What is preventive dentistry?
Preventive dentistry is a different way of caring for our mouths. It is based on the idea that our teeth were healthy when they came into our mouths so it must be possible to keep them this way.
Tooth and gum decay are both caused by plaque, and nothing else, so preventive dentistry focuses on keeping teeth and gums plaque free. Some people are more susceptible to decay or to gum disease than others so it is important to assess the needs of each individual. This means that together we spend time creating a maintenance plan which gives each individual the best chance of healthy teeth and gums for life.
How can I prevent tooth decay?
Plaque free teeth do not decay, so the first line of defence is good tooth cleaning. We develop tooth cleaning regimes which suit each person’s needs and life style.
As it is practically impossible to remove all the plaque all the time it is important to minimise its destructive effect by limiting the number of times you eat or drink refined sugar. The quantity of sugar eaten or drunk is not the issue, it is the number of times it is eaten or drunk. This means that a tube of sweets eaten over a day is far more destructive than the same number of sweets crunched in ten minutes.
How often should I brush my teeth?
You should brush twice a day, in the morning and, most importantly, last thing at night. Each time you should spend a minimum of two minutes brushing. A timer is useful to ensure you spend enough time: we have two minute timers in the practice so you can be sure you spend long enough.
In addition, from the age of about ten years, everyone should floss and most people should use special brushes at least once a day. We will show you how to clean effectively and how you can judge for yourself whether you are being effective.
What cleans better, an electric or a manual toothbrush?
The type of electric toothbrush that we sell (Braun Oral B) has been shown to be at least 25% more effective than a manual toothbrush. In addition, it is easier to adopt effective brushing habits when a new type of brush is used.
What is dental floss and why should I use it?
Dental floss is a fibre which is designed to clean under your gum between your teeth. Although we talk about ‘floss’, we generally recommend tape which is easier to manage. If you do not use floss then you leave 20% of your teeth with plaque on the difficult-to-clean surfaces. It is no surprise that most tooth decay and most gum disease occurs on these uncleaned surfaces.
I think I might be pregnant – when do I need to tell my dentist?
You should let your dentist know as soon as you plan to have a baby. While you are pregnant your hormones may make you more likely to have inflamed gums so you will need extra care both at home and in the practice. In addition, in this practice your dentist will not remove an amalgam filling for a pregnant woman unless the tooth is giving pain. If a tooth is decayed but pain-free the removal will be delayed until after the baby is born.
When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
As soon as you can see a tooth you should start brushing it in the morning and last thing at night (if babies have such a thing!). It is important to establish the idea that teeth are to be brushed regularly. It is never too early to encourage good habits so please don’t give your baby juice or sweet biscuits. Water and teething rings will quench thirst and give something on which to bite.
When should I first take my child to the dentist?
We ask parents to bring their baby with them, starting with the first appointment after they are born and each time they come for an Oral Health Review. In addition, it is a good idea to bring your baby when you come to see the hygienist. In this way, the idea of going to the dentist becomes a normal part of life and the sounds and smells are never new and strange.
What are fissure sealants?
Fissure sealants are protective coatings which are applied to the biting surfaces of teeth to protect them from decay. We usually recommend that they are applied to the six-year molars as they come into the mouth and to all other teeth when they are through. The sealant fills the little grooves on the teeth, forming a barrier which prevents food and bacteria from causing decay.
Does the dentist need to see my child while she/he has a brace?
Most emphatically yes! The orthodontist will look after the position of the teeth but it is up to your dentist to ensure that teeth and gums are clean and healthy.
How often should a brace be cleaned?
It is important that a brace is cleaned effectively at least twice a day, particularly last thing at night. It can be very difficult to clean a brace thoroughly so anyone with a brace will be allocated time with our oral health educator, at no additional fee, to ensure that they have the techniques and equipment necessary to clean effectively.
How can I floss a fixed brace?
There is a special floss, Oral B Superfloss, with a specially stiffened part which is designed for situations like this. Our oral health educator will show you how to slide it between your teeth so you do not miss that vital area.
What should I do if a tooth is knocked out (avulsed)?
If a front tooth is knocked out (usually between 8 and 10 years of age), the first thing to do is find it and, holding the tooth (not the root), wash it gently with running water and either put it in milk or back in the mouth (like a boiled sweet). The next is to telephone the dentist and say you are on the way to the practice. The time between the tooth coming out and it being secured back in the mouth has an important effect on the success of the procedure. This situation is the only one where we will end a procedure early to free the dentist’s time. Usually, outside normal clinical time, the dentist can be reached by mobile phone.
What is dental erosion?
The erosion of teeth is becoming a serious problem. It is caused by acid foods and drinks, particularly fizzy drinks, dissolving away the tooth and leaving pits in the surfaces. The acid destroys the delicate balance in the mouth particularly in young mouths where the tooth enamel is not fully mature.
How do teeth become cracked?
There are two main ways teeth become cracked. Either they have big amalgam fillings which expand and crack the remaining tooth or they crack under the strain of daily use. Both types of crack can be prevented, the first by preventing decay and the second by orthodontics which will ensure that the teeth are in the correct place to spread the load of a lifetime’s chewing.
What happens to cracked teeth?
Most cracked teeth give no trouble at all. If the tooth is filled the cracked piece will probably break offand the tooth will need a crown to make it work again.
Sometimes, cracked teeth hurt when the two parts move in different directions. This can be very difficult to diagnose. Teeth like this sometimes become infected by bacteria from the mouth. In these circumstances, the tooth will need root canal therapy and then a crown fitted to protect it.
What is root canal therapy?
A tooth with a dead or dying nerve can become abscessed or become exquisitely sensitive to temperature. The tooth is treated by removing the nerve, cleaning and shaping and filling the canals which previously held that the nerve. Back teeth usually need a crown to protect them after this procedure.
What is a crown?
A crown sits over what is left of a tooth rather like a thimble fits over the end of a finger. It is made in a dental laboratory of a very strong material so that it can work as well, or better, than the tooth it replaces.