Tooth Decay...The "Inside Your Mouth" Story

Many parents are quite rightly worried about the health of their mouth and their children's too.  Tooth decay is one of the worlds most preventable diseases, so with the right tools we can combat this disease meaning your dentist will not need to pick up theirs!

Here, our resident dentist takes you through the tricks of the trade so that you or your children and toddlers don't need to suffer preventable dental disease.

"I so often see patients and wish whole heartedly I had met them years earlier.  By the time patients are brave enough to come to the dentist it is often when they know there is an existing problem which needs fixing or even worse: they have toothache.

I am thrilled that BIBaDO is enabling me to reach you and your families years earlier  and place you on a healthy and happy dental path.

People often ask me: "what causes tooth decay and why do I have weak teeth?"

The answer is often is is very simple.  It is all to do with how we care for our mouths. The habits we create as parents are the example we set our children.  I like to think of dental health as being a scale, unhealthy diseased teeth and gums at one end and healthy pain free teeth and gums at the other end. 

From a dentist's perspective and hopefully from you as a patient, I would hope that we all want to be at the healthy end of the scale.  

There are three things we can do to create heathy dental habits for ourselves and our families and children:

Tooth Brushing

This may sound simple, but is amazing how many people do not brush well enough to get their mouths to the healthy end of the scale. Certain bacteria in our mouths cause dental disease and the only way to ensure that they are not there causing disease is to remove them. By far and away the most effective means of doing this is through using a toothbrush. To achieve the healthy end of the scale most people need to modify and improve the accuracy of how they brush their teeth. 

I have for many years been advising all members of the family to use an electric toothbrush and ideally a rechargeable one.  We need to use the best gadget possible to get the most effective result in the most time efficient manner.  Who wants to spend all afternoon washing their car when a car wash and get it done in about five minutes? Often the result achieved by a professional clean is better than we can achieve on our own. The concept with improving and maintaining our dental health is the same.

Research shows that two minutes with an electric tooth brush twice daily will dramatically improve dental health and prevent tooth decay.  I regularly meet with representative from the various toothbrush companies showing fabulous graphs and statistics backing up these findings.

What about my children?

They too benefit hugely from an electric brush.  We see how much children, especially little ones, struggle with fine motor skills.  For example doing up their shoe laces  eating neatly with a knife and fork.  They often cannot do it easily and require help.  This development takes time and varies enormously from child to child. For this reason the best thing we can do as parents is to help our children brush their teeth every time they brush.  I generally advise this to be done until they can can tie their own some laces, which may be for a number of years, even up to the age of nine or ten.  In my house we try to brush as a family, so my daughters watch me do it and then try to copy me.  I always then go over all their teeth ensuring I have reached all the hard to reach places especially at the back.  

Tooth brushing need to be carried out twice  a day.  Once after breakfast and once before bed.  After the last brush at night, ensure the only things which you allow your children to have are water or milk as part of a bedtime routine.

Diet

I have written a blog about sugars and how to avoid the pitfalls, but really we need to limit the amount of sugar we have in our and our children's diets.  There has recently been an increase by 25% of children admitted to hospital for teeth to be pulled out. I find this a frightening statistic.  Children going into hospital, and being put to sleep to treat a disease that we know we can prevent. My daughter had an operation when she was little and I can tell you it was one of the most scary and anxiety inducing times of my life.   We must look at an operation under a general anaesthetic as something which needs to avoided where possible because it in itself is not risk free.  Having teeth removed whilst asleep will not protect the remaining teeth either - this can only be done through changing our habits.

Sugar needs to be restricted and overall consumption reduced.  Milk and water are the best drinks for thirst and limiting sweet treats to once a day at the weekend.  Most schools and nurseries today have a water only policy so carry that on at home.  Water is the only thing we need to hydrate along with a balanced diet so why have anything else unless it is for a special occasion?

As I mentioned in my last blog - fizzy drinks...just don't go there!!! 

Visit your local dentist

I know, I know...we are not everybody's favourite place to spend the afternoon!  However, from our perspective the sooner we get hold of you the sooner we can help you change and improve your dental habits and get you onto a path of positive dental health. Fear often stems from a bad experience which usually can be traced back to childhood. Please make it that you children do no suffer the same fate as that.  Make your first dental visit for your children as soon as you see teeth appear in their mouth or bring them with you for your regular six monthly check.  

Do not expect us to work miracles! On a first visit often all we can manage is a ride in the chair and a quick peep.  But do not feel disappointed, building a relationship and trust with your child/children can take time but keep persevere every six months and in no time they will be perfectly happy to jump in the chair all by themselves and be very proud to show off their beautiful sparkly clean teeth!   Just having you in a room gives us the opportunity to teach you how to care for your mouths and your families mouths - this can prove to be invaluable in preventing disease, which can be painful an ultimately disfiguring. 

There are a number of great websites for further information. For further information please visit www.dentalhealthfoundation.org.uk