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Latest News & Updates from the Team at Geelong Smile Studio

How often should we go to the dentist for a “check up and clean”?

How often should we go to the dentist for a “check up and clean”?

How often should we go to the dentist for a “check up and clean”?

The most common recommendation for dental check ups is every 6 months. It is important to realise though, this number was not devised by a dentist ….. it was by a dental health insurance company!

But yes, for a lot of people 6 months works.

However, there are many people who require more frequent visits and even a few who could attend less.

Children absolutely need at least every 6 months. Things can change so quickly in a child mouth that sometimes more regularly is beneficial. A teenager with braces on, often needs to see us every 3 months for cleaning and a checks. A child with poorly formed teeth is more at risk of decay and may need to be seen more regularly. Personally, my 3 children who all have great teeth are seen at least every 3 months as well as mum checks at home.

Adults who are susceptible to gum issues either by genetics or health status, need to be seen usually 3 monthly. The bacteria that cause gum disease live in the mouth and their environment needs to be disturbed every 10-12 weeks to prevent further damage.

People who cannot clean their teeth themselves are at a huge risk of gum problems and tooth decay. Special needs groups and the elderly often need more regular dental check ups and cleaning. The advent of electric toothbrushes and flossing devices has improved this but it needs to be monitored.

Then every now and then, we meet a patient who hasn’t been to the dentist for a number of years, x-rays reveal no decay, they have no fillings, gums are perfectly healthy and there is build up on the teeth. This is very rare.

Everyone else, 6 months usually suffices.

So with health funds now starting to recommend once a year dental check ups to save their revenue……we have a problem!

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“Doctor, I think I’ve caught tooth decay!”

“Doctor, I think I’ve caught tooth decay!”

“Doctor, I think I’ve caught tooth decay!”

Recently, it occurred to me how poorly documented it is that dental caries, can be passed from one person to another. Yes, so what you are thinking is true. Kissing a partner (or child) with tooth decay can result in the transmission of Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria that causes tooth decay, from one person to another.

So regardless of how good your oral hygiene is, if your partner has decay in their mouth, then you have a significantly higher chance of getting tooth decay. Clinically, we often see both couples in a relationship with tooth decay.

If saving your partner from tooth decay is not adequate motivation to get to the dentist, then saving your children from a life of misery at the dentist may be. Studies have found that the bacteria in our children’s mouths are a direct descendent from their parents mouths.

If we as parents have decay in our teeth, we harbor more of the decay causing bacteria, and we are more likely to spread the disease of dental caries to our children.

The best method to reduce the transmission of these bacteria to our loved ones is to maintain optimal oral hygiene through regular dental appointments to ensure that we have do not have active tooth decay. Otherwise, minimize the sharing of saliva by not sharing utensils, don’t share toothbrushes, don’t clean your child’s dummy with saliva and no kissing on the lips.

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Toothbrush Hygiene

In last weeks’ article we attempted to simplify the toothbrush selection decision. We found that scientific studies have found that there was no difference between the effectiveness of manual and powered toothbrushes and that our selection of a toothbrush is largely personal. Our toothbrush of choice should have a comfortable handle with a small head and soft bristles.

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A Look At Toothbrushes

Toothbrush designs have certainly come a long way in the past 5000 years. Graduating from the use of twigs, to toothbrushes crafted with bone that held the stiff bristles of hogs, boars or other animals. The nylon-bristled toothbrush, as we know it today, was invented in 1938.

In today’s marketplace we are bombarded with a vast array of both manual and powered toothbrushes with different shapes, sizes, angles, and bristle types.

When comparing the effectiveness of manual and powered toothbrushes, studies have indicated that there is no evidence to suggest that powered toothbrushes are any more effective than the good old manual toothbrush at cleaning your teeth.

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How to Fix Bad Breath

IN THE last article we found that most of the bacteria causing bad breath reside in the mouth, particularly in the posterior part of the tongue, caught between teeth, under the gums and within decaying teeth.

However, it is the tongue that we often forget in our oral hygiene. If we clean our teeth and keep our gums healthy, why don't we also make a habit of cleaning our tongue? The answer is we should.

Since most bad breath causing bacteria are housed and have a plentiful "food" supply in the posterior part of the tongue, then reducing the bacterial load and food supply by cleaning the tongue with a tooth brush or tongue scraper (cleaner) will ultimately reduce the presence of bad breath.

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