Why ignoring tooth pain leads to bigger problems: ‘Just get it sorted’

– Dentist Dr. Jean Van Lierop answers listeners’ questions about dental problems on Weekend Breakfast

– Work on what you have and try to keep your natural teeth for as long as possible, he advises

National Oral Health Month is coming up in September which provides a great opportunity to commit to improving your dental routine, says Sara-Jayne King.

Not only does good oral health spare you discomfort and save you money, but it also impacts your overall health.

Dr. Jean Van Lierop, co-owner of Smith and Van Lierop Dentistry answers listeners’ questions on Weekend Breakfast.

One of the reasons we tend to neglect our mouths is because we don’t always see what is going on, he says.

Everybody focuses on the beautiful smile and those big white pearlies, but you never think about what’s actually happening in the background… Because you don’t see it… you think, oh it will just go away by itself, and that doesn’t happen unfortunately!Dr Jean van Lierop, Co-owner – Smith and Van Lierop Dentistry

[Extreme tooth pain] is definitely one of the worst things I think people go through. You get frantic phone calls in the middle of the night… It’s really something you want to not have happen to you ever, or your worst enemy ever…Dr Jean van Lierop, Co-owner – Smith and Van Lierop Dentistry

Dawood phones in about his sensitive teeth, asking about the best toothpaste to use and any foods to avoid.

You’ve got to look at why it’s sensitive. Generally, we find sensitivity can come from a bit of gum recession, an exposed tooth surface, and in that case you want to have a toothpaste that contains the right minerals and not just fluoride.Dr Jean van Lierop, Co-owner – Smith and Van Lierop Dentistry

If you can get a toothpaste that contains all those key elements that the body can actually absorb and almost put like a protective jacket over the tooth… and remineralise the tooth… that’s the best thing to do…. Go and look at those sensitive ranges…Dr Jean van Lierop, Co-owner – Smith and Van Lierop Dentistry

Teeth are clever. They can actually regenerate to some extent.Dr Jean van Lierop, Co-owner – Smith and Van Lierop Dentistry

Lisa from Simon’s Town wants to know why root canals are so expensive.

“My dentist quoted me R8,000” she says, “isn’t it cheaper just to have the tooth extracted?”

Taking a tooth out means you’re going to have to replace it notes Dr van Lierop.

To replace it is probably going to cost you two to three times more than the root canal… Yes, root canal can be expensive… but you’ve got to look at the technology behind it…. and you’ve got to look at the flip side… and if you replace it you don’t even know how long that’s going to last.Dr Jean van Lierop, Co-owner – Smith and Van Lierop Dentistry

We always try to kick the can down the road as far as possible. Keep what you have, work on that, keep it for as long as possible… maybe in ten or fifteen years’ time if you have another problem, then you can take the tooth out if there is no other alternative…Dr Jean van Lierop, Co-owner – Smith and Van Lierop Dentistry

“I’ve had a terrible toothache for months; I can see there’s a hole in the tooth and I’ve been putting Grandpa powder in there which helps,” says Cass from Lansdowne.

Is this at all a good idea?

“Get to see your dentist as soon as possible, please!” he urges.

The longer you leave it the bigger the problem becomes (chuckling)… Just get it sorted as quickly as possible. It’s not going to go away by itself. Grandpa is actually going to cause more damage than it’s going to help you… It’s a mild acid so it’s going to literally burn your gum. It works [for pain relief], but you’re going to pay for it later.Dr Jean van Lierop, Co-owner – Smith and Van Lierop Dentistry

Dr van Lierop also explains the cause of and treatment for a listener’s very painful trigeminal neuralgia, and why fruit juice before bedtime would be bad for a toddler’s teeth.

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