Monthly Archives: May 2015

Healthy foods

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Food Choices That Prevent Tooth Decay

It’s no fun passing up sugary treats like cookies and sweets. But when it comes to tooth decay, food choices play an important role. Some foods can harm your teeth, while others contain essential nutrients to keep them healthy and strong. To help prevent tooth decay, keep the following food choices in mind.


Calcium is a prime ingredient for preventing tooth decay, especially for growing children. Dairy is a great source, with choices such as milk, yogurt and cheese. And calcium isn’t hiding in the fat, so skim milk and low-fat yogurt are just as good. Other options are leafy greens such as broccoli, canned fish with bones, almonds, Brazil nuts and dried beans.

Fruit, Fibre and Veggies

Eating high-fibre foods keeps saliva flowing, which helps create mineral defenses against tooth decay. Good sources of fibre are dried fruits such as dates, raisins and figs, and fresh fruits, like bananas, apples and oranges. Other options include veggies, such as beans, Brussels sprouts and peas, along with peanuts, almonds and bran.

Whole Grains

Whole grains provide B vitamins and iron, which help keep gums healthy. Whole grains also have magnesium-an important ingredient for bones and teeth. In addition, whole grains are high in fiber. Look for foods such as bran, brown rice, and whole-grain cereals and pasta to be good sources of whole grains.

Sugar Snacks

When you get the munchies, focus on choosing healthy foods, like the ones we mentioned earlier. Try to steer clear of sweets, because sugar partners with plaque to weaken enamel, leaving you vulnerable to tooth decay. In fact, each time you eat a sugary snack, your teeth are under attack for at least the next 20 minutes.

The Food Pyramid

When looking to follow a healthy diet that’s good for your teeth and the rest of your body, try sticking to the food pyramid. The pyramid is structured to give you a healthy serving of all the necessary food groups you need throughout the day.

Why do I need x-rays?

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At Quirke Dental Surgeons we want to provide the best possible dental care to our patients, but a visual examination often doesn’t tell us everything we need to know. Thanks to dental X-rays, we can accurately diagnose and treat dental problems early before they become more serious. And if after examining your mouth and reviewing these images, we find no cavities, bone loss or growth issues, you can rest assured we have seen the whole picture.

Valuable Diagnostic Tool

X-rays, also called radiographs, give us the ability to see between and inside your teeth. We can also view the tip of your roots and bone underneath your gums – places not normally visible to the naked eye. Although they are used as part of a routine dental health check to rule out dental disease, X-rays also aid us in diagnosing any specific or isolated dental problems you might be experiencing.

Radiographs are used to check for cavities and evaluate the extent of decay. And because some X-rays show the root of the tooth,  the presence of any cysts, abscesses and other masses can be diagnosed. Congenitally missing or impacted teeth such as wisdom teeth are often identified this way, and the presence and extent of bone loss due to periodontal (gum) disease is easily seen through dental X-rays as well.

Types of X-rays

Bitewing, periapical and panoramic radiographs are the most common X-rays used. During dental health checks, we may take two bitewing x-rays – which show the crown portions of your back teeth – to check for early signs of decay between your teeth. When we want to get a good look at your teeth’s bone height or root tips, periapical X-rays provide the best view. A panoramic X-ray,  is taken from outside of your mouth and produces an image of the entire oral cavity on one large X-ray. Because the image shows all of the teeth, as well as the upper and lower jaws and sinus areas, this type of X-ray can identify impaction, cysts, tumors, jaw disorders and bone irregularities.

Other radiographs include occlusal X-rays, which are occasionally taken in children to evaluate their developing teeth; and cephalometric X-rays, used by orthodontists when planning orthodontic treatment.

How Often Are X-rays Needed?

Everyone’s oral health varies, and as a result, we will evaluate your needs and recommend an X-ray schedule accordingly. If you’re a new patient, we may advise taking a full series of X-rays or panoramic image to assess your current oral health state, and use this as a baseline going forward. As you continue your regular dental health check visits, fewer X-rays are needed to monitor the status of your oral health.

Dental X-rays Safety

Because X-ray machines and other sources of dental radiographs are designed to minimize radiation, these processes are safe and your exposure is negligible. We use digital X-rays, which further reduces radiation exposure.

Missing tooth or teeth. What now?

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There are advantages and disadvantages of each type of tooth replacement and it is important to explore all your options, with the help of our dentists here at Quirke Dental Surgeons.



  • Preserves gum and bone. No damage to adjacent teeth
  • The most cost-effective long term solution
  • A very long term solution and high average life expectancy
  • An implant is most similar to a natural tooth


  • Fixed prosthetic device
  • Look, feel and function like natural teeth
  • Don’t require removal for cleaning


  • Usually less expensive than fixed bridges or implants



  • Initial investment is higher
  • Longer treatment period may be required
  • Some surgery is required


  • The average life expectancy of high quality bridgework is approximately 5-10 years
  • Adjacent teeth have to be reshaped to fit a bridge
  • Risk of permanent tooth nerve damage and development of abscesses
  • Gums and bone often continue to shrink
  • If a tooth is extracted, a temporary bridge or denture may need to be fitted for a few months to allow the bone to heal before a permanent bridge can be fitted


  • Frequently move about when eating, talking, laughing and smiling
  • Can damage the gums
  • Average life expectancy of high quality dentures is approximately 5 years
  • Gums and bone often continue to shrink
  • They can break or be lost
  • They can be uncomfortable
  • Some people are embarrassed to take them out for cleaning or at night

I’m too nervous to get my teeth fixed

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Many people have an extreme fear of dentists. Because of this phobia, they put off important and necessary dental work for years. That has the obvious effect of requiring even more work to correct the years of neglect. For many patients, they’d almost rather lose their teeth than have to face numerous dental visits and their health and appearance suffers as a result. Fortunately, our sedation dentist, Dr. Ursula Quirke, understands those concerns and suggests a IV sedation dentistry appointment may be the solution allowing her and the patient to do as much work as possible in one day.
Sedation Dentistry
With IV sedation dentistry, the patient is gradually put into a state of drowsiness. The patient will remain conscious during the procedures, which is important because the dentist may need to communicate with the patient at some point. However, the patient will not be able to feel any of the work being done to him or her. To the contrary, the patient will spend the time in a happy, relaxed state, where his or her anxieties will not be able to be overwhelming. It is safe for the patient to remain in this state for some time, which allows the dentist to perform as much work as possible during that visit. Most patients have very few memories of what has occurred afterwards.
What Can Be Done?
While the patient is under IV sedation, numerous procedures can be accomplished at once. Extensive dental surgery can be accomplished, as can numerous cosmetic and corrective procedures. While some patients may not be able to have all their work completed in one visit, most sedation patients are able to get far more accomplished in one day than they would be able to if they were conscious. In addition, many patients of sedation dentistry report far less post-treatment discomfort.
After the Procedure
Once the procedure is done, the patient will need to refrain from driving or operating heavy machinery for at least 24 hours. They will need to be supervised by a responsible adult until fully recovered. Recovery time from the dental work itself will vary from patient to patient. Before the procedure, the dentist will outline exactly what the patient should expect during the recovery.

If you are someone who is so nervous or anxious that you have allowed your dental health and appearance to deteriorate, please call us on 051 421453 and we will be pleased to arrange an initial sedation consultation with Dr. Ursula Quirke for you.

We have helped many patients overcome their fear using this procedure and you could soon be one of those who have solved this problem too.

6 simple ‘no decay’ tips

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Remember dental health checks when you were a kid?

The only thing that mattered was finding out “Do I have any decay?”

As we get older, life gets more complicated and confusing, and we have less free time. We stop thinking about cavities and start thinking about everything else.

Even though we have other things to think about, preventing decay is still vital to having a healthy mouth, which translates to a healthier body overall.

A cavity caused by decay isn’t just a cosmetic issue. Bacteria in your mouth produce acids that literally eat away at the tooth, causing tooth decay. If left untreated, it will lead to infection, pain and tooth loss. Even a treated cavity means that some of the original natural tooth has been lost forever.

You already know that brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, and keeping up with regular dental health checks are the standard ways of preventing decay, but there are other factors you need to consider also

In addition to brushing, flossing and seeing the dentist here at Quirke Dental Surgeons at least twice a year, here are six simple things you can do to help lower your risk for tooth decay:

  • Rinse between meals: Even if you can’t brush, rinse your mouth with water after eating.
  • Use a straw: Carbonated drinks weaken enamel (the hard, protective outer layer of your tooth). Using a straw helps keep the drink away from your teeth.
  • Avoid sticky foods: That sticky bar might taste fantastic, but the gooey substance sticks to your teeth longer, increasing your risk for tooth decay.
  • Avoid acidic foods: Acids in foods and drinks weaken tooth enamel for up to an hour after you eat them.
  • Chew sugar-free gum: Chewing gum (especially if it contains xylitol) increases saliva flow, which helps prevent tooth decay.
  • Drink more water: Water promotes saliva production and helps remove food particles.

These tips are universal, but if you have specific concerns, our dentists and hygienist can provide personal tips and information to help you avoid tooth decay and cavities, and so keep your teeth healthier for longer.

Pregnancy and Oral Health

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During pregnancy it is normal to experience changes in your body. Did you know that it’s also normal to see changes in your smile?
Nausea and Vomiting
Morning sickness can result in increased acid exposure to your teeth. If this continues for long enough, ireperable erosion of the enamel surfaces of the teeth can occur. Instead of brushing your teeth right after a period of vomiting, rinse your mouth out with water. This prevents acids from being scrubbed across other tooth surfaces. Add a fluoride rinse at least once a day to keep enamel strong.

Bleeding Gums
Your hormones can cause increased gum inflammation and bleeding, even if you haven’t ever had problems before. Be sure to floss daily and maintain regular hygienist visits to prevent bacterial plaque induced gum disease.

Pregnancy Tumours
In few circumstances, you may develop growths on your gum tissues called “pregnancy tumors.” These typically go away as soon as the baby is born. Be sure to have your dentist check the area to make sure it is not an abscess or other condition.

Tooth Decay
Some women claim to see an increase in tooth decay when they are pregnant. There is no good reason why this should be the case. It is always as a result of a drop in oral hygiene standards or alterations to the diet. Mothers can pass decay causing bacteria to their children, so treating it early is important. Mothers who chew sugar free gum with Xylitol during their pregnancies report having children with fewer cavities and stronger teeth.

Your Oral Health Impacts Your Baby’s Health

If you have gum disease, it could be damaging to your baby’s health. Pregnant women with gum disease can:

  • Experience pre-term labor
  • Have higher rates of low birth weight infants
  • Pass bacteria through the bloodstream to their baby

Eliminating oral infections will help improve your chances of carrying to full term.

Continue to visit us for regular oral care through your pregnancy. If treatment is needed, we will discuss whether it needs to be completed immediately or if it should wait until after your delivery. We’re happy to answer any questions about your care and how it is impacted by pregnancy. Schedule your oral health visits every 6 months!

What type of filling do I want?

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Did you know there are as many types of dental fillings as there are days in the week? Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Still, when you visit the dentist with a cavity, there are many filling options. Most of us just sit in the chair, open our mouths, and let the dentist work his or her magic. But have you ever stopped to consider what the dentist is filling and restoring your decayed or broken tooth with?

Five types of dental filling materials

There are five basic kinds of dental filing material. The dentist decides which type to use based on the extent of the decay and the amount of sound tooth remaining.

  1. Dental amalgam, or silver fillings, have been used to fill cavities for more than 150 years. Dental amalgam is the most common type of dental filling. It’s strong, durable, and less expensive than other types but does not match tooth colour.
  2. Composite fillings, or white fillings, are popular because the colour matches the rest of your teeth. Composite fillings are a combination of resin and plastic. They look better than silver fillings, but are also less durable and will be a little more expensive than amalgam.
  3. Ceramic fillings are very durable and tooth-coloured, but they are more expensive. They are made of porcelain and have been shown to be resistant to staining.
  4. Glass ionomers are often used on children whose teeth are still changing. Constructed from glass and acrylic, glass ionomers are designed to last fewer than five years. The benefit of these dental fillings is that they release fluoride, which protects the changing tooth from further decay.
  5. Unless you’re a rapper or movie star, gold fillings aren’t common. While a gold filling is durable, non-corrosive, and can last more than 15 years, it not only takes more than one dental visit to place, but, as you can imagine, it is relatively expensive.