Reva Dental Blog

Nutrition and Oral Health

It’s an idea we all know – eating healthy food creates healthy teeth. However, for ideal oral health it’s important to understand the process by which your diet can affect your oral health so that you can improve your diet and eating patterns with better oral health in mind.

Plaque and Acid Production

Oral bacteria can generally be kept in check by a healthy diet combined with regular and thorough dental care. When we eat or drink, natural bacteria and particles of food sit in the mouth and accumulate around the teeth, causing plaque to form. This is a constant process which eventually leads to the formation of dental caries, or cavities.

Some foods tend to start breaking down when they have been swallowed and reach the digestive tract, a good thing where oral health is concerned. However, other foods start to break down in the mouth itself – this encourages acid production by oral bacteria in the mouth and thereby hastens the destructive process to tooth structure. Saliva helps counteract the damage caused by these acids, as does regular brushing and fluoride; however it is best to minimise consumption of these types of foods where possible.

Carbohydrates are a good example of foods that break down in the mouth – they break down into simple sugars with the resultant acid production leading to plaque formation and greater likelihood of dental caries. Included in this category are sugary foods like sweets and soft drinks, as well as bread and most breakfast cereals.

Unhealthy Eating and Oral Health

Eating sugary and ‘junk’ foods promotes the acidic build-up in your mouth. However, food that is sticky or slow to dissolve is just as damaging if not more so.  For example, ‘healthier’ options, such as raisins, can be just as bad as sweets as they tend to stick to the teeth and can take a long time to flush completely down the digestive tract. Jellybeans actually dissolve faster than raisins in the mouth and are therefore not as destructive (although they are very high in sugar and therefore also to be avoided!). Similarly, muesli bars, crisps or biscuits tend to stay in the mouth, giving acid more time to damage tooth enamel and increasing the chance of plaque build-up. Recent research has also found that sports drinks are more erosive to tooth enamel than soft drinks, juice or cordial. Ultimately, poor general nutrition can create long-term problems for your teeth and can lead to serious dental problems such as periodontal disease.

When you eat is as important as what you eat.

Eating a meal increases saliva production, which helps to neutralise the destructive effects of bacteria. However, if damaging foods are eaten outside of meal times, the acids can stay on the teeth for up to 40 minutes. The more snacks you eat, the more opportunity for acidic plaque to build up. In other words, sugary food eaten as part of a main meal (such as dessert) will create less damage than snacking on sweets through the day.

Better Diet, Healthier Mouth

Water is a key ingredient in reducing the damage caused by plaque. Drinking water after a meal washes out the mouth and reduces the chance of bacteria taking hold. The fluoride added to our water supply has been overwhelmingly proven to reduce the formation of dental caries. However you should also use toothpaste with fluoride added or use a neutral fluoride-containing mouth rinse. A healthy diet is also crucial for good teeth and gums. Choose whole grain bread or rice over white and lots of vegetables and firm fruits, such as apples, fish, nuts and seeds for protein and anything that contains calcium, beneficial for stronger teeth, such as milk products.

Food that increases saliva production helps neutralise the effects of oral bacteria. Aged cheese can help buffer acid if eaten after a meal. Sugarless chewing gum containing xylitol has been shown to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth.

And of course, brushing and flossing after each meal is your first and best defence against damaging bacteria and plaque.

Call Reva Dental on 056 776 3786 to schedule your appointment. You may be eligible for a free check-up; see www.revadental.ie

Dental Emergencies

Avoiding and Detecting Dental Accidents

Most dental emergencies in adulthood are the result of a sporting injury. The easiest way to prevent damage to the mouth and teeth during sport is to wear a mouthguard. This acts as a shock absorber for the teeth and jaw, and is particularly recommended in sports where the face may take a knock, such as football and softball. Other activities that can result in adult dental injuries include:

  • Chewing on ice, popcorn kernels or anything hard;
  • Using teeth rather than scissors;
  • Grinding or clenching teeth;
  • Brittleness after dental surgery, such as root canal.

Common Emergencies

If a tooth is broken or has fallen out completely, it is vital to call a dentist immediately and make an appointment. At Reva Dental our dentists leave room in their schedules for emergency appointments and will see all cases of dental trauma on the same day.

A broken tooth

  • As soon as possible after the injury, rinse the mouth out with warm water;
  • Use a cold compress on the area to reduce any swelling;
  • If there is bleeding, apply gentle pressure to the gums but do not press directly on the broken tooth;
  • If you can, locate as much of the broken tooth as possible and take to the dentist with you;
  • Most broken teeth can be fixed, either through filling or surgery. A crown or cap over the tooth may also be needed.

A knocked out tooth

If the tooth has been knocked out completely, there is a good possibility your dentist can put it back.

  • Rinse the tooth very gently in warm water. Always hold it by the tooth and not by the root, as this will cause permanent damage;
  • If possible, insert the tooth back in its space in your jaw. If not, immerse it in a glass of milk. Do not dry it or wrap it in tissue;
  • Take the tooth with you to the dentist;
  • If re-attached within 1 hour of falling out, there is a good chance the tooth will take root again;
  • If you were unconscious at any stage, go to a hospital for a check-up.
  • Always consult your dentist, but it is advised to avoid taking aspirin or any other medication that slows clotting before your visit. Ibuprofen is a better alternative for pain.

Toothache

  • If anything has been caught between teeth, try and remove the object with dental floss. You should never try and remove objects with anything sharp. If the object remains stuck, or if there is pain, see a dentist.
  • For a lost filling, call your dentist and make a booking as soon as possible. As a short-term precaution until you can get to the dentist, place a piece of softened sugarless chewing gum in the spot where the filling has fallen out.
  • Toothache, particularly sharp pain or sensitivity after an accident might be an indicator of a cracked tooth. Such cracks are often invisible to the naked eye, and must be tended to by a dentist.

Calling the Dentist

If you have experienced an emergency, giving the correct information to your dentist can save time and problems. Make sure you explain:

  • The location of the tooth;
  • How long the tooth has been injured or painful;
  • How the injury was caused;
  • The severity of the pain;
  • Any other symptoms, such as swelling or fever.
  • If you have already taken painkillers, explain the type and how many. If you have a tooth, or pieces of tooth, make sure you take them with you to the dentist.

If you have a dental emergency call Reva Dental on 056 7763786 to schedule your appointment; see www.revadental.ie