Dental Health and the Disruption of Oral Bacteria

Dental Health and the Disruption of Oral Bacteria

Overall health is linked to dental health. St. Lawrence Dentistry always thinks of overall wellbeing when treating our valued patients. Contributing to total body wellness is really the modern goal of dentistry rather than simply focusing on ones teeth.

The concept of Biofilm is very important to understand to appreciate the role of our dental hygienists. Bacterial colonization in the oral cavity starts at birth and constantly changes. A biofilm is a community of colonized cells on a surface. A dental biofilm consists of over 700 oral microbial species and demonstrates a distinct method of conditioning a tooth surface. Our patients deal with biofilm throughout their whole lives. As dental professionals we can help manage it by rubber tip polishing using ‘prophy angles’. In other words, the selective polishing done by our dental hygienists can help prevent biofilm growth and oral disease progression.

The foundations of success for any dental treatment is educating our patients on proper oral hygiene. This can prevent tooth decay/loss and gum disease which ultimately contributes to total health.

Some great steps to improve oral hygiene are:

  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Brush twice a day
  • Floss once a day
  • Use mouthwash
  • Eat healthy snacks
  • Brush properly

Sometimes patients are surprised to find out that things they are eating and drinking can be cause damage to their teeth. Drinks like Gatorade, lemon water, and colas all have high acidity which can erode teeth. These types of drinks are most widely consumed by millennials which also tend to only brush once a day and only 14% of the them use a mouthwash. Clearly there are many patients who can benefit from changing their oral care routines to advance their oral health.

Dental cavities have been on the decline over the past several years but they are still prevalent. This is an irreversible microbial disease which causes demineralization of the calcified tissues of teeth. Dental cavities are often caused by an oral biofilm dominated by the bacteria ‘streptococcus mutans’ and ‘lactobacilli’. In addition, the biofilm often contains dietary sugars. The plaque bacteria metabolize the sugars and the byproduct is acid with can erode teeth.

Dr. Hawryluk and our dental hygiene department can help you investigate what your oral health challenges may be and come up with solutions. They will look at a patients medical history and are particularly interested in what medications a patient takes and if they have a history of dry mouth. Medications and dry mouth are interrelated and can influence the amount of ‘dental biofilm’ a patient may be challenged by. Many people have gingivitis and this contributes to inflammation to of the body as a whole. It is prevented by basic cleaning of teeth and interruption of habits like smoking and mouth breathing. Dr. Hawryluk will can develop a plan for you to eliminate gingivitis and any other dental issue.

Fluoride helps teeth both before and after they erupt into the mouth. When fluoride is used before a tooth erupts, the tooth bud will form in a fluoride rich liquid which will strengthen the enamel and make it less susceptible to acidic decay. After eruption the enamel continues to uptake fluoride, strengthening the enamel and making it less soluble in acid.

Fluoride plays such an important role in decay prevention. The primary mechanism of action of fluoride is topical. It enhances remineralization of the tooth enamel. This is the most important effect of fluoride in terms of decay prevention. It also inhibits tooth demineralization. It also lessens the ability of mouth bacteria to produce acid from sugars. Fluoride is clinically proven to reduce the probability of dental caries by 25% in moderate to high risk children, adolescents, and adults when applied 2-4 times annually. When evaluating a fluoride varnish to use we look for a product that does not contain gluten, casein, soy, or nut saccharin, or aspartame. Only the varnish form is widely recommended for all age categories. However, although marketed mainly for children, there is evidence that all ages can benefit form fluoride foam application (over the Gel form) if it is used for a 4 minute application. Fluoride gels are another method of application and have been available since the 1960’s. Like the foams, they are available in neutral and acidulated phosphate fluoride (APF). One advantage of the gels is it can be applied by the use of a toothbrush for those who have trouble having the foam trays in place.

Although fluoride has many benefits, we always have to be mindful that too much can be detrimental. ‘Fluorosis’ is caused by an increased intake of fluoride during permanent tooth formation. Mild forms of fluorosis appears as chalk like or lace like markings on the tooth enamel. Severe forms can result in brown pitted enamel. Its prevalence has increased due to an increased availability and ingestion of multiple sources of fluoride. These include food, beverage, toothpastes, and other oral care products. Please talk to one of our dental hygienists if you have questions about fluorosis.

For areas of demineralization beyond that fluoride can treat, Dr. Hawryluk offers a treatment called ‘ICON’. This can be very effective and can prevent the need for dental fillings. ICON can arrest the progression of early enamel cavities in the first one third of dentin without any loss of healthy tooth structure. Soft tooth structure infiltrated by ICON takes on the appearance of the surrounding healthy enamel and provides a highly esthetic and non-invasive treatment alternative to dental fillings. ICON is able to penetrate into soft tooth structure due it its extremely high penetration coefficient.

At St. Lawrence Dentistry, we are committed to our patient’s oral health and well being. If you are looking for a new dentist in the Mississauga area please give us a call.

Reference: Viva Online Learning, 2019

80 Port St East Suite H

Mississauga, Ontario
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(905) 278-1649

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