Oral Health - Hardings Pharmacy

Oral Health - Hardings Pharmacy
General Health 1974
Oral Health
Teeth and gum care
Plaque is the most common cause of tooth decay and gum disease.
Regular, correct brushing and flossing can remove plaque and help keep teeth
and gums healthy. Regular dental checks are also important. Dentists and other
oral health professionals can advise on tooth and gum care, and detect and
treat tooth decay.
Plaque is a thin sticky film, containing
bacteria, that continually builds up on
teeth. It has a rough, furry feel. The
bacteria in plaque ferment sugars in
food, producing acids that can dissolve
tooth enamel. Plaque bacteria can also
damage gums.
Plaque is soft and can be removed by
brushing and flossing, but it quickly reforms. Plaque that stays on teeth longer
than a few days can harden into calculus
(tartar) and act as a reservoir for bacteria.
Calculus needs to be removed by a
dentist or other oral health professional.
Tooth decay (dental caries)
Tooth decay is caused by acids produced
by plaque bacteria, and may lead to a
cavity (hole) in the tooth.
Symptoms include:
When decay starts there may be no
symptoms, but as it worsens symptoms
can include:
•White spot or patch on the tooth
•Pain when eating or drinking
something sweet, hot or cold
•Pain when biting down
•Visible hole or pit in tooth.
Treatment may include:
•A filling – fills the cavity
•A crown – covers and protects the
whole tooth
•Root canal therapy – removes the
tooth’s inner pulp and replaces it with
a filling
•Tooth extraction.
Self Care is a program of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.
Self Care is committed to providing current and reliable health information.
Gum disease
(periodontal disease)
Periodontal disease affects the gums
and other tissues that hold and support
teeth. The most common cause is
bacteria in plaque and calculus.
Mild gum disease is called gingivitis and
severe disease is called periodontitis.
Symptoms include:
•Red, swollen and bleeding gums
•Bad breath or a bad taste in
the mouth
•Receding gums
•Sensitive teeth or gums
•Loose teeth.
Treatment includes:
•Plaque and calculus removal by
a dentist or other oral health
•Regular and thorough tooth brushing
and cleaning between teeth.
Factors affecting tooth and
gum health include:
•Tooth and gum cleaning habits
•Eating and drinking – Frequently
eating and drinking foods that contain
sugars or acids increases the risk of
tooth decay.
•Fluoride – Fluoride is a mineral
that strengthens tooth enamel. In
Australia, fluoride is added to the
mains water supply to help prevent
tooth decay. Bottled and filtered water
may not contain this extra fluoride
•Dry mouth – Saliva helps protect teeth
from decay. Reduced saliva flow can
increase the risk of decay.
•Smoking – increases the risks of gum
disease and oral cancer, and stains
•Some medicines and illegal drugs
(e.g. dry mouth is a side effect of some
medicines and drugs). Ask a pharmacist
for advice.
•Some medical conditions
(e.g. diabetes, eating disorders)
•Some medical treatments (e.g.
radiotherapy can cause dry mouth)
Self care
Ways to prevent tooth decay and gum
disease include:
•Brush your teeth for two minutes at
least twice every day, in the morning
and at bedtime. If you can’t brush after
eating, rinse your mouth with water
and/or chew sugar-free gum.
•Floss or clean between teeth at least
once every day
•Use a fluoride toothpaste. Spit out
toothpaste after brushing, but don’t
rinse mouth. Low fluoride children’s
toothpaste is recommended for
children aged 18 months to 6 years.
Children under 18 months should not
use toothpaste
•Drink plenty of tap water for its fluoride
•Limit how often you (and your children)
have foods and drinks containing
sugars and acids (e.g. soft drinks).
Try to limit these foods to meal times
To find your nearest Self Care pharmacy go to the pharmacy finder at www.psa.org.au
•Limit alcohol intake
•Don’t smoke
•Limit caffeine intake (tea, coffee, cola,
energy drinks)
•Have your teeth checked regularly.
Have your teeth checked by a dentist or other oral
health professional at least once (preferably twice)
every year.
Consult a dentist promptly if you have:
• Tooth, gum or jaw pain
A brushing technique recommended by
Some powered toothbrushes may remove plaque
better than manual toothbrushes. Ask an oral
health professional for advice about toothbrushes.
Manual toothbrush:
• Use a brush with a small head and soft bristles
• Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to
your teeth, aiming the bristles toward the gum
• Move the brush gently back and forward, using
very small movements, brushing one or two
teeth at a time
• Clean the front, back and chewing surfaces of
each tooth
• Brush your tongue.
Power toothbrush:
• Use a brush with a small round head with soft
• Gently guide the brush from tooth to tooth at
the gumline on the inside and outside surfaces.
Also clean the chewing surfaces
• Brush your tongue.
Replace your brush or brush head when it
becomes frayed or shaggy.
A flossing technique recommended by
Flossing cleans between teeth. It is best to floss
just before brushing.
• Red, swollen or bleeding gums
• Sensitivity to sweet, hot or cold foods or drinks
• Gums that are receding from your teeth
• Pus around your teeth and gums
• A bad taste in your mouth
• Unexplained bad breath
• Changes in the feel of your teeth or dentures.
• Gently ease the dental floss or tape between
your teeth.
• Pull the ends of the floss or tape against the
front and back surface of a tooth so that it
forms a “C” as it wraps around the tooth.
• Gently pull the floss or tape from the gumline
to the top of the tooth, using a gentle sawing
motion against the side of the tooth.
• Use fresh floss or tape as you progress through
your teeth.
If you have trouble getting floss between your
teeth, try waxed floss. If it’s hard to manipulate the
floss, try a floss holder. If you have larger spaces
between your teeth, try an interdental brush.
Dental emergencies
• Place a cold compress onto cheek to reduce
• Take a pain relieving medicine if needed.
Swallow the medicine, do not place on the
• Consult a dentist immediately.
Knocked out tooth
• Hold tooth by the crown (not root). If dirty,
rinse tooth in milk (preferably) or water or have
patient suck it clean. Do not scrub root surface.
• Fit tooth back into its socket. If not possible,
wrap in plastic cling wrap or place in milk or
inside patient’s cheek.
• Consult a dentist immediately.
To find your nearest Self Care pharmacy go to the pharmacy finder at www.psa.org.au
For more information
Related fact cards
Dry Mouth
A dentist
Listed under ‘D’ in the yellow pages of
the phone book.
Mouth Ulcers
Australian Dental Association
Website www.ada.org.au
Healthdirect Australia
Phone: 1800 022 222
Website: www.healthinsite.gov.au
Consumer Medicine Information (CMI)
Your pharmacist can advise on
CMI leaflets.
National Prescribing Service (NPS)
Medicines Information
Phone: 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424)
Website: www.nps.org.au
The Poisons Information Centre
In case of poisoning phone 13 11 26
from anywhere in Australia.
Pharmacists are medicines experts.
Ask a pharmacist for advice when
choosing a medicine.
Sponsored by:
Your Self Care Pharmacy:
Reviewed October 2011, Published October 2011.
© Pharmaceutical Society of Australia www.psa.org.au
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