No, teeth whitening is not damaging to your teeth. Tooth whitening is a chemical process that has no irreversible effect on the physical structure of the tooth. Peroxide has an oxidizing effect on internal staining of the tooth. It may make your teeth sensitive during the process, but that is all. All of us have whitened our own teeth!!
Sensitive teeth are a curse! Mainly because there can be so many reasons why your teeth are sensitive.
However, teeth are designed with a tough protective outer layer we call enamel. Underneath the enamel there is another layer of tooth that is usually covered by gums. This layer of tooth is extremely sensitive to cold, touch, hot, sweet, in fact most things. Normally because the gums give protection, our teeth are not sensitive but if for some reason the gum has receded from the tooth, normal healthy teeth may start to react to all the things mentioned above. Usually there is a reason for this to happen, and only your dentist can advise what has made this happen.
Most importantly, everyone should get checked as soon as you notice sensitivity because it can also mean very serious damage.
Other causes for sensitivity include decay into the nerve of the tooth or fracture/crack in the tooth that may even result in losing the tooth.
Often, smokers are more prone to sensitive teeth. This is often because smokers are far more susceptible to gum and bone disease.
Bad breath is a difficult concern because ultimately, breath is in the smell of the beholder. Bad breath is a concern for many people and unfortunately is not always easy to cure. The mouth is essentially a breeding ground for bacteria. Like our gut, there are a number of good bacteria and bad bacteria that live naturally in our mouths. Generally speaking, the bad bacteria are the bacteria that smell. Anything that could result in the growth of these germs may predispose a person to having bad breath.
This may include:
Susceptibility is an important word when it comes to needing fillings.
Treatment for tooth decay (a bacterial invasion into teeth) is largely surgical i.e removal of the infected part of the tooth and replacement of that part of the tooth with filling material.
It seems that no matter who we are, we all have a genetic predisposition to some medical or dental anomaly. Tooth decay is no different.
Some of our patients are at higher risk for tooth decay than others. This is generally because they have higher numbers of tooth destroying bacteria in their mouths. It is often good to use a medical analogy to explain this. Take diabetes, or heart disease for example. It is well known that obesity is a pre-disposing factor for these conditions, but not all diabetics will be overweight. If there is a genetic propensity towards diabetes, then patients must battle at all odds to avoid the disease.
Likewise, not all patients that eat sweets and don’t brush their teeth will have tooth decay, these people may be at low risk for tooth decay and have few of the tooth destroying bugs in their mouth. Sometimes, high risk patients may brush and floss, but may have other factors that still land them with tooth decay.
The only saving grace is that tooth decay usually affects younger people more than those over 30. So by nature of aging alone, risk for new tooth decay should decrease.
Children who are familiar with the dentist and dental surroundings make good dental patients. So with that in mind, children should be brought to the dentist as young as 18 months to 2 years old even if just to sit on mum or dad’s lap.
They should be able to take in the surroundings and learn we are nice people!! Children should NOT be brought to the dentist for the first time with tooth ache. They are not the circumstances to create good memories of the dentist for your children.
Gums bleed when they are irritated by bacteria. All of our mouths are full of germs and germs will always sit where the gum meets the tooth. We brush and floss our teeth to remove the germs from this area mainly. If hygiene is not adequate, patients from time to time will experience bleeding from the inflamed gums where germs have been left behind. Also, because teeth live in the wet, they grow barnacles at or under the gum line.
If these barnacles are not scraped off the teeth regularly i.e 6-12 months, they may hide bacteria and be a constant source of gum inflammation and bleeding. Bleeding gums is something to be concerned about because it may be early signs of irreversible gum and bone disease, that may lead to tooth loss and other systemic health complications.
A root canal is a procedure where the dentist cleans bacteria from inside the small pipes within a tooth. Teeth have roots that anchor them in the jaw. These roots have tiny hollow pipes inside them, which under certain circumstances may become infected with bacteria. This occurrence usually but not always results in pain. A root canal is necessary before an infected tooth may be kept and restored for the patient.
If the pipes in the tooth are infected, most of the bacteria are cleaned and flushed from the pipes, and a soft filling material is placed into the pipes in the tooth to seal them off. If this is not done, the only other option for the patient is to lose the tooth (a filling will only seal infectious germs into the jaw bone).
Teeth that have been worked on extensively become very weak. If a tooth has a large portion of it as filling, it is effectively very hollow and likely to crack or break under the pressure of biting and chewing. If this happens, the patient may need to have the remaining sharp fragments of the tooth removed. Not only this, but the patient may then need to pay for costly replacements to fill the gap.
A crown is a top for the tooth that will prevent it from breaking for 10-15 years in most cases. Although it is not uncommon to see crowns much older than this.
Patients that choose to not have a crown on a heavily filled tooth choose to take this risk, sometimes at their own peril.
Dental visits should be preventive in nature. As mentioned previously, teeth grow barnacles that hide disease causing bacteria. These bacteria and barnacles need to be removed regularly in order to just maintain health. This for most people will be an appointment every 6 months.
Also, dental disease does not cause any pain. Bacteria may be invading into our teeth without us knowing, so a regular examination will allow the dentist and patient to get to small problems before it is too late. If we wait for our own cues to get to the dentist, more often than not, the patient will leave with quotes for expensive treatment, or risk losing teeth.
In most cases, wisdom teeth are recommended for extraction. This is because wisdom teeth do not often end up in a favourable position for cleaning. If these teeth cannot be cleaned, they can cause loss of good adjacent teeth, recurring infection, loss of jaw bone and crowding of otherwise straight teeth.
According to Australian and American dental associations, amalgam is a safe restorative material. There has been well over 20 years of research into the safety and efficacy of amalgam conducted by universities and well recognised teaching institutions. In saying this, there are also many studies to the contrary mainly conducted by people in the fields of natural and complementary medicine. I would urge patients to come to an informed decision based on their own belief systems. We will be happy to help this process and conduct any treatment that patient deems best for them.