|Dental Floss||Tips on using Floss||Diet and Dental Health|
|Fissure Sealants||Fluorides||Cleaning the Teeth|
|Tips on Brushing||Choosing a Toothbrush||Automatic Toothbrushes|
|Choosing a Tooth Paste||Pointers to choice|
The prevention of dental decay begins with cutting down the amount of sugars taken in all forms. Most people think we refer only to sweets as the culprits but there are other dangers. Dental decay (caries) and periodontal (gum) disease are among the most common diseases afflicting mankind, especially in the so-called advanced nations.
The higher the standard of living, the more likely it is for tooth loss to occur. As has been shown already, both dental caries and periodontal disease are the result of bacterial action in the plaque, which collects on the teeth and gums. If it were possible to completely cleanse the mouth of bacterial plaque and maintain it that way, there would be low incidence of tooth decay or any other gum problems.
Dental diseases are not considered to be life threatening and therefore attitudes on the part of governments and public are of a different nature. However, the cost of dental disease in pain, suffering, treatment and loss of work is enormous. Measures to reduce or eliminate dental problems would result in a vast benefit to the population.
Many dental health educators assert that even the most careful brushing does not remove all of the harmful substances from the crevices between the teeth, areas where even toothbrushes cannot reach. To clean such areas, the use of dental floss is recommended which is simply special kind of silk or nylon thread. This floss is passed into the space between the teeth with a gentle to and fro sawing motion. The floss is then gently worked up and down the tooth into the gum crevices. Floss is purchased wound in a spool and is either waxed or unwaxed with waxed floss being easier to handle. Using floss is not easy and children especially have difficulty with it. It takes dedication and effort to ensure that children’s' teeth are flossed every day but it is a beneficial addition to careful brushing.
Your dentist can help you by seeing that you manipulate the floss correctly and safely. It is usually easier to handle the floss if a length of about twelve inches is tied in a circle. Beware of special gadgets, which promise to make flossing easier, they only complicate the process. What is important is to get the strand of floss between the teeth, then work it from the gum and to the biting surface. Do this sweeping motion two or three times and then repeat with the adjoining tooth.
Foods With High Levels of Sugar:
1. All sugars (including honey)
2. Soft drinks such as colas and lemonades
3. Nearly all cereals
4. Cakes, biscuits and puddings.
5. Jams and marmalades.
6. Chocolates, sweets and toffees.
7. Peppermint sweets (they are the most dangerous because people believe the peppermint taste to be “medicinal”. These sweets are almost pure sugar).
As has been shown already, both dental caries and periodontal disease are the result of bacterial action in the plaque, which collects on the teeth and gums.
A chocolate candy bar of about 50 grams may contain the equivalent of ten teaspoons of sugar! A slice of two-layer chocolate cake may be the equivalent of fifteen teaspoons of sugar!
These sugars are not an essential part of a normal diet. Hence reducing the total intake will not only benefit the teeth, but also the general health. However, it is the frequency of sugar intake more than the total consumption which is important in influencing tooth decay. It has been shown that the acid formed on the tooth in seconds after sugar intake might take twenty minutes or more to disappear from the mouth. Thus, small sugary snacks every two or three hours throughout the day will keep the teeth bathed in a dangerous acidic state.
If Children must have sweets, they should have them only once a day (preferably during meal time). But it is better to recommend sugar-free snacks such as fruits, vegetables and nuts.
In this way if we eliminate sugar, we reduce the formation of plaque by depriving the bacteria of foods from which they form acid.
The damage by erosion that other substances such as lemon juice can do to the enamel should also be considered. Avoiding frequent tooth contact with lemons, grapefruit, vinegar and other highly acidic substances is recommended.
The pharmacy may also be a source of danger to the teeth since many cough syrups and throat lozenges are loaded with sugar, sometimes up to 50-60 percent. This is to make the product palatable but also renders them dangerous to dental health.
Decay frequently commences in the irregular fissures on the biting surfaces of the teeth, especially the molars. These fissures are difficult to clean thoroughly – a toothbrush bristle does not penetrate to the bottom of the fissure. Apart from cleaning the teeth and applying fluoride, some dentists believe that these fissures can and should be sealed off from bacterial infection by the application of special resins called PIT and FISSURE SEALANTS.
Dentists began using fluoride solutions as a preventive measure against dental decay over thirty years ago. This was by direct application, i.e. the regular painting of fluoride on the teeth of children from the age of two years. Since then the amount of the decay in such treated children has been negligible compared with others. It can be a time-consuming procedure although inexpensive compared with the cost and discomfort of dental decay. The addition of minute quantities of fluoride to the water supply, to bring the concentration up to the level found naturally in some waters, has been shown to confer resistance to dental decay.
Studies of the action of drinking water containing one part of fluoride in a million parts of water have been carried out in many countries in the world. The conclusion was that fluoride at a level of 1 mg per litre has been drunk for generations by millions of people throughout their lives. Since fluoridation was introduced, millions more have been drinking water with fluoride at this level. Fluoride in water, added or naturally present, at a level of approximately 1 mg/litre over the years of tooth formation substantially reduces dental caries throughout life.
In the absence of water fluoridation your dentist or hygienist can put fluoride directly on your child’s teeth. This takes a few minutes and a strong recommendation is that it be applied at four-monthly intervals, i.e. three times a year.
Fluoride tablets and solutions can be obtained from your local pharmacy, (see your dentist about prescribing the correct dosage) and it is important to administer the correct amount daily. * But it is important to discuss all this with your dentist first. Some few complaints have been made about “allergic reaction” to the fluoride tablet-administration. Investigations have rarely shown any true allergic response and any temporary upset has usually been due to other causes.
You cannot be taught to play tennis or golf by reading about them. You must be instructed, and you must practice. Similarly, you should learn the right way of brushing under the strict supervision of your dentist.
The tooth has five surfaces – front, back, the two sides and the chewing surface. Brush the top and bottom teeth separately. Most dentists agree that the bristle tips should be applied at 45 degrees to the gum area just above where the teeth emerge and should concentrate on the gum margins (where most people miss). The bristles are moved back and forth with a gentle circular scrubbing motion and short strokes. Do not forget the teeth right at the back of the mouth and also the inside surface of the teeth. Finally brush all the biting surfaces. It often takes three or four visits to teach someone to brush effectively!
* Do not put too much toothpaste on the brush, it will foam up and make you want to spit and rinse too soon. Studies show that once people get to the spit and rinse stage they stop brushing even though some teeth have not been brushed.
* Do not wet your brush before applying the paste or before starting to brush. It alters the action of the bristles and prevents them removing plaque effectively.
Most of us hover over the shelves, picking up one brush then another and, after some minutes we make a purchase, seemingly at random. When new patients are asked how they select a toothbrush, they usually say that it was based on appearance. A toothbrush is an important factor in preventing dental disease, especially gum problems. Therefore the purchaser should be quite specific when making a choice. Your dentist will tell you, which brush is suitable for you which you should make note of and specifically request. Do not be satisfied with something else “almost the same” and perhaps try somewhere else!
Natural bristle was once believed by to be the better choice, but this is no longer the case. Natural bristles have variable textures and the filaments are hollow and absorbent and rapidly become soggy and infected. Nylon can be made exactly to specification and, because of mass production methods; good brushes can be made much cheaper. As has been shown already, both dental caries and periodontal disease are the result of bacterial action, in the plaque, which collects on the teeth and gums. Brush heads should be small enough to reach all parts of the mouth and should have a flat brushing surface with a straight handle. The medium or medium soft nylon bristles (never hard) should be set close together – what is called multi-tufted. Brushes of any kind should not be expected to last very long and one should probably buy about four brushes per year. It is a sad fact that brush sales average about one brush per person per year with maximum sales during the summer holidays just before people go on vacation. Children need their brushes renewed more often as they tend to mishandle them. If an adult finds that brushes wear and splay out very quickly it is probably a sign that brushing is not being done correctly-probably force rather than care is being used. But some people are proud of wearing out their brushes: they feel they are doing a good scrubbing job!
Many of the automatic toothbrushes produced a few years ago have now disappeared and they are no longer a great choice. The improved automatic brushes, which are still available, can be very effective:
1. For handicapped people, especially arthritics.
2. For those who cannot master the technique of conventional brushing.
3. For those in a hurry and perhaps for those who are lazy.
4. For children who will often use the automatic brush more readily because of its novelty.
Nearly all-automatic brushes have battery-driven motors and it is important to make sure that the battery is not in a run-down state, otherwise there will be too little torque (driving action) on the brush. Most of these brushes have rechargeable cells and they should be kept always at peak charge. People who can brush effectively with the usual brush will not need an automatic brush. It is still necessary to be taught how to use the latter; it will not go anywhere in the mouth unless it is directed. But the automatic brush does have the advantage of speed.
The big manufactures of toothpaste spend a great deal of time, money and research facilities on the maintenance of high quality in their product. Their reputation, and a portion of their economic existence, depends on this. These companies have spent considerable amounts testing their toothpastes and some have gone to the trouble of obtaining medical product licenses.
Toothpaste should of course be of acceptable taste to you and preferably should contain a small amount of fluoride. This has been shown to reduce dental decay by a measurable amount. On the whole it is better to buy small tubes rather than the large “economy family size”. In this way the tendency for some pastes to harden in the tube will be avoided because the contents will be used quicker.
Since starting our ad campaign with "Smile Canada" we have noticed an increase in new patients arriving at our practice. We receive multiple emails from interested patients on a regular basis. The service with "Smile Canada" has always been prompt, professional and proficient. More importantly, is the quality of the patients we are receiving into our practice as a result of Smile Canada's efforts. I would recommend Smile Canada's services to any dental practice looking to generate new patient flow into their practice.