FREQUENTLY ASKED  QUESTIONS                                         

WHAT ABOUT ELECTRIC BRUSHES?

They can be very good or bad, depending on how they are used. It is important to actually brush, exactly the same as with a normal toothbrush.

Try this – turn the power off and actually scrub the teeth, opening halfway, around in circles and including the gums. If this technique is used an electric brush will do an excellent job of cleaning.

Good question. The best brush is always the softest. This is because soft bristles flex more and extend better into the gaps and crevices that the hard brushes just skim over.

Hard brushes might feel better but they are ineffective where plaque actually collects, such as in between the teeth and next to the gums.

The brand does not matter particularly but avoid the ones with gimmicks like tongue scrapers and rubber inserts. The Colgate Slim Soft and the Plaq Pro are both good brushes.

Of course, using a soft brush does not mean one should brush softly. On the contrary, brush hard, but in circles, not sideways.

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO WHITEN TEETH?

The only way to noticeably lighten teeth is with home bleaching. This involves wearing a thin plastic tray with a bleach of carbamide peroxide inside for a couple hours every day over two to four weeks.

The easiest way to do this is to simply wear it to bed. It is proven to work and one can see the difference.

 

WHAT IS THE BEST  MOUTHWASH?

A better question would be – does anyone need a mouthwash? Usually the answer is no, one probably needs to brush a little better.

Most washes have more marketing than efficacy. They kill only some surface bacteria and those that survive can quickly grow back if food debris remains around crevices and gum margins to act as a nutrient.

Occasionally, though, a special mouthwash can be of benefit, especially for managing gingivitis. Curasept contains the strong antiseptic chlorhexidene, which tends to bind to tooth surfaces and remain in the mouth, making its effect against bacteria longer acting. Think of it only as an adjunct to improved brushing and a means of kick-starting a treatment program. To be effective it should be used in conjunction with Curasept toothpaste.

To be effective, do not rinse out after brushing, simply spit the toothpaste foam out. If you think about it, any agent like fluoride has to stay in contact with the teeth for a period of time to be effective. The same applies for those using regular toothpaste who want to minimise their chances of ever getting decay.

Finding the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth is a whole topic in itself. See Sensitivity on the ‘When A Tooth Hurts’  page.

WHAT IS THE BEST TOOTHPASTE?

Colgate Total is a good, every day toothpaste for adults but the best is probably Plaq Pro (see the latest newsletter.).

On the other hand, some people are especially vulnerable to decay. A few individuals have teeth that are naturally soft and have an ongoing history of caries. Likewise, senior citizens and those taking, for instance, blood pressure medications and suffering Dry Mouth are particularly at risk because of reduced salivary flow.

Colgate NeutraFluor 5000 Plus has five times the normal level of fluoride and is designed to harden weak enamel. The extra fluoride acts as a catalyst to pump mineral back into the enamel and it changes the composition of the crystals from wimpy hydroxy apatite into tough, acid resistant fluoro apatite.

In addition, the higher fluoride concentration reduces bacteria in the mouth, just like the antiseptic mouthwashes are supposed to do.

There is some transient effect because teeth dry out and look more opaque when the mouth is kept open, but it soon passes.

Of course, thorough professional cleaning is different from trying to change the intrinsic colour of teeth. The best way to remove coffee, tea or tobacco stains is with our sodium bicarbonate Prophy Jet spray. It renders teeth spotless in a few seconds.

DO ANY OVER-THE-COUNTER PRODUCTS WHITEN TEETH?

Research shows some do have a very tiny effect, but probably too minor to actually notice. The concentration of peroxide is too low and is readily washed away by saliva after a minute or so.

Listerine Whitening mouthwash contains a small concentration of hydrogen peroxide which is slightly antibacterial and liable to whiten by a minute degree. Do not expect to see any difference.

There are no long term side effects but some people do report sensitivity to cold during the process.

This can easily be managed by rubbing in a combination of Tooth Mousse and either Neutrafluor 5000 Sensitive or Sensodyne.

The subject is covered extensively on the Whitening, Crowns etc. page of this website.

If you want to know more, look up the leading world authority’s website www.vanhaywood.com.

CAN’T TEETH BE WHITENED IN THE DENTAL CHAIR?

It would be great if teeth could really be whitened in an hour at the dentist but the reality is they can not. Despite lights and lasers and marketing, ‘Office Bleaching’ is basically ineffective.

The peroxide chemicals involved always require time to whiten enamel, irrespective of how strong they may be and an hour is insufficient.

DENTAL MYTHS

 

There are more misconceptions about dentistry than any other profession. Here are 10 myths.

1. Teeth become weaker as you get older.

Just the opposite. Teeth become harder and resistant to decay as we age, since they keep absorbing mineral. Of course, older people grew up before fluoridation and usually have large fillings. These sometimes deteriorate with time and fail to support teeth which were hollowed out years earlier. They often do need more dentistry but usually not because of fresh decay.

The only real problem is when seniors start take various medications for blood pressure etc. Some medications can reduce the salivary flow and dry the mouth out. Saliva is important because it controls bacteria and keeps the enamel strong by bathing it in calcium. Any reduction can put the teeth slightly at risk.

2.  Mouthwashes are an effective treatment for gingivitis.

Mouthwashes such as Listerine have been shown to reduce gingivitis and bacteria by about a third. Stronger chlorhexidine products, such as Savocol or Curasept, perform slightly better. Conversely, a one third reduction does still leave a whopping two thirds, which can mean millions of harmful bacteria and significant gum disease. It is not a big improvement.

Antiseptic rinses should only be considered a small part of eliminating bacteria and treating gingivitis. The best way to remove the bugs is mechanically, by brushing properly.

Sensible, efficient toothbrushing will quickly remove 99% of the bacteria around the edges of the gums, and an obvious improvement will usually be seen in a few days.

When infections are severe, the most effective antibacterial is not, in fact, a mouthwash, but a gel which can be rubbed onto the gums. Curasept Gel contains concentrated chlorhexidene.           

 

 

3.  Grown ups do not need fluoride.

Yes and no. Firstly, let’s explain. Fluoride’s main action is topical, not dietary. In other words it is absorbed when teeth get wet with either fluoridated water or toothpaste. There are a number of beneficial effects.

Fluoride changes immature enamel’s crystalline structure from weak hydroxyapatite into strong fluoroapatite.

As well as becoming part of the actual chemical structure, it also acts as a catalyst to draw in extra calcium and phosphate.

The surface of the enamel hardens and becomes more resistant to acid attack. Plaque bacteria even find it more difficult to adher.

In time the fluoride does leach out but this actually has the effect of inhibiting bacterial growth on the adjacent surfaces.

Grown ups have stronger teeth than youngsters but some can still get decay, especially when they develop dry mouth. A strong fluoride toothpaste such as Neutraflur 5000, brushed in once a week, can be a good insurance policy against decay.

4.  Wisdom teeth cause crowding.

Crowding seems to have nothing to do with the wisdom teeth. Often when these third molars are jammed in and impacted, the teeth in front become crowded and crooked, but the same happens when the wisdom teeth are not even present!

 

Nature is somewhat behind the times. It assumes we are still in the Stone Age, eating bush tucker and wearing our teeth out, not just vertically, but horizontally.

Nature does not want us to develop gaps between these abraded teeth so she uses a mechanism called Mesial Drift to pull the teeth together towards the front of the mouth.

Of course, with our modern diet we do not wear out the walls of our teeth, but still they tend to drift together and buckle up. Wisdom teeth sometimes need to be extracted, but not to prevent crowding.

5.  The grown up teeth erupt as the baby teeth fall out.

The six year old molars do not replace deciduous teeth but rather erupt at the back of the mouth behind them. Parents are often surprised to be told their children have permanent molars when no baby teeth have been lost.

These grown-up teeth usually have pits and fissures which easily collect plaque so it is wise for the dentist to place protective sealants over the surface soon after they appear. The process only takes a few minutes and the covering not only blocks plaque, it also hardens the enamel by releasing minerals.

 

6.  Baby teeth don’t matter.

Decay reaches the nerve of children’s deciduous teeth very easily, and, when they hurt, it is already too late to fill them – they have to be extracted. Within a few weeks of a baby tooth being lost, the ones behind start to move forward and close up the gap. Later, during adolescence when permanent teeth try to erupt, there is insufficient space and teeth become crowded at the front.

Orthodontic braces are needed to straighten them up.

Complications can be avoided by filling the baby teeth early and saving them until they are lost naturally.

7.  Cosmetic Dentists can improve the front teeth.

There is no such thing as a Cosmetic Dentist, only dentists who advertise more. Of course some dentists are more skilled and experienced than others. To find out what we can do at our clinic look at some of the published articles elsewhere in this website.

8.  Root filled teeth go dark.

In the old days, the crowns of teeth were not always cleaned out properly when they were being root filled. Debris contaminated the enamel and, in time, it turned dark, like a bruise that would not go away.

Today’s dentists realise all the pulp has to be removed from the crown, as well as from the root canal. If this is done, there is a far greater chance of success and the tooth will not turn dark.

9.  Electric brushes clean better.

Sometimes. Electric brushes actually do clean better where they reach, but is still  possible to clean very poorly around the inaccessible areas. They have to be aimed properly and they still have to brush, otherwise the bristles will just skim over the surfaces rather than angle into the crevices.

10.  Brushing too hard scratches the teeth.

Not really. Brushing sideways is actually what does all the damage. It traumatizes the gums, making them recede and, in time, cuts grooves in the necks of the tooth roots. Ouch!

Brush hard, but around in circles. It cleans far better and does not hollow out the tooth roots.

WHAT IS THE BEST TOOTHBRUSH?