Oral Hygeine & Care

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”. Educating any one is the best tool to get the desirable outcome for the whole community. Here are some of the facts which helps you in understanding why we need to get routine check-ups done to stay healthy…

There are new findings which support something that dental professionals have suspected for a long time: infections in the mouth can cause problems elsewhere in the body.

Problems which may be caused or made worse by poor dental health include:

• Heart disease
• Strokes
• Diabetes
• Premature and low-birth-weight babies
• Respiratory (lung) disease

In people who have gum disease, bacteria from the mouth can get into the blood stream. It can then affect the heart by sticking to fatty deposits in the blood vessels of the heart. This can make clots more likely to form. Blood clots can reduce normal blood flow, so that the heart does not get all the oxygen and nutrients it needs. If the blood flow is badly affected this could lead to a heart attack. People with gum disease are almost twice likely to have coronary artery disease than those without gum disease.

Several studies have looked at the connection between mouth infection and strokes. They have found that people diagnosed with gum disease are more likely to have stroke than the ones without any gum disease.

People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than people without it. This is probably because diabetics are more likely to get infections in general. People who do not know they have diabetes, or whose diabetes is not under control, are especially at risk. If you do have diabetes it is important that any gum disease is diagnosed, because it can increase your blood sugar level. This would put you at risk of diabetic complications.  Also, if you are diabetic, you may find that you heal more slowly. New research has also shown that you are more likely to develop diabetes if you have gum disease.

Pregnant women who have gum disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is premature and with a low birth weight. It seems that gum disease raises the levels of the biological fluids that bring on labour. Research also suggests that women whose gum disease gets worse during pregnancy have an even higher risk of having a premature baby.

Bacterial chest infections are thought to be caused by breathing in fine droplets from the throat and mouth into the lungs. This can cause infections such as pneumonia, or could worsen an existing condition. People with gum disease have higher levels of bacteria in their mouths and may therefore be more likely to get chest infections.

Visit us if you have any of the symptoms of gum disease, which can include:

• Inflammation of the gums, causing them to be red, swollen and to bleed easily, especially when brushing.
• An unpleasant taste in your mouth.
• Bad breath
• Loose teeth
• Regular mouth infections

Always tell us about any changes to your general health. It is especially important to tell us if you are pregnant or have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease or have ever had a stroke. You also need to tell us about any medicines you are taking as these can affect both your treatment and the health of your mouth.

Although there is some evidence that gum disease runs in families, the main cause is the plaque which forms on the surface of your teeth. To prevent gum disease you need to ensure you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day.

If you have gum disease, we will usually give your teeth a thorough clean to remove any plaque or calculus. This may take a number of sessions sometimes. We will also show you how to effectively remove the soft plaque yourself, by cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth thoroughly at home. (Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria which forms on the teeth and gums every day.)

A recent study has shown that people who stay fit and healthy are 40% less likely to develop tooth-threatening gum infections that could lead to gum disease. It was also found that not exercising, not keeping to a normal body weight and unhealthy eating habits made a person much more likely to get advanced gum disease.

Smoking can make gum disease much worse. People who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque that leads to gum disease. The gums are affected because smoking means you have less oxygen in your blood stream, so the infected gums do not heal. Smoking can also lead to tooth staining, more teeth lost because of gum disease, bad breath, and in more severe cases mouth cancer.

There are many different oral care products available today. We will be able to recommend the best toothbrush and toothpaste for you to use, as well as the best way to clean between your teeth. It is important to always use a good toothbrush, a toothpaste which is suitable for your needs and, in most cases, something to clean between your teeth.

It is usually recommended that adults should choose a toothbrush which is small to medium sized with multi-tufted, soft to medium filaments (bristles).  These filaments should be round ended and made from nylon.  This is important so that you do not damage your teeth or gums with any sharp bristles.

Some people prefer to use an electric toothbrush.  This is especially useful if you have limited movement or find cleaning particularly difficult.  These toothbrushes usually have heads which either vibrate or move round and round.  Some brushes also use sonic waves to help dislodge plaque and debris.  You can buy electric toothbrushes in battery or rechargeable form from your local chemist or electrical retailer.

It is just as important for children to use the correct oral hygiene products.  Look for a small-headed toothbrush with soft nylon bristles suitable for the age of your child.  There are many novelty toothbrushes for children, which may help encourage them to brush.

Children need to be supervised with their tooth brushing until they are about 7 years old.  It is important to make tooth brushing a routine and to stress the importance of oral hygiene and diet from an early age.

It is important to clean your teeth at least twice a day, especially last thing at night.  Usually two to three minutes is enough to remove plaque and clean properly.  Some people find using a stop-watch or timer useful as two minutes is often longer than you think.  If you eat or drink certain foods you may need to clean more often.

There are several toothpastes available which are designed for different needs.  There are toothpastes for gum health, sensitive teeth, those for smokers, those with anti-bacterial agents, and others which claim to whiten the teeth.  We  will tell you and your family the most suitable toothpaste for your needs.

Most toothpastes contain a certain amount of fluoride, which has been proven to reduce dental decay considerably.  We recommend using a fluoride toothpaste to prevent decay. Fluoride has been proven to reduce dental decay by at least 40%, so all children should be encouraged to use a fluoride toothpaste.  Fluoride may be in your drinking water, so check with your dentist first.  Research has shown that children living in a non-fluoridated area have more dental decay than those living in areas with fluoride in the drinking water.
It is important to use only a small pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children, as they are likely to swallow some of it.  For children under the age of six you can use a toothpaste with a lower level of fluoride.
There are toothpastes which claim to remove staining.  They sometimes contain bicarbonate of soda, which will help to remove any staining and dental plaque.  These are often referred to as whitening toothpastes.  It is important to realise that such toothpastes will only remove staining and will not change the natural colour of your teeth.  If you feel you need something stronger to whiten your teeth, then speak to us about how this could be done?
If you are a smoker, you may find your teeth are more likely to be stained and you will therefore need more help.  There are special smokers’ toothpastes that will remove staining which can build up over a period of time.  We can help by professionally cleaning your teeth regularly.
There are several toothpastes that contain ‘desensitising agents’ which do effectively reduce the pain of sensitive teeth and gums.  Some people find rubbing this toothpaste along the affected area and leaving it on overnight helps ease the discomfort.

Total care toothpastes are those that contain a number of ingredients to make them an effective multi-action toothpaste.  They contain anti-bacterial agents and ingredients which help control plaque, dental decay and gum disease, while also freshening the breath.

Brushing alone only cleans about 60% of the surface of your teeth, so it is therefore important that you also clean between your teeth every time you brush.  We will be able to show you how.

The most common way to clean between teeth is with dental floss or tape.  Many people prefer tape to floss, as it is wider and can be gentler on the gums.  There are several different types of floss or tape, including mint-flavoured, wax-coated and those containing fluoride.

To clean the small gaps between your teeth you can also use special interdental brushes.  We can advise on how to use these products correctly and safely. It is just as important to keep the area under the bridge as clean as it is your natural teeth.  Floss traders may help guide the floss under the bridge.  Some floss has a thicker spongy centre, which may also help to clean under the bridge and gum area effectively.

Many people use a mouthwash as part of their daily oral health routine.  They are usually used to help freshen breath, but they also help to dislodge any food debris.  Some mouthwashes contain an anti -bacterial agent to help reduce gum disease and to control plaque. Some mouthwashes contain alcohol for a number of reasons.  It helps to enhance the taste, helps in the cleansing action and adds to the antibacterial effect.  However, some people find alcohol mouthwashes too strong and prefer a milder alternative that is alcohol free.  Mouthwashes containing alcohol should be kept away from children.

Some mouthwashes, especially those containing Chlorhexidine, are particularly effective at treating gum infections and other oral problems, such as those following a dental extraction.  These mouthwashes must be used in moderation and not used over a long period of time.  This is because they can cause staining, although this can be easily removed by the dentists. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions at all times.

Some mouthwashes contain anti-bacterial agents which work against the oral bacteria responsible for producing unpleasant odours and plaque.  Some total care mouthwashes contain a variety of ingredients.  They help in controlling plaque, dental decay and gum inflammation.

There are so many different oral health products available that it is often difficult to choose the best ones for you.  If you are looking for a specific oral hygiene product, it is important to find the right product for you. Your dentist can help you in this.