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    Dental Topics

    Do Cavities Hurt? The Answer May Surprise You.

    A real problem for dentists is when people wait until their teeth start hurting to come into the dentist. Many times, that is simply too late. The truth is that cavities simply do not hurt until they get fairly large. Dr Ellis discusses when IS the right time to get into the dentist.

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    Metal Braces Vs Plastic Trays

    Braces or Invisalign – We Cut to The Facts To Help You Decide

     Having well-aligned shiny teeth to frame your smile can give you or your child a boost of confidence in life.

     Whether it is for yourself or your child, choosing the right type of orthodontic treatment to correct misalignment can be confusing.

     You no doubt have heard of traditional braces, but in the last 20 years, the Invisalign method has become a popular treatment plan in correcting and straightening teeth.

     In this blog, we are going to answer the most asked questions about the advantages and disadvantages of each method giving you a comprehensive overview so you can make the right decision for your individual preferences and unique anatomy.


     First Though… What Are Braces & Invisalign

    Braces are made from metal brackets that are glued to each tooth, a wire runs through the middle of the brackets, tiny rubber bands hold the wire and the brackets together.

     On the other hand, Invisalign consists of computer-generated and custom-made trays made from 3D computer imaging and impressions of your teeth and gums.  This information is then used to form your aligner trays for the duration of your treatment.  The trays are made from clear BPA-free plastic that sits comfortable and “invisible” on your teeth.

     Now, you have clear in mind the differences, let’s take a look at why you may opt for one over the other.

     Braces – Why They’ve Stood The Test Of Time

    Traditional braces are more effective at treating more complex orthodontic issues. So depending on your discussion with your orthodontist, traditional braces may be your only option.


    If fashion statements are your thing, braces now come in non-metal options so you can choose a bold color or opt for more discreet enamel colored brackets and wiring that are less noticeable when set against your teeth.

     As far as cost goes, braces are slightly more affordable. However, Invisalign has come down in price a lot in recent years making the price gap fairly slim.

     Since braces are permanently attached to your teeth it means there is no temptation to not wear them (or forget to wear them), less self-discipline is needed and for some, this is a positive.

     Braces have been around for a much longer time then Invisalign. Therefore braces have stood the test of time, proving with its generations of use that it is an effective tool to straighten and correct teeth especially significant orthodontic issues.   


     Invisalign – Advantages Of Modern Technology

    The Invisalign trays are made from clear BPA-free plastic that is almost invisible when worn. So if you are self-conscious or metal braces are simply not the look you’re after, then Invisalign is a more subtle option.

     Your alignment trays are sent to your orthodontic clinic, you then pick up a new batch of trays at each visit. Since these trays are changed every 2 weeks you have fewer and shorter follow-up appointments, about every 2-3 months.

     There are no food restrictions, as you take the trays out each time you eat. So you don’t need to deprive yourself of your favorite treats – popcorn and sticky toffee anyone?

     They are also smooth and comfortable to wear, with little to no disruption to your speech.


     Metal Mouth, and Other Disadvantages to Braces

    If you fear being called “metal-mouth” or “train-tracks” then braces may not be the right choice aesthetically speaking.

     Dietary requirements are necessary for your treatment as sticky or hard food can cause the brackets to break and pull away from the tooth.

     The brackets and wires can cause irritations to the lips and cheeks causing cracks and sores which can be painful and uncomfortable.

     If you play contact sports it is recommended to wear a mouth guard to protect yourself being cut by the brackets if you are struck in the face.


     The Negatives to Consider with Invisalign

    Dedication and commitment to the entire duration of the treatment are vital.

     Invisalign trays need to be worn for 22 hours a day. Since they are easily removable you can be tempted to leave them off for longer, or forget to put them back in after eating. Continually doing this will delay the process and could even create problems late on.

     Diligence is needed with brushing your teeth and cleaning the trays after every meal or beverage that is not water. This can become an inconvenience for some, but not doing this will stain the trays making your “invisible” braces more a murky hue of yellow.

     They are not ideal for patients with complex orthodontic issues such as bridgework, or the need to rotate canines or premolars.


     The Bottom Line …

    As you have seen there are advantages and disadvantages to both methods. However, what it boils down to is the conversation you will have with your orthodontist. They may decide you are more suited to one than the other.

     However, you may qualify for either, if so, carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages and which will best suit you or your child.  Rest assured though, both methods will help you achieve that perfect smile.

    You really should add tongue scraping to your oral care routine.

    5 Reason Why You Should Add Tongue Scraping To Your Oral Care Routine


    Tongue scraping is an oral care practice that removes food debris, bacteria, fungi, toxins, and dead cells from the surface of your tongue.


    Tongue scraping has been around for eons. It is an Ayurvedic self-care practice dating back to ancient times in India. It has been gaining a lot of attention recently in the western world, as scientific research is beginning to support this ancient method of self-care.


    Now, we know what you’re probably thinking “please not another step to add to my oral care routine – brush, floss, rinse, now tongue scraping! C’mon!”


    We hear you, loud and clear! And if you are consistent with the brush, floss, rinse routine then we couldn’t be prouder of you! But if you want to take your oral hygiene to a whole new level then we want to inform you of an easy and quick way you can, yes, by tongue scraping.


    Since the oral cavity is a major gateway between your body and the environment, maintaining the health and hygiene of this area is crucial not just for oral health but also your overall health.


    Here are 5 reasons why you might consider adopting this simple step into your morning and evening routine.




    1. You Want To Actually Taste All The Flavors of The Food That You Eat

    Maybe it’s not until you have a cold that you really miss and appreciate your taste buds. Everything literally loses its flavor. Life becomes a little duller.


    In a similar way, this can happen when toxins that you breathe in through the day build-up on the surface of your tongue, blocking pores and your ability to recognize the taste of food. By removing the toxins you unblock the pores that will, in turn, allow you to fully taste the food you consume.


    1. You’re Hell-Bent on Avoiding Cavities And You Will Stop at Nothing

    By regularly scraping your tongue you remove the bacteria and toxins that are responsible for plaque. You, in turn, reduce the build-up of plaque and without plaque to feed-off, cavities, decay, and gum disease don’t have a leg to stand on.


    1. You Fear Breathing Bad Breath All Over Your Partner (Mood-Killer)

    Stick your tongue out in front of a mirror. Look at the very back, is it a different color to the front of your tongue? Majority of bad breath (Halitosis) comes from what is lurking at the back, hard to reach places on your tongue. Food, bacteria, fungi, and dead cells like to build up in this area of your tongue causing that foul smell when you talk. A standard toothbrush cannot reach this far back but a tongue scraper can, eliminating this bad odor from the deep crevices of your mouth.


    1. You Seem To Catch Every Bug or Virus During Winter

    Your body is constantly exposed to toxins and bacteria throughout the day. You can’t help but breath in these toxins and bacteria. Your tongue acts like a line of defense for your immune system. To a degree, it can decide what is absorbed into the body and what is expelled. By regularly scraping your tongue, you remove these bad toxins from being reabsorbed into your immune system, therefore, keeping it strong.


    1. You’re Tired of Your Digestive System Being Your Boss

    Do you feel like your digestive system rules the roost at times? Tongue scraping can help you to digest food more readily. When you eat, your salivary glands switch on, communicating to your digestive system that food is on its way and it needs to prepare itself to do its job.


    When our taste buds are clear and unblocked they are ready to assist the channel of communication from your mouth to your gut. This strong communication means your gut is ready to absorb nutrients and eliminate waste and toxins from your body.


    So What Do You Need And How Do You Start?

    The first (and obvious) step is to go and buy a tongue scraper. You can find them at most health food stores or online. They are thin and flat and are the shape of a “U”. Make sure you buy a good quality one made of metal, not plastic as it can be cleaned easier.


    It is true you could use a toothbrush or spoon to do a similar job, however, these tools cannot reach as far back into the tongue and have been proven to be less effective.


    This routine should be done daily, preferably in the morning and before you eat.


    Here’s what to do:

    1. Stand in front of a mirror and stick your tongue out as far as you can.
    2. Hold each side of the tongue scraper in each hand
    3. Place the end of the scraper as far back on the tongue as you can (this may elicit the gag reflex, so start midway and work your way back if you need to).
    4. Breathe in and as you breathe out gently move the scraper down to the tip of your tongue
    5. Rinse the debris with water
    6. Repeat steps 1-5 seven to fourteen times until the tongue looks clean.


    It’s as simple as that!


    As we have seen in this blog there are good reasons why this ancient technique has stood the test of time. It is an easy, simple way to assist your oral health and overall health. If you feel you would benefit from giving tongue scrapping a shot we highly recommend to you to give it a go.

    All Natural Remedies for Wisdom Tooth Pain

    Natural Remedies To Manage The Pain When Wisdom Teeth Decide to Join The Party

     Wisdom teeth; a mocking name given to uninvited guests in your mouth that usually give you pain and discomfort and leave you feeling anything but wise.

     Wisdom teeth are actually the third set of molars that form at the back of the mouth. They usually start appearing between the ages of 17 and 25 years of age. If space in the mouth is limited or the direction of growth of the tooth is crooked, gums can become inflamed, you can also get tooth pain, headaches, bleeding, and infection. This obviously can leave you in quite a lot of pain and discomfort.

     When these “wisdom” teeth start to rear their ugly heads the usual call to action is to go straight to the local dentist to have them removed. However, instant removal is not always possible, nor is finding the spare time to spend in the dentist chair.

     You’ll be happy to know however, you don’t need to just suck it up and get on with it. This pain and discomfort can be relieved at home using things you may already have laying around in your cupboards.

     We have brought together six natural and simple remedies to help you alleviate and manage the pain when your wisdom teeth decide its time to say ‘g’day’.


    Clove Oil

    Clove oil can be your best friend when it comes to managing tooth pain because it helps in two important ways. First, due to its anesthetic properties, it can numb the pain. Secondly, it fights off infection due to its powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties.

     Place a few drops onto a cotton pad and place over the infected or painful area. Hold in place until the pain subsides. If you find the oil is too strong, just mix it with a small amount of olive oil to dilute the pungency. 

     Garlic & Ginger

    Just like garlic and ginger can help you to fight a cold due to its effectiveness at killing pathogens, it can do the same by attacking the pathogens that invade the gum line.

     Crush a clove of garlic with 1cm of ginger until you make a paste. Then put the paste over the infected area.


    Onions are known to be anti-inflammatory. They contain high amounts of phytochemicals that fight the germs that cause infection and swelling.

     This remedy is not for the faint-hearted however since you need to chew on a piece of onion. By chewing the onion on the side of the mouth causing pain you will allow the juices to surround the painful area giving you pain relief. If your gums are too sore to chew, then gently hold the onion over the troubled area. Remember the more pungent the better in this case, so try to choose red or yellow onions for optimal effect.

     Tea Bags

    If swollen gums around the affected area are more the problem then tea can really help since the tannic acid found in it has anti-inflammatory properties.

     Brew a cup of black tea, put it in the fridge with the tea bag left in until it cools right down. Once cold, place the tea bag over the inflamed section of your gums, hold in place until you feel swelling reducing or pain dissipating.


    Turmeric is another fantastic anti-inflammatory food due to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory qualities. Simply rub a piece of turmeric on the inflamed gum line. Alternatively, you can make a mouth rinse by boiling 5mg of turmeric with two cloves, wait for it to cool then swish the rinse in your mouth multiple times throughout the day.              

     Ice Pack

    If swelling is the main problem then applying an ice pack to your cheeks can help to reduce the pain caused by swelling and inflammation.

     Apply a commercial icepack to your cheek for 15 minutes increments throughout the day. Make sure you leave at least 15 minutes between reapplying the ice pack.

     While the methods mentioned above can help to manage the pain and stop an infection, your best port of call is to see your local dentist. While extraction is not always necessary, having a professional look at and monitor the way your tooth is growing can help to avoid any complications in the future, such as disruption to the rest of your teeth, as well as prevent infection. 

    Simple Experiments to Get Your Children Excited About Brushing

    Try These Simple Experiments to Get Your Children Excited to Brush Their Teeth

    Are your children getting to that age where they are too old for you to be brushing their teeth anymore but they are slightly too young to understand the importance of doing so?

    Getting your children on-board to a good oral care routine can be a real challenge. It can have you even dreading that time of day you know will either end in tears or a tantrum, and that’s not to mention what your kid will be like.

    As you can probably attest to, kids love to ask the question “why?” but usually when they have gotten a good enough answer they are quick to accept it and move on.

    Kids also love to get messy and that’s why hands-on learning helps children to experience the “why” for themselves. In other words, they get to see first hand the cause and effect of what you want them to do.

    So in this blog, we are calling all parents to the lab and waking up that young scientist in you. Your children will love seeing first hand why their teeth need to be looked after. It may even gross them out so much that they will be begging to brush their teeth after every meal.

    Grab Your Lab Coats and Science Goggles, Its Time To Get Messy…

    We have gathered 3 fun and easy science experiments you can do at home with your kids. You may even learn a thing or two yourselves.

    Let the experiments begin!

    Experiment # 1 Stain Removal  

    Purpose: To show how dark-colored liquids can stain your teeth and how much firmness with the toothbrush is needed to remove stains

    What you’ll need: A glass jar, coke (or any dark soda), eggs (the whiter the better), toothbrush, and toothpaste.

    How to:

    Step 1: Place an egg inside the glass jar, pour coke over it until the egg is covered. Leave to sit overnight.

    Step 2: Remove egg from liquid and pat dry. Notice the stain now on the egg.

    Step 3: Use a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush and brush clean half of the stained egg.

    Conclusion: By brushing only half the egg you can easily compare the difference in color to the rest of the egg, noting how dark liquids stain teeth. Note also how an even amount of pressure is needed to remove the stain, more pressure is required for the more stubborn areas. Therefore brushing after each meal will remove potential stains and keep teeth white and bright.

    Experiment # 2 Cause and Effects of Cavities

    Purpose: To teach your children how dental cavities are formed and how they affect their teeth.

    What you’ll need: A glass jar, coke (or any dark soda), eggs.

    How to:

    Step 1: Place an egg inside the glass jar, pour coke over it until covered. Leave to sit overnight.

    Step 2: In the morning take the egg out and show your child the discoloration of the egg and point out the lines and dark patches now on the shell.

    Step 3: Put the egg back into the liquid for another night. On day 2, show your child how the egg is starting to crack. By gently rubbing it with your finger you can show how a thin film of dirt is forming on the shell much like when we eat and don’t brush our teeth. Have your child gently squeeze the egg to see how it now is quite soft or has a give that it didn’t have at the beginning.

    Conclusion: When we consume sugary drinks and food cavities can form on our teeth and weaken our enamel, much like the soda weakening and cracking the shell of the egg. Tooth enamel is needed to keep teeth strong. By consuming less sugar and brushing regularly we can help stop cavities forming.


    Experiment # 3 Plaque Attack

    Purpose: To be honest this is just a fun and kind of a gross way to show how yeast and sugar work together to create plaque.

    What you’ll need: 2 plastic cups (clear), yeast, warm water, sugar, 2 teaspoons

    How to:

    Step 1: Place 1 tsp of yeast in each cup

    Step 2: Next, place 1 cup of warm water in each cup

    Step 3: Then, add 1 tbsp of sugar to ONE cup

    Step 4: Stir each cup using separate teaspoons. Observe how both cups turn murky but the cup with the yeast and sugar explodes into thick foam.

    Conclusion: By observing how the cup that was combined with both sugar and yeast exploded into a foaming mess demonstrates how when we eat food or liquid that contains a lot of yeast and sugar we create plaque much like the foam created in the experiment. This “foaming mess” will sit on our teeth if we don’t clean it away.

    Using these fun and simple experiments is an effective way to teach your children the value of taking care of their oral health. Once they see for themselves the benefits of doing so they will certainly be more inclined to brush their teeth minus the tears and tantrums.

    What is a Dental Health Therapist? And should you see one?

    What Is A Dental Health Therapist, Do They Have Really a Place In the Oral Health World?


    The profession often referred to as a dental health therapist originated in Australia to be an extension of a dental hygienist as a way to provide high-quality oral health care to minority groups who wouldn’t otherwise have access to dental care.


     A licensed dental health therapist (DHT) works alongside a dental care team. They work to educate and promote positive attitudes to oral health and to provide preventive oral health care practices. The primary focus is on people who do not have the circumstance to receive needed dental care; namely low-income earners, those not insured, and those that live in rural areas.


    DHT’s are qualified to carry out routine dental services such as taking x-rays, examining and diagnosing dental decay and gum disease, providing fillings and performing extractions. Certain advanced procedures are performed under the supervision of a registered dentist.  



    How This Profession Is Emerging In America

    A licensed DHT is a recognized profession in many countries worldwide (note though the title changes country to country). In 2009, the state of Minnesota was the first to pass legislation in America, allowing for a mid-level oral health provider. This oral health provider would sit midway between a dentist and a registered dental hygienist (much like a nurse practitioner is midway between a physician and a registered nurse). The educational model officially takes on the title Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner, in the state of Minnesota, however, this title varies state to state. Currently, a handful of states in the USA recognize this mid-level oral health provider, with more following Minnesota’s lead in the coming years. You can read more of an overview regarding the ADHP initiative here.


    Where Do Dental Health Therapist Practice?

    Due to the decrease of dentists in recent years, dental health therapist bridge the gap by practicing in areas that are underserved such as long-term care facilities, veteran’s hospitals, low-income clinic, rural areas, home-bound patients, and schools.


    Is There Really A Place For Them In The Oral Health Sphere?

    Currently, many Americans are not able to access the oral health care services they need. In addition, tooth decay is rapidly becoming the most common chronic disease among children in America, even though tooth decay is completely preventable if addressed in its early stages.


    Nationwide dentists are decreasing, with a greater number of dentists retiring compared to the small number entering the workforce each year. These facts are compounded by the millions of Americans that do not have dental insurance or live in rural areas where it is hard to find dental care nearby.


    According to Colleen Brickle, RHD, EdD, Interim Dean of Health Sciences at Normandale Community College, “This (mid-level oral health provider) is one step toward a health reform that addresses those who need oral health care the most”.


    A dental health therapist can bridge the gap, allowing more of the population to have access to dental health care and to educate children from an early age on how to prevent and to take care of their oral health.


    Dental health therapists are quickly becoming an integral part of giving everyone a chance to have a healthy mouth and body. Time will tell if more states will recognize the need for this profession.