1. What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally present in varying amounts in many foods and some water supplies. It is also used in many consumer dental products. Fluoride strengthens teeth making it more resistant to decay. It is important to use fluoride containing toothpastes, mouth rinses, and gels topically to gain the added benefit of preventing sensitivity and tooth decay.
2. What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by the bacteria found in plaque. If plaque is not regularly removed, it calcifies into a rough, porous deposit called calculus, or tartar. By products of bacterial metabolism irritate the gums, making them red, tender, swollen and more prone to bleed.
Eventually, the supporting periodontal structures begin to breakdown. The result of this slow process is tissue loss, bone loss and eventual tooth loss.
3. What does periodontal treatment involve?
In the earlier stages of gum disease (mild to moderate periodontitis), most treatment involves scaling and root planning. The procedure aims at removing plaque and calculus from the surface of the tooth adjacent to gum tissue.
In the majority of early gum disease cases, treatment entails improved home care techniques and scaling and root planning.
Advanced cases may require surgical treatment.
4. What’s the best way to prevent gum disease?
Conscientious removal of plaque by flossing, brushing and regular professional cleanings will minimise your risk of gum disease.
However, there are other factors that can affect the health of your gums, such as stress, diabetes, genetics and pregnancy.
5. What happens if I just ignore getting my teeth cleaned?
As the plaque and calculus accumulate, the periodontal disease continues. Supporting tissues around the teeth (gums, periodontal ligaments, bone) are lost.
Periodontal pockets form which trap additional plaque. Bad breath often accompanies this condition. Once the bone that supports the teeth is lost, it will not re-generate without surgical intervention.
6. What can gum disease mean for a diabetic?
Gingivitis is an infection within the gums caused by bacteria found in plaque. A diabetic’s body does not respond as quickly to infection as a non-diabetic. If the infection persists, it can spread to the underlying bone that supports and anchors the teeth.
It has been shown that diabetics who keep their condition under control and maintain good oral hygiene have a far better chance of combating infections than those who are poorly controlled.
7. Why do I need X-Rays?
Radiographic or X-ray examinations provide your dentist with an important diagnostic tool that shows the condition of your teeth, their roots, jaw placement and the overall composition of your facial bones.
X-Rays can help your dentist determine the presence or degree of periodontal disease, abscesses and many abnormal growths, such as cysts and tumours. X-rays can also show the exact location of impacted teeth. They can pinpoint the location of cavities and other signs of disease that may not be possible to detect through visual examination (such as changes in the jaw bone structure as a result of systemic disease).
8. When should my child first see a dentist?
The ideal time for your child to meet the dentist is six months after the first (primary) teeth erupt.
This gives your dentist a perfect opportunity to carefully examine the development of the mouth and catch problems such as baby bottle tooth decay, teething irritations and prolonged thumb-sucking.
9. I brush my teeth constantly but still have bad breath. What can I do?
Brushing and flossing are definitely the first steps to eliminating bad breath. Brushing and flossing remove bacteria responsible for creating odorous sulphur compounds and the food they feed on. However, bacteria hide not only on and around the teeth but also on the tongue under a layer of mucous. Here they are free to create odours.
It is best to brush your tongue daily or you may want to consider a tongue scraper. Both are extremely effective at removing this protective mucous layer from the back of the tongue.
The latest products on the market for bad breath are toothpastes and mouthwashes containing chlorine dioxide. The chlorine dioxide neutralises the odorous sulphur compounds, instead of simply covering up the odour.