Time to Brush Up on your Dental Routine!

Dr Vandana Katyal, Specialist Orthodontist & the CCC Smiles resident Oral Health Therapist & Hygienist talks about your dental routine!! Read on….

Why is it important to look after your teeth and oral health?

Your mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body. Teeth and oral health are imperative for your confidence, aesthetics, social interactions, etc.

Clean teeth and fresh breath are always social winners – bad breath and obvious unclean teeth can be a people deterrent.

What is the secret to optimum oral health?

Flossing! Everyone nowadays brushes twice a day which is great. But most people forget the flossing. If there was a choice between brushing and flossing – I’d always pick the floss. All it takes is:

  • Brushing in the morning and before bed
  • A nice thorough floss in the evenings

The secret is simple.

What is tooth sensitivity? (enamel erosion)

1 in 7 people suffer from tooth sensitivity – you’re not alone. For 75% of people the stimulus that causes the sensitivity is hot or cold drinks. The other 35% feel the pain when they brush or touch the tooth.

The science behind sensitivity is that a stimulus such as a cold or hot drink causes fluid movement in the inside of the tooth. This fluid movement disrupts the tooth’s nerve and results in pain.

What causes it?

  • Drinking acidic drinks like soft drinks, sports drinks, lemon water.
  • Gastric reflux
  • Over-vigorous brushing – this can brush your gums off and lead to gingival recession and brushing away the enamel and dentine.
  • Gum recession – the gum recedes revealing the underlying tooth root which is soft and sensitive to a variety of stimuli
  • Using abrasive toothpaste – some whitening toothpastes can contain a lot of abrasives to polish off stain and consequently erode away at the enamel
  • Clenching and grinding – a lot of people grind their teeth at night without realising. The teeth are rubbing over each other and thus the enamel gets worn away revealing the inner layer of the tooth called dentine which is very sensitive to various stimuli.
  • Some medications such as asthma inhalation medication – they leave an acidic powdery coating on the teeth which can cause enamel erosion.

How can it be prevented and treated?

Treatment involves covering the exposed dentine. Prevention involves ensuring dentine is not exposed.


  • Brushing gently and using a soft bristled brush. Never medium or hard – they’re too abrasive
  • Using non-abrasive toothpastes. Staying away from highly gritty ones.
  • If you’re a grinder, see your dentist about management. Often times a simple plastic night guard is all it takes to take off the pressure on your teeth.
  • Rinsing or sipping water after drinking or eating anything acidic.
  • Never brush your teeth after eating or drinking something acidic. Your teeth will be soft from the acid and if you brush, the bristles can brush into the enamel.
  • Brushing and flossing daily to prevent plaque and bacteria build-up (bacterial plaque produce acid)

Treatment & management:

  • Regular professional fluoride treatments
  • A small filling to over those exposed areas that are causing the pain.
  • Always have a rinse or sip of water after eating or drinking something acidic.
  • Sensitive toothpastes are highly effective in managing sensitivity. The technology is getting better and better. Brush with sensitive toothpaste and if and when required, pop a little on your finger and wipe over the tooth in question. This should generally result in immediate relief.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is inflammation of the gums as a result of bacterial plaque infection.
It can show itself in bad breath, red bleeding gums, furry, yellow teeth.

What causes it?

Gum disease is caused by bacteria in plaque. Plaque is the clear-whitish film that constantly forms on the teeth. If the plaque isn’t removed through daily brushing and flossing the plaque bacteria builds up and causes the gums to become inflamed.

How can it be prevented and treated?

All it takes is brushing in the morning and evening, a thorough daily floss at night and regular dental clean. You won’t need to worry about gum disease if you follow these three dental commandments.

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is the oldest and most common reason people get fillings. It’s when there is a breakdown of the tooth enamel and/or dentine. Getting a “hole in your tooth” is threat most often used by parents to get kids to brush. But it is still very much a treat faced by us all. You can get decay anywhere on the tooth – the top, in-between two teeth, on the side or on the root. Decay doesn’t discriminate. It comes up on sites that don’t get cleaned effectively.

The bacteria turn sugar and carbohydrates (starches) in the foods we eat into acids. The acids dissolve minerals in the hard enamel that covers the tooth’s crown (the part you can see). The enamel erodes or develops pits. They are too small to see at first. But they get larger over time.

What causes it?

Again, it all comes down to plaque. We constantly get plaque built up on our teeth, the bacteria in plaque feed off sugar. They get stronger each time they feed. Sugary foods and starchy carbohydrates such as bread are the main culprits for feeding the bacteria. The age-old theory that lollies and sweets cause decay holds true to this day.

How can it be prevented and treated?


  • Chewing sugar-free chewing gum (e.g. Xylotol) after you eat to increase your saliva flow to help replenish the enamel.
  • Using fluoride toothpaste each time you brush – fluoride strengthen the enamel. If there are early stages of decay in the works, fluoride can put a stop to it progressing any further and potentially preventing a filling.
  • Brushing morning and night and daily thorough flossing.
  • Reducing the frequency of sugary foods and drinks, and starchy carbs. In terms of dental health, its better to drink the sugary fizzy drink or bag of lollies in one go than sip on the drink throughout the day. The teeth only have to deal with one acid and sugar attack rather than multiple ones over the course of the day.
  • Back teeth can be protected with ‘Fissure Sealants’. This is where a small amount of filling material is placed on top of the back molar teeth by your dentist.
  • Regular visits to your dentist


  • If the decay is in it’s early stages, it most often will be watched by your dental practitioner and can be treated with professional fluoride treatments, brushing with fluoride toothpaste and keeping the area clean.
  • Sometimes if the decay has advanced the tooth will need a filling.

How can oral cancer be identified? What are the symptoms?

Oral cancer can be identified by a thorough dental practitioner at your regular visit. If they don’t always check, ask for a cancer screen.

Oral cancers predominately are found on the floor of the mouth and tongue (not always). Its a good idea to become more familiar with your mouth – look at your tongue, stick it out and check the top, sides and underneath. If you get an ulcer, just make a note of when you noticed it, if it hasn’t healed in 14 days get it looked at. Be aware, not worried. Just like any cancer, prevention is key.

The scary thing is, most times there are no symptoms of oral cancer. That’s why its imperative to have regular checks.

Is there anything you can do to reduce your risk?

Smoking, alcohol (this includes alcohol containing mouth rinse products), and sun expo increase your risk of oral cancer. But unfortunately, oral cancer can arise spontaneously even without the above.

You can reduce your risk by quitting smoking, reducing your alcohol intake, apply an SPF containing lip balm throughout the day.

What should you do if you suspect you have oral cancer?

Make an appointment with your dental practitioner to have an examination.

Are there any other significant dental issues that are a concern?

  • Using your teeth for practices other than eating – such as opening jars, bottles tops etc.
  • Toothbrush abrasion – this was mentioned in sensitivity – this is a common yet easily preventable dental issue.

How should they be treated?

  • Don’t use your teeth to open or do anything other than what they are design for!
  • Soft toothbrush bristles and gentle brushing; don’t apply too much pressure. If you find it hard to brush gently, there are electric toothbrush.

Electric vs Manual Toothbrush:

Everyone wants to know – which is better?

Unfortunately there is no black and white answer. Some people can use a manual toothbrush beautifully and effectively and have excellent oral health.

People might think that electric toothbrushes are better, but that’s not necessarily the case. You can have someone who uses the latest technology in electric toothbrushes that can fetch up to $300 but not they’re not actually clean and using the brush efficiently and consequently they can have poor oral health. It’s all about how you use your toothbrush! Use what is comfortable for you. Your dental practitioner can provide you with further personalised advice regarding brush type.

You can’t go wrong with a super soft bristled toothbrush.

#Newsflash @cccsmiles! Dr Vandana Katyal #toporthodontist #mosman shares her #tooth #wisdom with #mosmandaily reporter Erina Starkey!! #enjoy #goodhealth #supportinglocal #mosmanmedia #mosmanyouth #mosmancouncil

#Newsflash @cccsmiles! Dr Vandana Katyal #toporthodontist #mosman shares her #tooth #wisdom with #mosmandaily reporter Erina Starkey!! #enjoy #goodhealth #supportinglocal #mosmanmedia #mosmanyouth #mosmancouncil


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