Exam Stress and your Oral Health

Exams are a rite of passage for many young people, marking a significant milestone in their academic journey. However, beyond the pressure to perform well academically, there lies a lesser-known consequence of exam stress: its detrimental effects on oral health. While the mental and emotional toll of exams is widely acknowledged, the impact on oral health often goes unnoticed. Let’s delve into this overlooked aspect and shed light on how exam stress affects the oral well-being of young individuals.

Stress, whether it stems from looming exams or other sources, can manifest physically, affecting various systems of the body, including oral health. When stress becomes chronic or intense, it can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and oral health issues. Moreover, stress often leads to poor oral hygiene habits, such as neglecting regular brushing and flossing, which can exacerbate existing dental problems.

One of the most common manifestations of stress on oral health is bruxism, or teeth grinding. Many students, overwhelmed by exam pressure, unconsciously clench or grind their teeth, especially during sleep. This habit not only wears down tooth enamel but can also result in jaw pain, headaches, and disrupted sleep patterns. Over time, untreated bruxism can lead to more serious dental complications, including temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ).

During exam periods, dietary habits often take a hit as students prioritise studying over proper nutrition. The consumption of sugary snacks and caffeinated beverages increases, providing temporary relief from stress but posing significant risks to oral health. Excessive sugar intake fuels the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth, leading to cavities and gum disease. Additionally, frequent consumption of acidic beverages like energy drinks and soda can erode tooth enamel, heightening the risk of dental decay.

As exam deadlines loom closer, students may neglect their oral hygiene routines in favour of extra study time. Late-night cramming sessions and irregular sleep patterns become the norm, leaving little time for self-care, including oral hygiene. Skipping brushing and flossing sessions, along with irregular dental check-ups, can exacerbate existing dental issues and pave the way for new ones.

Recognising the impact of exam stress on oral health is the first step toward mitigating its effects. Encouraging young people to adopt healthy coping strategies can alleviate stress and protect their oral well-being. Techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, and regular physical activity can help manage stress levels effectively. Additionally, maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and prioritising adequate sleep are crucial for overall health, including oral health.

Exam stress is a prevalent and often unavoidable aspect of academic life for young people. By acknowledging the stress-oral health connection and implementing preventive measures, we can safeguard the dental health of future generations. Through education, support, and healthy coping strategies, we can empower young individuals to prioritise both their academic success and their oral well-being, ensuring a brighter, healthier future.

Clear aligners

In recent years, advancements in dental technology have revolutionized orthodontic treatment, offering individuals with misaligned teeth an alternative to traditional braces. One of the leading brands in this field is Reveal Clear Aligners, available at selected Clear Dental practices. These innovative aligners offer a host of benefits, making them an appealing choice for those seeking a straighter, more confident smile.

Reveal Clear Aligners excel in providing patients with an aesthetically pleasing orthodontic solution. Unlike metal braces, which can be visually unappealing, these aligners are virtually invisible, allowing individuals to undergo teeth straightening discreetly. The transparent material ensures that wearers can go about their daily lives without feeling self-conscious or anxious about their appearance.

Reveal Clear Aligners prioritize patient comfort throughout the orthodontic journey. The aligners are custom-made using advanced digital technology to fit snugly over the teeth, providing a comfortable experience without the irritation and soreness associated with traditional braces. Additionally, the absence of wires and brackets means that Reveal Clear Aligners offer a hassle-free alternative, allowing for easy removal when eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing.

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial during orthodontic treatment, and Reveal Clear Aligners make this process significantly easier. Unlike braces, which can trap food particles and make brushing and flossing challenging, aligners can be removed, enabling individuals to clean their teeth more thoroughly. By promoting excellent oral hygiene practices, Reveal Clear Aligners minimize the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and other related dental issues, ensuring optimal oral health throughout the treatment period.

Reveal Clear Aligners employ cutting-edge technology to achieve precise and predictable results. Each aligner is custom-designed using digital mapping techniques, enabling an accurate and gradual movement of the teeth. The treatment plan is carefully crafted, outlining the specific movements required for each stage. This level of precision ensures that patients can have confidence in the outcome and anticipate a more predictable treatment timeline compared to traditional braces.

For individuals seeking a shorter treatment duration, Reveal Clear Aligners provide a favorable advantage. While treatment times may vary depending on individual cases, these aligners have been shown to offer comparable results to traditional braces within a shorter timeframe. This reduced treatment period translates into less time spent visiting the dentist and more time enjoying the benefits of a beautifully aligned smile.

The introduction of Reveal Clear Aligners has transformed orthodontic treatment, offering a range of benefits that significantly improve the patient experience. With their emphasis on aesthetics, comfort, convenience, oral hygiene, predictable results, reduced treatment time, and personalized care, these aligners provide an enticing alternative to traditional braces. Reveal Clear Aligners, available at selected Clear Dental practices, empower individuals to achieve the smile of their dreams while simultaneously enhancing their self-confidence and oral health.

Teaching your children how to brush their teeth

Establishing good oral hygiene habits at a young age is essential for the long-term health and well-being of children. Among these habits, regular teeth cleaning holds particular significance. However, motivating children to clean their teeth can be a challenge for parents and caregivers. This essay aims to explore effective strategies and provide practical tips on the best way to encourage children to clean their teeth, ultimately fostering a lifetime of oral health.

Transforming toothbrushing into an enjoyable experience can significantly increase children’s motivation. Introduce creativity and playfulness to the routine by using colourful toothbrushes, flavoured toothpaste, and even musical timers. Incorporating storytelling or singing toothbrushing songs can make the activity more engaging. Consider using educational videos or interactive apps that teach proper brushing techniques in a fun and interactive way.

Children thrive on structure and predictability. Establishing a consistent teeth cleaning routine helps make it a regular part of their daily lives. Set specific times for brushing as consistency reinforces the habit and allows children to develop a sense of responsibility towards their oral health.

Proper brushing techniques are vital for maintaining good oral hygiene. Take the time to teach children the correct way to brush their teeth, emphasizing the importance of brushing all tooth surfaces, including the gum line. Demonstrate the proper technique and supervise their brushing until they become proficient. Consider using toothbrushes with visual indicators or child-friendly toothbrushing aids to assist children in mastering the skill.

Teaching children about the importance of oral health and the consequences of poor dental hygiene can be influential. Explain the connection between toothbrushing and preventing cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. Use age-appropriate materials, such as books or videos, to illustrate the role of dental care in maintaining a healthy smile. Knowledge empowers children to take ownership of their oral health.

Regular visits to the dentist play a crucial role in reinforcing the importance of oral hygiene. Schedule routine dental check-ups for children, ensuring they receive professional cleanings and preventive care. Dentists can further educate children on the significance of oral hygiene, reinforcing the lessons learned at home and addressing any concerns or questions they may have.

Dental Examination

What is it?

A dental examination shows how healthy your mouth is. After the examination, you and your dentist can discuss the results and plan the best way to deal with any problems.

What will my dentist do?

As well as looking in your mouth, the dentist will ask you some questions.

These may include the following:

• Why you’ve come for an examination.

• Any problems you’ve noticed (such as pain or sensitivity). Your general health and any medicines you might be taking (because these can affect your dental care).

• Your diet (because sugary snacks and drinks can cause tooth decay, and because a balanced diet is important to your general health and resistance to disease).

• How you clean your teeth (because correct cleaning helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease).

• Tobacco and alcohol use (because both can harm your mouth as well as your general health).

Some of the questions will depend on what the dentist sees in your mouth.

You should expect your dentist to:

• look at your face and neck to see that they are healthy

• feel under your jaw

• look inside your mouth, at your tongue, your cheeks and lips, the roof of your mouth and the back of your throat (places where there might be a problem that you can’t see or feel) look at your teeth and gums to see whether they are healthy or whether there are signs of decay, damage or gum disease (for children, your dentist will also look at tooth and jaw development in case orthodontic treatment might be needed now or later)

• compare your mouth now with how it was when they last saw you

• decide whether they need more information from X-rays, or from plaster models showing how your teeth bite together

• tell you about any treatment you need, explaining the choices and whether there will be any cost.

The examination may take longer if you are seeing a new dentist for the first time.

What are the benefits?

• Regular examinations mean that your dentist can spot problems and correct them early before the treatment becomes complicated.

• A thorough examination helps you and your dentist look after your mouth and prevent future problems. The dentist will explain the options and then you can decide together what will be best for you.

Supportive periodontal care (scale and polish)

What is scaling?

Scaling is the removal of hard deposits from the surfaces of the teeth. Scaling is carried out by a dentist, dental therapist or hygienist.

Plaque is a soft, sticky substance that builds up on your teeth. It is mostly made up of bacteria.

The bacteria in plaque feed on sugar from food and drink, producing acids as a waste product. The acids attack the teeth by dissolving the minerals in the tooth surface. If this happens too often, tooth decay results.

And, if plaque is allowed to build up, the bacteria in it can cause gum disease, making your gums sore and infected.

Tartar (also known as ‘calculus’), formed by hardened plaque, helps plaque to gather and makes it harder to remove when you brush. You can’t remove tartar just by brushing your teeth, but a dentist, dental therapist or hygienist can remove it using special instruments – this is known as scaling.

What is polishing?

A dentist, dental therapist or hygienist can also polish your teeth. This removes stains from coffee, tea, cigarettes or red wine; and it makes it more difficult for plaque to stick to your teeth.

If you clean your teeth very thoroughly at home, your scale and polish treatment will take less time.

What happens?

Dentists, dental therapists and hygienists use two types of precision instrument for scaling:

• Hand precision instruments are made of metal and come in different sizes and shapes, to reach different parts of the teeth. This is why you will see the dentist, dental therapist or hygienist changing instruments quite often.

• Sonic/ultrasonic precision instruments use a tip that vibrates very fast in a stream of water. The water is removed from your mouth using a small suction device. A hand precision instrument is also used along with a sonic/ultrasonic instrument, to check whether the teeth are completely clean.

For polishing, your dentist, dental therapist or hygienist will use a rotating brush or rubber polisher with a special toothpaste.

If you have periodontal disease, it may be necessary to carry out deep scaling (periodontal treatment) to clean root surfaces below the level of the gum. You may need a local anaesthetic prior to periodontal treatment.

Your dentist, dental therapist or hygienist will also tell you about the best way to clean your teeth and gums thoroughly at home.

Etch-retained restorations

What are they?

Many of the newer dental materials are adhesive, which means that they stick or ‘bond’ to teeth. The surface of the tooth needs to be made slightly rough so that the repair (the ‘restoration’) can grip properly. This is called ‘etching’ and your dentist will use a harmless mild acid. ‘Etch-retained restorations’ are any repairs attached to the tooth in this way – either fillings, veneers, inlays or onlays.

What will my dentist do?

Your dentist will:

• sometimes numb the tooth, but this is not always needed

• dab the etching acid onto the tooth surface that needs to be roughened

• leave the acid on the tooth for a short time while you keep your mouth open

• wash the tooth very thoroughly with a jet of water, which is sucked out of your mouth through a tube held by the dental nurse

• dry the tooth and check the surface (it might need to be etched again, in the same way)

• paint the ‘bonding agent’ (a sort of glue) onto the roughened area, before filling the tooth or applying some other sort of restoration.

What are the benefits?

• The bond between the tooth and the restoration can be very strong so that the restoration stays in place for a long time. .Even if the bond breaks, it may be possible to re-glue the restoration in place.

• Because restorations are held in place by the bonding agent and not just by the shape of the tooth, less of the natural tooth is lost.