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Answers to your questions


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Why do I have a dry mouth in the mornings?

If you are not on any medication, the most common cause of dry mouth in the morning is mouth-breathing or snoring at night. These conditions are typically undiagnosed as patients think that they are not important enough to merit treatment or even to mention in their normal checkup.
Nothing is further from the truth. Mouth-breathing can adversely affect a lot of body systems. Snoring can develop into Sleep Apnoea, which carries a real risk of a stroke or a heart attack. If you notice that you usually have a dry mouth in the morning, especially when you are properly hydrated, please seek attention promptly.

Can I replace missing teeth?

Missing teeth can be replaced. There are many treatment options available including implants, bridges and all sorts of either fixed or removable appliances. It is very important though for a thorough assessment of your situation to be done first to determine what the best option would be for you and for the end result to be lasting and something that you are happy with.

Is snoring a problem?

Snoring can certainly be a problem. It is important to understand that snoring is usually a symptom of some type of airway obstruction. As such, snoring should not be thought of as something that just exists and you have to put up with, but something that needs to be investigated. Once the cause is determined, steps can be taken to resolve it. If left unresolved, snoring has the potential to develop into Sleep Apnoea which is a serious condition with a real risk of death due to a stroke or a heart attack. Over 90% of Apnoea is undiagnosed. Any snoring either in an adult or a child should be investigated promptly.

My jaw joints click and or lock, is this a problem?

Any unusual sign or symptom in the jaw joints can indicate previous or ongoing problems in the joints and should be investigated. Even if there is currently no pain, a thorough assessment should be done, which will indicate the current condition in the joints. If the joints should deteriorate in the future, then it’s possible to reflect back on the initial assessment and determine how the situation has changed. This can sometimes be invaluable in helping to determine what type of treatment should be performed.

My partner says that I grind my teeth at night, is it a problem?

Yes, tooth grinding can cause unnecessary wear and fractures of the teeth as well as damage to the jaw joints. It can also contribute to headaches due to muscle tension and spasm. Tooth grinding itself can be a symptom of other conditions not necessarily just a response to stress as is commonly believed. Some common causes can be:

  • mouth-breathing/snoring
  • neck muscle tension
  • over-closed bite
  • underdeveloped upper and lower jaw
  • abnormal compression of the jaw joints

Any night time or even daytime grinding or clenching of the teeth should be investigated further.

How do I keep my teeth and gums healthy?

Optimum health of the gums and teeth can only be achieved and maintained long term by a thorough and consistent oral hygiene routine that you can perform yourself. This almost always needs to be customised to the individual patient’s mouth however I can list the basics for you to get started with.

  • optimum nutrition for a strong immune system
  • elimination of factors that locally suppress immune system such as smoking
  • elimination of mouth-breathing/snoring
  • optimum hydration
  • basic oral hygiene routine (minimum once per day)
    1. floss all teeth
    2. brush teeth/gums
    3. clean the tongue
    4. mouthwash (once a week to once per fortnight, the type of mouthwash varies according to result that is required)

How can I prevent the need for braces in my children?

Braces are usually used to correct crowding or cosmetic misalignment of the teeth. Once the dentist is presented with this situation, its usually too late as treatment can be very involved, costly and time consuming.

Prevention in this situation is very much better than a cure. It is also important to realise that genetics do not play a major role in how the jaws develop and teeth are arranged. Jaw development and growth is influenced mainly by muscle function.

For optimum growth and development and to achieve a nice face and pleasing tooth arrangement, we need proper breathing (nose breathing) right through a child’s critical development years (0-13 years). If any airway obstruction occurs either due to; nutritional problems, allergies, physical obstruction (e.g. a deviated septum) your child can develop mouth-breathing which can lead to abnormal function of the tongue and cheeks and even abnormal swallowing. This can affect growth as the muscles will be working against growth instead of with it.

Breathing problems should always be assessed as early as possible in children so that they can be eliminated before they develop into habits.

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