St Peters Dental Clinic

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Prevention IS better than cure!

We have all heard this saying. Is it true? Essentially the answer is YES, at least in regards to your teeth and mouth.

The most common dental diseases are tooth decay and gum disease. Both are highly preventable with simple lifestyle choices, and here are some tips:

1. Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Floss or clean in between your teeth at least once a day. This prevents the mouth biofilm (plaque bacteria) from becoming established, mature and able to cause decay. It also prevents gum disease bacteria from getting a foothold.

2. Follow a healthy diet. Minimise sugar and sweet foods, esp between meals. Drink water in preference to soft drinks.This prevents the decay causing bacteria from getting an advantage, as they multiply and grow best if you feed them frequent sugar.  Milk is good for children. Avoid fruit juices, and carbonated or sweetened drinks including alcoholic ones, which, in addition to often containing large amounts of sugar, also contain food acids to mask the sweet taste. These can erode your teeth and cause the enamel to thin and the teeth to become shorter or develop hollows.

3. Chew sugar free chewing gum between meals. This helps generate more saliva and also helps your saliva neutralise acids in your mouth, both those from bacteria and food acids. Chewing a sugar free gum shortens the acid clearance time from 2 hours to 20 minutes.

4. Use a fluoride toothpaste and drink tap water. In Australia tap water is safe and contains optimised levels of fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral which is incorporated into the surface of teeth making them less prone to demineralisation, which is the start of decay. Bacteria don't like fluoride - it stops them producing acid as easily, and it also helps minerals go back into the tooth structure. There are also other remineralising solutions such as ClinproTM or Tooth MousseTM, which your dentist may recommend - just ask!

5. Visit your dentist or other dental professional regularly. That does not mean every 6 months for each individual, but it should be often enough that problems are picked up (diagnosed) early so they can be treated easily. Your dentist or hygienist can also apply preventative measures, and help you maintain your teeth and mouth in good condition.

Pain is a poor indication of how bad a dental problem is. The problem may be a lot more serious than you think, and you are just lucky that it does not hurt. On the other hand it may cause a lot of sensitivity, pain or worry, but actually have a simple solution. Go early, so the unknown is not an issue.

6. Give up smoking if you are a smoker. It is the biggest risk factor for gum disease,  and is also a huge risk factor for mouth and throat cancers. Don't think vaping is a safe alternative, nor sheesa - they appear to have the same risk profile.

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