General Dentistry

Healthy gums and periodontal treatment

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease which attacks the gums and bone around the teeth.

It does not necessarily cause any pain until advanced stages and therefore can often progress undetected, sometimes for years. If left untreated, it may have far reaching implications not only on the mouth, but on the entire body. Periodontal disease or “gum disease”, as it is commonly known is present in nearly one quarter of Australian adults.  

We have over 6 billion bacteria in our mouth and many of these are implicated in this inflammation. These bacteria combined with food to form a sticky, “plaque” on the teeth. This build up can be removed through diligent oral hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing.

Where plaque is not effectively removed from around the teeth, it can harden to form calculus otherwise known as tartar. Once this has settled around the teeth, it cannot be removed by simple brushing or flossing alone.

If it is not treated and managed effectively, it may lead to serious dental and general health problems.

Signs of periodontal disease may include:

  • Red, tender or swollen gums

  • Bleeding gums while brushing, flossing or eating

  • Loosening teeth or increasing gaps between the teeth

  • Receding gums or longer appearing teeth

  • Bad breath (halitosis) or bad taste

  • Changes in the bite

Treatment:

This involves the professional removal of plaque and tartar deposits during a “clean” by scaling the teeth. Scaling is carried out by hand instruments and ultra-sonic scalers. In situations where teeth are sensitive or deeper cleaning is required, local anaesthetic may be used for your comfort. Your dentist will advise you on how regularly this should be done and will put you on an appropriate home hygiene routine based on your individual situation.

In more advanced cases, you may be referred to a periodontist, a dentist who specialises in the treatment of periodontal disease. 

Can periodontal disease cause problems beyond my mouth?

It is now widely recognised that oral bacteria and their toxins may be linked to a wide range of conditions such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and strokes

  • Diabetes

  • Respiratory disease

  • Fertility and pregnancy

There is an ever increasing amount of scientific evidence linking oral infection and systemic disease. From a holistic perspective it is therefore very important to ensure that your mouth is as healthy as possible for overall good health.

Natural Oral Care

It is a well-known fact that our oral health is an important window into our general health and that issues in the mouth can (and do) affect other parts of the body.

At Anokhi Dental, we believe that making our oral hygiene regime a priority ensures that our teeth and gums remain as healthy as possible. Simple measures at home can help make dental visits minimally invasive and less costly. Remember, when we care for our mouths properly, we care for our overall health.

Here are some Anokhi Dental tips on what you can do to maintain a healthy mouth.

  • Use an appropriate tooth brush and toothpaste for you.

We all know that brushing our teeth is fundamental to our mouth health. Ideally, it should be done after every meal but at the very least, morning and night. All surfaces of the teeth should be brushed, not forgetting around the gum line.

The type of brush you use is important. For example, if you have receding gums and the roots of your teeth are exposed, a hard bristle brush may not be ideal. If you have wisdom teeth that seem to trap more food around them and need extra hygiene, you may need a small brush that can reach this area far back in the mouth.

There are many different types of toothpastes available on the market today. Some contain fluoride and sodium lauryl sulphate. Natural ones contain herbs and minerals that can help clean the mouth effectively.

Certain toothpastes have specific benefits. For example, some are for sensitive teeth, while others are targeted more to promote healthy gums.

  • Use floss or interdental brushes.

We all know that flossing our teeth is important, particularly to prevent dental decay. It is important alongside brushing because it removes food and plaque from between the teeth, which is an area your toothbrush will generally not reach.

In some situations, floss may not be the ideal method for cleaning between the teeth. For example, where there are large gaps between the teeth or teeth are missing. In such cases it may be wise to use interdental brushes, which have bristles and are thicker than floss.

  • Swish with an alcohol free mouthwash or oil.

Most of the problems in our mouths are caused by bacteria. We have more than 7 billion in our mouth! That is equivalent to the population of the world! Some are responsible for cavities (dental decay) and others cause gum (periodontal) disease. So the purpose of a good mouthwash or oil is to reduce the population of these harmful bacteria in the mouth whilst having anti-inflammatory effects for the gums.

There are some good natural mouthwashes available on the market which contain herbs and oils which can significantly boost the health of the mouth. Some of these mouthwashes are likely to include sesame oil, coconut oil and tea tree oil for a healthy mouth.

  • Scrape your tongue every morning.

We believe that a tongue cleaner is as important as the basic tooth brush. Tongue cleaners (or scrapers) are excellent for removing the coating on the tongue which is made up of bacteria and toxins. It is this coating which causes bad breath or halitosis.

This daily accumulation is your body’s intelligence way of giving you a chance to remove toxins from your body! You will also notice that you will have fresher breath! Try to clean your teeth and scrape your tongue within 3 minutes of waking up.

 

Teeth Grinding and Clenching

It is believed approximately 10% of adults grind their teeth during sleep (also known as bruxism).

Teeth grinding can lead to many issues, not only in the mouth but also in your neck and back.

Many people do not realise that they are grinding their teeth, nor do they really have any control over it. It is like dreaming!

Why Do We Grind Our Teeth?

There are many thoughts on why certain people grind (or clench) their teeth. These include:

  • Emotional stress. There is a strong association between stress and teeth grinding. Some of these emotions may be fear, anger or depression.

  • Sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea. This is where there is a temporary obstruction to the airway during sleep. Grinding of the teeth becomes a reflex action to help open the airway.

  • Bite imbalances, such as teeth that are missing or crooked. 

  • Gut toxins, particularly from parasites may also cause grinding. Certain proteins secreted from the parasite during its various stages of life can have toxic effects. This is often a reason why children grind their teeth. Such symptoms include nervousness, insomnia, and teeth grinding.

  • Nutritional imbalances such as calcium and magnesium deficiencies.

  • Allergies.

  • Hormonal disturbances.

  • Side effects of certain medications such as antidepressants.

Signs that you may be grinding include:

  • Tempero-mandibular joint (TMJ) pain. This is the jaw joint which is responsible for opening and closing of the mouth.

  • Neck and/or shoulder tenderness.

  • Aching or sensitive teeth, particularly to cold.

  • Cracked or worn down teeth.

  • Loose teeth.

  • Receding and/or swollen gums.

Management of Grinding

Your dentist may fit you with a custom made splint or mouth-guard which can help protect the teeth and support the TMJ. In more severe cases, you may be referred to a TMJ specialist. We will also assess you for sleep disorders and may refer you to a sleep specialist for further investigation.

Having your dentist fit a custom made grinding splint to wear over the teeth at night can go a long way in protecting your teeth!

It is also important to address the underlying causes of teeth grinding. Some tips to help you stop grinding or clenching your teeth are:

  • Having a healthy sleep routine. This means ideally getting to sleep by 10pm and waking up before the sun rises.

  • Undergo a sleep study if a sleep disorder is suspected.

  • Process your emotions on a daily basis.

  • Seek professional counselling, try meditation and other relaxation techniques.

  • Avoid alcohol and stimulants such as coffee and chocolate in the evenings.

  •  Avoid chewing gum as it leads to your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.

  • See a chiropractor if you are experiencing neck and/or back issues as a result of grinding.

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