Oral health care

Dentine Hypersensitivity: Simple solutions for a common dental problem

Do you get short sharp pain every time you have hot or cold food or beverages, such as

coffee or ice cream?  Does tooth brushing or flossing make you wince occasionally?

If you answered YES to these 2 questions, you may be suffering from a common problem called

Dentine hypersensitivity

~ also known as tooth sensitivity.


Tooth Sensitivity is one of the most common dental problems in our society.

Even though varying data exists regarding the occurrence of dentine hypersensitivity globally, clinical findings demonstrate that 1 in 5 people suffer from this dental condition.  There are many factors why patients suffer from this.  Some of the common causes of tooth sensitivity include tooth decay, worn out tooth enamel, cracked tooth, exposed root surface of the tooth due to gum disease or aggressive tooth brushing techniques leading to gum recession.  Proper diagnosis of dentine hypersensitivity is the first step in addressing this common dental issue.

What are the simple solutions to treat dentine hypersensitivity?

1.  Get your teeth checked!  As mentioned earlier, proper diagnosis of this dental condition is the first step.

2. Your dentist may recommend a specially formulated toothpaste (e.g. Sensodyne) for use twice daily.  Its active ingredients have dual action:  primarily to provide a nerve calming effect, as well as initiate tooth protection through surface re-mineralization.

3. Dentist-supervised in-office dental products (e.g. high concentrated fluoride gel, varnish, mousse or desensitizers) can be applied by a dental health care professional.

4. If the conservative approach does not work, your dentist may recommend other treatment options depending on the cause of tooth sensitivity.

If you are suffering from this condition and have concerns about its possible cause/s and treatment options, you are more than welcome to call our clinic here at Erina to book a consultation with any of our dentists.

Til next time!  

Dr. Rouel Vergara DMD


Dental Health Week: Women and Oral Health

Dental Health Week is the Australian Dental Association's major annual oral health promotion event which kicks off on the 1st of August and concludes on the 7th.  Its aim is to educate Australians about the importance of maintaining good oral health in every aspect of their lives.

This year, the ADA will be focusing on women and their oral health.  Recent studies have revealed that many women are unaware that significant changes in their life also presents substantial change in their oral health.  

Here are some of the life changing stages in women that can affect the health of their mouth

Puberty in Girls

Puberty is one of the momentous life stages in women. During puberty, there’s a lot of things happening in the body. This includes increases in sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. An increased level of hormones can elevate blood volume in the gums. This condition can result in “puberty gingivitis”, which is characterized by swelling and redness of gums. Gums bleed more easily than usual especially when irritated by food particles and plaque.


Although the effects of menstruation varies from one female individual to another, the increased amount of sex hormones in the body coupled with build-up of plaque can result to swelling and bleeding gums. This is considered to be a temporary form of gingivitis. Fortunately, this condition disappears once her period begins. Women taking oral contraceptives (“the pill”) may find a similar kind of gingivitis seen in pregnant women. This condition is known as “pregnancy gingivitis”. 


The stage of pregnancy in a woman’s life is considered to be exciting.  As the condition of the body changes during pregnancy, so does the mouth’s. Oral health can be affected due to hormonal changes. Pregnancy gingivitis is a common gum condition characterized by puffiness of gums. This condition is considered temporary but can also progress further if ignored.

Although not all pregnant women suffer from morning sickness, there are some who do. Unfortunately, this can affect the teeth.  Acid in the vomit can erode the teeth.  Brushing immediately can cause more damage to teeth by stripping away the enamel.


Women between the ages of 47 and 55 undergo menopausal stage. This is characterized by a declining level of hormones. Unfortunately, this stage also presents different oral health effects such as dry mouth, swollen gums, burning sensations and altered taste.  Some of the medications taken by women going through menopause can also have a detrimental effect on gums and teeth.

No matter what life stage you are in, there’s no need to suffer from these hormonal changes. Brushing, flossing and seeing your dentists regularly will help manage these different oral health conditions. 

If you have any further questions and concerns about women and oral health, I highly recommend that you seek professional dental advice as soon as possible.



Dental Erosion

Dental erosion, also known as erosive tooth wear, is a common oral condition which involves the loss of the enamel (hard structure of the teeth) due to acids from food and drinks or acids coming from the stomach.  These acids can easily dissolve the hydroxyapatite crystals (what makes up the hard part of the tooth) of the enamel leading to surface loss. 

How does dental erosion happen?

Whenever you eat or drink anything acidic, the tooth enamel softens and loses some of its mineral content.  Saliva then acts to cancel out the acidity and bring your mouth back to its natural balance. However, there are times when acid attack happens a lot and your mouth doesn’t have a chance to repair itself.  This leads to the enamel being brushed away bit by bit until the tooth surface is lost. When the enamel is worn away, sensitivity and pain may ensue following contact with hot, cold or acidic food and drinks.

There are also some medical conditions that can cause dental erosion, such as bulimia and reflux.  Vomit contains a high level of acid, therefore patients who suffer from these conditions have a higher risk of dental erosion.

How can I help prevent dental erosion?

Plain, still water is still the best drink for your teeth.  But if you are a lover of fizzy drinks, alcopops, sodas, carbonated drinks, fruit juices (particularly citrus juices), you have to be very careful with  your consumption and limit it during meal times.  Either drink quickly or use a straw so that the fluids do not have much contact with your teeth.  After intake, you can finish off with milk or cheese, which helps to cancel out the acid or chew sugar-free gum to help produce more saliva to counteract the acid in your mouth after eating.  If brushing your teeth, wait an hour after eating acidic food and drinks to allow for your teeth to build up its mineral content again.  Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste.

How can it be treated if I am suffering from dental erosion?

Dental erosion doesn't always necessitate a treatment, but with regular check-ups from your dentist, the problem can be prevented from getting any worse.  Protection of the enamel and dentine underneath helps prevent sensitivity.  In many cases, bonding a filling into the tooth is enough to repair it, or fitting a veneer or crown over the tooth is helpful for more severe conditions.

If you have any further concerns about this issue, it is highly recommended that you seek professional dental and medical advice as soon as possible.  

INFECTION CONTROL: An area of focus in dental practice

Media attention in recent times has put a spotlight on breaches in infection control standards in dental practices, causing public worry and fear.   As an infection control educator in Australia and New Zealand, I cannot emphasize enough how this should be at the forefront of every dental health provider’s mind.

The good news is that the Dental Board of Australia has strict guidelines on infection control that outline how to prevent or minimise the risk of spreading infectious diseases in dental practice.  This is readily available for all dental practitioners to implement, therefore there’s no excuse for them not to have one in place. 

As a patient, you have the right to know whether your dentist is compliant with these guidelines or not, so that you can be confident that your health is not at risk.

Standard Precautions of Infection Control in the Dental Practice

  • Hand Hygiene:  Since hands are the most common mode of disease transmission, it is important that your practitioner regularly cleans his/her hands before and after patient treatment.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):  This involves wearing of gloves, masks, gowns, protective eye wear for the health care worker, and protective eye wear for the patient.  This is to protect the skin and the mucous membranes from exposure to infectious or potentially infectious materials in spray or splatter.
  • Environmental Surfaces:  Dental health care providers must know the contaminated zones and clean zones within the operatory area.  Contaminated areas must be cleaned and disinfected following every patient’s treatment.
  • Patient Care Equipment:  This includes reprocessing of instruments that must comply with Australian and New Zealand Standards AS/NZS 4815 “All steps necessary to make a contaminated reusable device ready for its intended use”.  Each reusable instrument must be cleaned, inspected, sterilised using steam sterilisers (also knows as “autoclave”) and stored in a clean, dry place.  This process needs to be monitored and if possible, tracked regularly.  Any disposable single-use items must be disposed of after use.
  • Injury Prevention:  This involves the handling of sharps, contaminated waste, and the management of spills and potentially infectious matter.

Our sterilisation bay

where each instrument goes through a stringent process to ensure the safety and health of our patients.

It is imperative that all dental practices have infection control protocols in place.  It is an obligation by law that each registered dental practitioner complies with the standards.

At New Leaf Dentists, we take our infection control very seriously and have stringent protocols to ensure we continuously comply with Australian Standards.

I hope that this information will guide you in knowing what to expect from your preferred dentist in the area of infection control.


'Til next time!

Dr. Rouel Vergara DMD

The Importance of Optimum Oral Health During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the most exciting moments in a woman’s life. I personally can attest to this fact as I was able to experience my wife’s excitement and joy during all her 3 pregnancies. 

But did you know that pregnancy could lead to dental problems in some women? One of the most commonly overlooked pre-natal assessments is oral health. Based on recent studies, it was estimated that only between 22-34% of women consult a dentist during pregnancy. Just for the record, pregnancy itself doesn’t damage your teeth automatically. 

So what are the most common oral health problems during pregnancy? 

Pregnancy Gingivitis

This is considered as the most common oral disease in pregnancy. About 60-75% of pregnant women develop this condition. It is also estimated that half of these figures are pre-existing. During pregnancy, the combination of changes in oral environment and levels of female hormones can lead to decrease in immune system in the mouth leading to redness and swelling of the gums.

Periodontitis (Gum Disease)

Periodontitis is an irreversible condition that affects both jawbone and gums. This oral disease is more destructive compared to gingivitis. Additionally, this disease affects approximately 30% of women of childbearing age. Recent studies have also shown a direct link between gum disease and pre-term birth as well as low birth weight.

Dental Decay

Changes in female hormones and oral environment can result in increased acidity in the mouth. This can lead to demineralization (softening) of the tooth surface and resulting in cavitation (holes).

Pregnancy Oral Tumor

Pregnancy oral tumors are localized infection caused by increased levels of hormone (progesterone) and irritants (e.g. plaque, bacteria, etc.).  Although this oral disease is not as common as gingivitis, pregnancy oral tumor can affect 5% of pregnant women.

So if you are an expecting mum or if you are planning on getting pregnant, here are my top 5 professional recommendations:

1.    Prevention is better than cure. Include “Visit the dentist” on your to do list. It is more ideal to do dental elective procedures before getting pregnant.

2.    Make sure you have an excellent oral hygiene regimen. You are less likely to have dental problems if you already have good oral hygiene. 

 3.    Minimize high sugar food intake and consider a low-sugar diet instead. This will decrease the risk of dental decay.

 4.    Increase your Calcium and Vitamin D intake during pregnancy. These will assist in protecting your bone mass and provide nutritional needs to your developing baby.

 5.    Quit Smoking! Smoking will increase the risks of oral diseases such as gum disease. In addition, smoking also has a direct negative impact on your baby’s health.

If you have any additional queries and have concerns about pregnancy and oral health, it is highly recommended that you seek professional dental advice as soon as possible.


Oral Health and Cancer


February 4, 2016 was World Cancer Day.  Its theme, “We Can .I Can.”, focuses on how every individual can play a role in decreasing the burden of cancer.  As a dental health professional, it is important that we provide and increasecommunity awareness about cancer.


According to Dr Peter Aldritt, Chair of the ADA’s Oral Health Committee, “We urge cancer patients and people living with cancer to be aware of the possible oral health side effects that could arise during and after treatment. There are a number of simple things that patients can do to make their experience of treatment that little bit easier.”  

Receiving cancer treatment will always be the main priority for a patient. However, it is important that cancer patients seek consultations with their dentist about their diagnosis as soon as they can. It is essential that a thorough full oral health assessment is done prior to undergoing cancer treatment. It is always advisable that patients have healthy teeth and gums before commencing their cancer treatment.

The most common side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the following:

1.      Ulcers in the mouth

2.      Gum infections

3.      Bleeding gums

4.      Dry mouth

5.      Altered taste

Unfortunately for patients, these oral complications may last for months or years. These can cause discomfort and pain for some. 

Here are a few simple tips that can minimise oral health discomfort:

1.      Keep mouth moist by sipping water frequently

2.      Minimise caffeine intake such as coffee or tea – reduces dehydration

3.      Avoid sugary food and drinks

4.      Avoid acidic food and drinks

5.      Avoid hard, dry, spicy food

6.      Chew sugar-free gum – helps stimulate saliva in the mouth

7.      Use dry mouth gel or spra

If you have any further questions and concerns about how cancer and its treatment can affect your oral health, I highly recommend that you seek professional dental advice as soon as possible.

Dr. Rouel Vergara DMD