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4 Rogers Street
Spring Hill, QLD, 4000

+61 7 3391 2504

Brisbane Dentist - excellence in general and aesthetic dentistry with Drs Amy Daley, Leila Haywood, UQ graduates with 20 years of experience in Spring Hill, Brisbane


dentistry life at Brisbane Smile Boutique

The life and times of our dental practice, up to date news in dentistry and celebrations, happy moments in dentistry. Our blog outlines dentistry life at Brisbane Smile Boutique in Spring Hill in inner city Brisbane

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Tooth brushing tips

Leila Haywood

How you BRUSH your TEETH matters a great deal, with how often you brush, how long you brush, the kind of technique and the toothbrush you use, all major influences on the effectiveness of your brushing. To gain the maximum benefit from brushing, you should brush for at least two minutes morning and night, using a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head and a flexible neck. The advantage of these toothbrushes is that they remove the plaque and debris from your teeth without damaging your teeth and gums. It’s all in the technique.

You should clean your teeth systematically, starting at the back of your mouth with the toothbrush bristle at the gum line on a 45° angle, brushing gently in a soft and circular motion. If you scrub too hard from side to side, you can run the risk of causing your gums to recede, as well as damaging the tooth enamel. You should take care to brush carefully along the inner, outer and chewing surfaces, making sure you tip the toothbrush so you can reach the inner front areas of the teeth, which are often missed.

If limited dexterity is an issue, you might consider using a powered or electric toothbrush. They can be programmed to run for two minutes, making keeping to the correct length of brushing time easy, and the very good ones are rechargeable, with pressure sensors and they even rate your cleaning. 

Be sure to change your toothbrush or toothbrush head every 3 months or as soon as the bristles bend.

toothbrushing tips


1.  Brush for 2 minutes morning and night

2. Use a soft toothbrush with a small head, or better still an electric toothbrush that is rechargeable with a pressure sensor and timer

3. Don't push too hard

4. Brush in a soft circular motion

5. Change the toothbrush or electric toothbrush head each 3 months

6. Keep your tooth brush upright so the bristles can dry, move it away form the basin where it might get splashed

7. Use a remineralising toothpaste that has calcium, phosphate and fluoride

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Leila Haywood

A professional dental clean, or a  scale and clean, is the removal soft and hard plaque, and stains that cannot be removed with regular tooth brushing at home. Regular scaling and cleaning prevents tooth decay and gum disease, and is recommended each 6 months. 


Advantages of having regular scales and cleans are:

  1. Whiter teeth - the calculus has a chalky white or yellow appearance. These hardened deposits are gently lifted off your teeth and at the gum line. Your teeth are carefully polished to remove as much of the surface stains from your teeth as possible.
  2. Gum health - the calculus and plaque holds bacteria to the tooth surface, can get stuck under the gum and is known to cause infections of the gums.
  3. Fresh breath - your teeth are carefully cleaned so that all the deposits that hold dead bacterial cells and other matter are removed.
  4. Look after your overall health - the bacteria that cause gum disease are known to be linked to other diseases in the body like diabetes, heart disease and even dementia. A regular scale and clean is a way of ensuring that your mouth is as clean as can be.
  5. Preventive care is less expensive - your dental professionals can monitor your dental health at each appointment, assess the amount of buildup, and offer advice to ensure that your home cleaning is as effective as possible. 


You may need a scale and clean if

  1. You have plaque or calculus  on your teeth that cannot be removed with regular tooth brushing and flossing at home
  2. You would like to take the best care of your dental health and put preventative measures in place
  3. Your teeth are stained from coffee, tea or red wine.
  4. You smoke cigarettes
  5. You have bleeding gums
  6. Your teeth look yellower 
  7. You can see some buildup around the lower front teeth or the top back teeth in the mirror, or if it feels rough around where the gum joins the teeth
professional dental scale and clean.jpg


Leila Haywood

I've found that dental hygiene in teenagers is a bit hit and miss. We typically see some plaque buildup around their teeth and some inflammation of the gums.  

I have spent a few decades creating two great smiles, and here are some helpful dental tips I have learnt along the way.  

1. An electric toothbrush for a teenager is a really good idea. I am a fan of the Oral B Professional Care 3000 twin pack. Firstly it's cheaper than the top of the line toothbrush, which is the Oral B Black (yes, things go missing) and comes with two complete separate handles, which is especially good for one teenager; one for home use and one for travel. The same toothbrush can be used for siblings, by changing the toothbrush head, along with the colour-coded band. There have been some troubles with this. Firstly they don't seem to care which colour band is on the toothbrush head, and use whichever is on there. Secondly it is usually not convenient for them to be using the same toothbrush handle at a similar time, and thirdly it is hard to gauge when the charge will run out when there are multiple users of the same handle. 

Other reasons that I like this toothbrush are that the two minute timer is very good for children to determine how long they ought to brush, it has an inbuilt pressure sensor, and it is powerful and long lasting; with a plug in and a very portable power pack. 

2. Change the heads of the electric toothbrush each couple of months for teenagers. For manual toothbrushes, always use soft or extra soft toothbrushes, and change them each few months again. Keep the toothbrushes or toothbrush heads from touching anything, or toothbrushes from touching other toothbrushes to prevent contamination. I prefer the Oral B precision clean heads.

3. Always have a box of floss handy next to the toothbrush to inspire flossing. The Teflon coated fibres like Colgate total floss are easy to use, or Oral B Ultrafloss is popular also. Sometimes people prefer different brands. Minty floss can be something teenagers like to use because it gives the feeling of freshness when flossing and afterwards. Anything to motivate good dental care is on the cards. Parts of the teeth are hidden where the toothbrush cannot reach. Half an hour of tooth brushing will not remove the bacterial film that sticks in between the teeth. Only floss or interdental brushes (dentists and hygienists like the Tepe brand) will dislodge food debris and plaque. Some teenagers like flossettes or flossers. The reach access flosser is also good. I have all of them available to encourage good home care. I can't watch them all the time, in fact once they leave home that's kind of it, so by giving them the opportunity to find out what it is that will work for them, I have found is the best way.

4. For braces, have a box of Oral B Superfloss and fine interdental handles available. If your teenager has a permanent bar/retainer on the inside of their teeth, they will usually need Superfloss, which has a nylon thread that can clean the gap between the teeth, underneath the arch wire, or an interdental brush to get in between the teeth, because the positioning of the retainer usually means that the area is difficult to access. There are also Orthodontic Oral B electric toothbrush head attachments that make it easier to clean around the brackets that are attached to the teeth. Extra care is needed with braces because food tends to get stuck around the brackets and wires much more readily. 

5. Have a pre packed travel dental pack set up with all dental cleaning needs; floss, interdental brush, soft manual toothbrush and toothpaste, for sleepovers, camps and holidays. That way they can't say they forgot their toothbrush or forgot to brush  etc

6. Use a fluoride toothpaste. Adult toothpaste is fine. The children tended not to like anything too minty. They liked the 3M Clinpro Tooth Creme in Vanilla mint, and have been using it for years.

7. Mouth rinse is not necessary but thorough tooth brushing twice a day, and flossing once a day at night time is. 

8. Take the children to the dentist and dental hygienist for preventive care each 6 months, or at least once a year, to instill healthy life habits and to monitor dental health. We tend to give them a mark out of 10 for dental health and care which seems to resonate  well with teenagers and lets them know how well they are going. By attending regularly teenagers are less likely to have a dental phobia, which presents in adults regularly, because children are able to see that routine preventive care has allowed them positive dental experiences. They are unlikely to have negative dental experiences with regular checks and cleans and dental preventive care, and associate the dentist as a regular health requirement in their life, rather than a place to be feared. Creating positive relationships with the dentist creates stability in care. Some of our patients now in university first came in Grade 1, and some from high school now attend with their own children. 

9. It's hard but keep an eye on sugar intake of teenagers. Water is best to hydrate. Flavoured milks, Milo, cordial, juices, smoothies, milkshakes, iced teas and coffees, energy drinks, sports drinks, energy supplements, soft drinks and mixers are all loaded with sugar. Lollies, chocolates, biscuits, cake and ice creams shouldn't be eaten every day. Keeping sugary  foods, cereals and drinks to once or twice a day will ensure that the balance in the mouth is optimal to prevent tooth decay. After sport, drink water, not sports drinks. If minerals are needed, eat a banana.

10. Diet is critical. Whole and unprocessed foods, 2 pieces of fruit a day, vegetables, water, less sugary and refined foods and cutting down on junk will make your teenager healthier in so many more ways than just dental. Good habits early on do last a lifetime.



Leila Haywood

Flossing in particular can play a key role in preventing bad breath because flossing, when done correctly, helps to remove the small particles of food that get stuck between your teeth and around your gums—those tricky places where toothbrushes can’t quite reach.

When food particles aren't removed they start to collect bacteria which can cause bad breath, and when the bacteria start to breed in between the teeth cavities can start in these hidden areas and very badly damage a tooth without being able to directly see it happening.  Dentists can find this problem on an x-ray before the tooth becomes painful.  It's a bit like an apple that looks really good on the outside, but then when we chance to have a closer looker, it has gone bad inside.  The problem with a tooth is that the core of the tooth is actually a pulp, which has nerves and blood vessels and is sterile.  When we have a cavity, the bacterial infection can allow bacteria to infiltrate the nerve, and then of course, the tooth becomes painful as it dies, and an abscess forms.

When left until the decay becomes very advanced, we need to consider whether to remove the tooth, or whether it can be saved with root canal treatment, and often a crown to support it now with the pressure of the bite.  The thing to keep in mind is that at a very early point the decay that was forming there may have been able to reversed with new remineralising tooth creams that are available, or a small filling may have been able to be placed.  When left too long though, decay in these areas shows itself with toothache, which is dull and throbbing, pus can drain through the bone, and sometimes even involves the face starting to swell up when the infection tracks into other parts of the face. I know it sounds just awful, but we do occasionally see where this happens.  Often the treatment to get a very badly damaged tooth back on track is very expensive because of the time and complex work that is needed to get the infection under control.

As well as this, in some patients their teeth become loose and wobbly, because the bacteria eat away at the jaw bone that holds the teeth in place, in a process known as periodontal disease. The bacteria can nest under the gum, and it hardens under there.  A dental hygienist, dentist or periodontist can remove the colonies when they are not too deep, but if they travel too far down the root of the tooth, or if the tooth becomes too loose, or painful, the teeth may end up having to be removed.  In fact, some people with advanced disease, end up with their teeth falling out! This disease in the jaw bone happens to around 20% of people around the world, and as yet researchers are not entirely certain as to why some people lose their teeth in this way.  

The GOOD NEWS is that we do know that daily brushing and effective flossing, 6 monthly dental examinations, professional scaling and cleaning at 6 month periods, and preventive x-rays can ensure that the supporting bone around the teeth is carefully monitored and checked.


About periodontal disease and gum inflammation

Leila Haywood

Periodontal disease is  loss of the jaw bone from around the teeth, and ranges from gum bleeding and inflammation, called gingivitis - to severe loss and infection of the gums and jaw bone, called Periodontal disease. In the worst cases, teeth may be lost, when they become infected, or so loose that they hurt to bite on.

Gum disease - or gingivitis - begins with plaque bacteria, which causes the gums to be inflamed and swollen. Gingivitis is present where there are bleeding gums when brushing or flossing, and persistent bad breath,. Progression of the disease may cause loss of the jaw bone and gum that holds the teeth in.


Once the bone is damaged in periodontal disease, it is an irreversible disease, so it is critical that it is picked up at an early point for preventive measures or treatments, which can make a big difference.


Prevention is by far the best treatment for periodontal disease, and visiting your dentist each six months for a complete check up and preventive care, including periodontal screening and digital x-rays each two years to look for deposits of plaque and calculus, and loss of the jaw bone, allows any dental issues to be identified, controlled and treated early.   



  • Persistent bad breath
  • Red, swollen or inflamed gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Receding gums or teeth that appear longer


Many people with mild gum disease don’t show any symptoms, but if you notice anything different about your mouth or teeth,  please tell your dentist. If you do have periodontal disease, the treatment will vary depending on the severity of the infection. Severe periodontal disease treatment may involve a deep cleaning procedure called scaling and root planing, in which the dental hygienist or dentist removes tartar - or calculus - from both above and below the gum line and smooths rough spots on tooth roots where plaque-causing bacteria lives and likes to stick on.

Regular dental care at home of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing, plus regular visits to the dentist for active maintenance and professional scaling and cleaning each 6 months, allow any problems to be picked up at an early stage.