General Question

Can I brush my teeth too hard?

While teeth themselves are hard, the gums that surround them are not.

You do need to clean along the line where the gum meets your teeth, but brushing with too much pressure (or with too firm a toothbrush) can do more harm than good because it can wear away the thin top layer of gum.

“Once you cause the gum to recede, which means it shrinks away from the neck of the tooth, it’s usually irreversible, it won’t grow back,” he says.

This exposes the neck of your tooth where there is no hard enamel covering the soft inner tooth layer called dentine.

The enamel, which helps protect against decay, covers only the part of the tooth that isn’t covered by the gum.

Once the dentine is exposed, your tooth is more vulnerable to decay from bacteria feeding on remnants of food.

It can also cause your teeth to become highly sensitive because of exposed nerve endings in the porous dentine.

This can make it difficult to eat or drink anything cold, hot or sweet.

As well, eroded gums can look unpleasant as the exposed dentine is a dull yellow colour, unlike shiny white teeth that have their enamel intact.

Should I brush my teeth before or after breakfast?

If You Brush Before Breakfast

Brushing and flossing first thing in the morning removes the plaque that has built up during the night and takes care of many of the bacteria who are ready to enjoy the sugar and carbs in that breakfast with you. If you brush before eating breakfast, rinse your mouth with water after your meal, floss if needed, and you are good to go.

If You Choose to Brush After Breakfast

But if you decide that doughnut simply can’t wait, you should ideally postpone brushing for 20-30 minutes after your meal. Of course, these are minutes in which bacteria can make use of those new sugars and carbohydrates. So why shouldn’t you brush immediately after eating? Many foods and beverages, especially acidic ones such as grapefruit and orange juice, can weaken the surface of your teeth. If you rinse with water after eating and wait at least 20-30 minutes before brushing, your enamel will be “remineralised” (another benefit of saliva) and ready for cleaning.

How can I maintain a healthy smile with my dentist’s help?

Here are some tips to help you take care of your smile:

Healthy habits. Brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily are essential for everyone, no matter how unique your mouth is. It’s the best way to fight tooth decay and gum disease.

Build a relationship. Continuity of care is an important part of any health plan and dental health is no exception. When your dentist sees you regularly, he or she is in a good position to catch oral problems early. For instance, catching gum disease when it’s still reversible, or cavities when they are small and are more easily treated.

Maintain. Keeping your mouth healthy is an essential piece of your overall health. It’s important to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your overall health as well.

Talk about it! Only your dentist can determine what the best treatment plan is for you. Have questions about your oral health or certain dental procedures? Start a conversation. Ask your dentist to explain step-by-step. Dentists love having satisfied, healthy patients.

What are good foods to have for my teeth?

Fibre-Rich fruits and vegetables: Foods with fibre stimulate saliva flow, which is a natural defence against cavities. Not only does saliva wash away food particles and clean your mouth, about 20 minutes after you eat something, saliva begins to neutralise the acids attacking your teeth. Opt for crisp fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots and celery.

Cheese, milk, plain yogurt and other dairy products: The calcium, phosphates and vitamin D in cheese, milk and other dairy products are important minerals for the health of your teeth. Your teeth are made mostly of calcium, and without enough in your diet, you risk developing tooth decay and other problems. An added benefit is that the calcium in these foods mixes with plaque and sticks to teeth, protecting them from acids that cause decay and helping to rebuild tooth enamel on the spot. Worried you won’t get enough calcium because you are allergic to milk or just don’t like the taste? There are many calcium-fortified juices, soy milks and other foods available that can supply as much calcium to your diet as milk does.

Sugarless chewing gum: Chewing sugar-free gum after meals and snacks can help rinse harmful acid off your teeth to help you preserve tooth enamel. But be sure it’s sugarless! Chewing gum containing sugar may actually increase your chances of developing a cavity. Sugarless gum containing xylitol, which has been shown to have decay-preventive qualities, may even have an added benefit. Research indicates that xylitol most likely inhibits the growth of Streptococcus mutans, the oral bacteria that cause cavities.

Green and black teas: Tea contains compounds that suppress bacteria, slowing down the processes responsible for tooth decay and gum disease. Depending on the type of water you use to brew your tea, a cup of tea can also be a source of fluoride. If you add sugar to your tea, be sure you rinse with water or brush afterward.

Why do I have so much plaque?

The most common reason for excess plaque is a habit of eating sugary or starchy foods without brushing or rinsing out the mouth immediately afterward. The amount of bacteria in your mouth is linked to the amount of food available for it to eat. Oral bacteria love simple carbohydrates. These can be found in sugary cereals, donuts, soft drinks, candy and other junk foods. Sugars and simple carbs are also present even in healthier foods like milk, bread and fruit. When you eat or snack on these foods, they leave residue in your mouth that feeds bacteria and leads to excess plaque.

What foods are bad for my teeth?

Sugary candies and sweets that stay in your mouth: If you eat sweets, go for those that clear out of your mouth quickly. Those that stick around — lollipops, caramels, jelly beans and hard candies — make it difficult for saliva to wash the sugar away. Snacks like cookies, cakes or other desserts contain a high amount of sugar, which can cause tooth decay. If you eat these foods, limit when you eat them, instead of snacking on them through the day, and brush your teeth afterward.

Starchy, refined carbohydrates: Foods such as chips, bread, pasta or crackers can be as harmful to the teeth as candy. Starches made from white flour are simple carbohydrates and can linger in your mouth and then break down into simple sugars. Bacteria feed on these sugars and produce acid, which causes tooth decay. Avoid eating them throughout the day and brush afterward.

Beverages with added sugar: Be aware of the amount of sugar in your drinks by checking the nutrition label. Consider alternatives such as water, tea, coffee and coconut water.

Fruit juice: Fruit is an important part of a healthy diet. Whole fruits have fiber and are a less concentrated source of sugar (and sometimes acids) than juice. When you drink fruit juice, use a straw to keep it from having too much contact with your teeth or rinse with water afterward.

Lemons, citrus fruits and other acidic foods: Avoid keeping these foods in your mouth for a long period of time.

Why do I feel dizzy after my dental treatment?

Not only have you had a dental procedure that you were nervous about which made your heart race, but you’ve probably still got that anaesthetic making your mouth feel weird.

So take your time, stay seated in the chair until you’re confident you can get up safely. Let the staff know you’re feeling unsteady. They fully expect that some patients require more time and attention after procedures than others. You and your safety are paramount. Let them help you and recognise that it is temporary and you’ll recover soon.

What is a cavity?

Everyone knows that cavities are bad, but a surprising amount of people don’t know exactly what cavities are. A cavity is simply a small hole in the tooth that develops as a result of tooth decay. In other words, decay eats away at the tooth and results in a void space that disrupts the structure of the tooth. It’s important to get cavities repaired because they will continue to grow larger with time.

How can I prevent cavities?

Always spend two to three minutes brushing your teeth. It takes that long to get rid of the bacteria that destroy tooth enamel. Do not brush too hard. It takes very little pressure to remove bacteria and plaque. Floss at least once a day. Flossing is the only way to get bacteria from between your teeth.

Watch the sugar you eat. There is sugar in candy, fruits, crackers and chips. These are the foods that the bacteria in your mouth like best. Be mindful of foods like raisins and peanut butter that stick to your teeth. They can provide a constant supply for the bacteria eating into your teeth. Try to minimise the times during the day when sweet items are eaten and brush your teeth afterwards.

If you cannot brush after a meal, rinse your mouth with water – which can help to remove food from your teeth. Chewing sugarless gum after a meal can also help. Chewing stimulates the flow of your saliva which acts as a natural plaque-fighting substance. And do not forget your regular dental visits. Good dental habits will go a long way toward a no-cavity visit.

Why do teeth become loose?

A loose baby tooth is normal and expected; a loose permanent tooth is quite another matter: it’s an advanced sign of disease that could lead to losing the tooth.

The reasons for its looseness may vary. You may have experienced “primary occlusal trauma,” in which the teeth have experienced a prolonged excessive biting force beyond their tolerance. This can be caused by habitual grinding or clenching the teeth.

You may have also experienced “secondary occlusal trauma”: although the biting forces are within normal ranges, the teeth still can’t handle the stress due to degraded bone support and gum tissue detachment. Clenching habits combined with weakened bone and gums will only accelerate and worsen the damage.

The most frequent cause in adults for loose teeth is secondary trauma from periodontal (gum) disease. Bacterial plaque built up on teeth from poor oral hygiene causes a chronic infection that eventually weakens gum attachment to the teeth. A loose tooth is a late sign of this damage.

Treatment for disease-based loose teeth has a twofold approach. First, we thoroughly clean the tooth, root and gum surfaces of all plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) to reduce the infection and inflammation and restore tissue health. This is often accompanied by antibiotic treatments to reduce bacteria below the gum tissue.

For the loose teeth themselves, we may need to modify the forces against them while the gums and bone heal. One way to lessen the biting force on a tooth is to reshape its and the opposing tooth’s biting surfaces. For extensive looseness we can also splint the affected tooth or teeth with other teeth. Temporarily, we can apply splinting material to the outside of both the loose and stable teeth or cut a small channel into them and apply bonding material to join them. A permanent option is to crown both the affected teeth and nearby stable teeth and fuse the crowns together.

These and other stabilising techniques, like occlusal night guards to reduce the effects of teeth grinding or orthodontic treatment, will help secure the teeth. Coupled with disease treatment and renewed dental care and hygiene practices, you may be able to keep that loose tooth from being lost.

Is it normal for teeth to wiggle a little?

Sometimes, adult teeth can feel a bit loose, which is particularly noticeable when you’re eating or brushing your teeth. In many cases, this sensation will feel worse in the mornings, and then gradually tighten up during the day. Often, the sensation is completely gone by morning. If your tooth feels loose, it may be tempting to ignore the problem when this occurs, but a loose tooth should never be ignored. It is an indication that there may be a more serious problem.

What causes loose teeth?

There are a number of dental issues that can cause adult teeth to feel loose, however most common cause is oral trauma. When an impact or other oral trauma occurs, the small periodontal ligaments that hold your tooth roots in place can stretch. Each tooth has thousands of these ligaments lined up all around the root, much like the springs around a trampoline. When these become stretched, the tooth can begin to feel loose.

For most adults, this type of oral trauma is usually caused by bruxism, or nighttime tooth grinding. This condition causes you to sleep with your teeth clenched very tightly all through the night. In some cases, you may even grind your teeth back and forth, further stretching the ligaments. This can cause your teeth to feel loose in the mornings.

Another common cause of loose teeth is gum disease. When plaque and other deposits begin to develop beneath the gum line, an infection can occur. When left untreated, this infection can destroy gum tissue and damage the periodontal ligaments holding your tooth in place. This will leave them feeling loose, and can lead to a number of other dental problems, including eventual tooth loss.

How are loose teeth treated?

The treatment you receive for your loose teeth will depend largely on the cause. The first step will be to give your tooth some extra support in order to stabilise it. This process is known as splinting, and involves placing a small, flexible splint in place in order to keep the tooth from moving. Your dentist will use a special dental cement to bond a small splint on either side of your tooth, anchoring it to the surrounding teeth in order to keep it stable and still. The splint is usually worn for around two weeks in order to give the periodontal ligaments time to heal.

If your loose tooth has been caused by bruxism, you will also be given a special mouth guard to wear at night while you sleep. This will help to cushion your teeth, preventing you from fully clenching your jaws during the night. If you do grind your teeth, they will simply slide back and forth along the smooth material of the mouth guard, preventing the periodontal ligaments from experiencing the stress that caused your tooth to become loose in the first place.

In the case of gum disease, treatment may need to be a bit more extensive. The first step will be to schedule you for a few deep cleaning appointments, during which each quadrant of your mouth will be carefully treated. You will undergo dental scaling and root planing in order to remove the plaque and other deposits that have collected below the gum line. You may also need to undergo a course of antibiotics, and if your periodontal pockets are very deep, they may be filled with a special medication designed to shrink them back down to a normal size.

If your tooth is beyond saving, a tooth extraction may be necessary. Once the tooth is removed, you will be given either a dental implant, a dental bridge or partial denture to replace the tooth. This keeps the remaining teeth in your mouth from pulling out of their sockets in order to fill the resulting space, protecting your dental health.

Why do people grind their teeth?

Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also be caused by a sleep disorder such as sleep apena. Your dentist can get a custom night guard made for you to stop wearing or chipping your teeth. Night guards are similar to a mouth guard.

How do I find out if I grind my teeth?

Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw when you wake up is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night.

If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist. He or she can examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and excessive wear on your teeth.

Why is teeth grinding harmful?

In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed.Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ, and even change the appearance of your face.

What can I do to stop grinding my teeth?

Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep.

If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, ask your doctor or dentist about options to reduce your stress. Attending stress counselling, starting an exercise program , seeing a physical therapist, or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants are among some of the options that may be offered.

If a sleeping disorder is causing the grinding, treating it may reduce or eliminate the grinding habit.

Other tips to help you stop teeth grinding include:

Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.

Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.

Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.

Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.

Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.

Is it possible to grind your teeth down?

Catching bruxism early is important because frequent grinding can remove some of the enamel from your teeth and, in more severe cases, expose the underlying layer of dentin. This can lead to sensitivity and tooth decay. Other outcomes from heavy grinding are flattened cusps and fractured teeth or fillings.

What do I do if I break a tooth?

A broken tooth can seem catastrophic if it happens to you, but there are steps you can take that might enable a dentist to fix the fracture or even rectify the loss.

If you do break one of your teeth due to an accident, then to increase the possibility of re-attaching the broken tooth, you should find the tooth fragments, rinse them with water and keep them moist. You should contact your dentist immediately.

If the tooth has been knocked out, put the clean tooth back into the socket (the space in the gum where the tooth has come out from) as soon as possible.

The broken or loose tooth should be picked up by the crown (the part that you chew and bite with), while carefully avoiding contact with the root (the part usually in the gum). When the tooth is dirty it has to be quickly rinsed off before you attempt to place it back in the socket.

If you can’t get the tooth back into the socket then keep it in a liquid that can keep the cells on the surface of the root alive. Cold cows milk is one of the best storage medias for storage until you can get to the dentist.

Until you’re able to see the dentist make sure you:

  • Rinse the mouth with warm water
  • Apply pressure with a section of gauze to the bleeding until it stops
  • Put an ice pack to the lips or cheek over the broken tooth to relieve pain and reduce swelling
  • Take a pain reliever (Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory and will also help with swelling).

Sometimes a tooth can be reattached, sometimes not. If a tooth can’t be reattached, then it can be somewhat restored using a resin composite. If the fracture is too bad a root canal and crowning might be necessary. Discuss your options thoroughly with your dentist.

I’m afraid of needles.

A fear of needles isn’t just restricted to dental patients. Nearly 1 in 5 people have needle fear of some sort when seeing a medical practitioner.

Make sure that you acknowledge your fears by talking to your dentist before the appointment. They are familiar with these anxieties and may have ways to help.
It may be reassuring to know that dentists use very effective numbing gels prior to giving you any injections. This should mean you won’t feel a thing.

These numbing gels have helped many people overcome their fear of dental injections. Ask if your dentist can give painless injections or use numbing gel before giving an injection.

I’m afraid of the drill.

Some people may fear pain from a drill. This fear can be triggered by the sound of the drill.

However, patients are numbed before using the drill. When sufficiently numbed, you won’t feel any pain at all. You’ll just be aware of light pressure and vibration.
If the sound troubles you, pop in earphones and listen to some music. This can help to calm and/or distract you. It can be a calming classic or a pumping dance track – whichever you prefer!

I’m afraid of the pain.

If you’ve had a bad experience with dental pain before, you may be afraid of a repeat experience. However, many factors come into play with dental pain.

Anaesthetics and numbing gels are now available for most treatments. This means it’s not likely to be the painful experience you’ve had in the past.

Also, when you’re more fearful, you tend to ense up. This may make you more sensitive to pain.

Changing your pain perception can be helped by:

  • Learning ways to relax
  • Deep breathing techniques
  • A great dentist you’re comfortable with
  • Numbing gels

Infection Control

Do dentists sterilise their equipment?

Because dentists see many patients in a day, they should have enough sets of tools so they can sterilise used tools while having clean ones for each patient they see. Autoclaving takes time – several hours to wash tools, put them in the autoclave, steam them for the required time, and then cool them before use.

What is an autoclave?

An autoclave is a machine that is used to eradicate biohazardous waste from the surface of tools or instruments.

Autoclaves sterilise or disinfect through physical means by using pressure, temperature and steam. They are often referred to as steam sterilisation machines.

Do dentists or hygienists change gloves in between patients?

Depending on the procedure, he or she might also don a mask, eyewear, and clothing such as a gown or jacket. Your dentist wears different types of gloves for different tasks. Surgical gloves are different than regular exam gloves. To be sure germs won’t spread, all dental staff should change gloves in between patients.

Should a dentist or hygienist wear a mask?

Whenever you visit a medical professional, you should have high expectations of a clean, safe and sterile environment. The mask your dentist wears is part of that, and you shouldn’t allow any dental office that doesn’t require its staff to wear masks during procedures to work on your mouth.

Treatment under 18 year

How do I get my children to brush their teeth?

Make it fun! If you are enthusiastic about brushing your teeth, your children will also be enthusiastic. Children want to do the things their parents do. If your children see you brushing your teeth and displaying good dental habits, they will follow. Ask the dentist for other creative ways to get children to brush their teeth.

Getting your children to brush starts with taking them to the dentist at an early age. All children should be seen by their first birthday or 6 months after the eruption of the first tooth.

When should I take my child for their first dental checkup?

A good rule of thumb is to bring your child to the dentist when the first tooth appears, or by their first birthday. Taking your child to the dentist before their first birthday prevents future decay and dental issues. Early appointments teach you how to properly care for your child’s teeth while also instilling a lifetime of good dental habits.

Is thumb sucking bad for my child’s teeth?

How vigorously your child sucks their thumb will determine the amount of restriction or deviation that is caused by having thumbs or fingers in the mouth when the permanent teeth are pushing through (erupting) the gums to form.

Sucking is a natural reflex in infants and young children. They can use thumbs, fingers, dummies, pacifiers and other objects to suck against to give them feelings of security and happiness at difficult times. For some infants sucking is so relaxing that they can develop a habit of thumb sucking to help them fall asleep.

When thumb sucking continues after the eruption of the permanent teeth, it can cause problems with the proper growth of the jaw, mouth and tooth alignment (most often causing “buck teeth”). The intensity with which your child sucks on fingers or thumbs will determine whether or not dental problems may result.

Children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have dental difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs; mainly due to the amount of vacuum and pressure that is created by their sucking. Usually, kids stop naturally between the ages of 2 and 4 whilst others will likely stop due to peer pressure when they are school-aged.

Pacifiers are no substitute for thumb sucking; anything that is vigorously sucked will cause disruptions to oral development and teeth alignment. However, from a parenting perspective, use of a pacifier can be controlled and modified more easily than the thumb or finger habit.

If you have concerns about thumb sucking or giving your child a pacifier, consult your dentist. They are able to give you advice on warning signs to look out for and help you with information on what to do if you need to help your child break the habit.

When will my child starting losing their baby teeth?

Usually children usually lose their first baby tooth around age 5 or 6 years. However the timing can vary widely from one child to the next.

As baby teeth get ready to fall out, the developing adult teeth cause the roots of the baby teeth to dissolve. This is why children can wiggle the baby teeth loose with their tongues or fingers.

By the time the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, there is often only a little amount of tissue holding the baby tooth in place. That means, if your child wants you to pull out a loose baby tooth, they can by grasping it firmly with a clean tissue use a quick twisting motion to remove it.

If there is bleeding after the tooth has been removed, use a clean face washer or washcloth and apply gentle pressure to the site and the bleeding will stop.

My child has a loose baby tooth that won’t come out. Do I need to do anything?

If you can see the permanent tooth coming through and trying to push the baby tooth out of the way, it is a good idea to see your dentist. They will examine your child’s mouth and may take x-rays to work out whether the baby tooth is going to damage the adult tooth or cause problems with alignment.

Your dentist may recommend that the baby tooth be extracted to help the permanent tooth come through into the right position and without unnecessary contact with the baby tooth.

Should I be flossing my child’s teeth?

Even from as young as four years of age, flossing once a day will remove plaque and food particles that aren’t able to be removed with brushing alone.

In families where teeth are highly susceptible to decay (or they have problems with plaque build up under the gum line) is hereditary, starting great dental habits early will help your child reduce their risks and avoid some of the unpleasant cleaning and dental treatments you have had to go through.

Do children grind their teeth?

The problem of teeth grinding is not limited to adults. Approximately 15% to 33% of children grind their teeth. Children who grind their teeth tend to do so at two peak times — when their baby teeth emerge and when their permanent teeth come in. Most children lose the teeth grinding habit after these two sets of teeth have come in more fully.

Most commonly, children grind their teeth during sleep rather than during waking hours. No one knows exactly why children grind their teeth but considerations include improperly aligned teeth or irregular contact between upper and lower teeth, illnesses and other medical conditions (such as nutritional deficiencies, pinworm, allergies, endocrine disorders), and psychological factors including anxiety and stress.

Grinding of the baby teeth rarely results in problems. However, teeth grinding can cause jaw pain, headaches, wear on the teeth, and TMD. Consult your dentist if your child’s teeth look worn or if your child complains of tooth sensitivity or pain.

How Can I Support My Child’s Long-Term Oral Health?

Lead by example! If you take demonstrate good dental habits by brushing and flossing every day your child will follow. Make it fun and invite them in with you while you brush and explain the benefits of healthy teeth. It will soon become habit for them.
Also bring them into the dentist with you for the 6 monthly cleans.

If they get braces this will also instill good dental hygiene as this requires a rigorous cleaning routine and regular dentist visits.
These are two big steps towards good lifelong dental habits and healthy living.

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