There is an age-old saying that prevention is better than cure, which certainly rings true in dentistry. People who wait long periods between dental exams, pay little notice to their daily oral hygiene and have a diet high in sugar and acid will notice increased dental problems as a result.
The Australian Dental Association reports that tooth decay is this country’s most prevalent health problem; it’s also one of Australia’s most costly diet-related diseases. After dental decay, the next most common dental problems, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, are:
- gum disease (periodontal disease); and
- tooth loss.
Tooth decay is the destruction of tooth enamel caused by a combination of plaque and poor diet. Regular and copious consumption of food or drinks high in sugar and acid will erode the protective enamel layer of the teeth, leaving a less mineralised and more vulnerable root cover exposed. A change to a diet consisting of foods and drinks low in sugar and acid will help to avoid dental decay.
It is possible to have disease, injury and malformation in the teeth, jaw and mouth but not experience pain or discomfort. Also, there are links between oral and systemic health, including the following conditions: human papillomavirus (HPV), HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis, obesity, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Therefore, a crucial step in avoiding overall health problems is to regularly see your dentist and dental hygienist for examination. The dentist will visually examine the hard and soft tissues in your mouth, collect a medical history and take X-rays to help identify and diagnose any dental problems. The dental hygienist will examine the soft tissues for any indication of gum disease, provide treatment to restore your mouth to a healthy state, and encourage ideal oral hygiene to reduce the risk of chronic gum disease.
Research suggests that Australians have become too complacent about oral care, despite the fact that the World Health Organization has identified that oral hygiene is an “essential component to overall health and important to our wellbeing”. The basis of good oral hygiene is to effectively remove sticky, colourless bacteria known as plaque. Plaque adheres to the hard and soft tissues in the mouth and contributes to tooth decay and gum disease.
Oral hygiene requirements will vary among individuals, based on risk and need. At Smile Solutions our dentists and dental hygienists work together to inform patients of the most effective products for use in their oral health – such as toothbrushes, toothpastes, mouthwash and any specialty dental products. We work closely with you to provide a tailored preventative approach.
A simple regimen to avoid dental problems is as follows:
- Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste to reduce risk of decay.
- Adopt inter-dental cleaning to remove food trapped between teeth.
- Eat balanced meals low in sugar and acid.
- Limit snacking.
- Have dental sealants placed where necessary.
- Visit your dentist and dental hygienist regularly for oral examinations and professional cleanings.
The good news is that the majority of dental diseases are avoidable. Sometimes preventive measures alone are not enough, so it’s important to work closely with your dentist and dental hygienist to establish risk and a tailored dental program.