When you’re not at the dentist

Why do I have bad breath?

There are many reasons that people suffer from bad breath (halitosis). Some of these reasons include

  • Gum disease
  • Decayed teeth
  • Bacteria accumulation on the tongue
  • Acid reflux
  • Post nasal sinus drip

A thorough oral examination will help to determine the potential sources of your halitosis. We can then work with you to help eliminate these factors, in most cases all you may require is a thorough hygiene visit and improved home care.

How often should I go to the dentist?

At Bentleigh Dental on McKinnon we tailor our recall program to suit the individual. We routinely arrange appointments for patients that are at intervals of 3, 4, 6, 9 or 12 months. However, the majority of people return every six months. This allows us to closely monitor and maintain their oral health.

What foods and drinks are bad for your teeth?

Any foods that contain sugar or are acidic will potentially cause tooth decay. This is irrespective of whether it is natural sugars, such as in fruit or milk, or processed sugars.

Whenever any food or drink containing sugar is ingested, the always present oral bacteria, turn the sugar into acid. This acid demineralises the teeth, causing tooth decay.

What many people do not realize is that the key factor in tooth decay is the frequency of the sugar exposure. For example, if you ate an entire block of chocolate in five minutes it would be bad for your teeth only that one time. However, if you divided the block into seven portions and ate them at seven different times, it would cause seven distinct acid exposures and therefore increase your likelihood of decay.

Any carbonated beverage, including diet soft drink or soda water, will still cause damage to your teeth. These drinks, while not containing sugar, are acidic. This acid erodes and demineralises teeth.

What foods and drinks can I eat between meals?

The best foods and drinks are those that do not contain sugar or acid. Water is the best drink. Snacks that have minimal detrimental effects on the teeth include vegetables such as carrots, celery, beans, cucumber and capsicum. Other foods such as rice crackers, pop corn, potato chips, nuts and bread are acceptable.

Sadly fruit and milk contain natural sugars that are metabolized by the bacteria to cause acid. Excessive consumption of these between meals is likely to lead to tooth decay.

Should I have my wisdom teeth out?

Wisdom teeth do not necessarily need to be extracted. It is possible for them to erupt into your mouth and become normal functioning teeth. The average age range for their eruption into your mouth is 16-21 years old.

Not everybody develops four wisdom teeth. It is possible that none, one, two or three may develop.

If a wisdom tooth is impeded from erupting, either by the tooth in front of it or by bone, it is classed as impacted. An impacted wisdom tooth may be pain free, or it may cause a number of problems. These problems can include

Pain and recurrent infection of the gum tissues
This is called pericorinitis and tends to happen when food gets caught in the gum flap over the partially erupted wisdom tooth.
Damage to the neighbouring teeth
When this occurs it can be very difficult or impossible to fix. In these instances it may be necessary to have both teeth extracted.
Periodontal gum and bone loss in the area
This can mean that support for the wisdom tooth and its adjacent tooth can be compromised and potentially lead to tooth loss.
Cysts
Sometimes an unerupted or partially erupted wisdom tooth can be related to cysts. This is an uncommon complication.

It is advisable to have your wisdom teeth investigated around the age of eighteen. This can allow the dentist to identify any potential complications and advise you on the best course of treatment. It is often suggested that wisdom teeth be extracted before the roots have a chance to fully form. This can reduce the potential likelihood of nerve damage during extraction. It is generally accepted that younger people have easier extractions, due to the more pliant nature of their bone.

If you have retained, unerupted wisdom teeth, we would advise you to have them monitored with an OPG x-ray approximately every three years. This allows us to check for damage to neighbouring structures and ensure the absence of any pathology.

How should I look after my mouth after an extraction?

In the week after an extraction is is advisble to follow the guidelines listed here:

Do not rinse your mouth or drink through a straw for 24 hours. If you do this you may accidentally knock out the blood clot. This causes extreme pain.

The day after the extraction you may gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water. Do this three or four times a day for one week.

You will not leave the surgery until the bleeding has stopped. The gauze pack you have in your mouth as you leave the surgery should remain in place for half an hour. The spare gauze packs we give you are in case the bleeding recommences. If your socket starts to bleed again you must leave a pack in for half an hour while biting down firmly.

If for some reason the blood clot is lost from the extraction site, a “dry socket” may develop. This refers to inflammation in the bone and usually presents as pain, and may be accompanied by an unpleasant odour or taste that develops 1-2 days after the extraction. If you suspect this please contact the practice. If a dry socket occurs the level of pain experienced can be significant

Do not exercise, smoke or drink alcohol for at least 24 hours. These activites increase the risk of a dry socket occuring.

It is better not to eat or drink until the numbness has completely disappeared. After this eat soft foods on the other side of your mouth.

You may require some post extraction pain medication. The level of pain medication you will require will depend upon the degree of difficulty of the extraction and your pain threshold. The dentist will guide you in this regard. The ideal time to take a pain reliever is as the numbness begins to wear off. This means the medicine has time to work before the feeling fully returns to the area.

Should I replace my silver fillings?

We find that patients commonly ask us if they should have their amalgam fillings replaced. Our answer to this question depends on the reasons behind the request. We will always listen to your questions and concerns before providing you with all the information you need to make an informed treatment decision.

Understandably aesthetics is a key reason for many people requesting replacement of their silver fillings. In these instances we will generally be able to supply you with a treatment plan to achieve the desired result.

People are also concerned about the safety of their silver fillings. Current research indicates that dental amalgam is still safe to use intra orally. Replacing fillings that are sound may create problems that otherwise may not have occurred. These can include damage to the remaining tooth structure and sensitivity or pain.

There are a number of reasons why a filling may need to be replaced. This can include new decay, breakage or aesthetics. In most instances it will be possible to replace the defective restoration with a tooth coloured filling.

The NHMRC working Party report states that “… general public and environmental health principles dictates that where possible exposure to mercury from dental amalgams be reduced where a safe practical alternative exists. This becomes more prudent in special populations, including children, women in pregnancy and persons with existing kidney disease.”

For those patients requiring the removal of previous amalgam restorations, it is possible to reduce their exposure to the mercury by placing rubber dam over the treated teeth.

How do I care for a mouthguard?

Keep your mouthguard in the case provided when not in use. Store it dry.

Heat can distort your mouthguard. Do not rinse it under hot water or store in hot places.

Routine cleaning involves rinsing your mouthguard after use in cool soapy water or brushing it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Rinse and dry it well.

Do not use alcohol based cleaners, mouth rinses or soaks.

To remove built up stains you may soak your mouthguard in a solution of vinegar (1/4) and water (3/4) for 12 hours. Then brush and dry the mouthguard well.

Always wear your mouthguard at training too. Remember mouthguards only protect your teeth if you wear them!

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