Oil Pulling and Oral Health

Oil pulling for dental health is a practice originating almost 3000 years ago from traditional Ayurvedic and Hindu medicine.
The practice involves swishing the oil through the mouth for approximately twenty minutes a day, the idea is that by swishing/ pulling the oil through the mouth the bacteria involved in causing plaque, gingivitis and decay bind to the oil before being expelled. Some people also believe this practice can whiten the teeth in the process.

Is there any scientific proof?

Oil pulling is an ancient method for maintaining oral health used well before tooth brushes and tooth paste. Science has shown the oral micro-organisms inhabiting the mouth are single celled with a lipid (fatty) membrane – this fatty membrane will bind to fat/ oil. Coconut oil has risen in popularity due to the fact it is 50% lauric acid. Lauric acid is known to inhibit strep mutants, the primary bacteria involved in tooth decay.

However, technology has advanced well past this so there are more efficient hygiene methods.
Scientists have developed detergents and abrasives such as calcium carbonate and hydrated silica which are much more effective in the removal of plaque whilst also protecting the enamel of the tooth from erosion.
While oil pulling can help expel some oral bacteria, it does not possess the same benefits to the teeth as fluoride contained in toothpaste.
Most modern toothpaste has from 1000 to 5000 parts per million fluoride which has been scientifically proven to provide numerous benefits to the health of the teeth; including prevention of tooth sensitivity, reversing the signs of early tooth decay and remineralisation of weakened tooth structure.

The American Dental Association has noted there is not enough current scientific evidence to support the practice of oil pulling as an ideal dental therapy alone, but can be used to reduce oral bacteria in conjunction with traditional dentistry, toothbrushing, fluoridated tooth paste and regular flossing.
Reducing the amount of sugars consumed in the diet will further reduce the rate of decay and acid producing bacteria in the mouth.
In terms of whitening the teeth, there is no evidence to support oil pulling as an effective method. Perhaps people have noticed an improvement in extrinsic tooth staining due to the reduction of yellowish plaque and bacteria. Hydrogen peroxide products are the most effective for teeth whitening and improving the intrinsic colour of the teeth.

Overall, if oil pulling is a practice you have been considering incorporating into your daily routine it won’t do you any harm and can possibly reduce harmful oral bacteria. However, we would remind you that the most important oral health practices are brushing, using fluoridated toothpaste , flossing and regular preventive dental visits . Oil pulling would be the lowest priority for oral health but does have some merit!

Links between Oral Health and your General Health

In today’s day and age there are more valid reasons why we need to brush, floss and see our dentist or hygienist on a regular basis (and that is not just for a healthy mouth). There are an increasing amount of studies that show the strong link between oral health and serious chronic diseases, these are providing more and more information on how our oral health is essential to our general health and well being.

When you lay back and look at the T.V. in one of our rooms with your mouth wide open, our dental professionals are checking for much more than just cavities. Your mouth tells us many things, particularly the health of your gums. There are a number systemic conditions that can show signs in your mouth before you even feel any symptoms, this can range from stress, the flu, vitamin deficiencies, diabetes to oral cancers.

We have complied a small list of medical conditions which have a close relationship with our oral health.

Medical conditions are linked to oral health

The health of your mouth can contribute to various diseases and conditions, some of the most commonly known links include:

  • Endocarditis – An infection of the inner lining of the heart. This typically occurs when bacteria from your mouth enter the bloodstream and attach to damaged areas of the heart.
  • Cardiovascular disease – Bacteria in the mouth not only causes inflammation in the mouth but can also cause inflammation throughout the whole body, including the arteries. Research shows that inflammation due to bacteria plays a role in clogged arteries and blood clots
  • Stroke – Usually an obstruction or clot within a blood vessel which supplies blood to brain. Commonly a condition developed by fatty deposits lining the vessel walls in turn causing hardening of the arteries. There is a significant association between periodontal disease (gum disease) and stroke. Poor dental hygiene and periodontal disease can cause bacteria to enter the blood, this means that the risk associated with stroke is directly proportional to the amount of inflammation and infection in the mouth.
  • Pregnancy and birth – Infections and inflammation in the body play a role in premature birth rates. There is strong support that shows the association between periodontal disease and premature birth and low birth weight. Maintaining a healthy mouth will help grow a healthy baby, it is important to see your dental professional before and during pregnancy.
  • Diabetes – Being a diabetic increases the risk of developing gum disease but chronic gum disease may actually make diabetes more difficult to control, this is because consistent infection can cause insulin resistance, in turn disrupting blood sugar control.
  • Respiratory diseases – There is a clear association between respiratory conditions and oral health with many studies showing good evidence that improved dental hygiene and regular professional care help to reduce the risk and progression of many respiratory diseases, especially for adults living in nursing homes.
  • Dementia – Impaired delayed memory and early stage Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to be associated with periodontal disease. There is a growing amount of research showing links between Dementia, Alzheimers and impaired memory.
  • Osteoporosis – Medications used for the treatment of osteoporosis can cause rare but severe damage to the jaw bone. This damage is known as osteonecrosis, it can occur spontaneously but can also occur after dental procedures, it is imperative that you tell you dental professional if you are taking any bisphosphonate medication.
  • Crohn’s Disease – inflammatory disease that can affect any region of the gastrointestinal tract including the mouth. Often the oral manifestation appears the same as in the intestine. Examples of oral signs are swelling of the lips or tongue and recurrent ulcers. Some of the medications for crohn’s disease can contribute to a dry mouth making you more susceptible to dental decay and infections.

Medical conditions that first show signs or symptoms in the mouth can include:

  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune Diseases such a Crohn’s Disease
  • Anemia
  • Depression and Stress
  • Leukemia
  • Oral Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Kidney Disease

The evidence is stacking up when it comes to the links between the health of our mouth and our overall full body health and wellness, but still many people are unaware of the importance of healthy teeth and gums and the importance of regular check ups and preventative appointments with your dental practitioner. Here at Riverside Dental Spa we pride ourselves in working towards the prevention of gum disease and tooth decay because we know that the health of our mouth is a key element to our overall health and well being. All of our practitioners attend regular continuing education seminars to ensure that our techniques and knowledge are up to date. This allows us to be confident and competent in providing high quality dental health care and broadens our awareness and knowledge in the signs, symptoms and implication of these common medical conditions and oral health.


Stress Awareness Day

In today’s crazy complex world stress is a common concern for most of us , stress is the human bodie’s natural response to any kind of demand or threat.

With unexpected things happening around you all the time managing stress can be difficult, ultimately taking its toll on your body.

Its clear that anything we can do to reduce stress is a good thing – but many of us give little thought to the affects stress can have on our oral health.

Research has shown several links between stress and oral heath concerns;

  • Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) and / or Tempromandibular Joint Disorder: Grinding your teeth is a common consequence of stress.  Constant worrying and thinking can affect your body while it is asleep causing you to clench or drink your teeth. If you find you are waking up with a tight/ sore jaw or heard aches you could be grinding your teeth at night.
  • Mouth Sores: Canker sores, cold sores and mouth ulcers are a common side effect to stress. While they are generally not harmful they can be quite painful.
  • Gum Disease : Stress can affect your immune system and the body’s ability to fight harmful bacteria – thus worsening of existing gum disease or an increase in the presence of bleeding gums.
  • Dry Mouth (Xerostomia): Stress can be one of the reasons you experience dry mouth , not only stress but often the medications used to treat depression and anxiety contribute to dry mouth.

           Lack of saliva can increase the risk of decay and gum disease.

How can you deal with stress?

  • Look into relaxation techniques to help manage your stress, such as yoga.
  • Keep up with your oral and personal hygiene at home.
  • Stay active – regular exercise can help reduce the feeling of stress.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Try and maintain a healthy balanced diet.
  • Visit your dentist for regular preventive dental care.

Everyone experiences stress but your overall health and oral health can be affected if stress is extreme or consistent. If you’re feeling stressed, speak to a healthcare provider or medical professional for assistance. They will be able to point you towards active, practical strategies to overcome or manage the challenges you face.

Blue September – Men’s Cancer Awareness Month

Blue September is a campaign aimed at raising awareness about cancer in men, the goal is to encourage men of all ages to take preventive action by improving life style choices and having regular checks with their GP.

Statistics from Prostate Cancer Australia show that in 2017

  • 16, 665 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed
  • 23.1% of all new cancer cases were male
  • 12.7 % was the percentage of male deaths from cancer.

While the Blue September organisation does an amazing job at raising awareness for prostate cancer, the team at Riverside Dental Spa would like to use this month to raise awareness for the less talked about oral cancer.

Oral cancers are part of a group of cancers referred to as head and neck cancers, it is the 7th most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia.

Historically death rate is particularly high due to the fact it is often only discovered in its later stages.

The early stages of oral cancer can go unnoticed by the patient as there are often no recognisable pain or symptoms, there is an increasingly high risk for these types of cancers metastasising to other parts of the body such as lymph nodes of the neck.

In 2017 the Australian Government published statistics showing

  • 4,956 new cases of head and neck cancer – 3,625 were males.
  • 3.7% in total of new cancer diagnoses
  • Tragically there were 1,026 deaths from head and neck cancer, 777 were males.

So, what are the risk factors for oral cancer?

Age is frequently named as a risk factor for oral cancer, with most cases being in patients over 40. However, it is shown that accumulative damage from other factors such as the following listed also contribute to the instance of head and neck cancers,

  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Ultra-violet radiation (frequent sun exposure)
  • And persistent viral infections such as HPV (human papilloma virus)

As mentioned above, early detection is crucial for these types of cancers, it is important if you notice an area of the mouth changing in terms of redness, discolouration or ulceration and it doesn’t appear to heal after 14 days that you seek the advice of a dentist or GP.

At Riverside Dental Spa we endeavour to keep up to date with all of the latest technology and equipment to assist our patients in having the healthiest mouth possible. At your preventive dental check one of our practitioners will use our Oral ID screening device to screen for early changes in the tissues of the mouth allowing for an early detection of potentially nasty lesions, early intervention and possible referral to the appropriate head and neck specialists.

For more information on oral screening, contact our practice on 4323 4323 or visit www.riversidedentalspa.com.au.

Alternatively, for further information visit;





Jaw Pain

Jaw Pain!
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) pain is a disorder which effects a lot of us, particularly in the high stress lifestyles of the 21st century. People who experience TMJ or jaw pain often find it to be an on going problem with times where you may experience one or a number of the following symptoms:

• Jaw or neck pain
• Persistent headaches or earaches (in particular waking up with a headache). The headaches can also lead to dizziness and/or nausea
• Clicking or popping upon opening of the jaw – even to the extent of locked jaw
• Regular headaches when walking
• Limited opening

Causes of TMJ disorders can be caused by a number of factors such as:

• Stress
• Trauma – clenching/grinding of the teeth, or physical trauma to the jaw area in the event of an accident
• Medical conditions such as arthritis
• General wear and tear of the joint with the ageing process
• Oral habits. For instance, frequent chewing gum behaviours

If you are having any of the above symptoms please seek assessment and advice from your Dentist/Hygienist. At this visit they will assess your TMJ by placing their fingers on the TMJ and ask you to open and close several times. Here they will be able to listen and feel for the movement of the joint to help advise of management or treatment recommendations.

There are a number of management and treatment options that may be suggested to you, this could include one or more of the following:

• Simple steps such as ‘relieving stress’ (easier said than done right?)
• Anti inflammatories
• Relaxation techniques/exercises of the jaw
• Occlusal splint – may be advised by your dentist to protect the teeth from further wear as well as eleviate jaw pain
• In selected cases botox can be administered into the TMJ to help relax and relieve the symptoms.

Simple measures are usually advised first and if no relief a referral may be given to see a Specialist who is highly specialised in this area.