Dental Health Week

Dental Health Week is held each year during the first full week of August. This year it runs from 5th-11th. The annual campaign is organised by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) as the organisation’s major promotional event for oral health. As the peak body for dentists in Australia, ADA is focused on educating the Australian population about the importance of maintaining good oral health.

This year’s theme

Every year Dental Health Week has a different theme that revolves around oral health. Previous focus areas have included diet, sugar, sport, and women’s oral health. The tagline for this year is ‘How’s your oral health tracking?’ This year’s theme is a fantastic reminder for everyone to ask themselves how healthy their mouth really is and what they can do to get their smile on track. The four key messages being promoted during this year’s Dental Health Week include:

·         Brushing

Adults and children need to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. A mere 50% of Australians brush their teeth morning and night. A quick brush once a day just doesn’t cut it. Everyone needs to brush for a minimum of two minutes, twice per day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. The most optimal technique is to brush along all surfaces in small, circular motions.


·         Flossing

Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental brush. Flossing comes as an afterthought to many people when it is actually as important to incorporate into your daily routine as brushing. It is one of the best ways to prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath (halitosis), but shockingly almost 40% of the Australian population never floss or clean between their teeth. Just like brushing, flossing is not something that should be rushed. Use around 45cm, wrap around your middle fingers and thumb, then move in a gentle side-to-side motion.


·         Say “Hi” to your dentist

Visit a dentist regularly for check-ups and preventative treatment. Regular dental check-ups are essential to maintaining good oral health. Check-ups are recommended every 6 to 12 months, so if you are one of the 65% of Australians who hasn’t seen a dentist in the past two years, there is no better time to make an appointment.


·         Eat and drink well

Eat a nutritious diet and minimise consumption of sugary foods and drinks. A whopping 73% of young people (14-18 years) are consuming too much sugar. Sugar feeds the bacteria which causes tooth decay, so limiting your intake is vital. It is also worth reading food and beverage labels as many products contain hidden sugars or list different names to disguise sugar, such as sucrose, dextrose, and high fructose corn syrup. Try to eat as many teeth-friendly foods such as vegetables and nuts, and drink plenty of fluoridated tap water.

Happy Dental Health Week from the team at Oak Tree Ballarat Dental. We are here to help you keep track of your mouth health and make your oral health a high priority. Contact us today on (03) 5342 9633 to book a check-up.

Time to get serious about snoring!

Snoring is so common that it is considered funny or cute. When we sing nursery rhymes about sleeping we imitate snoring sounds. In reality, snoring is choking and a potentially serious medical condition. Snoring is a big problem at any age but we are particularly concerned about children that snore. The primary function of breathing is to deliver oxygen to our growing children's bodies and brains and to remove carbon dioxide which is a waste product. Snoring is a sign that something is impeding proper air flow in and out. 

Children who snore are more likely to mouth breathe and have issues with the development of their jaws and faces and lead to serious orthodontic problems. 

Children who snore are also more likely to have behavioural problems such as ADHD, poor performance at schol, hyperactivity, tiredness and bed wetting.

Snoring children may be a sign of other medical conditions such as OSA (obstructive sleep apnoea), GERD (reflux), allergies and food intolerances. 

Children who snore can also suffer from parasomnias including sleep walking, sleep talking, nightmares, night terrors, restless legs, restless sleep, frequent night waking, wanting to cosleep in the middle of the night, sweaty sleep and bruxism (teeth grinding). 

If your child displays any of these symptoms, please have their sleep and airway assessed by an ENT specialist, sleep physician or a dentist practicing functional orthodontics.

I need Root Canal Treatment should I just get the tooth pulled out?

Often, patients will come to us in pain, and after some testing and X-rays the result is that they have an infected tooth. Typically, the type of pain that these patients are experiencing includes:

  • Pain at night-time preventing proper sleep
  • Spontaneous pain
  • Sensitivity to hot foods/drinks
  • Throbbing, lingering pain

Why does my jaw hurt when I wake up in the morning?

Do you ever wake up in the morning with a headache, or with sore jaw muscles? Does your jaw ever click or do you sometimes have trouble opening your mouth completely?

These are common signs that you may be grinding or clenching your teeth. You may be well aware of these habits if you catch yourself in the act during the day, but many patients are actually unaware that they are grinding. Frequently, grinding occurs overnight when you go to sleep, and this results in the feeling of a stiff jaw, muscle soreness or headache in the morning.

Why are my teeth sensitive?

Sensitivity is that short, sharp, and sometimes quite painful feeling that you get when doing things like drinking cold water, eating ice-cream or breathing in cold winter air!  Sometimes, the discomfort can be so great that you may purposely avoid certain food types or drinks. There are many causes for sensitivity, but if ever in doubt, be sure to contact your dentist!

Brushing/flossing my teeth makes my gums bleed!

This is something that I hear all the time from worried patients. We have all been in that situation where we have finished brushing our teeth, so we spit into the basin, only to be rewarded for our efforts with a nice pinky hue to our toothpaste. Surely if our gums are bleeding from this behaviour I should be doing it less, right?

Let’s talk about bad breath

Bad breath (halitosis) is a common presenting complaint and we find patients are often embarrassed and often unsure about what to do or the cause. In actual fact, most people experience bad breath from time to time. Bad breath is caused by the waste product bacteria produce when they lie stagnant in our mouths for prolonged periods of time (volatile sulfur compounds.)  Seeing as all of us (except for newborns) have bacteria colonised in our mouths, bacteria waste product is unavoidable.

Toothbrushing tips for kids

As a mum of preschoolers, I know it can be challenging to get your kids to brush their teeth. Here are some pointers that hopefully makes your life easier.

Tooth brushing should start as soon as your baby cuts his first tooth. (Before this you can use a warm wet cloth to gently wipe inside your baby’s mouth and tongue) Try including your baby’s toothbrush in with their bath toys – chances are your baby will put it straight where it belongs – in his mouth

My baby sucks her thumb!

Thumb sucking (digit sucking) or the use of a dummy is very common amongst babies, toddlers and children. Sucking on fingers is a natural self soothing ability that babies start as foetuses in utero (in the womb). It can help them relax or make them feel safe or happy.

Tooth friendly back to school lunch box ideas

Every parent wants the best nutrition for their child. Did you know that over the course of your child’s school years, you will be packing close to 3000 lunch boxes? Making good choices about what goes into your child’s lunch box is obviously very important to give kids fuel for growing and learning but as a dentist I would also like to mention the huge impact school lunches can have on their teeth. Don’t despair! Making healthy and delicious lunches can be both easy and cost effective!

Are silver mercury fillings harmful?

Silver fillings/amalgam restorations have been heavily debated for decades and used for over 150 years. Dental amalgam has been known to be blamed for a wide range of health issues including autism and cancer. However the Australian Dental Association as well as the WHO (World Health Organisation) still report that there are no proven health issues associated with the use of dental amalgam.

Do I have impacted wisdom teeth?

We get our first permanent molars at 6 years of age and our second permanent molars at 12 years of age. Our third molars (wisdom teeth) arrive around 18-21 years of age. By this stage most of the space in our mouth has been taken up by other permanent teeth and our wisdom teeth commonly have little space to erupt into.

Is fluoride poisonous?

A lovely patient of ours recently sent me an article written by an anti-fluoride body blaming fluoridated water for a vast range of serious health issues. Anti-fluoride bodies are not new and the issue of fluoridation has been heavily debated for decades

White teeth! How do I achieve this naturally?

White teeth is increasingly becoming a socially important issue for many patients. I would firstly like to comment that unfortunately our perception of normal, healthy, white teeth has been blurred by what we see in the media. The teeth of celebrities, models and other people who appear in the media are often not teeth but porcelain veneers or caps that have been made in an ultrawhite colour. Generally speaking, it is abnormal and unnatural for the colour of your teeth to be whiter than the whites of your eyes.

I grind my teeth at night - should I be worried?

Abnormal tooth grinding and clenching is called bruxism. There are many theories as to why people grind their teeth but even the experts aren’t so sure yet. It has been associated with stress and anxiety but there is also a school of thought that it is a mechanism used in childhood to help loosen baby/milk teeth that grownups haven’t grown out of.