Why am I afraid of the dentist?
Being ‘afraid of the dentist' may mean different things to different people. It will probably help if you work out just what it is that worries you most. Maybe the sounds and smells bring back memories of bad experiences as a child, or the thought that having treatment will hurt. The good news is that we at Woodhall Dental Practice understand your fears, and with a combination of kindness and gentleness we can do a great deal to make dental treatment an acceptable, normal part of life.
Oral Health Advice
Eating a variety of nutritious food is good for your overall health, including your oral health. Some vitamins in particular have demonstrated benefits to building healthy teeth, namely calcium and vitamin C, so be sure to include foods rich in these nutrients in your diet. Calcium has been shown to help build strong teeth, and vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that also plays an important role in collagen synthesis, by which it helps you develop and maintain healthy gums.
- Calcium: Dairy products, including milk, yogurt and cheese are good sources of calcium. Many physicians recommend 1,200mg to 1,500mg of calcium daily for most adults, so you may want to consider a calcium supplement, especially if dairy products aren’t a regular part of your diet. Also, try switching to low-sugar or sugar-free varieties of yogurt, since sugar (and bacteria) can promote tooth decay.
- Vitamin C: Many fruits and vegetables including berries, oranges and cantaloupe, as well as green vegetables including broccoli and spinach are excellent sources of vitamin C.
Of course, in addition to eating right, it’s important to follow a consistent dental care routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing to promote oral health. And be sure to see one of our dentist regularly and talk to them if you have questions about how your diet might affect your oral health. Good dental health begins with you. By following this simple routine, you can keep your mouth clean and healthy:
- Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day using fluoride toothpaste.
- Use a small to medium size toothbrush.
- Use a toothbrush with soft to medium multi-tufted, round-ended nylon bristles.
- Use small circular movements to clean your teeth.
- Change your toothbrush regularly, every 3 months or earlier if the filaments are worn.
- Clean between your teeth using interdental brushes, dental floss or dental tape.
- Have sugary drinks and foods less often.
- Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
Top Ten Dental Questions
How can I help to stop my gum disease getting worse?
If you have gum disease, your dentist or hygienist will usually give your teeth a thorough clean to remove any scale or tartar. This may take a number of sessions with the dentist or hygienist. They will also show you how to remove the soft plaque yourself, by cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth thoroughly at home. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria which forms on the teeth every day. For more information see our leaflet 'Tell me about gum disease'. Gum disease is never cured. But as long as you keep up the home-care you have been taught you can slow down its progress and even stop it altogether. You must make sure you remove plaque every day, and go for regular check-ups with the dentist and hygienist, as often as they recommend.
What are the tell-tale signs I should look out for?
Visit your dentist or hygienist if you have any of the symptoms of gum disease. These can include:
- inflammation of the gums, causing them to be red, swollen and to bleed easily, especially when brushing
- an unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Bad breath
- loose teeth
- regular mouth infections.
Could gum disease affect my unborn baby?
Pregnant women who have gum disease may be over three times more likely to have a baby that is premature and so has a low birth weight. There is a one-in-four chance that a pregnant woman with gum disease will give birth before 35 weeks. It seems that gum disease raises the levels of the chemicals that bring on labour. Research also suggests that women whose gum disease gets worse during pregnancy have an even higher risk of having a premature baby. Having gum disease treated properly during pregnancy can reduce the risk of a premature birth.
How could diabetes affect my dental health?
People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than people without it. This is probably because diabetics are more likely to get infections in general. People who do not know they have diabetes, or whose diabetes is not under control, are especially at risk. If you do have diabetes it is important that any gum disease is diagnosed, because it can increase your blood sugar. This would put you at risk of diabetic complications. Also, if you are diabetic, you may find that you heal more slowly. If you have a problem with your gums, or have problems after visits to your dentist, discuss this with your dentist before you have any treatment. New research has also shown that you are more likely to develop diabetes if you have gum disease. If you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of losing teeth.
What is the link between gum disease and strokes?
Several studies have looked at the connection between mouth infections and strokes. They have found that people who have had a stroke are more likely to have gum disease than people who have not had one. When the bacteria that cause gum disease get into the bloodstream, they produce a protein. This can cause inflammation of the blood vessels, and this can block the blood supply to the brain. This can cause a stroke.
How can the health of my mouth affect my heart?
People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease than people without gum disease. When people have gum disease, bacteria from the mouth can get into their bloodstream. The bacteria produce protein. This can then affect the heart by causing the platelets in the blood to stick together in the blood vessels of the heart. This can make clots more likely to form. Blood clots can reduce normal blood flow, so that the heart does not get all the nutrients and oxygen it needs. If the blood flow is badly affected this could lead to a heart attack.
How should I brush?
Brushing removes plaque and food particles from the inner, outer and biting surfaces of your teeth.
Here is one method of removing plaque:
- Place the head of your toothbrush against your teeth, then tilt the bristle tips to a 45 degree angle against the gumline.
- Move the brush in small circular movements, several times, on all the surfaces of every tooth.
- Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower, keeping the bristles angled against the gumline.
- Use the same method on the inside surfaces of all your teeth.
- Brush the biting surfaces of the teeth.
- To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several small circular strokes with the front part of the brush.
- Brushing your tongue will help freshen your breath and will clean your mouth by removing bacteria.
How can I tell if I have bad breath?
Lots of small signals can show that you have bad breath. Have you noticed people stepping away when you start to talk? Do people turn their cheek when you kiss them goodbye? If you think you might have bad breath, there is a simple test that you can do. Simply lick the inside of your wrist and sniff - if the smell is bad, you can be pretty sure that your breath is too. Or, ask a very good friend to be absolutely honest, but do make sure they are a true friend.
How can I prevent bad breath if I wear dentures?
Take them out at night to give your mouth a chance to rest and clean them twice a day. Clean them thoroughly with soap and lukewarm water, a denture cream or a denture-cleaning tablet. Use a denture brush kept just for the purpose. Remember to clean the surfaces that fit against your gums and palate. This will make sure your dentures are always fresh and clean, and avoid the plaque build-up on the denture that may cause bad breath.
How will smoking affect my gums and teeth?
People who smoke are more likely to have gum disease. Smoking may change the type of bacteria in dental plaque, increasing the number of bacteria that are more harmful. It also reduces the blood flow in the gums and supporting tissues of the tooth and makes them more likely to become inflamed. Smokers' gum disease will get worse more quickly than in people who do not smoke. Because of the reduced blood flow smokers may not get the warning symptoms of bleeding gums as much as non-smokers. Gum disease is still the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.