I think it’s absolutely crucial that we work with our patients to help them understand how they can prevent dental problems occurring rather than just treating them when they occur.
Here are a few of my favourite topics in preventive dentistry:
- Fissure sealants
- Good teeth cleaning
- Good diet
- Tooth mousse plus
- Regular examinations
The set of grooves on our molar teeth have fissures (very fine cracks) in their base. These are an extremely common place for decay to occur. By simply sealing off these grooves soon after the eruption of these teeth the chances of getting decay in them decrease by 90%!
We concentrate our efforts on the 1st permanent molar (which erupts about 6 years of age) and the 2nd permanent molar (which erupts about 12 years of age. There are 4 of each of these teeth.
I am passionate about completing this treatment on our children. The benefits of a fissure sealant are:
- it decreases the decay experience
- there is no tooth loss involved in the preparation
- there is no pain involved in the procedure
- from the parents point of view it still remains the cheapest service we provide in our practice – so in my thought processes this is a must do!
Good teeth cleaning
Often overlooked, this is one of the greatest preventive practices that can make a difference long-term to every patient. Remember that the role of teeth cleaning is to maintain good gum health and that most teeth lost on any one day on the planet are lost through gum disease and not tooth decay.
The studies show that:
- electric toothbrushing is superior to manual toothbrushing
- it is important to have some cleaning between the teeth by either flossing or interdental brushing
I have my favourite electric toothbrush (surprise, surprise) and my favourite flossing and interdental brushing aids so don’t forget to ask about these.
Acids rot teeth but before a hole is evident these acids deplete the teeth of calcium and other minerals and make them weaker and more easily dissolvable.
Acid in your diet
- Sugar taken in the diet is converted to acids by your plaque
- The acids from your stomach (in acid reflux) is also incredibly damaging to tooth structure
Managing the acid in your diet
- It’s important to decrease the amount of sugar you ingest and most importantly the frequency of its ingestion
- Seek medical help if reflux is occurring
- Saliva plays an active role in buffering the acids that cause the problems
You can see there is more to decreasing decay than just watching your diet so talk to us about your particular situation.
Tooth mousse plus
As I have said, acid in contact with the tooth surface dissolves out calcium and other minerals.
The question was asked many years ago “why can’t we just put these minerals back in?”
Well, it took quite a few years but Prof Eric Reynolds (past Dean of the faculty of dentistry in Melbourne) developed Tooth Mousse Plus which effectively performs the reverse chemical reaction of acid dissolving teeth and puts more calcium and minerals back in!
Your normal saliva contains all of these minerals but using Tooth Mousse Plus a couple of times a day helps:
- Increase the minerals in the saliva (Tooth Mousse Plus just mimics normal saliva but with lots of minerals in it)
- Deposits these minerals in the teeth, thus hardening them
The technology in Tooth Mousse Plus is world leading and we are very proud of Eric for his efforts which have given us a method of healing teeth without using drills or fillings!
Lastly, don’t forget to get your teeth checked regularly.
How often should I see a dentist?
For most people 6 months is a good time however for some longer is applicable because they are low risk patients. As a guideline:
- 6 monthly checkups
- X-rays to check in between the teeth where we can’t see every 2 years
Why should I see a dentist if my teeth don’t hurt?
Most initial problems in dentistry don’t hurt!
- Lack of pain does not necessarily mean lack of disease
- Smaller defects can be corrected with less tooth loss and greater chance of keeping that tooth for life
- PLUS it costs less!
Getting your teeth to 90 years of age
Lots of other preventive strategies exist in dentistry.
On examining each individual it’s important to think of what may cause problems in the short term and even in the very long-term for that patient.
I try to take a guess on what each patient is going to be like at 90 years of age and what things may stop them from getting to that age without their full complement of teeth. That’s obviously what we need to focus on!