Tag Archives: rt healthy teeth

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.


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.’


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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].



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


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? 


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.


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.

Seven steps to protect your kids’ teeth

iStock_000014584757_NewBeing a parent is a massive learning curve and with so much conflicting advice around, it can be hard to know what’s right and who’s right. So, our rt healthy teeth Dentist, Dr Lincoln Law, shares his advice on protecting your kids’ teeth now and into the future.

1. Don’t feed the feeders. If you’re thinking about giving your child lollies, think again. ‘The trouble with lollies is that they stick to the teeth. This provides ongoing food for oral bacteria, which feed on the sugars. They then produce acidic waste, which can cause tooth decay,’ says Lincoln.

2. If they must have a treat, make sure they have it with a meal. When you chew, your mouth automatically produces saliva, which helps to kick-start the digestion of starches. Saliva also lubricates food for easier swallowing plus it helps to wash away food debris. This helps to clean the teeth and the mouth giving mouth bacteria less chance to eat food left behind.

3. Don’t brush immediately after eating. ‘This is especially so if your kids have been consuming acidic foods and drinks (like fruit juices and soft drinks),’ says Dr Law. ‘It’s important to wait for at least half an hour before brushing. This is because acids soften the enamel so if you get your kids to brush too quickly afterwards, they could literally be brushing the enamel away. So, get your kids brushing twice a day, before eating in the morning and before bed – preferably about an hour after the last meal or drink of the day (unless that drink is water).

4. Go with H2O. The natural way to quench thirst is with water, which has the added bonus of being sugar and acid free.

Happy child playing on green grass outdoors in spring park

Plus, most areas in Australia have fluoride added to the water supply, which helps to harden and protect kids’ and adults’ teeth.

5. Try sugar-free gum. If your kids are old enough, chewing sugar-free gum after eating sugary and/or acidic food and drink is a good idea. It stimulates the production of saliva, which helps to cleanse the mouth.

6. See them? Clean them. ‘It’s vital that you start looking after your kids’ teeth as soon as they appear. Milk teeth (baby teeth) for example, serve a long-term purpose – they hold the space in the jaw for the adult teeth to come through. And, if milk teeth are lost, there may not be enough space for the adult teeth, resulting in the need for orthodontic treatment. Early dental visits are also important to ensure that children don’t associate a visit to the dentist with fear. Plus, good teeth boost children’s self esteem. To clean your child’s teeth, use a child’s toothbrush (which is small enough to get to the back teeth) and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Remember, your kids don’t have the dexterity to clean their teeth until they can tie their shoelaces. They’ll need to be taught good oral health habits – so show them early on and lead by example,’ advises Lincoln Law.

7. Ask your dentist. There may be certain treatments that your dentist can use to protect teeth. Take dental sealants, for example, which are a thin layer of plastic-like material. Your dentist will brush them into the grooves of chewing teeth, i.e. the molars, which helps to provide a barrier against attacking mouth bacteria. These sealants help to protect the deep areas in the mouth, which can be a challenge to reach with a toothbrush.

Dr Lincoln Law is a practising dentist at rt healthy teeth, 1 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010. We are conveniently located close to Central Station. Just use the Chalmers Street exit and walk up Devonshire Street.

To make an appointment to see Dr Lincoln Law or to see one of our other caring dentists, call 1300 991 044.

For more information see our website.

Lincoln Law[1]
Dr Lincoln Law from rt healthy teeth

Teeth and tobacco

To mark World Oral Health Day (WOHD) today, we’re focusing on tobacco and how it affects oral health.

Oral health diseases are the most common diseases in the world; they affect a massive 90% of the world’s population at some stage in their lifetime[1]. But with thorough dental hygiene and care, many can be avoided.

Stock-image-woman-at-dentist_xxl-15You already know that your dentist is the first line of defence when it comes to keeping your teeth and gums at their peak health. But did you know that your dentist is also trained to look for early signs of serious conditions such as mouth cancer? Early detection is important to ensure that you can get the treatment you need.

It’s widely known that smoking increases your chances of lung conditions like emphysema and cancer. But did you know it can also seriously affect your oral health? There are a range of dental problems that affect people who smoke[2].

Bad breath – Cigarettes contain chemicals such as tar. The chemicals stick to the teeth of people who smoke and build up in the mouth over time, which creates an odour.

Smoking also dries out the mouth. As saliva is the natural cleanser of the mouth and flushes out food debris and bad-breath bacteria, smokers may have more bacteria in their mouth compared with non-smokers. Bad breath can also be caused by gum disease (gingivitis), which is more prevalent in smokers[4]. One reason for this could be because smoking uses the vitamins, like delicate vitamin C, which is needed for a healthy immune system to battle infection.

Increased risk of oral cancer – It’s no secret that smoking is the major cause of cancers in the mouth, tongue, cheeks, lips,Stock-image-breaking-cigarette throat, oesophagus and salivary glands, among other organs. And that the longer you smoke and the more you smoke, the greater your risk of oral cancers[5]. But did you know that more than 80 per cent of cancers of the mouth, throat and nose occur in people who smoke pipes, cigarettes or cigars[6]? These cancers are caused by at least 28 chemicals that have been shown to increase the risk of cancer[7].

Slower wound healing and increased risk of gum disease – As smoking affects the immune system and nicotine impairs the blood flow to the gums and bone (by reducing the diameter of blood vessels), smokers may have slower wound healing – including healing in the mouth. After oral surgery (such as a tooth extraction), it may take a smoker a lot longer to heal.

Smokers are also six times more likely to have serious periodontal (gum) disease[8]. Because smoking reduces the blood supply to the gums, early gum disease symptoms like bleeding gums can be masked. This is also caused by the lowered immune system, as the body can’t fight the infection and because people who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque, which leads to gum disease[9]. This can lead to tooth-loss. The good news is that just one to eight weeks after quitting smoking, wound healing can improve in the mouth[10].

Complications after dental treatments – If you smoke, you’re more likely to develop a painful condition called dry socket. This can occur after a tooth is extracted. You’re also more likely to have pain after dental treatments and certain procedures such as dental implant surgery are more likely to fail.

Increased build up of plaque and tartar – Smoking causes people to have more plaque (film) and tartar (hardened plaque) on their teeth. This can lead to gingivitis and other gum diseases.

Staining on teeth – Staining on the teeth is caused by the nicotine and tar in the tobacco. It yellows the teeth after a short time and the teeth can turn a brown colour after years of smoking, which is hard to reverse.

To keep your teeth in the best shape, follow the tips below.

Clean – You should be cleaning your teeth twice a day after meals with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride is beneficial for the teeth as it helps to fight tooth decay.

Don’t forget to floss – Flossing helps to get rid of plaque, which can form between teeth and along your gum line. Flossing daily will help to prevent gum disease and tooth loss.

Chew sugar-free gum after eating – Chewing gum encourages the flow of saliva in your mouth. Saliva helps to neutralise acids in the mouth so it’s a good idea to chew some sugar-free gum after eating.

Stock-image-glass-and-water-bottle_xxl-15Drink tap water – Most of the tap water in Australia contains fluoride but bottled water often does not contain much fluoride. So make sure you are drinking enough tap water!

See your dentist – It’s recommended that you see your dentist twice a year so that they can keep a close eye on your oral health. For a comprehensive oral examination, make an appointment to see your rt healthy teeth dentist by calling 1300 991 044.

Need help to quit smoking?

If you are looking to quit, talk to your GP, pharmacist, call the Quitline on 13 7848 (13 QUIT) anywhere in Australia or visit http://www.quitnow.gov.au to find out more information. The Quitline can provide you with information and support you on your journey to quit smoking.

Jui Tham is Chief Medical Officer at rt health fund
Jui Tham is Chief Medical Officer at rt health fund.

[1] World Dental Federation. About WOHD. http://www.worldoralhealthday.com/about-wohd/

[2] WebMd. Smoking and Dental Health: Yellow Teeth, Bad Breath, and Other Smoking Effects. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/smoking-oral-health

[4] Mayoclinic. Bad breath Causes – Diseases and Conditions. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bad-breath/basics/causes/con-20014939

[5] Australian Government. quitnow – Smoking Causes Mouth and Throat Cancer. http://www.quitnow.gov.au/internet/quitnow/publishing.nsf/Content/warnings-mouth

[6] Australian Government. quitnow – Smoking Causes Mouth and Throat Cancer. http://www.quitnow.gov.au/internet/quitnow/publishing.nsf/Content/warnings-mouth

[7] WebMd. Smoking and Dental Health: Yellow Teeth, Bad Breath, and Other Smoking Effects. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/smoking-oral-health?page=2

[8] Australian Dental Association. Smoking. http://www.dentalhealthweek.com.au/Adults/Lifestyle-Risks/smoking.html#

[9] British Dental Health Foundation. Tell me about – Sundry – Smoking and oral health. https://www.dentalhealth.org/tell-me-about/topic/sundry/smoking-and-oral-health

[10] Quit Victoria. How does smoking damage my mouth, eyes and nose? http://www.quit.org.au/about/frequently-asked-questions/how-does-smoking-affect-my-body/mouth-eyes-nose.html