May 23, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

The top 3 dental concerns seniors should look out for

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

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

Gum Disease

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

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

Gum disease can:

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

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

Dry Mouth

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

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

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

Tooth loss

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

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

What can seniors do to prevent these dental issues?

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

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

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


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


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

May 16, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

How to pack a lunch that promotes good oral health

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some easy swaps include:

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

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

Milk, Yoghurt, Cheese

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

Apples, Carrots, Celery

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


Water 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 14, 2022 by Gentle Dental 0 Comments

How to Reduce Pain From A Cracked or Broken Tooth

A broken or cracked tooth can be very painful, especially if the injury extends to the inner pulp of your teeth. While the best-case scenario is to see your dentist immediately, this isn’t always possible. These temporary solutions will help you relieve your pain while you wait for an emergency appointment.

What to do immediately after a broken or cracked tooth

If you are experiencing a broken or cracked tooth call your dentist to set up an emergency appointment immediately. While you wait you need to prevent further damage from occurring to the tooth.

While you wait, bite down on a piece of gauze. Most emergency kits come equipped with clean gauze. Cut or rip a long section of gauze off the roll and fold it over two to three times before biting down. Collect any parts of your tooth that you can and put them in a shallow container of milk. Bring this with you to the dentist. While the dentist may not be able to reattach the tooth, they may want to see if the broken tooth was enamel or contained a filling.

Avoid eating or biting down on the tooth. A cracked tooth can often be repaired. Keeping food out of the crack is essential. Biting down on the tooth could cause a root fracture which is harder to repair.

How to reduce the pain of a broken tooth

Not all temporary remedies will work on a broken tooth. However, they may make waiting for a dental appointment more bearable and there’s no harm in trying them.

Use over-the-counter pain relief

Ibuprofen or paracetamol can help reduce the pain caused by a broken tooth. In New Zealand, these over-the-counter drugs are available at most supermarkets, pharmacies, and corner stores. Take two pills with a glass of water. You can take more as directed by the back of the medication packet.

Sit, stand or raise your head

It can be tempting to want to lie down when experiencing tooth pain from a broken tooth. Unfortunately, lying down can make toothache worse as certain positions often put pressure on your mouth and jaw. If you can’t see a dentist the same day as your accident, try sleeping supported by pillows in bed so that you are sitting upright. Walking around can help.

Rinse with salt water and use an icepack

Many people find relief in rinsing the mouth out with salt water after a mouth injury. After you have rinsed your mouth two to three times use an icepack or put something frozen against the cheek on the side of the toothache. Cover the pack with something soft like a tea towel or cloth to prevent burning your skin.

Try over the counter dental anesthetic

Ask your pharmacist for an over-the-counter dental anesthetic. Rubbing this onto the gum and near (but not in) the area of your broken tooth will help to dull the pain of a cracked or broken tooth.

Avoid certain foods until you see a dentist

While it’s likely you’re no longer in the mood to eat, you might still need to eat or drink if you can’t see your dentist for 24 hours. Avoid the following foods in the meantime:

  • Acidic beverages such as soda, alcohol, and coffee
  • Very hot or very cold beverages
  • Hard foods like nuts or celery
  • Chewy foods that put pressure on your teeth
  • Foods with seeds in them like strawberries
  • Sugary foods as this increases the bacteria that attacks tooth enamel

Food and drinks that won’t hurt your mouth include soup, water, peppermint tea, mashed banana, roasted vegetables, smoothies, and broth. Chewing on the other side of your mouth is also recommended.

What to do if your tooth is broken and is sharp

If your broken tooth is sharp, you may find eating or moving your tongue around your mouth uncomfortable or painful. In this case, a temporary filling repair solution like Dentafix is a good solution. You can squeeze this solution onto your tooth safely without causing further damage to the tooth. Most pharmacies stock a variety of dental fix products.

Need an emergency dental appointment?

If you are suffering from a broken tooth and need an emergency dental appointment, we can help. We keep slots open for emergency appointments. Book online our friendly dental team and we’ll repair your broken tooth in no time.

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.

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.