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Oral health advice - for adults

At Stalybridge Dental Care we believe prevention is better than cure.

The 3 main diseases of the mouth are:

  1. Tooth decay
  2. Gum disease
  3. Oral cancer


The way we help you to prevent these diseases is by:
  • Education - to allow you to understand the diseases better.
  • Preventative advice - the most important way of preventing these diseases is by action taken by you at home.
  • Minimal intervention treatment - when disease is present we provide the minimum treatment required to solve the problem so that we cause the least amount of disruption to the mouth.
  • Regular monitoring - to catch problems early.

Education

1. What is tooth decay?

During tooth decay, the action of bacteria that live in dental plaque together with sugar and other carbohydrates in the diet produce acid. This acid causes demineralisation (softening) of the tooth enamel so that eventually a cavity can form.

2. What is gum disease?

Gum disease (or periodontitis) is a disease that affects the supporting structures of the teeth - the gums, periodontal ligament and jaw bone. It is important because without these supporting structures, the teeth will not be held firm and will become loose.

3. What is oral cancer?

Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth and it is increasing in incidence in the UK. This potentially avoidable cancer is more common than cervical cancer and testicular cancer combined.

Preventive advice

1. How to prevent tooth decay:
  • Brush twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Use fluoridated toothpaste with at least 1350ppm fluoride (look on the box for this figure).
  • Brush last thing at night and on one other occasion.
  • Spit out after brushing and do not rinse.
  • The frequency and amount of sugary food and drinks should be reduced and when consumed, limited to mealtimes. Sugars should not be consumed more than four times per day.
2. How to prevent gum disease:
  • Brush teeth thoroughly and methodically twice daily.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Clean in between the teeth with interdental brushes/floss.
  • Maintain a good, balanced diet.
3. How to prevent oral cancer:
  • Do not smoke.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption to moderate (recommended) levels.
  • Maintain a good, balanced diet with at least 5 portions of fruit or vegetables per day.

Minimum intervention treatment

Here at Stalybridge Dental Care we try to keep our treatment of oral disease as minimal as possible. If disease does occur we detect the disease early by regular careful examination which allows us to provide early treatment which is much less invasive than if it was left longer.

1. Minimum intervention/early treatment of tooth decay:
If we find a small area of decay we can sometimes "heal" it using preventive methods coupled with the use of things such as high fluoride toothpaste and high calcium/phosphate paste.
If the decay is unlikely to be healed we can restore the area with a small filling that does not damage the strength of the tooth. This means that the tooth is less likely to break in the future.
Catching decay while it is small would also mean that we would stop the decay before you experienced any pain from the tooth.

2. Minimum intervention/early treatment of gum disease:
If we see signs of the start of gum disease we help you to increase and better target your home preventive care (e.g. tooth brushing). We may then start early non-surgical treatment of the gums which will usually prevent the need for further, more complex treatment in the future.

3. Minimum intervention/early treatment of oral cancer:
If we are suspicious about any patches of skin in your mouth when we carry out your routine exam, we will immediately refer you to hospital to get an expert opinion. As with all cancer, the earlier you detect it, the less invasive the treatment needs to be.

Regular monitoring

The prevention, early detection and minimum intervention treatment of all the 3 main oral diseases discussed above is all reliant on one major factor - regular monitoring. This means attending as often as advised by your dentist for your regular examinations.

It really pays to stick to your regular examination interval and to follow the preventive health advice given to you by your dentist/hygienist. That way we can give you the best chance of a healthy mouth for life.



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