Oral Health You know the old saying, "don't judge a book by its cover;" well unfortunately we are all guilty of doing just that. Think of how you felt the last time you met someone that had poor dental hygiene and bad breath - was your first thought that they didn't take good care of their health? If you don't brush and floss your teeth daily, food particles can remain in your mouth, which promotes bacterial growth between teeth, around the gums, and on the tongue. This causes bad breath and increases the risk of plaque formation on the teeth, leading to decay and other gum disease . A beautiful clean white toothy smile is something we all aim for and something that is often used by others as a measurement of our overall health. However, looking after your oral health can do more than keep your smile attractive; new research suggests that the health of your mouth mirrors the condition of your body as a whole. For example, when your mouth is healthy, chances are your overall health is good, too. On the other hand, if you have poor oral health, you may have other health problems. This information leaflet will discuss methods to maintain oral health and ways that your local LiveLife Pharmacy can help you to keep those pearly whites shining! Anatomy of the Mouth & Teeth People use their teeth to bite and chew food - they are the first step in the digestion of food. The long, sharp canine teeth tear up foods. The wide, flat molars grind and mash up food. While we chew food, the tongue pushes the food to the teeth and saliva helps digestion and wets the food. Teeth also help us say certain sounds. We have two sets of teeth in our lives; the primary (baby) teeth and the permanent (adult) teeth. Interestingly, children have only 20 primary teeth; these are then replaced with 32 permanent teeth (which are generally all in place by about age 13). Wisdom teeth are large molars that then erupt for some people between the ages of 17 and 21. Please see the diagrams on the right showing diagrams of our tooth/mouth anatomy. Dentists recommend brushing the teeth twice daily! Here is some extra info on how to effectively do this:: Step1: Flossing your Teeth Step 2: Brushing Your Teeth NB. It is generally preferred to floss BEFORE brushing so that the fluoride from the toothpaste can better “seep” between the teeth. It will also ensure that any plaque that is “flicked off” by the floss can then be brushed off the teeth! NB. After brushing, it is important to use a good quality mouthwash for extra fluoride protection on the teeth and disinfection of plaque/bad breath causing bacteria. Don’t forget this final important step! It kills up to 97% of germs left behind after brushing! Whitening techniques “I want my teeth to be whiter – what can I do?!” To Flouride or not to fluoride’ Fluoride is not a drug or medication. It is a mineral found naturally in soil, rock, plants, rivers and all water sources. In your body, fluoride helps to stabilise the mineral content of your bones and teeth AND helps to prevent tooth decay. But how does fluoride do this? It actually interferes with the bacteria in plaque which breaks down sweet foods and starches to form acids which attack the teeth. It also alters the structure of tooth enamel to make it more resistant to acid attack and help to regenerate and repair enamel which has started to decay. This is such a common request in the pharmacy and it is important that you are well informed on your options in the pharmacy. Not everyone’s teeth are suitable for whitening. If your teeth and gums are not in healthy condition before whitening, the procedure may even cause more damage. Even if there appears to be nothing wrong with your teeth there may be other reasons why whitening may not work or be suitable. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, please consult your pharmacist: “But I’ve been told fluoride is toxic – shouldn’t I avoid it?!” Fluoridation is supported by leading Australian and international health, medical and dental organisa Are you allergic to peroxide? (Many home whitening kits contain peroxide) Do you have dental health problems? (Any disease, exposed roots or worn enamel tions. In particular, the importance of water fluoridation is becoming apparent – in should be shown to a dental professional before use of these products) Do you have fillings, crowns, or other dental restorations? (Often the materials used in restoration don’t whiten like natural tooth, so this may lead to uneven colour) Do you wear braces? (Remember these home kits will only whiten the part of the tooth they come into contact with; the braces may also oxidise and change colour from these treatments) Do you take any prescription drugs? (Always important to check before starting a new treatment of any variety) If you have found that you do not have any obvious risk factors and are ready to proceed, please remember to find out how to use the product correctly (something our LiveLife staff are more than happy to explain). If used too frequently or for too long, there may be complications such as: Reduction in the hardness and strength of enamel Damaged and inflamed gums Blistering Severe tooth sensitivity Irritation and possibly bleeding in the oesophagus and stomach if bleaching agent is ingested Multi-coloured teeth if used with crowns, veneers or fillings (as they may not the first 10 years after its introduction in Australia, it is important to note that fluoridated water has resulted in decay rates dropping by up to 60%! “So I shouldn’t be worried about drinking fluoridated water…but do I need any more fluoride from other sources?” Yes, it is important to brush the teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, especially after meals – this will act topically to help further prevent tooth decay. Please note: Children’s teeth need particular protection as they develop. Ensure you are introducing a low-fluoride toothpaste when they are approximately 18 months old; use a child-sized toothbrush with soft bristles and only a pea-size amount of the paste on the brush. It is important for them to spit out the toothpaste at the end of brushing, but do not rinse! “So what is dental fluorosis?” Too much fluoride at an early age may cause a child’s adult teeth to stain. This is called dental fluorosis. This looks like fine, pearly-white mottling, flecking or lines on the surface of the teeth. It is usually very hard to see and cannot develop after teeth are fully formed. It does not affect the function of the teeth and can occur in areas with or without water fluoridation. Other possible causes of tooth staining may include injury to the teeth, use of certain medications and childhood infections. NB. Fluorosis is now rarely seen, given that fluoride is now in the water and people are not able to purchase those sweet fluoride “tablets” from their local pharmacy. change colour) Remember artificial whitening is not the only option for maintaining white teeth. For healthier and better looking teeth in general you should: Brush the teeth twice a day for 2 minutes using a fluoride toothpaste Floss your teeth daily Chew sugar free gum after meals Drink water throughout the day Consume a sensible diet Visit your dentist regularly Avoid foods and drinks which may stain the teeth; e.g. herbal/black tea, coffee, red wine, spicy foods like curries, and cigarettes Is chewing gum good for my teeth? Studies have shown that chewing gum can have an indirect, positive effect on dental hygiene. Chewing gum after meals helps to stimulate the production of saliva, which then helps to wash away and neutralize the acid produced by bacteria in plaque (this acid being responsible for tooth decay and bad breath). Chewing gum may also help to relieve pressure in your ears and sinuses by encouraging jaw movement. However it is important to remember this gum should be SUGAR-FREE, as sugar filled gums may actually fuel the acid-producing bacteria in your mouth and be harmful to your teeth! Oral Piercings and your Oral Health Oral piercings have become a means of self-expression in recent times. However, it is important to remember piercing your tongue, cheek, or lips involves a lot more risk than piercing your earlobes. Before considering having any sort of oral piercing, it is important for you to get some advice from our health professionals to learn about the risks involved….. Chipped or Cracked Teeth: When a tooth makes contact with oral jewellery it can often lead to tooth damage. Pain and Swelling: Both pain and swelling are typical side effects of oral piercings, which may lead to the tongue swelling (sometimes so much that it can block the airway). Prolonged Bleeding: Sometimes blood vessels are punctured by the needle during piercing which can result in serious blood loss. Infection: Our mouths are filled with endless amounts of bacteria, putting you at risk of infection after an oral piercing. Injury To Your Gums: Metal jewellery can injure your gum tissue and cause your gums to recede, putting you at a greater risk of decay and gum disease. Interference with Normal Oral Function: The presence of jewellery in your mouth can cause excessive saliva flow, make it more difficult to chew or swallow, and impede your ability to speak correctly. Blood-borne Diseases: It has been identified that oral piercings are possible contributing factors in transmission of some forms of hepatitis. Endocarditis: The wound that is created from an oral piercing gives the bacteria in your mouth the opportunity to enter your bloodstream where they can travel to the heart, putting you at risk of endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart valves and tissues. NB: To avoid/control swelling and infection from a new oral piercing, we recommend that you should use Difflam C mouthwash and an oral anti-inflammatory tablet such as Ibuprofen ASAP. After doing this for a couple of days, you should continue using a general antiseptic mouthwash for ongoing protection. Consult your pharmacist! Because there are so many risks surrounding oral jewellery, even after the initial wound has healed, the safest decision you can make is to avoid oral piercings altogether. However, if you or a loved one has an oral piercing, make sure they visit their dentist or doctor at the first sign of pain or trouble so that any potential “bigger” problems can be avoided. Keeping your toothbrush safe from germs and working to its full potential! After brushing, rinse your toothbrush under running water! Store your toothbrush in a clean dry place! Do not share a toothbrush, as this can spread germs! Replace your toothbrush often (usually every 3 months) - after this time, toothbrushes are much less effective at removing plaque from teeth and gums compared to new ones. The bristles break down and loose their effectiveness in getting to all those tricky corners around your teeth. Electric toothbrushes—are they worth it? The best toothbrush is one with a small head and soft bristles. Electric toothbrushes can also be very good, particularly for people who find proper brushing techniques difficult to master. In the end, it is an individual decision for each person as to what suits them better. There is no reason why a manual toothbrush won’t do the job it needs to do (when the correct technique is mastered), but it is important to remember some useful features of the electric toothbrush which may help in some cases; i.e. A pressure monitor that will tell you if you are brushing too hard, a timer that will let you know how long to brush each portion of your mouth, an oscillating head which may be beneficial to those who have difficulty in proper manual brushing technique. Did you know? Teeth will last forever if looked after well—tooth loss is not a normal part of ageing! The most common contributing factor to tooth loss is gum disease! Teeth are the hardest part of your body The first toothbrush was invented in 1770, along with the first false teeth (made from porcelain) The dental drill was invented in 1790; however it was a very slow and painful process with this big and heavy apparatus....much more traumatic than the tools used today! Examples of Oral Care Products Available in our LiveLife Pharmacies Toothpaste Denture products Important for the toothpaste to contain fluoride to protect tooth enamel Sometimes contain silica for extra polishing effects for the teeth Sometimes contain some peroxide for whitening Toothbrushes Soft toothbrushes are preferred as they are less likely to cause gum damage and will not wear out tooth enamel Dental floss There are many different types of dental flosses available. Depending on your teeth and the space between them, you may require different types of products (i.e. Thinner thread, waxed/nonwaxed etc) Interdental brushes Small brushes that care for the gums and teeth—they come in many different sizes to suit your individual tooth gaps Disclotabs These tablets are chewed, then the food dye contained stains plaque red, making it easier to see and making brushing much easier. Suitable for adults and children Mouth washes Essential for use after brushing and flossing to control bacteria in the mouth and protect against gum disease. There are many different denture-care items available in the pharmacy. E.g. Tablets for cleaning and sterilising dentures, and adhesives to ensure dentures stay in place. Adhesives come in different forms; they will all improve bite force and food occlusion however, it is important to note that wafers or cushions can be cut to size and stuck onto the denture before putting in the mouth. These can also sometimes be a less “messy” option when compared with pastes and powders.
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