Prevention starts at home
A regular oral hygiene routine is imperative if you want to maintain a healthy, bright smile and prevent recurrent, costly dental treatment in the future. The goal of your oral hygiene routine is the regular removal of the sticky film of bacteria called plaque from your teeth. Plaque is the enemy.
We recommend the use of a small amount (half a thumbnail length) of fluoridated toothpaste on the toothbrush.
It is recommended by the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) that you brush twice a day for two minutes. Electric tooth brushes with an inbuilt two minutes timer are a very effective and easy way to ensure you follow this recommendation and we feel it will give you the best results.
Spit out any excess toothpaste after brushing, but don’t rinse. This will leave a film of toothpaste over the tooth surface that will, with the help of saliva, heal and prevent early decay.
Brushing twice daily is recommended. To achieve the best results brush in a circular fashion at a 45 degree angle to the gum line. Then gently brush back and forth on each tooth surface until you have effectively cleaned the entire mouth. You should also brush your tongue to remove the bacteria that causes bad breath.
Floss daily to remove plaque between teeth that you can't reach with regular brushing. Take 30 to 40cms of dental floss and wrap it around the middle finger of each hand. Pull the floss tightly, and then use your thumb and forefingers to slide the floss gently between each set of teeth. Curve the floss around each tooth and move the floss up and down along the tooth, going as low as you can comfortably get under the gum line. Use a fresh section of floss for each tooth until you have flossed the entire mouth.
Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash can be helpful in reducing the plaque levels around the mouth, but it must be stressed that it is no substitute for brushing and flossing. If you use a mouthwash, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully as overuse with some products may cause staining of the teeth and discomfort.
Sugarfree chewing gum can be chewed anytime, but especially after meals, to stimulate saliva flow. This can help to neutralise the acids produced while eating and heal any early areas of decay within the enamel structure of the tooth.
Protect the chewing surface of teeth from decay.
Pits, fissures and grooves on the chew surfaces of back teeth are normal and can trap food and plaque that can't be removed by brushing or washed out by water or saliva.
A sealant is a tough, plastic material designed to bond with tooth enamel. These clear or tooth coloured sealants are painted onto the tooth surface to "seal" the pits and grooves and protect against decay. They are generally applied to children's first permanent back teeth. They can also be useful for adults in certain situations.
Sealants are an excellent way to protect chewing surfaces of teeth from decay. They can be a much better financial investment than treating decay after it has started.
Sealants are not permanent. They generally last about five years with normal wear, but can wear off or chip off earlier in certain instances. Also, sealants do not prevent decay between teeth or the onset of gum disease, so regular home care and dental visits are still necessary.
There are no appropriate alternatives to sealants. If a tooth has decay, it will need a filling or other restoration.
Preventing Periodontal (Gum) Disease
How to recognise gum disease
Gum disease is diagnosed through a process that measures the depth of the pockets around each tooth. If pockets that are greater than three millimetres in depth they are considered hazardous and will generally require treatment.
The early detection and prevention of gum disease is another reason to see your dentist regularly.
Some symptoms of gingivitis or periodontitis that you may experience include:
- Swollen, red or puffy gums
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Bad breath or a sour taste in the mouth
- A noticeable elongation of the teeth or recession of the gums
How is gum disease treated?
Gum disease is treated by carefully removing the bacteria and substances that form in the pockets around the teeth. The removal of this material occurs on a microscopic level and requires great skill. Our dental team has had advanced training regarding how to effectively remove the offending bacteria.
This process of removing the bacteria often requires several visits to our practice. Once the bacteria have been removed, the pockets must be sterilised and maintained on a regular basis by a certified dental hygienist. Otherwise, the bacteria can return.
Long Term Care
How to care for gum disease
Periodontal Disease damages the support structures around the teeth and often leaves pockets around the necks of teeth. Careful daily hygiene & regular dental visits to clean your pockets are required to keep the bacteria from returning. After the initial dental appointments to remove the bacteria, you will be placed on a regular appointment schedule called “periodontal maintenance” to keep your pockets free of bacteria.
Remember, it is always better to prevent disease than to treat disease. If you feel you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact our team to arrange a consultation.
Tartar and staining builds up on the necks of the teeth over time. This can cause gum disease.
In the past, dentists gave a clean and polish as part of a check-up, however due to the irregularity of these check-ups, many patients ended up with gum disease which ultimately led to tooth loss.
Regular visits to a hygienist. Our goal at St Albans Dental Centre is to maintain your healthy smile and to do this it is necessary to not only care for teeth but also maintain the gums.
It is the role of a hygienist to help you with this. Hygienists are health professionals who have graduated from an accredited school of dental hygiene, and through clinical services, patient education and evaluation seek to prevent oral disease, provide treatment for existing disease and assist people in maintaining an optimum level of oral health.
- To evaluate and assess gingival (gums) supporting structures and teeth.
- To review medical history and x-ray results.
- To perform oral screening for abnormal lesions including head and neck examination.
- To perform scaling and polishing of teeth.
- To guide patient through individualized instruction.
- To advise on dietary influences, particularly pertaining to dental disease.
- To apply preventative agents to teeth and gums (e.g. Fluorides) to prevent decay and periodontal (gum) disease.