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Why orthodontists use fluoride on teeth

Water fluoridation is a controversial subject. And, at Turner Lim, we have no intentions what so ever of entering the debate. Instead, in this post, we explain why orthodontists recommend fluoride to their patients.

A bit about fluoride

It was at the beginning of the 20th century that American dentist Frederick McKay accidentally discovered that fluoride could prevent tooth decay.

Fluoride is not a substance cooked-up in a science lab. Actually, it is a natural mineral found in water sources such as rivers, lakes and oceans.

When applied to your teeth, fluoride absorbs into the enamel — a process called ‘remineralisation.’ As a result, by replenishing lost calcium and phosphorus, the fluoride can put a stop to tooth decay.

The bugs in your mouth HATE fluoride, which is a good thing. And fluoride also protects your teeth from acid-filled fizzy drinks.

Toothpaste

Many kinds of toothpaste contain fluoride. And for patients with low saliva counts or high decay rates, we often prescribe toothpaste with extra-high levels.

Note: The saliva in your mouth is responsible for washing away the acid. Due to factors such as age or medications, some people have low saliva counts (dry mouths). For them, fluoride is beneficial for acid protection.

Tooth Mousse

A good way to apply fluoride is with the topical treatment tooth mousse. Incidentally, at Turner Lim Orthodontists, we recommend Tooth Mousse Plus.

Because you can apply it with a cotton bud, tooth mousse is absorbed deeper into the tooth’s surface than fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash.

When is tooth mousse used?

In general dentistry

Dentists often use tooth mousse to remineralise teeth showing the very early stages of cavities. Doing this eliminates the need to take the more drastic measure of putting in a filling. Tooth mousse is also effective for treating sensitive teeth.

In orthodontics

It is common for patients to find white marks on their teeth when their braces come off. A build-up of plaque is the cause, and in most cases, marks are very mild. However, with about 10% of patients who don’t do a particularly good job of cleaning their teeth, the marks can be quite nasty. To remove these marks, orthodontists use tooth mousse to add minerals to the affected teeth.

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Are pacifiers bad for your baby’s teeth?

At Turner Lim Orthodontists, patients often ask whether pacifiers can cause harm to their children. In this post, we address the concerns.

It’s only natural

The desire to suck is normal. After all, it’s how babies eat. Most babies lose the urge after about six months; however, some continue to comfort themselves.

But …

Problems can arise when the habit continues for too long. Pacifiers can affect tooth alignment if your child continues sucking after two to four years of age. The good news, though, is if your child ‘kicks the habit’ before her baby teeth start to fall out (around six or seven), it’s likely that her bite will correct itself.

Most dental professionals believe that a pacifier is better for a child than her thumb — simply because it’s easier to give up.

To be sure there is no lasting damage, it pays to limit your child’s pacifier time or even take it away after her first year.

What damage can a pacifier do?

Here are some of the negative effects of sucking a pacifier or thumb for too long:

  • Top front teeth can slope outwards, and bottom front teeth slope inwards.
  • The child’s upper and lower jaws can become misaligned.
  • The roof of the child’s mouth can become narrower.

Orthodontic pacifiers

To reduce any possible damage to your child’s teeth, consider getting an orthodontic pacifier. Research shows that they cause fewer bite problems than the traditional type.

With a nipple that is rounded at the top and flat at the bottom, an orthodontic pacifier supports the form of a baby’s growing palate and jaw. Like a mother’s nipple, it flattens in the mouth to provide a natural sucking action and create less pressure on gums and teeth.

orth-pacifier

An orthodontic pacifier

Where can you get one?

We don’t supply orthodontic pacifiers at Turner Lim. However, they are readily available from baby shops and some dentists.

5 Tips for giving up

If you feel it’s time for your child to give up her pacifier, here are five things you can try:

  1. Praise your child for not sucking her pacifier or thumb.
  2. Make her feel secure, so she doesn’t slip into old habits.
  3. Get your dentist or orthodontist to show your child what can happen if she doesn’t stop.
  4. Create a sticker chart to mark your child’s progress.
  5. Make sure the rest of your family backs you up.

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Why you should floss for dental health.

Make your orthodontist happy and floss regularly

Have you flossed today? I hope so — as an orthodontist, I recommend flossing be part of your daily routine, particularly if you wear dental braces. In this post, I explain why.

Isn’t brushing enough?

Brushing is essential. However, that toothbrush of yours won’t reach all those ‘nasties’ that set up camp in the spaces between your teeth and gums.

It needs a helping hand.

Floss is known as an interdental cleaner. It’s designed to get into places your toothbrush can’t reach — between your teeth as well as the gaps between the base of your teeth and top of your gums.

If you are unsure about how to floss, watch this short video.

What happens if I don’t floss?

Failing to floss is NOT a good idea. It can lead to several problems including

  • Gingivitis — a mild gum disease, which can cause painful swelling of gums and sores in your mouth. Bleeding gums can be a warning that gingivitis is settling in.
  • Bad breath — unchecked food particles in your teeth and gums breed bacteria, which can cause halitosis, otherwise known as bad breath.
  • Receding gums — gum tissue can wear away and expose the roots of your teeth. Experiencing pain when drinking a hot or ice-cold drink can be a warning sign.
  • Teeth may fall out — Yikes! This can happen due to gum disease being left untreated for too long resulting in infections.

 

Should I floss before or after brushing?

It doesn’t really matter whether you floss before or after brushing. Just make sure you do! Even young children should floss as soon as they have two teeth next to each other.

Choose a time that enables you to dedicate a couple of extra minutes so that you can do a thorough job.

Which floss would an orthodontist recommend?

Any floss is better than no floss. However, as an orthodontist, I find that Oral B Superfloss is particularly good for cleaning around braces. It has three components that enable you to achieve a complete clean:

  1. A stiff-end dental floss threader that enables you to floss under your dental braces or bridge.
  2. Spongy floss that cleans around your appliance and wide spaces.
  3. Regular floss that removes plaque from below the gum line.

Airflosser is also excellent, and if you prefer floss threaders, we can supply them at the clinic.

I hope that, if you didn’t already, you now understand the importance of flossing. If you enjoyed this post, please share.

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