Dental Health: Not To Be Taken For Granted

How Technology Has Removed the Fear of a Root Canal

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Root canal surgery used to be one of the more complex procedures performed in the dentist chair. Yet recent changes in procedure and the advent of specialist technology have made this a lot easier for dentists and a lot more reassuring for patients. Often, a root canal can be treated without a lot of invasive surgery and it may be possible to complete the entire procedure in one visit. What has changed to make this procedure so different? Getting Numb The revolution starts with the anaesthetic. The local anaesthesia available today has the capacity to numb the whole tooth very easily, so the patient cannot feel any sensation. High-Tech Instrumentation The instruments used by the dentist are now high-tech. Instead of working with stainless steel, the practitioner now has files made of nickel titanium. The older implements were far less flexible and as a consequence could not reach some of the more difficult locations efficiently. This is not the case with nickel titanium, which is stronger, but a lot more flexible. Using Ultrasound Dental offices have ultrasound capability today. This means that very high-frequency vibrations can be introduced to the area to clean up the root very efficiently in advance of the filling. The hand pieces that the dentist uses to create the correct shape for the root canal are very precise and much faster than they were before. Better Illumination and Visibility The dentist can also see the area being worked on very clearly indeed. The latest in operating microscopes enable the dentist to see the entire area, in order to remove the infection efficiently. Fibre optic light is attached to their magnifying glasses to augment the view. Locating the Tip In the past, the dentist would often find it difficult to locate the tip of the root, also known as the apex. It’s important to locate this apex in order to ensure that all of the infection is removed. Now, a special electronic tool is used, where sound waves automatically locate the apex and ensure the dentist completes the treatment. New Filler Finally, even the material used to fill the root canal has changed. A product called “gutta percha” (which is also found in some golf balls) is a very efficient and antibacterial material. It is used in concert with specially developed “sealers” which are in turn non-allergenic and designed to complete the job with a minimum of irritation. Your Next Visit All of these developments and technologies should ensure that your next visit to the dentist or endodontist for a root canal will be as pleasant as...

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The Daily Grind: Three Issues Caused by Bruxism and How to Fix Them

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Bruxism, or regular grinding of the teeth, is a medical condition that affects many people, although it is most common in adults between the ages of 25 and 44. Many people grind their teeth subconsciously while sleeping, usually during times of stress. For some, the problem will come and go and may resolve itself naturally when contributing factors like anxiety, alcohol and recreational drugs are removed. However, bruxism that’s left untreated can lead to tooth damage, jaw disorders and headaches. Read on to find out more about the secondary issues caused by bruxism, and how to fix them. Worn down teeth As you might imagine, regularly grinding the teeth can cause them to gradually wear down. The loss of vertical length in your teeth can lead to an unappealing appearance and difficulties in chewing. This can be fixed via a cosmetic dental procedure known as bite reclamation. Your dentist will ascertain how much length has been lost and use fillings to get your teeth back to their full size. This can dramatically alter the appearance of the face, may help rectify pain caused by an uneven bite, and can even remove wrinkles. Jaw and facial pain Grinding the teeth puts a lot of pressure on your jaw, leading to problems with the temporomandibular joint. You might experience difficulty opening your mouth fully or struggle to bite and chew food. The jaw may pop, crack or lock into place, which is painful and inconvenient. TMJ can sometimes be eased using special exercises, like slowly opening the mouth as wide as possible and applying pressure below the chin to increase muscle strength. You should visit your dentist for a full consultation before attempting any exercises, as your TMJ problem may be better treated by trying to address the issues behind your grinding problem instead. Headaches The pressure that’s put on your jaw and face by grinding can also trigger headaches. In the short term, these can be treated using over-the-counter painkillers, but this won’t address the underlying problem. If your bruxism is so severe that you’re experiencing daily headaches, then wearing a mouth guard or splint at night is a good option to consider. This will hold your jaw in place and prevent you from grinding by putting a barrier between your teeth. For bruxism that’s related to stress, cognitive behaviour therapy can be helpful, particularly when combined with relaxation techniques before bed. Yoga, meditation and massage have all been shown to reduce stress — try a few different techniques to see what works for...

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How New Techniques Help Alleviate Concerns at the Dentist Office

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Many exhibit some form of trepidation when they are making a visit to the dentist. This is likely caused by an unpleasant experience which they endured during their childhood. Yet even though techniques have improved dramatically over the years, that feeling of hesitance still remains for many. What are dentists doing to alleviate this? Body Language Many dentists today are practising a new way of interacting with their clients. They are exhibiting forms of body language that are meant to reassure the patient and are being very careful with their choice of words. To start off with, your dentist will now exude a lot of confidence with their gestures and their posture. They make sure that any arm and hand movements that they make are clear and with reason, as this communicates purpose to the patient. They are making sure to maintain good eye contact with the patient, which in turn communicates that the patient is ‘in charge’ and the dentist is respecting what they say. Verbal Reassurance When it comes to verbal interaction, they are avoiding the use of language that sounds too ‘clinical’. They are also avoiding negative words. Many people may associate the word ‘drill’ with a rather negative outcome in terms of the potential for pain in the dentist’s chair. Consequently, dentists these days are calling such a tool a ‘hand piece’ instead. Instead of advising a patient that the injection ‘won’t hurt’, they are framing it in a more positive way by saying something like ‘you probably won’t feel this’. Tell, Show, Do Dentists are also becoming far more explanatory when it comes to reassuring apprehensive patients. This is based on the technique known as ‘tell, show, do’ which was originally developed for children but has been shown to be equally as effective when it comes to nervous adults. First, the dentist will explain exactly what they plan to do and then they will demonstrate this by showing the equipment to the patient and demonstrating a visual of the technique on their own hand. Then they will go ahead and perform the procedure. This is all part of establishing a good rapport with the client and asking the patient for feedback as this method of communication continues. Long-Term View All these measures are meant to reassure the patient that they are in control at all times and to help them get over the fear of the unknown, which is at the root of most dental phobias. Modern-day dentists know that if you are pleased by your visit then you are far more likely to keep with a course of practice and might even look forward to your next visit to the dentist’s chair. If you have specific questions about dental treatment, whether it’s for something like cosmetic dentistry or more general treatment, contact a clinic in your area...

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5 Easy Ways to Reduce the Damage Sugar Does to Your Teeth

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Everybody knows that sugar isn’t great for teeth. Though delicious, sugar combines with the bacteria in your mouth to create acids, which then start to eat away at tooth enamel, stripping it of its minerals and eventually causing decay. Of course, few people are willing to commit to eliminating sugar from their diets altogether, but there are a number of steps you can take, beyond brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly, that will reduce the amount of damage that sugar can do to your teeth. Here are just five. 1. Chew Gum When it comes to fighting back against the damage caused by sugar, your teeth have one strong natural defence: saliva. The saliva in your mouth contains several important minerals, including calcium and phosphate, that help enamel to replace the minerals it loses during an acid attack. Chewing some gum after you enjoy a sugary drink or meal will promote saliva production. Just make sure it’s sugar-free gum! 2. Drink a Glass of Fluorinated Water You’ll probably know that toothpaste usually contains fluoride. Like saliva, fluoride is an important substance for keeping your teeth healthy, so it is often added to public drinking water in order to improve the population’s oral health. Most of Australia now enjoys access to fluorinated water from their taps, but you can always pick some up at the shops if your area isn’t covered. 3. Limit Snacking The amount of sugar you consume each day is important, but equally important is the number of times you consume it. After your teeth come into contact with sugar, the resulting acid attack lasts around 20 minutes. If you eat another sugary treat 20 minutes after the first one, the process starts all over again. If you’re going to have sugary drinks or foods, try to consume them with your main meals of the day in order to reduce the number of these acid-attack periods. 4. Don’t Eat or Drink Anything with Sugar Before Sleeping Ideally, you want to brush your teeth before bed, having nothing to eat or drink, besides water, between putting down the toothbrush and hitting the hay. However, it is especially important not to slip in any sugary snacks. When you sleep, the flow of saliva is reduced, so teeth will be less able to repair themselves after the acid attack caused by your sugary pre-bed treat. 5. Use a Straw for Sugary Drinks Popular soft drinks often contain a significant amount of sugar, so they are one of the worst dental offenders. If you still want to keep drinking them, try using a straw whenever possible instead of drinking directly from the can, bottle, or glass. This will limit the amount of contact that the drink and its sugars have with your...

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Why You Should Consider Laser Dentistry for Your Child

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Few things can cause a parent more anxiety than imagining how distressed their child will be during a visit to a dentist. Luckily, laser dentistry can offer a way to avoid many of the reasons that make children apprehensive about visiting a dentist. This article discusses some of the ways through which laser dentistry can be good for your child. Reduction of Dental Visits Oftentimes, one has to make several visits to a dentist in order to complete different dental treatments. For instance, your child may need to be taken to the dentist in order to have a tooth filled. That same child may need to make another visit in order to have canker sores treated. The use of laser beams helps to have different dental treatments conducted in one visit. This is because each treatment is quick and painless. For instance, no drill is used and that saves the child from being terrified as the drill is humming. The laser quickly cuts through the tooth so that fillings can be placed before another procedure, such as treating a tongue-tie, can begin. Minimal Use of Drugs Many conventional dental treatments require the cosmetic dentist to administer drugs, such as anaesthetics, in order to numb the site of the dental procedure. Some children may have allergic responses to some of those drugs. You can have peace of mind that the use of laser dentistry will save your child from the risk of suffering from the after-effects of the drugs that are administered during dental treatments in which lasers are not used. Less Likelihood of Disrupting Orthodontic Treatment Some children who have braces develop excess gum tissue that covers sections of their teeth. This condition is called hyperplasia. The overhanging gum tissue can form a cavity into which food particles and bacteria can be trapped. This can make your child to be prone to developing gum disease. Some dentists may remove the braces in order to deal with the hyperplasia first. This can disrupt the process of moving the teeth of your child to a better position. Laser dentistry allows the cosmetic dentist to re-contour the excess gum tissue without having to remove the braces. This can keep your child on schedule with the repositioning of his or her teeth. Laser dentistry is relatively new in the dental field. You should therefore talk to your family dentist so that you confirm whether he or she offers this form of treatment. Discuss how your child can benefit from laser dentistry in case that child has a dental condition for which laser treatment can be...

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Situations That Constitute Dental Emergencies

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It is not uncommon to find some people ignoring oral pain. This could be because they are under the assumption that it will eventually go away on its own, or maybe they are simply anxious about paying a visit to the dentist. Although there may be some situations where you may not have to seek medical attention, such as a burnt palate from hot food or beverages, there are other situations that need to be treated as dental emergencies. The following are some of the situations that would constitute a dental emergency and you should seek immediate care from a dental professional. A chipped or cracked tooth Although teeth are innately strong, this does not make them immune to chips and fractures. You can develop a chip or a crack in your tooth for a variety of reasons ranging from excessive force when biting down, a developing cavity or high impact to your mouth. Some tooth chips or cracks may not be painful from the get-go and this is why you will find some individuals overlooking dental care. However, if the pulp in your tooth starts being exposed over time, it could lead to an array of dental problems such as bacterial infections. It is in your best interests to seek emergency dental care so that the dentist can determine whether measures should be taken to restore the tooth. A knocked out tooth A misconception that some people have about teeth that have been dislodged or knocked completely out is that they are not salvageable. The fact is the success rate of re-implanting your tooth will depend on how fast you seek emergency dental care. If the dentist can assess the tooth immediately, the nerves in your gums may still be alive and the tooth can be saved. In the event that the nerve endings have already died, then the dentist can seek alternative restorative measures such as dental implants or dental bridges. It should be noted that neglecting a knocked out tooth can lead to undue complications such as interference with your bite, speech problems and more. A missing crown or filling Some individuals may not take a missing crown or a filling as a dental emergency, especially if they are not in any severe pain. However, these crowns and fillings function to protect the tooth they were installed on. Staying without a filling could lead into the development of a new cavity in the affected tooth. A missing crown, on the other hand, could cause further wear and tear on the affected tooth. In both cases, the lack of the protective cover will make your tooth prone to premature deterioration and could also accelerate the sensitivity of the tooth. It would be prudent to seek emergency dental care to have these devices...

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Factors to Consider Before Undertaking a Career in Dentistry

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Many school leavers interested in the medical field are torn on what career choices to pursue due to the numerous disciplines available in the sector. Dentistry provides a fulfilling and highly rewarding choice for individuals who choose to pursue this path. However, before taking the plunge into dentistry one should consider the following vital factors: Flexibility: Like any other medical profession, dentistry requires one to be very flexible when it comes to working hours due to the sensitive nature of the job. Potential candidates for dental school should critically evaluate themselves to ascertain if they fit the bill for being dentist concerning working hours. As such, one should be ready to work long or odd hour’s dependent on duty. If an individual is comfortable with the unpredictable schedule, then they are on the right path when it comes to a career in dentistry. Creativity and Passion: Unlike a majority of medical disciplines, dentistry requires considerable creativity since the medical professional deals with a critical feature concerning personal looks. Being creative is a big plus for any aspiring dentist due to the unique challenges that they might come across during their work. Ideally, the dentist should be able to envision the final product, which requires artistic intuition. If a potential dentistry candidate has the following quality, then he or she is right on track. Notably, this is not taught in dental school, but has more to do with personality than training. Additionally, one needs a lot of passion for continued commitment. Satisfaction: Even though money is a major factor for most individuals, it should not be the primary driver for a career in dentistry. Fortunately, monetary incentives in the profession are more than rewarding due to the technical nature of the job. Personal satisfaction should be the force behind the desire to be a dentist since most dental practitioners derives their contentment when they put a smile on the face of a patient. Strenuousness: Many people are oblivious of the fact that dentistry is very demanding physically. Notably, dentists work on a small area for a long time coupled with an intense focus to avoid mistakes is bound to take a toll on the physical well being of a practitioner. Individuals interested in this particular field should be ready to endure physical stress in the course of their work. However, if one does not mind the exertions, then a career in dentistry will suit their...

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Hydrogen Peroxide Whitening Toothpaste: Common Questions

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If you are looking to improve the look of your smile but you can’t afford the cost of professional whitening treatments, you might be thinking about investing in a tube of hydrogen peroxide toothpaste as an alternative. You may have some questions about how this type of toothpaste works and its safety. Below is a brief guide to hydrogen peroxide toothpaste. How does hydrogen peroxide whitening toothpaste work? Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent which is found in a wide range of everyday products such as anti-acne cream and hair colouring products. It is also added to toothpaste. When you apply the hydrogen peroxide to your teeth, any stains on the enamel are bleached. This creates a nice white smile. What are the benefits of using hydrogen peroxide whitening toothpaste? Day in and day out, you consume a range of food and drink which can cause staining. While standard toothpaste will help to remove some of these stains, the more stubborn stains can become ingrained, ruining your smile. Hydrogen peroxide whitening toothpaste is capable of lifting these ingrained stains. Another benefit of using a toothpaste which contains hydrogen peroxide is that unlike other solutions such as using bleaching strips or a whitening pen, hydrogen peroxide whitening toothpaste will also clean your teeth. This means that as well as reducing levels of plaque, which can lead to increased levels of staining on your teeth, it also reduces the amount of tooth decay and the number of cavities. Professional teeth whitening treatment can be an expensive affair and can require multiple visits to a cosmetic dentist. By using hydrogen peroxide toothpaste as part of your daily dental hygiene routine, you can avoid having to spend the money and time on professional cosmetic dental treatment. Is hydrogen peroxide toothpaste safe? Provided that you follow the guidance from the manufacturer, which should be printed on the packaging or box which the toothpaste was supplied in, hydrogen peroxide toothpaste is a highly safe way for adults to whiten their teeth. The only thing you may notice when you begin to use whitening toothpaste is that your teeth feel a little more sensitive to hot or cold food and drink. You should never allow a child to use whitening toothpaste, as the bleaching product could damage their teeth and gums. If you have any questions or concerns about whitening toothpaste, you should contact your dentist...

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3 Reasons to Visit the Dentist Between Checkups

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Most people are good at visiting their dentist for regular checkups and will only go to the dentist at other times if they have lost a tooth, are in significant pain or something else they deem more serious. However, there are some other reasons that should prompt you to make an appointment with your dentist between regular checkups for yourself or a family member — reasons that you would perhaps not otherwise worry about. Read on for some of the reasons that inspire a dental visit between checkups. You have a small mouth ulcer that won’t heal While ulcers in the mouth are not uncommon, if you have one that is not healing then you need to go to your dentist and have it checked out. Mouth ulcers that don’t heal on their own can be a sign of oral cancer. If your dentist thinks there is a cause for concern, a biopsy will be taken of your ulcer so further investigation can be carried out. Also, your dentist will be able to see if there are other signs of cancer in areas of your mouth that you may not be able to examine as easily, such as on the roof of your mouth, under your tongue, around your cheeks etc.  You’ve developed bad breath If you’ve noticed your breath has become a little unpleasant lately, it may be worth getting your dentist to check things out. Dentists are trained to identify bad breath as fruity or fishy, and both of these smells can mean various things. Fruity breath can be indicative of Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a potentially life-threatening affliction related to diabetes, while fishy breath could be a sign of something as serious as liver failure. Of course, it could also be something a lot more innocent, but it’s worth going to get it checked out, just in case. Your gums are bleeding If any other part of your body started bleeding, you’d no doubt rush off to the doctor. However, a lot of people discount bleeding gums and think it’s no big deal, perhaps not realising that bleeding gums are a common symptom of periodontal (gum) disease. A lot of the time, periodontal disease is quite mild, but in more serious cases it can lead to major damage to the bone and soft tissue that support the teeth. In the most extreme cases, you could end up losing some of your teeth. For more information, talk to a...

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Work In An Office? Cake Culture May Be Ruining Your Teeth!

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As someone who works in an office with a bunch of friendly other co-workers, you no doubt enjoy going into work each day. However, how do you feel about the idea that this wonderful working environment may be having a negative impact on your dental health? From birthday get-togethers to constant meetings, the extra sugar you consume in this ‘cake culture’ could be slowly rotting your teeth. Birthday Celebrations When an office worker has a birthday, it is often a tradition to bring a sweet treat or two into the office to put on the lunchroom table. The problem is, if you work in an office with a large number of employees, you could be eating a slice of cake more than once a week. Take the standard carrot cake which is always a hit with your co-workers. Did you know it contains on average 3 teapsoons of sugar per medium slice? Bearing in mind that very few office workers engage in the proper dental hygiene of brushing their teeth after snacks or lunch, this sugar sits in the mouth until the nightime brushing occurs. In the interim, however, the sugar will feed the bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria will then produce plaque that erodes the enamel on your teeth. As an alternative, provide healthier platters of fresh fruit and vegetable sticks when it is your turn to host the birthday morning tea. You may not be the most popular person in the office, but those who are concerned about their teeth will thank you. Meetings Whether you regularly attend meetings with clients or you have in-house meetings to go to, the temptation to graze on the sweet treats sitting on the table is often hard to resist. Once again, however, the muffins, danishes and cookies on display all contain varying amounts of sugar that you are not washing away before you get home. If you know in advance you are going to have a hard time resisting the cakes available, consider taking a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss to work. By doing so, you can at least clean your teeth after eating to reduce the amount of sugar sitting in your mouth during office hours. The other important part of dental hygiene when you work in an office is semi-annual dental checkups. Since you are exposed to so much sugar on a daily basis, visiting your dentist is key if you want to make sure you don’t end up with a mouth full of cavities. Early dentist detection can reduce the chance of losing teeth in the long...

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