Plaque is responsible for most tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. It is a soft, sticky, nearly invisible film containing bacteria which feed on sugars and starches in food.
Plaque can be removed by thorough daily brushing and flossing. Saliva does not wash away plaque. The amount of plaque on teeth and gums depends, in part, on the type of foods eaten. Sugary foods, starches and frequent snacks between meals lead to more plaque buildup.
As plaque builds up, the bacteria produce acids, which attack teeth, resulting in tooth decay.
Harmful chemicals from plaque bacteria irritate gum tissue and can cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). With prompt and proper care this inflammation can be quickly cured. If not treated, plaque can worsen the condition causing periodontitis. This is an inflammation and infection of the gums, tooth ligaments, tooth root and jaw bone that will eventually lead to chronic gum disease and tooth loss.
Once plaque hardens it becomes tartar or calculus, which cannot be removed by normal brushing and can only be removed effectively by the dentist.
Bruxism or Teeth Grinding is excessive clenching or grinding of the teeth that is not a part of normal chewing movements. It can lead to excessive wear on the teeth and may cause permanent damage to the teeth and the jaw joints. Bruxism may occur during the day or at night. During sleep, there is no conscious control over this excessive clenching and grinding.
Causes of bruxism It is believed that it is a combination of physical and psychological factors contribute to bruxism: physical stress like illness, nutritional deficiencies or dehydration especially in children; psychological stress, anxiety and tension in adults and children; studies have shown that night bruxism is a sleep disorder.
Signs and Symptoms Pain in the teeth; sensitivity to hot and cold; chronic pain in the face; tension headaches; teeth grinding noises (there is an App called 'Do I Grind' that can be utilised to record the grinding noises); flattened and worn tooth surfaces often down to the yellow dentine; micro fractures of the tooth enamel; broken and chipped; loose teeth with possible damage to the tooth sockets; stiffness and pain in jaw joint muscles; restricted opening; difficulty chewing; clicking, locking of the jaw joint; earache, neck pain and shoulder pain.
Treatment of bruxism Counselling; stress management; relaxation methods; relaxation methods for stress-related bruxism; removal of the causes of bruxism; repair dental damage; painkillers for muscular facial pain, headaches and jaw joint pain; muscle relaxant medication to help relax the jaw muscles.
An occlusal splint/night guard is an option for someone with mild to severe grinding behaviour. It is worn at night and it is injection moulded (slightly flexible) or made from moulded hard plastic (for heavy grinders). It fits over the upper or lower teeth and protects and prevents further wear of the tooth surfaces.
Biofeedback is a treatment option for people who primarily clench their teeth during the day.
Patients with severe tooth grinding problems often use a combination of splint and biofeedback techniques and some may need muscle relaxant tablets at night.
At Carina Dental Practice we utilise the Pola - Advanced Tooth Whitening System. We provide two options for teeth whitening. We provide in-surgery teeth whitening utilising Pola office+ and we provide the option of custom made take home whitening trays utilising Poladay or Polanight. Poladay is utilised in the trays for 30mins per day for a week or two.