Category: Prevention

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.

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.

March 28, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

Amalgam vs. Composite Fillings: Pros and Cons

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.  

March 1, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

Brown spots on teeth: What are they and how do you treat them?

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.

Tooth Decay

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.

November 28, 2021 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

Cavity Prevention: How to stop tooth decay turning into a cavity

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.

October 27, 2021 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

Is Vaping Bad For Your Teeth?

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.

October 13, 2021 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

Gum disease: Treatments, Symptoms & Prevention

Gum disease is a serious condition that can cause lose teeth, damage to gums and even the breakdown of the bones and connective tissues that hold your teeth in place.

Also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis, gum disease is caused by bacteria build up in the mouth. Plaque – that sticky white stuff that forms on teeth — is filled with bacteria. When plaque builds up it forms tartar ‘calculus’ which can harbour bacteria.

How can I prevent gum disease?

Your gums benefit from the same oral hygiene practices that the rest of your mouth does. When brushing make sure to gently brush your gums and the point where your teeth and gums connect. Use a soft toothbrush to ensure you are not damaging your gums.

Flossing is particularly important to prevent gum disease. Since gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque, flossing can get rid of the buildup that a toothbrush just can’t reach. For best results, floss at least three times a week and ideally once per day.

See your dentist every six months. If you do happen to have a buildup of plaque or tartar on your teeth, regular visits to your dental hygienist can help keep your teeth and gums in good shape. However, prevention is always better than the cure. Seeing your dentist shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for flossing or brushing.

Use an electric toothbrush. Electric brushes have small heads and can make it easier to brush all angles of your teeth.

What is the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?

Gingivitis is a milder form of periodontitis. It is caused by poor oral hygiene habits. However, gingivitis is able to be treated at home by improving your flossing and brushing routine. Gingivitis is a mild inflammation of your gums. If your gums bleed when flossing it can be a sign of gingivitis. However, some people with periodontitis don’t develop any symptoms of gingivitis.

Periodontitis causes more serious inflammation to the gums and can lead to infection and the loss of bone and gum tissue.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?

If you have one of more of these symptoms you could be at risk of periodontitis:

  • loose teeth (not caused by injury or age)
  • bad breath (halitosis)
  • sore gums/tenderness while brushing
  • receding gums
  • infections between your teeth
  • gaps opening between teeth
How is Gum Disease treated?

If you are experiencing any symptoms of gum disease you should see your dentist immediately. Since gum disease is caused by plaque your dentist may remove this buildup using a deep cleaning method of scaling or root planning.

Scaling involves scraping off the plaque that has formed above and below your gum line. Root planing involves removing the rough areas on the tooth root where bacteria tend to grow. This helps stop the disease. Medications are sometimes used to help bacteria and infection.

In serious cases flap surgery may be necessary. During surgery the dentist removes tartar from under your gums by lifting and cleaning beneath them. Once the gums heal they will fit more tightly around the teeth and with good oral hygiene habits, keep them from coming loose.

Am I at risk of gum disease? 

Some people are more at risk than others of developing periodontitis. These include people who smoke, are pregnant, have diabetes, or other medical issues.

Smoking

Smoking is strongly associated with developing gum disease. Since smoking lowers your immune response and effects blood circulation a smokers gums aren’t as strong at fighting off bacterial infections. Smoking can even suppress the symptoms of gingivitis so many smokers don’t know they are at risk of gingivitis or gum disease.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy can cause gums to become more sensitive which makes it easier for inflammation to develop.

Diabetes

Diabetes causes blood vessels to thicken which puts you at a high risk for developing infections like gum disease.

Other medical issues

Some medications affect how much saliva your mouth produces. Saliva is actually helpful in preventing bacteria from forming on your gums. A dry mouth is more susceptible to infection.

How is gum disease diagnosed?

A dentist will be able to diagnose whether or not you have gum disease. If your gums are sore or bleed while brushing or flossing, you may have gingivitis or the more serious infection of gum disease.

At your dental examination a dentist or dental hygienist should ask about your medical history and general health. This will help them determine whether there are any underlying conditions or risks – like smoking – that may contribute to gum disease.

They will also examine your gums and look for signs of inflammation and any pockets that may have formed in your gums.

Prevent gum disease by booking a dental hygienist appointment today

If you think you may have gum disease (or gingivitis) the best thing to do is book an appointment with a dentist. At Gentle Dental all of our hygienists are university qualified and experts in preventative care.

Our dental hygienists will examine your gums and work with you and your dentist to treat and prevent gum disease. Book an appointment today.

August 26, 2021 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

The Best Oral Hygiene Habits for Healthy Teeth

Adopting good oral hygiene habits is essential for keeping teeth and gums healthy. Simple dental habits like brushing and flossing must be done correctly to protect your mouth from plaque and bacteria. Follow these oral hygiene habits for healthy teeth.

Brush your teeth twice a day for good oral hygiene

Dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice a day to rid the mouth of plaque and bacteria. Skipping a brushing session can result in the buildup of food and debris and cause bad breath. Brush for two minutes morning and night to thoroughly clean your mouth.

Try to avoid brushing directly after eating. If you have consumed acidic foods, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing. Citric foods can soften tooth enamel, and brushing too soon can damage it while it’s weak.

Brush your mouth gently. Most dentists recommend using a soft to medium toothbrush as these are hard enough to remove food but soft enough on gums. There is no need to use a toothbrush with stiff bristles and if your mouth feels agitated after brushing, try switching to a brush with softer bristles.

Brush your whole mouth, including your tongue

If you find it difficult to brush your teeth for two minutes, it could be because you are not doing a thorough enough job. Hold your toothbrush at an angle, and make sure you brush each side of your teeth — front, back, and side to side. Doing a poor job of brushing your teeth can leave behind food and bacteria and won’t keep your teeth protected.

Brush your tongue each time you brush your mouth. If you don’t like the feeling of tooth bristles against your tongue, a tongue scraper is a good option. Brushing your tongue also helps improve your breath.

Some parts of your mouth can be hard to reach. If you have a bar on the back of your teeth to keep your teeth aligned, make sure you are brushing behind it. Switching to an electric toothbrush can be helpful. The smaller head may be able to clean and polish parts of your mouth a manual toothbrush head struggles to reach.

Use a fluoride toothpaste

There are many brands of natural, whitening, and flavoured toothpaste on the market. Whichever toothpaste you choose, make sure it contains fluoride. Unfortunately, many natural brands exclude fluoride from their ingredients, and this leaves your teeth unprotected.

Some people have concerns over the safety of fluoride. However, fluoride is a natural substance found in the air, sea, soil, plants and freshwater. Therefore, there is nothing unnatural about using fluoride toothpaste.

Fluoride helps protect our teeth from decay by:

  1. Strengthening the surface of the tooth
  2. Preventing the growth of bacteria which causes cavities
  3. Repairing the early stages of tooth decay

Whenever we eat and drink, we increase the levels of acidity in our mouths. Acid strips minerals from our teeth and leads to tooth decay. Drinking fluoridated water and brushing with fluoride toothpaste increases the amount of fluoride in our saliva and mouth and acts as a repair kit to neutralise the effects of acid. If you live in an area that does not have fluoride added to its water supply or drink bottled water, use fluoride toothpaste to keep your teeth healthy.

Floss your teeth at least three times a week

Brushing twice a day is effective at removing bacteria on the surface of our teeth but not so excellent at removing food and debris that gets stuck between the teeth. If you aren’t flossing, try adding it to your oral hygiene routine at least three times a week. From there, you can build up to flossing once a day.

If you find flossing uncomfortable, a floss made from softer, wider material may be more comfortable for you. How you floss is also essential. Dentists recommend holding a strip of floss at both ends and gently pushing it down between your teeth.

  • Push the floss down to the gum line and then hug one side of the tooth in an up-down motion.
  • Leave the floss in between the same teeth and push it up and down on the side of the opposite tooth.

This technique is more effective at removing plaque than just pushing the floss up and down.

Understand how mouthwash can help protect your teeth

Mouthwash is not an essential part of your oral hygiene routine. However, you  can use mouthwash in addition to brushing and flossing to keep the mouth healthy. The mouth wash ingredients contain antimicrobials that help kill bacteria, reduce plaque and halitosis, which causes bad breath.

Mouthwash is helpful in alkalising the PH of your saliva. You can use it after eating or drinking sugary or acidic foods. It reduces the erosive effect that acid has on teeth and promotes enamel mineralisation.

Some types of mouthwash can cause local irritation in the mouth. If you find a particular kind of mouthwash too harsh, use it less frequently or switch to a brand with gentler ingredients.

Be wary of the food and drink you consume 

Sugar converts to acid in the mouth, which has a detrimental effect on tooth enamel. Cutting down on the amount of sugar and sugary drink you consume is good for your teeth. Crisps and nuts can quickly get stuck in between your teeth and can be hard to remove. In general, cutting down on processed food is good for your teeth.

Tea and coffee can also stain the enamel on your teeth over time. While you don’t have to eliminate these foods, be mindful of how often you consume them. Whole foods are less likely to get stuck between teeth, and carrot sticks and cucumbers are easy to snack on without compromising the health of your teeth.

See your dentist at least twice a year

Without regular visits to the dentist, it’s impossible to know the proper health of your teeth. Your teeth and gums may look fine but hide problems that are hard to see. Plaque buildup can eat away at your teeth over time. Make sure you are booking regular visits to your dentists so that they can check the status of your teeth and gums.

Your dentist can spot the buildup of plaque,  which, left untreated, can lead to gingivitis and other tooth problems. They can also spot potential problems before they get too bad. Ultimately, seeing your dentist twice a year is the best way to prevent serious tooth problems.

Change your toothbrush regularly

Practicing good toothbrush hygiene is vital for the health of your mouth. Make sure you change your toothbrush or swap the head of your electric toothbrush for a new head regularly. A good rule to follow is changing your toothbrush with the seasons. This means you should update your brush every three months. You should also replace your brush if the bristles become flat or splayed.

After cleaning your teeth, make sure you rinse off your toothbrush and store it in a clean place. Avoid keeping your toothbrush in a closed container or keeping a toothbrush cover on it for long periods. This can encourage bacteria to grow.

At Gentle Dental, our friendly team are experts in keeping your smile healthy. Keep on top of your oral hygiene habits and book an appointment to see us today.

July 7, 2021 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

When is wisdom teeth removal necessary?

Wisdom teeth – the third molars in the back of your mouth – can be a common cause of tooth problems. In many cases, wisdom teeth can cause problems when there isn’t enough room for the teeth to grow into the mouth properly. Wisdom teeth removal can help relieve pain from impaction.

Most people have four wisdom teeth, two in the top row of teeth and two in the bottom – one in each corner of the mouth.

Typically wisdom teeth grow between the ages of 17-25. By the time wisdom teeth develop, the mouth’s 28 other teeth have already long grown in. Hence the name ‘wisdom’ teeth, and why they can cause problems.

When should you have wisdom teeth removed?

When wisdom teeth are impacted, it can cause problems in the rest of your mouth. Impaction is caused when wisdom teeth grow at various angles in the jaw.

Wisdom teeth can even grow in horizontally. Problems can develop from wisdom teeth that:

  • Never erupt through the gum and stay completely hidden. When wisdom teeth are trapped (impacted), it can result in infection or cause a cyst that can damage other teeth roots or bone support.
  • Emerge partially through the gum. Partially emerged wisdom teeth can be hard to clean. It is easy for food to become trapped between the back of the wisdom tooth and the mouth. Even flossing in this area is hard. Bacteria can then form and cause gum disease or an infection.
  • Crowd out other teeth. If there isn’t enough room for wisdom teeth to come through, they can crowd or damage other teeth nearby and cause problems to your bite.
Does everyone need their wisdom teeth removed?

No. Some people will have all four wisdom teeth grow in and not experience any problems.

It is only necessary to have wisdom teeth removed if they are causing pain, infections, gum disease, decay, or damage to your other teeth.

It is important to see your dentist regularly, as even if your wisdom teeth aren’t causing you pain, you may not notice problems such as decay.

Going for regular check-ups will allow your dentist to catch any problems early. You may not need your wisdom teeth removed if they are:

  • Healthy and free of decay
  • Grown in entirely and haven’t impacted other teeth
  • Not affecting your bite or opposing teeth
  • Able to be cleaned easily
Will wisdom teeth removal straighten teeth?

Wisdom tooth removal can cause a slight shift in your teeth as they settle back into your mouth. Removal may also help your bite to feel more natural. This is because impacted teeth can put a lot of pressure on other teeth, and extraction helps to relieve your teeth from stress.

If your teeth are very uneven or crooked, it is unlikely they will straighten after wisdom tooth extraction. If you want straighter teeth, you may need to talk to your doctor about braces.

How does wisdom teeth removal work?

Wisdom teeth extraction will vary depending on how your tooth or teeth are impacted. During the procedure, the dentist will make an incision in the gum tissue to expose the tooth and bone. The dentist will then remove any bone blocking access to the tooth’s root.

Sometimes the tooth will need to be divided into sections for it to be removed. Once done, the dentist removes the pieces of the tooth and cleans the wound of any debris.

The wound is sometimes closed using stitches or gauze to slow the bleeding.

Are you put to sleep when wisdom teeth are removed?

The routine removal of a single wisdom tooth can be completed within an hour at your dentist’s office and will use a local anesthetic.

Any oral surgery clinic may take up to 90 minutes to extract a tooth, especially if the tooth removal is less routine. Some dentists are qualified to use a sedative along with local anesthetic during removal.

If your surgery requires several teeth and takes place at a hospital, it could take between 2-3 hours. Patients will usually have a general anesthetic before their operation.

Does wisdom teeth removal hurt?

You will likely experience some pain and discomfort from wisdom tooth removal. It is common to experience swelling and bruising. Here are some ways to make your recovery more comfortable:

  • Do not rinse your mouth out on the day of your surgery as this will prohibit healing.
  • Use an ice pack as much as possible during the first 48 hours. This helps reduce swelling.
  • Take time off work to recover and avoid strenuous activity.
  • The days following the surgery, rinse the mouth out three times a day with saltwater.
  • Drink plenty of water, avoid caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol.
  • Avoid drinking with a straw. Sucking can dislodge the blood clot that is forming.
How much does wisdom teeth removal cost?

Dental care is free for teenagers in New Zealand until their 18th birthday. At Gentle Dental, the price of wisdom teeth removal varies based on the number of teeth removed and the type of impaction. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort with your wisdom teeth, we recommend booking a general appointment, and we will assess your wisdom teeth to see if they need to be removed.

During this time, we can give you a price estimation and guide you through the whole process, including how best to manage your recovery. Book your appointment here.

April 15, 2021 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment of a Cracked Tooth

Our teeth go through a lot. From grinding and chewing to eating sticky or hard foods, it’s no surprise that every now and then our teeth will crack or break.

What Causes a Cracked Tooth?

A cracked tooth can happen for a variety of reasons. Teeth grinding can put pressure on teeth causing cracks to form over time. Large fillings can also weaken the integrity of the tooth and cause fractures.

More common causes of cracked teeth are biting hard foods such as toffee and other sticky hard sweets, ice, and nuts. Injuries also cause a large proportion of teeth cracks. Changes in temperature in the mouth can weaken teeth — eating extremely hot foods then cooling the mouth with ice can cause stress to teeth. Age is also a leading factor of tooth cracks. As a large percentage of our population reach old age, cracked teeth, will become more of a problem.

What Are The Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth?

Not every cracked tooth is painful, or even noticeable. Some cracks are harmless and don’t require treatment. There are many more extensive types of crack that require dental treatment. If you suffer from any of the following you could have a cracked tooth:

  • Swollen gums particularly around the cracked tooth
  • Pain when eating, especially when chewing
  • Mouth or tooth pain that tends to come and go
  • Teeth that have suddenly become sensitive to sweetness
  • Discomfort around the teeth and gums that is hard to pinpoint
  • Teeth that have suddenly become sensitive to hot or cold foods
Are There Different Types of Cracks?

Commonly, there are five different types of cracked teeth. Each one is slightly more serious than the last and require more attention.

Craze Lines: These are superficial cracks that don’t cause pain to the teeth. Craze lines appear as thin cracks in the enamel of the tooth. They are natural and don’t require treatment.

Fractured Cusp: This type of crack will usually occur around a dental filling. These fractures usually don’t occur in the middle of the tooth where the nerve centre is and don’t cause much pain. It’s still a good idea to get a fractured cusp check out by your dentist.

Cracks to the Gum Line: If your tooth has a crack in it that goes all the way down to the gum line, the crack could run beneath your gums. This tooth will probably need to be extracted as the fracture could run deep. The best chance you have of saving this tooth is to get it examined by a dentist as soon as possible.

Split tooth: This is a crack that runs from the surface of the tooth to below the gum line and splits the tooth into two parts. While your dentist might not be able to save the whole teeth, they may be able to save half of it. A split tooth needs dental attention immediately.

Vertical root fracture: A vertical fracture starts below the gum line and travels upwards. Unless the tooth is infected vertical root fractures don’t always cause pain. It’s likely that this tooth will need to be pulled out.

What to do if You Have a Cracked Tooth

If your tooth is broken or fractured, visit your dentist as soon as possible. Otherwise, your tooth could be damaged further or get infected. This can increase the chances of losing your tooth and lead to other health problems.

In the meantime, try the following self-care measures:

  • If the tooth is painful, take an over-the-counter pain relief.
  • Rinse your mouth with saltwater.
  • Eat soft food to avoid biting down on the broken tooth.
  • If the break has caused a sharp edge, cover it with a piece of wax paraffin or sugarless chewing gum to keep it from cutting your tongue.

Treatment for a broken tooth will depend on how critical it is damaged. If only a small piece is broken off, it’ll be repaired in one sitting. A badly damaged or broken tooth may require a more lengthy and costly procedure.

How a Broken Tooth is Diagnosed

Since not all broken teeth are painful, or even obvious, a good dentist will have to do a visual examination on your teeth. They may ask about your dental history, whether you chew on hard foods or grind your teeth to figure out the cause of the breakage.

During the examination your dentist might:

  • Use a magnifying lens to do a visual examination to find the crack.
  • Run a dental explorer over the tooth to see if it catches on any broken parts.
  • use a dental dye to temporarily stain your teeth and make any cracks stand out.
  • Probe your gums to look for inflammation, particularly to identify vertical cracks.
  • Get you to bit down on something to identify where the pain is located.
Treatment for a Broken or Cracked Tooth

Depending on what type of crack your tooth has, your dentist will likely recommend one of the following treatments.

Bonding: This is a simple procedure, where plastic resin is used to fill in the crack in your tooth. This restores the look and functionality of the tooth.

Crown: A porcelain or ceramic crown is fitted over the top of your tooth to protect it. This process may take a couple of weeks as the dentist may have to make a mold of your tooth, and send it away to get the crown made.

Root Canal: If a crack extends into the tooth pulp (the softer centre of the tooth where the nerves live) a root canal can remove the damaged pulp and restore the tooth. 

Extraction: If the structure of the tooth is too damaged, a dentist may opt to remove the tooth completely.

How to Prevent a Cracked Tooth

Good oral hygiene is important for the health of our teeth. Avoiding hard or sticky foods is recommended as well as wearing a mouthguard during sport.

If you are concerned about cracks in your teeth, book an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. At Gentle Dental, our expert team of dentists can gently examine your teeth and recommend a suitable treatment plan. Book an appointment today.