The most important preventative thing to do each day is to clean your teeth morning and night, to remove the plaque (food and bacteria) that has built up from eating that day. If plaque is left on teeth, over time, a hole or cavity is created which when sufficiently large will cause pain.
Flossing daily cleans between the tight tooth contacts to prevent decay. Patients with gum disease also need to use interdental brushes daily to avoid progression of periodontitis.
See our Gum Disease page for more information on how to prevent this.
It is best to wait 20 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth. They are in a weaker demineralized state, susceptible to damage due to the acid that is created when bacteria are breaking down food in your mouth.
Brushing for 2 minutes in the morning and evening, with a fluoridated toothpaste strengthens your teeth against the foods and drink you eat. The best toothbrushes are a small-headed toothbrush, either soft or medium bristles. Nobody needs to use a hard-bristled brush. Gum disease patients significantly benefit from a sonic-powered electric toothbrush. We stock these and the replacement heads at our practice.
Fizzy or energy drinks are highly sugared and caffeinated, which causes poor concentration, increases addiction to sugary drinks and cavities in your teeth due to the combined acid and sugar content. Plain tap water is your best friend for your teeth as it cannot cause decay! Carbonated water or sparkling water, even from soda-streams, is a mild acid, which can damage your teeth even though it is has no sugar content. Acid erosion from any carbonated drink softens the outer layer of the teeth making it more susceptible to breaking down over time.
Lemon water is an acid which removes the enamel from the teeth. This is irreversible and enamel does not re-grow. Using a reusable straw to avoid the lemon water going on your teeth, will significantly help to reduce the acid in your mouth.
Eating a bag of lollies is not something we recommend, but frequency is key in accelerating decay in your mouth. If you ate a bag of lollies at once, this is one sugar and acid attack on your teeth; it takes 20 minutes for the saliva in your mouth to neutralize to ph7. If you ate one lolly every 5 minutes for an hour, this is much worse for your teeth as they are decaying over a much longer time. It is better to treats all at once rather than spreading them out.
Snacking of any food damages your teeth the more times a day you eat.
Regular recall appointments are scheduled on a low, medium or high-risk maintenance plan. Low risk patients are seen annually and may have a hygiene clean at 6 months. Higher risk patients such as people with gum disease or multiple early cavities or heavily filled teeth are seen 4-6 monthly by our hygienist for gum disease prevention, and dentist for prevention of progression of dental problems.
During a new patient assessment, or recall appointment, we assess your:
- Jaw joints, muscles that move your jaw, lymph nodes and glands under your chin and neck
- Soft tissues in your mouth to check for any abnormal changes such as red or white spots, on the inside of your cheeks, lips, tongue, under your tongue, tonsils and the roof of your mouth. This is to assess for oral cancer and other conditions that may present in the head and neck.
- Teeth for decay, cracks, condition of current fillings or crowns, decay around old fillings, defective or chips, using air to dry the teeth, a mirror and a probe
- Gums to check for gum disease such as bleeding gums, calculus, pockets using a periodontal probe. 4mm pocketing or more is a sign of gum disease that requires treatment and long-term ongoing maintenance to achieve health.
- X-rays are taken to assess the condition of the current fillings, any decay, how close the filling or decay is to the nerve of the tooth. Subsequent x-rays may be required to assess the wisdom teeth or multiple heavily filled teeth; these are either taken with more small x-rays with a close-up view of the root, or a full mouth panoramic x-ray.
- Photographs are taken of any teeth the dentist needs to take a close eye on and compare if there are any changes at recall appointments; further treatment may be required.
- A treatment plan is given to all patients that require further work with costs per item displayed. There are always a variety of options for each tooth, whether it be doing nothing, or doing something that lasts a short, medium or the longest time. Our treatment plans are tailormade for every patient and can be modified if circumstances change.
- Hygiene recommendations for optimal gum health maintenance will also be advised in the treatment plan whether they are 3, 4, 6, 9 or 12 monthly.