Going to the dentist can be expensive. Keep your costs to a minimum by having healthy teeth. Regular check-ups – at least once a year, can detect any problems early and they can be corrected easily before more extensive treatment is necessary.
A thorough and unhurried check-up is essential to establish an accurate diagnosis and plan any treatment required.
During your examination your dentist will:
- Talk to you about your medical history to ensure your dental treatment is safely conducted
- Make a visual assessment of all your teeth looking for any cavities (holes) and any problems or deficiencies in your restorations (fillings and crowns)
- Assess the general health of your gums
- Take x-rays as required as x-rays provide invaluable information, helping the dentist identify gum disease or decay which is not visible to the naked eye.
- Oral Cancer Screening Your dentist will assess the general health of all soft tissue in the mouth looking for any swelling, spots, ulcers or discolorations which may or may not be associated with pain but may indicate oral cancer or other less common oral diseases.
The dentist will then discuss any dental problems that may have been identified during the examination, and will also answer any questions or concerns regarding treatments that are recommended
It is also common for the dentist to make time in this appointment to perform a scale and clean where any buildup of staining from food and drinks, such as red wine, black tea and coffee and also cigarettes is professionally removed leaving your mouth fresher, cleaner and restored to its natural colour
Gum disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults – not to mention bad breath and bleeding gums
It’s caused by plaque – the bits of food and bacteria left on our teeth every day. This can be removed regular tooth brushing.
Incorrect brushing techniques allow the bacteria to continue to collect underneath the gum which then weakens the structures that hold the gum on to the tooth and bone.
- Inflammation/swelling of the gums
- Bleeding when brushing/eating
- Bad taste in mouth
- Bad breath
- Tooth loss
If left untreated plaque combines with saliva and forms hard deposits on the teeth known as tartar or calculus.
Gingivitis is the inflammation and bleeding of gums and is a direct consequence of plaque and tartar. This early stage of gum disease if not treated may well lead to periodontitis, a serious disease that involves gum deterioration, jaw bone loss and loss of teeth.
Detected early on you can take simple steps to overcome the problem. This might include the dentist removing the plaque or showing you better brushing and flossing techniques.
Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and needs professional removal by your dentist
Without regular brushing and flossing, the bacteria in your mouth, known as plaque convert sugars into acids. Over time, acid eats away at the surface of the tooth, attacking the enamel, weakening the tooth and causing decay in the form of holes or cavities.
Top 7 causes of tooth decay
- Sugary, fizzy and sports drinks
- Eating within an hour of bed
- Sweets and sugary snacks
- Continual grazing on foods (any food) during the day
- Incorrect brushing technique
- Not flossing
- Lack of fluoride
- Pain to hot, cold or sweet foods
- Tooth feels like it has a bit of a hole in it
- No symptoms!
- Paint when cleaning teeth
The Australian Dental Association says that people should not accept that tooth decay is inevitable as there are a number of easy ways to prevent it all together:
- Early detection of tooth decay can make management and treatment much simpler
- Modern materials and techniques can reverse early decay. Your dentist can detect decay early if you have a checkup before permanent damage is done to your tooth
- If tooth decay is more advanced, a filling may be needed. New filling materials are available which can be matched to the colour of tour tooth
- Monitor your intake of energy drinks, soft drinks and fruit juice
- Eating a healthy diet and minimising between meal snacking is extremely important in keeping your teeth healthy
There are many types of cancer which can occur in your mouth including carcinomas, salivary gland cancer, lymphoma and melanoma.
Our dentists look for early signs of mouth cancer during regular checkup appointments, but it’s also important for you to recognize these warning signals so you can bring them to the attention of your dentist right away.
Signs and Symptoms
- These symptoms aren’t always caused by mouth cancer but if you have them visit your dentist
- Sores, swellings, lumps or thick patches anywhere in or around your mouth or throat
- Areas of red or white lesions in your mouth or lips
- The feeling of a lump or object stuck in your throat
- Numbness, pain or tenderness anywhere in your mouth, including your tongue
- Pain in one of your ears but without any loss of hearing
- Trouble moving your jaw or tongue, or problems with chewing, swallowing or speaking
- Loose teeth with no apparent dental cause
- an ulcer in the mouth or on the lip that won’t heal
Reduce your risk
- Visit your dentist for regular check-ups
- Get professional advice about any changes in your mouth, such as sore patches or ulcers that don’t heal
- Stop smoking
- Wear sunblock on your lips
Brushing – the finer points
- Brush for two minutes, twice a day
- Replace your toothbrush about every three months
(Some toothbrushes have a blue section within them which indicates when your brush needs changing – once the blue is half gone it’s time to change)
- Electric or manual. If you have exceptional brushing technique then go with a manual otherwise a good electric toothbrush is the way to go
- Try not to brush straight after a meal. Preferably wait about 30 minutes
- Don’t eat or drink within an hour of sleep
A tooth has five sides and your toothbrush only cleans three of them, flossing cleans the other two surfaces
- There are many products around to help you floss easily.
Speak to your dentist about what might suit you best.
- Recommended products include dental floss, interdental brushes (piksters) or other
products your dentist recommends
- Floss at least once a day
- Don’t eat or drink within an hour of sleep
You may be surprised to learn that you should not brush your teeth immediately after a meal. The bacteria in your mouth begin to start breaking down food immediately, producing acids that soften the tooth enamel. If you brush straight away you risk brushing away particles of enamel. Try to leave brushing for at least half an hour. There is even a good argument for brushing before breakfast, getting rid of plaque that has accumulated overnight that would otherwise metabolise your breakfast food to cause decay-promoting acid. If you do brush before breakfast, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you have eaten and/or use a fluoride mouthwash, which will help re-mineralise and harden the teeth.
Most dentists agree that the key is technique. If you have exceptional brushing technique then go with a manual otherwise a good electric toothbrush is the way to go Electric toothbrushes are much more “active” in the mouth and are very good for people who have difficulty using a manual brush
You should brush at least twice a day but there’s nothing wrong with brushing three times a day. And brush for at least two minutes each time.
A soft-bristled brush is recommended. Hard brushes can aggravate the gums and even damage the teeth if the enamel has been weakened by mouth acids. And always brush gently.
About three months but if it looks worn before then, replace it. Oral B brushes have some blue bristles, when the blue is reduced by half – change your brush
You should floss at least once a day but it’s a good idea to remove anything stuck between your teeth immediately
Don’t forget the kids! As soon as their teeth start touching start flossing and teaching them how to do it but they will be about 10 years old before they really start to get the hang of it. There are plenty of products around which make it easier to see how well you’re brushing and flossing.