Posts tagged ‘tooth decay’
Tooth decay is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth
More than a quarter of five-year-olds in England have tooth decay, although the number is down, a survey suggests.
The analysis by Public Health England looked at data from 133,000 dental examinations across the country, covering 21% of five-year-olds.
It suggested 27% of all five-year-olds had tooth decay, down from 30% in a 2008 survey.
The British Dental Association (BDA) said there remained a “deep chasm” between the best and worst areas.
Deprived areas had the highest numbers affected by decay.
Figures ranged from 21.2% of five-year-olds in the south-east to 34.8% in the north-west.
When the researchers looked at more localised data, Brighton and Hove was found to have the lowest percentage affected by tooth decay, at 12.5%, compared with the highest figure of 53.2% in Leicester.
Ingrained habits ‘danger’
Tooth decay is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth. Bacteria in the plaque feed on sugars from food and drink, and produce an acid that slowly destroys teeth.
It reminds us of the deep chasm that exists between those with the best and worst oral health”
Dr Christopher Allen,British Dental Association
Decay stems largely from a poor diet, but also poor dental care – not brushing teeth properly and not visiting the dentist often enough.
Although healthy adult teeth will come through in children whose milk teeth have been affected by decay, if such bad habits become ingrained, there will also be problems with those teeth.
A five-year-old normally has 20 milk teeth.
Children with decay had, on average, between three and four affected teeth.
The analysis found 3% of those with decay had one or more teeth removed, a painful procedure often carried out in hospital under anaesthetic.
There have been improvements – 72% of five-year-olds have no tooth decay, up from 69% in 2008.
Public Health England suggests part of this improvement may be down to increased levels of fluoride in most children’s toothpastes.
‘Lowest decay rates’
Prof Kevin Fenton, director of health and well-being at Public Health England said: “This latest survey shows the numbers of five-year-olds free from tooth decay have improved but there is still much to do, dental decay is preventable.
“Parents should brush their children’s teeth for at least two minutes twice a day, once just before bedtime and at least one other time during the day.
“Also supervise tooth brushing until your child is seven or eight years old, either by brushing their teeth yourself or, if they brush their own teeth, by watching how they do it.”
From April this year, local authorities have taken over responsibility for oral health.
Health Minister Lord Howe, said: “We know more work is needed to make sure good oral health is more consistent right across the country.
“However, we have some of the lowest decay rates in the world.”
Dr Christopher Allen, chairman of the BDA’s public health committee, said: “This report highlights a welcome improvement to the overall oral health of five-year-old children across England, but it also reminds us of the deep chasm that exists between those with the best and worst oral health.
“That divide is based not just on geography, but also on deprivation.”
The BDA’s scientific adviser, Prof Damien Walmsley said: “There remain pockets of inequality. It’s really about targeting resources so we can get to those people.”
He said trying to instil healthy eating habits as early as possible was key, as was ensuring parents regularly took their children to the dentist.
The purple shows up the plaque on the half of the dentures that has not had the “seaweed” treatment
Adding enzymes from seaweed microbes to toothpaste and mouthwash could provide better protection against tooth decay, a team of UK scientists have said.
Researchers at Newcastle University had been studying Bacillus licheniformis to see if it could clean ships’ hulls.
But the scientists now believe it could protect the areas between teeth where plaque can gather despite brushing.
Their lab tests suggest the microbe’s enzyme cuts through plaque, stripping it of bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Dr Nick Jakubovics, of the university’s school of dental sciences, said: “Plaque on your teeth is made up of bacteria which join together to colonise an area in a bid to push out any potential competitors.
“Traditional toothpastes work by scrubbing off the plaque containing the bacteria – but that’s not always effective – which is why people who religiously clean their teeth can still develop cavities.
“We found this enzyme can remove some of these undesirable bacteria from plaque.”
Plaque is made up of lots of different decaying bacteria.
When bacterial cells die, the DNA inside them leaks out and makes a biofilm that sticks to the teeth.
Instead of removing the plaque entirely, Dr Jakubovics believes the treatment could strip away the harmful bacteria, like Streptococcus mutans, that cause tooth decay.
“Ultimately we hope to harness this power into a paste, mouthwash or denture-cleaning solution.”
He said more studies are needed to show the technique works and is safe before any products could be brought to market.
He is presenting the latest findings to a meeting of the Society for Applied Microbiology, the organisation that is funding the research along with the Newcastle Healthcare Charity.
ORAL hygiene is more than just brushing our teeth in the morning. More often than not, we don’t think of oral care as part of our overall health. Personal hygiene is often emphasised in daily life, but the focus is rarely on oral hygiene.
President of the Malaysian Dental Association (MDA) Dr Muzafar Hamirudin says: “There is a possibility that dental diseases may increase the risks of systemic failure such as diabetes and heart diseases. Some cases may even lead to oral cancer if left untreated.”
Gum diseases, cavities and tooth decay are not only common in this country but also worldwide. The reason is that many people, kids and adults, still fear the dentist and put off dental visits until it is absolutely necessary.
What the public does not realise is that dental technology has come a long way since the 1990s. Dr Muzafar explains: “There is no reason for people to be scared of dentists today. We have laser treatment as an alternative to drilling and it is almost painless.”
Bad breath is embarrassing. No one likes to be told that one has bad breath but it is worse if one is not told about it.
“Bad breath is often caused by the build-up of bacteria in our mouth which causes inflammation and gives off noxious odours or gases,” explains Dr Muzafar.
If your floss smells or there is blood on it, then there are foul odours in your mouth. Fortunately, this problem is easy to fix. All you need to do is practise good oral hygiene and make regular visits to your dentist.
According to Dr Muzafar, there is no specific diet to observe or avoid in order to have a good oral health.
He says: “There are no restrictions on food intake as long as a you practise good oral hygiene.”
In fact, the key to a healthy mouth lies mainly in teeth–brushing technique. “The main cause of dental caries and gum diseases is not knowing how to brush effectively,” says Dr Muzafar.
While mouthwash complements teeth brushing, flossing allows maximum contact with the teeth. However, too much brushing and toothpaste do not guarantee healthy teeth either. Whiter teeth definitely do not equal healthier teeth.
“The colour of teeth depends on the thickness of the enamel and dentine and has little to do with your teeth health,” he says, adding that smoking, caffeine and alcohol intake can change your teeth colour.
All these can be easily prevented with good oral care habit which is much more than just a fancy toothbrush. In conjunction with Colgate Oral Health Month 2012, MDA is offering free dental check-ups to encourage and engage families to practise good oral hygiene and to make regular dental check-ups a family affair.
On that note, Dr Muzafar advises the public against going to street dentists, which seem to be increasing in number.
“It is important that patients get treatment from qualified dentists in a sterile environment. It is not impossible to catch Hepatitis B or even HIV from contaminated equipment,” he warns.
Oral hygiene 101
• Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head to reach the inner-most part.
• Your toothpaste should contain flouride.
• When brushing, angle your toothbrush at 45 degrees towards your gum.
• Divide your mouth into four quadrants and spend at least one minute on each.
• Use a mouthwash after brushing.
• Floss as many times as possible.
• Brush at least twice a day.
• Overbrushing and using excessive toothpaste will wear your teeth out.
• Visit the dentist regularly.