2013-12-06 What do we dentists look at?
When I was younger before my dental education, when I thought of dentistry, I was only thinking of the actual “crown” of the tooth. This diagram very accurately sums up what we dentists actually look at when it comes to each of your teeth! The crown is what you see in the mouth, and it is surrounded by very visible pink (and sometimes very inflamed red) gums. Underneath the gums, there is bone that supports the root or roots of the teeth, some teeth have 1 root, some have 2, some have 3, and a few can have 4 or even 5! Within the deepest portion of the crown that goes into the root is called the pulp, which consists of nerve and blood vessels! The outer portion of the tooth, or the Enamel, is the hardest substance in the human body, which is built to destroy and pulverise food so that your gut can ultimately absorb the nutrients to sustain life. Enamel can dissolve over time in a process called tooth decay, which many of us has experienced, and when this process gets deep enough into the nerve, that’s where toothaches occur. We dentists examine all these structures to assess their health status, which is why it is important to be seeing your dentist regularly if you want to keep your teeth for life.
2013-11-17 Question: If your family becomes too big for your home, do you:
a) Throw out some of your family? b) Make your home bigger?
Yes, we know, you wouldn’t do it to your family, so why would you sacrifice innocent permanent teeth?
Generally our mouth and face are genetically programmed to develop in a balanced way where form follows function. This natural process usually allows accommodation for all teeth in a straight and uncrowded manner. However, when there is a disturbance in function, such as mouth breathing secondary to airway obstructions and tongue habits, the form manifests as unpleasing smiles with crooked teeth. Orthopedic treatment with appliance therapy offers a simple and uncomplicated method to influence how nature ought to develop our jaws and face. With early intervention and elimination of the functional habits, “family members won’t get thrown out”, braces are on for a shorter period of time, and may not be required at all! Orthopedic treatment is not just about making teeth straighter, but about restoring correct and balanced development to the entire face.
2013-11-10 Is there much wisdom in wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth. One of my least favorite subjects when it comes to teeth. Those who have them hate them when they become problematic. If they’re not problematic during your early 20’s, they can become problematic when you least want it to. Like when you’re on holidays overseas. Or you’re buried deep in bills trying to pay for the house whilst keeping food on the table and the lights on.
So why do we even have wisdom teeth? Anthropology shows us that earlier versions of humans had wider and larger jaws to accommodate for these teeth. But modern man has downsized and become more compact, having insufficient room to house these pesky teeth. As a result, they are usually kept in really tight spaces that are very difficult to keep clean, and very easy to become infected and painful!
Just like with everything in life, prevention is better than a cure. If something looks risky, it’s better to be rid of that risk than to keep that risk to blow up on you at a later less convenient date. So here’s my tip to all young adults finishing up with their exams: when you get your teeth checked, make sure your dentist is taking an x-ray to see if those wisdom teeth are going to be a problem. Just like school, it's
2013-10-13 Are your doors open?
If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, it could be an indicator of a gum infection. Typically in the presence of disease causing bacterial plaque, gums swell to allow white blood cells to the infection site. Unfortunately, this swelling could also allow this oral bacteria to enter the blood stream, and end up anywhere in the body, a condition called oral bacteremia. These bacteria can find their way into artificial heart valves and prosthetic joints. There is also many studies showing bacterial presence in conditions like vascular disease, diabetes, dementia, preterm labour and miscarriage. A recent study published in 2013 shown that these bacteria were found in blood clots taken from heart attack victims.
75% of people have a gum infection caused by oral bacteria. Any bleeding with brushing, flossing, or dentist cleans suggest that there is an "open door" for these bacteria to seed systemic disease.
Periodontal (aka gum therapy) methods will help to close the door and kill the bugs, to reduce your risk of disease orally and systemically. At Smithfield Medical and Dental Centre, our dental team routinely screens for this disease and will take the time to inform you and educate you on its management.
2013-07-11 Why should I go see a dentist?
Who wants to see a dentist? No-one. Why? Because we invade your personal space. And one of us probably caused you a lot of pain in the past because of our seemed uncaring character. Or, your mother taught you that you only see one of us if you think something is wrong. Or, we're just plain busy in life, trying to balance work, family, kids, soccer, and everything else!
Dentistry has changed. Full mouth extractions with new dentures, to avoid further dental problems during a lifetime, as a wedding gift to the young bride is a thing of the past. People are living longer. And some, if not most, want to keep their teeth for the rest of their lives!
Unfortunately, many of us are still not aware of the dangers to teeth; They are tooth decay, gum disease, and wear'n'tear which results in worn and cracked teeth. My job, as a dentist, is to help identify those factors that increase your risk at losing your teeth, and managing them so that your risks can be minimized. Also, gum disease has been implicated in association with many other chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, pre-ecclampsia in women, and even osteoporosis. Hence, diseases found in the mouth can have a ripple effect and affect your body!
Teeth don't get stronger as we age. Neither do our hearts, eyesight, kidneys, or every other major organ, which is why we get annual checkups from our family doctor. Your oral health and well-being should certainly be included in your allied health providers team.
Which toothpaste is the best?
When shopping for toothpastes, there are many to choose from. Advertisers on TV often claim "the most recommended by dentists", when we should really be asking: "What is this toothpaste going to do for me?" The main reason why we use toothpaste is because it has mild abrasives and helps to make our teeth feel smoother. It also contains fluoride which helps to strengthen our teeth's smooth surfaces against dental decay. And also minty freshness which helps us "feel good". All of the toothpastes on the shelf do exactly that. The more expensive ones usually involve the word "Sensitive" with it, and they contain a certain ingredient that really does help to reduce your teeth's sensitivity.
But besides sensitivity reduction, no toothpaste is better than another. In terms of disease prevention, such as cavity and gingivitis prevention, hopefully a dentist has shown you how you should be brushing your teeth. A good dentist should actually demonstrate how teeth are meant to be brushed, so that we can make a difference in the currently high rate of gum disease and tooth decay in our community.