How often should I get my teeth cleaned?



Teeth cleaning at the dentist can remove plaque that regular brushing and flossing can’t.
From shutterstock.com

Arosha Weerakoon, The University of Queensland

If you went to your dentist for a check-up and dental clean in the last year, give yourself a pat on the back. Not everyone loves the dentist, but research shows people who visit at least once a year for preventative care are happier with their smile.

Regular dental visitors are also less likely to need a filling or have a tooth removed.

So how often do we need to go to the dentist? Most of us can get away with an annual trip, but some people at higher risk of dental problems should visit more often.




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Why do I need to get my teeth cleaned?

While we all do the best we can on our own, professional teeth cleaning removes plaque, the soft yellowish build-up, and calculus (hardened plaque) we can’t get to. This soft build-up is made up of billions of different types of bacteria that live and reproduce in our mouth by feeding on the food we eat.

Most bacteria live in our bodies without causing too much trouble. But certain bacteria in dental plaque, when they grow in numbers, can lead to cavities (holes in the teeth) or gum disease.

A dental clean will reduce your chance of getting cavities or gum disease by significantly reducing the amount of plaque and calculus in your mouth.

So how often?

As a dentist, my patients often ask me how regularly they should get their teeth cleaned. My response is usually: “That depends”.

Most private health insurance schemes cover a dental check-up and clean once every six months. But there’s no hard and fast evidence, particularly if you’re a healthy person who is less likely to get a cavity or gum disease.




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However, some people are at higher risk of getting dental cavities or gum disease – and this group should get their teeth cleaned more often.

Hole in one

We know certain health and lifestyle factors can affect a person’s risk of developing cavities. Here are some yes/no questions you can ask yourself to understand whether you’re at a higher risk:

  1. is your drinking water or toothpaste fluoride-free?
  2. do you snack a lot, including on sweets?
  3. do you avoid flossing?
  4. do you brush your teeth less than twice a day?
  5. do you visit your dentist for toothaches rather than check-ups?
  6. do you need new fillings every time you visit the dentist?
  7. is your dentist “watching” a lot of early cavities?
  8. do you have to wear an appliance in your mouth such as a denture or braces?
  9. do you suffer from a chronic long-term health condition such as diabetes?
  10. do you suffer from a dry mouth?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you’re likely to need to see your dentist or hygienist at least every six months, if not more often.

As well as removing the bug-loaded plaque and calculus, people prone to cavities benefit from the fluoride treatment after scaling.

Evidence shows professional fluoride treatment every six months can lead to a 30% reduced risk of developing cavities, needing fillings or having teeth removed.




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Dental health is related to our overall health

Some people with chronic health issues such as heart conditions or diabetes will need to see their dentists more frequently. This is because they are more prone to gum disease.

People taking blood thinners and other medications, such as pills and infusions for osteoporosis, may need to visit the dentist more regularly too. These medications can complicate the process of an extraction or other dental work, so regular checks and cleans are best to help detect problems before they become serious.

People who visit the dentist regularly are less likely to need a filling or have a tooth removed.
From shutterstock.com

People with bleeding gums should also see their dental practitioners more often. This is especially important if you have been diagnosed with advanced gum disease, known as periodontal disease.

What about the budget?

The average cost of a check-up, dental clean and fluoride treatment is A$231, but the cost can vary from A$150 to A$305. You can contact your local dentist to find out what they charge. Your dentist may offer you a payment plan.

If you can’t afford this, you may qualify for free or discounted treatment if you hold a concession card. Children from families that receive a Family Tax Benefit A may be eligible for free dental treatment through the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.

People with private health insurance with extras or ancillary cover will also have some or all of their dental treatment covered.

Protecting your smile

So you don’t really get cavities or have gum disease, but would prefer to see your dentist every six months? Great. Some people prefer to go twice a year to reduce the chance of a nasty toothache.

Parents often wish to set a good example for their children by making regular check and clean appointments for the whole family.




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There are many benefits to regular checks and cleans. Visiting your dentist regularly helps reduce the chance of needing more complex and expensive dental treatment later on.

And touching base with your oral health practitioner provides that nudge we all need now and again to eat healthily, brush better and floss more often.The Conversation

Arosha Weerakoon, Lecturer, General Dentist & PhD Candidate, The University of Queensland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Is whitening bad for teeth? We asked five experts



At-home dental whitening kits might be bad for your teeth. Better to talk to a dentist.
from http://www.shutterstock.com

Alexandra Hansen, The Conversation

If you’re anything like me, celebrity smiles and Colgate ads make you feel guilty about your regular consumption of coffee, red wine, tea, and all the other fun things we’re told will stain our teeth.

And the solution seems so easy – a box of whitening strips from the supermarket shelf tells us so. But does whitening teeth also remove some of what keeps them healthy? And might they be more easily stained afterwards?

We asked five experts if whitening is bad for teeth.

Five out of five experts said no…

But they all had a pretty big caveat. It’s safe provided it’s done by a dentist. So for this you’re looking at upwards of a few hundred dollars, rather than just a trip to the supermarket.

Here are their detailed responses:


If you have a “yes or no” health question you’d like posed to Five Experts, email your suggestion to: alexandra.hansen@theconversation.edu.au


Disclosures: Alexander is a Federal Councillor for the Australian Dental Association Inc. and occasionally works clinically within private dental practice. Kelly is employed by CQUniversity to teach in the Bachelor of Oral Health program. Under the supervision of registered dental professionals, students deliver professional tooth whitening procedures at the university clinic. Madhan is a NHMRC Sidney Sax Research Fellow in Public Health and Health Services at the University of Sydney and Kings College London. He is a full time oral health researcher, and is not currently involved in any clinical practice. Rebecca works in paediatric practice that does not offer whitening procedures.The Conversation

Alexandra Hansen, Chief of Staff, The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

IRAN: AUTHORITIES PRESSURE FATHER OF CONVERT


Government trying to quell Christian son’s human rights activities.

LOS ANGELES, May 20 (Compass Direct News) – In an attempt to silence a Christian human rights activist living in England, Iranian authorities arrested and interrogated his Muslim father for six days before releasing him yesterday .

Abdul Zahra Vashahi, a retired 62-year-old suffering a heart condition, was arrested on Thursday (May 14) in Iran’s southwestern city of Bandar Mahshahr and interrogated about the human rights activities of his son, a Christian convert who has been living in England since 2003. His son, John (Reza) Vashahi, converted to Christianity while in England and in 2008 founded the Iranian Minorities Human Rights Organization (IMHRO).

In February the elder Vashahi had received a call from local authorities telling him that if his son didn’t stop his activities, they would arrest him instead.

While his father was in custody, authorities asked the elder Vashahi many questions about his son’s activities and had him fill out forms with detailed information about his extended family and friends.

“He is very tired, because the interrogations were very long,” his son told Compass. “All the questions were about me.”

The younger Vashahi said the Iranian government started putting increased pressure on his family, whom he has not seen in six years, since he founded IMHRO.

“It is a good example of harassment even outside the country,” Vashahi told Compass by telephone today. “It is just showing how far the government will go if we let them. Inside we can’t talk, and we come to Europe and still they want to silence us; it’s a very worrying sign.”

Vashahi, unlike his father, was involved in politics when he lived in Iran. His family belongs to Iran’s Arab-speaking community, the Ahwazi, most of whom live in the southwestern province of Khuzestan.

He said that even when he was living there, police had come to his father’s workplace to ask him questions, but that after he fled the country six years ago, the pressure seemed to have stopped. It began anew when he became an outspoken Christian campaigning for the rights of minorities in Iran and especially with the establishment of IMHRO, he said.

The activist is an active member of Amnesty International, and through his own organization he publicizes Iran’s human rights violations of minorities, especially Christians. He has also started a blog called “Jesus for Arabs.”

Fighting for Minority Rights

Vashahi acknowledged that his family, which is Muslim, was never happy with his choice of faith or vocation.

Asked whether he believed the government arrested his father because of his faith or his work, the younger Vashahi said, “I think it’s both, because part of my human rights activity is in regard to Christians in Iran, and we’ve been in touch with Christians and persecuted churches.”

The 30-year-old activist said that when the Revolutionary Guard arrested his father, they confiscated all of his books and compact discs, as well as a computer and his sister’s university dentistry textbooks.

“It’s a bad situation, and I hope we find some solution,” Vashahi said, “No one has the right to talk about anything in Iran. Suppression of the church is increasing in Iran; they don’t want us to talk about that. They don’t want us to talk about it inside, and also they want to silence us outside.”

Vashahi said that despite the government pressure, he is not planning to stop his human rights activism.

“I’m not going to be silent, because if I do, then I’m accepting their logic, which means I caused the arrest of my dad,” Vashahi said. “My dad is innocent, and that system is wrong to arrest someone instead of somebody else.”

In 2008, when deciding to establish the IMHRO, he said he felt torn between confronting Iran’s injustices and wanting to ignore them from his comfortable, safe distance.

“Another part of me was saying, ‘you are safe now, but you should do your fair share, you should make noise, and if people inside can’t talk and you are outside and you don’t want to talk, how will people learn what is happening?’” he said. “I felt responsibility, and in the end that part won.”

In a phone conversation with his mother yesterday while his father was sleeping to recover from his time in prison, he said he felt that she was choosing her words very carefully. She told him not to contact them or other family and friends.

“She emphasized that we are all Muslims, and that this is an Islamic country,” Vashahi said. “So she was giving me hints that it [the arrest] had to do with the change of religion.”

Although there were no official charges against his father, Vashahi said it is possible that authorities still could take him to court or detain him again for more interrogation.

“I hope this doesn’t happen again,” he said. “In fact, they’ve taken my family as hostage. They did this type of policy to other people and they’ve always failed, and I don’t know why they keep doing it, because people like me they are not going to stop. Others didn’t stop, and they’re just bringing more condemnation on themselves and exposing themselves to more condemnation in the eyes of the world.”

New Wave of Arrests

Compass has learned of four confirmed arrests of Christians in the last two weeks in the capital city of Tehran, while sources said a new wave of arrests has rolled across the country.

Authorities have been warning arrested Christians not to speak to foreign news agencies.

“The government is treating people like they don’t want them to talk,” said a source. “The government is really afraid of international news agencies, they really don’t like them. That is why they put pressure on the believers, and they are really scared.”

Although in most cases of arrests and interrogations Christians have been released with no physical harm, a source said in some instances they were told to sign papers that they would stop Christian activities and were threatened if they continued.

“It’s happening everywhere,” said the source. “This is the strategy of the government. They are doing it everywhere.”

Maryam Rostampour, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad, 30, are in their second month of detention at the notorious Evin prison house in Tehran, accused of “acting against state security” and “taking part in illegal gatherings.”

Report from Compass Direct News