May 16, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

How to pack a lunch that promotes good oral health

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some easy swaps include:

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

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

Milk, Yoghurt, Cheese

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

Apples, Carrots, Celery

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


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

Tomatoes, Peppers, Broccoli, Potatoes and Spinach

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

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

Soft breads

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


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

Imitation Fruit Snacks

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

How snacking and eating habits effect oral health 

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

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

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

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.

February 14, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

8 Health Issues Linked With Bad Oral Health

Oral health is more important than many people realize. Your oral health can offer clues about your overall health and oral health problems can affect your entire body. Taking care of your oral health will result in better general health and wellbeing.

How are oral health and overall health connected?

The mouth is naturally full of bacteria – most of which is harmless. Your mouth also leads to your digestive and respiratory systems, and some bacteria can cause problems in other parts of the body. Good oral health keeps your body’s defenses up and bacteria under control. Flossing and brushing daily keeps bacteria at a minimum and protects you from tooth decay and gum disease.

Medications can affect the health of your mouth and increase the risk of poor health. Decongestants, painkillers, antihistamines, and antidepressants can all reduce saliva flow which usually washes away food and neutralizes acids. Basically taking care of your mouth, teeth and gums is good for your overall health, and taking care of your overall health is good for your mouth.

What health issues are linked to poor oral health?


Endocarditis is a serious heart condition where the inner lining of your heart’s chambers and valves are heavily inflamed. Endocarditis is usually caused by an infection where bacteria or germs from your body spread through the bloodstream. Bad bacteria in the mouth can end up spreading and attaching to damaged areas in your heart. If not treated endocarditis can damage or destroy these heart valves.

Cardiovascular disease

While the jury is still out on whether cardiovascular disease is caused by poor oral health, there have been some interesting studies connecting the two. Research suggested that patients with gum disease had a higher risk of developing heart disease, that poor dental health increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the blood (endocarditis), and that tooth loss patterns are connected to coronary artery disease.

Pregnancy complications

Pregnant woman are at an increased risk of periodontitis which can cause complications for mother and baby. Periodontitis has been linked to increased risk of tooth loss, preterm birth and low birth weight. This inflammatory condition is caused by bacteria that affects the tissues surrounding the teeth and can ultimately pull the teeth away from the gums.


Older patients are at a higher risk of aspiration pneumonia. Dental plaque from the mouth can find its way into the lungs during sleep, and cause pneumonia. Studies have shown that the risk of pneumonia increased significantly in groups of people with higher dental caries and missing teeth and decreased significantly with frequent tooth brushing and regular dental cleaning.


Reducing the bodies resistance to infection puts the gums at risk. Gum disease has been found to be higher in patients who suffer from diabetes and research shows that people with gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels. 


Osteoporosis is a bone-weakening disease and is linked to periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Bone weakness can affect the mouth ridges that hold dentures in place while the disease also has an impact on the part of the jaw that supports the teeth.

Alzheimer’s disease

Poor oral hygiene is often seen in Alzheimer’s patients as the disease progresses. But gum disease is also linked to the faster cognitive decline in patients. One study found that patients with gum disease declined in memory ability six times faster than those who did not.

Liver cancer

Poor oral health has been linked to some cancers, including a 75% increase in the risk of liver cancer. The liver contributes to eliminating bacteria from the body and poor oral health could be contributing to oral bacteria living in the liver.

How can I protect my overall health?

Taking care of your oral health can lead to better overall health outcomes. Brushing twice a day, flossing, eating a healthy diet that includes firm vegetables and scheduling regular checkups with your dentist is key to staying healthy.

If you currently suffer from any of the mentioned diseases, take extra care with your oral health habits and book an appointment with a dentist to keep your mouth healthy.

Our gentle dentists can work with you to develop a good oral hygiene plan that takes care of your mouth and your long-term health. Book an appointment today.

January 25, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

Why Bad Teeth May Cause Serious Health Problems?

Failing to look after your teeth can cause health problems other than just tooth pain. Poor oral health can make you sick, affect your overall wellbeing and exacerbate existing health conditions.

Going to the dentist only if you’re in pain can put you at risk. When you take care of your teeth, you are investing in your overall health. Here’s why tooth decay and other oral health problems can lead to more serious issues in your body.

How rotten teeth can cause health problems

A rotten or decaying tooth is a symptom of bacteria attacking your teeth. When bacteria builds up in the mouth it can spread to other places in the body, not to mention other teeth, and cause infections. 

An infection in the mouth can cause a tooth abscess, which can lead to the loss of your tooth. An abscess is a painful collection of pus and can occur at the tip of the root. They are often caused by cavities in the top or sides of your teeth. Symptoms include:

  • Throbbing and pain in your tooth
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Pain and tenderness when chewing
  • Swelling in the neck and jaw
  • Redness and swelling of the gums

How tooth decay can cause health problems

Tooth decay is the gradual breakdown of the enamel of your tooth. When plague form on the tooth they can produce harmful acids which eat away at this protective outer layer, especially when they come into contact with sugar from soft drink or starchy foods.

The decay from your enamel is what causes a tooth cavity. Tooth cavities can be painful, but they are also associated with other health risks.

Left untreated your cavity can turn into something more serious. You might start off experiencing sensitivity from hot or cold temperatures and tooth pain. Left untreated, tooth decay can affect the tooth nerve and require a root canal to remove the decay.

Tooth decay has been linked to a wide range of health issues as it worsens, such as:

  • Heart and lung disease
  • Stroke
  • Social anxiety and depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Loss of sleep
  • Diabetes

What happens if an abscess or tooth decay isn’t treated

Infection can spread from your tooth to other parts of the mouth, teeth, gums, jaw and even other places in the body. If an abscess isn’t treated it can cause the jaw and neck to become infected and cause difficulty breathing and swallowing.

In general, tooth decay and poor oral health can weaken your immune system and put you at risk of the infection spreading. An untreated abscess can also cause sepsis. This is the bodies response to an extreme infection and can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and serious long term side effects.

How can I prevent health problems from an abscess or tooth decay?

The good news is that tooth decay and poor oral health doesn’t just happen overnight. However, the majority of people don’t go to the dentist regularly. In fact, up to 50% of adults surveyed in New Zealand say they almost never go to a dentist, while thousands of children are hospitalised each year due to the health problems caused by rotten teeth.

One of the biggest culprits causing tooth decay in children is sugar. Removing soft drinks from your diet is one of the best steps you can take to better oral health. Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste is also important. Other factors to keep your mouth healthy are: 

  • Visiting the dentist twice a year regardless of whether you are experiencing pain
  • Brushing for two minutes, twice a day, and flossing every day
  • Eating hard, healthy foods like raw vegetables to strengthen your teeth and jaw
  • Drinking fluoridated water to keep teeth protected, healthy, and strong

If it’s been a while since you visited the dentist now is a good time to book an appointment. The team at Gentle Dental can work with you to develop good oral hygiene habits that look at your mouth and long-term health. 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.