Caring for your teeth FAQs
What is Preventative Dentistry?
Preventative Dentistry is the modern way of reducing the amount of dental treatment needed to maintain healthy mouth, teeth and gums. The two major causes of tooth loss are decay and gum disease. The better we prevent or deal with these two problems, the more chance people have of keeping their teeth for life.
The joint efforts of the dentist, the hygienist and the patient can help to prevent the need for treatment, avoiding the traditional pattern of fillings and extractions. A course of treatment may be recommended to you to get your mouth to a good condition and a maintenance plan will be worked out to help you keep it that way.
What can go wrong with my teeth?
Tooth decay can be painful, leading to the need for fillings, crowns or inlays. If tooth decay is not treated, the nerve of the tooth can become infected and die, causing an abscess. This abscess may then need root canal treatment or even extraction.
It is very important that you keep up a good routine to keep your teeth and gums healthy at home. Gum disease is the largest cause of tooth loss in adults. But it is a preventable condition and can be treated and kept under control with regular cleaning sessions and check-ups, preventing further problems. If teeth are lost, it may be necessary to fill the gaps with bridges, dentures or implants.
How can I keep my teeth and gums healthy?
It is easy make sure your mouth is clean and healthy, and to keep it that way by following a simple routine of brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between the teeth. By having good eating habits, having sugary foods and drinks less often and making sure you attend regular dental check-ups, you can help prevent most dental problems from occurring. A few small changes in your daily routine can make a big difference in the long run.
Can I help prevent decay through my choice of diet?
Many people think that it is the high level of sugar in your diet which causes decay, but this is not so. It is how often you have sugar in your diet, not the amount, that causes the problems. As it takes an average of 40 minutes for the mouth to neutralise the acid caused by eating and drinking sugar. It is important to limit the number of these attacks by keeping sugary food and drinks to meal times.
What is plaque?
Plaque is a thin, sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth.
How can plaque cause decay?
When you eat foods containing sugars and starches, the bacteria in plaque produces acids, which attack the tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with the teeth. After constant acid attacks, the enamel covering the tooth can break down forming a hole or cavity.
How will I know if I have removed all the plaque?
Plaque can be stained with a special dye painted onto your teeth with a cotton bud or with special disclosing tablets which you can get from the dentist. The stain is harmless and will show any areas of your mouth which need better brushing. Look particularly where your teeth and gums meet. Further brushing will remove the stained plaque.
How can plaque cause gum disease?
If plaque is not removed by brushing, it can harden into something called calculus, or tartar. As calculus forms near the gum line, the plaque underneath releases poisons, causing the gums to become irritated and inflamed. The gums may begin to pull away from the teeth and the gaps may become infected. If gum disease if not treated promptly, the bone supporting the teeth is destroyed, and healthy teeth can become loose and fall out. Gum disease is the biggest cause of tooth loss in adults and can eventually lead to a need for dentures, bridges or implants.
How can I prevent gum disease?
It is important to remove plaque and food debris from around your teeth as this will stop your gums from swelling and becoming infected and sore. If you leave plaque on your teeth it can harden into tartar which can only be removed by the dentist or hygienist. It is important to have regular appointments so that your teeth can have a thorough cleaning if they need it.
How would I know if I have gum disease?
Gum disease (gingivitis) will usually show itself as red, swollen gums that bleed when brushed or flossed. Many people are alarmed when they notice their gums are bleeding then they brush more gently, or may avoiding brushing completely. It is important that you continue to clean your teeth and gums regularly and firmly in order to fight the condition.