The worst foods and drinks for tooth sensitivity

The worst foods and drinks for tooth sensitivity

The most prevalent factors that contribute to tooth sensitivity are the foods we eat, and the beverages we drink. There are two main effects that food and beverages have on tooth sensitivity:

  1. Foods (and drinks) that are hot, cold, sweet and/or sour can trigger a brief episode of sharp pain because of their temperature and chemical properties.
  2. Consuming refined carbohydrates that are high in sugar and starch, as well as sweetened beverages, can lead to plaque formation, tooth decay and dental erosion – all of which expose tooth roots and pulp, and increase the potential for tooth sensitivity.

In other words, there are foods that trigger tooth sensitivity, and foods that cause it.

But beware, there are also foods that pack a double whammy – foods (and drinks) that cause tooth decay and/or erosion, while triggering and increasing tooth sensitivity episodes at the same time.

By recognising and understanding how to regulate your consumption of these hot/ cold/sweet/ sour combination foods, you can actively keep your oral PH neutral – and avoid subjecting your tooth enamel to destructive high acid PH levels for sustained periods of time.

If you have tooth sensitivity, try to avoid the following foods and beverages to help minimise and prevent the causes and symptoms of tooth sensitivity:

  • Soft drinks (including alcohol and artificially sweetened sports and diet soft drinks).
  • Hot sweet coffee.
  • Hard or chewy candy (especially citrus varieties with granulated sugar)
  • Ice cream and gelato.
  • Citrus fruit (incl. lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges and grapes)
  • Processed fruit juices (incl. orange and cranberry)
  • Tomatoes
  • Icy frozen drinks or slushies

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It should be noted that natural acidic foods have numerous health benefits for our general health and well-being that you shouldn’t miss out on.

To continue enjoying these foods, brush your teeth with desensitising toothpaste to strengthen your tooth enamel, and protect your teeth from tooth sensitivity. If your tooth sensitivity problems persist or intensify, seek professional advice from your dentist.

What are the treatment options for periodontal (gum) disease?

What are the treatment options for periodontal (gum) disease?

Periodontal disease is all too common in Australia, and chances are, you may have some form of the disease if you are aged over 45. Once you have it, it’s unlikely that you’ll be cured completely, since it is a chronic condition much like diabetes. But with ongoing periodontal maintenance, you can control the condition and prevent a recurrence of its more severe form.

One of the main treatment goals when dealing with gum disease is to control the bacterial infection as soon as possible, and prevent any further damage to your teeth, gums and bone.

There are a number of treatment methods used to treat different stages of the disease.

In its earlier stages, all that may be required is a deep clean, but as plaque, tartar and bacteria penetrate deep below the gum line, more complicated treatment methods may be required. Additionally, keeping up good oral care and hygiene at home is vitally important to prevent plaque and tartar from building up again, and to improve dental treatment outcomes.

The main treatment options for periodontal disease:

  • Deep cleaning is a professional dental clean of tooth surfaces that may include fluoride and polish treatments.
  • Scaling is a method where dental tools are used to scrap off and halt the progression of tartar (hardened plaque) above and below the gum line.
  • Root planing is a deeper cleaning procedure used to remove plaque and tartar from periodontal pockets below the gum line. This method smooths out rough tooth root surfaces, which allows gum tissue to heal and reattach firmly to tooth surfaces, and prevent redevelopment of plaque and tartar.
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  • Antibiotics and medication may be required to treat bacterial infection that has not responded to deep cleaning and oral hygiene treatment.
  • Gingival flap surgery is required if tartar and bacteria are located near the root of the affected tooth. The gums are surgically separated and folded back temporarily from the teeth to allow a dentist to remove plaque and tartar, treat bacteria and repair damage due to gum disease. Then the gum “flap” is repositioned, so that the gum can heal and reattach to your tooth.
  • Bone and gum tissue grafts can be used during flap surgery to promote bone regeneration and replace recessed gum tissue.
  • Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are used to replace teeth lost to periodontal disease. Once implanted in the jaw, a crown is attached and the damaged tooth is restored to its normal function and appearance.
  • Reassessment and periodontal maintenance care are used to monitor a patient’s periodontal health, and help prevent periodontal disease from reoccurring in patients who have undergone periodontal or dental implant treatment.

Removing amalgam fillings

Removing amalgam fillings

Dental amalgam is a cost effective and popular filling material that has been used in dentistry for over a hundred years. Amalgam is an alloy made up of silver, tin, mercury, zinc and copper. When the mixture has set, these metals bond permanently and harden. Amalgam has been clinically proven to be bio-safe despite ongoing concerns about the release of mercury into the body.

The main advantages of amalgam fillings are durability, resistance and strength. They may not look that attractive but on the upside, amalgam fillings can last well over 10 years and can withstand strong chewing and grinding forces, especially on your back teeth.

Amalgam is also very effective for large cavities below the gum line. While the alloy is pliable, it can be pushed and compacted deep into the prepared cavity.

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Should amalgam fillings be replaced or removed?

There is no conclusive clinical evidence that amalgam fillings can cause health problems unless you have specific metal allergies. In that case, you wouldn’t have been recommended an amalgam filling treatment in the first place.

If there isn’t a good reason to remove a sound amalgam filling, then removal is not usually recommended. Removing good amalgams is a safe procedure but trace amounts of mercury may be released, and the healthy parts of your tooth may be affected unnecessarily in the process. The preparation and restoration process alone may remove and weaken your existing tooth structure more than simply leaving the existing filling undisturbed.

However, there are situations were removing or replacing amalgam fillings is still preferred or even necessary.

Reasons for removal or replacement include:

  • Appearance. Amalgams have a silver colour that doesn’t match the natural shade of your teeth. When you open your mouth too wide as you speak or laugh, these fillings are very visible. This can be a big issue for a lot of people. Solution? Have your amalgams removed and replaced with composite resin fillings which can be colour-matched perfectly to your surrounding teeth. They are just as strong but may need to be replaced after five years. If you prefer to keep your amalgam filling, you can also elect to have a dental onlay applied to mask it.
  • Worn or broken amalgam fillings. Amalgams may be long lasting but they can wear out and break. And as with any type of filling, bacteria and decay may develop beneath a filling. Your dentist should spot any potential problems early at your regular check up, and give you advice concerning the best time to replace or restore your amalgams.

If you are concerned about your amalgams, or would like more information about getting your amalgams removed or restored, call our friendly staff to book a consultation on (07) 3349 9334.

Playing it safe with a custom mouthguard

Playing it safe with a custom mouthguard

Can you imagine your front tooth getting knocked out while playing your favourite sport? How about experiencing a fractured jaw or concussion?

Sports-related oral injuries and trauma are among the most common experienced by athletes – young and old, and of any ability. In Australia, thousands of adults and children are treated for emergency oral injury and trauma each year.

Participation in a number of sports or physical activities may increase the risk of oral injury, including the following:

  • Contact sports – rugby, touch football, hockey, volleyball, polo, soccer, basketball, netball, boxing, martial arts, wrestling, weightlifting, basketball, baseball and cricket.
  • Non-contact sports – gymnastics, acrobatics, track & field, cycling, skiing and squash.
  • Recreational activities – climbing, mountain biking, skateboarding, roller-blading, horse riding, sky diving and surfing.

Essentially, any sport or activity with the possibility of contact with another player or a hard surface carries a higher risk of oral injury. The damage occurs when your mouth or chin area sustains a strong blow or impact during a game or even at training.

Wearing the right mouthguard – when playing contact sports or undertaking risky recreational activities – is important if you want to prevent serious oral injury to your teeth, jaw, mouth, lips, tongue and inner cheeks.

How do mouthguards work?

Mouthguards are worn to provide protection for both the hard oral tissue (teeth and jaw bone) and soft oral tissue (lips, tongue, cheeks and gums). Mouthguards help to absorb, spread and dissipate the impact forces of a blow or direct hit to the mouth and chin area. They also help stabilise the head and neck at the same time.

Some other benefits from wearing a protective mouthguard include the following:

  • Helps prevents concussion. Concussions occur when the lower jaw hinge impacts forcefully up into the base of the skull. Mouthguards act as “shock absorbers” and can cushion blows to the chin.
  • Prevents contact between your upper and lower teeth and jaws.
  • Saves on dental costs. By preventing oral injury, your investment in a mouthguard can save you thousands of dollars in emergency and restorative dental treatment costs.
  • More confidence during the game. The psychological benefits of full-mouth protection can help players who are overcautious or hesitant during a game.
  • Protects or minimises damage to existing dental work (crowns, bridges) or fixtures (braces).

 
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Choosing the right mouthguard

You have a choice of custom-made mouthguards from your dentist or over-the-counter “boil and bite” mouthguards, when it comes to buying a mouthguard. But not all mouthguards are created equal.

According to research by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), the level of protection provided by a mouthguard bought from a sporting goods store or chemist was no match for a custom properly-fitted mouthguard made by a dentist.

The results of their study in 2014 showed that football players who wore over-the-counter mouthguards suffered more than twice the number of concussions compared to players wearing custom-made ones.

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) also recommends the use of a custom-made mouthguard for all Australians participating in sports and activities that carry a high risk of oral injury.

TC Dental custom-made mouthguards

At TC Dental, we take the job of making your custom-made mouthguard very seriously. We ensure that each of our patients has a personal mouthguard that provides the highest degree of fit, protection and comfort.

When you come in to have your mouthguard made up, we take a dental impression of your teeth for starters. From this impression, a precise cast is made, which our on-site dental laboratory technician uses to design and create your own uniquely-fitted mouthguard. Your TC dentist also provides you with care advice and follow-up mouthguard assessments at your regular check-ups.

If you want to protect the teeth of you and your family with a custom-fitted mouthguard, call our friendly team at TC Dental on (07) 3349 9334 to schedule an appointment. We’ll have you playing safer in time for your next game.

How electric toothbrushes can improve your oral health

How electric toothbrushes can improve your oral health

Manual toothbrushes have served us well as an effective tool to maintain and improve our oral health for centuries. They are inexpensive, easy to buy and portable which means you can brush your teeth anytime and anywhere. When a suitable manual toothbrush is used correctly in a regular oral care routine – for a full two minutes each time, twice a day – you can easily achieve your oral health goals.

But that’s easier said than done nowadays. Why? A lot of us – young and old – are in a hurry to get things done.

Our busy modern lifestyles have made it increasingly difficult to perform a thorough brushing session. We just squeeze the toothpaste on to our cheap toothbrush, and perform a quick once-over and rinse, before heading out.

Over time, being negligent about your oral health in this way, only leads to oral health problems – unless you start using an electric toothbrush.

Consider these facts. The average number of strokes per minute when you use a manual toothbrush is about 200 repetitions. The latest electric toothbrushes can brush at up to 30,000 strokes per minute. If you only had a minute to brush your teeth, which brush would you choose? The one that brushes 30,000 or 200 times a minute? It’s a no-brainer.

Speaking of no-brainers, when you use an electric toothbrush, it’s been described as “brainless brushing”. That’s because all you have to do is move your electric from tooth to tooth. If you lose track of time, most electrics have a timer function that lets you know when your two minutes is up.
But that’s not all.

Concerned that the whirring “plaque-busting” bristles will carve out your gums? No worries. Modern electrics are very gentle, and even have pressure indicators that let you know the moment you brush too hard – thus avoiding potential damage to your tooth enamel and gums. They also have different head movement modes, such as ultrasonic, side-to-side, and circular to effectively remove plaque.

The very latest electric toothbrushes can even upload “brush-time and brush-stroke” data to your dentist via Wi-Fi! This allows your dentist to keep a record of your brushing habits. These records can assist them to conduct a more informed dental examination and assessment at your next check-up.

Electric toothbrushes are here to stay. They offer a number of advantages over manual toothbrushes. In short, they do all the work for you. Older adults with worsening fine motor skills and dexterity issues may find it easier to use an electric toothbrush. People with disabilities and kids wearing braces can benefit as well. Some electrics even teach kids how to brush.

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The biggest drawback for many people when it comes to electric toothbrushes is paying the extra money – they can cost up to $300. There are also the replacement heads to buy. However, when you start to consider electrics as a long-term investment in your oral health, you’ll realise that they help prevent oral health issues that can be far more expensive to treat.

Consult with your dentist if you are still uncertain about your electric toothbrush options. They can offer you the right advice, recommend the type of electric toothbrush that best fits your oral health needs – and show you how to use it to achieve a super clean and healthy smile!

Keep your teeth healthier this winter – with a little ray of sunshine!

Keep your teeth healthier this winter – with a little ray of sunshine!

Winter has long been associated with catching the flu, stuffy noses and staying indoors. Trouble is, when you don’t get enough sun exposure, you run the risk of experiencing a vitamin D deficiency – which increases your risk of cavities, especially by late winter and early spring.

Your bare skin is designed to produce the correct amount of vitamin D that you need – when it is exposed to the right amount of sunlight.

But in winter we tend to cover up and stay indoors. By late winter, your body may experience lower levels of vitamin D, which makes your body more vulnerable to a range of health problems, including tooth cavities.

Why does a vitamin D deficiency cause tooth cavities?

Receptors throughout your body absorb vitamin D, which in turn promotes the absorption of calcium. Your body needs calcium because it is an essential component of strong teeth and bones.

When your teeth do not get enough calcium, your tooth enamel weakens, making them more prone to tooth cavities.

How do my teeth absorb vitamin D and calcium?

Your teeth have vitamin D receptors that are located within the cells responsible for forming tooth enamel and dentin.

The vitamin D, absorbed by these receptors, makes calcium and phosphate available to the cells. The cells go on to convert these two minerals into enamel and dentine. This remineralisation process improves the strength of your teeth, and prevents demineralisation from plaque acid.

The benefits don’t stop there.

When vitamin D is absorbed by the receptors in your teeth, “good” anti-microbial proteins are produced also. These proteins fight off the cariogenic oral bacteria that are responsible for creating tooth cavities.

What is the right amount of sun exposure to beat a vitamin D deficiency?

During winter, light skinned Australians should expose their bare skin (about two arms worth) to sunlight for between 10 – 30 min per day for their vitamin D needs. If you have dark skin, you’ll need between 20 min – 3 hrs per day. These times vary depending on your skin type and location in Australia.

Since it is winter and overall UV levels are low, the recommended time of the day is between 10 am to 2pm. Sunscreen should be avoided since it prevents the skin from producing vitamin D.

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Foods that boost your vitamin D levels

If you don’t have many opportunities to bask in the winter sun, try eating more mushrooms, eggs, oily fish (including salmon, mackerel and tuna), cheese and fortified grains for a vitamin D boost.
Vitamin D supplementation is also an option; though consult your doctor first for more advice.

References

  1. Youssef, D., C. Miller, A. El-Abbassi, D. Cutchins, C. Cutchins, W. Grant, and A. Peiris. “Antimicrobial Implications of Vitamin D.” Dermatoendocrinology 3.4 (2011): 220-29
  2. Grant, W.B. “A Review of the Role of Solar Ultraviolet-B Irradiance and Vitamin D in Reducing Risk of Dental Caries”. Dermatoendocrinology 3.3 (2011): 193-98.
  3. Hujoel, P. “Vitamin D and dental caries in controlled clinical trials: systematic review and meta-analysis.” Nutrition Reviews 71.2 (2013): 88-97.
  4. Australian Vitamin D Sunshine Map, Page 2, Vitamin D Consumer guide. Link: https://www.osteoporosis.org.au/sites/default/files/files/oa_consumer_vitd_ed3_09-16.pdf

Invisalign® – the invisible teeth straightening solution

Invisalign® – the invisible teeth straightening solution

Invisalign® is a clear and removable alternative to braces that can help adults, teens and kids to transform their smiles – while maintaining good oral health and an active lifestyle at the same time.

With Invisalign® clear aligners, you have the freedom to take out your aligners for eating, cleaning your teeth and attending special occasions. When you’re done, you just pop them back in. At any other time, when you are wearing Invisalign® “crystal clear” aligners, most people won’t even notice because they are almost invisible!

TC Dental Invisalign®teeth straightening

You won’t even notice that you are wearing them because Invisalign clear aligners straighten your teeth without any irritation or discomfort.

Getting your teeth aligned correctly with Invisalign is a proven way to improve your smile and confidence. But did you know that there are important oral health benefits from straightening your teeth?

The most common oral health reason to straighten misaligned teeth is to correct a “bad bite”. Crooked or crowded teeth can cause chewing and digestive problems, headaches, chronic pain and TMD (temporomandibular disorder).

Invisalign® is suitable for most cases of teeth misalignment. In cases of more complex teeth-straightening issues, such as large gaps and rotated teeth, you may be referred to an orthodontist. However, research has shown that up to 80% of all adults are suitable candidates for using aligners.

If you are planning to have veneers, then straightening your teeth first can contribute to a better result. The aligners move your teeth into their ideal positions before veneers are applied. This means that there is minimal veneer preparation involved, and less weakening of your teeth in the process.

For a big, beautiful smile, Invisalign® invisible aligners do all the work for you – without you or anyone else noticing. Invisalign® patients experience better periodontal health, comfort, convenience and satisfaction during treatment compared to fixed wired braces.

For more information about Invisalign clear aligners, or if you would like to book a consultation with one of our Invisalign®-trained dentists, call TC Dental today on (07) 3349 9334

The 4 types of teeth and their important roles in digestion

The 4 types of teeth and their important roles in digestion

There are four types of teeth in your mouth. Each type has specific functions as you bite and chew through your food. Without them and your natural saliva, we would not be able to process and prepare the food we eat well enough for healthy digestion.

The first crucial step in the pre-digestive process is to chew food thoroughly in order to break the larger food particles down.

Once they have been broken down into smaller particles, they are more easily swallowed, digested and absorbed into your body. This helps your body to obtain nutrients from each meal you eat more efficiently. In other words, nothing goes to waste!

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The four types of teeth and their functions:

  • Incisors

    The incisors are the eight thin, flat and sharp teeth in the front of your mouth. You have a set of four at the top and another four at the bottom.
    Incisors have a sharp biting action that cuts food into a chewable-sized piece.

  • Canines

    You have four sharp and pointed canine teeth, otherwise known as cuspids or “fangs”. There is a canine tooth on both sides of your upper and lower incisors.
    Your canines can help to grip and position food (like an apple) before you bite down. They also assist in tearing food.

  • Premolars

    Next down the line are the premolars, otherwise known as bicuspids. They have a flattened top. There is a pair of premolars situated behind each canine, making up a total of eight premolars.
    Premolars help to tear, split and break up food before sending in down to the molars for grinding.

  • Molars

    At the end of the line, you have a set of three molars behind each pair of premolars, making up a total of twelve molars. They are your largest and flattest teeth.
    Your molars are the workhorses in your mouth. They mash, grind, crush and chew food with saliva and digestive enzymes until it is ready to swallow.

Look after your teeth for life – to experience the health benefits from being able to chew your food thoroughly!

The transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mother to child

The transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mother to child

Most parents should already be aware of the main oral health strategies that help promote and maintain good oral health in children.

They include the following:

  • establishing good oral care and hygiene habits at an early age, such as brushing their teeth with fluoride toothpaste
  • setting up a trusted dental home for your child by 12 months of age, where they can feel safe, familiar and comfortable with their dentist, treatment and dental environment.
  • ensuring your child follows a dentist-approved diet that does not contribute to tooth decay.
  • regular dental check-ups and cleans every six months.

But there is one other recommendation that most parents and caregivers (about 90%) aren’t aware of – preventing the transmission of cariogenic (cavity-causing) bacteria.

In other words, if you have active tooth decay, you can pass the nasty oral bacteria associated with it, directly onto your child. And it’s important to keep in mind – baby teeth are very susceptible to decay while erupting because tooth enamel is still very soft at this stage.

Numerous clinical studies over the last 30 years have documented the link between the oral health conditions experienced by the primary caregivers and the risk factor for early childhood caries (ECC) in young children.

One study by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) in 2011 showed that high maternal levels of the mutans streptococci bacteria (MS) correlated with the early colonisation of their child’s oral cavity by the bacteria. The results of the study also showed that the same strains of MS were present in both mother and child.

Choice dental Browns plains dentist Baby kiss

The transfer of bacteria from mothers (and fathers) to their young child occurs mainly through salivary contact. There are a number of ways for this to happen while giving care and socially interacting with the child:

  • kissing an infant’s lips, or “nibbling” on their fingers and toes
  • unhygienic physical contact
  • sharing eating and drinking utensils, including cups and spoons
  • pre-chewing food for infants
  • blowing on a baby’s food to cool it down – just wait a bit!
  • sharing the consumption of the same food item
  • sharing toothbrushes
  • toothbrush to toothbrush contact – when in storage
  • cleaning pacifiers orally

It’s not just the parents who can introduce potentially cariogenic bacteria into their young child’s mouth – family members, daycare staff and other children may all play a part in transmission.

Although salivary contact between a parent and their child is pretty much unavoidable, there are ways to lessen its impact.

To help prevent or delay the initial transmission, colonisation and proliferation of cariogenic bacteria in infants, toddlers and young children – the AAPD researchers recommended the following steps:

  1. Ensure that caregivers and others in close physical contact with the child have good oral health and low levels of oral bacteria. Caregivers should make sure that they are free of active tooth decay, cavities and gum disease.
  2. Prevent or limit activities and interactions where there is a high risk of salivary sharing, transfer or contact – especially with a caregiver who has poor oral health or high levels of infectious oral bacteria.
  3. Chewing citrus-free xylitol chewing gum 2 or 3 times per day (by the caregiver) significantly reduces the oral bacterial transmission rate.
  4. Parents can improve their own dietary and oral care habits to help reduce the risk of bacterial transmission.

And for all those parents (and grandparents) who are habitual baby kissers, try kissing your baby’s belly button – just until you get the all clear from your dentist.

Healing tooth cavities naturally

Healing tooth cavities naturally

Tooth cavities mean a drillin’ and a fillin’!

But imagine no drills, no needles, no anaesthetic and no fillings – just a micro sponge soaked in a special solution which is inserted into the cavity.

Several weeks later the sponge has dissolved, the cavity is gone, and your tooth is fully restored and remineralised.

Imagine no more. Science fiction is now fact. Earlier this month, a team of researchers at King’s College London published research showing that they had discovered the impossible – natural tooth repair.

Granted, your teeth can already self repair – to a degree. In the event of trauma, decay or infection, the soft inner pulp of your tooth can become exposed, and prone to infection. In response, your body produces just enough dentine to seal the tooth pulp and protect it from infection – but not enough to repair the cavity.

But what the researchers at King’s College London discovered is a method that taps into this innate ability of the teeth to self repair with reparative dentine.

The researchers succeeded in further stimulating the renewal of living stem cells within the tooth pulp. This stimulation generated more dentine – a tooth mineral that forms the bulk of a tooth, beneath a protective layer of enamel.

To activate this response, the research team inserted biodegradable collagen sponges (Kolspon) into the cavities, in contact with the pulp. The sponges were soaked in a solution containing Tideglusib – a well-known, clinically-approved drug used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers discovered that small daily doses of Tideglusib stimulated the continuous natural formation of reparative dentine within the sponge over the 6 week test period.

Over time, the carrier sponge degraded, leaving behind a reparative dentine structure that filled the entire cavity site – eventually leading to a complete natural tooth restoration.

“The simplicity of our approach makes it ideal as a clinical dental product for the natural treatment of large cavities, by providing both pulp protection and restoring dentine,” commented lead author of the study, Professor Paul Sharpe.

“In addition, using a drug that has already been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease provides a real opportunity to get this dental treatment quickly into clinics.”

Source:
Neves, V. C. M. et al. Promotion of natural tooth repair by small molecule GSK3 antagonists. Sci. Rep. 7, 39654; doi: 10.1038/srep39654 (2017). Image and image description adapted and edited from original source image format – complies with fair use under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.