Smoking and your oral health
Most of us are aware that smoking is hazardous to our health, but many people do not know that smoking can adversely affect the teeth and gums. Smoking causes some of the biggest dental problems which significantly affect your teeth and gums, such as discolouration of the teeth, gum inflammation, infection, chronic bad breath, teeth loss, and even cancer of the mouth.
The best advice we can give our patients is to quit smoking. Without this, any kind of treatment for your dental problems will be difficult, and maintaining oral health will be virtually impossible.
For this reason we will endeavour to help you quit smoking and start enjoying the fresh feeling of clean teeth and a healthy mouth.
Oral hygiene instruction
An effective oral hygiene routine is crucially important in maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once a day, in conjunction with regular professional cleaning appointments with our team, will keep your teeth and gums healthy and your breath fresh.
Floss removes plaque and debris that adhere to teeth and gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces and controls bad breath. By flossing your teeth daily, you increase the chances of keeping your teeth a lifetime and decrease your chance of having periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay.
How to floss your teeth
Take an 18-inch piece of floss and wind the bulk of the floss lightly around the middle finger. Wind the rest of the floss similarly around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger takes up the floss as it becomes soiled or frayed. Maneuver the floss between teeth with your index fingers and thumbs. Don’t pull it down hard against your gums or you will hurt them. Floss at least once a day. To give your teeth a good flossing, spend at least two or three minutes.
An interdental brush is a small type of brush which can be held between the fingers and the thumb. It comes in a range of different sizes and is great at reaching those areas of your teeth which your normal toothbrush cannot. No toothbrush alone can thoroughly clean the edge of the gum line, particularly between the teeth in the interdental spaces.
It is not designed to replace a normal toothbrush, it is there to complement it as well as being a part of your dental hygiene routine.
Gum Disease and Periodontitis
If you’ve ever experienced red, swollen gums that bleed easily when you brush and floss, you may be on the path to gum disease. Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss, and has also been linked to other health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Fortunately, an effective oral hygiene routine will prevent the progression of gum disease and improve your overall oral health.
Periodontal or gum diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis, are serious infections that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. The main cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque, although smoking, stress, diet and other factors can also affect the health of your gums.
Fissure sealants are tooth coloured protective coatings that are applied in order to cover and protect the deep grooves (fissures) in our teeth and prevent dental decay. These fissures are most commonly located at the chewing surfaces on back teeth (molars and premolars). The grooves are at high risk for decay as they can be deep and narrow and collect plaque bacteria and food that cannot be accessed by toothbrush bristles
Did you know that your diet is just as important for your teeth and gums as it is for your general health? Foods and drinks that contain starch and sugar react to the bacteria in your mouth to produce acid, which attacks your tooth enamel, causing decay and potential tooth loss.
Reducing your intake of sugary and starchy drinks and snacks will help to maintain your optimal oral health. Chewing sugar-free gum will stimulate saliva production, and rinsing with water after eating can also help. Foods such as cheese, nuts and fresh fruit and vegetables make good substitutes for sweet treats.
What is fluoride?
The fluoride ion comes from the element fluorine. Fluoride, either applied topically to erupted teeth, or ingested orally (called systemic fluoride) during tooth development, helps to prevent tooth decay, strengthen tooth enamel, and reduce the harmful effects of plaque. Fluoride also makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and promotes remineralization, which aids in repairing early decay before the damage is even visible.
Where is fluoride found?
Topical Fluoride is found in products containing strong concentrations of fluoride (e.g. tooth pastes and some mouth rinses, fluoridated varnishes and/or gels) which can be either topically applied by a dentist or other oral health professional, or prescribed as an at-home regimen (particularly for persons with a high risk of dental caries)
Systemic Fluoride is that fluoride which is found in:
- public and private water supplies
- some soft drinks
- as dietary supplements such as tablets or drops
- some bottled water supplies.
Once ingested, systemic fluoride is absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract and distributed and deposited throughout the body via the blood supply.
What health risks are associated fluoride use?
In general, fluoride consumption is safe. Health risks associated with fluoridation are usually limited to misuse and over concentration.
To avoid misuse and over concentration,
- avoid drinking overly fluoridated water – results of this may cause teeth to become discolored, and may cause the enamel of the teeth to look spotted, pitted, or stained (a condition known as dental fluorosis).
- avoid swallowing toothpaste and other dental hygiene products.
- call the local water department and/or the health department to evaluate the fluoride level in your local drinking reservoir.
- Children are especially vulnerable to dental fluorosis as their developing teeth are more sensitive to higher fluoride levels. Consult a pediatric dentist or other oral health care professional if you notice changes in the condition of your child’s teeth.