Tooth decay (cavities) is the damage to a tooth caused by the buildup of dental plaque in the mouth, which turns sugars into acid that attacks the teeth. Our mouths are full of bacteria – some good, some bad. The harmful bacteria plays a part in the tooth decay process, promoting the production of acids that eat away at the tooth enamel.
In order to combat these acids, we have minerals in our saliva (such as phosphate and calcium), as well as fluoride products. The mouth constantly goes through a cycle of losing and regaining minerals, but when we lose too much, we get cavities. The question is: is tooth decay permanent?
How do cavities develop?
When the teeth are regularly exposed to acid, the enamel starts to lose minerals. White spots might appear where the minerals were lost – this is an early sign of decay.
For most people, the saliva we generate and the fluoride found in toothpaste and water helps to replace minerals. However, people that snack regularly are exposing their teeth to too much acid which causes demineralisation, followed by enamel decay and then decay of the dentin (the soft tissue underneath the enamel). The final stage is pulp decay, and a painful abscess may develop if the bacteria spreads below the pulp.
Treatments for early stage tooth decay
The good news is that, when caught early on during the demineralisation stage, tooth decay is usually reversible. At this point, good oral hygiene is imperative to getting your teeth’s health back on track. In order to restore the minerals and halt or reverse decay, you should be brushing and flossing regularly, and frequently exposing your teeth to fluoride to help make them strong again.
Remember that tooth decay is only reversible when caught in the early stages. Once decay reaches the dentine level, this is irreversible and your dentist will explore treatment options such as fillings, crowns, root canals and extractions with you.
Prevention is better than cure
You can’t guarantee you’ll never get cavities, but you can significantly reduce the chances with good oral hygiene practices. The following is essential to prevent the onset of decay:
- Brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss your teeth every day to prevent the buildup of plaque between the teeth
- Drink fluoride water to increase your exposure to fluoride
- Ask your dentist about other fluoride products
- Reduce the amount of sugary foods you consume
- Brush your teeth after eating a meal or a sugary snack
- See your dentist every 6 months for a thorough check-up and clean
Call or email our dental practice
Staying on top of your oral hygiene is the best measure to keep your teeth healthy and keep cavities at bay. Contact King Street Dental if you have any questions related to your own oral health, or book an appointment. We’re welcoming both new and existing patients, and you can reach us on (03) 9841 8033 or [email protected].
You already know how important vitamins and minerals are to keep your body working properly and boost your immune system, but did you know that certain vitamins and minerals also have a positive effect on your oral health? Those powerful little nutrients found in food and in the packaged vitamins you take can also strengthen your teeth and help you build a smile to be proud of.
The process of chewing itself is important for extracting maximum goodness from the food you eat, and a lack of vitamins and minerals has been related to tooth loss and gum inflammation. A healthy diet should complement good oral hygiene, so be sure to brush twice a day and to book an appointment at King Street Dental every 6 months.
We’re told about the importance of calcium for strong, healthy bones and teeth from a young age. Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the human body, with 99% found in our bones and teeth. You can get a good dose of calcium from milk, cheese, soy-based products and green veggies. Along with strengthening tooth enamel, it keeps the jawbones strong and healthy.
Phosphorous protects and rebuilds tooth enamel, and is important for helping the body absorb calcium. It’s mostly found in meat, milk, whole grains, fish, lentils, eggs and other high-protein foods.
Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to a number of oral health disorders such as cavities, inflammation and gum disease. The vitamin keeps your teeth healthy by playing a key role in bone and tooth mineralisation, by helping the body to absorb, carry and deposit calcium in the bones. You can get a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sun (just remember to use sunscreen), as well as in oily fish, milk, breakfast cereals, soy and dairy products.
Vitamin C is essential for healthy teeth and gums, caring for the connective tissues that keep everything in place. Deficiencies in Vitamin C can lead to bleeding gums, gum disease and tooth erosion. Most people get plenty of Vitamin C in their diet, as it’s found in citrus fruits, vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, and white and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin A is a good one for your eyes and skin, as well as your oral health. It helps your body take in calcium and protein, and helps to stimulate saliva production which keeps bacteria at bay and promotes faster healing. You’ll find it mostly in orange-coloured foods (carrots, oranges, pumpkin, etc.), fish, egg yolks and green vegetables.
Potassium is a mineral that works in a similar way to Vitamin D, in that it helps to boost bone density and keeps them strong. You can get your potassium fix in bananas, tomatoes, lima beans and avocados.
Visit us to promote better oral health
Keep your oral health at its best with regular visits to King Street Dental in Templestowe. We can provide a general check-up and clean, and advice tailored to your smile. Give us a call on (03) 9841 8033 or email [email protected] to get booked in.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) affects the movement of your jaw. Your temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are among the most complex joints in the body. They act like a sliding hinge that connects your jawbone to your skull and sufferers of this disorder may experience pain in the joint and muscles that control the jaw’s movement.
The good news is – in most cases, this isn’t serious. The condition usually gets better on its own and there are treatments available for patients that need them.
What causes TMD?
Quite often, the actual cause of a patient’s TMD is unclear, and varies from patient to patient. In most cases, the underlying cause is excessive strain on the jaw joints and muscles that control chewing, swallowing and talking. This is often due to an uneven bite, grinding of the teeth (bruxism) or even trauma to the jaw, head or neck.
In some cases, TMD is caused by arthritis and displacement of the jaw joint disks.
What are the symptoms of TMD?
Symptoms can vary for each person, depending on how severe their disorder is. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Painful or tender jaw
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
- Aches in or around the ears, or ringing of the ears
- Pain or difficulty when chewing
- Aches around the face or temples
- Jaw clicks or locks, and moving the mouth is difficult
- Teeth sensitivity
- The upper and lower teeth don’t fit together as well
What are the risk factors involved?
Some people are more at risk of developing TMD than others. You have more chance of developing the disorder if you already suffer from any of the following:
- A jaw injury
- Long-term (chronic) bruxism
- Diseases that affect the connective tissues around the temporomandibular joints
For milder cases of TMD, there are some things you can do at home to ease the pain around your jaw. Try only eating soft foods, take over-the-counter pain medication, hold ice packs or heat packs to the jaw, and gently massage the painful muscles around the jaw. Try to avoid biting down on hard foods (or your nails), yawning too widely, and clenching your teeth.
If the pain doesn’t ease or keeps returning, or is impacting your daily life, it’s time to see your dentist or doctor. They will choose the most appropriate treatment by looking at factors like your age, medical history and severity of condition, with some possible treatments including:
- Stronger pain relief medication
- Relaxation techniques to reduce stress and help you sleep
- Physical therapy
- Treatments to stop teeth clenching or grinding (such as a mouthguard)
- Diet change recommendations, for less stress on the jaw muscles
- Ice packs and heat packs
Contact your Templestowe dentist
If you’re concerned about pain in the mouth or teeth grinding, contact your dentist. We can examine your mouth and recommend some treatments to ease the pain and ensure TMD doesn’t disrupt your life or sleep. For all serious cases, we’ll recommend you see a doctor. Give us a call on (03) 9841 8033 or email [email protected] to speak to a member of our team.
Everyone knows about the negative impacts of smoking on your heart and lungs, but it can also be seriously detrimental to oral health. It’s estimated that over 11% of Australian adults smoke (2019 data), and this group of the population are at greater risk of tooth discolouration, gum disease and recession, tooth loss, mouth sores and even mouth cancer.
The truth is that the outcomes of smoking cigarettes go beyond just bad breath, so let’s explore some of the ways smoking can affect your oral health.
Some of the less concerning effects of smoking include tooth staining, bad breath (halitosis), and a loss of smell and taste. This staining is due to the nicotine and tar present in tobacco, which can make teeth look yellow over time – and even brown in heavy smokers. Although nicotine itself is colourless, it turns yellow when it reacts with oxygen, and is absorbed into the pores in your teeth, making them appear darker.
The only way to correct the effects of tobacco discolouration is with teeth whitening from your dentist.
Smoking weakens the immune system and reduces your body’s ability to fight off infections – including gum disease. Additionally, smoking produces more bacterial plaque that can lead to gum disease, and because smoking reduces oxygen in the bloodstream, gums don’t heal as easily.
It’s estimated that people who smoke are twice at risk of developing gum disease compared to non-smokers, and gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.
Smoking supports the build-up of bacteria, plaque and tartar which can lead to cavities and tooth loss. Tobacco can irritate the gum tissue which causes gums to loosen around the teeth, providing more room for bacteria to settle in, leading to decay.
Mouth sores & ulcers
Mouth sores and ulcers are more prevalent in smokers and interestingly, studies have found that people that quit smoking experience an increase in mouth ulcers in the two weeks after stopping smoking. These issues got milder with time and all ulcers mostly disappeared within four weeks after quitting.
In extreme circumstances, smokers can develop oral cancer. This is because of the exposure to harmful chemicals found in tobacco, which mutates the healthy cells in the mouth and throat. Oral cancer predominantly occurs on the tongue, floor of the mouth and gums. It starts as red or white spots which can become open sores, and treatment is usually radiation therapy or surgery. Affected tissue and part of the jawbone may need to be removed, which can affect the look of the face, and the patient’s ability to chew or talk.
It’s estimated that smokers are six times more likely to develop mouth cancer than non-smokers.
Book an appointment at King Street Dental
Whether you smoke or not, it’s important to visit your dentist regularly. If you have any concerns about anything mentioned here, give us a call on (03) 9841 8033 and our experienced team members can provide advice and book an appointment with our dentists.
When chewing gum throughout the day, most people don’t really think about whether it’s helpful or harmful to their teeth. Plenty of chewing gum companies promote the benefits of their products, but how accurate is this really? It turns out that it could depend on the type of gum you have.
Chewing gum that contains sugar increases your chances of developing cavities, but sugar-free gum could actually achieve the opposite. With mouth cleaning properties, chomping on some minty fresh gum throughout the day could contribute to good oral health.
The benefits of sugar-free gum for your oral health
Put simply, popping some sugar-free gum in your mouth throughout the day stimulates the production of saliva. This helps to wash away acid, sugar and leftover food that can turn into plaque. Over time, plaque can eventually cause cavities and tooth decay, so regular chewing doesn’t only give your breath a boost, but could also help keep your teeth strong and healthy.
Chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after consuming food or drink can increase the flow of saliva and help replace minerals lost by acidity in foods. So, you can lower the amount of acid that attacks the teeth and reduce the risk of tooth erosion.
How sugar-free gum can reduce bacteria
Some sugar-free chewing gum is sweetened with something called xylitol, a naturally occurring sugar substitute that can help to reduce bacteria and keep your mouth clean. Xylitol actually inhibits the growth of cavity-causing bacteria, by stopping the bacteria from adhering to the teeth. With continued use over time, the types of bacteria in the mouth change and less bacteria can survive on the tooth surfaces.
Can sugar-free gum whiten your teeth?
Many chewing gums claim to have a “whitening” effect. While these products cannot change the natural shade of your teeth, they may be able to reduce staining caused by drinking coffee or red wine, or smoking.
These effects are minimal and usually short-term, and sugar-free gum isn’t a substitute for professional teeth whitening.
Does this mean you still need to brush your teeth?
Absolutely! While sugar-free gum can help to keep your mouth clean, it shouldn’t be the sole focus of your oral health routine. You should still brush your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste, and floss daily with dental floss or interdental brushes.
If you’re unable to brush your teeth immediately after a meal, we recommend chewing sugar-free gum instead. This can help to break down any harmful bacteria until you’re able to properly brush your teeth, but remember that gum cannot reach in between your teeth like brushing and flossing can.
Call us to book an appointment
Keep your teeth and gums healthy with proper oral hygiene measures and visits to the dentist twice a year. If you’re due an appointment, or have any concerns about your smile, get in touch with the team at King Street Dental. You can reach us on (03) 9841 8033 or [email protected] and we can book you in with one of our experienced dentists.
Diabetes affects around 7.6% of the Australian population. It’s a disease that affects the whole body – including the mouth – and people living with diabetes have to pay extra attention to their oral health, because they’re at a higher risk of problems developing.
In fact, those with irregular blood glucose levels face more chance of developing tooth decay, gum inflammation (gingivitis), gum disease, dry mouth (xerostomia), fungal infections such as oral thrush, sore and irritated mouth, ulcers, tooth loss and abscesses. In this guide, we’re going to examine the link between diabetes and three oral health conditions, and provide some tips to keep your mouth healthy for those that have diabetes.
Diabetes & gum disease
Most people will develop gum disease at some point in their life, but those with type 2 diabetes are 3 times more likely to have gum and mouth problems. That’s mostly because a sustained increase in blood sugar levels can lead to more sugar in the saliva, which breeds bacteria. This bacteria then produces acid that attacks the tooth enamel and the gums.
Another common cause is that people with suboptimal glucose levels generally have less resistance to infection, and their bodies don’t naturally heal as well.
Diabetes & tooth decay
People living with increased blood glucose levels may also have more glucose in their saliva, as well as dry mouths. While a dry mouth might not originally sound like anything of concern, these conditions allow for the build-up of plaque which can then lead to tooth decay, as well as ulcers, soreness and infections.
Cavities can be prevented with twice daily brushing and once daily flossing.
Diabetes & oral fungal infections
Oral fungal infections such as thrush (candidiasis) are caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the mouth. Some of the conditions triggered by diabetes (such as high glucose levels in saliva, dry mouth and low resistance to infection) can be contributing factors to oral thrush.
This condition causes red or white patches inside the mouth, which can be uncomfortable and cause ulcers. Your dentist can treat this with antifungal medications, and you can reduce the risk of infection with good oral hygiene practices.
Oral hygiene tips for people with diabetes
Those with diabetes can reduce or prevent some of the oral health problems mentioned above by following these tips:
- Maintain blood sugar levels that are as close to normal as possible.
- Update your dentist about your diabetes at each appointment – tell them about any episodes and when you took your last dose of insulin (if applicable)
- Consult your doctor before booking in treatment for gum disease, as you may need to take pre-surgical antibiotics or change your meal schedule
- Have your teeth and gums checked by your dentist at least twice a year
- Drink plenty of water and chew sugar-free gum to prevent dry mouth
- Follow your doctor’s advice about diet and medication
- Speak to your doctor about quitting smoking if you’re a smoker
Book an appointment at King Street Dental
If you have any further questions about optimising your oral health, contact King Street Dental. We’re welcoming new and existing patients and our dentists can provide tailored advice to minimise your risk of oral complications, even if you have diabetes. Call us on (03) 9841 8033 or email [email protected].
You already know that consuming too many sugary products can damage your teeth, but did you know that drinks high in acidity can also be detrimental? Anything with a pH less than 7 is considered to be acidic and over time, they can wear down the strong outer layer that protects your teeth (enamel) causing permanent tooth erosion.
Since enamel isn’t a living cell, it doesn’t naturally repair itself. That’s why it’s important to get to know what’s happening to your teeth when you drink something acidic.
How do acidic drinks affect tooth enamel?
Enamel is the strongest material in the human body (even stronger than your bones), but it can be destroyed if you consume too many acidic food and drinks, such as fruit, yoghurt and soft drinks.
These acids dissolve the mineral structure of the teeth, causing them to get thinner. With repeated exposure to acid, the enamel loses its shape and colour and eventually the underlying dentin is exposed, which makes the teeth look yellow. Taking preventative measures early on is essential to avoid erosion and support long-term oral health.
What happens when enamel starts to wear away?
Tooth erosion is permanent. Not only does it affect the appearance of your teeth, but it also makes your teeth more susceptible to bacteria that can cause tooth decay or infection.
If you’re experiencing erosion, any of the following could happen:
- Pain or sensitivity when consuming hot or cold drinks
- Tooth discolouration
- There is a greater risk of developing cavities
- Some people may develop an abscess (this is in extreme cases)
- Tooth loss (also in extreme cases)
Once erosion sets in, you might need to get fillings, crown, a root canal, or extraction in very serious cases. Some patients also consider veneers to restore the aesthetics of their smile.
Tips to protect your teeth
The more acidic a drink is, and the more regularly you consume them, the greater the damage. Luckily, there are some tips to protect your smile while enjoying your favourite beverages in moderation.
- Avoid putting lemon in all the water you drink
- Don’t swish or hold soft drinks in the mouth before swallowing
- When consuming acidic drinks, wait 20 minutes before brushing your teeth to avoid damaging the weakened enamel
- Only consume acidic drinks at mealtimes and not throughout the day, to minimise the time that acid is on the teeth
- Minimise the following acidic drinks: coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, alcohol (particularly wine), juice (especially citrus juice), sports drinks, soft drinks (even sugar-free varieties), lemon water
- Rinse with water after consuming acidic beverages
- Use a straw to help direct acidic drinks past the teeth
- Chew sugar-free gum, which can stimulate saliva production which removes some of the acid
- Brush teeth every day and maintain good oral hygiene
Contact us to maintain peak oral hygiene
A root canal treatment (endodontics) usually sounds more daunting than it actually is. We carry out the procedure in order to treat infections in the centre of the tooth, and it means we’re able to save teeth that might otherwise have to be removed.
The proper care after your treatment will help to minimise pain and speed up the healing process. You might feel hungry or thirsty, but be sure to read this guide before delving into the kitchen cupboards.
When might you need root canal therapy?
If the pulp in your tooth is damaged due to a bacterial infection, left untreated the bacteria can spread and the pulp will eventually die. This means that bacteria has spread to the root canal and the patient may experience pain, swelling of the face, pus oozing from the affected tooth, and discolouration.
Not having a root canal can mean the infection spreads further – to other parts of the body – and symptoms can become even more severe. In some cases, this can result in death. Root canal therapy addresses the infection in the root canal and is the preferred treatment over extraction.
Eating immediately after a root canal
Straight after your root canal treatment, you may be experiencing numbness from anaesthesia. That means you’ll have to be careful when eating or drinking, to make sure you don’t burn or bite yourself.
Consume food or drinks with caution, remembering to:
- Eat on the unaffected side (the side that isn’t numb)
- Eat soft foods that don’t require lots of chewing or hard biting
- Take your time and eat slowly
- Avoid very hot food and drinks
If possible, avoid eating until the sensation in your mouth returns.
What to eat & drink during recovery
When hunger sets in, try to eat soft foods that won’t irritate your mouth to allow it to recover. Some things you may want to eat include:
- Scrambled eggs
- Yoghurt, milkshake or a smoothie
- Mashed potatoes
- Soft, shredded meat, or tofu
- Soft fruit (canned fruit is usually ideal)
- Pasta, noodles, quinoa or couscous
- Cooked vegetables
- Soft bread
- Frozen yoghurt or sorbet
Things to avoid
There is some food and drink that should stay firmly off the menu after a dental procedure such as a root canal.
Avoid the following:
- Crunchy food, such as apples, raw carrots and corn on the cob
- Chewy food and lollies
- Hard food like nuts that could damage the surgical site
- Alcohol – this could stimulate bleeding
- Very hot food can increase sensitivity – let things cool before consuming them
- Spicy food could also irritate the area or cause discomfort
Contact King Street Dental for more information
If you’re experiencing pain or swelling, book an appointment with King Street Dental, so your dentist can check for infection and resolve the issue. If you’ve had a root canal and have any questions about the healing process, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can reach us on (03) 9841 8033 or [email protected].
Tooth bonding is a cosmetic dental procedure that takes care of cracked, chipped, gappy and discoloured teeth, giving patients the confidence to smile brightly again. In general, the treatment is used to correct minor damage or gaps, and tends to be a fast, easy treatment in the field of cosmetic dentistry.
In this guide, we’re going to dive a little deeper into teeth bonding, covering what exactly it is and how patients can look after their bonded teeth post-treatment.
What are bonded teeth?
Composite bonding is a process where a tooth-coloured composite resin is attached to the surface of the teeth and then shaped, in order to restore the tooth’s natural appearance.
Your dentist will use a shade guide to find the resin material that most closely matches the colour of your natural teeth. They will then use a tool to roughen the tooth’s surface and apply a liquid to enable the bonding agent to adhere to the tooth. Composite resin will then be moulded to the tooth and set with a UV light.
Your dentist will then polish the resin to create a natural-looking finish.
When is this treatment used?
Dental bonding is generally used as an alternative to crowns and veneers, and is preferred in certain situations. For example:
- When affordability is a priority, as it’s less expensive than other cosmetic dentistry treatments
- As a fast, effective way to treat minor cosmetic problems. Cosmetic bonding can be carried out in one appointment and doesn’t require anaesthesia
- When the tooth isn’t so badly damaged that it can’t be saved. Bonding is non-invasive and doesn’t require partial removal of the tooth like some other treatments – so the structure remains unaffected
How to look after bonded teeth
With proper care and good oral hygiene, bonded teeth can last for around 4-8 years. There are some simple things you can do post-treatment to extend the life of your bonded teeth.
- Brush twice a day and floss daily
- Avoiding biting down on hard food
- Avoid biting your nails
- For the first two days after treatment, don’t consume tea, coffee, wine, tobacco or other staining food and drinks
- Visit your dentist every 6 months for a check-up and clean
Remember that the location of the bonding will affect how long it lasts. For example, if bonding is on the edge of your tooth, the lifespan might be shorter because you use this area to chew food. The potential for staining is higher compared to natural teeth, so minimise staining food and drinks beyond the two day period following your treatment.
Call or email us
The dentists at King Street Dental can provide cosmetic dentistry treatments to suit your situation, so feel free to contact us online to tell us more about your oral concerns. To speak directly to a knowledgeable member of our reception team, give us a call on (03) 9841 8033 or email [email protected]. We’ll be able to book an appointment to restore your smile to its best yet.
A temporary dental filling is a non-permanent solution to a variety of oral concerns and, because it’s not designed to last forever, it’s natural for it to fall out over time. A temporary tooth filling should last around 6-8 weeks, so what should you do if yours falls out prematurely?
The first thing to remember is not to panic. This scenario is rarely a dental emergency, and there are some steps you can take while you wait to see your dentist. In this guide, we’ll examine the reasons you might have a temporary filling, and what to do if yours gets lost.
Why would you need a temporary filling?
Temporary fillings may be inserted by your dentist before a permanent filling or dental crown is applied. Some common circumstances that might call for a temporary dental filling include:
- Toothache, where a healing material may reduce sensitivity
- Extensive decay where a permanent treatment can only be determined following careful observation over time
- Tooth decay caused by a bacterial infection
- When there’s not enough time in the appointment to apply a permanent filling
- When root canal is required, and your dentist needs to keep the site clean and protected in the run-up to the root canal therapy
- The patient wants more time to decide which permanent treatment they want
- The patient feels anxious about a permanent filling
What should you do if your temporary filling comes out?
A temporary filling could fall out for a range of reasons, including from chewing or biting too hard, grinding (bruxism) and decay. Whatever the reason, if you have a temporary filling that comes out, the first step is to call your dentist and let them know what happened and whether you’re experiencing pain. In the meantime, you should do what you can to protect the exposed tooth.
- Keep the filling safe, as your dentist may be able to use it again
- Gargle regularly with salt water to keep the area clean of bacteria
- Maintain a high standard of oral hygiene, being sure to brush gently around the area where the filling was
- Avoid chewing with the affected area
What to do if you’re in pain
Usually, a lost temporary filling won’t cause pain but if you are experiencing pain or sensitivity, there are some ways to manage it.
- Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as Ibuprofen or Panadol, to minimise pain or swelling
- Use a cold compress for 15 minutes at a time
- Apply a topical numbing agent
- Use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth, or apply clove oil to the affected tooth
Call King Street Dental for an appointment
If your temporary dental filling has fallen out, contact King Street Dental immediately. Let us know how it happened and whether you’re in pain, and we’ll arrange an appointment as soon as possible. In some scenarios, we may be able to provide an emergency appointment. You can reach our Templestowe dental practice on (03) 9841 8033 or [email protected].