There are two main diseases affecting the human dentition:
1. Tooth Decay
This is a softening of tooth structure caused by the acid which is produced by oral bacteria from the sugar that we eat or drink.
Some people are more prone to decay than others, but we can all reduce our risk as follows:
Consume sugar less often. Frequency is all-important. As an example, one cup of coffee per day with ten spoons of sugar in it will cause less decay than ten cups per day, each with one spoon of sugar.
Brush in the morning and at night with a fluoride toothpaste.
After brushing, spit but do not rinse with water. Leave the traces of toothpaste on the teeth.
After brushing at night, do not consume anything except water until morning. Sugar on the teeth during the night causes high decay risk because saliva flow dries up when we sleep. There is therefore no dilution of acid on the teeth during the night.
Chew sugar-free gum for ten minutes after consuming sugar. The resulting prolonged saliva flow may lower decay risk.
2. Gum Disease
This is the most common cause of tooth loss. It is the result of poor oral hygiene. The bacteria which collect near the gumline of our teeth multiply to form a soft sludge every day. This sludge is called plaque. The various types of bacteria within the plaque produce toxins which inflame our gums. Over time this inflammation can lead to permanent damage to the gums and the bone around the roots of the teeth. Gum disease can be present for decades, but only causes pain when teeth are at or near the point of falling out or requiring extraction. Prior to this, the main indication that the disease is present is bleeding from the gums. This may or may not be noticed by an individual when they clean their teeth.
NB. HEALTHY GUMS DO NOT BLEED.
During an oral health evaluation, if a gum disease problem is identified, we will be able to advise patients how best to clean their teeth in order to arrest the disease. Gum disease is not curable, in that damage done cannot be reversed. However, it can be controlled, thereby reducing the risk of premature tooth loss.