole future. If teeth are lost prematurely due to decay, your child could potentially develop a speech impediment.
Facial development – Our teeth affect the way that we look. They offer support to our cheeks, and significant tooth loss can change the way that children’s facial features develop.
Advice for our Ashby patients – what to do, and what not to do.
However well we take care of our teeth on a day to day basis, the unexpected can suddenly occur that changes things. Even minor mishaps such as eating a supposedly stoned olive, may reveal that a remnant of stone is still there. As we bite down hard, not expecting a problem, we can suddenly end up with a cracked or broken tooth. Whilst our first instinct may be to check the tooth to make sure that it hasn’t broken, even if we find nothing obvious, unfortunately it doesn’t always mean that damage has been avoided.
Even what feels like a complete tooth may have suffered some damage, and this should be checked out by the dentist at Alexandra Dental Care. A small crack in the enamel of the tooth, or a broken filling, could lead to significant problem if ignored.
In the situation mentioned above, it may well be a rear tooth that might be affected. If we see a crack in a front tooth, we are likely to have this checked due to it affecting the way that our teeth look. It might be tempting though, to ignore the less visible rear teeth; but there are two reasons why this is likely to be a mistake.
Any crack in a tooth will expose the more vulnerable porous dentin layer beneath it. The crack will allow bacteria to enter, with tooth decay, and quite possibly a painful toothache, to follow. A rear tooth especially, is exposed to significant force when we bite and chew our food. If the tooth has been weakened, further damage, such as complete breakage may well follow.
Helping our patients make an informed choice when shopping.
We are sometimes asked, by our Burton and Ashby patients, which toothpaste they should buy. The choice of toothpastes is now much wider than at probably any other time in the past. TV adverts regularly make claims for toothpastes aimed at a number of dental problems and choosing the right one can sometimes prove to be a headache!
Although Alexandra Dental Care don’t wish to recommend one particular brand over another, our general guide to toothpastes below, might be useful to patients unsure of which toothpaste to buy.
Brushing your teeth is very important, and you should always make sure that you change your toothbrush, or brush head, every three months in order that it remains effective. If you continue to use a worn toothbrush, it probably won’t matter greatly which toothpaste you use, as the soft and damaged bristles will not clean your teeth efficiently. Prices of toothpastes can vary widely, and it is very difficult to ascertain whether a newer, cheaper brand is as efficient as a well known brand. Whilst everyone will have their own favourites, there are a few things to keep an eye open for when looking for a good quality toothpaste.
Fluoride – A good toothpaste must include fluoride. This helps to strengthen the enamel on your teeth, helping to protect your teeth from decay. Whilst most toothpastes will contain this, you should especially check ‘natural’ toothpastes as these may not always do so.
Small print – If you are attracted to a particular toothpaste because of a TV advert, try to make sure to read the small print at the bottom of the screen. This often contains a legal requirement about the claims, and is likely to give a truer picture of the results that you might expect.
In today’s fast moving society, always make time to look after your teeth and gums!
It is true that many of us live very busy lives. The fast pace of change in society, and especially the use of various technologies, means that we are always available to our boss, friends and family. Sometimes these communications come at an inconvenient time and may leave us chasing to catch up on other things.
However much society is changing, some things remain the same, and one of these is the importance of looking after your oral health. It really doesn’t take very long but will certainly improve your quality of life and help you to avoid common problems such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Even if you receive an important email from your boss that has to be dealt with late at night, leaving you feeling shattered, this shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to brush, and also floss, your teeth before going to bed. Both of these should be a regular part of your daily oral care regime. It only takes a few minutes but is the basic defence against decay and gum disease.
Sometimes toothache and other problems strike at inconvenient times.
We have covered, in other blogs, why we don’t advise our patients to travel abroad for procedures such as implants. Even if this advice is followed though, dental problems can still occur when we are abroad, even if we have taken good care of our teeth and kept regular appointments at Alexandra Dental Care before we went.
Depending on the type of problem, and when it occurs, there are a number of steps that you can take. Your decision to seek professional dental care may also depend on where you are and how soon it is before you return home.
If you are in Europe or another developed part of the world, there is every likelihood that there will be an experienced dentist in the vicinity. If you have travelled with an organised group, your reps should be able to advise you. If not, the hotel or other accommodation reception team will often have a list of reputable local dentists.
Less developed countries
Whilst you may feel relatively comfortable about seeing a dentist in Europe or the US; if you have travelled to a less developed country, you may be less comfortable about doing so. This may be a case where you try to mask the problem with painkillers until your return to the UK or potentially be prepared to travel a little way to see a dentist that reaches somewhere near the standards that we expect from a dentist in the UK. Try to do some research before you go, just in case.
Tooth repair kits
Recent statistics show that around one in three of us are not doing enough to avoid gum disease.
Do you see the dental hygienist at Alexandra Dental Care on a regular basis? If not, you may be one of the 33% (or thereabouts) who lack this important aspect of oral health care. Perhaps too often seen as an ‘add on’ when it comes to looking after your teeth, visiting the dental hygienist should be seen as an essential and regular part of your professional dental care.
Nearly all dental practices, including our own, will have at least one dental hygienist. Arranging an appointment is straightforward and a standard treatment appointment usually lasts approximately 20 minutes, although may be more should this be needed.
So, what happens when you see the hygienist
First of all, our hygienist will ask you a few simple questions about your home oral care to see if there are any immediate improvements that could be made. These may include questions such as how often and when you brush your teeth, what type of toothbrush you use i.e. manual or electric, what toothpaste, whether you floss and what, if any, mouthwash you use. You will also be asked about your medications and whether they have changed recently.
Your mouth will then be examined and any gum recession measured. This is not uncomfortable at all and is important to ascertain how healthy your mouth is … or isn’t.
This growing problem can be reduced with appropriate action.
Whilst we may know of either friends or relatives who have suffered from cancer, it is quite likely that few of them will have had mouth, or oral, cancer. Although not as prevalent as some other forms, mouth cancer is becoming increasingly common and should not be ignored. By and large, this particular type of cancer can be avoided with a sensible approach to our health care and a good oral health cleaning regime.
In today’s blog, we look at some of the facts about oral cancer and ways that our Ashby and Burton patients can help to reduce the risk of suffering from this dangerous disease.
Around seven thousand people each year, or around eighteen people a day, are diagnosed with mouth cancer. It is widely believed that this figure will continue to rise unless action is taken.
Although often considered to be less common than many other forms of cancer, oral cancer is still responsible for more loss of life each year than deaths caused by traffic accidents in the UK. It also claims more lives than testicular and cervical cancers combined.
If oral cancer is detected early, the survival rate is around 90%. If detected later, this can drop to around 50%. This indicates the importance of having regular oral health checks at Alexandra Dental Care so that we can monitor the health of your mouth.
Age is no barrier
A recent report has indicated that the rise in popularity of fruit teas may be harmful for our teeth.
The ‘British diet’ is constantly evolving, and whilst years ago may have consisted of meat and over boiled vegetables and a cup of tea, almost all of us now enjoy foods and flavours from around the world. Health consciousness has also started to become a determining factor in what we eat and drink. Largely, this is a positive thing, but even ‘healthy’ food and drinks can have drawbacks.
At Alexandra Dental Care, one problem that we notice periodically in patients is signs of enamel wear. This can be caused by a number of things, including over enthusiastic brushing of the teeth. What we eat and drink though, can also contribute to this, even if they are healthy products!
Taking fruit teas as an example, as they have recently been in the news. On the surface of it, these should be a healthy alternative to many drinks that we consume. The refreshing taste and any residual vitamins should also be beneficial. Unfortunately, there are three ways that they may not be as beneficial as we think.
Sugar – Especially with citric drinks, such as lemon tea, the sharp taste may encourage us to add more sugar than we would in regular tea. We probably don’t need to explain why that is not a good thing.
Acids – Fruit teas, and especially citric ones, are generally quite acidic. This can be damaging to the enamel of our teeth, causing enamel erosion, over a period of time, especially if we ……
Savour the drink – Because fruit teas have a refreshing and sometimes delicate flavour; rather than sip the tea and swallow it, it seems that many of us take a sip and allow it to remain in the mouth for a while to get the maximum flavour from it. Doing this allows the acids in the teeth to come into contact with our teeth enamel for longer, increasing the degree of damage done. Whilst the odd fruit tea drunk may not cause significant damage, if we drink it regularly, enamel erosion may soon follow.