What we’re fighting: tooth decay and gum disease
To best explain how to prevent a problem, sometimes it’s necessary to examine the cause of it.
Tooth decay is damage caused by bacteria – this bacteria creates acids that erode the tooth. When enough of the tooth is eaten away, cracks and holes can form. These holes are called cavities or caries. There are three main layers of a tooth:
- Enamel: the hard, outside layer of the tooth
- Dentin: the middle layer
- Pulp: the centre, containing blood vessels and nerves
As decay eats through these layers, the damage becomes more and more serious. If left untreated, it can lead to symptoms like pain, swelling, or losing the tooth entirely.
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is infection of the bones and tissues that support your teeth. Affected areas include both the surface tissues that are visible to the naked eye, as well as the deeper tissues found in the bone and ligaments that connect your teeth to your jawbone.
There are two major stages of gum disease:
Gingivitis: this is the milder form and generally affects a large percentage of the population. This stage doesn’t involve a lot of pain, but will sometimes cause gums to look swollen or red. Gums may also bleed easily at this stage.
Periodontitis: If gingivitis goes untreated, the infection may advance into periodontitis. At this stage, the gum margin can begin to recede and cause something called “periodontal pockets.” These pockets are spaces between the gum and tooth, and will trap bacteria more easily. This can aggravate the gums even further and can result in pain, tooth sensitivity, bad breath, receding gums, and tooth loss.
How can I prevent tooth decay and gum disease at home?
Oral hygiene works best as part of a daily routine. If you already do these steps each day, then you’re doing great! If not, it’s easy to incorporate a few extra steps to prevent serious problems down the road.
- Brush your teeth: This one might seem obvious, but it’s a crucial step. Brushing after meals will remove a lot of debris and bacteria on the surface of your teeth. Important tip: Take care to (gently) brush in a circular motion. Rough scrubbing from side to side can damage your gums. It’s also a good idea to use a brush with soft bristles, and be sure to include your tongue (bacteria often hides here!). This step should take about two minutes.
- Flossing: This step removes bacteria and pieces of food from between your gums and teeth, usually the parts of your mouth that your toothbrush can’t reach. Since bacteria often gets trapped in these areas, it’s important to floss once a day minimum.
- Mouthwash: You can minimise remaining plaque and bacteria by swishing with mouthwash. Talk to our friendly team to find out the best type of mouthwash to use for your oral needs!
Preventing decay and disease through professional care: why is it important?
Good hygiene at home is important, but it’s not enough on its own. You should also consult with a professional once or twice a year. A professional clean will ensure that you haven’t missed any hard-to-reach plaque or bacteria, not to mention you will receive fluoride treatment that can protect against future damage. Also, plaque may turn into tartar, which will need to be removed professionally.
Moreover, the team at Robina Town Dental can spot any potential issues or risk factors before they turn into full-blown problems. During your regular exam, we’ll carefully inspect your teeth and gums for any signals of decay. We may also need to use X-rays to diagnose any problems. These are all things that are a little hard to do yourself!
Furthermore, based on what we see in your exam, we can help you ensure your flossing and brushing techniques are correct, and speak to you about any possible risks that might be specific to your teeth and gums.
To schedule your exam and professional clean, simply give us a call or contact us online!
What can I expect during my examination and clean?
When you visit our Gold Coast dental clinic for your regular check-up and clean, our friendly team will make sure you feel comfortable and we'll answer any questions you have while waiting for your appointment. Depending on your unique oral health needs, your appointment may involve:
- Consultation – your dentist will discuss any concerns you have about your teeth and gums and check that you're following good oral hygiene habits.
- Comprehensive assessment – we'll examine your teeth and gums to check that they're healthy and look for any possible signs of concerns. This more than likely will involve the use of dental x-rays, both intraoral and extraoral like a ConeBeam and an OPG. These use a very low radiation dose and are performed in strict safety conditions on site. A visual cancer screen will be performed for at risk patients.
- Treatment plan – if we do detect signs of concerns, or you think you could benefit from a treatment, we'll discuss all the options we offer so you can make an informed decision. We will then draw up your personalised treatment plan and have one of our treatment coordinators discuss all of these options in detail as well as payment options including interest fee payment plans available.
- Cleaning and scaling – following your check-up, one of our oral hygienists will gently clean your teeth to remove any plaque that may have built up. We use EMS Airflow® technology for a more sensitive clean when required.
- Fluoride treatment – after plaque has been removed, we'll apply a layer of fluoride to your teeth.
- Oral hygiene education – if we think that you or your family could be taking better care of your teeth at home, we can demonstrate correct brushing and flossing techniques, recommend dental products and offer dietary advice to help keep tooth decay and gum disease at bay.
EMS Airflow® technology for sensitive teeth
We know that some people find teeth cleaning at the dentist painful or uncomfortable, especially if you have sensitive teeth or gums or if you suffer from dental anxiety. In severe cases, this could mean you delay or avoid your routine check-ups and don't get the important care you need.
That's why at Robina Town Dental, we've introduced EMS Airflow® technology to provide a gentler and less invasive clean.
Unlike traditional teeth cleaning and polishing that uses vibrating tools to break up plaque and rubber cups or brushes that can leave your mouth feeling uncomfortable, the Airflow® system uses guided biofilm therapy (GBT). This is a minimally invasive approach that uses air, water and powder to avoid direct contact with dental tools. It also has a shorter treatment time.
How does EMS Airflow® work?
The Airflow® teeth cleaning and polishing system can be customised by our oral hygienists to suit your individual needs.
The first stage of treatment is to apply a dye to your teeth, so you can see the areas where plaque has built up. We'll then begin to use Airflow® guided biofilm therapy to remove this plaque using air and water. If there are stains on the surfaces of your teeth, we can also apply a fine powder that may help to lift these stains and whiten the enamel.
Airflow® technology has been developed in line with the highest European and international safety standards. If plaque has hardened into tartar on your teeth, we may need to use traditional cleaning instruments in combination with guided biofilm therapy to remove these deposits.
How does fluoride help teeth?
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral found in many foods and water supplies that helps to protect teeth against decay. Safe levels of fluoride added to toothpaste and drinking water help to strengthen children's developing teeth and can remineralise weakened tooth enamel and protect against bacteria.
During your hygiene appointment at Robina Town Dental, our oral hygienist will apply fluoride to the surfaces of your teeth. This helps to prevent bacteria and plaque from building up on the teeth before your next visit, combined with a good brushing and flossing routine and a healthy diet.
Multiple studies have found that fluoride can significantly reduce tooth decay in populations and is not associated with any negative health effects at recommended levels. Children who swallow fluoride may develop fluorosis, a cosmetic condition that causes stains to appear on their developing teeth. This is why children should be encouraged not to swallow toothpaste and should be supervised until they're old enough to brush their teeth correctly.
Save money with our examination and cleaning promotions
We know that dental treatments can sometimes be expensive. That's why we offer more affordable packages to help new and returning patients get the important oral care they need. Ask our dentists about our current promotions.