What’s an Oral Health Therapist?

Oral Health Therapists (OHTs) are dental clinicians qualified in both dental therapy and dental hygiene.

Your Oral Health Therapist will be pleased to help you with tooth issues like examination, routine dental treatment, and preventative work. For example, this would include taking X-rays, fillings, fissure sealants and deciduous tooth extractions. They can also help stabilise and maintain gum health in patients of all ages, whether they are currently experiencing gum disease or not.

OHTs play a vital role in oral health protection, working towards improving oral health in patients through education and therapeutic measures. OHTs are responsible for mouth health awareness, prevention, and, where necessary, an early intervention system for oral diseases. OHTs are able to provide full care for patients of all ages. When necessary, they can refer specific cases to general dentists and dental specialists, ensuring optimal care.

For adults, your dentist and OHT complement each other in the services and care they provide. Your dentist will focus on diagnosis and the completion of routine or complex treatment plans, and your Oral Health Therapist will assist in the stabilisation and maintenance of your oral health.

How do a Dentist and Oral Health Therapist work together?

Using two practitioners means you will have an efficient and professional experience at the dentist. They work together to ensure a thorough and gentle dental maintenance appointment. The Dentist will review X-rays and photographs taken by the Oral Health Therapist. They will then examine all teeth and surrounding soft tissues.

The Oral Health Therapist will spend extended time with each patient to create a personalised experience and edify patients on home care routines. Your dentist will check for gingivitis and other oral diseases. After finishing up with a hygiene clean, fluoride treatment (where required) will be applied to your teeth. Lastly, you will sit down with your dentist and discuss any issues you may have, and plan/make an appointment for future maintenance appointments.

If you have any other questions or would like to book an appointment please contact the friendly team at Tooth Dental; we’d love to hear from you!

Health Effects of Vaping & E-cigarettes

What is a Vape?

E-Cigarettes are battery-powered electronic devices which heat liquid (E-liquid) and produce an aerosol inhaled by users (termed “vaping”). The main ingredients of E-liquids include: propylene glycol, glycerol as humectants, flavouring and often nicotine.

Oral Health Effects

There is little evidence as to the effect E-cigarettes have on oral health. However, E-cigarette companies claim use of these products can improve oral health by providing an alternative to conventional smoking. 2

Mouth and Throat

A variety of symptoms involving lips, tongue, hard palate and soft tissues were reported by E-cigarette users. Most commonly patients reported: dryness, burning, irritation, bad taste, bad breath, pain, oral mucosal lesions, black tongue and burns. Studies comparing E-cigarette and CC symptomatology showed less adverse effects were experienced by E-cigarette users, with some former smokers citing improvements in taste and mouth odour. Non-smokers using E-cigarettes reported greater levels of oral discomfort compared to those utilising nicotine replacement therapy.

Mucosal changes secondary to E-cigarette use appeared to be minor and temporary. Specific impacts relating to E-cigarette flavours were noted. Menthol and cinnamon were associated with increased mouth irritation, and throat symptoms increased with citrus, sour, cola and custard. Nicotine increases short-term blood flow to mucosal tissues, with the suggestion menthol may act to mask airway irritation likely caused by high nicotine levels. 

Is it safer for me to use E-Cigarettes than smoking conventional cigarettes?

No. There is insufficient evidence to say it is safer, hence if you are a non-smoker it is not safe to use them.

Do you recommend that I use E-cigarettes to help me quit smoking?

In isolation, no. However, as a smoking cessation tool E-cigarettes may potentially be effective when combined with a structured ‘quit smoking’ plan. This involves combining the use of E-cigarettes with other evidence based behavioural therapies and counselling. Involving your GP and national smoking cessation services as a combined approach is the most effective strategy irrespective of the cessation tool (eg: E-cigarettes, nicotine patches etc).

Is Vaping dangerous to my dental and oral health?

Yes. The oral effects of E-cigarettes based on use by non-smokers may include: mouth and throat discomfort, oral mucosal lesions, changes in the
oral microbiome, dental and periodontal damage. There is also evidence that vaping can cause changes at the cellular level of oral tissues, and that
constituents of E-liquid/vapor and downstream metabolites of these constituents have potentially dangerous genotoxic and carcinogenic
properties. Thus, there is likely to be an increased risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancer. Furthermore using an electrical device with a battery
carries a risk of explosion, causing traumatic injury which could cause permanent harm.

Is it better to ‘vape’ rather than smoke cigarettes after I’ve had dental/oral surgery?

It is recommended to refrain from smoking or vaping for as long as possible after oral surgery. Conventional smoking is thought to damage healing
mechanisms, affect blood vessels, and contribute to poor filling of the tooth socket with blood. Regarding dry socket (Alveolar osteitis), no studies exist to enable a comparison between E-cigarettes and CC on this topic at present.

Is sparkling water bad for my teeth?

It is commonly known that sugary fizzy drinks are bad for your teeth. The negative affects are two fold, the sugar can cause tooth decay, and the acid from the fizz can cause erosion. But what about sparkling water?

According to available research, plain sparkling water is generally fine for your teeth. In a study using teeth that were removed as a part of treatment and donated for research, researchers tested to see whether sparkling water would attack tooth enamel more aggressively than regular tap water. The result? The two forms of water were about the same in their effects on tooth enamel. This finding suggests that, even though sparkling water is slightly more acidic than ordinary water, it’s all just water to your teeth.

via @kobuagency on Unsplash

What you need to be aware of is what else might be in your sparkling water.

  • Citrus flavored water will have higher acid levels so are more likely to cause erosion to your teeth. If you’re going to drink flavoured fizzy water, try to stay away from the citric acid!
  • Sparkling water with added sugar will put your teeth at risk of decay. Make sure your sparkling water has no added sugar.

So remember: Plain water is best for your teeth, whether sparkling or still!

Which dental treatments are safe when you’re pregnant?

Pregnancy Dental Treatment

Congratulations, there is so much to organise over the next 9 months. Between doctor’s visits, setting up the nursery and cooing over tiny shoes – it is important to schedule a trip to the dentist, ideally in the second trimester. Which dental treatments are safe when you’re pregnant? Read on to learn more. 

Is it safe for expecting mums to see a dentist?

Absolutely – and there are many excellent reasons to schedule a trip to the dentist before bub arrives. We can help with some pregnancy-related symptoms you may be experiencing, and get your mouth in tip-top shape before bub arrives. Research suggests that a mother with a healthy, decay free mouth is far more likely to have a baby with a healthy mouth. There are also dental conditions such a periodontal disease which can affect the developing baby, and need to be treated fairly urgently. Cosmetic procedures, such as whitening, should be postponed until after baby arrives.

Which dental treatments are safe when you’re pregnant?

Please let us know if you think you are pregnant and how far along you are. Dentistry is very safe in pregnant women, but there are some procedures which should be postponed.

Does being pregnant affect my mouth?

There are many strange and unique symptoms that come with being pregnant, and the mouth is certainly not immune to this.

  • Pregnancy Gingivitis: 4 in 10 women will experience bleeding gums during their pregnancy, although the number could be much higher. The hormones that lead to the development of the placenta will increase the leakiness of the delicate blood vessels in the gingiva. You may notice that the gums bleed more when you brush or floss, and can lead on to more serious conditions if left untreated. Gingivitis is caused by plaque build up and can generally be resolved easily with professional dental cleaning and oral hygiene techniques.
  • Periodontal disease: Periodontal disease is a more serious form of gum disease, and can result in permanent bone loss and gum recession as well as being linked to preterm and low birthweight babies. Premature delivery is associated with a whole raft of lifelong problems for your baby. The symptoms of periodontal disease include bleeding when brushing or flossing, bad breath or loose teeth.
  • Pregnancy Tumours: 1 in 10 women may experience pregnancy tumours, which are localised swellings in the gingiva which are an extreme inflammatory reaction to plaque and may appear like a small raspberry. They tend to resolve spontaneously after birth, and generally don’t need to be treated, unless they interfere with your bite, or are painful, or persist after birth.
  • Increased Decay Risk: Pregnant women are at a higher risk of dental decay. This may be due to increased snacking, cravings for sweet or carbohydrate-based food, morning sickness eroding away enamel, and difficulty with brushing and flossing brought on by an overreactive gag reflex. There is evidence that the bacteria in mum’s mouth will colonise baby’s mouth through kissing and tasting of food. If mum has a high decay rate, there is a good chance that baby could get cavities when the teeth come through. It is important to have any cavities treated before baby is born. Modifications to oral hygiene and diet can also help in reducing cavity-causing bacteria.

Can I have X-rays when I am pregnant?

Which dental treatments are safe when you’re pregnant? How about x-rays?

While we tend to postpone routine x-rays during pregnancy, they may be needed for treatment (root canal for example) and are quite safe. Digital Dental x-rays have the lowest radiation of any medical x-ray, and the risk can be further reduced by use of a lead apron. It is far better to get a correct diagnosis and treatment by taking an x-ray, than leave an expecting mother with painful infection in her mouth. An infection may have a greater effect on bubs development than an xray.

Can I have local anaesthetic when I am pregnant?

Local anaesthetic is totally safe to use in pregnant women. If you need any fillings, extractions, or root canals, you can feel assured that the procedure will be pain free and the numbing will not have a negative effect on bub. There is no link between local anaesthetic and premature birth, miscarriage or birth defects.
What about medications prescribed by the dentist?
Please tell us if you are on any medications, including over the counter. If we need to give you an antibiotic or pain killer, we will ensure that we prescribe the medication with the lowest risk. Please talk to us if you are concerned.

Lou’s Top Tips for Pregnant Ladies:

Try rinsing your mouth out with water if you have been sick. Add a teaspoon of bicarb soda to water which will neutralise any acid in your mouth. You shouldn’t brush immediately after vomiting, as the enamel is softened and may be brushed away- Become the best brusher and flosser you have ever been. Now is the time to try an electric toothbrush. My floss lives in the shower on my conditioner bottle, try flossing while you condition your hair! If you are retching when you brush, an electric toothbrush or a child’s tooth brush with a smaller head may help. Try switching toothpaste brands if certain flavours aren’t agreeing with you.

  • You will be eating far more often and may not have a toothbrush handy – try rinsing your mouth with water and chewing sugar-free gum if you aren’t near the tooth brush
  • Book your continuing care recall appointment with tooth dental – we can’t wait to hear your exciting news and look forward to welcoming a new patient (baby) to the practice.

Please contact the friendly team at Tooth Dental by calling 07 3366 1737 or click here to enquire online – we’d love to help!