Oral Health

Oral Health

Good oral health is important for overall health and wellbeing. Poor oral health such as tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss impacts our families and communities. Oral health generally deteriorates over a person’s lifetime.

Factors contributing to poor oral health include:
  • Consumption of sugar, alcohol and tobacco
  • Lack of good oral hygiene and regular dental check ups
  • Lack of fluoridation in some water supplies
  • Access and availability of services including waiting times for dental care
Basic oral health services are free for children under 18 years old and those over 60 years, and include the following:
  • Routine examination of the teeth for decay and the mouth and gums for other problems
  • X-ray to find tooth decay and other problems that can’t be seen
  • Fluoride treatment to help teeth become more resistant to decay
  • Fissure sealants – thin layer of white filling – painted onto teeth that are at risk of developing tooth decay
  • Cleaning to remove plaque, staining and tartar from teeth
  • Fillings to restore teeth that have been affected by tooth decay
  • Extractions to remove teeth that have been badly affected by tooth decay
Extra charges apply for additional services such as dentures, gold work and repair, orthodontics (for braces) and endodontics (for root canal treatment).

Services

Therapy and toothcare services
  • Consultation – involves oral examination, disease diagnosis and treatment planning, treatment and management of emergency cases
  • Relief of pain – patients with severe toothache problems. Services are also available after hours.
  • Fillings – a range of fillings are available to restore damaged tooth issues to normal appearance and function
  • Endodontic – root canal treatment
  • Prosthodontics – concerns with the replacement of missing teeth and other oral structures with artificial materials e.g. crown and bridge, false teeth
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery – involves surgical treatment of pathology e.g. draining of facial cellulitis caused by tooth infection, surgical removal of un-erupted impacted third molar
  • Orthodontics – branch of dentistry concerned with the growth of the face, development of teeth and prevention and control of crooked teeth
  • Periodontology – branch of dentistry dealing with treatment and management of diseases of the supportive tissues of teeth e.g. gums, bone
Hygiene, education and awareness
  • Health promotion – educating and enabling people, families and communities to look after their oral health and make healthy choices
  • Disease prevention – preventive measures like fluoride therapy, tooth brushing, diet
  • Pa Enua outreach programmes – preventive, curative and limited rehabilitative services

Services during COVID-19

Our oral health services were scaled back in March 2020 to protect our staff who come into close contact with saliva and respiratory droplets (common mode of transmission for COVID-19), due to the nature of their work and do not have sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) or dental equipment to provide the full suite of dental care. This will be reviewed in August 2020.

Dental emergencies include:

  • Swelling of the face, neck or mouth
  • Dental trauma causing change in position of teeth
  • Soft tissue damage and/or significant pain
  • Significant bleeding
  • Difficulty opening jaw and/or swallowing
  • Referral from specialist
  • Dental pain causing loss of sleep
  • Ulcers persisting for more than 3 weeks

Services were scaled back to protect our staff who come into close contact with saliva and respiratory droplets (common mode of transmission for COVID-19), due to the nature of their work and do not have sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) to provide the full suite of dental care.

Anyone seeking dental care is required to call 29312 to arrange for an appointment with our dental practitioners.

Oral diseases

The most common oral diseases affect the teeth (tooth decay or ‘caries’) and gums (periodontal disease). Oral diseases can destroy the tissues in the mouth, leading to lasting physical and psychological disability. Tooth loss can reduce the functionality of the mouth, making chewing and swallowing more challenging, which can in turn compromise nutrition. Poor nutrition can impair general health and exacerbate existing health conditions. Poor oral health is also associated with a number of chronic diseases such as stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Care for teeth and gums
  • Maintain a good diet to prevent cavities and tooth decay
  • Brush your teeth and gums in the morning and before you go to bed and floss regularly
  • Visit a dental practitioner for regular dental care and cleaning your teeth
  • Look after your baby’s first teeth so their adult teeth come through healthy and strong
  • Stop smoking
  • Limit the amount of alcohol and soft drinks you consume
  • Drink lots of water
  • Think twice about oral piercings as these can lead to mouth infections and tooth damage
  • Address stress as these can lead to teeth grinding, mouth ulcers and cold sores

If you play a sport where there is a risk of injury to your teeth, you should wear a mouthguard

Preventing tooth decay

Tooth decay is caused by the bacteria living in plaque on your teeth. These bacteria use the sugar in what you eat and drink to produce acid, which causes holes in your teeth over time.

You can prevent tooth decay by:

  • Choosing food and drink that’s low in sugar
  • Eating fresh produce rather than processed foods
  • Reading the label – if sugar is listed in the top 3 ingredients, it’s usually not a healthy product for your teeth
  • Good dental hygiene including regularly brushing teeth

First Aid

Sometimes accidents involving your teeth can happen. These first-aid tips increase the chances of keeping your teeth after dental injuries.

Adult

See the dentist as soon as you can. In the meantime:

  • Hold the tooth by its crown (not the roots)
  • Ensure there is no dirt on the root by washing it briefly
  • Gently push the tooth back into its socket
  • Hold tooth in place by gently biting on a piece of cloth
  • See the dentist as soon as you can

If the tooth cannot be re-inserted into its socket:

  • Store the tooth in milk until it can be replanted by a dentist
  • If milk is not readily available, store it under the lip of the injured person – taking care they don’t swallow it by mistake
  • See the dentist as soon as you can

Do not:

  • Scrub the root of the knocked-out tooth
  • Wrap the tooth in a dry tissue
Baby

Do not try to put it back in its socket, as this may damage the adult tooth that is developing under it. Seek advice or treatment from your dentist or the dental therapist.

Broken or chipped teeth are the most common dental injury. It is important to protect broken teeth to prevent infection developing inside the tooth, which can lead to abscess. See your dentist as soon as you can. They can give you a protective covering over the broken tooth or a filling to replace the missing part.

If the broken fragment is available, bring it with you to the dentist. They will decide if it can be used to repair the tooth.

Sometimes an injury can lead to a tooth moving out of place. This may be obvious is the tooth is pushed backwards or hanging out. Other times, it may be less obvious. If you’re having trouble closing your teeth together in a normal position, it’s possible that a tooth may be displaced.

See your dentist as soon as you can.

Putting the displaced tooth back into its normal position as soon as possible gives it the best chance of surviving, and reduces complications and the need for further treatment later.