Guest: Matthew Hopcraft
Presenter: Henry Acosta
Guest Bio: Clinical Associate Matthew Hopcraft is a dental public health expert with over 20 years’ experience in teaching, research and clinical practice. He started work as a dental officer in the Australian Army, and completed his Masters in Community and Preventive Dentistry studying water fluoridation in young adults. From there he pursued an academic career, teaching dental public health and general practice dentistry at Melbourne University, eventually becoming the Director of Clinical Education. Matthew completed a PhD investigating the oral health of people in nursing homes and models of care utilizing dental hygienists, and has published more than 40 papers in dental journals. He has had a strong involvement with the Australian Dental Association, including a term as President of the Victorian Branch and on Federal Council. Matthew now works as a Clinical Advisor at the Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne and as a Professional & Scientific Relations Consultant to Oral-B.
Segment overview: It is very alarming that 1 in every 5 Australians suffer from gum problems, and more than half of this population admit that they ignore the early signs and symptoms of the disease. If left untreated, gum problems could lead to irreversible damage, including tooth loss. Leading dentist and Oral-B consultant, Clinical Associate Professor Matthew Hopcraft joins the call to Rid the Red in raising awareness on the importance of practising good oral hygiene. Oral-B is a leading oral care brand and it launches its new Gum Care toothpaste range with dual action technology, which help revitalise gums and restore weakened enamel in two weeks.
Health Professional Radio – Practising Good Oral Hygiene
Henry Acosta: Hello, I’m Henry Acosta and this is Health Professional Radio. Did you know that 1 in 5 Australians nearly 5 million people don’t know that bleeding when brushing, swollen, or red gums are early signs of gum problems? The call comes as Oral-B launches its new gum care toothpaste range with three toothpastes with dual action technology which help revitalise gums and restore weakened enamel in two weeks. Today, we have Matt Hopcraft with us today, he is an Oral-B consultant and he’s one of the leading Australian dentists around the nation. We’re going to talk about teeth and how it is important to keep our teeth healthy and the ways that we can keep them healthy or if they’re not healthy right now, then ways to get them to a healthier level. Welcome to the show Matt and thanks for coming in today, and thanks for coming on the show.
Matt Hopcraft: Thanks for having me Henry, good to talk.
H: Can you give us a little more background about who you are, and what you do, and where you do it?
M: Sure. My name is Matt, I’m currently working as a clinical advisor at a Dental Hospital in Melbourne and I’m also a consultant for Oral-B. I’ve had probably 20 years of experience in teaching and research at the University of Melbourne in sort of public health. I used to work in public practice, I used to work in the army. As a dentist, I’ve got a lot experience around the traps.
H: I see. As a dentist what do you think is one of the biggest issues right now that Australians are facing with regards to their oral health?
M: I think, it’s really interesting because we’ve got all of this great technology and great innovation. We’ve never had better access in some ways to really good oral health care and good products to look after our teeth. But we still see so much dental problems out there in the community and in fact, it’s so stunning to see like you said 1 in 5 Australians who sort of moderate to severe gum disease, tooth decay right too increasing in young children. I think there’s a lot of complacency in the community, people don’t seem to always value think about the oral health maybe in the same way that they do with some of their other problems. I think that’s a real concern.
H: What are the usual warning signs to look out for and when you see that or maybe it shows that you have gum problems?
M: Yes, gum problems are really interesting thing. At that very early stage if you don’t brush your teeth for a few days and plaque builds up on your gums and they start to become a little bit red, maybe a little bit swollen and you could see it and certainly bleeding when you brush your teeth and most people think of that as a sign to stop brushing. They’re a little bit worried their gums are bleeding they stop brushing but really the key thing there is to make sure that you find those areas where there is a little bit of bleeding and really concentrate on them a little bit more in which include good cleaning, flossing, in there you will be able to reverse personally signs of gum disease, what we would called ‘Gingivitis’. But if you don’t and that progress, it starts to break down the gum tissues that holds the teeth in place, it becomes a lot more serious and it gets to stage where it is not reversible anymore. That’s when people are starting to risk potentially losing that teeth.
H: I see. What are the ways that we can do to prevent that from happening or to prevent gingivitis or to make sure our teeth get healthy?
M: The real case Henry, I guess really good oral hygiene. So it’s brushing twice a day for 2 minutes at a time and it might surprise you, but the average person probably doesn’t brush twice a day and probably only brushes for less than a minute each time. It’s not just long enough that we say that unfortunately in clinical practice and that’s why we’re seeing more case problems. I think one of the disease, I use an Oral-B electric toothbrush, and it has a two-minute timer it virtually forces you to brush for 2 minutes. Things like that are really good, these neat little apps that you can get for kids to encourage them and to make sure that they brush for 2 minutes as well. Flossing is obviously important because you can’t get a toothbrush in between on all of those teeth so that’s really why to keep cleaning between teeth. And I’ll just get into it, Oral-B just launched this new toothpaste really focusing on your gum care. With an active ingredient called ‘Stannous Fluoride’ which is designed to kill bacteria and inhibit the bacteria in the mouth that’s responsible for gum disease, stop it from re-growing that’s they’re trying to be really effective why it’s helping to prevent gum disease.
H: What are the dangers of leaving the gum problems untreated?
M: Couple of different things that we need to be concerned about. Obviously, like what I said before the gum problems aren’t treated, the gum tissues starts to break and the teeth become loose and people are at risk of losing teeth and having difficulty chewing and issues with nutrition. There are also some sub-groups of people that we need to be concerned about, so there are good links now in the research between gum disease and diabetes, gum disease and heart disease, gum disease and stroke, maybe with pregnancy as well. There are certainly groups in the community where improving their gum health can actually be a benefit for their oral health. Diabetes is isn’t really …control diabetes are more at risk gum disease. But equally, people with poorly controlled gum disease do have a little bit more difficulty maintaining their glycemic control. The gum disease can actually make the diabetes a little bit worse. There’s a ranger breaks its own want to really focus on getting things treated and the things that people can do at home, but then making sure that you’re off to see a dental professional regularly for care as well.
H: Who are the people who are most at risk with getting gum problems?
M: Gum disease tends to be a thing that happens as people get older. Certainly, in middle age to older age groups, we tend to see it more. Smokers are at great risk of gum disease, smoking sort of interferes with the way that the body heals so they tend to be a lot more at risk. Like I said pregnant women with hormonal changes, diabetics, lot of groups out there in the community that we really need to focus on.
H: Since there’s a lot of seasons where we tend to eat a lot or a lot times where we celebrate like birthday parties or maybe even just like Christmas and thanksgiving. What kind of impact does that do to your teeth?
M: Obviously, we’ve talked a lot about gum disease, tooth decay the other really big problem. We know that the amount of sugar that we ate and how often we ate sugar is really strongly associated with tooth decay. In Australia, it’s frightening 1 in 2 kids have tooth decay by the age of 6 years and about 1 in 10 of those kids have about ten teeth with decay so this is really thriving problem with tooth decay out there. I don’t advocate people to give up sugar completely, and actually, it’s important that people have treats, as you said birthday parties and Christmas time and various other celebrations. It’s okay to have some sugar, but I think it’s important to not have too much sugar. And again, we’re getting back to this importance of good oral hygiene, brushing your teeth, flossing, using fluoride and toothpaste. All of these things will help to prevent tooth decay as well.
H: Since you mentioned children and kids, everyone knows that it’s rather difficult to get children to help them have a healthy habit with regards to their teeth and with regards to cleaning. What are the ways that we can do to introduce them to a healthier lifestyle with regards to their gums and teeth?
M: It’s always tough on the parents of 2 kids and it’s always a challenge to get their kids to do anything. Part of it is as a parent is to role model so when they see you brushing your teeth, taking good care of your teeth well, I think that sets a good example. Starting the kids off as young as you can so as those teeth start coming through, cleaning them any just with the soft cloth then getting to a toothbrush and making kids understand that’s just a normal part of their routine. And then as they get older, I think it’s just how you educate them to understand that sort of things that are harmful in their diet, what they’re eating, and teach you to look at food and see how much sugar is in there so that they can understand what things are healthy you and what things are not and in that all kind of discussion that we have with our kids hopefully about what’s healthy and what’s not? How some of the problems might impact on the later in life so they don’t start looking at their teeth now, their risk of having tooth decay or having gum disease can be a problem holding down the track.
H: I see. What are the main keys to maintaining oral health?
M: Well I think the main keys to maintaining good oral health are those like things around brushing in 2 minutes twice a day, and if you get that right that’s going to get you a long way. To have a healthy teeth and healthy gums, flossing regularly, getting in between those back teeth particularly. What are people forget to do is to change their toothbrush. They keep using the same toothbrush over and over. The bristles start to wear out and almost effective every three months. Every 2-3 months, replace the toothbrush. Then look at those specialized products if you do have particular problems then look for specialized products that are going to help you, I recommend always to patients. And avail for an electric toothbrush because I find that it shows to be the most effective in removing plaque. It’s been a number of …collaboration reviews that show that quite clearly. This ‘Stannous Fluoride’ the new gum paste, that’s very effective in targeting gum disease. I think the other thing that’s really keen, make sure that you get across to your dental professional for your check-ups because we can catch things early, we can prevent things and not let things get out of hand too much.
H: With regards to gum and teeth health, what are the most common misconceptions that you get during an appointment or people are always ask you?
M: I think people are very confused about bleeding gums and they think that, that means it is a significant problem and it causes them to stop brushing and not realizing perhaps that’s a sign … that they’re not cleaning quite so well. That’s really a common one that we always want to trying get across to people if you can notice bleeding gums, then focus on that area a little bit more. It’s the sign that you missing in area on your mouth, if we get people to do that. I think that goes a long way to improving their gum health.
H: What is the main take away message that you want our listeners to learn from this interview?
M: The main message Henry is our teeth are important. Our teeth and our mouth, our gum health is vitally important to our overall health. It help is to eat, to chew nutritions, smile, and self-esteem. Value oral health as much as you value the rest of your health. Therefore within that, you are do some of the things that we’ve been talking about, really take good care with toothbrushing, with your oral hygiene routine, use good products that we know are going to help to achieve good oral health and you’ll be hold maintain those teeth and gums for the rest of your life.
H: Awesome. For our last question, what are the ways that people can reach out to you or if they want to know more about getting healthier teeth and healthier gums? How can they find you guys or what can they do to find out how they can get that info?
M: Surely Henry, one of the information that’s out there is about oral which is really great. Just generally online, but oralb.com.au has some information. You can find us on Facebook and ask our dentists the question and we’re always happy to answer people and give oral health advice. Broad oral health advice is obviously you have to enter specific questions without seeing people. Certainly, through the Oral-B website and Facebook page, there are lots of ways to contact us.
H: Awesome. Well that’s all our question for the day and thank you for coming on the show Matt.
M: Thanks for having me Henry.
H: That was Matt Hopcraft one of Australia’s leading dentist and one of Oral-B consultants. We just finished talking about teeth, and how to get them healthy, and keep them healthy. If you’re interested in learning more about teeth and other health related topics, you can listen to us on www.healthprofessionalradio.com.au or on www.hpr.fm. You can also find us on SoundCloud and iTunes. I’m Henry Acosta and this is Health Professional Radio. Thanks for tuning in.