Preventative dentistry and oral hygiene

Our oral hygienists, Ida Brits and Natasha van Reede van Oudtshoorn specialize in preventative dentistry by removing soft and hard deposits from teeth, teaching patients how to practise good oral hygiene and providing other preventive dental care.

They examine patients’ teeth and gums, recording the presence of diseases or abnormalities. They remove calculus, stains and plaque from teeth; perform root planing as a periodontal therapy; take and develop dental X-rays and apply cavity-preventative agents such as fluorides and pit and fissure sealants. They also help patients develop and maintain good oral health.


To view more information regarding preventative dentistry and oral hygiene, click on the links below:


Tooth Sensitivity

Scale and polish

Maintain a healthy mouth

Fluoride

Fissure sealants

Oral Hygiene instructions

Kids’ stuff         

Bite plate for grinding

Mouth guard for contact sport

Maintenance of crowns, bridges, implants and dentures

References
 





Oral Hygienist, Natasha van Reede van Oudtshoorn at work


Oral Hygienist, Ida Brits at work

Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity occurs when the dentine is exposed by gums pulling away from the teeth or loss of enamel.
 
Tooth necks - between the crown and the root – can be sensitive because of:
1. incorrect brushing techniques
2. periodontal disease (infection of the supporting tissue of the tooth – bone, gums and ligaments)

Treatment of tooth neck sensitivity:
1. application of topical fluoride
2. in more severe cases restorations can be placed
3. use a toothpaste / dental gel specifically for sensitivity
4. remove the cause of the receding gums, for example the incorrect brushing or periodontal disease
 
Chewing surfaces of teeth can be sensitive because of grinding.
Treatment of chewing surface sensitivity:
1. application of topical fluoride
2. remove the habit of grinding by using a specially designed bite plate

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Scale and polish
Scaling and polishing are cleaning procedures used by the oral hygienist to remove plaque, calculus and to some extent stains on the teeth surfaces.
All people are susceptible to oral diseases such as tooth decay and periodontitis (infection of the supportive tissue of the teeth, like gums, bone and ligaments). These diseases are the major causes of tooth loss and the major cause of both these diseases is plaque.
Plaque is a combination of saliva, oral bacteria and food particles in the mouth which mainly sticks on and around the teeth. It can easily be removed by brushing and flossing.
When plaque is not removed from the teeth, it will harden and form calculus. Calculus cannot be removed by brushing or flossing; it can only be removed by a dental professional using special instruments.
The oral hygienist may use a power-driven scaling device, manual instruments and/or a combination for the removal of calculus and certain stains.
Scaling deep underneath the gums is done in cases of periodontal disease. In very severe cases surgery might be needed, and then your oral hygienist will refer you to a specialist.
 
Some patients may experience some discomfort after a scaling procedure.

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Maintain a healthy mouth
• brush twice daily
• floss daily
• scrape / brush your tongue daily
• eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet
• optimal fluoride intake
• always rinse with water after a meal or a snack
• use a mouthwash recommended by your dental professional
• do not smoke or chew tobacco
• adults and children need regular check-ups and professional cleanings to keep teeth and gums healthy

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Fluoride
A high concentration of fluoride can be applied directly onto your teeth surfaces by the oral hygienist. This:
1. strengthens the outer surfaces of the teeth
2. makes the teeth more resistant to tooth decay
3. helps to reduce tooth sensitivity
 
What will happen in the oral hygienist’s chair:
You will sit in an upright position, and the oral hygienist will apply the fluoride gel in a specially designed foam tray for 4 minutes. A saliva ejector will be used to remove any excess fluoride or saliva. After the applications, you must not rinse, eat, drink, brush or floss for at least 30 minutes.

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Fissure sealants
Deep pits or grooves on the chewing surfaces of molar teeth are very small and very difficult to clean. The accumulation of plaque and bacteria in these grooves can easily cause tooth decay. A fissure sealant “seals off” these deep pits or grooves to prevent tooth decay.
Sealants are placed as soon as the teeth appear in the mouth. For first molars usually around the ages 6/7, and for second molars usually around the ages 10-13. Primary molars can also be sealed around the ages 3/4 if the child is very susceptible to tooth decay.
 
What will happen in the oral hygienist’s chair:
The procedure is totally painless. The oral hygienist will clean the grooves thoroughly, keep the tooth dry, place the sealant in the groove and use a special light for 20-30 seconds to set the sealant.

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Oral hygiene instructions
Your oral hygienist may give you instructions during your appointment regarding daily plaque removal (tooth brushing, flossing, rinsing etc.) and a healthy lifestyle to maintain healthy teeth.

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Kids’ stuff
Babies and toddlers cannot be expected to accept responsibility for their oral hygiene themselves. Caring for their teeth is the responsibility of the parents. Start cleaning your baby’s teeth when the first tooth erupts. Help with brushing until the toddler is able to do it himself.
Never allow children to go to sleep with sweetened drinks or fruit juices in a bottle – it will cause decay.
Make the first oral hygiene appointment for the child at the age of 2/3 years.
 
How to handle your child’s first visit to the oral hygienist:
• A visit to the oral hygienist should be seen as a routine manner and should not be dramatised.
• Do not try to give the child too much information at a too early stage.
• If you are tense yourself, try not to transmit it – techniques and equipment have changed to such an extent that this can be a pleasant experience.
• Do not try to bribe the child or say that the oral hygienist is not going to hurt him or give him an injection – this kind of “reassurance” simply alerts the child to the possibility and makes him fear the worst.
• By way of preparation it might be a good idea to play dentist – let the child look in your mouth and look into the child’s mouth.

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Bite plate for grinding
Grinding is a subconscious habit which mainly occurs while you are asleep. A specially designed bite plate is used to modify the habit and to prevent damage to your teeth.
Your oral hygienist takes an impression of your mouth and the bite plate will be ready for use within a few days.

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Mouth guard for contact sport
Mouth guards are used by people who play contact sports to protect their mouths against injury. It prevents tooth fractures and protects the insides of the lips and cheeks. It also serves as a shock absorber and lessens the chance of concussion.
Mouth guards should be used from an early age, as soon as there are no more primary teeth in the mouth – could be around the ages 12/13. It should also be used by patients who have braces and still participate in contact sport.
Your oral hygienist takes an impression of your mouth and the mouth guard will be ready for use within a few days.

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Maintenance of crowns, bridges, implants and dentures
 
Crowns / Bridges
The main reason for problems with teeth as well as crowns is to be found in inadequate dental hygiene. A crown is supported by normal tooth structure and is as vulnerable to decay and periodontal problems as before. Therefore it should be cleaned just as well as any other tooth every day.
With a bridge, an artificial tooth connects adjacent teeth that makes normal flossing impossible. Special floss is needed to clean a bridge.
 
Implants
A very high standard of oral hygiene is essential for the maintenance of implants. Your oral hygienist will give you instructions for your specific implants.
Visit your oral hygienist every 3 months for the first two years. During these visits the soft tissues, implant and prosthesis will be examined carefully for any abnormalities.
 
Dentures
How to keep your dentures clean: Remove dentures after every meal, rinse well and clean with ordinary liquid soap or special denture cleaners. Never use bleaches, abrasives or toothpaste on dentures.

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Natasha is explaining to a patient the importance of good oral hygiene


Ida is performing teeth whitening on a patient