Category Archives: dental

The everyday habits causing your tooth sensitivity

Jan_dental_sensitivity promo_no text.jpgEveryone knows how important it is to brush twice daily and floss for healthy teeth and gums. No doubt, your dentist reminds you at every six-monthly visit. But did you know that there are lots of things you can do to prevent the serious and growing problem of tooth erosion?

‘Your tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body and it is designed to protect the inside of your teeth’ says Dr Lincoln Law, dentist at the healthy teeth clinic in Surry Hills.

‘But acidic foods and drinks can damage the teeth by etching away at the thin layer of enamel. This leads to sensitivity and this can leave your pearly whites less than white,’ he adds.

Tooth sensitivity: why it happens

‘Teeth are made up from layers, the outer surface is enamel and when this is worn away, the dentine layer is exposed, which is a yellowy or off-white colour. Dentine has tiny holes in it and via these holes, hot and cold temperatures and even sweetness, and sour tastes can reach the nerves causing pain.’ Explains Dr Lincoln.

More and more people are being affected by sensitive teeth, a problem that can start early in life. Plus, if tooth erosion affects the adult teeth, the results are permanent because enamel doesn’t grow back!

It’s all about pH

‘Both acids and alkaline are measured via a system called pH and your mouth has a pH of around seven (a pH of one is very acidic and 14 is very alkaline). So seven is neutral because it’s right in the middle of the pH scale.

‘So, acidic drinks – such as cola which has a pH of around three – erodes enamel i.e. it dissolves the calcium salts in it. See for yourself – if you have a baby tooth to experiment with, drop it into a glass of cola and it will eventually dissolve. Foods such as pickles and vinegars, and drinks such as wine also etch away at your enamel,’ he says.

Enamel erosion can have other causes too, including:

  • Acid reflux – where acid from the stomach flows up the mouth causing the pain of heartburn). The acid usually affects the teeth at the back of the mouth.
  • Frequent vomiting – which can be caused by medicines and also the condition bulimia. This also erodes the back or chewing teeth.
  • Over-brushing or using abrasive toothpaste – both can wear down your precious enamel.
  • Physical wear and tear – including tooth-to-tooth grinding, which can lead to the gradual loss of enamel.

What you can do

‘Leave some time between eating acidic foods or consuming acidic drinks – including breakfast juices and tooth brushing. This is because the acid will have softened the enamel. And, brushing too soon can literally brush enamel away. So brush before food and rinse your mouth with water afterwards,’ Dr Lincoln advises.

Remember, it can take up to 30 minutes for the surface of a tooth to get back to normal pH after an acidic drink so wait at least this long before brushing.

 

Treatment

Sensitive teeth can be treated with high-strength fluoride toothpaste or remineralising pastes containing calcium and phosphate. If the damage is severe, though, you may need restorative dentistry.

Practical tips to protect your enamel

Don’t brush too soon after eating foods with acids in them (including pickles and ketchup) and drinks (such as juices and wine).

Eat fruits as part of a meal since chewing stimulates saliva, which is your body’s natural way to cleanse your mouth.

Avoid fizzy drinks, especially with screw caps to discourage sipping throughout the day. ‘If you want a fizzy drink, drink in one go and use a straw to reduce contact with the teeth. Rinse your mouth with water afterwards. Remember that juices and some alcoholic drinks including wine are also acidic and spirits with juices plus cider. Sparkling water has less of a damaging effect but still contains acid,’ advises Dr Lincoln.

See your GP if you are having problems with acid reflux.

See your dentist to check you haven’t cracked a tooth or filling that’s causing the sensitivity.

 

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Dr Lincoln Law, dentist at the healthy teeth clinic in Surry Hills
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Got a bad breath problem? This could be why …

You probably won’t be surprised to know that a lot of people have a bad breath problem. But did you know bad breath is a chronic problem for one in four people[i]?

If you’re that one in four, it’s a problem for you – and possibly those around you. Learn about the gases that cause imperfect pongs and what you can do about them …

Bad breath affects most of us at some time or another – after a night’s sleep or after chomping on onions and garlic. But lingering smells need attention. Dr Lincoln Law who practices at the Healthy Teeth clinic in Surry Hills explains: ‘Bad breath is also known as halitosis or feta oris and it’s a pretty common reason for people coming into the clinic.’

Flagrant not fragrant

Research backs Dr Lincoln’s experience; it’s the third most common reason for seeking the help of a dentist after tooth decay and gum disease[ii].

As for the causes of less than fragrant breath? ‘Well, there can be many,’ explains Dr Lincoln.

‘Poor oral hygiene is the major cause of bad breath. It can happen when bits of food caught in your teeth start to break down. When mouth living bacteria eat these bits of food, they release noxious gases,’ says Dr Lincoln.

Anyone for bad eggs?

Scarily, these noxious gases include hydrogen sulphide (think rotten eggs), dimethyl sulphide (think rotten seaweed) and cadaverine and putrescine (the gases given off by decaying corpses) …

‘Lifestyle factors such as smoking also cause bad breath because of the tar and carbon that remain in the mouth. Smoking and alcohol consumption also dehydrate the body, which can cause dry mouth and can affect the quality of your breath.’

The food factor

Food is another factor that can cause bad breath. Take the popular paleo way of eating. ‘Severe dieting means that your body breaks down different nutrients and this can cause bad breath. Low carb and no carb diets can also do it.’

Dr Lincoln explains: ‘That’s because, when you cut the carbs and increase your protein intake, your body burns fat and this produces volatile compounds called ketones, which cause a particular kind of bad breath. Better dental hygiene can’t fix this one – it’s best to include a few low GI, healthy wholegrain foods in your diet. You can also try masking the smell with sugar-free gum.’

Feed bad bacteria

Most of the time, the cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. Pongs occur when bacteria eat the traces of food that remain between and on the teeth and gums, producing sulphur-containing gases.

Dr Lincoln says that, in his experience, people just need a little help to improve their oral hygiene – the best approach is with gentle but effective cleaning techniques for each individual.

‘Bacteria live in your mouth. They find homes in the crevices of the tongue, teeth and gums where they eat the food you eat and emit foul-smelling gases that cause odours. So removing bacteria and their waste through an effective cleaning regime can freshen your breath for a few hours,’ advises Dr Lincoln.

 Health conditions and halitosis

Serious illnesses – like bowel problems and pneumonia – as well as reflux problems, can cause bad breath. Medication can also be a trigger – including nitrates used to treat angina, some chemotherapy medications and certain tranquillisers, plus any kind of medicine that causes dry mouth.

Although medical problems need prompt medical treatment and you need to see your GP, there are some things you can do to protect yourself from bad breath. ‘Recent research suggests that one of the most effective ways to beat bad breath is based on bacteria,’ says Dr Lincoln.

Better bacteria

‘More and more research is showing that one of the most effective ways to treat bad breath is via probiotics (good bacteria). There are trillions of beneficial bacteria that live in and on your body that are vital to life and can help to reduce bad breath. So, many new treatments are likely to focus on increasing certain beneficial probiotics,’ he explains.

Probiotics work by forcing out the bad guys i.e. the bad bacteria which are potentially disease-causing microorganisms. Look for oral probiotics designed specifically to improve your dental health.

Feeding the good guys

‘Encouraging lots of prebiotics is important, too. Prebiotics – like wholegrains, pulses, veggies and fruits – are foods that nourish you and promote the growth of good bacteria. Yet another reason to enjoy a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits and healthy carbohydrates,’ explains Dr Lincoln.

Crunch time

‘Vegetables are an especially good choice because they are also rich in water and fibre – you could say they act like a dietary toothbrush. Drink lots of water and try to rinse your mouth with water after eating to help the natural mouth cleansing action of saliva,’ ends Dr Lincoln.

Of course, effective and regular cleaning is absolutely vital to maintain a healthy mouth. So don’t neglect regular check-ups with your dentist for a professional clean.

[i] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/166636.php

[ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12013345

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Dr Lincoln Law, dentist at the Healthy Teeth clinic in Surry Hills

Hormonal shifts that might hit you in the mouth

Hot flushes, sweats and mood swings – the middle years can be a challenging time for many women. And, although most people know about the effects on the body, menopause can also have a big impact on oral health.

To mark Dental Health Week (1-7 August 2016) which focuses on women and oral health this year, rt healthy teeth dentist, Dr Karlien Roper, shares some of the less well-known side effects of menopause.

Dr Karlien says, ‘Most people know that around the middle years, fluctuations in female hormones such as oestrogen can cause a range of problems before, during and around menopause. And, it’s well known that women can become more susceptible to bone problems such as osteoporosis and heart conditions during this time. But there are also a number of related oral health problems.’

Dry mouth

Dipping oestrogen levels affect the amount of water in the body since oestrogen plays a part in controlling fluid regulation[i]  – and that includes the fluid content of the mouth. Couple this with the fact that the body’s ability to conserve water naturally declines with age which means that it’s easier to get dehydrated.

Dehydration can contribute to:

  • Dry mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Tooth decay and gum problems (as oral bacteria produce acids that damage teeth and gums which saliva helps to wash away)
  • Altered taste perception and burning tongue (these could be due to the effects of oestrogen on the nerves that control taste perception).

What you can do

Drinking plenty of water may help keep your body – and your mouth hydrated. Sip some throughout the day – keep a glass or bottle with you. Drinking water after a meal also helps to cleanse the mouth, boosting the action of saliva. Watery foods such as vegetables and fruits are a good choice. But alcohol, advises Dr Karlien, is a natural dehydrator and can make dry mouth worse. So try to dilute alcoholic drinks with water and enjoy water or other non-alcoholic alternatives between alcoholic drinks. Chewing sugar-free gum after eating is also a good idea, as it triggers saliva flow helping to cleanse the mouth after eating.

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Dr Karlien adds: ‘Whatever the cause, if you feel your mouth is dry, see your dentist. Your dentist may refer you to a specialist to find out the cause as dry mouth and taste changes can be distressing. Reduced saliva production also means that oral problems can worsen because bacteria have more time and opportunity to stay in contact with the teeth, causing damage to both teeth and gums.’

Guidance for gums

Some conditions that affect the gums are more common in the years after menopause, again, because of fluctuating levels of hormones that directly affect the oral cavity[ii]. The majority of women – 60 per cent – experience periodontal (gum) problems[iii].

Signs of gum disease include:

  • Sensitive, soft or swollen gums
  • Receding gums
  • A change in colour of the gums
  • Gum pain
  • Bleeding gums.

 What you can do

‘Keep it clean!’ says Dr Karlien. ‘The cause of gum disease is the build-up of bacteria between the gums and teeth and this causes irritation, inflammation and bleeding (gingivitis). So, between-teeth cleaning is vital.’ Because the gums are the foundation for your teeth, a weak foundation could even lead to tooth loss.

‘Gingivitis is not a serious condition,’ continues Dr Karlien. ‘The problem is that it can progress to a more serious form of gum disease, periodontitis. This involves deeper infection and can result in potential tooth loss. Periodontitis is also linked with chronic (long-term) diseases such as heart disease[iv], as bacteria from infected gums pass through damaged gum tissue and enter the bloodstream causing heart problems. This is why it’s vital to keep teeth and gums as healthy as possible not just at home, but with professional dental health check-ups and treatment.’

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Hormones and bones

The risk of osteoporosis increases rapidly just after menopause and the jawbone, like other bones, can be affected. This is because oestrogen blocks the enzyme that causes bone breakdown[v].

What you can do

Get enough calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is the major mineral in bones and teeth while vitamin D is vital for the absorption of calcium. Foods such as cheese, broccoli and tofu are great sources of calcium and you can get enough vitamin D by going outside. This can help to prevent erosion but won’t be enough to restore bone loss. Your doctor may prescribe treatment to rebalance your hormone levels if you have severe bone loss.

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Tips to keep your teeth

Wear and tear is natural with age. And so, protecting your teeth is as vital ever. ‘Twice daily brushing and flossing are great home maintenance habits. But seeing your dentist for a professional clean and check-up are vital too. Small challenges can be picked up early by your dentist and effective treatments can keep you smiling for the long term,’ ends Dr Karlien Roper.

About the author

In her work at rt healthy teeth, Dr Karlien Roper enjoys the variety of services offered to her patients and also has a keen interest in cosmetic dentistry, facial aesthetics and endodontics. Married with two beautiful boys, Dr Karlien enjoys spending time with her family, cheering her family on at the sports fields, having a braai (South African barbecue) with friends and travelling.

Dr Karlien Roper
Dr Karlien Roper, Dentist at rt healthy teeth

[i]  PubMed – NCBI. Sex Hormone Effects on Body Fluid Regulation. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2849969/

[ii] PubMed – NCBI. Menopause and oral health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4195183/

[iii] PubMed – NCBI. Oral Health and Menopause: A Comprehensive Review on Current Knowledge and Associated Dental Management. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3793432/

[iv] WebMD. Periodontal Disease and Heart Health. http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/features/periodontal-disease-heart-health

[v] ScienceDaily. How Estrogen Protects Bones. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070323171448.htm

Whether training or at a tournament, why a mouthguard’s a must!

Being active is vital for physical health and it’s a whole lot of fun, too. But, whether it’s a kick about with friends or a competitive tournament, playing sports can be tough on your teeth.

We’re talking about chips and fractures to teeth, knocked out teeth, fractures to the jaw and injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth. All of these can be avoided or minimised with the use of a suitable mouthguard.

Even though dentists and sports teachers recommend wearing them, only around one in three Australian children do so[i]. The result? Thousands of people are treated for dental injuries due to a fall or damage resulting from equipment or accidental collisions. About a third of injuries to teeth are sports-related according to the Australian Dental Association (ADA), with children being most often affected – one in two kids experience some kind of dental injury[ii].

A good quality mouthguard is important because it absorbs and spreads the impact of a blow to the face. Some dentists suggest mouthguards are worn for non-contact sport, such as soccer and basketball as well as contact sports such as rugby. And, they’re not just important for game days – wearing a mouthguard during training is important since it helps children get used to wearing one while protecting their teeth.

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So what exactly is a mouthguard? And what kind is the best kind for your kids and why?

Dentist made mouthguards

Custom made to accurately fit your child’s mouth, a dentist made mouthguard offers greater protection compared with off-the-shelf products; they are strongly recommended by the ADA. To make one, your dentist takes an impression of the teeth and a plaster model is made from this. For the perfect fit, the mouthguard should be around 4mm thick, with enough cushioning to protect against impact. The appliance needs to fit snugly but allow the wearer to talk.

A mouthguard is an important investment in your child’s health – if he or she has a dental injury, the pain and distress and the dental and/or hospital costs are likely to cost much more than the cost of a mouthguard.

mouthguard

Over-the-counter mouthguards

These boil-and-bite mouthguards are first placed into hot water before placing in the mouth. When teeth are closed over the material, the resulting impression is the shape and size of the mouth.

These mouthguards are less effective and not as comfortable as a custom made mouthguard since they won’t conform perfectly to an individual’s bite. Although cheaper than custom made mouthguards, the ADA says that over-the-counter mouthguards don’t provide enough protection and they recommend a custom mouthguard fitted by a dental professional.

Caring for your mouthguard

Your dentist will advise you to keep the mouthguard in a plastic container with vents to allow some air to reach it (oral bacteria which can cause plaque hate air and are destroyed by it). Keep it clean by washing it in warm soapy water and rinsing carefully. Antibacterial mouthwash can be used to give it a thorough disinfection. Heat can alter the shape of the mouthguard so try and keep it in a sports bag and don’t allow it to become overheated (which can happen if you keep it in the car between games and training).

Bring the mouthguard along to your six monthly dental visit so your dentist can help to keep it in good condition – or replace it if it has been damaged. And, if your child is still growing, he or she may need a new piece from time to time to accommodate growth – about every 12-18 months or so. If the mouthguard starts to feel uncomfortable, your child’s dentist can advise you.

The bottom line …

If your child is playing sport regularly, it’s important that you get them fitted with a good-quality mouthguard – then make sure that they actually wear it. This will protect their teeth long-term, potentially saving them many painful (and possibly expensive) visits to the dentist.

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Dr Karlien Roper, dentist at rt healthy teeth

[i] Australian Dental Association. About Mouthguards. http://www.mouthguardawareness.info/about-mouthguards.html

[ii] Australian Dental Association. There are easier ways to protect your child’s mouth from sports injury. http://www.ada.org.au/app_cmslib/media/lib/0803/m122630_v1_mouthguard%20poster%20a3.pdf

Healthy eats for stronger teeth

A lifetime of healthy smiles starts in childhood. So, as well as brushing twice daily, flossing and visiting the dentist, what you give your kids to eat can dramatically affect their tooth health – and their confidence, too.

A healthy diet isn’t just about limiting the amount of sugar you give them (although cutting down on sugar is better for everyone and has much wider health benefits).

Little tummies need regular feeding and healthy snacks can help to boost your child’s energy. So what are the best snacks to help your child smile?

Cheese and crackers/breadsticks

Hard cheese like Cheddar and soft cheese such as mozzarella are great for teeth because:

  1. They are rich in calcium, which is what teeth are made from. Immediately eating a small cube of cheese after a meal or a snack plugs the tiny holes in the enamel helping protect and build stronger teeth.
  2. The protein in cheese helps neutralise the acids from food and drinks, providing both protective and strengthening effects.
  3. The chewing action encourages the flow of saliva, which is the mouth’s natural cleanser.

cheddar cheese

Fruits – apples, pears, melon and more

Yes, they contain sugar and acids, but fruits are good for the teeth because they contain vitamin C, which helps to strengthen blood vessels that nourish cells with oxygen and food. Vitamin C is also vital for strengthening the connective tissue, which keeps the teeth in place. It also helps to protect gums and other tissues from cell damage and even bacterial infection. This vitamin also has an anti-inflammatory action.

Encourage fruit as part of a meal because the chewing action helps to stimulate saliva, the body’s way to wash food debris away. And offer a glass of water after they eat fruit to help wash away any acids.

Raisins

Dried fruit isn’t usually a tooth friendly snack because the drying process removes water, which concentrates the sugars. Plus the sticky texture means it can cling to the teeth for longer, providing plaque-producing bacteria plenty of time to feast on the sugar and produce acidic waste, which can damage delicate enamel.

We used to think that raisins were much like other dried fruit but recent research shows that raisins are a tooth healthy option.

Like other fruits, raisins contain protective phytochemicals, which are effective antioxidants. One of these found in raisins is called oleanolic (pronounced o-lee-an-o-lic) acid. This seems to reduce the growth of two species of oral bacteria, one that causes cavities (Streptococcus mutans) and one that causes gum disease (Porphyromonas gingivalis)[i].

raisins

Legumes

Peas, beans and lentils also contain antioxidants that help boost the immune system that in turn helps the body fight bacteria and inflammation. Try hummus with strips of pita bread/breadsticks or veggie sticks.

Crisp veggies

Crunchy carrots and celery help to clean teeth, massage gums and freshen breath. They contain a lot of water, which dilutes the effects of the sugars they contain. And, because they need a lot of chewing, crisp veggies stimulate saliva flow (which helps protect against decay by washing away food particles and buffering against acids). Plus, the folate they contain helps to build healthy blood, which delivers vital oxygen and nutrients to every cell.

carrots and celery

Sandwiches

Made with fish, lean meat, hummus, egg or cheese, small sandwiches for tiny tummies are a great choice. Although small children often don’t like the strong taste of fish, canned fish like salmon is a great sandwich filling because it is rich in tooth building calcium. Opt for wholegrain bread because it contains fibre, which requires chewing. Remember children under five don’t need as much fibre as adults so stick with white bread sandwiches for them.

Milk – cow’s milk and soy milk

Cow’s milk is naturally rich in calcium as is soy milk, if it is processed with calcium. Although it’s a tooth friendly drink, always make the last drink of the day water, as milk contains the milk sugar, lactose. If allowed to stay in contact with the teeth for long periods, it provides food for plaque-producing bacteria, increasing the risk of tooth damage.

Pumpkin and sunflower seeds

Both are rich in minerals including zinc and magnesium. Zinc plays a key role in wound healing – including little wounds in the mouth. Plus, they contain magnesium, another mineral which works with calcium to build strong, protective enamel that can resist decay. Lack of magnesium could mean that teeth become softer and more susceptible to cavities.

pumpkin seeds

With all snacks, encourage your kids to wash them down with some water afterwards. Water helps to wash away food debris, stimulate saliva production and most water supplies in Australia have added fluoride to help harden the enamel and protect teeth, too.

Remember, children’s milk teeth are much more delicate than adult teeth – as well as being smaller, the layer of enamel is thinner so small children are especially at risk of decay and damage. And, if baby teeth are removed because of decay, there’s more risk that the adult teeth will grow into abnormal positions.

So help them snack smarter and enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles!

Ravinder Lilly
Ravinder Lilly, Dietitian at rt health fund

 

[i] WebMD. Raisins May Help Fight Cavities. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/20050608/raisins-may-help-fight-cavities

 

Straight teeth – it’s not just about looking good!

There’s no doubt that a straighter smile can boost your confidence. But did you know that it could also improve the health of your teeth and gums? And, that it could even help retain your pearly whites? 

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The health benefits of straighter teeth …

  1. Cleaner teeth, banished bad breath – cleaning each and every tooth surface and getting to the gums can be more difficult if you have overcrowded or crooked teeth. It can also make it harder to remove the bacteria in your mouth. Removing the plaque-producing bacteria in your mouth is essential if you want to reduce the chances of cavities and bad breath. A cleaner mouth also helps you to reduce your risk of gum disease – healthy gums are vital because they hold your teeth in place. Gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in Australia[i].
  2. Reduced tooth wear and tear – because crooked/crowded teeth don’t fit properly in your mouth, teeth can rub against one another leading to abnormal and/or faster wear and tear.
  3. Better tooth function – when your upper and lower jaws aren’t aligned properly (e.g. if you have an overbite, underbite or crossbite), the result can be stress on your teeth, which increases the chances of chipping. It can also cause gum recession and damage to the teeth as well as headaches and painful jaws. Teeth that don’t fit well in your mouth can affect how efficiently you chew so straightening your teeth can help to improve your bite, making chewing more efficient, too.
  4. Smile confidence – there’s no doubt about it, a straighter smile can give you a confidence boost and make you want to smile more.

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Ready for the health benefits you’ll gain from straighter teeth?

Our rt healthy teeth dentists are experts in straightening teeth and can offer the perfect treatment to suit you.

Removable options

Our dentists are trained in Invisalign® and Quick Straight TeethQ Removable devices, which use clear, custom-made aligners to straighten your teeth without wires or brackets. The aligners are discreet and because they can be removed, you can get in and clean and floss your teeth to maintain your oral hygiene throughout your treatment. And, there is no metal involved, which can cause irritation to the gums and teeth.

Fixed option

Another option from Quick Straight Teeth is Q Fixed braces. These braces use clear and tooth coloured materials so they are also discreet. This is a great option for more serious orthodontic issues.

Whether you’d benefit from a removable device or clear braces, come in and find out how you could benefit from a straighter smile. If you’ve been putting off a smile makeover, now’s the perfect time!

rt healthy teeth is located at 1 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010. Call 1300 991 044 to make an appointment or visit rthealthcentre.com.au for more information.

[i] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Oral health and dental care in Australia. http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129548452

Heading off halitosis

Do you have a personal problem that no one’s telling you about? Bad breath – or halitosis – affects most of us at some time. And chances are that if you are affected by this smelly affliction, loved ones and acquaintances won’t want to tell you for fear of embarrassing you …

There’s no DIY bad breath test either – you can’t self diagnose bad breath by cupping your hands, blowing on them and breathing it all in. That’s because although the smell receptors in your nose are great at identifying new smells, they can’t detect persistent odours. If you really want to know if your breath is as fresh as it could be, ask someone you’re close to. Ready to get to the bottom of the problem? Then read on!

What causes bad breath?

Bacterial build up, gum disease and bits of trapped food (which provide food for the bacteria that live in your mouth and allow them to thrive) can contribute to bad breath. Your mouth dwelling bacteria produce smelly gases – called volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs). So, keeping your teeth and gums clean, regular professional cleaning and treatment for gum disease can make a huge difference to your fresh breath confidence.

What to avoid!

  • Smelly foods – garlic, onions, ginger and strong curry spices can linger in the mouth before they disappear.
  • Cigarettes – the noxious gases can lurk inside your mouth, contributing to bad breath.
  • Alcohol – the smell of the alcohol imparts a unique odour. Drinking too much alcohol can also cause dehydration, which allows bacteria to thrive.
  • Low carbohydrate diets – when your body uses fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, the result can be a strong and unusual smell.

Some medications and certain health conditions can also cause bad breath. Talk to your GP to find out more.

What you can do

  1. Brush thoroughly but gently on every tooth surface for at least two minutes, twice a day (wait for at least half an hour after eating acidic foods or drinking citrus drinks, wine and fizzy drinks or you could literally brush softened enamel away).
  2. Clean your tongue. Bacteria live in the grooves of your tongue so use your brush or a special tongue brush to clean it and the insides of your cheeks, too.
  3. Use dental floss after eating to remove bits of food that remain in your mouth. The bacteria will then have less food to feed on.
  4. Drink plenty of water and fluids to fight dry mouth.
  5. Chew sugar-free gum after eating – it stimulates the release of mouth-cleansing saliva.

Ask your dentist

Seeing your dentist regularly is vital if you’re after fresh breath confidence. During a professional clean, your dentist will pay special attention to areas where food can get caught and where plaque or tartar has built up. All of the areas that you find difficult to reach on your own can be cleaned thoroughly during your visit. Your dentist can also give you a tip or two about the best way to clean your teeth and gums and show you any areas that you might be missing. You may even be prescribed special products such as an antibacterial mouthwash and/or special interdental brushes to help remove any food stuck between your teeth.

If bad breath persists, it may be a sign of another problem – a sinus, tonsil or adenoid problem for example. So, go along and see your GP.

rt healthy teeth is located at 1 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010. Call 1300 991 044 to make an appointment or visit rthealthcentre.com.au for more information.

Is it time for a spring clean?

iStock_000018139241_Full_FINALEvery day your mouth fights a battle with the bacteria living in your mouth. And, when you eat, so do they …

Giving mouth bacteria fewer chances to eat and have bacterial babies is important – the more microbes in your mouth, the greater the chances of dental decay. This is because the waste matter produced by these bacteria is acidic and can literally burn a hole in your teeth. They can also cause horrid halitosis (from the smelly gases they produce). Ready to keep your mouth clean? Here’s rt healthy teeth’s top tips!

  1. Brush light and right. Using a toothpaste containing fluoride and a soft or medium bristled brush, clean every surface of your teeth using circular movements. A small-headed brush allows you to reach the difficult-to-get to areas, maximising your clean.
  2. Protect with fluoride. This mineral hardens enamel to help defend against acids produced by mouth bacteria and from the acids in foods and drinks.iStock_000010957093_Full_FINAL
  3. Let it air. When you’ve finished brushing, rinse your brush, shake off the extra water and place your brush head side up in a glass or container. The bacteria in your mouth hate oxygen so by exposing the bristles to air, it helps kill bacteria lingering on the brush. And, to reduce the possibility of cross contamination, don’t let your toothbrush head come into contact with someone else’s brush.
  4. Floss frequently. Flossing removes tiny particles of food stuck between teeth and at the gum line. To protect your gums though, never press too hard. Flossing is important for little ones too – did you know that as soon as teeth touch, your child can begin to floss? Bring your children in to see their dentist and learn the most effective way to floss.
  5. Replace it. As soon as it shows signs of wear, get yourself a new toothbrush to ensure maximum cleaning capacity.
  6. Brush your tongue. The majority (around 80-90%) of bad breath is caused by bacteria on the top of the tongue[1]. Non-bacterial causes can include certain foods, smoking, alcohol, hormonal changes, dehydration and/or hunger. So, after brushing your teeth, gently brush the surface of your tongue.
  7. kitchenWatch your diet. Food and drinks have a big impact on your oral health. Most of us know that foods and drinks thatcontain sugars provide food for oral bacteria. But did you know that acidic foods/drinks can etch away at enamel, increasing the potential for damaged teeth, which are more difficult to keep clean? Dry mouth, which can be triggered by some illnesses, certain medications and too much alcohol, can also cause bad breath. Since oxygen-containing saliva cleanses the teeth, lack of saliva gives anaerobic (air-hating bacteria) a chance to thrive. Food that gets stuck in the mouth also acts as fuel for odour-producing bacteria while foods with a strong smell can trigger short-term bad breath all on their own.

rt healthy teeth is located at 1 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010. Call 1300 991 044 to make an appointment or visit rthealthcentre.com.au for more information.

[1] University at Buffalo. Specific Bacterium Found in 100 Per Cent of Halitosis Patents. http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2008/03/9291.html

Why so sensitive?

Do you sometimes feel a tooth twinge when you drink something hot or cold, spicy or sweet? Whether the pain goes away fast or it takes a little longer to leave, it could be a sign of tooth sensitivity – or a warning about more serious dental problems to come.

All about enamel

iStock_000025051801_Large_finalAlthough it’s the hardest substance in the human body, you only have a thin layer of enamel protecting your teeth. If it’s worn away – by physical or chemical means – the result can be sensitivity.

Dr Karlien Roper from rt healthy teeth in Surry Hills says: ‘The pain of sensitivity is due to tiny holes in the enamel – minute nerves inside the tooth are exposed to extremes in temperature, triggering pain. Plus, as the dentine layer underneath enamel is off white rather than full-on white, your teeth could take on a yellowy tinge. The bottom line? Your teeth are more vulnerable to being worn down.’

The causes of sensitive teeth

Lots of people are affected by sensitive teeth and lots of factors can contribute, says Dr Karlien, including:

  • Brushing too hard – which can literally brush enamel away.
  • Acid erosion – enamel dissolves when in contact with acidic food and drinks.
  • Gum disease – your teeth are anchored into your jaw by your gums so keeping them healthy is vital. Gum disease can result when plaque (which can be removed by careful brushing) or tartar (which is a hard, cement-like material that can only be removed by your dentist) build up.
  • Tooth grinding – clenching and grinding the teeth can cause enamel to wear away.
  • Cracks in a tooth or filling – exposing the sensitive insides to the outside.
  • Excessive whitening – this affects some people. Speak with your dentist for more information.

Do something – fast! 

Ready to protect your smile? Dr Karlien suggests that you:

  1. Have a preventive dental check-up. A massive 78% of primary teeth in 5–15-year-old children show signs of acid erosion, which usually gets worse with age so it’s worth tackling early[i]. Your dentist can detect the signs of acid wear and early treatment can make all the difference to a healthy smile today and in the future.
  2. Use special products. Your dentist may treat sensitive areas with appropriate products – gels, rinses or varnishes – to help relieve the symptoms and build protection. ‘If erosion is advanced, your dentist can treat the damage with a filling or crown. If you grind your teeth, your dentist may suggest a special mouthguard to wear at night,’ says Karlien.
  3. Brush – but not too soon. Brush at least twice daily using small, circular movements with a soft-bristled brush and a fluoride containing toothpaste. Don’t brush until at least half an hour after eating or drinking though – or you could literally brush away acid softened enamel. Instead, rinse your mouth with water or a fluoride containing mouthwash.
  4. Use special toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. ‘These plug up the tiny holes, protect enamel and reduce the nerve’s response to sensitivity. Use as a daily toothpaste and/or apply with a finger to sensitive areas – your dentist can advise you,’ says Dr Karlien.
  5. Chew sugar-free gum after a meal. Again the action of chewing triggers the release of saliva, which neutralises acids.
  6. Watch the acidic drinks. Dr Karlien explains, ‘Juices, cordials, sports drinks, energy drinks, carbonated (fizzy) drinks and wine are all acidic. When they come into contact with teeth, they soften the minerals in your teeth. One study from the University of Adelaide showed that after kids consume acidic beverages, it took just 30 seconds for the damage to occur[ii]’.
  7. Don’t drink juices and manufactured drinks before bed. ‘And don’t let your kids sip on the stuff either. The amount

    of saliva is naturally reduced during sleep, which leaves more time for acid from juices and manufactured drinks to attack the teeth. Water has no acid, no kilojoules and most tap water in Australia contains fluoride,’ ends Dr Karlien Roper.

rt healthy teeth is located at 1 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010. Call 1300 991 044 to make an appointment or visit rthealthcentre.com.au for more information.

Dr Karlien Roper
Dr Karlien Roper, Dentist at rt healthy teeth

[i] Australian Dental Journal. A literature review of dental erosion in children. http://www.ada.org.au/app_cmslib/media/lib/1101/m282609_v1_dental%20erosion%20in%20children.pdf

[ii] The University of Adelaide. Warning to parents on high acidity drinks. https://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news72162.html

Passport, check. Ticket, check. Dentist – check?

iStock_000050967158_XXXLargeWhether you’re travelling to some far-flung corner of the earth or you’re getting to know the great Australian outback, planning your holiday is part of the build up to a great trip. Although you may have thought about visiting your GP before setting off, what about a visit to your dentist? If you’re not up-to-date with your treatments, tooth troubles could really ruin your trip!

Get checked

Been putting off a dental check-up and clean? Arranging a check-up before you go is especially important if you’re heading to remote places or visiting developing countries where access to high quality dental care isn’t possible. A professional clean is especially important if you have gum disease, which affects nearly a quarter of Australian adults and is the most common cause of tooth loss[i]. Your rt healthy teeth dentist can detect the tiniest areas of tooth decay when they’re easiest to treat.

Avoiding emergencies

If you need something like root canal treatment, try to complete the treatment before you go. It can help you avoid the kind of pain that can result from pressure changes in the aircraft cabin; it’ll also avoid the potential for infection, too.

If an accident or emergency occurs when you’re away, emergency treatment could be uncomfortable and expensive. If you can’t complete all of the treatments you need before you go, your dentist will advise you about your best options.

Take care

Planning on participating in close contact sport or an activity like skiing or snowboarding while you’re away? If there’s a strong chance of collision with others, talk to your dentist about a mouth guard. And while you’re away, watch what you eat – avoiding hard foods like toffees, popcorn and ice will help to reduce the risk of tooth cracks and chips.

Keep ‘em clean

Chew sugar-free gum after eating – the act of chewing helps to trigger the release of saliva and it’s saliva’s job to wash away food debris and buffer acids in your mouth. Plus, the action of chewing helps to dislodge food stuck to your teeth. Flossing after meals also helps to dislodge trapped pieces of food from the teeth, too.

Glow before you go

Who knows what lies ahead on your holiday? But one thing you can be sure of is that there will be lots of photos. If you need a boost to your smile confidence, think about brightening it up with a whitening treatment. Whether in-house or take-home from a dentist, a professional treatment won’t just brighten your teeth – it could really lighten up your view of those ever-present happy snaps!

Don’t have time to go before you go?

Then give us a call after your holiday to get your teeth looked at.

Don’t forget!

Stock-image-woman-at-dentist_xxl-15As an rt health fund member with Premium Extras cover, you have access to unlimited preventive dental benefits. Claim your $300 treatment with no out-of-pocket costs.

If you’re an rt health fund member with Smart, Fit & Healthy or Value Extras cover and have dental benefits remaining, you can claim the full cost of your treatment, provided you have benefit limits remaining.

Come along to our state-of-the-art dental practice in Surry Hills and bring everyone covered by your rt membership. Spread the word to friends who aren’t rt fund members as we’re open to the public as well and accept members of all health funds.

Your comprehensive dental check-up will include:

  • A thorough scale and clean
  • Bite-wing x-ray (which show details from the crowns of the teeth to the supporting bone. This can detect decay between teeth and allow for early treatment.)
  • OPG x-ray (a wide x-ray view of the lower face, showing all the teeth of the upper and lower jaw on a single film)
  • Fluoride application (to help show any areas of decay and inflammation)
  • Intra oral imaging (used to help show decay and inflammation).

Call 1300 991 044 to book your appointment or visit our website for more information, http://www.rthealthfund.com.au/health-clinics/healthy-teeth-clinic.

[i] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Oral health and dental care in Australia. http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129543387.