East Building 3 Oracle Boulevarde,
Broadbeach, Gold Coast 4218
It is estimated that 60-70% of Australian adults have some form of gum disease, so if you haven’t been brushing and flossing daily and it has been over 6 months since your last professional clean with your dentist, there is a good chance that you do have gum disease.
Gum disease is caused by our body’s response to the bacteria naturally found in our mouths. When there are significant numbers of bacteria harbored in large amounts of plaque on our teeth, an immune response is induced to fight the bacteria. Unfortunately, this same protective immune reaction also results in bleeding gums, and over time, gum recession and loss of supporting jaw bone. Ultimately this results in loss of our teeth.
The good news is that in most cases, gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) can be managed. The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the simpler and more successful the treatment is. Unfortunately, gum disease cannot be cured as it is the result of bacteria naturally found within our mouths, but it can be controlled with regular dental visits and good home hygiene practices.
The earliest stage of gum disease is GINGIVITIS. It is characterised by bleeding gums and you may notice bad breath (halitosis) or a bad taste in your mouth. You might also be aware of a hard yellowish buildup (calculus) behind your lower front teeth and there will usually be harder-to-see areas of plaque and calculus in other areas of your mouth. At this stage the condition is localised to your gums and has not yet affected the jaw bone holding your teeth in place.
Fortunately, gingivitis is easily managed with a good scale and clean by your dentist every 6 months and by following an effective home hygiene routine including brushing and flossing and other individualised cleaning products or techniques recommended by your dentist.
EARLY PERIODONTITIS develops as more plaque and calculus develops and starts to build up under the gum line. On the surface, this stage looks similar to gingivitis however damage to your jaw bone is starting to occur. Dentists can detect this by using a measuring probe between your gum and teeth to determine the depth of your ‘periodontal pockets’. In a healthy mouth, pocket depths measure 1-2mm. In early periodontitis, probing depths commonly measure 3.5-5mm, indicating loss of your jaw bone and swelling of your gums.
In most cases, this stage can be treated by your dentist, however cleaning your teeth will take much longer and will be more in depth to ensure your deeper pockets are being accessed. It is possible that you may need to be numbed up to allow this to be done comfortably and effectively. It is vital that you then maintain a regular cleaning routine with your dentist to ensure your home hygiene practices are working and that the disease is not progressing. Your recall time may vary from 3, 4 or 6 months depending on your individual case.
(This picture shows the buildup of calculus & red, inflamed gums.)
MODERATE AND ADVANCED PERIODONTITIS.
Up until now, gum disease is very often painless and you may not even be aware of a problem. As more plaque accumulates and bacteria multiply in deep pockets, the disease continues and you will notice your gums receding away, teeth may be feeling sensitive, feeling lose or becoming sore to chew on. There may be pus oozing from the gums. Acute gum infections can cause swelling and be very painful. Probing depths will now be greater than 6mm and can extend right down the length of your tooth’s root (indicating total loss of bone from around your tooth). Once this occurs, it is likely that your teeth will start needing to be removed or may even fall out on their own.
If you have more advanced forms of periodontal disease, it is likely that you will require referral to a PERIODONTIST. This specialised dentist uses specific instruments and advanced techniques to better access and clean the deep pockets around your teeth. If this stage of gum disease is not treated properly it will lead to the loss of more and more teeth and unfortunately this will mean having to consider uncomfortable dentures or expensive implants (if there is even enough bone remaining to support implants).
RISK FACTORS. The underlying cause of gum disease is the presence, type and amount of bacteria that accumulates in our plaque; however certain conditions can make you more susceptible to, and increase the rate of progression of the disease. They can also affect the success of treatment. The most common factors are:
– MEDICATIONS AND ILLNESSES
Gum Disease can also increase the risk of serious systemic conditions. Recent studies support an association between active periodontal disease and CARDIOVASCULAR/HEART DISEASE, DIABETES, PRE-TERM OR LOW BIRTH WEIGHT BABIES.
So now you know a bit more about gum disease & the causes, you can understand how important it is to come in for your regular 6 monthly examinations & cleans.
A healthy mouth is a happy mouth!
A dental x-ray is a fantastic diagnostic tool that dentists use to assist in the diagnosis of dental problems. Let’s face it, our dentists at Oracle Dental are good…. in fact they are really good…. but they don’t have x-ray vision.
During a routine dental examination your dentist will thoroughly check all your teeth, your gums & the soft tissues inside of your mouth & tongue. However, they cannot see what is happening on the inside of your teeth, between your teeth or in the supporting bone. This is where an x-ray is invaluable! Dental problems picked up on x-rays include decay, abscesses, gum disease, fractures, impacted teeth and pathology such as cysts.
We generally recommend taking x-rays approximately every 2 years at one of your regular examination & cleaning appointments. X-rays can pick up very early signs of decay that the eye cannot see yet. The x-ray also shows us how far the decay or other problem has progressed so that we can then do the appropriate treatment.
To put it simply: regular x-rays = early diagnosis = less dental treatment required!
Now, for some interesting examples:
Many patients are concerned about having x-rays due to the fact that they emit radiation. This is one of the reasons we only take them every 2 years(unless you have dental pain) rather than at each 6 monthly exam.However, we should point out that dental x-rays emit an extremely minimal amount of radiation & the new digital x-rays which we use at Oracle Dental emit even less. To put it into perspective, the radiation dose of two routine dental x-rays is less than one day of natural background radiation or about the equivalent of a flight from Brisbane to Sydney.
So next time you are due for your examination & x-rays are recommended, you now know how important they are for keeping your teeth and gums in tip-top shape!
People spend approximately 1/3 of their lives sleeping. Sleep allows our bodies to rest and repair. Memory and brain function, our immune system and systemic health are directly dependent on our sleep. Many of us do not sleep as long or as well as we should.
Night time grinding or clenching (bruxism), snoring and sleep apnoea all affect the quantity and quality of our sleep. Fortunately, there are a range of oral appliances (that can be made by a trained dentist) that are very effective in reducing the impact of these conditions.
Sleep Bruxism is characterised by grinding or clenching of the teeth during sleep. There is increasing evidence to suggest a relationship between bruxism and sleep disordered breathing (snoring and sleep apnoea) it is possible to both snore and grind your teeth during your sleep. It is estimated that the forces that can be applied to your teeth during sleep can be 3-10x stronger than when you clench while awake.
There is no one particular cause for bruxism; numerous factors can contribute to the problem:
– Stress or anxiety
– sleep disordered breathing
– Drugs -alcohol, smoking, caffeine, illicit drugs.
Bruxism can result in:
– accelerated tooth wear that affects the appearance and function of your teeth
– Sensitivity of your teeth due to loss of enamel and excessive pressure
– Sensitivity of your teeth after fillings and crowns are placed
– increased risk of cracked tooth syndrome and broken fillings and crowns
– Headaches and facial muscle pain
– Pain and clicking in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
– ringing in the ears
– Poor sleep.
Sleep Disordered Breathing includes snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). Snoring is a sign of partial obstruction of the airway by the soft tissues such as the tongue, soft palate, uvula and tonsils. While most of us snore at some time, intensive snoring on a permanent basis significantly disrupts sleep and can be a sign of the more serious condition of OSA.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea occurs when the soft tissues completely obstruct airflow, preventing oxygen from reaching the lungs. When oxygen in the blood falls below a certain level your sleep is interrupted and you will arouse or wake up trying to breathe, sometimes choking or gasping for air.
Signs of OSA include:
– Daytime sleepiness
– waking during the night possibly gasping for breath or coughing
– Morning headaches
– Trouble concentrating
– Mood changes e.g. irritability, anxiety
– increased blood pressure/hypertension
– decreased sex drive
– Weight gain
– Heartburn or GORD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder).
The Epworth Sleepiness Scale is often used as an initial screening assessment. Here is the link: https://www.sleepservices.com.au/images/stories/pdf/ess_dl.pdf
Diagnosis of OSA is made by your medical doctor based on the results of a Sleep Study. Treatment for OSA is dependent on the severity of the condition but in many cases the recommended treatment is construction of an oral appliance that helps to maintain the airway open during sleep.
The anatomy of your jaws and soft tissues and the wear patterns of your teeth can be a strong indicator for these conditions and as such, a trained dentist may be the first person to notice the signs and symptoms of bruxism and sleep disordered breathing.
Here at Oracle Dental we have Dr Jacki Obst who has a keen interest in Bruxism & Sleep Apnoea.
If you have any questions regarding this please call to organise an appointment with her. 07 55317259.
Here at Oracle Dental we see teeth every day so we thought we would share some really interesting facts about our favourite past time, teeth!
Pretty cool, hey. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly & visit us twice a year to keep your pearly whites, gums & general health in tip top condition.
Here at Oracle Dental we deal a lot with health funds & one of the most common questions I am asked by our patient’s at reception on a regular basis is; what health fund do you recommend? So I am going to give you my top tips on what to look for when choosing a health fund for dental treatment.
2. Work out what you actually want to include in your insurance. Make a list of those health care professionals you see within each year. Do you want hospital & ancillaries (dental, optical, physio, naturopathy) or just one or the other? Most people are unaware that you can split your insurance between two funds, one for hospital & one for ancillaries if you find better deals that are cheaper separately.
3. With dental insurance there is usually a waiting period, meaning you have to be in the fund for a minimum time before you can claim. This is usually 2 months for general dentistry; exams, cleans, fillings, extractions & 6 -12 months for major dentistry; Root canals, crowns, porcelain veneers, dentures, implants. YOU CAN ASK FOR THE 2 MONTH PERIOD TO BE WAIVED; say you are shopping around, have better quotes or commit to signing up on the day.
4. Be careful, most health funds have a $ limit per year. This means that once you reach this limit in rebates you will not get anymore cover for the remainder of that year. For example one level of cover may have a maximum of $300 rebate for general dentistry over 12 months which can be used up very quickly if you have an exam, clean & a couple of fillings. The same fund may also be able to provide an unlimited dental cover (for a little extra) that allows you to have as much general dentistry as you need. Great if you know you need a lot of work. Talk to a sales person directly, you get better results & can ask more questions.
5. Always ask the health fund what their limits are for general & major dentistry & do they have a plan that fits your needs. If you need major dental work, look for a level of cover which is at least $800 per year. Across most health funds I find this is a common rebate.
6. Most funds only give you a percentage back of what you are charged by the dentist so you should still expect some out of pocket expense at each visit.
7. There are exceptions; Oracle Dental is a preferred provider of BUPA & HCF. This means we charge the fees these funds tell us to & as a member you get the maximum benefit back. If you are with HCF & see us, you are entitled to two free exams & cleans per the calendar year, x-rays, a mouthguard & some other preventatives with no out of pocket expenses. This is fantastic value!
8. When you take out cover as a family, a family can be 1 child or 10; the cost is still the same. This is great for large families! You can get a special cover with BUPA that allows your child/children to receive free dental cover until they are 21 years old. Again talk directly to a sales person
9. Always write down what you have discussed, get a quote number & the name of person that you are talking too. We have had people who have joined a fund and not received what they thought they would or their waiting periods were not waived
10. Health insurance can be EXPENSIVE; it is one of those necessary evils. If you decide to join a fund use it! Make sure you get your dental exams, have your teeth cleaned, and keep on top of your dental health. Don’t let your fund card sit in your pocket costing you money every month with nothing in return. We have had patients who know they need a lot of work done; join a fund with unlimited general dental cover, have the waiting period waived & get all their dental cavities attended to & get their mouth back into tip top shape with a minimum cost outlay. This is where health funds can be invaluable.
11. There are times when joining a health fund may not be the best option, if you need major dental work straight away like a Root Canal, crown or implant. For these treatments you have to pay into a fund for 12 months to get back approximately $800- $1000.
12. Be aware that if you are currently in a health fund & decide to look around and find one that is more suitable & better value, check what will happen to your waiting periods. Make sure they are waived or understand that you may have to wait another 12 months for major dental.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you when deciding on whether to join a health fund. It is a big decision but I have seen a lot of positives from it here at Oracle Dental. My top dental funds are: HCF, BUPA, NIB, FRANK, AHM, CREDICARE, GMHBA purely based on rebates for our patients.
So don’t put it off, make yourself comfy, get a cup of coffee and start researching, it may be your first step to healthier teeth.
Oracle Dental’s Front office superstar