Self-care has become a frequent topic of discussion in media reports in recent times, and at Melbourne Dentistry, our team whole heartedly agrees with the concept! It reminds us of the airplane analogy ‘you should put your own oxygen mask on first, before you help others’.
From the dental health perspective, it may seem your daily brushing and flossing routine does the job. That’s dental care, tick! Done! However, there is definitely more to it than that!
Many people choose to wait until they experience toothache before going to see the dentist. Unfortunately, once the mouth becomes sore, or a tooth is causing throbbing pain, a much smaller issue has progressed to a more significant and costly problem. What most people don’t realise is, this circumstance may have been completely avoided had it been detected early, during a routine dental exam.
Regularly seeing your dentist for review, active preventive care and advice can go a long way in helping you maintain a healthier mouth and give you better overall health too! Knowing what it takes to look after yourself will also empower you with the knowledge to help your loved ones better care for themselves too! 🙂
When it comes to your dental health, don’t stay on autopilot – be mindful, practice a little self-care, and smile! You’ll be healthier for it!
If its been a while since your last dental check up, don’t delay! Book your next appointment here.
1. Brush teeth with a suitable brush and fluoride toothpaste, and carry out interdental cleaning (using dental floss, dental tape or interdental brushes), ideally, twice a day. No getting out of this one!
2. Sugar matters. Abstain from carbonated beverages and try to reduce your consumption of sugar, each day. Its the number of times you eat sugar during the day that determines your risk for tooth decay. The more often you eat sugary foods throughout the day, the more often the bacteria in your mouth eat too and produce acids which weaken your tooth enamel. Over time this matters.
Your saliva needs time to neutralise these acids – so if you continue to have sugary foods, your saliva doesn’t have enough time to create a protective oral environment and the bacterial acids continue to weaken your teeth. Eventually, these acids can destroy your tooth structure by causing tooth decay. So, try to keep you teeth tough by keeping away from sugar – the rest of your body will benefit too!
3. Once in 6 months, schedule a time to see your dentist for a dental examination and professional teeth cleaning appointment. Not only can an dental exam identify issues that might cause you discomfort or expense in the future, you’ll leave the dental office with a fresh, super clean and smooth feeling to your teeth which only comes after having a professional clean. It really can’t be beaten!
If you’re dental phobic, once you come in for active prevention, your future dental visits should be more comfortable – and hopefully you’ll be more relaxed in the knowledge you’re actively minimising dental problems and are less likely to require lots of invasive dental treatments down the track.
4. Be mindful about the state of your mouth. Your mouth does more than provide a home for your teeth. Often early symptoms of other medical conditions can manifest in the oral cavity. So when you clean your teeth, follow what you are doing in front of the bathroom mirror. Not only will you become more familiar with what your mouth’s ‘normal’ looks like, you will also be more likely to identify anything that looks different. If any changes do occur, discussing these with your dentist may bring about an early diagnosis.
5. Bad breath despite brushing? It may not be just the garlic bread you ate last night. Bad breath, or halitosis in clinical terms, can be caused by reasons as varied as dental cavities, oral infections, gum problems, tongue coatings, issues with your tonsils, sinusitis, reflux, or even diabetes. Don’t be shy! Speak to your dentist about your concerns – we can help!
6. Dry mouth – If you often find yourself having an uncomfortably dry mouth, despite drinking enough water, have a chat with your dentist during your next appointment. There may be a number of reasons (both dental and medical) for this. Your saliva is very important for the health of your mouth and your teeth and helps start the digestive process when you eat. If changes to your saliva are identified early, we can help you stay comfortable and reduce the dental side-effects.
All the same though, you still do need to keep well hydrated. This will optimise your body’s potential to produce saliva to the best of its ability. The best way to do this is to drink at least 8 glasses of tap water per day – more if you are exercising heavily or living in a hot climate. Tap water is fresh, contains tooth protective fluoride and its free!
7. Sensitive teeth – Going skiing makes your teeth hurt? Eating ice-cream causes you to wince and its not just the brain freeze? You likely have dental sensitivity. There are many causes of sensitivity e.g. exposed tooth dentine caused by a shallow cavity, a cracked tooth, receding gums or even a teeth clenching habit. You don’t have to put up with sensitive teeth! Have these symptoms diagnosed and treated and comfortably enjoy an icy cold drink this summer!
8. Bleeding gums – this may happen occasionally if you’ve traumatised yourself with some rough food. Take care. Chronic inflammation of the gums however, is different. Healthy gums are pink and firm around the teeth and they don’t bleed. Bleeding from the gums is a tell tale sign of gum inflammation.
If you see your gums bleed when you brush or floss, or the saliva and tooth paste you spit out has a pink tinge or is red, your gums are likely inflamed. This is known as gingivitis or may even be a more advanced gum problem termed periodontitis. Gum inflammation can not only cause your gums to recede and weaken the attachment of your teeth, it can have implications for your overall health, especially if you have other chronic medical conditions. Have your dentist take a look at your gums pronto!
Your dentist should gently check your gum health with a small periodontal probe at your dental appointment. Analogous to the inflatable blood pressure cuff used to measure blood pressure, a gum assessment with a periodontal probe is the only way to truly know how healthy your gums are below the gum line!
Until next time, keep Smiling! 🙂
Dr Maria and the Team at Melbourne Dentistry