Having a clean mouth is important. In addition to being healthy it gives you fresher breath and a nicer smile.
When you eat bits of food, some too small for you to see, remain in your mouth. Bacteria can use this food and multiply into a sticky film on your teeth. This film is called plaque and is the root cause of tooth decay and gum disease.
Brushing your teeth after meals not only gets rid of the food particles but also removes plaque from your teeth. Using a fluoride toothpaste is important because fluoride can help kill bacteria as well as strengthening your teeth.
Ask your dentist to recommend the best toothbrush for you. Generally a brush with medium, end rounded or polished, man-made bristles is less likely to injure gum tissue. The size and shape of your brush should allow you to reach every tooth. Children may need smaller brushes than adults.
Remember, old or worn out toothbrushes cannot properly clean your teeth and may injure your gums. Always replace your toothbrush at least every three months. Electric toothbrushes can remove up to 40% more plaque than manual ones and can result in a cleaner, healthier mouth.
Flossing and interdental brushing removes plaque and food particles from between the teeth and below the gum line – areas that your toothbrush can't reach. It is important to keep these areas clean as this is where tooth decay and gum disease often starts.
Flossing is a skill that needs to be learned so don't be discouraged if you find it difficult at first. With practice it only needs to take a few minutes each day. Our oral health adviser, Lyn, can show you how to floss and other ways to clean between your teeth.
If used as directed these can help prevent decay and gum disease as well as freshening your breath. They are not, however, a substitute for good, effective brushing and interdental cleaning.
NICE guidelines state that every person should be assessed individually and seen between every 3 months and every 2 years depending on personal circumstances, oral health and other risk factors.
A cold sore is a small blister caused by the herpes simplex virus (usually type 1), which develops either on the lips or around the mouth. Around seven in ten people in the UK have this virus, but only one in three will have any symptoms.
A cold sore usually starts as a tingling or burning sensation around your mouth; if an antiviral cream (such as aciclovir or penciclovir) is applied at this stage, it may prevent the visible signs of the cold sore from appearing. Otherwise, small, painful, fluid-filled blisters then appear, most commonly on the edges of your lower lip; antiviral cream can be helpful at this stage. When these blisters burst, the cold sore weeps a highly contagious fluid of viral particles; this stage is very infectious and very painful. After several days a scab will form, protecting the new skin beneath. The scab may dry, crack and bleed, but moisturising may help reduce this. After 9-14 days the cold sore will have healed. The area may be slightly red, but this will soon fade.
Cold sores are infectious and the virus can be passed on to other people by close contact. It is important to avoid touching your cold sore, because you can pass the virus on to other people’s hands. If you do touch the affected area, you must wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
For people with the virus, trigger factors can include being ill with cold and flu, exposure to extreme temperatures or weather, ultraviolet light from sunshine or sunbeds, and feeling stressed or run down. Most people who get cold sores get around two episodes a year, but some may experience more.
At Warrendale Dental Care, as part of our Infection Prevention and Control Policy, we ask patients that if you have had a cold sore for less than 2 weeks, please reschedule any non-emergency dental treatment or hygienist appointments until after this contagious period has passed. This is not only because of the high risk of spreading the virus, but also because your lips may feel sore and could crack or bleed during treatment.
If urgent dental treatment is required (i.e. you are in pain and need immediate attention), our dentists will request that your cold sore is protected with a cold sore plaster to minimise the risk of cross-infection during emergency dental treatment.
So, if you do get a cold sore and you have a dental or hygienist appointment arranged, please call us on 01989 562052 with as much notice as possible, and we can reschedule any non-emergency treatment.