Here are some tips to help you care for your teeth and gums, but please remember - always seek professional advice before embarking upon treatment.
The best time of day for brushing is just before bedtime. Brushing after other meals is also advisable. Avoid scrubbing the outsides/necks of your teeth - gum recession may lead to sensitive teeth. Replace your toothbrush when the bristles start to flay – usually every 2-3 months. You can also wash your toothbrush in your dishwasher on a regular basis!
More and more patients are discovering the benefits of rechargeable electric toothbrushes. You simply hold the brush in place and it does the rest. Using removable brush-heads, means the whole family can use the same base unit.
Fluoride toothpaste is effective in reducing tooth decay. Avoid applying too much paste on the brushes of younger children – just a smear of paste is enough. To around 6/7 years of age, parents should ideally brush children's teeth for them.
The "Dean technique" for daily cleaning: this involves commencing with interdental cleaning (either using floss or interdental brushes), followed by vigorous rinsing with water to remove any loosened debris and to "expose" interdental surfaces ready for fluoride. Spreading of fluoride toothpaste over all teeth, brush for one minute per jaw, spit out excess toothpaste but do not rinse with water. To be done immediately before bedtime and again after breakfast.
Disclosing tablets are excellent in showing up plaque remaining after brushing – it is easy to go back to clean those areas.
Tooth mousse is a new product that helps to remineralise weakened teeth – it holds tremendous potential for conservative repair of teeth that are in the initial stages of decay or decalcification.
Flossing helps to dislodge debris in between teeth, where a brush cannot reach. Try to floss as regularly as possible, especially at night prior to brushing. An alternative to flossing is the small inter-dental brush. DietProcessed sugars contribute to tooth decay. Frequency of sugar intake is more important than amount, so avoid sweet snacks in between meal times.
Fizzy drinks and pure fruit juices contain sugars and acids. Even "diet" drinks contain acids.
Rinsing the mouth with plain water after these drinks can help protect teeth. Sugar-free squash or plain water are the safest drinks for teeth. Also consider the amount of sugar you have in tea or coffee.
If you enjoy mints or chewing gum, try the sugar-free variety. Sugar-free gum actually stimulates your mouth to produce saliva – nature's protective "mouth-rinse".
Smoking and alcohol
Research indicates that smoking contributes to the development of gum/bone disease, and oral cancer is a risk associated with smoking and excessive alcohol intake. Early detection of cancers is essential in order to improve the prognosis of treatment - another reason for regular preventive dental visits.
Heart disease and diabetes
Patients who suffer from diabetes are at risk of developing gum disease. The likely cause is a reduction in the body’s ability to fight bacterial infections in the gums. Furthermore, there may be a link between the concurrent existence of advanced gum disease and heart disease. This link is being vigorously researched.
Regular examinations and hygiene/cleaning visits
These form the bedrock of preventive dentistry. We can help you maintain a healthy mouth, but we need your co-operation. It is impossible to secure a healthy mouth if patients attend only for emergencies or when in pain. If dental problems are left too late, either costly root canal treatment or (often) stressful extractions are the final frontier. The closest analogy is a car that is not regularly serviced or maintained, eventually breaking down - cost of a new engine easily exceeds annual service charges.