Prevention is the best cure: Avoiding frequent sugar intake, together with careful brushing, and regular appointments with a hygienist will for most people maintain good dental health.
Some patients are more susceptible to tooth decay and gum problems, and require a higher standard of home care, as well as more professional involvement.
People are now keeping their teeth for longer, and this along with the effects of dietary acid from e.g. fruit means that many patients now present with wear related problems - erosion - abrasion and attrition.
It is thought by many, that reducing oral bacteria and maintaining good oral hygiene can significantly reduce the risk of cardiac disease.
People who smoke need to be aware of the risks to their teeth and mouth.
Many of our patients have already benefited from some of the exciting new developments in dentistry, such as dental implants and new white materials. There has also been a similar, but quieter revolution in preventive dentistry. We now have a much better understanding of the causes of tooth decay and gum disease and are much better able to prevent, or limit, these harmful processes.
We believe that the prevention of dental disease is one of the most important achievements of our practice. Giving the best preventative treatment, advice, and education, and encouraging a positive attitude towards health will help to ensure that teeth are healthy for life.
We have outlined some of the most important factors, most of which apply as much to adults as they do to children:
No other single factor is as important. Tooth decay simply cannot take place without sugar. The bacteria, which are always present in the mouth and which form dental plaque feed on sugar to produce an acid. This acid causes decay.
It is the frequency of sugar consumption rather than the amount of sugar consumed that is most important; every time that a sweet is eaten decay can take place for up to an hour. Thus someone sucking a sweet every hour will be far more at risk than someone who eats the same quantity of sugar all in one go. It is best to eat sweets and puddings as part of a meal. It is well known that sugar causes tooth decay, however you may be surprised to learn that sugar has been implicated in some forms of heart disease.
Sugar in tea or coffee and in juice and fizzy drinks can be particularly damaging, as many people will have several such drinks a day. This is equivalent to using a sugar mouthwash!
Dental plaque is the main cause of gum disease and is also partially responsible for tooth decay. If plaque has been completely removed from around teeth gum disease will be prevented. In fact, some forms of gum disease will be entirely eliminated by proper cleaning.
Some people are more susceptible to gum disease than others, and will need more help from our hygienist, or may require deep cleaning by the dentist of inaccessible deposits of disease-causing plaque.
It should be noted that gum disease is the main reason for tooth loss in adults - that is why we place so much emphasis on keeping your teeth plaque-free by regular and thorough tooth brushing, using dental floss, and regular hygienist appointments. There are now a variety of different procedures available, which can regenerate bone around teeth badly affected by gum disease.
We can advise you on which of the vast number of different toothbrushes and other cleaning aids to use for cleaning difficult areas of the mouth such as under bridges.
Teeth that have developed in a child who has been exposed to ideal levels of fluoride are smoother, harder, and less vulnerable to decay, but fluoride can be beneficial at any age. Young children and babies tend to swallow small amounts of fluoride when they brush their teeth with a fluoride containing toothpaste.
In addition water in some parts of London, and some areas of England contains enough fluoride to completely satisfy the ideal requirements. The precise fluoride content of your water supply can be established by phoning your local water authority. When the local water supply is deficient in fluoride, supplements may be given.
It is important that fluoride supplements should only be used in consultation with us, to ensure that an age appropriate dose is given. The recent controversy over the quality of our water supply has meant that many of our patients have installed water filters and drink more mineral water than ever before. Some water filters will remove fluoride; most bottles of mineral water will display their mineral content.
People living in hot countries usually drink very much more water and thus should make themselves fully aware of the fluoride content of their water. It is now recognised that fluoride works best on a topical level. The use of fluoride supplements requires compliance by the family. Fluoride can be given as tablets and mouth rinses and your dentist will guide you as to the best option for you or your child.
So as to maximize protection we recommend a twice-yearly fluoride treatment for young children which further strengthen the surface of their teeth. A home fluoride treatment is available for adults with a high decay level.
We can help to ensure that teeth are cleaned effectively, and that difficult areas are reached. As discussed above, plaque is one of the main causes of decay and gum disease. By seeing a hygienist on a regular basis, as well as good home care, gum disease and tooth decay may be entirely prevented.
By identifying early signs of decay it is now sometimes possible to reverse the process, and avoid having to fill the tooth. Early diagnosis of decay will allow us to treat a tooth with a smaller restoration than may be necessary later on. Susceptible areas, such as the tiny fissures on tooth surfaces that allow plaque to accumulate, can be sealed with plastic materials. These "fissure sealants" are especially useful for children.
A similar procedure using the latest adhesive white fillings will allow us to treat small cavities in adults. It is important to remember that a dental examination is not confined to the teeth, but includes examination of the face, neck, jaw-joint and all the oral tissues.
To arrange an examination and prevent future dental problems call 01843 860625.
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