Category: Blogs

August 12, 2022 by Copy 0 Comments

What Causes Tooth Discolouration and Stains?

Tooth discolouration and stains on teeth are common and happen for various reasons. The good news is that many of these stains are preventable. Some surface level stains are also treatable.  

Here’s what you need to know about the causes of tooth discolouration and stains and what you can do to keep your teeth looking their best.  

Types of Staining 

  • Extrinsic: The stains only affect the tooth’s enamel or surface.  
  • Intrinsic This type of stain is located within the tooth, making it more resistant to over-the-counter whitening products.  
  • Age-related: As we age, the outer enamel layer of our teeth wears away, and our gums can start to yellow. Age-related stains don’t happen overnight. Both extrinsic and intrinsic factors cause them. 

What Causes Tooth Discolouration? 

Eating, drinking, ageing, smoking, and tooth injuries all cause tooth discolouration. Certain types of food and drink can stain your teeth. Most people know that red wine and coffee can stain their teeth. However, other foods and drinks also contribute to the discolouration of tooth enamel: 

Tea: Like coffee, tea contains tannins that stain our teeth’s white enamel. The research is still out on whether using milk in your tea or coffee can help prevent staining. However, limiting the amount of tea you drink can help. 

Cola: The dark colouring of this soda, combined with acids and sugars, makes it particularly bad for teeth enamel. Soda will wear away at your teeth faster than other types of drinks. 

Fruit juices: Dark-coloured fruit juices like blackberry, cranberry, and grape juice can stain your teeth. To avoid these from staining your teeth, drink these juices in moderation. 

Tomato sauces: Tomatoes contain deep pigments that can cause teeth to stain over time.  

Soy sauce: The dark colour of soy sauce can cause tooth enamel to stain. 

While we don’t suggest avoiding eating soy sauce or tomato-based sauces, it is a good idea to limit the amount of soda and caffeine in your diet. Soda, in particular, has very little nutritional value, is high in sugar, and is highly acidic. Not only will it stain your teeth, the sugars and acid eat away at our teeth enamel and cause cavities. 

Smoking: Once you start smoking, it doesn’t take long for the enamel of your teeth to begin to stain or yellow. Nicotine causes teeth to turn brown or yellow very quickly. The best way to prevent teeth from staining any further is to quit smoking (or not start at all). Smoking is bad for your teeth and gums in a lot of ways. Nicotine restricts blood flow to the gums which causes the jaw bones to weaken and teeth to loosen over time. 

Age: Teeth naturally get more brittle with age and will stain or yellow more easily.

Injuries: If you have experienced trauma to your mouth an injuries can cause the damaged tooth or teeth to darken. It’s always a good idea to see your dentist after experiencing a mouth injury. 

Antibiotics: Some medications cause tooth enamel to discolour. When mixed with saliva, medication can cause dark spots or stains to form on your tooth enamel. Often, these stains are not permanent as they develop below the surface of the tooth. This intrinsic staining can disappear once you finish the antibiotic cycle.  

What Can You Do to Treat and Prevent Tooth Stains? 

Tooth discolouration caused by aging is natural. However, you can prevent surface staining by changing your lifestyle. 

Limit your intake of soda and caffeine. Switch to water and light-coloured herbal teas to prevent tooth staining. If you drink red wine often, try drinking water simultaneously to rinse your mouth between sips. Stop drinking soda or save it for special occasions. 

Use at-home whitening kits. Whitening kits can lift stains from your teeth in as little as one or two days. However, many at-home products can cause teeth sensitivity and gum irritation.  

Brush with a whitening toothpaste. Many effective tooth whitening products on the market are safe to use. While whitening toothpaste can remove some surface stains from teeth, it won’t change the natural colour of your tooth enamel or lighten intrinsic stains. 

When Should You See a Dentist About Tooth Stains? 

If you notice a change in the colour of your teeth and it doesn’t get better with a whitening product, it’s a good idea to follow up with your dentist. If the staining looks like a dark shadow, and nothing you try seems to remove the stain, it could be due to a deeper problem such as a cavity or demineralisation of the enamel. 

If one single tooth is discoloured, it could mean that you have a cavity or a tooth injury. In this case, visit your dentist as soon as possible. Cavities can eventually lead to infection and tooth loss if left untreated. 

The Bottom Line 

The appearance of unwanted discolourations on your teeth can occur for many reasons, mainly related to your lifestyle. Limiting coffee, tea and soda and avoiding smoking will help keep your teeth enamel whiter for longer.  

There’s nothing inherently wrong with having discoloured teeth. However, tooth discolouration sometimes signifies an underlying oral health issue. We recommend scheduling regular checkups with your dentist every six months to ensure your teeth enamel is healthy. Book a dental appointment now if you have noticed rapid discolouration of your tooth enamel. 

August 8, 2022 by Copy 0 Comments

5 Types of Dental Fillings: Which Is Best?

A common misconception about dental fillings is that they are only used to fix cavities. Fillings have many uses, including filling a tooth after decay has been removed and repairing cracked or broken teeth. Dentists also use fillings to repair worn-down teeth. The cost of dental fillings differs depending on the material used. 

What are the different types of dental fillings? 

 

While it’s best to let your dentist choose which type of filling is best for your needs, knowing what materials your filling is made of can be helpful.   

Here are five different types of dental fillings you should know about:  

 

  • Silver Amalgam Fillings
  • Composite fillings
  • Glass ionomer fillings
  • Ceramic fillings
  • Gold fillings
Silver Amalgam Dental Fillings 

 

Over the years, a commonly used material for fillings was silver amalgam. Silver amalgam contains a range of metals, including mercury, tin, copper and silver. Not all composite fillings contain these ingredients; sometimes, they have just one or two materials.

 

Silver amalgam fillings have been around for decades. They are highly durable and can last up to a decade. The mercury in silver amalgam fillings is not considered dangerous. In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health monitors literature on its safety and makes recommendation on its use. 

Silver amalgam fillings can be an option, but they have some disadvantages. Firstly, silver stands out against the white enamel of your teeth, and it is obvious you have a filling. Additionally, these fillings can stain and give your teeth a grey hue over time.  

Some dentists don’t like to use silver amalgam as healthy parts of your tooth often need to be removed to hold an amalgam filling. This destruction to more of the tooth structure can be avoided by choosing fillings made from other materials. This process can weaken teeth. 

Finally, amalgam can expand and contract with hot and cold temperatures. This can cause cracks and fractures to form in the tooth. For these reasons, Gentle Dental does not use amalgam fillings in our clinics.

Composite Dental Fillings 

Composite fillings are made of silica, plastic, glass quartz, and other ceramic particles added to a resin base. After the decay is removed from a cavity, the filling is bonded into the hollow cavity. Your dentist will then composite the composite using ultraviolet light. 

Composite is a popular choice of filling mainly because the resin matches the shade of your teeth. When preparing the filling, less of the tooth structure needs to be removed than when using amalgam. 

Composite fillings are also great for repairing chipped, broken or worn teeth. The material creates a strong bond which improves the strength of the tooth. 

There are some disadvantages to composite fillings. They wear out faster than amalgam. Composite fillings have a lifespan of at least five years. They also take a bit longer to set than amalgam fillings, and the cost of these fillings is slightly higher than amalgam.  

Glass Ionomer Dental Fillings 

Glass ionomer dental fillings are mainly used on children and for fillings below the gum line. Glass ionomer fillings are primarily used for their flexibility. They are easier to apply than composite fillings and create a tight seal between the tooth and the rest of the mouth. 

These types of fillings contain silicate glass powder, which contains fluoride. The slow release of fluoride from glass ionomer fillings can help to prevent future cavities and protect teeth. 

Glass ionomers are significantly weaker than composite resin fillings because they tend to wear and tear quickly. They also have a life span of fewer than five years and don’t match the tooth colour as precisely as composite. 

Ceramic Fillings 

Ceramic fillings are made most often out of porcelain. Ceramic fillings generally need to be made in a dental lab (or in one visit at Gentle Dental) and aren’t a good option for quickly treating a cavity. However, ceramic fillings last a long time and have a lifespan of around 15 years. They are more expensive than many other types of fillings.

Gold Fillings 

Gold fillings aren’t very common, but they have many advantages. They are highly durable and can last up to 20 years. They’re also super strong and aren’t likely to break or crack. Some people like how gold fillings look and are happy to pay the high price to be fitted with a gold filling.  

The downsides of gold fillings are the price. They also take longer to fit and require at least two appointments before your tooth is fully restored.  

How to Take Care of Your Dental Fillings 

Take care of your dental fillings by brushing twice daily, flossing and avoiding hard or sticky foods. These can cause fillings to come loose. Very hot and very cold temperatures can also cause amalgam fillings to expand or contract, which can lead to cracks. 

If you have fillings, you must see your dentist regularly, especially if your fillings are old. Your dentist can check that your fillings and the surrounding tooth structure are healthy and if they need to be replaced. 

Book a check-up for your fillings today at Gentle Dental. 

August 3, 2022 by Copy 0 Comments

When Should I Book An Emergency Dental Appointment?

If you have a dental emergency and need to find an emergency dentist in Wellington, we can help! Sometimes it can be hard to know whether the tooth pain or dental issue you are dealing with requires an emergency dentist appointment. This blog aims to make it easy to understand when to book an emergency dentist appointment. Learn: 

● What is a dental emergency? 

● How to know if you have a dental emergency 

● When you should visit the emergency room VS the dentist 

● Tips on how to avoid a dental emergency What is a dental emergency? 

● How to know if you have a dental emergency 

● When you should visit the emergency room VS the dentist 

● Tips on how to avoid a dental emergency 

What is a Dental Emergency?

Dental emergencies are dental problems that require immediate attention or treatment to prevent tooth loss or treat dental pain. Common dental emergencies include:  

  • bleeding that won’t stop 
  • pain in a tooth 
  • a broken or knocked-out tooth 
  • loose adult tooth 
  • heightened tooth sensitivity 
  • dental abscess 
  • facial swelling 
  • wisdom tooth infection 

Dental emergencies can occur at any time. It’s a good idea to have a regular dentist nearby so that you don’t have to spend time finding a new dentist or travelling far to get your dental problem treated. 

How do You Know if You Have a Dental Emergency? 

Some dental emergencies are painfully apparent — like when you knock out an adult tooth or experience unbearable tooth pain. However, not all dental emergencies will cause extreme pain. You may think that you can wait to visit your dentist for treatment if you aren’t experiencing any pain or don’t mind your broken tooth.  

Here’s the problem: Avoiding or delaying dental care can cause issues that are harder to fix and cost you more in the long run. That’s why if something feels different or just ‘not right,’ we recommend calling your dentist for an emergency dental consultation ASAP. 

Where Should You go for Emergency Dental Care? 

 Knowing where to go during a dental emergency can be confusing. Some people think you should go straight to the hospital, but others will advise you to contact your regular dentist for advice first. But who is right?  

  • If you are experiencing an emergency, go directly to the closest hospital emergency room or call 111. This includes injuries that need immediate treatment, such as a fractured jaw, severe cuts or lacerations to your mouth, or injuries that are causing bleeding, swelling, restrictions to your breathing or swallowing, or severe redness.
  • If you have a dental emergency that is not life-threatening but is urgent, you need to book an emergency dentist appointment. Talk about your symptoms with the receptionist. They may suggest seeking medical care if your injury needs immediate medical attention.

 It can be helpful to choose a regular dentist offering longer opening hours as dental emergencies can happen anytime, including after work and on the weekends.  

At Gentle Dental, we have three Wellington locations open until 6 pm or 8 pm most weeknights (excluding Friday). We also have two clinics open on Saturdays. We also offer same-day appointments for dental emergencies, making it easy to book an emergency appointment when you need it.   

How to Avoid a Dental Emergency 

Some dental emergencies are more common than others. Here are some ways to avoid common dental emergencies: 

 Unexpected toothaches: Toothaches can appear out of nowhere, but usually have underlying issues that have been developing for a while. To avoid severe toothaches, brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly, and visit your dentist for a check-up and cleaning every six months. 

Loose teeth: If you play sport, wear a mouthguard even for non-contact sports like basketball. Avoid diving into pools or performing back flips in unsafe environments.  

Chipped teeth: Don’t use your teeth to open packages or bottles. Eat a balanced diet and avoid chewing on hard or very sticky foods.   

Dental emergencies are more common than you think. Many dental issues are caused by seemingly normal activities, like eating certain foods (or failing to go to the dentist) rather than injuries or falls. If you need an emergency dentist appointment in Wellington, see our friendly team at Gentle Dental. With same-day appointments available where possible, we can ensure the health of your smile.

July 11, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

What to Expect From a Root Canal Treatment

Root canals might seem scary, but the procedure is necessary for preventing infected, decayed or injured teeth from further decay and eventual extraction. Here’s what to expect from a root canal treatment.  

What is a root canal? 

A root canal is a treatment for removing decay from inside a tooth. Soft tissue, known as the pulp, is at the centre of a tooth. This pulp contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissues and extends from the tooth’s crown down to the roots. The pulp is vital to the development and growth of a tooth, while the nerves are what give our teeth sensitivity to hot and cold foods.  

During a root canal treatment, a dentist will remove the nerve and pulp at the tooth’s centre. The inside of the tooth is then cleaned and sealed to prevent further decay and to repair and restore the tooth.  

A dentist can perform a root canal. However, if your root canal treatment is complicated, a dentist might refer you to an endodontist — a type of specialist dentist that has expertise in the treatment of dental pulp. 

Why does the tooth pulp need to be removed? 

 Left untreated, the bacteria inside a tooth’s pulp can cause an infection or abscessed tooth. An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms at the tooth’s roots and can’t always be treated by a root canal. The infection may be so bad at this stage that the entire tooth needs to be removed.  

When an infection spreads to the roots of a tooth, it can also cause: 

  • Swelling of the face and neck 
  • Bone loss near the tip of the root 

Dentists generally don’t like removing teeth if they can help it. Teeth provide support and structure for one another, and extraction can leave the remaining teeth unsupported without an implant or teeth bridge to fill the gap. These procedures are also more costly than preventing tooth decay in the first place. 

How do I know if I need a root canal? 

There are several reasons why the pulp inside a tooth may become diseased: 

  • Tooth trauma, or injury 
  • Cracking or fracturing of the tooth 
  • Cavities or decay 
  • Repeated dental procedures 
  • Extreme wear and tear 
  • Large fillings

If you experience the following symptoms, you might need a root canal: 

  • Severe tooth pain when biting or chewing 
  • A chipped or cracked tooth 
  • Swelling or tenderness of the gums 
  • Decay or darkening of the gums 
  • Pimples on your gums 
  • Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures that lasts for longer than usual 
What can I expect during a root canal treatment? 

Root canal treatments can vary depending on how severely the tooth is decayed. A dentist will usually complete a root canal in one to two appointments. You may need an initial consultation followed by an appointment to remove the infected pulp. Tooth crowns are usually fitted at a second appointment. A root canal treatment typically includes the following steps 

  • The dentist or endodontist will take an x-ray of the tooth to see the shape of the root canals beneath the surface. The x-ray will help them determine if there are signs of infection in the surrounding bone.  
  • Local anaesthetic is administered to numb the tooth. A dental dam is often placed over the tooth to keep it isolated and prevent saliva from filling the tooth during the treatment. 
  • An opening is made in the tooth’s crown with a drill or small tool. The dentist removes the decayed tissue, pulp and bacteria from the tooth. The inside of the tooth is cleaned thoroughly, including the pulp chamber and root canals. 
  • The root canals are then sealed with a rubber-like compound called gutta-percha. In cases of infection, the dentist may wait a week before filling the tooth so that the root canals can be treated first. In this case, the dentist temporarily seals the tooth to keep out food debris and saliva. 
  • A filling is fitted to close the hole in the tooth’s crown. In some cases the patient may need a crown to restore the tooth further and prevent the tooth from breaking or cracking in the future. 
What should I do after root canal treatment? 

Most people experience sensitivity, pain or swelling in the treated area for the first few days, but can go back to school or work after treatment. 

Here are some things you can do to help recover after a root canal:  

  • Eat soft foods that don’t require much chewing 
  • Avoid hard foods or hot foods as these can hurt your teeth 
  • Listen to any advice from your dentist
  • Wait until the numbness has worn off before you eat 
  • Try to avoid chewing with the affected tooth until your procedure is completed 
  • Brush, floss and use an antiseptic mouthwash regularly 

Root canal treatment is highly successful, with tooth survival rates of 97%. After the tooth has healed, it will function as it usually does. To ensure the success of your treatment, talk to your dentist about after-care solutions and whether you need a follow-up appointment in the weeks following the root canal. 

Scheduling regular dental checkups is the best way to maintain tooth health and prevent tooth decay from becoming an infection or abscess. If you are experiencing tooth pain or discomfort, contact the friendly team at the Gentle Dental Centre to book an initial assessment. 

June 24, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

How does sugar affect your teeth?

Even if you don’t eat a lot of sweets, it’s hard to avoid eating sugar altogether. Refined  sugar is found in a wide variety of foods, especially snack foods, sauces, and even ‘health foods’.

Cutting down on sugar is important as too much sugar can affect your teeth by causing cavities. Here’s everything you need to know about how sugar affects your teeth.

Why is sugar bad for our teeth?

Sugar is bad for our teeth because when combined with the bacteria in plaque it produces acid. This acid slowly dissolves tooth enamel and can cause holes or cavities in teeth. Thousands of New Zealand kids go into hospital for dental treatment every year with diet found to be a leading factor of dental problems.

Most dentists and oral surgeons typically recommend cutting back on all sugars—from sugary drinks to lollies and even muesli bars—in order to protect your teeth from decay and erosion.

Natural sugars come from whole foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy products and grains. Refined sugars are added to food during processing or preparation. The more sugary foods you eat, the greater your risk of developing cavities. The bottom line is that if you want healthy teeth and gums for life, you must limit the amount of sugary food and drink you consume each day.

What are the effects  of eating too much sugar?

In addition to the health risks that can come from eating too much sugar—including obesity, elevated blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes—there are also serious oral health consequences.

This can lead to cavities as well as tooth erosion—which is irreversible if left untreated.

Sugar’s damaging effects don’t stop there. Excessive amounts of sugar can also contribute to dry mouth, a condition that leaves you feeling parched and irritated. In addition, when plaque isn’t removed by brushing and flossing between teeth regularly (as should be done twice daily), it hardens into tartar.

Eating too much sugar has a wide range of negative effects on dental health. However, you don’t have to be eating excessive amounts of sugars or ‘bad’ foods to harm your teeth.

What are the worst sugary foods for your teeth?

The foods that contribute the most to tooth decay in children are:

  • White bread – white bread is low in fibre and can turn into a sticky paste which coats the teeth. Switch to wholegrain or brown bread. This will also keep you full for longer.
  • Fruit juice – juice is highly acidic as well as being high in sugar. Swap fruit juice for water or drink a glass of water after your morning orange juice.
  • Refined breakfast cereals – many breakfast cereals appear to be ‘healthy’ but actually contain a high amount of sugar. Weet-Bix or rolled oats are low sugar breakfast options that are better for your teeth.
  • Confectionary and cakes – baked goods are often high in sugar, and your body doesn’t get a lot of energy or nutrients from these foods.  .
  • Soft drinks – sugary sodas are one of the worst offenders for causing tooth decay. Children should not consume soft drinks regularly as they are very high in caffeine and sugar and low in nutrients. Don’t keep soft drinks in your house as an everyday drink.
  • Ice cream – dessert foods like ice cream are high in sugar and should be treated as a sometimes food rather than an everyday snack.
  • Noodles – noodles are low in nutrients when consumed on their own. Pair your noodles with vegetables and meats or tofu for a more nutritious snack. Noodles don’t contain a lot of sugar, but they are high in refined carbohydrates. The study showed that children consuming more refined carbs tended to have more cavities.
Can you have too little sugar in your diet?

Yes, you can have too little sugar in your diet. Eating too little sugar can result in low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. However, most people are getting more than enough sugar in their diet. In fact, according to some data, New Zealand has one of the highest rates of sugar consumption in the world.  Other  reports suggest kiwis consume around 37 teaspoons of sugar a day—six times as much as they should.

Even if you avoid  biscuits, lollies, soda, baking and adding sugar to your tea or coffee, you can still get enough sugar through eating:

  • Tomato sauce and paste
  • Mayonnaise
  • Pasta and cooking sauces
  • Protein cookies and bars
  • Dried fruits
  • Flavoured yoghurts
  • Low fat products
  • Single serve oatmeal with dried fruits
  • Iced teas
  • Tinned fruit

How to protect your teeth from sugar

There are multiple ways to prevent sugar from destroying your teeth.

Limit your intake of sugar as much as possible

This not only helps keep your dental health in check but will help regulate your blood pressure and avoid sugar crashes throughout the day.

Eating more calcium-rich foods

Yoghurt and cheese are high in calcium which are good for tooth strength. Just avoid yoghurts with added sugar or flavours. Hard foods are also great for tooth strength. Apples, broccoli, carrots and pears are crunchy, fibrous and produce saliva which washes out your mouth.

Drink more water

Saliva is great for washing away particles in your mouth that would otherwise cling to your teeth. Drink water after every meal and make sure you’re drinking at least 2L a day. If you don’t like drinking water, try drinking natural sparkling water or adding ice cubes or a slice of lemon, kiwi, or lime to your glass.

Floss and brush every day

Drinking water will help flush out the food particles in your mouth, but it won’t help dislodge more stubborn bits of food. Brush for two minutes morning and night and floss every day.

Use a fluoride toothpaste

Fluoride acts as a protective shield around your teeth. Make sure you are brushing with a fluoride toothpaste so that your teeth and gums get the benefits of strong tooth enamel.

See your dentist regularly

If it’s been more than six months since your last  checkup, you need to book an appointment with your dentist. Book your appointment for a dental consultation or checkup now.

June 2, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

Should I brush before or after breakfast?

Everybody knows that dentists recommend brushing your teeth for twice a day and that brushing should take two full minutes, for healthy teeth and gums. However, when to brush is another question. Is there any benefit to brushing when you wake up rather than waiting until after breakfast? 

Most people brush their teeth after breakfast because it seems to make the most sense. After all, you don’t have to risk drinking orange juice with a minty tasting mouth. Plus, you can leave the house for work or school, knowing there’s no food lodged in your teeth.  

However, there is data that suggests brushing when you wake up is more beneficial than waiting until after you’ve eaten for the first time. 

Brushing your teeth at the same time each day can help create a regular habit. And, if brushing before or after breakfast helps you to remember to brush each morning, you may be better off sticking to your regular morning routine, regardless.   

Why it might be better to brush your teeth before breakfast 

When we sleep, we produce less saliva because our mouth is in a restful state. While this is good for our sleep cycle (and pillows) this lack of saliva dries our mouths out during the night and can leave us with a bad taste when we wake up.  

There is another downside to producing less saliva overnight. While we sleep, plaque-causing bacteria are multiplying in our mouth. Sometimes our teeth can feel like they are coated in a slippery film when we wake up because there is no saliva to wash the plaque away.  

Brushing when we wake up, washes away the bacteria and plaque that cling to our teeth. The fluoride in our toothpaste not only rids your teeth from cavity-causing nasties, but it also coats the enamel of our teeth with a protective layer that prevents acids from eating away at the tooth. 

Brushing first thing in the morning also helps to kick-start saliva production.   

The downsides of brushing your teeth after breakfast 

Brushing your teeth before breakfast is more beneficial, but are there any downsides to waiting until after breakfast? 

Dentists recommend waiting thirty minutes after you’ve eaten before brushing your teeth. For some people, there isn’t enough time in their morning routine to wait that long. However, if you brush your teeth immediately after eating breakfast rather than removing bacteria from your mouth, you can actually end up covering your teeth with remnants of acidic food. This can weaken the enamel of your teeth.  

Some breakfast foods are actually bad for your tooth enamel. This is because they can be high in acids, or sugars, or when saliva breaks them down, they turn into sugar. If you eat the following foods in the morning, don’t brush your teeth immediately after eating: 

  • Citrus fruits – these fruits are high in natural acids. While citrus fruits are high in vitamin c and other nutrients, their acid erodes enamel making your teeth vulnerable to cavities. Eat citrus fruit in moderation and wash your mouth by rinsing or drinking water after you consume these fruits. 
  • Dried fruit – dried fruit has lots of good health benefits. However, the stickiness of dried fruit can make them cling to your teeth where they leave behind sugars which attack your tooth enamel. Always brush and floss at least 30 minutes after eating dried fruits and rinse your mouth by drinking water. 
  • White bread – when you eat highly processed bread, like the white variety, the saliva in your mouth breaks down the bread’s starch into sugar. White bread also turns into a gluey paste in your mouth, coating our teeth and crevices in between them where they release sugars which attack our tooth enamel. Switch to wholegrain breads instead. 
  • Orange juice — you may think that drinking orange juice is less harmful to your teeth than eating citrus fruit, but even the juice of an orange contains quite a lot of acid. Drink orange juice in moderation or drink alongside a glass of water so that the acids aren’t clinging to your teeth.  
  • Pastries — like white bread, pastries are high in sugar and can coat the mouth in a sugary paste when you chew. Make sure you drink plenty of water and brush your teeth after thirty minutes after you eat pastries. Pastries are high in fat and sugar and should not be consumed regularly. 

Brushing after eating these foods can push the acids and sugars around your mouth where they can attack the delicate enamel coating on your teeth. However, if you brush your teeth before breakfast, the sugars from these foods will cling to your teeth for the rest of the day. So, what should you do? 

If you consume any of the above foods for breakfast, wait at least thirty minutes before you brush your teeth. This way, you’ll rid your mouth of sugars and acid which can attack your enamel through the day while avoiding brushing sugars into your teeth. 

Regular checkups are the best way to maintain and monitor oral health regardless of when you brush your teeth. If you need to book an appointment with a dental health professional, clickhere. 

May 23, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

The top 3 dental concerns seniors should look out for

As we age, the risk of dental diseases increases. Our teeth, mouth and gums are put through a lot throughout a lifetime. Chewing, gnashing and grinding, smoking, eating sugar and sticky foods, poor diets and medications and a decrease in dental care can all take their toll.

All of these factors can increase the chances that as seniors, we’ll have to deal with oral health problems. Seniors are particularly at risk of developing the following oral health conditions. 

Gum Disease

The bacteria found in plaque and tartar can cause gum disease, which can contribute to a whole host of problems for your mouth and gums. Also called periodontal disease, early signs of gum disease include red irritated gums and bleeding when you floss or brush your teeth near the gum line.

Gingivitis is an early sign of gum disease. A buildup of bacteria where the gums meet the teeth causes the gums to become inflamed. Left untreated this can develop into periodontitis, which is more serious. Periodontitis damages the tissues of the gum and the bones that support the teeth.

Gum disease can:

  • cause discomfort and make it harder to chew
  • effect a senior’s immune system
  • cause bad breath
  • result in irreversible bone loss

Seniors are at increased risk of gum disease due to already lowered immune systems and decreased mobility which can make it hard to brush their teeth and gums thoroughly.

Dry Mouth

A dry mouth might not sound like a big concern, but it can lead to all sorts of oral health issues. A lack of saliva in the mouth increases the risk of cavities, contributes to digestion issues, and increases the chance of an oral infection. 

Saliva is essential for washing away plaque, food particles, and sugars. Without a good saliva flow, acids, plaque and bacteria can build up in the mouth. These can eat away at the delicate enamel on our teeth and cause cavities.

Although our mouths dry naturally a little as we age, the number one contributor to dry mouth in seniors is medication. Many medications list dry mouth as a possible side effect. Encouraging seniors to drink more water, and avoid sugary foods and drinks, will help. Sugar-free lozenges can help stimulate saliva production which naturally rinses out the mouth.

Tooth loss

Some people may think that losing teeth is a natural side effect of getting older. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Being proactive about your oral health and adopting good hygiene habits will ensure your natural teeth last a lifetime. Unfortunately, untreated signs of gum disease, cavities, old dental work, and general poor health can contribute to tooth loss.

We only get one set of teeth so it’s important that we look after them.

What can seniors do to prevent these dental issues?

It’s not inevitable that we’ll lose our teeth, or get gum disease as we age. However, seniors should be aware that they need to be vigilant about their oral hygiene, even more so than when they were younger. Unfortunately, a loss of mobility or declining health can make it even harder for seniors to create healthy oral habits.

If a senior in your family is in a rest home or receives in-home care, talk to the primary carer about setting up a routine that is proactive about their tooth health. It’s a good idea to buy an electric toothbrush rather than a manual one, as these are more effective at getting rid of plaque. Most modern electric toothbrushes also come with two-minute timers, making it easier for seniors to know whether they have brushed for long enough.

Here are some habits you can talk to seniors and their primary carers about:

 

  • Seeing their dentist regularly (regardless of oral health symptoms)
  • Brushing and flossing every morning and night
  • Using an electric toothbrush to make brushing easier
  • Avoiding smoking, and eating too much sugar
  • Checking their medications for side effects of dry mouth
  • Increasing their daily water consumption

 

Regular checkups are the best way to maintain and monitor oral health as we age. If you need to book an appointment with a dental health professional click here.

May 16, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

How to pack a lunch that promotes good oral health

Good oral health is important for everyone, but especially for children. If you are a parent, here are some ways you can pack your child’s lunch to ensure their teeth are well looked after.

Healthy eating habits aren’t only good for a child’s body. They’re important for the health of their teeth too and can protect children (and adults) from gum disease, cavities, plague and adult tooth loss.

Even if your child brushes their teeth regularly, they can still be at risk of cavities if their diet isn’t packed with the right nutrients. As a parent, you can be proactive in their dental care by packing a lunch that includes foods that promote good oral health.

Easy ways to buy foods that are good for your child’s oral health

Foods that contain a lot of carbs, sugars and starch produce more plaque acids in the mouth. This is what attacks the enamel on teeth and leads to cavities. If you’re not sure if something is good for your child’s teeth, check the nutrition label for the presence of sugars.

As a general rule, whole foods, grainy pieces of bread and foods that aren’t as processed are always going to be better for oral health as they contain a high level of nutrients and are lower in sugar. 

Some easy swaps include:

  • White bread for a whole grain variety
  • Sugary soda or fruit juice for water
  • Processed fruit snacks for real fruit
  • Sugar and lollies for protein-rich foods

What foods should I pack for lunch that improve oral health?

Milk, Yoghurt, Cheese

Dairy products contain calcium which is good for your teeth and gums. Your bones need calcium to grow and remain strong. Plain yoghurt, milk and cheese products are great for lunches as they are easy to pack full while providing protein for fullness and neutralising acids that bacteria can create.

Apples, Carrots, Celery

Crunchy foods such as carrots, celery, raw broccoli, and apples are great for oral health. Their firm exterior scrapes away plaque left on the teeth while their firmness prevents particles from getting stuck between the teeth. This keeps your breath smelling fresher as lodged food produces plaque and acids which smell. Apples and other crunchy fruit and vegetables promote saliva production which helps remove bacteria on the gums and around the mouth.  

Water

Water is great for teeth health because it helps keep saliva flowing and helps to dislodge pieces of food that are stuck between the teeth. Bottled water from the tap is good for children, especially if it’s fluoridated. Avoid bottled water that is flavored, or labelled as ‘enhanced’ water. These options usually contain additives and high amounts of sugar. 

Tomatoes, Peppers, Broccoli, Potatoes and Spinach

These vegetables are great for teeth because they contain vitamin C which is vital for retaining healthy gums. While on their own these foods aren’t very convenient for lunch, there are ways to ensure your child is getting vegetables at lunchtime. Potato fritters with spinach, chopped tomato and pepper and shredded broccoli can be made the night before and packed cold in your child’s lunch box. You can also batch make and freeze them for added convenience.

What foods are bad for oral health and aren’t recommended for oral health?

Soft breads

White bread is highly processed and easily coats your child’s teeth in a soft, sticky paste. If your child has braces, it’s also a good idea to avoid white bread completely. Whole-grain breads are denser and don’t stick to teeth in the same way.

Chips 

Potato crisps are an easy and common snack idea, however, their small particles get stuck on teeth easily. Nuts make a good alternative as they are full of fiber and protein which will keep their smile healthy and teeth clean.

Imitation Fruit Snacks

Fruit roll-ups, leathers and other fruit snacks sound like healthy food but they usually only contain a small amount of fruit. Any nutritional benefits are also outweighed by their high sugar content. Fruit leathers are often hard and chewy which causes them to stick to teeth and encourage the production of acids. Swap any fruit alternatives for the real thing.

How snacking and eating habits effect oral health 

While packing healthy snacks promotes healthy eating habits, snacking too much is bad for your oral health. Frequent snacking promotes acid attacks on your teeth. It’s much better to eat a snack in one sitting rather than graze on foods throughout the day.

Remember to drink liquids while you are snacking. This will help produce saliva and wash away any food particles likely to get stuck in your teeth. Teach your children to drink during snack times at home. This will encourage them to drink more water while they are at school.

As well as adopting healthy eating habits, oral health problems can be avoided by brushing and flossing twice a day and seeing your dentist every six months. Book your next dental appointment here.

April 6, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

Is a Cavity Filling a Permanent Solution?

If you’ve ever had tooth decay, your dentist may have treated it by giving you a filling. While fillings are a great long-term solution for treating tooth decay, they are not permanent. You still need to take care of your teeth and mouth. Eventually, your filling will need replacing. Here are some things you need to know about getting a replacement filling.

How often does my filling need replacing?

Fillings are a great solution for treating tooth decay. They are durable and restore the overall strength of your teeth. However, a filling won’t last forever. The shelf life of a filling largely depends on what materials it is made of.

Amalgam Fillings

Silver fillings, also known as amalgam fillings, are very durable and can last 15 years before they need to be replaced. One downside to amalgam fillings is that the metals can expand and contract in the mouth. This can cause the surrounding area of the tooth to fracture and crack. It’s always a good idea to get amalgam fillings checked regularly.

Composite Fillings

These white fillings are made from a polymer composite resin. While they don’t last as long as amalgam fillings, they can last up to seven years. Composite fillings do not expand in your mouth and won’t cause your teeth to crack. However, if you have composite fillings, you should still regularly get them checked by a dentist.

Ceramic Fillings

Ceramic fillings are made from porcelain and can last up to fifteen years. Ceramic fillings can be pretty expensive and are generally less common than composite or amalgam fillings.

Why do fillings need to be replaced?

There are a few reasons why a filling might need to be replaced over time.

  • Daily wear and tear in the mouth weaken the filling after years of contact with hard foods and hot and cold liquids.
  • Chewing can put your fillings under pressure. Over time, your filling material gets weaker and doesn’t protect your tooth in the same way.
  • Cracking or tooth trauma can damage your filling and cause it to crack, chip or fall out.
  • You may also choose to get a silver filling replaced with something less noticeable, like composite.

How do I know if my filling needs to be replaced?

The best way to know if your filling needs to be replaced is to book an appointment with your dentist. Regular dental checkups every six months ensure that your fillings are strong and protect your teeth from further dental decay and cavities. Your dentist will check your fillings and will be able to tell you if it’s time for a new one.

If you’ve noticed any new changes in your filling, you should book in for a checkup. Changes can include:

  • pain in a tooth with a filling
  • the filling suddenly feeling sharp
  • a cracking sound in a tooth with a filling
  • part of the filling coming off in your mouth

How can I make my fillings last longer?

While the materials that fillings are made from generally have a finite shelf life, there are ways you can ensure your fillings last as long as possible.

Your eating habits have a significant impact on the general health of your teeth. Adding raw, crunchy fruits and vegetables (celery, carrots, apples etc.) is an easy way to get your five plus a day and keep your teeth nice and strong. Eating less sugar will help your teeth avoid further cavities.

Dental hygiene is the number one way to make your fillings last—book regular checkups with your dentist every six months. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss regularly.

Wear a mouthguard while playing sport. Dental trauma can cause your tooth and filling to come loose.

Wear a mouthguard while you sleep. If you grind your teeth, this can put extra pressure on your fillings. Wearing a mouth guard to bed will help prevent that additional stress on your teeth.

Avoid hard or sticky foods. Some fillings, like amalgam, are not bonded into the tooth, which means there is a chance they can come loose. Avoid eating sticky or hard foods that might coat your tooth or cause the filling to stick to the surface of the food.

Need a checkup for your fillings? Book an appointment at Gentle Dental today.

April 1, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

Is regenerating teeth an alternative to cavity filling?

Imagine if rather than getting a filling to fix tooth decay, you could get a whole new tooth! While it might sound like science fiction, dental researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science have actually created new teeth within a laboratory setting.

Researchers use lasers to stimulate stem cells to form dentin inside the mouth of real test subjects.

What does this mean for the future of dentistry?

 This breakthrough in dental research means instead of placing a filling in your tooth, dentists may actually be able to grow you a whole new tooth.

Fixing cavities with fillings means that dentists often have to destroy part of your tooth. The decay needs to be removed by drilling a hole and the hole repaired with a filling. Overall, fillings do weaken the structural integrity of the tooth. To be able to grow an entirely new, healthy and strong tooth would be an amazing alternative.

How does regenerating teeth work?

Researchers have been trying to recreate tooth material using stem cells for years. However, until now, they have never succeeded in using stem cells outside of a laboratory setting.

This new research is different as researchers have generated dentin inside the mouths of patients. The researchers used lasers and growth factors to encourage stem cells in the mouth to grow into dentin.

Researchers drilled into teeth to access the stem cells found in the molars. These cells were exposed to low-level lasers, and dental crowns were then put over their teeth. After 12 weeks the researchers found that the dentin in the teeth was successfully regrowing.

What is dentin and why is it important?

Dentin is a hard material that makes up part of your tooth. Although it’s less well known than pulp and enamel, dentin is very important as it makes up the majority of the structure of the tooth. Dentin is the layer between the enamel and the pulp.

How long will it take for teeth regeneration to become viable?

Science is still in its early days which means traditional fillings will be the norm for the foreseeable future. However, scientists are excited by the possibility that tooth regeneration will one day become the norm.

It’s also likely that there will always be a place for treating cavities with fillings. Regenerating new teeth may be costly and currently, the procedure takes a long time. The research will also need to undergo a lot of scrutiny and health checks to make sure it is safe for humans. So far, research has only been carried out (albeit successfully) on rats.

Since there’s no telling when tooth regeneration will become an option for treating tooth decay, you should always look after your teeth as best you can. You can always prevent cavities from forming. When it comes to cavities, prevention is always better than a cure.

How can I avoid cavities?

 Cavities are permanent damage caused to the surface enamel of your teeth. Tooth decay can be caused by sugar, mouth bacteria and plaque buildup on your teeth. To prevent cavities from forming there are several healthy habits you can adopt.

 

  • Adopt a regular cleaning routine. Brush twice a day and floss between your teeth regularly. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes every time you brush.
  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps to build up the strength of your tooth enamel.
  • Avoid sipping sugary drinks. Sugars can cause an increase in acid in the mouth which attacks the enamel of your teeth. Cut down on soft drinks, energy drinks and adding sugars to tea and coffee. Sipping sugary drinks throughout the day can create the perfect breeding ground for acid and bacteria.
  • Avoid foods that get stuck in your teeth. Nuts and chips can be bad for your teeth as they get stuck easily behind and between teeth.
  • Visit your dentist regularly. Plaque can build up in hard-to-reach places in the mouth. Seeing your dentist regularly will ensure that all parts of your teeth are taken care of.

 

Need a checkup for your teeth? Book an appointment at Gentle Dental today.