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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Dental Health Concerns for Women

Everyone needs to look after their oral health, but for women, surges in hormones at specific periods in their life can affect their oral health significantly. Women have special oral health requirements during the unique stages of puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, lactation and menopause, making it even more important to maintain good dental hygiene habits during these times. Women can expect their dental health to change during these specific periods of their life in the following ways:


  • Puberty: The increase in oestrogen and progesterone causes blood vessels to dilate which can affect gums and can cause bleeding, swelling and redness. The changes in hormones affects the bacteria in the mouth at this time, meaning that cavities and bad breath can develop. Ulcers are also more common in teenagers than children.


  • Menstruation: In the lead up to their period, some women experience swollen or sensitive gums that are prone to bleeding, while others can experience mouth ulcers or cold sores. Once menstruation begins, these symptoms commonly disappear.


  • Use of oral contraceptive: Taking an oral contraceptive is commonplace for many women. The synthetic hormones in these tablets can cause gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, which results from an excessive build up of plaque. It is important to remove plaque adequately through careful brushing and flossing to avoid gingivitis.


  • Pregnancy: The significant changes in hormones during pregnancy make oral health care a priority for women during this time. Gingivitis is, again, common in pregnant women, but also ‘pregnancy tumours’, which are non-cancerous, benign growths that develop when swollen gums become irritated. Normally, these tumours will naturally shrink and disappear after the baby’s birth, although if they interfere with brushing or are uncomfortable, the dentist may decide to remove them.


  • Lactation: There are many benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby, but the period of lactation can also negatively impact a woman’s oral health. Adapting to life with a new baby can often mean that women skip brushing and flossing their teeth, resulting in an increased likelihood of cavities and gum disease developing. The increase in stress and tiredness can also cause Bruxism to develop, which is the grinding or clenching of teeth during sleep. This can result in headaches, neck and jaw pain, or teeth cracking.


  • Menopause: There are many possible changes that can occur in a woman’s mouth during menopause. These include burning mouth syndrome, dry mouth, gingivitis and mucosal changes which can result in changes in the appearance of gums and can cause them to bleed easily.





Cosmetic, Preventative and Restorative Dentistry Explained

Dentistry is about much more than visiting your dentist for a routine check-up. Dental care is multi-faceted and encompasses three distinct levels: preventative dentistry, restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry. Each of these different approaches is unique and aims to care for the teeth in a different way. But what exactly is the difference between these types of treatment?

Preventative Dentistry
Preventative dentistry is about caring for the teeth in order to keep them healthy and to prevent the need for future corrective dental procedures. Preventative care involves maintaining good oral health in the form of daily brushing and flossing as well as regular dental check-ups and professional cleans. This helps to minimise the risk of developing cavities, gingivitis, enamel loss and periodontitis, which require restorative dental treatment.

It is important to take responsibility for your own dental health by engaging in good oral health practices and combining this with regular visits to the dentist. This is the most effective form of preventative dentistry.

Restorative Dentistry
Dental procedures are sometimes required to treat decay or damage in the mouth. This is known as restorative dentistry. This branch of dentistry is different to preventative dentistry in that it seeks to correct dental problems that are already in existence. The aim of restorative dentistry is to restore the appearance and function of teeth.

Some of the common reasons for which patients seek out restorative treatments include tooth decay, chipped or cracked teeth, missing teeth, discolouration, misaligned teeth and gaps in teeth. There are many treatment options to correct these problems and your dentist may recommend fillings, crowns and bridges, dental implants or dentures, among many other possibilities.

Cosmetic Dentistry
Cosmetic dentistry generally refers to any kind of dental work that improves the appearance of a person’s teeth without being an essential procedure. The primary aim of cosmetic dentistry is to improve the aesthetics of a person’s teeth, gums or bite. It deals specifically with the overall appearance of the smile including the colour of the teeth, alignment, position, shape and size and also the appearance of gums.

There are a variety of cosmetic procedures available that are appealing to many people. The most popular procedure is tooth whitening in which teeth are bleached to remove stains and appear brighter. Other common procedures include tooth reshaping in which parts of the enamel are removed to improve the appearance of a tooth, gum lifting and veneers.

Using Mouthwash: Pros and Cons

Mouthwash does more than simply freshen your breath. It can fight cavities, gum disease and even help protect against early labour! There are certainly a number of key advantages in using mouthwash, but it’s not the magic cure-all liquid that it seems to be at first glance. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of using mouthwash to help you decide what’s best for you and your family:


The Pros:

  • Fresh Breath: one of the most obvious benefits of using mouthwash is the minty fresh breath that comes with a swig of it. Many people love the cool, fresh feeling that using mouthwash brings.
  • Fights cavities: Mouthwash containing fluoride helps to rinse and neutralise cavity-causing bacteria.
  • Prevents gum disease: Antibacterial mouthwash helps to prevent gum disease, which develops when gums become inflamed or infected due to bacteria and plaque build-up.
  • Soothes canker sores: Canker sores are mouth ulcers that appear in the mouth or on the tongue, making talking and eating uncomfortable. Mouthwash can act to neutralise the area by reducing the amount of bacteria around the sores that can cause irritation.
  • Protect your pregnancy: gum disease is common during pregnancy and sometimes the bacteria from the gum infection can enter the bloodstream of the pregnant woman. This can result in inflammatory markers increasing and can cause early contractions. By acting to fight the bacteria that causes gum disease, mouthwash helps to protect against this.


The cons:

  • It’s not a cure for bad breath: Although mouthwash does leave you with a fresh feeling, people with poor oral hygiene might find that the effect is short-lived. It is best to discuss your bad breath with your dentist to treat the underlying issue.
  • Alcohol irritates the mouth: Some mouthwash contains high level of alcohol and while this works to disinfect the mouth and kill bacteria, alcohol also irritates the mouth and can cause a burning sensation. Alcoholic mouthwash can also irritate canker sores rather than helping to heal them.
  • Potential link to cancer: As with the controvosey over deodorant, the debate continues over whether or not alcoholic mouthwash is linked to oral cancer. Studies continue to be undertaken.


The verdict:

Most dentists agree that using mouthwash does not replace proper oral health care and that it is more important to brush and floss twice per day than to use mouthwash. Nevertheless, non-alcoholic mouthwash is a healthy addition to any oral health care routine.

How to Manage Dental Anxiety

Anxiety about going to the dentist can be crippling and for some people, can result in the postponement of regular dental check-ups or procedures. Improvements to dental technology and treatment methods mean that there is much less to be worried about today than there once was. If you’re someone who gets anxious about visiting the dentist, here’s the best way to manage your anxiety:


  1. Talk to your dentist about your anxiety

Despite what you might think, your dentist sees anxious patients every day and knows a thing or two about putting them at ease. One of the most pro-active things you can do is to be upfront and make your concerns known to your dentist. You’ll find that the simple act of talking about it helps relieve stress. Your dentist will also be able to reassure you about what exactly the visit will involve and talk you through every step of the way.


  1. Ask questions

During your visit you should feel comfortable asking questions about any of the dental tools or procedures. If there’s anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, speak up and ask about it. This will help to put your mind at ease if you know exactly what is happening.


  1. Agree on a cue

Before your procedure begins, discuss a cue you can use with your dentist that will act as a signal if you are becoming distressed. This will alert the dentist to how you are feeling and will be a sign for he or she to stop and check in with you. Your cue could be as simple as raising your right hand.


  1. Engage in positive self-talk

An excellent strategy for dealing with anything that makes you feel stressed or anxious is the practice of repeating positive mantras to yourself. This can be as easy as saying, ‘I choose to be in control of my feelings’ or ‘I am capable of this’. Our thoughts have so much power in shaping our behaviour so if you try to actively think positively about your dental visit, you’ll find that it becomes less overwhelming.


  1. Listen to soothing music

As you are driving to your appointment or waiting in the waiting room, listen to some soothing music on your phone or iPod. This will work wonders for calming your nerves. While you’re listening, become conscious of your breathing and try to focus on taking long and slow breaths.

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