Complex dental treatment can sometimes come at a high cost. Depending on the circumstances some Australians consider getting their treatment overseas to get a ‘free’ holiday out of their dental treatment instead of having it done at home. But what are the risks? What is the real ‘cost’ you are being asked to pay? Is there a reason dental treatment is significantly cheaper in the developing world? And is it worth the risk?
While you may know someone who has successfully undergone dental work overseas, or you’re enticed by the potential savings, you should know that there are some very serious risks.
Something might go wrong… very wrong.
Things can go wrong in the dental chair. If you’re overseas receiving treatment and are the subject of an emergency dental or medical situation, you may not have the luxury of expert emergency care, support from family and friends, or even the ability to communicate to health care professional in your spoken language. Australian dentists are appropriately trained to deal with dental emergencies.
The materials used might be cheap, damaged or faulty.
Aussies seeing medical treatment overseas commonly undergo procedures that require dental materials such as crowns, bridges or dental implants. If you return from your overseas treatment and after a short time you discover a fault in the work, who will repair it? Who will you complain to and how will you pay for the subsequent treatment to fix the work? The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration ensures that products used in Australia are of a quality suitable for the Australian public.
Is the dentist qualified to perform the treatment?
Do you know that the dentist you are seeing overseas is appropriately trained and qualified to perform the treatment they have promised? Some countries accept a standard of education and training that would be considered sub-standard here and often the result of your treatment reflects this training.
In Australia, dentists and dental specialists undergo extensive training at university, are registered to practise under the conditions of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, and undergo mandatory continuing professional development.
It is also worth considering if this treatment needs to be re-done, the solutions may be complex and costly to repair and at times a compromised result may be all that is possible as irreversible damage may have been done.
Infection and Spread of Disease
Infection and spread of disease in hospitals and dental practices in some other countries are a very real concern. In Australia, dental practices adhere to strict infection control protocols imposed by the Australian Dental Association, and the Dental Board of Australia. Your oral health is very important. Whether you need a simple filling or complex dental work you should always be aware and informed of the benefits and risks associated with treatment.
While the financial cost of treatment may appear high, your health is very important. Before you seriously consider dental treatment overseas, consult a local dentist to weigh up your options. If you’ve already made up your mind to receive your dental treatment overseas, do your research. Just remember, it’s your money, your teeth and your health.
Dry mouth (or xerostomia) is a common complaint in dental patients, with many possible physiological conditions being the cause. Dry mouth associated with reduced functioning of the salivary glands can be a major nuisance in a patient’s day-to day life.
Also, the reduced saliva levels can be associated with disease of the hard and soft tissues of the oral cavity.
Possible causes of dry mouth
Hundreds of medications have been shown to cause dry mouth. The most frequently implicated drugs are antidepressants, anticoagulants and antihistamines. These particular drugs are believed to work by blocking certain functions of the body that help promote watery secretions from the salivary glands of the mouth
Dry mouth can be associated with Sjogrens syndrome, a disease that is commonly seen in postmenopausal women. This syndrome affects both the salivary glands and the tear-producing glands of the eyes, which is why dry eyes are commonly present in addition to the dry mouth symptoms. In many people, Sjogrens syndrome is stand-alone condition, but in some cases it can be associated with autoimmune condition likes rheumatoid arthritis
Dry mouth can follow direct head and neck radiation therapy as salivary glands are incidentally damaged in the process of trying to destroy cancer cells. The degree to which the salivary glands re compromised is in direct proportion to the dose and region of the radiation. Generally dry mouth symptoms last for around 6 months after the treatment but they can persist for longer. Chemotherapy treatment also causes dry mouth symptoms – by making salivary secretions thicker. Generally, though, the effects of chemotherapy are far more short-lived than those of radiation therapy
As the main component of saliva is water, reduction in water within the body, or periods of dehydration, will reduce the production of saliva. Someone who is adequately hydrated will more easily produce salivary secretions throughout the day.
Can dry mouth affect my teeth?
Prolonged dry mouth can certainly have detrimental effects on the oral environment and teeth. This is because saliva has the ability to neutralise the acids that can demineralise the tooth surface and when saliva I lacking our teeth are more prone to decay and wear. (Conversely, saliva can remineralise the tooth surface after demineralisation as it contains calcium, phosphate and fluoride ions, which make up the backbone of tooth structure.)
As well as protecting teeth from harmful acid exposure, saliva plays a role in decreasing plaque accumulation and can clear food stuffs from the teeth due to its natural cleansing properties. (This is one reason to chew sugar free chewing gum after eating.) Saliva has also been shown to have antibacterial properties, containing enzymes that can effectively work to destroy harmful bacteria within the oral cavity.
Without saliva and its protective properties, higher rates of tooth decay, gum disease and soft tissue disease (oral candidosis, etc) will most likely result
What can be done to manage dry mouth?
Topical fluoride applications in the dental surgery and at home can be used to help prevent demineralisation of the teeth while also helping reminerlise. Tooth mousse (CCP-ACP) products can also be used to the same effect as fluoride treatments. Artificial saliva substitutes (like Biotene or GC dry mouth preparations) can help relieve dryness and help aid in disease prevention and in speaking and chewing function.
In addition to the above, you can stimulate saliva production by drinking tap water to ensure that you are adequately hydrated throughout the day. Avoiding caffeine can also have a positive effect.
Finally make sure you have regular dental check-ups as a contribution to avoiding dental problems.
When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and your teeth may be tender to biting pressures for the first few days. This can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with cool water. This helps relax the archwire, which stiffens at body temperature and relaxes with cooler temperatures. If the tenderness is severe, take some pain relief such as Paracetamol. The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for 1-2 weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces – this is normal. You can put orthodontic wax or silicone on the braces to lessen this.
What to Avoid Eating
When you have braces it is important to take care of them. If you are careful in watching what you eat during treatment and can avoid breaking any part of the braces your treatment will go much smoother and require less discomfort and emergency appointments. There are many foods that can be safely eaten with braces. The list of foods to avoid below is designed for your benefit:
Hard foods can break brackets, loosen bands and bend wires e.g. Apples or Carrots (unless cooked or cut into small pieces), Ice cubes, Nuts, Corn on the Cob, Popcorn, Hard Candy, Peanut Brittle, Bagels, Jerky, Hard Pretzels, Pizza Crust.
Sticky foods can also break brackets, loosen or bend wires e.g. Red Skins, Caramels, Gummy bears, Sticky candy and some chewing gums.
Foods high in sugar content cause bacteria in your mouth to start producing organic acids which can cause permanent stains and damage to your teeth. If you choose to eat sugary foods every once and a while, make sure to brush your teeth thoroughly immediately after.
Acidic foods can also cause permanent stains and damage to your teeth e.g. Soft drinks, Acidic juices and Sports drinks.
How to Clean My Braces
It is essential that oral hygiene is kept to the highest of standards, as the presence of braces provides further areas for plaque to accumulate, exacerbating pre-existing dental health issues and increasing the risk of irreversible hard and soft tissue damage. Inadequate or improper hygiene could result in cavities, discoloured teeth, periodontal (gum) disease and/or decalcification. These same problems can also occur without orthodontic treatment, but the risk is greater to an individual wearing appliances. These problems may be aggravated if the patient often consumes sweetened beverages or foods. The following procedure will make daily brushing and flossing both simple and effective:
Prepare to brush. Take off elastics and any other removable parts of your orthodontic appliance.
Clean your braces. Hold your brush at a 45 degree angle to clean, above and below the brackets as shown at your braces on appointment. Take your time to ensure that all plaque and debris are removed, and that you work all the way around upper and lower teeth.
Brush your teeth. Clean each tooth individually. First, place your brush at a 45 degree angle the gum line, than apply gentle pressure as you move in a circular motion. Do this for about 10 seconds. Use the same brushing action on all outer and inner tooth surfaces, tilting the brush as needed to better reach the insides of smaller front teeth.
Floss once a day. Have you dental professional show you the best way to floss, or follow the instructions on the product package. You may also want to use a flossing product designed for braces and orthodontic work like a floss threader.
Rinse and check your teeth. Rinse thoroughly with water or mouth rinse and examine your teeth and braces in the mirror.
We encourage regular dental examinations and professional maintenance throughout your orthodontic treatment. Should you have any questions regarding oral hygiene technique please don’t hesitate to ask us!
Good oral health is crucial to maintaining the health of your entire body. A regular oral health routine, including brushing and flossing, not only keeps your smile healthy but can also improve total body health and your quality of life.
At Pennant Hills Dental Centre we are strong advocates about educating our patients on the multiple benefits of good oral health to ensure their teeth last a lifetime; after all, prevention I always better than a cure. Below are 5 benefits of good oral health that go beyond white teeth and fresh breath!
Your mouth is the gateway to your body
Longitudinal research has confirmed that poor oral health can lead to serious oral health concerns such as gum disease, specifically periodontal (gum) disease, as a result of built-up bacteria on your teeth and gums. Periodontitis (gum disease – see periodontal therapy cause infection and inflammation within the mouth, which can attack other parts of your body through the bloodstream. Since inflammation is a major risk factor for heart disease, people with periodontal disease run a greater risk of having a fatal heart attack than people without periodontal disease. Remember, a healthy smile means a healthy heart!
Healthy teeth… healthy pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body will go through a wave of hormones that can change the condition of your oral and overall health. Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can make you more susceptible to certain oral health conditions, such as periodontal disease. Further to that research has shown infection and inflammation from periodontal disease in the mouth may affect the health of the pregnant uterus leading to low birth-weight and premature contractions of the uterus and consequently preterm births. If you are pregnant, it is important to visit use for regular check-ups to give your new born the best start in life.
Trying to lose weight? Start with a healthy smile!
Apart from the obvious link that reducing sugary foods will be both be good for your waistline and reduce your risk of dental decay. We can also modify the ‘way’ we eat in order to help us lose weight.
Most of us can agree that not much tastes good right after brushing with minty toothpaste. Don’t wait until bedtime to brush; brushing your teeth straight after dinner can help you thwart late-night snacking. This psychological trick signals to your brain that you have finished eating, so use it to your advantage – have a healthy meal and then, before you’re tempted to overeat or indulge in sweet desserts, go and brush your teeth.
Better quality of life
The implications of oral health for our total wellbeing are not only physical, influencing how we grow, how we look, how we speak, chew and taste food, but also psychological, influencing how we socialise, our social wellbeing and how much enjoyment we get out of life.
And that’s not all folks… the list goes on.
At this stage are large number of studies have shown that cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and complications of diabetes, respiratory infections, stroke and adverse pregnancy outcomes are significantly associated with tooth loss and periodontal disease. For this reason here at Pennant Hills Dental Centre we are passionate about protecting natural teeth from decay and periodontal disease, with a strong focus on early detection and prevention.
Pericoronitis is a common dental problem of the gums in young adults (17-24yrs) when the wisdom teeth normally erupt (break through the gum) into the mouth. It’s a painful inflammation caused by the infection of the soft gingival tissues (gums) over or around a partially erupted wisdom tooth. Pericoronitis is one of the common reasons we need to extract wisdom teeth.
What causes Pericoronitis?
Pericoronitis is almost always associated with tooth impaction, and especially with impacted wisdom teeth.
Generally pericoronitis infection will be caused by:
Gum flap infection: when there is a partially erupted wisdom tooth, part of the tooth is exposed, and part of it remains covered by a flap of gum tissue. Food particles and other debris may get trapped under this flap of gums and cause an initial inflammation. The decomposition of food particles, in combination with poor oral hygiene that allows the accumulation of dental plaque and tartar, promotes the growth of bacteria and the development of an infection. Even if the patient has good oral hygiene, it’s not easy to clean under the flap with a toothbrush, so inflammation and infection can easily develop.
Trauma: several incidents of pericoronitis are caused by a minor trauma of the gums around a tooth. Gum flaps over a partially impacted tooth are usually already inflamed. The same occurs around and over a wisdom tooth that is still completely under the gums because the tooth puts tension on the gums that cover it. The inflamed issue is more susceptible to minor injuries during chewing either from food components or the opposing teeth. If the lower gum flap is already inflamed and swollen, the upper tooth may bite down on it, causing additional irritation and swelling, and causing the development of pericoronitis.
Other factors which are considered that predispose to pericoronitis are emotional stress, fatigue, upper respiratory tract infections, second trimester of pregnancy and menstruation.
Pericoronitis may affect any tooth that has eruption problems and becomes impacted, but since impaction is a very rare condition in the rest of the teeth, it most often occurs with the wisdom teeth, most commonly those of the lower jaw. Pericoronitis is a main cause of wisdom tooth pain.
What are the symptoms of Pericoronitis?
Symptoms of pericoronitis can include:
Swollen gum tissue in the area of the affected tooth. It can be difficult to bite down comfortably without catching the swollen tissue between your teeth. It can progress to become a knob-like mass of tissue that is very painful when you chew or open and close your mouth
Bad breath (caused by the trapped food and bacteria under the gum flap)
Discharge of pus from the gum near the tooth
A bad smell or taste in the mouth (caused by pus leaking from the gums)
More serious symptoms include:
Severe throbbing pain
Swollen lymph nodes under the chin in the neck
Muscle spasms in the jaw
Swelling on the affected side of the face
Difficulty opening the mouth
Dysphagia – difficult in swallowing food
How is Pericoronitis Diagnosed?
Pericoronitis is easy to diagnose during a clinical examination. In most cases the swelling of the gum tissues around an impacted tooth is a clear and very obvious sign of pericoronitis. The gums are red, swollen or draining fluid or pus.
If pericoronitis is caused by a partially erupted or impacted tooth then we will usually take an x-ray to determine the exact position, size, alignment, and orientation of the tooth and decide about the treatment accordingly.
The dentist will also look for other symptoms that may indicate that the swelling and infection has spread beyond the jaw to the cheeks and neck. In severe cases of pericoronitis the infection may spread into surrounding tissues, developing to cellulitis, a very serious, often life-threatening infection that must be treated quickly to prevent further and possible swelling of the airway.
Depending on the etiology, symptoms, and severity of pericoronitis we may recommend a combination of the following treatments:
Improvement of oral hygiene to keep the area clean
Frequent rinsing with warm salt water to sooth the patient. External application of heat should be avoided since it promotes spread of infection towards the facial skin
Soft diet to avoid further irritation of the gum issue
Removal of the flap of gum covering the tooth (if we decide not to extract the tooth immediately)
Drainage, if an abscess has developed
Extraction of the impacted tooth (to eliminate the causative factor of pericoronitis).
The most severe cases when the swelling and infection has spread to the neck may need to be treated in a hospital with intravenous antibiotics
The only permanent solution for treatment of the pericoronitis is the extraction of the impacted wisdom tooth.
Prevention of pericoronitis
The only thing a patient with an impacted wisdom tooth can do to prevent pericoronitis is to take extra care for the oral hygiene around that tooth, and try to avoid injuring the area with hard foods. Unfortunately there is not much that can be done to prevent the impaction of a tooth.