Teens risk tooth damage by using DIY teeth whitening products

Teens risk tooth damage by using DIY teeth whitening products

In a recent joint statement, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) Deputy CEO, Eithne Irving and Melbourne-based dental practitioner, Dr Toni Surace have advised parents and teens that DIY teeth whitening kits and products are unsuitable for children and teens under the age of 18.

Teens under pressure to look “perfect”

In this day and age of social media, too many teens feel pressured to live up to unrealistic standards of perfection, in order avoid negative comparison, criticism and bullying from their peers. As a result, they are experiencing problems with their health and wellbeing.

Along with anxiety, loss of self confidence and eating disorders, teens are now risking their oral health in an effort to look “perfect”. Unfortunately a lot of teens are attempting to achieve a dazzling, bright smile with DIY teeth whitening products that are primarily aimed at the adult market.

DIY teeth whitening products are unsuitable for developing teeth

According to Ms Irving, off-the-shelf DIY whitening kits and products were not only ineffective for maturing teeth, but had the potential to seriously damage a child’s teeth and gums.

Most teens don’t realise that their adult or permanent teeth don’t reach their maximum “whiteness” until lighter coloured enamel develops after several years. But in order to achieve their best smile and gain more “likes”, teens are resorting to “quick fix” DIY whitening products that pose a number of risks to their oral health.

Furthermore, if teens use high concentrations of bleach – that aggressively remove their tooth enamel – they may end up spitting out their “liquefied” teeth down the sink.

Dental problems that teens may experience through using whitening products include:

  • irreversible erosion & thinning of developing tooth enamel
  • ulcerations
  • chemical burns to gums
  • gum shrinkage
  • patchy teeth
  • tooth sensitivity & toothaches
  • oral infection
  • stomach problems from swallowing bleaching products

Teeth whitening products & remedies that teens (under 18) should avoid include:

  • over-the-counter teeth whitening kits
  • LED light treatment
  • whitening strips
  • whitening toothpaste
  • lemon juice
  • charcoal

Cranberries to help in the fight against tooth decay

Cranberries to help in the fight against tooth decay

In March 2019, oral health researchers at the University of Queensland published the results of a study on the oral bacterial fighting properties of cranberries and other dark-coloured fruit berries.
Previous clinical research has shown cranberry polyphenols to have antimicrobial qualities. But the UQ team took another step, and further investigated the effects of cranberry extracts on oral bacteria samples derived from saliva.

What they found was that cranberries are excellent for your oral health!

Traditional benefits of cranberry

There has always been an awareness of the health benefits of cranberries in recorded human history. The American cranberry had been used by Native American Indians for centuries to treat scurvy, and to help heal stomach and liver problems.

Earlier still, the Ancient Romans were well aware of its medicinal value. And in England, cranberries were a go-to remedy for diarrhoea, scurvy, fevers, and skin, urinary and genital infections.

Nowadays, clinical studies have proven that cranberries are indeed medicinally beneficial for many of the same ailments that ancient people experienced. However, science has gone on to discover other health benefits including lowering the risk of heart and neurological disease, regulating inflammation and inhibiting cancer cell proliferation.


The UQ Cranberry test results.

The UQ researchers’ test results show that the polyphenols, or phytochemicals, abundantly present in cranberries had a significant inhibiting effect on the types of oral bacteria that cause tooth decay and cavities.

After a 12 hour period, oral bacterial bio-film samples treated with cranberry extracts showed a 38% drop in bio-mass, a 44% reduction in acid formation and a 51% reduction of bacterial colony forming units (CFUs).

The UQ researchers now plan to develop an oral care and hygiene product for daily use containing the medicinally beneficial Cranberry extract used in their study.


Interview: ‘We intend to ultimately develop a daily use oral care product with a natural substance? (2019, April 4). Retrieved from https://ap.dental-tribune.com/news/interview-we-intend-to-ultimately-develop-a-daily-use-oral-care-product-with-a-natural-substance/

Philip, N., Bandara, H., Leishman, S. J., & Walsh, L. J. (2019). Effect of polyphenol-rich cranberry extracts on cariogenic biofilm properties and microbial composition of polymicrobial biofilms. Archives of Oral Biology, 102, 1-6. doi:10.1016/j.archoralbio.2019.03.026

Philip, N., & Walsh, L. (2019). Cranberry Polyphenols: Natural Weapons against Dental Caries. Dentistry Journal, 7(1), 20. doi:10.3390/dj7010020

Common cosmetic dental problems

Common cosmetic dental problems

Having healthy teeth and gums is important for chewing and breaking down food for better digestion, as well as optimal nutritional intake. If your teeth and gums aren’t healthy, you may experience oral and general health complications as a result. That’s where your dentist steps in, for they can help treat oral conditions and disease so that your oral health stays on track.

However, there is another important job that dentists do – cosmetic dentistry. Cosmetic dentistry refers to dental work that is used to correct and improve the appearance of your smile.

There are a number of smile issues that cosmetic dentistry can fix. Cosmetic dental problems don’t necessarily affect your oral health, but they can have a huge impact on your appearance, “smile” confidence and emotional well-being.

The following include the most common cosmetic dental problems that dentists treat:

  • Tooth stains and discolouration

    Teeth whitening is by far the most common cosmetic dental treatment that people seek to brighten their smile. However, this treatment is mostly suitable for extrinsic or superficial stains caused by long term consumption of certain foods and beverages that stain your teeth. On the other hand, intrinsic stains are usually caused by certain meds and aging, and are deeply embedded in teeth. These require cosmetic options such as veneers or crowns.

  • Teeth spaces

    Spaces between teeth may develop due to developmental or tooth drift problems. This can cause a smile to look uneven and draw attention to the gap. Orthodontic treatments, such as aligners or braces, are the best long term options. They require a lot of patience and potential discomfort on the part of the patient because treatment can take months or even years. For quicker results, cosmetic treatment options such as dental crowns and veneers are quite popular.

  • Misaligned and malpositioned teeth

    A smile can look uneven if your teeth aren’t in their proper positions. As above, orthodontic treatment is the best long term solution. However, more immediate results can be achieved through the use of dental bridges and veneers.

  • Missing teeth

    People tend to cover up or limit their smile if they have a missing front tooth because it’s just so obvious. That’s why tooth replacement options are important to improve the smile confidence of those missing a tooth. Your dentist can recommend the best option for your situation which may be a dental bridge, a dental implant or removable dentures (partial or full).

  • Chipped, damaged or broken teeth

    Teeth that are damaged through accident, tooth decay or wear & tear can be repaired and restored to their original function and appearance via a few dental options, including fillings, inlays, overlays and crowns.

Have you experienced tooth erosion?

Have you experienced tooth erosion?

Most people are familiar with tooth decay but not tooth erosion. Tooth erosion should not be confused with tooth decay which is a type of tooth damage caused by bacterial acidic by-products – however they are similar.

What is tooth erosion and what causes it?

Tooth erosion occurs when you lose tooth structure, namely your tooth enamel, due to chemicals. The chemicals that cause erosion are found in acidic food and drinks, or acid refluxed from your stomach.

If you consume excessive amounts of acidic food and drinks daily, then you have probably already experienced tooth erosion without realising it. For example, soft drinks can contain high amounts of citric and phosphoric acid. Sipping on them as opposed to using a straw can bath your teeth in an acid bath that can wear away your teeth continually.

Other possible causes of tooth erosion include bulimia, GI problems, certain medications and genetics.

How does your dentist measure tooth erosion?

Your dentist measures tooth erosion by comparing the thickness of enamel on each tooth. There are also other signs of tooth erosion that your dentist looks out for, including:

  • darker or yellowish discolouration of your teeth indicating the dissolving of enamel,
  • sensitivity to hot, cold or sweet foods,
  • thin or transparent front teeth tips,
  • shape changes to your teeth that can give them a concave appearance,
  • a glassy appearance on your tooth surfaces,
  • flattened or pitted chewing surfaces of your molars, and
  • the impression that your natural tooth structure appears to be sinking around a filling.


How can tooth erosion be prevented and treated?

To prevent erosion, limit the amount of acidic foods and beverages that you consume. When you eat or drink them, do so promptly and try rinsing any residue left in your mouth with water.

As far as dental treatment goes, there’s only so much your dentist can do since enamel loss is irreversible. However, your dentist can restore an eroded tooth to protect the inner tooth structure or dentin. Try using a fluoride or desensitising toothpaste to strengthen your tooth enamel as well.

How a high-fibre diet can improve your oral health

How a high-fibre diet can improve your oral health

A new study* conducted by New Zealand researchers at the University of Otago aims to figure out why high fibre foods are good for your oral health. Previous clinical research has already established that a higher fibre and wholegrain intake is beneficial for oral health, but the Kiwi scientists now want to better understand the actual mechanism that makes it so.

How do high fibre foods benefit your oral health?

Although the links between a high fibre diet and better oral health have been recognised by a number of studies, the reasons why still need more confirmation. However, scientists have identified a few potentially beneficial mechanisms that occur when you consume foods high in fibre:

  1. Cleansing action. The fibre in high fibre foods may gently scrap and buff your tooth surfaces, removing plaque build-up in the process.
  2. Oral bacterial inhibition. Certain substances found in the bran layer of wholegrains may inhibit the growth of oral bacteria.
  3. Chewing increases saliva production. Consuming high fibre foods involves a lot of healthy chewing. This increases your mouth’s production of cleansing, anti-bacterial saliva, as well as stimulating blood flow to your teeth & gums.

What are the best high-fibre foods?

High-fibre foods refer to foods that are high in dietary fibre. To get the fibre you need, there are a number of foods that are rich in fibre, including:

  • Vegetables – Vegetables that are rich in fibre are generally richer or darker in colour but there are exceptions. High fibre veges include carrots, celery, broccoli, beetroot, leafy greens (incl. spinach, silver beet, pak choi & kale) and potatoes (incl. sweet potato).
  • Fruit – High fibre fruits include apples, oranges, pears, bananas and berries.
  • Wholegrains – Wholegrain foods that are high in fibre include intact wholegrains and finely milled wholegrains such as whole grain breads (dark rye, pumpernickel & whole wheat), oats, brown rice, wild rice, bran and barley. Choose bread with at least 3 grams of fibre per slice.
  • Beans and legumes – Try adding more lentils, peas and beans to your casseroles, soups and salads.
  • Seeds & Nuts – Watch the calories but try loading up on chia seeds, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios and almonds.


How much fibre should you eat per day?

The Heart Foundation’s recommended intake of fibre per day is 30 grams for men and 25 grams for women. Children aged between 4 and 8 years old should consume at least 18 grams. Girls aged between 9 and 18 years old should increase their intake gradually from 20 to 22 grams, while boys need to consume 24 to 28 grams. But it’s totally ok to eat more than these recommended amounts!

To simplify, this recommended fibre intake translates into:

  • approx. 4 serves of wholegrain or wholemeal foods daily,
  • approx. 5 serves of vegetables, beans or legumes daily, and
  • approx. 2 serves of fruit daily.


* Dental Tribune International. (2019, January 24). Researchers investigate link between high fibre diets and oral health. Retrieved from https://ap.dental-tribune.com/news/researchers-investigate-link-between-high-fibre-diets-and-oral-health/

Clean your tongue for better oral & general health!

Clean your tongue for better oral & general health!

Keeping your tongue clean is an important part of oral health care and hygiene. Why? Because oral bacteria can build up on your tongue, just like it does on your teeth.

If excess bacteria accumulate on your tongue, you may experience halitosis or bad breath. But that’s not all. You may also be at higher risk of more serious oral health complications, such as oral infections, periodontal disease and lung infections.

Daily tongue cleaning reduces your risk of gum disease (periodontal disease)

Cleaning your tongue is very important if you want to reduce pathogenic tongue bacteria. Take Fusobacterium Nucleatum for example. It is a highly invasive bacterium that causes periodontal (gum) disease.

F. Nucleatum feed off fermenting carbohydrates and cause dental plaque. These microorganisms live quite comfortably in the mucus on your tongue. They can proliferate into huge colonies within tongue mucus, which can contain 100s of millions of these nasty rod-shaped critters. Now imagine brushing your teeth, but not your tongue.

What happens next?

As soon as you put down your toothbrush and close your mouth, your bacterially coated tongue is going to redeposit millions of bacteria straight back onto the teeth you’ve just cleaned! F. Nucleatum can also infect the head, neck, chest, lungs, liver and abdomen if given the opportunity.

Tongue cleaning may help prevent lung infections

Tongue cleaning is a crucial part of a general health routine to help prevent pathogenic bacteria from spreading to the rest of your body. Many previous clinical studies have shown that you can inhale aspirated oral bacteria from your mouth straight into your lungs. This can lead to health complications if your immune system is under par.

According to a new study published by Japanese dental researchers in August 2018, a bacterial imbalance on your tongue can lead to pneumonia and other respiratory health problems – especially if you are an older adult with missing teeth, high plaque levels and more tooth decay than usual.

The Japanese researchers noted that equal attention should be given to maintaining proper oral care of the tongue, as well as the teeth and gums, for good oral health.

Watch your mouth…it’s Dental Health Week 2018!

Watch your mouth…it’s Dental Health Week 2018!

The slogan for Dental Health Week 2018 says it all. Don’t focus on just your teeth or gums, but try to take better care of your whole mouth in general.

That might sound obvious but Dental Health Week 2018 is going back to basics this year, due in part to the publication of the 2018 National Oral Health Report in March. This report, which you can read more about in our May blog post, revealed a lot of disappointing statistics regarding the oral health and habits of everyday Australians. For example, only 50% of Australians brush their teeth twice a day, while nearly 40% never floss or clean in-between their teeth!

Key messages

If Australians don’t keep up good oral health practices, they are putting themselves at risk of a number of oral health problems and complications. So for Dental Health Week this year, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) would like all Australians to take note of and share the following key messages:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily, morning and night, with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean in-between your teeth once daily with floss or an interdental brush.
  • Eat and drink a healthy diet, and limit your sugar intake to less than 10% of your total energy intake. The WHO sugar recommendation for adults and active children aged 2-18 is no more than 6 teaspoons per day. To put that amount into perspective, one can of soft drink contains about 7 teaspoons of sugar!
  • Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and preventative treatment, such as scale & cleans.
  • How to play your part

    Upper-Mt-Gravatt-dentist-ADA_DHW2018 2

    Dental Health Week is a time to reflect on what we have been doing, or not doing, to maintain the oral health of ourselves and our loved ones. It also gives us a fresh opportunity to renew and focus better on our oral health goals, and those of the children we teach and care for.
    Visit dentalhealthweek.com.au for more oral health information, activities and educational resources for kids and students. Lastly, have a great Dental Health Week from the TC Dental team!

Graphic health labels on soft drinks give drinkers second thoughts

Graphic health labels on soft drinks give drinkers second thoughts

Sugar is the new tobacco. For years, the side effects of excess sugar consumption have stayed under the radar of the Department of Health. Now, it’s finally under scrutiny, since being identified as a contributing factor to rising rates of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and preventable tooth decay – in Australia and the rest of the world.

The front-of-pack label experiment

Taking their cue from tobacco “front-of-pack” health labelling, researchers from Deakin University wanted to find out if a similar approach could work with consumers of sugary drinks. In their recent study, the researchers asked 1000 participants, aged 18-35 years old, to select from a range of sugary and unsweetened beverages with or without health labels.

While the unsweetened beverages had no labels, the sugary ones had health labels that included front-of-pack graphic/text warnings, the number of teaspoons of added sugar and/or a Health Star Rating.

The results

The Australian researchers found that participants felt dissuaded to choose a sugary drink with a front-of-pack health label or a low Health Star Rating – for health reasons.

Front-of-pack graphic warning labels had the greatest impact – with 36% of participants saying they were less likely to a sugary drink with one. Health Star Ratings labels scored 20%, while “number of teaspoons of added sugar” labels scored 18%.


Time for action

The lead author of the study, Prof. Anna Peeters, stated that front-of-pack health labelling on sugary drink containers has the potential to: change consumer behaviour; reduce sugary drink sales; prevent excessive sugar consumption; and help people to be better informed and more health conscious about their drink choices.

Since sugary drinks are the largest source of added sugar in our diets, Peeters noted that a front-of-pack health labelling strategy should be introduced as soon as possible, to help reduce the high rates of obesity, type-2 diabetes and preventable tooth decay in Australia.
Peeters also noted that front-of-pack health labels should be designed with children and adolescents in mind, since they represent the highest consumer group of sugary beverages in Australia.


Snack smart during World Cup 2018

Snack smart during World Cup 2018

If you’ve been binge watching the FIFA World Cup on TV, your teeth won’t be at risk from a direct hit to the face from a soccer ball, unlike the actual players in the game. However, you may be putting your teeth at risk if you binge snack at the same time.

Binge watching and binge snacking often go hand in hand during World Cup time, not to mention other marathon sporting events and streaming services, such as Netflix.

The dangers of binge snacking

Sugary or starchy snacks eaten in moderation are okay, as long as you practice good oral care and hygiene afterwards. But when you watch a marathon TV event all through the night, those rules often fly out the window.

In fact, you may be susceptible to all sorts of abnormal snacking behaviour while you binge watch. If you happen to fall asleep on the sofa with a mouthful of sugary food residue at 2am, another World Cup party of a different kind will start up for the billions of oral bacteria in your mouth.

Within a short space of time, the acidic by-products from the oral bacteria will start to eat away at your tooth enamel, causing accelerated tooth decay and potential cavities.

Plan your snacks the smart way

Take control of your binge snacking by limiting the amount of snacks you consume. If you are watching a game, eat your fill of snacks during the first quarter of a game to get yourself going. At half-time, take an oral hygiene break by rinsing your mouth and/or brushing your teeth.

Once the 2nd half starts up, settle down for the rest of the match with a clean, fresh mouth. If you fall asleep towards the end of the game – no worries! If you watch another match and still feel hungry, repeat the process.


Smart snack choices

Not all snacks are harmful to your teeth – just the sugary, starchy ones. There are heaps of healthy snack choices, including: fresh fruits and vegetables; unsweetened whole grains; unsweetened dairy products; and meats, nuts & seeds.
The main SMART SNACK tips to keep in mind:

  • DON”T BINGE! – Limit your intake of sugary and/or starchy snacks while watching TV
  • Avoid sipping sweetened beverages for long periods of time
  • Include a variety of foods from different food groups
  • Quickly rinse your mouth out with water after snacking to wash away food residue
  • Brush your teeth just before you finally hit the sack

Australia fails in 2018 National Oral Health Report

Australia fails in 2018 National Oral Health Report

A national oral health report card published in March, 2018 has revealed some sobering statistics regarding the oral health of Australians adults.

Australia’s Adult Oral Health Tracker is a joint initiative of the Aust. Dental Association (ADA) and the Aust. Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC). The report aims to track the progress of preventable oral diseases along with their risk factors and negative oral health outcomes. The report will be published on a regular basis, in order to monitor the progress of oral health targets – set for all Australians to achieve by 2025.

Where are we failing?

  • The most common chronic disease in Australia is tooth decay. This includes all oral and general health diseases. Currently 90.1% of Australians have experienced or are experiencing tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
  • A lot of Australians are not having their tooth decay treated by a dentist. The latest data reveals that 25.5% of us are living with untreated tooth decay. This can lead to oral health complications such as cavities, gum disease and tooth loss.
  • 19.8 % of adults aged over 15, have periodontal pockets greater than 4mm in width. Periodontal pockets are deep spaces between your teeth and gums that contain plaque and oral bacteria. As these pockets develop, your gums start to pull away and detach from your teeth irreversibly, leading to receding gums and potential tooth loss. If you have periodontal pockets, then you probably have gum disease (periodontitis).
  • Australians aren’t brushing their teeth enough. Half of all Australian adults do not brush their teeth twice a day as recommended. Over a 24 hour period, the development of plaque and tooth decay can progress significantly.
  • 52.2% of Australian adults are consuming too much sugar. Furthermore, approximately 75% of children consume excess sugar. Excess sugar intake is a major risk factor for tooth decay and erosion, not to mention cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
  • Poor childhood oral health is a high risk factor for poor oral health outcomes in adults. Over 22,000 Australian children aged less than 9 years old were hospitalised for oral health problems. All of these cases could have been prevented through proper oral care and hygiene, and access to free dental services via the Children Dental Benefit Schedule (CDBS).


Despite the current challenges, the best way to move forward is to improve action that can prevent poor oral health in Australia. Individuals, parents, families, communities, health professionals and government will need to play a part to ensure the oral health of all Australians in the future.


Manton DJ, Foley M, Gikas A, Ivanoski S, McCullough M, Peres MA, Roberts-Thomson K, Skinner J, Irving E, Seselja A, Calder R, Harris B, Lindberg R, Millar L, Nichols T. 2018 Australia’s Oral Health Tracker: Technical Paper, Australian Health Policy Collaboration, Victoria University, Melbourne. Retrieved from https://www.ada.org.au/Dental-Professionals/Australia-s-Oral-Health-Tracker/Australia-s-Oral-Health-Tracker-Technical-Appendix/ADA_AHPC_Technical-Appendix_07032018