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Monday, March 19, 2018

Dental plaque – what it is and how to avoid it

You’ve probably heard people talking about plaque and maybe you’ve some idea of what it is.
But it’s useful to know a bit more about it so that you can do what’s necessary to minimize the risks.
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums.
When you’ve eaten a meal or snack, the bacteria in plaque release acids that attack tooth enamel. When this happens regularly, the enamel can weaken. This eventually leads to tooth decay.
The food we eat often causes plaque bacteria to produce acids. So, if you eat a lot of snacks, your teeth may be suffering acid attacks all day.
If you don’t remove the plaque through effective daily brushing and cleaning between the teeth, it can eventually harden into calculus or tartar.
Another effect of plaque is that it also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red and tender or causing them to bleed easily.
If you want to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, make sure you have a balanced diet and avoid having too many snacks between meals.
When you feel like a snack, go for foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese or a piece of fruit.

Monday, March 12, 2018

You might have gum disease without even knowing it

Gum disease – also known as periodontal disease – is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth and it’s a major cause of tooth loss in adults.
But it’s usually painless so you may not even know you have it.
It’s caused by plaque – a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. These bacteria create toxins that can damage the gums.
The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. In this stage, the gums can become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, you can usually still reverse the disease by daily brushing and flossing.
The more advanced stage of gum disease is known as periodontitis. At this stage, the gums and bone that support the teeth can become seriously damaged. The teeth may then become loose, fall out or have to be removed by a dentist.
It’s therefore very important to look out for any signs of gum disease. These signs include:
– Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
– Red, swollen or tender gums
– Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
– Bad breath that doesn’t go away
– Pus between your teeth and gums
– Loose teeth
– Change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
– Change in the fit of partial dentures
If you notice any of these signs, contact you dentist quickly and they’ll help you take action to make improvements.

Monday, March 5, 2018

How sedation and general anesthesia can make your visit to the dentist easier

While local anesthetics are often used in dental treatment, there is sometimes a need for anti-anxiety agents – such as nitrous oxide – or sedatives to help people relax during dental visits.
Dentists may use these agents to induce “minimal or moderate sedation”.
In this case, the patient reaches a relaxed state during treatment but can respond to speech or touch.
Sedatives can be administered before, during or after dental procedures by mouth, inhalation or injection.
More complex treatments may require drugs that can induce “deep sedation”.
This reduces consciousness and causes a loss of feeling which helps to reduce both pain and anxiety.
Sometimes patients undergo “general anesthesia” where the drugs lead to a temporary loss of consciousness.
A dentist may recommend deep sedation or general anesthesia for certain procedures with children or with adults who have severe anxiety or for people who have difficulty controlling their movements.
While these techniques to control pain and anxiety are used to treat tens of millions of patients safely every year, its important that you let your dentist know anything that might affect your ability to benefit from them for example, tell them about any illnesses or health conditions, whether you are taking any medications and if you’ve had any problems with allergic reactions to medications.

Monday, February 26, 2018

How cancer treatment affects oral health

When someone is undergoing cancer treatment, its important that they involve their dentist in their program of care.
They should schedule a dental exam and cleaning before the treatment actually begins and then repeat it periodically during the course of treatment.
Its important that they tell the dentist that they are being treated for cancer and that they also discuss any dental procedures, such as extractions or insertion of dental implants, with the oncologist before starting the cancer treatment.
Its therefore a good idea to ensure that the dentist and oncologist have each others details to enable them to discuss any issues to help the patient.
And the dentist and physician should be informed about any issues such as bleeding of the gums, pain, or unusual feeling in the teeth or gums, or any dental infections.
Maintaining excellent oral hygiene during cancer treatment is vital to reduce the risk of infection and to help aid the treatment process.

Monday, February 19, 2018

How the food you eat can cause tooth decay

When you put food in your mouth, it immediately meets the bacteria that live there.
Plaque, for example, is a sticky film of bacteria.
These bacteria love the sugars found in many foods. So, when you don’t clean your teeth after eating, the bacteria and the sugar can combine to produce acids which can destroy the enamel – the hard surface of the tooth.
In time, this can lead to tooth decay. The more often you eat and the longer foods are in your mouth, the more damage occurs.
Many foods that are nutritious and important in our diet contain sugars – such as fruits, milk, bread, cereals and even vegetables.
So the key is not to try and avoid sugar but to think before you eat.
When you eat is also important because each time you eat food that contains sugars, the teeth are attacked by acids for 20 minutes or more.
This means that foods that are eaten as part of a meal cause less harm. More saliva is released during a meal, helping to wash foods from the mouth and reduce the effects of acids.
Here are some tips to follow when choosing your meals and snacks.
– Eat a variety of foods from different food groups
– Limit the number of snacks that you eat
– If you do snack, choose nutritious foods, such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, or a piece of fruit
It's also important to brush your teeth twice a day and to clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners.
And of course regular visits to your dentist will help prevent problems from occurring and catch those that do occur while they are easier to treat.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Your saliva and why its so important

You probably don’t give too much thought to the saliva in your mouth but, if you think of it like a bloodstream you’ll realize how important it is.
Like blood, saliva helps build and maintain the health of the soft and hard tissues.
It removes waste products from the mouth and offers first-line protection against microbial invasion that might lead to disease.
Saliva is derived from blood and therefore can also be used to detect disease.
Saliva enhances enamel protection by providing high levels of calcium and phosphate ions. It contains the minerals that maintain the integrity of the enamel surface and helps protect against caries.
When salivary flow is reduced, oral health deteriorates – much in the same way body tissues suffer if blood circulation is disrupted.
Patients with dry mouths (xerostomia) experience difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing. A major cause of dry mouth is medication – almost eighty percent of the most commonly prescribed medications lead to dry mouth.
Chewing gum after a snack or meal stimulates salivary flow, clearing food from the mouth and neutralizing plaque acid.
Your saliva is important to your oral health both for preventing disease and in helping to diagnose problems.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Making the most of your smile

Your smile is a major factor in the impression people get when they meet you.
And the good news is that you now don’t have to settle for a smile spoiled by stained, chipped, or misshapen teeth.
Advances in dental treatment mean there is a wide range of choices to help you get the smile that you want. Here are some of the options:
– Tooth whitening (bleaching) can help brighten teeth that have become discolored or stained. It can be done in the dental office or with a system the dentist can give you to use at home
– Bonding improves the appearance of teeth that have become chipped, broken, cracked or stained. This is done by bonding tooth-colored materials to the tooth surface
– Enamel shaping involves modifying teeth to improve their appearance by removing or contouring enamel
– Veneers are thin custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front side of teeth. They are used to treat spaces between teeth and teeth that are chipped, stained or poorly shaped.
– Braces may be needed if teeth are crooked, crowded or do not meet properly – and not just for kids
Even small changes can have a big impact on your smile and so make a huge difference to how you look and how you feel about yourself.
If you’d like an even better smile, your dentist will be able to give you information about the options available.