Blog – AMARA MEDICARE | Dental, Eye & ENT Specialists

28/Oct/2021

 

Image of tooth decay
Image of tooth decay (Wikepedia)

 

  WHAT IS TOOTH DECAY?

Tooth decay are also referred to as tooth caries or dental caries or tooth cavities. They are permanently destroyed areas of the tooth that results into tiny holes.

They initially develop as softening of the tooth structures (enamel and dentine). They are caused by bacteria. These bacteria are found on the sticky plaque located on the surfaces of the teeth, so any carbohydrate found in the mouth is broken down by those bacteria into acid.

These acids produced continually will act on our teeth enamel and dentine and weaken it leading to those tiny holes. Tooth decay is among the most common health problems in the world and occurrence is more common in children compared to adult.

Examples of foods causing tooth decays include cake, chocolates, carbonated soft drinks, fruits, breads, breakfast cereals, milk etc.  If the teeth aren’t properly cleaned after consumption of the above listed food items, it may result to tooth decay.

 WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF TOOTH DECAY?

Signs and symptoms of tooth decay varies a lot. It is very possible for tooth decay to be present on a tooth without any symptoms of pain. But as the decay gets larger, the symptoms will manifest. These symptoms include:

  • Tooth ache or tooth pain – can be a sharp pain or continuous pain that keeps a person awake with no obvious trigger;
  • Tooth sensitivity – complaints of shocking sensation to either sweet, cold or warm water/ drinks and also while eating;
  • Grey, brown or black spots appearing on the teeth;
  • Bad breath- dental cavity is also accompanied with bad breath;
  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth;
  • Visible holes or pits on the teeth;
  • Pain and discomfort when chewing.

 RISK FACTORS

Everyone who has teeth is at a risk of getting cavities or tooth decays. Below are factors that can increase the risk:

  • Position of the tooth – most posterior or back teeth are usually affected compared to the front teeth because it is relatively more difficult to clean the back teeth;
  • Food likes milk, sweet, mints, ice cream, chocolates that cling to the surfaces of the teeth are more likely to cause tooth decay;
  • Bedtime feeding of babies- mothers tend to feed their babies leaving the milk formula, juice or other sugar containing liquids on their teeth for hours as they sleep. This may result in tooth cavity known as baby- bottle dental caries;
  • Poor oral hygiene – not brushing properly or not brushing at all;
  • Dry mouth – lack of saliva causes tooth-decay because saliva on its own prevents decay by washing away food or plaques that cling to the tooth and also saliva counteracts the acid produced by bacteria. Certain medications can cause dry mouth, we should be watchful of the kind of medications given.

HOW CAN WE PREVENT TOOTH DECAY?

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and ideally after every meal using fluoride containing tooth paste. In addition, you can clean in between teeth using dental floss or interdental brushes;
  • Use of mouth rinse especially those containing fluoride and antibacterial agent;
  • Visit the dentist regularly, twice in a year (every six months);
  • Avoid frequent snacking and sipping in between meals or last thing at night because if you snack or drink throughout the day, your teeth will undergo constant attack from the continuous production of acid from the snacks;
  • For a person with dry mouth, it advised to chew xylitol-based gum along with prescription fluoride and antibacterial rinse to help reduce tooth decay.

TREATMENT

Treatment of tooth decay depends on the extent of damages on the teeth before the person reports to the dentist

  • For early tooth decay, the dentist can start by advising patient on his/her social and diet habits, reducing the amount of sugar in the diet. Secondly, application of fluoride gel or paste to replenish and strengthen the tooth and make the teeth more resistant to decay.
  • For a decay that is presenting pain, your dentist may do dental filling with or without a local anesthesia after diagnostic examination.
  • For a decay that has spread to the pulp, an advance procedure like root canal treatment may be done. In addition to the root canal treatment, a crown may be placed over the restored tooth
  • For a badly damaged and painful tooth decay that cannot be restored, it may need to be removed.

 

 

 

 


28/Oct/2021

 

tooth plaque
tooth plaque

 

Dental plaques are one of the leading causes of dental issues­­ in Nigeria. Dental plaques are those sticky colorless substances that constantly build up on the tooth and when hardened, forms calculus also known as tartar.

 What causes dental plaque?

Every day, we eat food containing carbohydrates (starches and sugar) such as cakes, biscuits, soft drinks, milk etc. Particles from these foods frequently stick to our teeth and gum especially when the mouth is not properly cleaned resulting to the formation of dental plaques. Plaques allow bacteria to grow and multiply on them and release its toxic by-products that destroys the hard tissues of the teeth and cause inflammation of the gum

What are the signs and symptoms of dental plaque?

  • Pain and bleeding while brushing
  • Swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Signs of blood when eating bread or apple
  • Bitter taste

How do you prevent dental plaques?

  • Practicing good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day (morning and evening), flossing teeth at least once daily.
  • Visiting the dentist twice yearly (every six months) for professional examination, scaling and polishing.
  • Maintaining good eating habits. Some foods and beverages are better for your teeth than others. Avoid food with a propensity to get stuck in grooves and pits of the teeth. Also, some food such as vegetables, fresh fruits, sugar-free gums increase salivary flow which helps to remove food particles.

 

 

 

 

 


28/Oct/2021

Does a rinse or mouthwash help?

Mouthwashes for cavity protection, sensitivity, and fresh breath may help when you use them with regular brushing and flossing but not instead of daily cleanings. Your dentist can recommend the best type for you. Some people need twice-daily rinses for gum health or alcohol-free washes for dry mouth. Kids under 6 shouldn’t use mouthwash to avoid the risk of swallowing it.

What are early signs of dental trouble?

Visit a dentist if you have any of these issues or see your child having trouble chewing or complaining of soreness:

  • Mouth sores
  • Jaw pain
  • Redness
  • Swollen face or gums
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Broken teeth
  • Dry mouth
  • Bleeding Gums
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth

Getting checked out right away prevents more serious problems and infections.

Why do I need dental exams?

Regular exams help spot trouble early to prevent bigger and more costly treatments later. A dental hygienist will start by cleaning build up from your teeth. Then the dentist will probe spots on the surfaces and near the gumline with special tools. If it’s been a while between appointments, you may have some sore and sensitive areas.

You should get an exam every 6 months, or more often if your dentist recommends it. Find one who makes you feel at ease and lets you know what to expect. Often the dread of seeing the dentist turns to big relief when the visit is over and you have a care plan set up.

How do fillings work?

Cavities break through the surface enamel of teeth, and they’ll probably get bigger unless you close them off with fillings. Your dentist will numb your mouth before drilling around the cavity to prep it. A combination of strong materials or a white mix called a composite goes into the cavity soft and then hardens as it dries. You may feel pain or pressure when getting the numbing shot and during the drilling. Once set, fillings can last a long time but need replacing if they break or wear down.

Are sweets bad for my teeth?

Yes, sweets and foods with acid, like candy and carbonated drinks, could stick to teeth and lead to cavities.

How safe are dental x-rays?

Dental x-rays are very safe. Radiation is measured in millirems and one dental x-ray has only 0.5 millirems.

What is a cavity?

A cavity is simply a small hole in the tooth that develops as a result of tooth decay. In other words, decay eats away at the tooth and results in a void space that disrupts the structure of the tooth. It’s important to get cavities repaired because they will continue to grow larger with time

What is the best way to withen my teeth?

The fastest and most effective way to whiten teeth is typically an in-office professional whitening procedure. However, you may not require this type of procedure.  We recommend that you speak with your dentist or dental hygienist about what type of teeth whitening they would recommend.

What causes bad breadth?

Some reasons for bad breath may be:

  • Poor dental hygiene;
  • Eating certain foods, such as garlic or onions;
  • Smoking;
  • Chewing tobacco;
  • Diseases, such as cancer or diabetes;
  • Dry mouth (often called morning breath).

You can help reduce the incidence of bad breath by brushing and flossing each day to remove plaque. By avoiding certain foods, you can also eliminate a lot of bad breath problems. If a bad breath problem persists, then let us know and we will perform further diagnostic reviews with a view to recommending a treatment.


28/Oct/2021

Image of wisdom tooth
Image of wisdom tooth

 

When the word “wisdom tooth” is mentioned, some may think it makes them smarter or wiser. However, the wisdom has to do with the age of the tooth, i.e how long it took it to erupt into the mouth. Wisdom teeth are the third and final sets of molars (the biggest tooth type in the mouth used for chewing food) teeth that comes into the mouth from around ages 17 years and 25 years. They are normally four that erupts at the back of the mouth, with one in each corner of the mouth.

Wisdom teeth are valuable teeth when they are healthy and align properly with other sets of teeth. However, more often they are misaligned and require removal. The most common problem with wisdom teeth is impaction. Impaction of wisdom tooth implies that the tooth did not erupt appropriately or failed to erupt and this is because there isn’t sufficient space in the mouth for it to come out appropriately. It is believed that about one in ten persons in Nigeria have an impacted wisdom tooth.

Other problems associated with wisdom tooth include:

  • Presence of tooth cavities or infection;
  • Presence of gum swelling around the tooth referred to as pericoronitis;
  • It tends to damage nearby tooth;
  • There may be bone loss around the roots of the tooth;
  • Occasionally, its presence may be a risk factor for formation of cysts, a sac-like pocket of tissues that may contain air, fluid or other substances;
  • Inability to properly brush and clean around the tooth due to its distant location in the mouth.

IMPACTED WISDOM TEETH

Impacted wisdom teeth can result in pain, damage to other teeth and other dental problems. In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth may cause no apparent or immediate problems. However, it is worth noting that they are hard to clean and more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease than other teeth. Impacted teeth that cause various dental problems are usually removed and at times those not having issues yet are advised to be removed to prevent serious dental complications in the future.

SYMPTOMS OF IMPACTED WISDOM TEETH

Impacted tooth that causes dental problems may present with the following symptoms:

  • Jaw pain;
  • Red and swollen gums;
  • Inability to open the mouth adequately;
  • Bleeding and painful gums;
  • Bad breath;
  • Ear ache;
  • Jaw swelling;
  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Sore throat.

CAN IMPACTION OF WISDOM TEETH BE PREVENTED?

No, you cannot prevent impaction of teeth. However, you can monitor the growth of your wisdom teeth by keeping regular 6 monthly checkups with your dentist for teeth cleaning who may recommend taking X-ray of the teeth to examine how they grow. Also, maintaining good oral hygiene practices can help reduce the amount of plaque buildup around the tooth.

WHEN SHOULD I VISIT THE DENTIST?

You should visit your dentist regularly (at least every 6 months). You should also book an appointment with your dentist when you feel any symptom or discomfort around your wisdom tooth.

HOW IS IMPACTED WISDOM TEETH TREATED?

The treatment of impacted teeth is dependent on if the tooth is symptomatic or not and the position of the tooth in the mouth. Your dentist may recommend that you remove the tooth even when there is no symptom. This is usually to prevent future problems with the tooth. Generally, an impacted wisdom tooth that presents with symptom is usually removed surgically.

The extraction is usually done as an outpatient procedure, so you will be able to go home after the procedure. It is always advised that you go for the treatment with someone to support you. During the treatment, a local anaesthesia is injected into the gums around the tooth to numb the area and prevent you from feeling pain during the procedure. A sedative drug may also be given before the procedure to make you feel more comfortable during the procedure. The gum around the tooth is incised and any bone obstructing the removal of the tooth is removed and the tooth taken out. Stitches are then placed on the gum to close the socket a bit. A gauze pack may be applied to stop any bleeding and supportive instructions are given to you.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO HEAL?

A surgical removal of tooth may take a few weeks to a few months to heal completely. However, within one or two weeks, sufficient healing has taken place to allow you to eat appropriately. Following the extraction there may be minor bleeding within the first 24 hours and swelling may occur within the first few days. The dentist may recommend use of ice packs and place you on some medications to reduce swelling, pain, infection and facilitate healing of the area. Usually, you are placed on warm saline mouth rinse after 24 hours of tooth removal which you are to do at least eight times daily for about a week.

 

WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS THAT MAY ARISE FROM REMOVAL OF WISDOM TOOTH?

  • Dry Socket – This occurs when the socket where the tooth is removed get infected and this usually happen when you fail to comply with instructions given by your dentist. This condition can easily be managed, ensure you go back for follow up appointment with your dentist.
  • Paraesthesia – This is loss of sensation on the area where the tooth is removed. It rarely occurs.

HOW MUCH DOES WISDOM TEETH EXTRACTION COSTS?

In Nigeria, surgical removal of wisdom teeth may cost between Thirty thousand Naira (₦30,000) and Ninety thousand Naira (₦90,000). This is because costs vary in different location of the country, rural or urban. Usually, insurance with health maintenance organizations (HMOs) may cover some or all of cost of the procedure.

 


28/Oct/2021

 

Image of lady with tooth ache
Image of lady with tooth ache

A toothache is pain that you feel in or around your tooth. Usually, toothache indicates that there is something wrong with the tooth or gum around that particular tooth. Toothache is one of the most common oral health complaints with prevalence in Nigeria. It is worthy of note that at times, nothing may be wrong with the tooth or gum and the toothache may have been as a result of a referred pain somewhere else. This indicates the importance of seeking professional advice whenever you have symptoms of toothache as majority of the Nigerian population would rather try various home remedies instead of visiting the dental clinic.

Toothaches are usually not life-threatening. However, in some cases they can be signs of serious medical condition that requires immediate medical attention as in cases of Ludwig’s angina, oral malignant cancers, necrotizing fasciitis etc. Thus, toothaches should never be ignored as even tooth decay can get worse if left alone for a while. Early presentation has proven to be beneficial to patient in the immediate and long term.

WHAT DOES TOOTHACHE FEELS LIKE?

Pain from toothaches has various characteristics based on the cause of the toothache. Pains can be characterized as the following:

  • Sharp Pain when food, cold/hot water touches the tooth;
  • Sharp pain on biting the teeth together;
  • Throbbing pain in or around the tooth and gum;
  • Shocking pain when cold water is taken;
  • Dull ache around the tooth and gum;
  • Burning sensation which is uncommon.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF TOOTHACHE?

  • Tooth Decay – This is the most common cause of toothache. This occurs when there is a hole on the tooth.
  • Gum Disease – This occurs when there is plaques & tartar around the tooth that irritates the gum and makes the tooth lose its supporting structure over time and may be mobile.
  • Fracture – This is when the tooth or bone holding the tooth gets broken.
  • Attrition/Abrasion/Erosion – This refers to wearing off of the tooth due to use of chemical substance (e.g. drinking acidic drinks) or mechanical means (e.g. abrasives, teeth grinding, teeth scraping with metals etc.)
  • Impacted Tooth – This occur when one of the teeth usually the wisdom tooth is buried in gum or bone and thus unable to erupt properly into the mouth.
  • Neuralgia – This occurs when some nerves usually the Trigeminal nerve is inflamed or irritated and this is felt as though the pain is coming from the tooth. This is an example of referred pain.
  • Sinusitis – This is inflammation of the sinuses. Some of the roots of the upper teeth communicate with the sinus cavities and thus when there is an infection of the sinuses; it can be felt as toothache.
  • Heart Disease – In rare cases, toothache may be a symptom of Ischemic heart disease especially when chest pain is absent.
  • Tumors – usually malignant tumors may present with toothaches.

WHEN SHOULD I VISIT THE DENTAL CLINIC?

You should see your dentist as soon as possible about your toothache:

  • If the pain persists or reoccur within two days;
  • When there is associated swelling;
  • When there is inability to open the mouth well, fever or earache;
  • When there is inability to swallow foods properly;
  • When there is associated chest pain, coughing up of blood, breathlessness etc;
  • When pain affects sleep, daily activities etc.

HOW DO I TREAT MY TOOTHACHE?

Treatment of a toothache is dependent on the cause of the ache and that is why it is important to visit a dentist rather than self-medicate. The dentist will take a history of the pain, may do some tests or take X-ray depending on what may be the cause of the ache. The treatment may range from simple filling of the tooth in cases of tooth decay, to doing root canal treatment or extraction if it has to do with abscess and may require referral to see a cardiologist if an underlying heart disease is suspected.

CAN TOOTHACHE BE PREVENTED?

Toothaches are commonly caused by tooth decay and thus can be prevented by maintaining good oral hygiene practices. This involves brushing twice daily with medium bristle toothbrush and a fluoride containing toothpaste, rinsing the mouth after every meal, use of dental floss, reducing intake of sugary foods and regular visitation to the dentist at least twice a year for professional cleaning and general oral checkup.


28/Oct/2021

Teething baby with pacifier
Teething baby with pacifier

 

INTRODUCTION

Teething is a natural process of infancy involving tooth eruption which commences from between 4  months to about 3 years of age. The child’s gum becomes sore as the new tooth pushes on the gum. The pressure of the tooth pushing against the gum can make baby’s mouth hurt.

Once the mouth hurts, discomfort is bothersome to the baby, thus tendency to not want to eat any food. Your baby may cry because of hunger pangs. During teething, baby gum is irritable and as a result may not feed well, thereby causing the child to cry often.

SIGNS / SYMPTOMS

  • Swollen, tender gums
  • Fussiness and crying
  • A slightly raised temperature (less than 38°C)
  • Gnawing or wanting to chew on hard things
  • Lots of drool
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Mild chin rash due to constant saliva drooling on the chin

WRONG MYTHS

There are symptoms which you should not expect to see in your baby during teething. Such includes:

  • High fever (more than 38°C)
  • Diarrhea and watery stools,
  • Red eyes,
  • Coughing and vomiting.

These symptoms are not normal and not associated with teething. If you notice them, contact your doctor immediately.

HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR TEETHING BABY

  • Clean your baby’s teeth with a warm wet wool or soft brush. Do this in the morning and after every meal.
  • Babies love to chew or bite on anything they find when they are teething to ease their gums. To prevent picking things from the floor, cold teething rings or pacifier can be given to the child. Approved teething rings are made of plastic and do not choke. Ensure you clean the teething rings regularly.
  • During teething, make sure your baby eats well to remain healthy. Boiled carrots, dry biscuits and fruits such as apple are good foods that the baby can chew on. Foods that you give to your baby should be sugar free in order to prevent tooth decay.
  • Do not put a dummy or pacifier on a chain around baby’s neck to avoid strangulation. The baby’s gum should also not be cut for any reason as this would cause infection.
  • Visit the Dentist regularly for checkup of your baby. The doctor can tell you how to get approved teething rings and also other ways of caring for your baby and the teeth.

 

 

 

 

 


28/Oct/2021

Image of teeth before and after scaling and polishing
Image of teeth before and after scaling and polishing

 

Most diseases of the mouth are caused by buildup of bacteria around the teeth. The bacteria build up are referred to as plaque and calculus (or tartar), and are formed when food particles are left behind on the tooth surfaces over a period of time. The food particles can be removed by rinsing with water after eating, flossing between teeth and brushing the teeth twice a day. However, no matter how well you clean your teeth there will always be areas within the mouth that are hard to reach and clean.

These areas tend to accumulate tiny food particles, which bacteria acts on and aggregate to form plaque. This plaque build-up, may then mineralize to form tough, hard deposits known as calculus (or tartar) which are sticky, hard & impossible to remove via regular tooth brushing. If these tartar are not removed, more plaque can build up around the tooth and below the gum line causing various gum and tooth diseases.

To reduce the risk of gum diseases and remove plaque and tartar, your dentist will recommend professional cleaning of the teeth called scaling and polishing, at least twice a year.

WHAT IS SCALING AND POLISHING?

Dental Scaling and polishing are routine, non-surgical, non-invasive procedures done to remove plaque and tartar deposits built up on the teeth and the polishing of rough tooth surfaces to make them smoother.

HOW IS SCALING & POLISHING DONE?

There are two stages involved in scaling and polishing of the tooth.

  1. Scaling Stage: This is the first stage that involves removal of plaque and tartar deposits from the tooth surfaces. Often an ultrasonic scaler is used to scrape/remove heavy deposits of tartar and plaques, while other hand held instrument may be used to remove any stubborn deposits that remain.
  2. Polishing Stage: This is the second and final stage that involves smoothening of the teeth surfaces. Here, a polishing brush along with ‘special toothpaste’ is used to remove stains and to smoothen rough –like texture on the tooth surfaces. A stain removing chemical may be applied on the tooth surfaces to remove stubborn tooth stains. A smooth tooth surface helps to prevent easy buildup of plaques.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS AND POTENTIAL COMPLICATION OF SCALING & POLISHING?

The procedure does not pose any direct risk to your teeth or gum. Instead it has great benefits in preventing various gum and teeth diseases in the mouth. In the course of the scraping stage, you might have minor sensitivity due to the vibrations from the instrument. However, this sensitivity can be managed by reducing the frequency of the ultrasonic scaler and use of desensitizing agent. Scaling & polishing is thus considered safe for all.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD SCALING & POLISHING BE DONE?

Scaling and polishing should be done at least twice a year. However, your dentist may recommend more frequent times depending on your oral health condition.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SCALING AND POLISHING?

  1. It helps to prevent various gum and teeth diseases such as gingivitis, periodontitis, dental caries etc.
  2. It helps to prevent bad breath (halitosis).
  3. It keeps the gum healthy and less sensitive.
  4. It helps to maintain the natural tooth color, texture and brightness.
  5. It helps to improve your smile.

CAN ALL AGE GROUP DO SCALING & POLISHING?

Yes. As long as there is at least a tooth in the mouth, then scaling & polishing can be done. It is beneficial for all age group.

HOW MUCH DOES SCALING & POLISHING COST?

Scaling and Polishing is very affordable as it is a routine dental treatment regularly prescribed by the dentist. In Nigeria, the price ranges from about ₦10,000 (Ten Thousand Naira) and above in most urban areas depending on the type of care provider and cost of living within the geographical area.

 


28/Oct/2021

 

Image of pregnancy gingivitis
Image of pregnancy gingivitis

Pregnancy is defined as a state that includes fertilization, implantation, embryonic and fetal growth. Gingival enlargement begins with increasing Gonadotropin level (hormones responsible for reproduction) and is maintained through months 3 to 8 of pregnancy.

Pregnancy gingivitis is inflammation (swelling) of the gingival tissue caused by hormonal changes and progesterone. The prevalence of gingivitis during pregnancy has been studied in different population and it varies between 67 to 100%. The prevalence is circa 85.2% in Nigeria.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • Erythema (redness)
  • Edema (swollen gum)
  • Hyperplasia (excess gum swelling)
  • Increased spaces between tooth and gum
  • Bleeding gum
  • Mobile tooth
  • Pain on gum while brushing or eating.
  • Mouth odor

MANAGEMENT

  • Brush teeth twice a day (morning and the last thing at night before sleeping);
  • Dental floss use after eating;
  • Occasional use of mouthwashes as prescribed by the dentist;
  • Eat food with plenty of vitamin B12 and vitamin C. Common food that contains these vitamins include vegetables, fruits, soya beans, low fat milk, eggs, beef, kidney/liver, grains;
  • Visit a dentist for advice on preventing/controlling plaque and gingivitis and routine checkup (3monthly visit);
  • Dental cleaning (scaling and polishing) is necessary.

COMPLICATION

Bacteria (accumulated in plaques) from a mother’s mouth can be transmitted through the blood and amniotic fluid in the womb to her unborn child. This could contribute to the risk of a premature delivery, a low birth-weight baby, premature onset of contractions, or infection of the newborn child.

CONCLUSION

There is sufficient evidence that the lack of oral health care during pregnancy can have negative outcomes for both mothers and their newborns. Oral health needs should thus be emphasized in ante natal patients.

Eating Healthy, living healthy, regular visitation to the dentist & physician ensures delivery of a healthy baby that makes a happy family, happier”

 

 

 

 


28/Oct/2021

Image of Mouthwash being poured into a cup
Mouthwash

Mouthwash, also known as mouth rinse is a flavored, usually medicated solution used in rinsing the mouth and treating certain diseases of the mouth. It is an adjunct to regular oral hygiene practices. It is worth noting that use of mouthwash is not a substitute for daily tooth brushing and flossing. In Nigeria, mouthwashes can easily be bought on the counter and many tend to abuse its use and seldom use it as a substitute for tooth brushing. Generally, mouthwashes are useful for keeping the mouth healthy when used as an adjunct to regular brushing and flossing.

WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS TYPES OF MOUTHWASH?

There are 2 broad types of mouthwashes based on there impact on germs. They are as follows:

  1. Cosmetic Mouthwashes: These work to temporarily mask bad breath. They are not formulated to directly kill germs instead they contain various flavors that help to contain bad odors. They do prevent gum diseases or tooth cavities.
  2. Therapeutic Mouthwashes: These works by controlling the germs in the mouth. They are formulated to kill germs or prevent buildup of germs in the mouth that can lead to various mouth diseases. How they work is determined by the active material used in formulating the mouthwash. Common active ingredients to look out for include the following; cetylpyridinium chloride, chlorhexidine, essential oils, fluoride; peroxide. Others can be formulated at home using doctor’s prescription e.g. salt and warm water etc.

 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING MOUTHWASHES?

  • They help to prevent or control tooth decay.
  • They help to reduce plaque & tartar.
  • They help to prevent or reduce gum diseases.
  • They help to freshen breath and control bad breath.
  • They can be prescribed to help treat various dental conditions such as mouth ulcer, dry sockets, periodontitis (a condition that makes the tooth mobile).
  • They are used as an adjunct to help the bone heal when a tooth is removed.
  • Fluoride containing mouthwashes can help to prevent tooth cavities.

HOW SHOULD MOUTHWASHES BE USED?

Generally, mouthwashes should be used as prescribed by your dentist. It is worth noting that some mouthwashes contain some ingredient that tends to bind with fluoride and thus render the mouthwash (therapeutic ones) inactive. In order to prevent this, your doctor may advise you not to use mouthwash immediately before or after tooth brushing. You may also be advised to use them after eating as a mouth rinse to remove food particles that may lodge between the teeth.

CAN CHILDREN USE MOUTHWASH?

Children below the age of 7 years are advised not to use mouthwash since their swallowing reflex (ability to control what is being swallowed) may not be well developed. Whenever mouthwash is recommended for children by the dentist, it is done under strict supervision and specific timeframe.

IS THERE ANY DISADVANTAGE OF USING MOUTHWASH?

Some mouthwash contain alcohol and thus when consumed in large quantities may lead to nausea, vomiting and intoxication. Some mouthwash may stain the teeth when used for a long period, while some may also alter your taste. It is thus important to consult your dentist whenever you want to buy therapeutic mouthwash so as to guide you on the type, quantity, frequency and period of time to use the mouthwash and if it is safe for use as mouthwash may stain veneers, filling or crowns in the mouth.

CONCLUSION

Mouthwashes may offer additional benefit in terms of reducing the risk of bad breath, cavities, or gum disease; or for relief of dry mouth or pain from oral sores, however, they are not replacement for routine tooth brushing and flossing.


28/Oct/2021

 

 

 

Before and after picture of Teeth whitened by AMARA MEDICARE LAGOS
Image of teeth before and after teeth whitening

INTRODUCTION

We tend to be more self-conscious about the appearance of our tooth shape and color. The appearance of the tooth tends to affect how a person smiles and conduct himself in the public. Studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between low self-esteem and tooth discoloration. It is thus not surprising that people with discolored tooth tend to seek ways to make their teeth brighter. However, some are skeptical about the safety of teeth whitening.

Teeth whitening also referred to as teeth bleaching is a treatment modality that involves bleaching of your teeth to make them lighter. It lightens the existing color of teeth by several shades.  It is a procedure that should be done by a dentist or under the supervision or recommendation of a dentist.

HOW DO TEETH BECOME DISCOLORED?

Tooth discoloration refers to abnormal tooth color, hue or translucency. Normal tooth color varies according to race, gender and geographic region. Females generally have slightly whiter teeth than males, partly because females’ teeth are smaller. Baby teeth are generally whiter than the adult teeth. Tooth can become discolored due to the following reasons:

  1. Extrinsic Discoloration: These are tooth stains located on the outer surface of the tooth structure. These are common and it may be a result of various causes, such as;
    1. Poor oral hygiene
    2. Gingival bleeding
    3. Tobacco chewing habit
    4. Mouthwashes e.g. chlorhexidine
    5. Eating habit e.g. tea, coffee stains
  2. Intrinsic Discoloration: These are tooth stains which are located on internal surfaces of teeth. They occur due to defect within the tooth. Intrinsic discoloration may need to be professionally bleached to make the teeth whiter. They can be due to systemic or local causes such as;
    1. Enamel hypoplasia
    2. Medications e.g. ciprofloxacin, tetracycline, minocycline
    3. Dental fluorosis
    4. Childhood illnesses
    5. Ageing
    6. Trauma

TEETH WHITENING OPTIONS

There are several methods and products that are safe for teeth whitening, however, the method or products to be used are dependent on the causes of tooth discoloration and presence of  any oral conditions such as tooth fracture, receding gums, sensitive tooth etc. Generally, professional teeth whitening is done by the dentist using mostly carbamide peroxide to whiten the teeth. This product when broken down gives off hydrogen peroxide (the active ingredient for teeth whitening) and other bye products. This is considered a safe method of whitening the teeth.

There are three major methods for whitening the teeth and these include;

  1. In Office Treatment – This is the most appropriate & safest means of whitening teeth as it is administered and monitored by a dentist. It is termed In-office because it is done within a dental clinic. This process involves the use of a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide to whiten the teeth. This procedure can be done within an hour or a few days depending on the cause of the tooth discoloration and product used. It is also more beneficial as it gives a better treatment outcome within a shorter time. In- office treatment is recommended if you have any oral condition such as receding gums, sensitive tooth, broken tooth etc.
  2. At Home Treatment – This is a whitening procedure in which your dentist dispenses a product for you to use at home. Usually, your dentist will make a custom-fit tray for you at the clinic which fits your mouth and dispenses a gel for you that you will put in the tray at home and after which you will wear the tray for a certain time set by your dentist. You may have to wear the tray for a few weeks as prescribed by your dentist to whiten your teeth. Your dentist will determine if it is safe for you to use at home.
  3. Over The Counter (OTC) Treatment – This refers to the use of whitening products that can easily be sourced from the pharmacy or supermarkets. Unlike the products administered by a dentist, these locally sourced products do not contain carbamide/hydrogen peroxide, or, has very little concentration of it. For your safety, always check the constituent of any whitening product you buy, ensure it is endorsed by Nigerian Dental Association (NDA) and contact your dentist about the product if it contains hydrogen/carbamide peroxide. Examples of OTC products include whitening toothpaste, whitening strips.

For list of oral products approved for use in Nigeria, kindly visit https://nigdentalasso.org/products-endorsed-nda/

SIDE EFFECTS OF TEETH WHITENING

Teeth whitening is safe. However, there is possibility of having a few side effects which tends to diminish after a few days. The side effects include teeth sensitivity and irritated gum.

  • Teeth sensitivity-Your teeth may become more sensitive following teeth whitening. You may experience this on your first or second treatment, and it may diminish with time. Your dentist may recommend treating sensitivity with products that contain potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride gel.
  • Irritated gums- You may also experience gingival irritation. This is when your gums become irritated. This can happen because of contact on your gums with the whitening product. This side effect should go away after your treatments.

MAINTAINING YOUR WHITENED TEETH

Generally, in order to maintain the whitened tooth, the following instructions are important;

  1. Maintain good oral hygiene. You are to brush twice daily (In the morning before eating and last thing at night before sleeping) with a fluoride containing toothpaste and a medium bristle toothbrush.
  2. Avoid eating colored food (palm oil containing food, red wine)immediately after the procedure for about one week or as prescribed by your dentist.
  3. Avoid acidic drinks (soft drinks), coffee, tea after the procedure for about a week or as prescribed by your dentist.
  4. Always rinse your mouth with clean water after eating.
  5. Regular dental visit (6monthly) for follow up and possibly repeat whitening procedure.

 

CONCLUSION

As long as you stick to dentist-approved methods, whitening your teeth is considered safe. Make sure to use the method that fits your needs and always follow the directions for the product. Contact your dentist if you experience any side effects.


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