Big Red Tooth – Dr Candice Schwartz

Where teeth and health meet

Do I need to floss my child’s teeth?

Flossing one’s teeth is probably one of the most tricky skills to master in this lifetime and that is why most people do not do it. However consider this analogy: after a day of gardening and digging in the dirt with your hands, they are covered in mud and sand. You go to the basin and wash your hands vigorously with your most potent hand soap. You rinse the soapy water off only to reveal your finger nails filled with dirt underneath. Only when you take a nail brush a scrub under your nails is all the dirt removed. Imagine if you just left all that dirt and bacteria to live and remain under your nails indefinitely…

The same applies to your mouth and especially your child’s mouth. We eat and drink all day long, bathing our teeth in sugars and carbohydrates which allows bacteria to thrive and easily attach to all the surfaces of the teeth. After a rigorous scrubbing with the toothbrush, you are only removing the plaque/food/debris from the outer surface of your teeth; you are only cleaning 60% of your tooth surfaces. This leave 40% of tooth surfaces uncleaned, covered in plaque and susceptible to breakdown by bacteria. Flossing removes the bacteria below the gums. Decay occurring between the teeth is the second most common site of tooth decay in children. Decay between the teeth of children is very difficult to detect and even more difficult to treat.

The types of cavities that develop as a result of not flossing are in my opinion “silent killers”. The hole starts directly in between two teeth and slowly burrows into the center of the tooth. You are usually completely unaware that this hole exists because you cannot feel it with your tongue and the pain is not felt because the open tooth structure is shrouded between the adjacent teeth or compacted with food (nummy!). Only once the hole has increased in size enough, does the unsupported covering of enamel fracture/cave in. This is when people decide to visit me; once it is too late and the tooth generally requires a root treatment/extraction/pulpotomy(in primary teeth).

Silent destruction that ultimately leads to abscess development

The other important reason for flossing is to prevent gum disease from occurring in the gum areas between the teeth. Brushing alone is not adequate to keep the mouth healthy and free of disease. Bad breath is often caused by masses of bacteria/plaque breeding and thriving in the areas between the teeth. Plaque matures every 24 hours, so it is imperative to break this cycle and floss every day. Bleeding gums when you floss is a sign that you need to floss more!

Example of how to floss around the gum line

To prevent these disaster cavities from developing and to prevent gum disease you need to clean away the plaque/bacteria/food that accumulates under and around the gumline in between the teeth. You do this with dental floss, every night, last thing before bedtime. Flossing must be initiated in children from the age of 2 years. Even if their molar teeth have not grown out yet, start to floss around the mouth each night and entrench this habit into their daily routine. This will set them up for a lifetime of good oral health.

You only need to floss the teeth you want to keep…

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What is a dental microscope ?

The use of a dental microscope in routine dental treatment has truly revolutionized the way dentist operate and the level of care that is provided. With a dental microscope, procedures can be carried out more accurately and more reliably using up to 24 X magnification of the teeth and surrounding structures. The dental microscope is the single most significant acquisition to enhance an operator’s clinical skill set. All dentists can do better work with the operating microscope. Margins that might inadvertently be left open can be closed. Cracks can be more accurately diagnosed, and treated. Caries that, in the past, needed to progress until seen with the naked eye can be treated earlier. Most dental needs can be treated more conservatively, with less loss of healthy tissue.

Never before has the dentist been so well equipped. A dentist using a microscope is better able to diagnose pathologies. The dual advantages of increased illumination and magnification provided by the surgical microscope make the delivery
of dental care easier. The initial rewards of vision enhancement are improved visualization, greater accuracy in eye-hand movements, and improved ergonomics.

Improved lighting, coupled with magnification, provide a clear distinction between surfaces that may look similar in color or texture under traditional working conditions, but look very different under the microscope. Decay, dentin, enamel, composite and porcelain are easily distinguishable from one another and can be viewed with unprecedented detail under the scrutiny of a microscope.

Dental microscopes can play a fundamental role in the daily comings and goings of an experienced dental practitioner. It is now widely regarded as one of the most important pieces of equipment in a dentist’s room. Dental microscopes are also beneficial for patients, as the microscope enables the patient to see inside their mouth, giving them a better understanding of what is going on and enabling them to participate in the treatment process. The microscope may be particularly beneficial for patients who are a little anxious about having treatment, as the dentist can explain what is going to happen more clearly.

Through the use of dental microscopes general dentistry has been allowed to advance and modernize, giving both dentists and patients a level of care and treatment that is second to none.

I am extremely proud and excited to be introducing the Seiler Evolution XR6 dental microscope to my practice. This is a huge step and will elevate the level of care I give my patients to even greater excellence. Read more on the Seiler website…

 

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What is the best toothpaste to use?

I usually stick to one brand of toothpaste that I recommend to all my patients. The best toothpaste on the market, in my opinion, is Elgydium Anti Plaque. Elgydium has a unique combination of ingredients that actually prevents plaque from adhering to the tooth surface. Chlorhexidine is the active ingredient in this toothpaste which is responsible for the inhibition of harmful bacteria that causes tooth decay and harms gums. When you use Elgydium Anti Plaque you will notice your teeth are smoother (fur-free!) for much longer.

If your teeth are free of plaque, they are less likely to decay. The presence of plaque is what results in dental decay. So Elgydium may be slightly more expensive, but in the long run it will certainly cost you less in dental bills. In addition, only a very small amount of toothpaste is required for it to be effective. You only need a “pea size” blob of toothpaste on your toothbrush for it to be effective.

Elgydium also makes a ‘sensitive’ toothpaste. This is a very good alternative when you suffer with tooth sensitivity. I usually recommend you use Elgydium Anti Plaque in the morning and Elgydium Sensitive at night.

If you use this toothpaste, a mouthwash is usually not needed (unless otherwise prescribed by your dentist if you are for example in the process of having periodontal treatment). Other brands of mouthwashes may give you that fresh breath feeling, however this is a false sense of freshness that is achieved by the evaporation of alcohol in the ingredients. The mechanical removal of plaque during flossing and brushing combined with the anti plaque effects of Elgydium will ensure a clean mouth and healthy gums.

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