Decay is the process by which the teeth break down and form cavities which can lead to the nerve of the tooth becoming infected, and subsequently requiring extensive treatment.
The key cause of dental decay is sugar:
One thing to remember is the type of sugar does not make a difference. So chocolate can be considered as damaging to our teeth as honey!
The second thing to remember is that the quantity of sugar does not make a difference. Hence, one sweet is just as bad as the whole packet.What does matter is the frequency of consumption of sweet food and drink. The key message is to make sure that anything you eat or drink that is sweet, is consumed only with main meals.
People often ask if whether brushing their teeth after a sugary snack will help. The simple answer is that it will not, as it does not remove all the molecules of sugar from the mouth. What will help strengthen the tooth surface and make it less vulnerable to decay is if you use fluoride toothpaste when you brush your teeth. This should be at the beginning of the day before breakfast, and the last thing at night before bed.
Gum disease is a condition where our gums become inflamed due to bacteria resting on the margin between the tooth and the gum. This can lead to irritation of the underlying bone which supports the tooth, and subsequent loss of the supporting bone. If an individual suffers from gum disease for long enough, this can lead to loosening and subsequent loss of teeth.
There are multiple factors involved in the susceptibility of an individual to gum disease, and your dentist will assess your gums and the associated risk factors to give you an idea of your gum status.
The key tips to prevent gum disease are as follows:
Using a good quality rechargeable electric toothbrush, ensure that when you clean your teeth (with circular motions) you purposefully pass the margin where the tooth meets the gum. Massaging this area will ensure that the harmful bacteria are dislodged from the vulnerable gum margin.
It may sound simple, but you must watch yourself in the mirror whilst brushing your teeth as you can ensure that you massage this margin in all areas of the mouth. You will find that you can track the movement of your toothbrush along the margin where the tooth meets the gum in the mirror by watching carefully. Not doing so can be compared to cleaning your dirty dishes with a blindfold on. There is no way you can make sure all the dirt is off!
Cleaning in between the teeth is very important. You can either use interdental brushes which slip in between the gaps of the teeth where the tooth meets the gum, or floss which slides down in between the teeth in an up and down motion.
If you are a smoker, one of the best things you can do to prevent yourself being at risk of gum disease is to stop smoking as this will significantly reduce your susceptibility.
Bad breath is also known as halitosis. Halitosis can have many causes:
Tongue: the most common cause of halitosis is the presence of debris on the tongue. This can easily be rectified by the use of a tongue scraper. Please ask your dentist for more details.
Poor Oral Hygiene: another common cause of halitosis is poor oral hygiene. The build up of bacteria on the teeth can lead to halitosis. Please read the ‘gum disease’ section on tips on how to improve your oral hygiene or ask a dentist for more details
Nose and Throat: if one is suffering from an infection affecting the sinuses or the nose or throat, the presence of microorganisms in the area can cause halitosis. This usually eases as the infection gets better and so is self limiting.
Other Causes: there are other rarer causes of halitosis, and if you are concerned, please visit us and our dentists will advise you.
Tooth wear is usually detected by your dentist, and can be attributed to four main different causes.
Attrition and Abfraction: are caused by the top and bottom set of teeth rubbing against each other. This most commonly occurs at night time, and is considered to be linked with stress. The easiest way to prevent this is to be given a protective night guard which is a custom-made soft acrylic covering which can be placed at night time on one set of teeth and removed in the morning. In severe cases, the soft acrylic night guard is not strong enough, and a hard acrylic guard needs to be made.
Erosion: occurs due to the effect of acid on teeth. The acid can either come from our diet, or from our stomach, which can inadvertently release its acid into the mouth. The key to preventing erosion is identifying the cause and controlling it. Application of fluoride to the teeth through various means can reinforce the tooth surface and make it more resistant to damage.
Abrasion: occurs due to excessive tooth brushing forces wearing the surface of the tooth away. Please read the section on gum disease prevention to read guidance on how to clean your teeth without damaging them.
Call us if you are worried that you may be suffering from any of these conditions on 0208 942 1465.