If you have a buildup of tartar on the back of your bottom teeth you’re not alone. This is a common problem. The good news is tartar is treatable and preventable.
Our gums’ play an important role in the health of our mouth. They act as a barrier against bacteria and keep our teeth in place. But what happens when they start to recede? If you think you’re experiencing receding gums, here’s what you need to know about the causes and how to treat it.
What are receding gums?
Gum recession is when the gum starts to pull away and exposes more of the tooth or the root. When this happens, a pocket or gap can also form between the tooth and gum, making it easier for bacteria to build up.
How do you spot receding gums?
Receding gums can be hard to spot as it usually happens very slowly. Gum recession is a common problem, yet most people only notice when a tooth looks longer than normal. If you’ve noticed any teeth that are exposed to the root, this might be a sign of gum recession.
Other signs of gum recession are:
- Pain or discomfort on your gum line
- Sensitivity to heat, cold and sugar
- Sensitivity when you brush or floss
The best way to know if you have receding gums is to visit your dentist. Your dentist will measure your gums and the periodontal pockets around each tooth. A healthy tooth has a periodontal pocket of between 1 and 3 millimetres.
People with gum disease have larger periodontal pockets. With gingivitis or periodontal disease, a periodontal pocket might measure 4-5 millimetres or more. These pockets can trap bacteria, food and debris and increase the change of tooth cavities and decay. That’s why it’s so important to see your dentist as soon as you notice the signs of receding gums.
What causes gums to recede?
Gum disease, periodontal disease and poor oral hygiene are common causes of receding gums, but there are other causes unrelated to gum disease. These include:
Genetics: Some people have thinner gum tissue and are predisposed to gum recession as they age.
Trauma: If you have suffered a mouth injury or trauma, your gums may recede.
Misalignment: If your teeth are misaligned your gumline may be thinner above some teeth.
Brushing hard: Brushing too hard is bad for your gums and can contribute to them receding.
Piercings: Lip or tongue piercings can rub against your gums causing them to recede.
Hormones: For women, changes in hormones can lead to gum recession. This can particularly happen during puberty, pregnancy and menopause as hormones fluctuate the most during those times.
Smoking: Smoking tobacco products prevents the blood from circulating as easily in your gums.
Teeth grinding: Teeth grinding can pressure the teeth, contributing to receding gums.
Left untreated, gum recession can lead to oral health problems, including loose teeth, tooth loss, and even bone loss. No matter what causes your gums to recede, you should always book a checkup with your dentist.
How is gum recession treated?
The treatment for receding gums will depend on what’s causing it.
To treat sensitivity: If your tooth feels sensitive your dentist can use a desensitising agent or bonding agent to reduce the sensitivity of the exposed tooth root.
To treat the tooth’s appearance: Dental bonding is one way of hiding the appearance of a long tooth. Your dentist can camouflage the area that is more exposed with a tooth-coloured resin. Gum recession surgery is another option. During this procedure your dentist will perform a gum graft from the roof of your mouth to replace the missing tissue and stitch it into place. While this may sound a bit scary, gum grafts are minimally invasive. A periodontist will usually perform the procedure.
To fix misalignment issues: If your gums are receding due to a tooth misalignment your dentist may recommend braces. This will help to reposition your teeth, making them easier to clean and may help the gum correct itself over time.
To treat early signs of gum disease: Receding gums are often caused by gum disease. Mild receding gums can be treated with a deep cleaning of the area. This could include tooth scaling and root planning of the affected tooth. These will remove plaque and tartar buildup on the tooth, root surface and gum line.
To treat bone loss: If gum recession has caused bone loss around your teeth, your dentist may suggest a procedure to regrow lost bone and tissue. This involves removing bacteria and using a regenerative material like a membrane or tissue-stimulating protein to encourage natural regeneration.
Can you reverse receding gums?
In most cases you can’t reverse receding gums, but you can prevent it from happening. Around 88% of people over 65 have receding gums. Keeping up with good oral hygiene practices throughout your life will help. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily and visiting the dentist regularly will help prevent gum disease which is often the root cause of receding gums.
Book an appointment now
If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity or have noticed your gums receding book an appointment now with Gentle Dental.
Gum disease is a common problem that affects many New Zealand adults. Gingivitis, a mild form of the disease, often goes unnoticed. While gingivitis may not be painful, left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis, a destructive form of gum disease that isn’t reversible.
Good oral hygiene and professional dental care are key to treating early signs of gum disease, but did you know your diet plays an important part too?
A diet high in healthy foods works alongside good dental practices to help your body fight infections, keep your teeth and gums healthy and prevent gum disease.
Can you prevent gum disease with a healthy diet?
You can reduce your chances of developing gum disease with a healthy diet, but a good diet will not make up for poor oral hygiene habits. While food can work as medicine, even healthy foods like vegetables, protein, lean meats, and healthy fats can lead to plaque and tartar buildup if you don’t brush your teeth.
On the other hand, if you brush and floss daily but consume a diet high in processed foods, acids and sugars, you can still develop gum disease. This is because the right foods help nourish our bodies and give our bodies the building blocks they need to fight off bacteria. A healthy diet can make our teeth and gums stronger and healthier the risk of developing gingivitis.
Nutrients that help the treatment of gum disease
The right foods can nourish our oral microbiome, which helps our bodies fight gum disease. If you have gum disease, adding more foods that are rich in the following nutrients will help.
Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Our body requires Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) as an antioxidant for proper cell function. Studies show that people with high CoQ10 levels are less susceptible to gum disease. In fact, if you then develop gum disease, the concentration of CoQ10 increases in the gums to help slow inflammation.
Collagen is a protein that helps maintain connective tissue health, including the gums. When you have gum disease, the body reorganises tissue to manage inflammation. This leads to collagen degradation.
Catechins are phenols and antioxidants that help prevent gum inflammation and inhibit harmful bacteria, making them effective in treating gum disease.
Research shows that low levels of Vitamin C are associated with gum disease. By boosting the immune system, Vitamin C aids in fighting bacteria causing the disease and regenerating gum tissue. Additionally, collagen maturation requires Vitamin C, which helps maintain healthy periodontal ligaments and other tissues.
Beta carotene is a provitamin that the body converts to Vitamin A, and studies show that consuming foods rich in beta-carotene can aid in healing gum disease.
Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and necessary for a healthy immune system. A study has indicated that a higher intake of Omega-3s is inversely associated with gum disease.
Adding foods high in these nutrients will help your body fight gum disease more effectively. So too, will removing harmful foods from your diet. Eating less sugar and refined carbohydrates will help your body fight gum disease.
The best foods to eat if you have gum disease
Bone broth is a good source of collagen, which is essential in fighting gum disease and for good tissue health.
Broccoli is rich in Vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant in the body and is inversely associated with gum disease. It’s also a good source of other nutrients.
Cacao is high in disease-fighting catechins, fights cavities, plaque, and tooth decay, and contains a compound that hardens enamel.
Capsicums (red and green):
High in Vitamin C, capsicum are an easy way to boost your daily intake. Red capsicum contains over 300% of your daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C, and green capsicum contains over 200%.
Chicken contains CoQ10 and collagen, both excellent in fighting gum disease. The skin is a great source of collagen.
Grass-fed beef is a good source of collagen, which is essential in fighting gum disease. It’s also high in omega-3s and free from inflammatory, disease-causing components found in grain-fed beef.
Green tea is high in catechins and has an inverse relationship with periodontal disease. It’s a great alternative to sugary drinks.
Salmon, herring, and mackerel are high in omega-3s and have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. They are also great for the immune system.
Omega-3-rich nuts and seeds:
Macadamia nuts, pistachios, and sesame seeds are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory effects on the body and an inverse relationship with gum disease.
Fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi support good bacteria in the mouth and reduce gingivitis and plaque buildup. They are also thought to suppress the growth of oral pathogens.
Shiitake mushrooms contain lentinan, which targets harmful gum disease-causing bacteria. They are also anti-inflammatory.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which reduces inflammation and provides the body with the elements it needs to create Vitamin A. They are also high in other nutrients.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of gum disease, book an appointment with Gentle Dental now.
Good oral hygiene goes further than just brushing your teeth. Daily flossing is a crucial part of maintaining good oral health, preventing gum disease and tooth decay. As well as daily flossing, it’s important to use proper technique to rid your mouth of plaque in all those hard-to-reach areas.
Why floss every day
Flossing every day is an essential part of looking after your teeth. Yet, despite being an easy task, many people overlook the importance of flossing and don’t include it in their daily routine. In fact, over 80% of kiwis don’t floss every day which means plaque and food debris could be building up in their mouths. Adding flossing to your daily routine has many benefits including:
Removing plaque and food particles: Brushing your teeth only cleans some of the surfaces in your mouth, leaving the spaces between your teeth uncleaned. Flossing allows you to reach these areas and remove plaque and food particles that can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.
Preventing gum disease: Plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing can harden into tartar which can lead to gum disease. Flossing daily helps to remove this plaque as well as food particles that are stuck between your teeth. With plaque removed from these hard-to-clean places, you’re less at risk of developing gum disease.
Improving oral hygiene: Regular flossing helps to keep your mouth fresh and clean, and it helps to prevent bad breath caused by food particles and bacteria.
Increasing lifespan of your teeth: Regular flossing can help to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which can ultimately extend the lifespan of your teeth.
Supporting overall health: Maintaining good oral health is crucial for overall health. Studies have shown a link between oral health and other health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. By flossing daily, you can help to prevent oral health problems that could potentially impact your overall health.
Flossing your teeth every day has lots of health benefits. However, not everyone knows how to floss effectively. Follow these tips to get the most out of your flossing routine.
How to get the most out of flossing
Choose the right type of floss: Floss comes in many different types, including waxed and unwaxed, flavoured and unflavoured, and dental tape. Choose a floss that feels comfortable on your gums. If you don’t floss often you may want to choose a floss with a flat rather than rounded tape shape. This can make flossing against your gums more comfortable and reduce bleeding.
Floss at a time that works for you: Flossing should become a part of your daily routine. Flossing before or after brushing your teeth is the easiest way to incorporate it into your routine. If you usually rush through your morning routine, schedule your daily floss in the evening. That way you won’t be tempted to skip this important step.
Use the correct technique: Hold the floss taut between your thumbs and index fingers, and gently slide it up and down between each tooth, being careful not to damage the gum tissue. Move the floss in a “C” shape around the base of each tooth, making sure to reach the gum line. Repeat this with each tooth, using a fresh section of floss.
Be gentle: Being gentle when flossing will avoid damage to your gums. Use a light pressure when guiding the floss between your teeth, and curve it gently around each tooth, taking care not to force it or snap it into your gums.
Don’t be afraid to use enough floss: Using too little floss will not effectively remove plaque and food particles. Aim to use about 30 centimetres of floss for each session.
Don’t forget the back teeth: Many people don’t floss their back teeth, but they are just as important as the front teeth. Use the same technique to floss between your back teeth, being careful not to miss any spots.
Rinse and repeat: After you’ve finished flossing, rinse your mouth with water to remove any remaining food particles or bacteria. Then, repeat the process on the other side of your mouth.
Make flossing a habit: Consistency is key when it comes to flossing. Make sure to floss every day and set aside a few minutes each day to focus on your oral hygiene routine.
How to floss if you have braces
Looking after your teeth when you have braces is important as food can get trapped more easily between the brackets and wires in your mouth. It’s not impossible to floss with regular floss when you have braces, however there are some products that make flossing easier.
Dental superfloss is a thicker spongy type of floss that is designed for slipping between braces or under a dental bar on the back of your teeth. Rather than coming in a single continuous spool, super floss is cut into separate strands and each strand has two stiff ends. These thin hard plastic ends make it easy to slip the super floss through a gap in your teeth or behind the wire of your braces. Once you have threaded the floss through you can floss as normal.
Interdental brushes are good for getting rid of food and plaque from between teeth, whether or not you have braces. These small brushes have a bristled head designed to fit between the small gaps between teeth.
Flossing is an important part of maintaining good oral hygiene. By taking the time to floss properly, you can remove food particles and bacteria from between your teeth and gums, prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Flossing signs you should see your dentist
While you are flossing look out for any of these symptoms.
Bleeding gums: If you haven’t flossed for a while, the pressure of the floss on your gums could make your gums bleed. If your gums look inflamed, bleed for more than a few days after you begin flossing or your gums are tender, this could be a sign of gum disease.
Shredded floss: When you are flossing, the string should glide between your teeth. If you find the floss is ripped when you floss it could be catching on something between your teeth. You could have a cracked tooth or a broken crown and not know it.
Tooth pain: If you are experiencing regular pain next to a specific tooth when you floss it could be a sign of a bigger problem. Tooth decay or loose fillings can cause pain when you floss.
A bad smell or taste: If you haven’t flossed for a while, it’s normal for the plaque or food particles to smell. If you’re flossing regularly and notice a bad smell, it could be a sign of tooth decay.
If you notice any of these problems when flossing regularly, book a dental appointment with Gentle Dental. Experience the technology, expertise and gentle approach of the best dentists in Wellington. Book an appointment today.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you have tooth decay, your dentist may ask you whether you want an amalgam or composite filling. In both cases, your dentist will treat your teeth by removing any decay and fitting you with a fling. However, amalgam and composite fillings are different in appearance, materials, and overall performance.
Here’s everything you should know about choosing the right filing for your mouth.
What are amalgam fillings?
If you’ve never heard of amalgam fillings before, you will have seen them. Amalgam fillings are usually referred to as silver fillings and these are very common in older dental patients. In fact, dentists have used amalgam to treat cavities for around 150 years.
Amalgam fillings get their silver colour from the materials they are made from — usually silver, tin, copper, and mercury.
What are the key properties of amalgam fillings?
Amalgam fillings have been the go-to option of dentists for years. They are:
- Less expensive than composite fillings
- Durable and long-lasting
- Harden quickly makes them quick to fit in place
What are the pros and cons of amalgam fillings?
There are lots of benefits to having silver amalgam fillings. These filings:
- Can last for over a decade with proper dental hygiene habits and care
- Are strong and can easily fill large cavities within a tooth
- Have a lower price point and are more affordable than composite filings
- Harden quickly which makes treatment less stressful for anxious patients
While there is nothing wrong with having amalgam fillings, there are a few reasons why dentists may prefer a composite filling instead.
- Amalgam fillings are very noticeable even when fitted onto the back teeth.
- Patients with metal allergies may have a bad reaction to the metals.
- Amalgam fillings sometimes require more of the tooth structure to be removed.
- Amalgam fillings expand and contract with exposure to some temperatures. This can cause fractures in the tooth.
- Amalgam fillings are made with 50% mercury. While this is generally low enough not to cause toxicity, mercury is still a toxic material.
What are the key properties of composite fillings?
Composite fillings blend in with the colour of the tooth and are made from a polymer-based resin that is free from mercury.
- They are often used as a long-term solution for small and medium filings
- They may not be an appropriate long-term solution for very large cavities. Porcelain fillings or a full crown are sometimes used instead.
What are the pros and cons of composite fillings?
- Composite resin does not last as long as amalgam and has a shelf life of around 5 years.
- They are usually more expensive than amalgam fillings.
- They can take longer to fit in the mouth than amalgam fillings as the composite resin is placed in layers into the mouth.
These might all sound like good reasons not to get a composite filing, but there are a few major reasons why some dentists prefer composite.
- Composite does not expand or change in size and won’t cause teeth to crack.
- They are virtually undetectable. Composite blends in with the colour of your tooth.
- Dentists don’t have to remove as much of the tooth as composite fillings bond to the tooth. This means the tooth is stronger as it has more structure to provide support.
- Composite resin is completely nontoxic.
At Dental Gentle we prefer to use composite fillings as they are safer, non-toxic, and won’t compromise the structural integrity of the surrounding tooth. You also won’t have to worry about your fillings being visible when you open your mouth.
Need a checkup? Book an appointment at Gentle Dental today.
White teeth are a sign that you have great oral health. Therefore, if you start to see brown spots on a tooth or teeth, it’s understandable to be concerned. There is no one reason you may get brown spots on your teeth. Brown spots can be caused by a variety of factors – some of them serious and others not.
Spots on your teeth can range from brown to yellow, while some look like spots or patches and others look more like marks or lines. If you have noticed brown spots appear on your teeth it’s a good idea to have them checked out by your dentist as soon as possible.
Are discolored teeth always unhealthy?
No. Discoloured teeth aren’t automatically unhealthy. It’s important to know that teeth come in a wide range of shades. Just because your teeth aren’t a bright white doesn’t mean you have poor oral hygiene.
Teeth can naturally be shades of white, cream, and light yellow and still be perfectly healthy. However, brown spots and marks on the teeth can be a sign of dental decay or poor oral hygiene. Tooth discoloration is sometimes reported in association with some antibiotics, but this is very rare.
What causes brown spots on teeth?
Brown spots on teeth are unsightly but they may also be a sign of poor oral health. There are several reasons you may notice discoloration on your teeth:
Smoking Tobacco Products
Smoking is notoriously bad for your teeth. Tobacco of all kinds can cause surface stains on teeth and discoloration of the enamel. While this may sound like a mild price to pay for smoking, there are other side effects that are even worse for your teeth.
Smoking restricts the blood flow to your gums and can actually cause your teeth to loosen and fall out over time. Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your oral health. Chewing tobacco, cigarettes, and cigars are all bad for your oral health.
Dark Coloured Foods and Drink
Some foods and beverages can cause discoloration to your teeth. Coffee, tea, and red wine contain tannins that cause discoloration. Similarly, dark soft drinks like coca-cola do the same. Some foods can also cause discoloration to teeth including some berries and pomegranates.
There’s no real harm from eating berries to the overall health of your teeth. However, soft drinks, tea, and coffee are all acidic and can actually harm the enamel of your teeth. Cut back on the amount of these drinks you consume, use whitening toothpaste and drinking water to help reduce the acid on your tooth enamel.
One symptom of tooth decay is dark spots on the enamel of your teeth. This is caused by plaque and tartar bacteria eating away at the sugars in your food. Bacteria then produce enamels that attack the outer layer of enamel, which is designed to protect your teeth. As your tooth enamel weakens, your teeth may appear to discolour.
Dark spots of decay can appear around the edges of a filling or crown. These can grow and cause cavities over time. Eating less sugar is a great way to prevent tooth decay as is seeing your dentist on a regular basis.
Plaque Forms Into Tartar
When bacteria mix with saliva and food in the mouth it causes plaque to form. This is a white, sticky substance you may notice coats your teeth. Plaque can be removed by brushing your teeth. When plaque isn’t removed it turns hard and forms tartar. You may notice tartar building upon the backs of teeth or in hard-to-reach places in your mouth.
Once tartar has formed in your mouth it needs to be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist. Left untreated it can lead to gum disease and increase your chances of getting brown spots and cavities.
What symptoms to look out for
Brown spots on teeth can be a symptom of a cavity. If you notice spots forming on your teeth see a dentist as soon as possible. If the brown spots are accompanied by the following symptoms you may have tooth decay or gingivitis:
- Sore gums
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath
How to treat brown spots on teeth
See your dentist first before trying to treat brown spots on teeth yourself. You may need a filling or at worse, a root canal. If your dentist gives you the all-clear there are some additional things you can do to stop brown spots and tooth discoloration:
- Quit smoking immediately
- Brush teeth after drinking tea, coffee, or red wine
- Use a whitening toothpaste every day
- Use whitening strips – but only as directed
- Get your teeth professionally whitened
- Swap soda or caffeinated drinks for flavored water or herbal tea
- Brush after every meal and floss once a day
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks to reduce tooth decay
Are you concerned about brown spots on your teeth?
If you are concerned about brown spots on your teeth, see the friendly team at Gentle Dental. Our dentists will make sure your mouth, teeth, and gums are healthy. We can tell you whether the discoloration on your teeth is anything to worry about or a sign of a bigger problem. Book an appointment online today.
Tooth cavities are a common problem, but they are also preventable. A cavity is formed by permanent damage being caused to the hard surface of a tooth. Bacteria in the mouth, snacking on certain foods, sugary drinks and poor oral hygiene can cause these small holes to form.
Cavities are a common health problem for teenagers, and adults, however children and even babies can get cavities if parents don’t look after their teeth.
Left untreated cavities will usually only get worse. Cavities can cause infection, tooth decay and tooth loss. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to prevent your teeth from getting cavities.
Types of cavities
Cavities are caused by decaying areas on the surface of a tooth that develop into holes. There are different types of cavities:
- Smooth surface cavities: These usually occur on the sides of a tooth. Smooth surface cavities can be caused by not brushing or flossing in between each tooth.
- Root cavities: These occur near the bottom of the tooth enamel close to the gums. These can be caused by bacteria in the mouth and poor oral hygiene habits.
- Pit and Fissure cavities: These occur on the grooves in the surface of your teeth. Some teeth are more prone to cavities if food sits for a long time on the top of the teeth.
How do cavities form?
Bacteria cover all areas of our mouths including our teeth, gums, tongue and walls of our mouth. Not all types of bacteria are bad but cavities are formed when bacteria that use the sugars in foods make acid and that acid leads to tooth decay.
This is why sugary foods and snacks can cause cavities. It’s also why flossing and brushing regularly is so important. Dental plaque forms in the mouth naturally. These good oral hygiene habits help rid the mouth of the bad bacteria that hang around on plaque and the foods they use to attack our teeth.
Can you prevent a cavity from forming?
Teeth that have been exposed to acid – through a lack of brushing or too much sugar – usually develop white spots where our enamel starts to lose minerals from bacteria. This is a sign that early decay is happening and the tooth may get a cavity if the health of the tooth doesn’t improve.
Enamel can actually repair itself through minerals found in saliva and fluoride. However, if tooth decay continues, the enamel will lose more minerals and a hole, or cavity will form.
What are the symptoms of a tooth cavity?
You may not have any symptoms of early tooth decay, which is why it’s so important to brush and floss your teeth. As tooth decay gets larger you may experience:
- Toothache that comes and goes in the same spot
- Tooth sensitivity
- Sharp pain when you eat or drink sweet or hot or cold items
- White or brown stains or spots on the surface of a tooth
- Pain when biting down
- Visible holes in your tooth
What oral hygiene habits will help prevent cavities?
Preventing cavities largely comes down to practising good oral hygiene habits and avoiding a diet high in sugar. Here are some ways you can improve the health of your teeth and prevent cavities.
- Brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Brushing your teeth twice a day is important for dislodging food and plaque from your mouth. For best results use a fluoride toothpaste as fluoride helps to rid your mouth of acids and strengthens your enamel.
- Along with brushing you should floss in-between your teeth. Cavities can form on the sides of teeth in places where your toothbrush may not be able to reach.
- Rinse with mouthwash. Mouthwash can be helpful for neutralising sugars in the mouth.
- Get dental sealants. Some teeth are more prone to cavities on the surface of the teeth because the natural grooves can trap food more easily. Sealants can help seal off the areas that would sometimes get cavities more easily. Sealants are a good idea for school-aged children and can last up to seven years.
- Visit your dentist every six months. Just because your teeth look and feel healthy doesn’t mean they are. A professional examination and teeth cleanings will help spot any problems that you can’t see just by looking in the mirror.
- Drink fluoridated tap water. Many cities in New Zealand have fluoridated water supplies which have been shown to help reduce tooth decay. Switch from bottled water to a fluoridated water supply if you can.
- Avoid frequent snacking and sipping. Sugar drinks can create acids that destroy tooth enamel while foods like nuts, chips and pretzels can easily get lodged in hard-to-reach places. Snacking less and swapping water for soft drink will improve the health of your teeth.
- Eat tooth-healthy foods. Some foods are actually good for your teeth, gums and jaw. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables increases saliva, and drinking unsweetened coffee, tea and water help wash away food particles.
Prevent cavities by booking a dental appointment today
If you think you may have a cavity or haven’t visited a dentist in more than six months the best thing to do is book an appointment with a dentist. At Gentle Dental all of our dentists are highly qualified and experts in preventative care. Book an appointment today.
Just when smoking cigarettes was going out of style, vaping has caused an increase in young people smoking.
While vaping isn’t as bad for your health as cigarettes, the only people who should vape are those looking to quit smoking all together. Vaping is often thought of as non-harmful. However, early research into vaping shows that it is harmful to oral health.
While the side effects of smoking cigarettes have been known for a long time, vaping is relatively new. As a result there are less long-term studies on the health effects of using e-cigarettes.
What is known is that young people are vaping at higher rates of taking up smoking in the future. All in all, it’s better to not vape at all than to pick up a habit that has no benefit to your physical or oral health and could emerge to be just as harmful as smoking tobacco.
How is vaping harmful to your teeth?
Vaping may contain less nicotine than cigarettes, but the nicotine found in vape juice still has a negative effect on gums. Nicotine restricts blood flow to the gums, which affects the mouth’s ability to naturally fight off infection. This puts smokers of all kinds at higher risk of gingivitis or gum disease.
Another ingredient found in vapes is propylene glycol (PG). Although this substance is safe to inhale, when used orally it breaks down into acids that attack the enamel on teeth and can irritate the soft tissue in the mouth.
PG also reduces the amount of saliva a person produces. Saliva actually helps your mouth to prevent bacteria from forming. A dry mouth can lead to plaque buildup and gum disease. Worse still, teens who drink soft drinks or energy drinks rather than water are putting themselves at even more risk of dry mouth. The sugar found in these drinks feeds bacteria and eats away at enamel.
Another ingredient that is harmful to oral health is vegetable glycerin (VG). Found in vaping products this liquid sweetener helps Streptococcus mutans, a bacteria commonly found in oral cavities to stick to the grooves on the surface of your teeth.
These ingredients all help to dry out the mouth, increase bacteria, and reduce saliva production causing an increased risk for tooth and gum decay.
If you must vape reduce the dental side effects
If you are vaping to quit smoking, there are some measures you can take that may help. However, the best way to avoid vaping-related health problems is to quit as soon as possible. Since e-cigarettes are still relatively new, there’s no promise that doing these actions will reduce the amount of harm vaping causes to teeth and gums
- Limit your nicotine exposure. Since we know nicotine is bad for teeth and gums, choosing a low-nicotine or nicotine free juice will limit the negative effects on teeth and gums. If you are vaping to quit smoking, think about lowering the amount of nicotine you consume over time until you can smoke nicotine free.
- Drink water after vaping. Rehydrating after you smoke may help the immediate feeling of a dry mouth. However, the best way to avoid disruption to your saliva production is to not smoke at all.
- Brush your teeth twice a day. Brushing and flossing are important to prevent plaque buildup on teeth. Smokers are at higher risk of developing gum disease, so it is important to floss every day.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Smoking can repress the signs of gum disease, which means even if you have good oral hygiene habits you may still have gingivitis or gum disease. Visit your dentist or dental hygienist every six months while also maintaining a regular and thorough cleaning schedule.
What are some side effects I may experience from vaping?
Whether caused directly from vaping or not, any of the following symptoms are a sign you should see a dentist. These symptoms may be a sign of an underlying oral health condition which smoking is known to contribute to.
- bleeding or swollen gums
- sensitivity of teeth and gums from hot/cold
- dry mouth
- bad breath
- loose teeth
- mouth ulcers or sores that won’t heal
- toothache or mouth pain
- receding gums
The best thing you can do for your oral health is to quit smoking or vaping. If you are a vaper and haven’t seen your dentist in a while, we recommend booking an appointment with one of our friendly dentists.