Is your brushing technique causing you to have receding gums?

Lady holding onto toothbrush

The twice-daily brushing habit that you’ve followed from a young age is probably so ingrained in your routine that you’ve probably not given it a second thought. But beyond just going through the motion, it’s important to carry out proper brushing techniques that will protect your gums and teeth. For instance, unknowingly, if you brush too aggressively or use the wrong type of toothbrush like a hard-bristled1 version, this can result in receding gums. 

What are receding gums?

If you’ve noticed that your teeth look a little longer or your gums seem to be pulling back from your teeth, it might be a sign2 of receding gums. If left untreated, it could lead to tooth loss in the long run.

Other telltale signs include: 

Clean teeth

Photo from BBC

What causes receding gums?

Periodontal diseases

Bacterial gum infections like gum disease can destroy gum tissue and supporting bone that hold your teeth in place.

Insufficient dental care

Inadequate brushing and flossing makes it easy for plaque to turn into tartar -- a hard substance that builds on your teeth which can lead to gum recession

Hormonal changes

Fluctuations in female hormone levels during a woman's lifetime, such as in puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can make gums more sensitive and more vulnerable to gum recession.

Grinding and clenching your teeth

Clenching or grinding your teeth can put too much force on the teeth, causing gums to recede.

Smoking or the use of any tobacco product

Tobacco users are more likely to have sticky plaque on their teeth that is difficult to remove and can cause gum recession.

Aggressive tooth brushing

If you brush your teeth too hard or the wrong way, it can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear away and your gums to recede.

How do I tell if I’m over brushing or under brushing my teeth? 

The general rule of thumb is that harder isn’t always better for brushing. While it might feel like you’re deep-cleaning your teeth by brushing forcefully, it can actually do more harm3 than good, wearing down your tooth enamel and irritating your gums. 

If you’re unsure whether you’re over brushing your teeth, a no-brainer way to tell is to take a look at your toothbrush. If the bristles are flattened, you’re probably brushing too hard. It’s probably high time for a change of toothbrush, and an overhaul of your brushing technique!

Used toothbrush
Source

Other than the bristles on your toothbrush, here are some warning signs as to whether you’re brushing your teeth too hard and too much:

On the other hand, if your brushing routine takes shorter than 2 minutes each time and there’s residue plague after brushing, it’s highly likely you’re under-brushing your teeth.

How to brush your teeth properly

Brushing your teeth too hard may also cause your gums to recede. Here’s an easy4 6 step procedure for you to follow:

  1. Gently brush your teeth on all sides with a soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste.
  2. Use small circular motions and short back-and-forth strokes.
  3. Brush carefully and gently along your gum line.
  4. Lightly brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper to help keep your mouth clean.
  5. Brush at least twice per day, and for at least two minutes at a time.

Remember to replace your toothbrush regularly every 3 to 4 months to prevent bacteria from building up in the bristles.

Preventing Gum Recession

Apart from practicing proper brushing techniques, having good oral hygiene habits like flossing between the teeth at least once per day and using an antiseptic mouthwash to reduce bacteria can help to prevent gum recession.

Gum recession can happen slowly, so it’s important to take a good look at your gums and teeth regularly. If you notice receding gums and you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, it’s best to make an appointment soon.

Unfortunately, gum recession cannot be reversed - but you can prevent the problem from worsening. At Smilepoint, our dental hygienists will guide you on developing good brushing techniques. If need be, they’ll perform deep cleaning treatments like scaling and root planing, which help to remove plaque and tartar from below the gumline, where regular brushing cannot reach.

Feel free to contact us if you need help! 

References

  1. A, K., & G, S. (1993). Gingival recession in relation to history of hard toothbrush use. Journal of periodontology, 64(9), 900-905.
  2. Cherney, K. (2018, September 17). Receding Gums: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and More. Healthline. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-oral-health-receding-gums
  3. Lillis, C. (2019, August 12). Do receding gums grow back? Treatments and prevention. Medical News Today. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326022#treatment
  4. National Institute on Aging. (n.d.). Taking Care of Your Teeth and Mouth. National Institute on Aging. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/taking-care-your-teeth-and-mouth#clean)
  5. Raypole, C. (2019, April 1). How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth? Plus, Other Brushing FAQs. Healthline. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-should-you-brush-your-teeth#brushing-too-much

Don’t have cavities? It’s possible you still have gum disease

Here’s a common misconception that many have – if I’m cavity-free, I won’t have gum disease.

However, contrary to popular belief, there’s no direct link between both dental issues. In fact, gum disease might be more common than you think. The Singapore Burden of Disease Study 2010 estimates that 51% of Singapore citizens spend 25 to 44 years of their entire lives with gum disease and 39% of Singapore citizens spend 45 to 65 years of their lives with gum disease. 

Over 20 years is a long time to live with gum disease - surely most people would have the common sense to go for gum infection therapy at one point. Except maybe they aren’t even aware they have the condition. 

What causes gum disease? 

Gum disease, also known as gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, usually caused by a bacterial infection. This can be a result of bits of food and plaque being trapped between the teeth and gum. If plaque is not removed, it can cause your gums (gingivae) to pull away from your teeth, forming pockets where more bacteria can collect1.

While typically this can be attributed to poor oral hygiene, another less-known factor2 that can cause gum disease is impacted wisdom teeth. When there is insufficient space in the mouth to develop, wisdom teeth may become impacted, and this may lead to the wisdom tooth growing towards the other teeth at irregular angles. When this happens, it is more difficult to clean and brush the teeth and food gets trapped more easily, increasing the risk of gum disease.

How do I tell if I have a gum infection? 

If you suspect that you might have a gum infection, these are some symptoms to look out3 for:

If you do notice these signs, it’s best to consult a dentist as it is crucial to treat the gum disease in the earliest stage possible. If left untreated, you run the risk of developing a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis, which can lead to the loss of teeth, bone loss and a lower gum line.

Why being cavity-free doesn’t indicate you’re risk-free from gum disease 

Even if you’re cavity-free, it doesn’t mean you’re not at risk of gum disease. This is because different bacteria are usually responsible for cavities and gum disease

In other words, the bacteria that cause cavities don’t cause gum disease and vice versa. As such, it’s possible to have gum disease even if you don’t have cavities.

Good oral hygiene habits to prevent gum disease

Here are some tips to keep gum disease at bay:

How is gum infection treated at the dentist? 

During a dental exam, your gums will be probed with a small ruler. This probing is a way to check for inflammation. It also measures any pockets around your teeth. A normal depth is 1 to 3 millimetres. Your dentist may also order X-rays to check for bone loss.

Talk to your dentist about risk factors for gum disease as well as your symptoms. If you are diagnosed with gum disease, you will be referred to a periodontist. 

Professional cleaning

There are several techniques that can be used to deep clean4 your teeth without surgery. They all remove plaque and tartar to prevent gum irritation.

The first kind of treatment is scaling, which removes tartar from above and below the gum line.

Root planing smooths rough spots and removes plaque and tartar from the root surface.

Additionally, lasers may remove tartar with less pain and bleeding than scaling and root planing.

Antibiotics

In some cases, your dentist will prescribe antibiotics to help with persistent gum infections that haven’t responded to cleanings. The antibiotic might be in the form of a mouthwash, gel, or an oral tablet or capsule. 

Surgery

In serious cases, surgery may be carried out.

Conclusion

Early detection is key to controlling and treating gum disease before it becomes worse. If you suspect that you might have gum disease, it’s best to go see a dentist

References

  1. American Dental Association (ADA) Division of Science. (2011). What is gum disease? American Dental Association (ADA) Division of Science, 142(11), 111. https://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(14)61881-X/fulltext#relatedArticles
  2. Healthline Editorial Team. (2019, October 31). Gum Disease: Causes, Risk Factors and Symptoms. Healthline. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/gingivitis#treatment
  3. Impacted wisdom teeth - Symptoms and causes. (2018, March 10). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wisdom-teeth/symptoms-causes/syc-20373808
  4. Newman, T. (2018, January 5). Gingivitis: Causes, symptoms, and treatment. Medical News Today. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/241721#signs-and-symptoms

Why you shouldn't worry about teeth sensitivity after teeth whitening

picture of a girl suffering from toothache

You may have heard that teeth whitening is not healthy for teeth in the long run, and can cause undesirable side effects like teeth sensitivity. For these reasons, many patients steer away from this procedure - especially in-office ones. As a dentist who has performed countless teeth whitening procedures, this fear is in my opinion exaggerated and unwarranted for. Let me explain. 

Some tooth sensitivity after a tooth whitening procedure is absolutely normal. More than 50% of patients1 experience mild sensitivity that goes away after a few days.

So while some sensitivity is not uncommon, it can be easily prevented with some simple steps before, during and after the whitening treatment. 

Why do teeth become sensitive after whitening? 

During teeth whitening, dental-grade bleaching agents are often so powerful that they go really deep into the tooth enamel to whiten and brighten. In some cases, these bleaching agents get through the enamel into the dentinal tubules to the nerve endings below, thereby causing pain. 

This sensitivity is known as dentinal hypersensitivity; the most prominent symptom of which is a sharp pain that worsens with pressure or exposure to hot or cold liquids. 

Here’s something to note - while sensitive teeth can develop after teeth whitening, it is NOT the only reason why people get sensitive teeth. It is estimated that sensitive teeth affect about 57% of all dental patients2, with the most common causes being brushing your teeth too hard, grinding your teeth and regularly consuming acidic food and beverages. 

The good news is that dentinal hypersensitivity from teeth whitening rarely lasts longer than 48 hours, and there are steps you can take to prevent sensitive teeth after whitening.

Picture of a tooth paste

How can we prevent sensitive teeth after whitening?


Before treatment

Change to a sensitive teeth toothpaste3 or gel at least one week before the teeth whitening treatment. These special toothpastes and gels are able to cover up the dentinal tubules or desensitise the nerve endings in the dentinal tubules.

During treatment

If you are doing teeth whitening at home, adjust the timing according to the level of sensitivity experienced. If there is any tooth sensitivity, try having more sessions for shorter periods of time. 

Be sure to apply only the necessary amount of whitening gel to coat each tooth. Using more gel doesn’t necessarily mean your teeth will be whiter, but can instead lead to more sensitivity. This is a common mistake patients make - more does not always reap better results! 

Never sleep with your teeth whitening kit in. Wearing the kit for a prolonged period of time will only allow more of the bleaching agent to enter the dentinal tubules to reach the nerve endings. Furthermore, if you sleep very soundly, you may miss minor discomfort which are warning signs of sensitivity. 

After treatment

After teeth whitening, you may want to ask your dentist to prescribe or recommend a prescription-strength toothpaste or gel that is specifically used for reducing sensitivity. 

Brush your teeth gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush and rinse your mouth with lukewarm water rather than cold water. Leave the desensitising toothpaste or gel in your mouth for an additional few seconds to give it some time to work its magic. 

Avoid hot or cold drinks as they can stimulate your nerve endings to cause pain. 

Lastly, if you wish to have longer-lasting whitening results, I strongly urge you to avoid staining beverages like coffee or tea. If you can’t avoid them, you may want to use a straw to help liquids to bypass sensitive teeth.

Conclusion

While it is a fact that some people might experience sensitive teeth after whitening treatments, there are many things you can do before, during and after treatment to prevent it. If you have any questions, feel free to speak to our team of dentists who will give you more tips and advice on how to properly care for your teeth so that you can avoid any pain or sensitivity after the whitening treatment.

Go for frequent dental checkups with your dentist to ensure there are no problems with your teeth. With a little bit of effort, you no longer have to worry about sensitive teeth after teeth whitening. 

References

  1. Jorgensen, M. G., & Carroll, W. B. (2002). Incidence of tooth sensitivity after home whitening treatment. Journal of the American Dental Association (1939), 133(8), 1076–1095. https://doi.org/10.14219/jada.archive.2002.0332
  2. Splieth, C. H., & Tachou, A. (2013). Epidemiology of dentin hypersensitivity. Clinical oral investigations, 17 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S3–S8. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00784-012-0889-8
  3. https://www.businessinsider.com/best-toothpaste-for-sensitive-teeth#:~:text=Best%20overall%3A%20Colgate%20Sensitive%20Pro,Fluoride%2DFree%20Natural%20Sensitive%20Toothpaste 

Teeth whitening can be permanent. Here’s how.

lady with white teeth

Teeth whitening is an excellent way to achieve the pearly whites of your dreams — but like every other dental treatment, its effects do not last forever and require consistency to prolong longevity. 

On average, in-chair teeth whitening lasts about 2-3 years. But you CAN have whiter teeth longer by listening to your dentist’s instructions and doing your own touch-up whitening at home or in the clinic. Here’s the rundown. 

What is teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening involves bleaching your teeth to lighten its colour. It doesn’t turn your teeth completely brilliant white, but it can lighten your teeth by several shades at a time. 

How is teeth whitening done?

Professional whitening can be done in a dentist’s office in about an hour. The dentist will apply a teeth whitening gel containing about 25-40% hydrogen peroxide, then aim a special heating lamp at your teeth for 3 20-minute intervals, and then reapply the gel between intervals. Some dentists may also use lasers, which can accelerate or activate the whitening process. A protective barrier will be used to keep your lips, gums and tongue away from the whitening gel so that it stays on your teeth. 

Your dentist will normally give you whitening trays moulded specifically your teeth so that you can make follow-up touches at home with bleaching solutions. 

Can I whiten my own teeth at home?

While there are cheaper options in the market, they’re not necessarily safe or effective. If the product contains a high amount of some active ingredient that is prohibited, you may very well end up doing more damage to your teeth than you would be without the whitening treatment. So, don’t scrimp and save when it comes to your teeth – it’s just not worth it. 

In a budget treatment that you may buy from online retailers or a store, there are two common ingredients in teeth whitening treatments – hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. If the percentage is too high or if you use them for too long, they could be damaging to your teeth.

The allowed percentage is a mere 0.1%, but the products you find outside contain an average of 3% 1, way more than should be allowed. This poses a real risk to your oral health and is something you want to take note of.  

Many patients also tend to put on their whitening strips longer than instructed; this is not only unnecessary but also unsafe. Studies have shown that excessive use of peroxide-based products damages enamel, leading to more teeth discolouration, sensitivity and also pain.2

You can find a wide range of home whitening kits between the price of $13 to $60. Just remember to check whether they contain potentially harmful amounts of peroxide. Also, keep in mind that these treatments may not do very much for your stained teeth if your condition is already bad.

For these reasons, I highly recommend in-chair whitening at your dentist. 

How long does teeth whitening last? 

Teeth whitening can last about 2-3 years varying from person to person, but you can prolong its longevity by carrying out some simple steps. It includes avoiding things that stain your teeth, such as: 

Other things you can do to ensure your teeth stay sparkling is to touch-up your teeth regularly using the bleaching solutions and techniques that the dentist has taught you. 

Of course, these are on top of the everyday hygiene of brushing and flossing your teeth every day. Remember to go to the dentist for regular appointments to get your teeth checked too. 

Dentist checking patient's teeth

Who is teeth whitening not suitable for?

Teeth whitening is not suitable for those with: 

How much does teeth whitening cost in Singapore? 

During an in-chair whitening process, your dentist will perform an oral examination to make sure you are a suitable candidate, such that using a high percentage of peroxide on your teeth will not cause you any problems. 

The cost of in-chair whitening in Singapore ranges between $800 and $1300. You often only need a single session to see the results. 

They are also likely to recommend some at-home whitening kits to make touch-ups at home. So, if you’re considering doing teeth whitening by yourself at home, try asking your dentist next time. They are more likely to recommend whitening kits that actually work or that are safe for whatever conditions you have with your teeth. Getting professional advice is worth every cent, that we’re sure. 

For prescribed at-home whitening kits from the dentist, prices range from $400 to $600 and often require you to repeat usage for 30 to 60 minutes daily for 2 weeks. 

Conclusion

Your pearly whites can last for long if you go for in-chair whitening and then do touch-up whitening at home, and go for dental appointments regularly to get your teeth checked. Remember to avoid food and drinks that can stain your teeth. Brush and floss regularly and you’re good to go! 

References

  1. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/hsa-dentists-warn-against-popular-diy-teeth-whitening-kit-995671
  2. Cvikl, B., Lussi, A., Moritz, A., & Flury, S. (2016). Enamel surface changes after exposure to bleaching gels containing carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. Operative dentistry, 41(1), E39-E47.

Will smoking and drinking cause dental implant failure?

Smoking Teeth Photo

You know the drill — avoiding tobacco and nicotine is one of the key factors for good gum health. But how do these substances affect prosthetics like dental implants, and will lifestyle habits like smoking result in implant failure? 

Let’s find out. 

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are a type of dental prosthesis that can help to replace a missing tooth. The process requires surgery and implantation of a titanium screw that will act as a replacement for the root of the missing tooth. Dental implant surgery is usually not uncomfortable as there will be local anaesthesia. Dental implants are permanent and made to match your natural teeth. 

How long should dental implants last?

A dental implant should last you a lifetime, given that you care for it properly by regularly brushing, flossing and going for follow-up dental appointments with your dentist. 

What causes dental implant failure?

The success rate of dental implants is up to 98%. Very rarely, things can go wrong. 

Peri-implantitis

Peri-implantitis is an inflammation of the gums or bones around the dental implant due to bacteria and poor dental hygiene. Out of the rare complications that could occur from dental implant surgery, peri-implantitis is the most common. There will typically be swelling or pus near the implant site, causing bone loss and implant failure. Smokers are at higher risk of getting infections around the dental implant. 

Failed osseointegration

There could also be failed osseointegration where the dental implant becomes loose and falls out of place. Osseointegration is the process of forming a fusion between the bone and the titanium implant; this process is integral for your implants to work. Osseointegration takes place over several months after your procedure. Sometimes, the jawbone may fail to fuse with the implant, causing implant failure. This may happen if you do not have enough jawbone volume or density. 

Overloading

There are also instances where dental implants become overloaded by excessive pressure. Such forces may cause the failure of the implant to osseointegrate. If you tend to grind your teeth, you may find yourself with such a problem — consider getting a mouthguard from your dentist! 

Nerve and tissue damage

This is a rare problem where the implant is placed too close to the nerves, causing chronic pain, numbness and tingling at the implant site. The nerve damage may be permanent or temporary, and the implant may need to be replaced.

Sinus inflammation or infection 

Sinus inflammation may occur in those who use dental implants to replace teeth from the upper jaw. When the implant protrudes into the sinus cavity, the area can become inflamed or infected. 

What happens if you smoke with dental implants?

Time and again, the literature shows that tobacco use is associated with increased implant failure. A 2012 study revealed that smoking increases the incidence of peri-implantitis, and heavy smokers (>14 cigarettes a day) experience the greatest marginal bone loss around their implants. 

Why is this so? 

Cigarette smoke can damage or block salivary glands in the mouth, leading to dryness which can result in tooth decay and gum disease. This weakens the bones and gums supporting the implants. 

Nicotine in cigarettes also restricts the flow of blood and oxygen to the bones and oral tissues, impeding the healing process. All these impacts the osseointegration process, which as earlier mentioned is crucial in dental implant success. 

Why can’t you drink alcohol after dental surgery?

Dental implants are most vulnerable within the first 72 hours after implantation surgery. This is because the body needs to rebuild tissue, bone cells and blood vessels for osseointegration. Alcohol may very well disrupt this healing process, thereby delaying recovery or worse – causing dental implant failure. 

Alcohol also has a dehydrating effect on the body, and dehydration of the oral cavity will impede proper healing of the oral tissues, and lead to increased sensitivity. 

Moreover, alcohol may cause vessels and capillaries in the gums to dilate, increasing the amount of pain and tenderness experienced. 

Something even more terrifying is that alcohol increases fat content in the blood, which can cause the formation of clots in the jaw and complicate surgery. 

After the initial healing phase, you may be able to have an occasional glass or two but remember that excessive alcohol consumption disrupts blood supply and can cause dental implant failure. So, be sure not to take too many of those shots. We’re not saying you can’t; the idea is to do it in moderation. 

Alcohol and Smoking Teeth Photo

What should I do or not do to prevent dental implant failure?

Dos

Don'ts

After the dental implant procedure, do not drink alcohol for the next 72 hours while the body is healing and recovering. You may drink in moderation thereafter. 

It is recommended to quit smoking at least one to two weeks before the dental implant procedure. After the procedure, it is advisable not to smoke within 72 hours to prevent blood clots from loosening, causing a painful condition known as dry socket. And, it is best to wait 2 - 3 months before smoking regularly again. This is so that osseointegration is allowed to take place.

You may rinse your mouth gently with saltwater 48 hours after surgery.

You may brush around the implant first, avoiding the surgical site. After a few days, you may begin to carefully clean the area with a toothbrush.  

How do I know if my dental implant has failed?

The first sign of a dental implant failure would be mobility. If the bone around the implant doesn’t grow properly, the dental implant may start to loosen and move around, especially when chewing or talking. Other signs of dental implant failure include pain, swelling or infection, though they don’t happen in all cases.

What can be done if my dental implant fails?

A failed dental implant can be easily removed with local anaesthesia. The dentist will take out the implant and clean the area. If the bone around the implant site is intact, a bone graft will not be necessary. If there is bone loss, there may be a new bone graft to improve the site for replacement of the implant. Healing from the bone graft may take several months before it is ready for a new implant.

You may wish to talk to your dentist about why the first implant failed, and how to prevent the failure of this replacement implant. 

Conclusion

Dental implants are a big commitment. You have to be really careful with it if you want the healing and osseointegration process to be successful. If you are not sure how you can take care of your implant, your dentist will provide you with detailed instructions on proper dental care techniques. The best way to avoid failure of your dental implants is to listen to the advice of your dentist, drink plenty of water and avoid smoking or drinking – at least during the recommend stipulated time! If anything feels amiss, contact your dentist immediately. Your dentist will always be there to help you, regardless of whether your dental implant has failed. 

References

  1. Twito, D., & Sade, P. (2014). The effect of cigarette smoking habits on the outcome of dental implant treatment. PeerJ, 2, e546.
  2. Alissa, R., & Oliver, R. J. (2012). Influence of prognostic risk indicators on osseointegrated dental implant failure: a matched case-control analysis. Journal of Oral Implantology, 38(1), 51-61. 
  3. Annibali, S., Ripari, M., LA Monaca, G., Tonoli, F., & Cristalli, M. P. (2008). Local complications in dental implant surgery: prevention and treatment. ORAL & implantology, 1(1), 21–33.

Dental implants vs Dentures: Which is right for me?

Dentures Photo

If you have lost most of your teeth and find it hard to smile or eat with confidence, you may wish to get dental implants or dentures. But what are they exactly, and which one is more suitable? If you’re grappling with the decision between the two, this article is for you.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are artificial prostheses used to replace teeth. They are used to fill dental gaps, prevent bone loss, and help protect the rest of your teeth.

There is a variety of types of dental implants, but they all have 3 main components: (from top to bottom) the crown, the implant abutment and the implant post.

In your dental implant surgery, the implant post will be inserted into your jaw and act as a replacement for the root of the tooth that has been lost. This means that the fixture is permanent and can act like a normal tooth.

What are dentures? 

Dentures are a replacement for missing teeth that is removable. They consist of false teeth attached to a pink or gum-coloured acrylic base that is fitted into your mouth.

We commonly identify dentures by two main types — complete or partial dentures. Complete dentures or full dentures are for those who have lost all their teeth, while partial dentures are for those who have lost some teeth but also have some good teeth remaining. There are two types of complete dentures: conventional dentures and immediate dentures.

Conventional dentures are complete sets of dentures that are fitted after removal or damaged teeth and the gum tissues have healed. However, because your mouth may not be ready for permanent dentures immediately, you might need to recover for several months before using these dentures. In this case, temporary dentures may be fitted to help tide through the recovery period.

Immediate dentures are for those who want dentures immediately after the extraction of teeth. In this case, immediate dentures are made right before extraction and inserted right after.

Meanwhile, partial dentures have gaps for your natural teeth and artificial teeth for missing teeth. 

What is the difference between dental implants and dentures?

The main difference between dental implants and dentures is their removability. Dental implants have titanium screws that are permanently fixed into your jawbone, substituting the root of the missing tooth. Meanwhile, dentures may be taken out as and when you wish to. However, recent developments have also come up with non-removable dentures, so do ask your dentist what options are available for you.


Dental implantsDentures
LongevityCan last almost a lifetime with proper care and dental checkups. Last only about 7 - 10 years before needing replacement due to wear and tear. 
ConvenienceNo need to remove dentures or use adhesives.You have to avoid hard and sticky foods.  It may be uncomfortable, difficult to eat or speak at first, but you will get used to it soon.  
Ease of useDental implants are as good as your own natural teeth. Dentures may slip and slide around, especially when laughing, coughing, eating or smiling.  If the dentures feel too loose or often go out of place, seek help from the dentist. 
Cleaning and MaintenanceDental implants can be cleaned just like regular teeth – by brushing and flossing. Dentures need to be cleaned daily using soft bristles and water.  Do not use toothpaste as it can be too abrasive for them. 
PermanentDental implants are permanent, which means you can’t back out unless you remove them surgically.Dentures are removable, so you don’t have to commit to anything permanent.  There are some dentures which can be implanted too, so explore your options with the dentist. 
SurgeryDental implants require surgery, so there may be pain, swelling and bleeding or other surgical complications.  There may be side effects from anaesthesia, or even post-op infectionNo surgery is required for dentures so there are no risks of surgical complications.
CostS$3,500-S$6,000S$250-S$800
Dental Implant Photo

Who is suitable for dental implants?

Dental implants are suitable for those with good oral hygiene and strong gums. You will also need enough jawbone for the implants to be secure. Therefore, the dentist will carry out an examination of your dental health and check for a good foundation for the implants to ensure you can be given the go-ahead for dental implant surgery.

Who are not suitable for dental implants?

If you fall into any of the below categories, you may want to consider alternatives other than dental implants:

Who is suitable for dentures?

Good candidates for dentures are those who have significant tooth loss but have enough healthy gum tissues and jawbone.

Who are not suitable for dentures?

The following are people who are not suitable for dentures, and may want to consider other alternatives:

Conclusion

It may be hard to decide on whether you want something more permanent and convenient like dental implants, or whether you want something less risky and cheaper like dentures. Let your dentist do an evaluation of your condition, and inform them about your needs and budget. They will discuss with you the various options that are available and suitable for your condition. Given the myriad of dental prostheses out there, we’re sure you’ll find a solution that works out for you.

References

  1. Stanford, C. M. (2007). Dental implants: a role in geriatric dentistry for the general practice?. The Journal of the American Dental Association, 138, S34-S40.
  2. Gaviria, L., Salcido, J. P., Guda, T., & Ong, J. L. (2014). Current trends in dental implants. Journal of the Korean Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, 40(2), 50-60.
  3. Friel, T., & Waia, S. (2020). Removable Partial Dentures for Older Adults. Primary Dental Journal, 9(3), 34-39.
  4. McCord, J. F., & Grant, A. A. (2000). Complete dentures: an introduction. British dental journal, 188(7), 373-374.

Braces vs Invisalign: Which is best for my kid?

For those facing dental problems like crooked teeth and bite issues, many find themselves struggling between conventional braces and Invisalign treatment. But which is more effective and more affordable? Why are so many people choosing Invisalign nowadays? Are there pros and cons that I should consider before making a decision? We’re here to guide you through orthodontic systems before you or your child goes on the way to a brighter, more confident smile. 

What are conventional braces? 

Conventional braces are a set of metal or ceramic brackets (the metal attachments in the middle of each tooth iconic to those wearing conventional braces) which are permanently attached to the front of every tooth during the treatment. These brackets are connected with a special orthodontic wire, tightened such that it allows each tooth to be gradually eased into its desired position in line with the treatment plan. 

There are 4 different types of conventional braces – metal, ceramic, self-ligating and lingual braces. The orthodontist will suggest the most suitable type of braces for each individual, depending on what they need for the best aesthetic outcome. 

Metal braces 

Metal braces are usually stainless steel, and are the most common type of braces. They are relatively cheaper with shorter treatment duration. The highly conspicuous braces are often thought to be a downside of this treatment, although some people consider it fashionable too. 

Ceramic braces 

This is pretty much the same as metal braces, except that the brackets use a tooth-coloured material to hold the wire for a better overall appearance that is more discrete. They also don’t become discoloured so patients can eat or drink dark-coloured foods without the worry that it might stain their braces. However, this is more expensive than stainless steel braces since the specialised ceramic material costs more.  

Self-ligating braces 

These are the same as the regular braces except that they have no elastic bands to help move the teeth. The elastic bands, or ligatures, are used to secure the orthodontic archwire into each bracket. Because the ligatures can get stained and need to be changed regularly, self-ligating braces reduce the need to visit the dentist and provide greater comfort for the patient. 

Lingual braces

These are invisible braces which have brackets installed at the inside of the teeth rather than at the front as with regular braces. This is also the most expensive type of braces as it is custom-made, and is also the most uncomfortable due to the location of the brackets. Lingual braces could also interfere with speech, causing patients to speak with a lisp. 

Not sure if you should remove your wisdom teeth before getting braces? This article might help

What is the duration of the conventional braces treatment? 

For conventional braces, the average treatment period ranges from 12 - 18 months, but it also depends on the individual and the amount of movements of the teeth needed for the desired effect. 

Patients are required to go for regular dental checkups every 4 weeks to tighten the braces. The dentist will check and clean the teeth, and adjust or change the archwire to further tighten the braces. 

What is Invisalign?

As the name suggests, Invisalign uses a set of virtually invisible braces that serve as an alternative to conventional braces. They do not use any wires or brackets. Instead, they use a 3D modelling technology to produce a series of customised plastic aligners that are removable, BPA-free, and practically invisible for a highly discrete treatment. 

The computerised technology ensures that the Invisalign aligners are made to fit your teeth perfectly. Align Technologies was the first to develop the Invisalign technology in 1999 and is a strong competitor against the conventional braces due to its unobtrusive and hassle-free nature, besides being effective at getting the job done.

What is the duration of the Invisalign treatment?

For Invisalign, the average treatment period ranges from 12 - 18 months, but this can vary depending on the complexity of each individual situation and the amount of movement needed for the teeth to be aligned. Patients on the Invisalign treatment are required to visit the dentist every 4 - 6 weeks for a consultation to check in on their progress with the treatment. Patients will also need to change the aligners every 7 - 10 days as the teeth gradually shift positions during the treatment process.

It is important that patients do not miss appointments or forget to change out their aligners, so that the duration of the treatment will not be extended. 

What are the benefits of conventional braces?


Strength 

Metal is stronger compared to other forms of orthodontic treatments. Plastic and ceramic brackets have the downside of breaking easily, so they might need replacement every now and then. 

Affordability 

Traditional braces are among the most affordable treatment options out there. 

Versatility 

Metal braces can be used for a wide variety of mild to severe cases of malalignment, crooked teeth, spaced out teeth or crowded teeth. Conventional braces are more powerful in the sense that they are able to correct highly complex orthodontic problems due to the constant pressure that they apply on the teeth. Meanwhile, other options like Invisalign are limited in their ability to move each tooth, making them unsuitable for complicated cases. 

Variety 

There are now a wide range of designs and colours available for metal braces, making them more fun to wear than ever before.

Efficiency

Treatment using metal bracestypically ends sooner than other brace treatments. 

What are the benefits of Invisalign?


Aesthetic and Removable 

The clear, plastic Invisalign aligners are practically invisible, and this acts as a unique selling point for Invisalign. They are an efficient way of correcting orthodontic problems without anyone noticing. These aligners are also removable, enabling patients to eat, brush and floss more easily than conventional braces. 

Hassle-free 

They are also known to be hassle-free and do not interfere with sports or other daily activities that you may engage in. With Invisalign, you won’t have to worry about destroying your dental bracket or wires. You can also eat whatever you want, whenever you want.

Comfortable

Invisalign has a patented thermoplastic material known as SmartTrack which does not hurt the gums for a more comfortable treatment. This is unlike traditional braces with their metal braces and wires that may rub against the cheek and gums to cause irritation. 

Saves you time 

Invisalign requires less maintenance and less frequent visits to the dentist. 

What are the disadvantages of conventional braces?


Poor aesthetics 

The most obvious downside would be it’s less than aesthetic appearance of the brackets at the front of each tooth. Many people with conventional braces become very conscious about themselves, especially when they smile, laugh or talk. This could diminish their confidence and self-esteem, which are important in a child’s development. 

Food and drink restrictions 

Another downside of conventional braces is that you would have to avoid food and drinks that could damage the braces. Sweets and soda are off limits, which is a true bummer, especially for kids. 

Regular dental visits 

Conventional braces require dental visits every 4 weeks, a little more often than the Invisalign treatment which states every 4 - 6 weeks. 

What are the disadvantages of Invisalign? 


Lack of patient compliance leading to delays

Patients using Invisalign must comply with the rule of wearing their aligners for at least 22 hours a day every day throughout the treatment process. A lack of discipline could mean that you will need a longer treatment time to get your teeth in place. The clear aligners should only be removed during meals or when brushing. They’re easily removable, which may tempt you to take them off, but keep in mind the purpose of having them – so you can get that stunning smile in the shortest amount of time. So keep your Invisalign aligners on for 22-24 hours a day and you’re good to go! 

Cost 

The cost of Invisalign in Singapore is typically higher than conventional braces. This is because of the 3D modelling technology involved in making the fully customised set of aligners. 

Invisalign can easily cost about $4500 - $9500, as compared to conventional braces which are cheaper at about $3500 - $6500. However, lingual braces cost way more because of their customisation and complexity, at about $5000 - $13000. 

Are conventional braces or Invisalign better for my kid?

Here’s a summary for the two types of braces in case you still can’t decide which would be better for your kid. 


InvisalignConventional braces (metal)
AppearanceClear and virtually invisible.Highly visible metal brackets on the front of the teeth with archwire (poor appearance).
Ease of maintenanceEasily removable for cleaning and brushing.More difficult to maintain as food will be stuck and it is harder to brush and floss.
Food and drinks No need to avoid any food or drinks. Need to avoid eating hard or sticky foods. 
BreakageCan occur when wearing or removing the aligners.Can occur when eating. 
Pain level Less pain as the force is gradual (more comfortable). More pain.
Frequency of checkupEvery 4 - 6 weeks.Every 4 weeks.
Complex cases Difficult to handle complex cases.Can handle all cases from mild to complex. 
Patient complianceRequires high patient compliance to wear aligners for 22 hours a day. They must also remember to clean their aligners. Compliance required is minimal but good oral hygiene is necessary. 
Wearing of retainers after treatmentYes.Yes.
Cost of treatment $4500 - $9500 $3500 - $6500 

It seems clear to us that Invisalign is a top choice, not just for the appearances, but also for their convenience and functionality. Your kid will be able to eat and drink whatever they want, play sports, and go to the dentist less often. Sure you might pay more, but you get every cent’s worth. 

The only factor that you may want to consider is how serious your kid’s malocclusion is. Invisalign may not be able to treat severe cases of malocclusion, so your safest choice would be conventional braces. 

Conclusion

What’s not to love with all the benefits that Invisalign can bring? Whether you choose conventional braces or Invisalign, it is important to seek advice from your orthodontologist or dentist so as to ascertain that you are making the best decision for your child. After all, it is a heavy investment and you want to make sure your child gets that stellar smile you’ve been wanting to see. 

References

  1. Tamer, İ., Öztaş, E., & Marşan, G. (2019). Orthodontic Treatment with Clear Aligners and The Scientific Reality Behind Their Marketing: A Literature Review. Turkish Journal of Orthodontics, 32(4), 241. https://doi.org/10.5152/TURKJORTHOD.2019.18083 
  2. Weir, T. (2017). Clear aligners in orthodontic treatment. Australian Dental Journal, 62, 58–62. https://doi.org/10.1111/ADJ.12480 

Can I still play sports with Invisalign?

Invisalign is the modern go-to method for straightening your teeth without all the downfalls of a traditional metal brace. They’re basically transparent, comfortable and removable, allowing you to enjoy your favourite foods and activities while keeping on that stellar smile.

You can do many things with Invisalign, like eat or drink whatever you want without fear of damaging them. But here’s the big question mark: can I still play sports with Invisalign? Well, it appears that that depends on how intense your sport is. There are some sports which would allow you to keep your aligners on, while others are simply safer without them. 

Which are the sports that I can keep my aligners on for? 

Less intense sports which have lower risk can be played with your Invisalign aligners on. While there might be some impact during the game, they are typically not traumatic enough to cause severe damage. Hence, it is safe to wear your aligners for these sports:

Which are the sports that I should take out my aligners for? 

If a sport encourages the use of a mouth guard, then your aligners should be taken out. Keep this in mind and you’re good to go! This is mostly for contact sports such as: 

Can I wear Invisalign with mouth guards and gum shields? 

It is always advisable to take out your Invisalign aligners if you have to wear a mouth guard or gum shield for a particular sport. Do not attempt to wear both the aligners and the mouth guard at the same time. 

Invisalign is designed to fit perfectly over the teeth in order to shift them into position gently. Likewise, mouth guards are meant to cover the teeth precisely in order to cushion them against impact while playing sports. Hence, they are incompatible and should not be worn at the same time. It might be very bulky, uncomfortable and would not serve their original purposes. 

Am I wearing my aligners for a long enough time?

For the Invisalign aligners to work their magic, they need to be worn for at least 22 hours a day. This means that if you are removing them for training or games for several hours at a time, you should talk to your dentist who will work out a compromise between your training and your treatment. After all, we love the adrenaline of both a good game and a beautiful smile! 

Invisalign aligners are designed to give you the freedom to do what you love most while straightening your teeth. Remember that safety comes first and follow our tips when you play sports with Invisalign, so you can keep your smile on no matter what. 

References

  1. Abbate, G. M., Caria, M. P., Montanari, P., Mannu, C., Orrù, G., Caprioglio, A., & Levrini, L. (2015). Periodontal health in teenagers treated with removable aligners and fixed orthodontic appliances. Journal of orofacial orthopedics = Fortschritte der Kieferorthopadie : Organ/official journal Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Kieferorthopadie, 76(3), 240–250. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00056-015-0285-5 
  2. Ojima, K., Dan, C., Kumagai, Y., Watanabe, H., & Nanda, R. (2020). Correction of severe crowding in teenage patients using the Invisalign system. Journal of clinical orthodontics : JCO, 54(7), 383–391. 

Can I drink alcohol after wisdom teeth removal surgery?

Wisdom teeth removal surgery

Wisdom tooth removal surgery may sound scary, but it’s probably not as bad as you imagine it to be. For one, it is an outpatient surgery, which means you arrive and leave the dental clinic on the same day. You will be given local anaesthesia or sedation during the procedure too, so you won’t feel any pain while your wisdom tooth is being extracted. 

Some pain and swelling after wisdom teeth removal surgery is normal, but how you adhere to aftercare instructions in the next few days after will affect the rate of your recovery and complications. 

When do you get your wisdom teeth extracted?

Most patients with impacted wisdom teeth will need to get their wisdom teeth extracted. If you start experiencing symptoms like red or swollen gums, jaw pain and swelling around the jaw, it’s a sign that your wisdom tooth might be infected and need to be removed as soon as possible. 

Some may not experience any pain or inconvenience from their wisdom teeth, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing wrong. In fact, it’s better to get them removed when you are younger as the bones in your mouth grow harder as you age. This could make your teeth tougher to remove and potentially increase the risk of complications after surgery, such as heavy bleeding, fractured teeth and minor loss of movement in your jaw. 

Not removing your wisdom teeth could also cause: 

This article on when wisdom tooth removal is necessary will tell you more! 

What to do after wisdom teeth surgery

Most people take about 3-4 days to recover from wisdom teeth surgery or a full week if your teeth were impacted. However, the wound site won’t be completely healed for months, so it’s important to take care of yourself to avoid an infection. 

Straight after surgery, you may experience minor bleeding, but this can be controlled by biting on gauze which we will provide. We will also provide painkillers to help with the pain once the anaesthesia wears off. All pain and bleeding should be gone within a week. During this period, you should avoid: 

It is important to avoid these activities as doing so may dislodge your blood clot or stitches. Dislodging your blood clot can cause increased pain and put you at risk of infection or a dry socket. Remember to rinse your mouth with salt water to keep the wound clean, but do not spit the water out! Instead, tip your mouth and allow the water to fall out gently. 

Cup, toothbrush, toothpaste

Can I drink alcohol after wisdom teeth extraction?

It is best to avoid any alcoholic beverages for at least 48 hours after your wisdom teeth extraction. Drinking alcohol may interfere with the healing process; additionally, if you were prescribed a painkiller after the surgery, drinking alcohol may cause serious side effects. 

You can still drink most types of flavoured beverages though — for example, milkshakes, smoothies and apple juice are all fine. Just make sure they are not carbonated and don’t drink with a straw! 

Food wise, take care to consume very soft food at least for the next few days after surgery. We usually recommend patients to stick to porridge, soup, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs and even ice cream. Just make sure not to eat extremely hot food that can burn the site of your wound, or food that can get stuck in the hole where your wisdom tooth used to be, such as nuts and seeds. 

How easy is it to get a dry socket after wisdom teeth extraction?

A dry socket is a condition that develops when the blood clot in an extraction site dissolves, does not form properly or dislodges shortly after the removal of a tooth. In wisdom teeth removal, dry sockets occur up to 30% of the time. 

Patients with a dry socket typically experience a consistent throbbing pain which may radiate to other areas of the face, a foul odor in the mouth, and discomfort even when drinking cold water and breathing in air. Many patients try to tough it out as they think such symptoms are normal, but you should not be experiencing such discomfort days after your wisdom teeth removal. 

To prevent dry sockets, it is crucial to avoid doing the activities as advised above, especially smoking. Studies show that 12% of smokers experience dry socket compared to only 4% of non-smokers. 

As long as you listen to your dentist’s care instructions, you should be all good and recovered in a week. 

References

  1. Abu Younis, M. H., & Abu Hantash, R. O. (2011). Dry socket: frequency, clinical picture, and risk factors in a palestinian dental teaching center. The open dentistry journal5, 7–12. https://doi.org/10.2174/1874210601105010007
  2. Cho, H., Lynham, A. J., & Hsu, E. (2017). Postoperative interventions to reduce inflammatory complications after third molar surgery: review of the current evidence. Australian dental journal62(4), 412–419. https://doi.org/10.1111/adj.12526 

Should I risk seeing a dentist during COVID-19?

Doctor checking a mans mouth

Has the pandemic deterred you from leaving the house unless absolutely necessary, including putting off your dental appointments? Your concerns are not invalid, especially since close body contact is inevitable when visiting a dentist. However, avoiding your dentist during COVID-19 might not be the best idea, and may even put your health at stake. Here’s why. 

First, what happens during a dental checkup?

A dental checkup allows your dentist to see if you have any dental problems, or are at the risk of developing one. For example, most cavities when detected early can prevent the need for restorative work like dental crowns or endodontic procedures like a root canal treatment. This will save you a lot of money and time in the long run! Leaving problems untreated can make them difficult to treat, so it’s best to get them checked out early or if possible prevent them entirely. 

Depending on how healthy your gums and teeth are, the time between dental checkups can vary from 3 months to 2 years; but in general, we recommend every 6 months just to be safe. 

At each appointment, our dentists will: 

Should I go to the dentist during COVID-19? 

Yes, here are some reasons why: 

1. Seeing a dentist is essential for health 

Apart from flossing regularly and brushing twice a day for 2 minutes, you should also visit your dentist at least once a year to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Research shows that neglecting your oral health could put you at higher risk of developing serious health problems. For example, bacteria from gum infection can enter your bloodstream and cause health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and kidney problems. Gum disease is also especially dangerous during pregnancy as any oral conditions can affect your developing baby. 

Dental chair

2. COVID-19 patients with gum disease are in bigger danger 

A recent study by the Journal of Clinical Periodontology consisting of more than 500 patients found that those with gum disease are 9 times more likely to die from the coronavirus, 3.5 more times likely to be admitted to intensive care and 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator. In addition, those with poor gum health are at a threefold risk of experiencing complications. This is due to higher levels of inflammation in the oral cavity and blood markers, opening the door to the virus becoming more violent. 

3. Prevent dental emergencies 

Many people put off seeing the dentist till they experience tooth pain or gum pain. This is not encouraged as oral health problems, when left untreated, can lead to dental emergencies. This past year, many dentists including ourselves have seen an increase in dental emergencies — partly due to staying home more and an increase in food high in refined sugars and carbohydrates, which when combined with harmful oral bacteria can cause tooth decay. Many of those dental emergencies could have been avoided if patients got help from a dentist early! 

4. Dentists follow strict safety precautions 

Dentistry was flagged as a COVID-19 high risk profession due to our close proximity with patients. Yet, the American Dental Association reported that less than 1% of dentists tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States, a country where the disease has claimed several lives. Why is this so? To begin with, even before the pandemic began, dentists have already been practicing safety policies and disinfectant protocols — these include wearing masks, gloves, eye gear and sterilising patient-care items and devices. At Smilepoint Dental, we ensure our dentists wear protective gear from head to toe, disinfect all tools after each patient visit, and wash their hands before and after in between patients. 

We understand that seeing the dentist during COVID-19 may be scary, but as explained the chances of picking up COVID-19 at the dentist is very low. Moreover, keeping your oral health in check can greatly protect you from any complications from the virus. Our clinic is open as per usual during this time; if you have any questions, feel free to contact us

References

  1. Gum disease linked to COVID-19 complications. (2021). British dental journal230(6), 331. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-021-2868-4
  2. https://www.dentistrytoday.com/news/industrynews/item/6507-dentistry-tops-list-of-professions-facing-the-greatest-covid-19-risks