FillingGaps Team

All Dental Topics,Dental Hygienist,Gum problems,Prevention and saving money

Flossing is a waste of time!

4 Apr , 2016  

Flossing is a waste of time

Recently media articles have reported that there is no need to floss as the benefit of flossing has not been scientifically proven. The media is partly correct that yes there needs to be better scientific studies in this area but no you still should use some sort of interproximal tooth cleaning aid. Previous studies have found little difference between groups of people that only brush and groups that brush and floss. These studies are difficult to control, because in theory the researcher would need to floss every study participant’s teeth the same way every day to have accurate reproducible data. Here in lies the flossing studies errors with participants flossing technique. The best flossing technique is floss down between each tooth following the contour of each adjacent tooth surface down into the gums sulcus. To simply floss down and up does not disrupt the bacteria’s biofilm.

As flossing is technique sensitive and arduous for most people dental companies have manufactured alternative products:

Floss with a handle:Handle flosser

A piece of floss is held between 2 plastic arms which are attached to a handle. These devices make flossing quick and easy particularly for people with large or uncoordinated fingers. However it is difficult to follow the contour of each adjacent tooth surface.


Interproximal brushes:

These devices have a metal wire with bristles attached to a handle. Interproximal brushes come in a range of sizes. These are Interproximal brush
less technique sensitive and are great at disrupting the bacterial biofilm as long as you use the correct size. The downside of these is if the gaps between your teeth are too small to comfortable thread the brush through.


Water flosser (oral irrigator):

Waterflossers are becoming more popular, however they have actually been around since 1Oral irrigator962. Waterflossers are great at disrupting the bacterial biofilm as long as you buy the right waterflosser. Not all water flossers are built equal. Early studies suggested water flossers that provided 1,200 to 1,400 pulsations per minute were the most effective. The pulsations produce a compression and decompression phase that allows bacteria and debris to be flushed from the gum sulcus or pocket and is reported to be three times more effective than a continuous-stream device. Similarly, a medium-to-high pressure setting in the range of 50 to 90 pounds per square inch (psi) was shown to be safe and more effective than with lower pressure settings.

Water flossers are ideal for patients undergoing periodontal treatment, orthodontics or are at high risk of developing dental decay.


So although those media articles might make you feel better about yourself for not flossing, it is still best to use some form of flossing aid to avoid too many preventable trips to our dentists on fillinggaps.

All Dental Topics,Prevention and saving money

Limit visits to the Dentist

1 Jan , 2016  


Clever ways to prevent unplanned visits to the Dentist in 2016

Many of us take time with our families over the holidays to reflect on the year gone by and to make plans for the future with New Year’s resolutions.

Looking back over the past year, did it include a trip to a dentist? I hope so! Regular trips to the dentist can help avoid expensive (and painful) treatments that can be prevented.

Here are some tips to keep your mouth healthy in 2016:

Schedule your dental checkup – Even if you’re not having any dental problems, call your dentist to schedule an appointment for a check-up and even a professional clean.

Address any outstanding issues – Even if you are fastidious about oral care, you may have one particular issue, big or small, that just bothers you.  It may be a chip or crack in your tooth, a gap between two of your teeth, an old filling, bad breath, or something else.  Do not ignore it. See your regular dentist or if you don’t have one, one is just a click away at

Replace your tooth brush – Did you know that you should replace your toothbrush every three to four months? Frayed and worn bristles are less effective at cleaning your teeth. Therefore, celebrating the new year with a brand new toothbrush is actually smart dental hygiene.

Brushing for two minutes, twice a day – Always brush twice a day for two minutes for healthier teeth, good breath, fewer cavities, and to avoid painful dental problems.

Commit to flossing – Most of us brush twice a day but often neglect to make flossing part of our daily routine. Just as you keep your toothbrush easily accessible on the bathroom counter, put the floss where you will see it when you brush your teeth. Flossing is an essential part of good oral care and it is never too late to start.

Use mouthwash – Enjoy the feeling of a clean, fresh mouth.

Stop smoking –  Most of us know the health risks associated with smoking, but we may not be aware of the increased risk for gum disease.

Chew sugarless gum – Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay.

Eat a healthy diet – Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacking.

Reduce your sugar intake – Reducing the amount of sugary foods and drinks you consume can reduce your risk for tooth decay. Start with easy substitutions like sugar-free gum and replace fizzy drinks with water. Add more dairy products and high-fiber foods to your diet. Your waistline will also benefit!

Drink fluoridated water –  Fluoride helps prevent decay by making teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause cavities.

Help kids achieve better oral care – With children or grandchildren, oral habits can slip; monitor them carefully and offer a refresher course when needed.  Remember that small incentives, such as a fun toothbrush or flavored toothpaste, can do wonders when it comes to getting kids to brush.

Time for tooth whitening – After a cold winter of red wine and coffee drinking, tooth whitening is a great option for a whiter brighter smile. Tooth whitening, administered by a dental professional is safe and effective at expelling staining molecules from the tooth’s surface. Whitening can be performed at your dental practice as a one off treatment or as a take home product using custom made trays.

Smile more – It’s contagious! Your smile is unique to you; share it with family, friends, and everyone around you. Perhaps Lynda Andrews is onto something here:

Today the most common resolutions have to do with health issues such as losing weight, exercising more, or eating healthy. Enjoy the new year and make dental health a priority in 2016! Why not take it a step further and think about those chompers in 2016, your smile will love you for it!


All Dental Topics

FillingGaps’ Top 5 Tips for your NZ Summer

14 Dec , 2015  

Fillinggaps top 5 tips
  1. Keep your toothpaste handy! Not only will it look after your teeth after all those sweet treats at Christmas, but you can smear a small amount onto mosquito bites to help take away the itch. Toothpaste’s anti-inflammatory properties and ingredients like menthol and baking soda work a treat for minimising a mosquito bite’s itch.


  1. Time for tooth whitening! After a cold winter of red wine and coffee drinking, tooth whitening is a great option for a whiter brighter smile. Tooth whitening, administered by a dental professional is safe and effective at expelling staining molecules from the tooth’s surface. Whitening can be performed at your dental practice as a one off treatment or as a take home product using custom made trays. For more information visit


  1. Toothbrushes make a great stocking filler! Make sure they are soft bristled, and if you are feeling particularly generous why not an electric toothbrush? Try avoid the cheapest versions as they tend not to last very long.


  1. Watch what you eat! Pork crackling is a tooth’s worst nightmare. We don’t suggest banning the kiwi pork crackling favourite but we do recommend you chew carefully and if possible on teeth with fewer fillings. If you hear the dreaded sound of a tooth cracking then a good tip is locate some wax (wax off soft cheese can work) which you can push onto any jagged edge to prevent your tongue and cheek ulcerating. Do make sure you visit to locate a dentist near you for a long-term solution.


  1. Help! If you need emergency dental work, can help. Each New Zealand city has dentists who offer online appointment booking. Type in your location and click the online booking button. Alternatively search through our dentists who offer emergency services.

Have a fantastic Christmas and summer break from the FillingGaps Team.

Tooth alignment

Straighten your teeth at home for free

15 Nov , 2015  

Straighten teeth

Orthodontics, the straightening of teeth, is sometimes unaffordable for some families. The cost of orthodontics and the increased social pressures of appearance have created a do it at home tooth straightening trend on YouTube. The basic procedure is to tie an elastic around teeth to pull them together. DIY orthodontics to straighten your teeth at home for free, but what is the catch?

It is thought that, to successfully move teeth, a constant light force needs to be applied. A tooth moves through bone by its resorption on the compression side of the periodontal ligament (ligament around tooth) and by formation of new bone on the tension side. When braces are used to move teeth, light forces are applied to the teeth via brackets bonded to the crowns of the teeth, through which arch wires run. These wires apply controlled forces and cause the teeth to move in a planned manner and direction so that they can carefully control the process of tooth movement. The bracket and wire combination allows control of the crown of the tooth as well as the root of the tooth. The lack of control is like a seesaw. If one end goes one way the other end will go the other way. If we pull back on the crown of the tooth, the root of the tooth will tip forward. When an orthodontist fits braces, the type of brackets, their position and their associated wires are carefully selected specifically for each individual case. If an orthodontist did not pay particular attention to the specifics of each case, teeth roots could be pushed/pulled through the bone that house them, leading to terrible consequences.

As you can imagine trying to straighten teeth without careful tooth movement control can be a great tooth extraction tool! DIY orthodontics can also make it hard for oral hygiene maintenance, closing spaces can cause opening of spaces between other teeth and damage to gums and teeth can be irreversible. This can result in a great deal of pain for patients and, if still possible, expensive to fix.

It is strongly advised by the team at FillingGaps to not get tempted to try this trending practice on YouTube of straightening your teeth at home for free. Sadly, if something looks too good to be true it usually is. Straightening teeth is a complex process and we recommend you find a  New Zealand Orthodontist on FillingGaps to help meet all of your teeth straightening needs.

Dental toothache

Toothache home remedies

9 Nov , 2015  


Can I use home remedies for my toothache?

Toothaches can range from mild pain to severe unbearable throbbing pain. The cause of a toothache can vary, however a few reasons for toothache can be found in the toothache post. If you have a toothache, it is best to immediately see your dentist for a comprehensive exam to diagnose the cause of the toothache and organise definitive treatment. To relieve the pain temporarily view our pain relief article. There are occasions when a severe toothache starts and the pharmacy and dentist are closed. In these rare circumstances anything is worth a try in attempting to reduce toothache pain. Below are a couple of toothache home remedies to try as a last resort. There is no scientific evidence for these toothache home remedies however there is no harm in trying them while waiting to get pain medication and an appointment with your dentist.

Pepper and Salt

Mix equal parts of table salt and pepper with a few drops of water to form a paste. Apply the paste to the sore tooth for a few minutes.


Mix a crushed garlic clove with some salt and pepper and apply to the sore tooth, or chew a clove of garlic.


Grind two cloves and mix with a little olive oil. Apply to the sore tooth.


Chew raw onion for a few minutes.


Either use wheat grass juice as a mouth-rinse or you can chew on wheatgrass.

Warm salt water

Mix half a teaspoon of salt in hot water, then mouth-rinse the solution when it is cool enough to do so.

Ice cubes

It is best to use ice cubes as a cold pack, wrap the cubes in a thin cloth and place on the cheek beside the sore tooth. This can sometimes help to numb the nerve endings. If your tooth is hypersensitive to cold then ice cubes may not be the best idea.

Guava leaves/spinach leaves

Simply chew the leaves to allow the juice to flow onto the sore tooth or boil the leaves in water, allow to cool, add a little salt, then mouth-rinse the solution.

Vanilla extract

Use some cotton wool or an ear bud, absorb some vanilla extract and place on the sore tooth.


To find a dentist near you who can diagnose and treat your toothache visit

All Dental Topics,Prevention and saving money

Saving money

14 Sep , 2015  

More cash in your pocket

Saving money with prevention

By far the easiest way to save money is to prevent dental problems before they arise. After all, you don’t have to pay for a problem you don’t have. However, many people have the habit of visiting their dentists only when a problem arises in their mouth. Often when pain brings you to the dentist you are faced with one of 2 options; a costly root canal or a tooth removal. Regular dental visits are crucial for maintaining a good and effective dentition for all age groups as it allows your dentist to diagnose and treat a cavity before you experience any symptoms and before you are in need of a root canal or tooth removal

Follow these simple steps to keep your teeth and gums healthy (prevention saving money):

  • Brush twice daily (use a soft toothbrush!), especially once before bedtime. Make sure that all the surfaces (outer, inner and chewing surface) of teeth and gum are cleaned for effective plaque removal.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste and after brushing spit the toothpaste out. Avoid rinsing the paste from your mouth after brushing as this will wash the fluoride away from your teeth.
  • Floss or use inter-dental brushes once daily to clean between your teeth (floss the teeth you want to keep).
  • Avoid eating sugary, sticky and acidic foods and drinks in between meals.
  • Eat a wide variety of nutritious foods.
  • Visit your dentist for regular check-ups. Your dentist can spot and stop any problems with your teeth and gums at the early stages before you experience any symptoms.
  • Visit you dental hygienist or dentist for regular dental hygiene cleans.

Saving money by utilising web deals

Various daily deal websites like Treatme or Grabone offer dental deals for heavily discounted dental services. These deals can be great however we also recommend you take the time to consider:

  • The experience of the dental practitioner (a new graduate dentist vs a dentist with 10 years plus of experience)
  • Time allowed for the service (will treatment be rushed, less thorough)
  • Practice fees (are the fees what you expect should you need other work completed i.e is it a high end, average, or cheap dental practice)

Saving money with interest free offers

Many dentists are now offering interest free deals through finance companies such as GE Money’s GEM Visa, Fisher & Paykel’s Q card and SBS Bank’s Finance Now. Most interest free options are only available for expenses in excess of a few hundred dollars. You are charged an admin fee and can be required to make small monthly repayments until the interest free term expires. However, once that interest free term expires you will need to repay the remaining balance to avoid very high interest charges. This is a great option if you are strapped for cash at the time of treatment, but if you are not able to complete payment before the interest free term expires, then it can become very expensive! Things to consider:

  • Are you able to complete payment at the end of the interest free term.
  • The dental practice’s that offer the longest interest free periods.
  • Are the prices reasonable or are they higher because they offer this benefit.

Saving money with insurance

Traditionally most people only had medical insurance which had the benefit of covering ‘Impacted wisdom teeth’ removal by a specialist. Now a few insurance companies are offering basic dental treatment cover such as NIB and Southern Cross.

For dental insurance to be beneficial you need to consider:

  • How often you require dental treatment i.e an exam and clean a year can cost you $250, an exam, clean and filling can cost $550
  • Amount of dollars the insurance company will contribute vs your insurance subscription fees.

For example, the NIB Mid-Everyday cover pays up to $950 a year for dental treatment. The cover is for 60 per cent on claims, so $40 in every $100 of treatment is paid by you the policyholder. So if your treatment was $950 you would save $570. The yearly subscription for this insurance is approximately $497, so you would benefit by $73. You do have the added benefits of 60% on claims to the physio, GP and optometrist with this policy. Although, it would leave you at a disadvantage if you didn’t always require $950 of dental work each year. An examination, X-rays and 2 dental cleans a year would only amount to approximately $400-$500 a year. This is where you can look at NIB’s basic everyday cover which will cost you $260 a year for saving you 60% of $500 of dental  treatment. NIB’s basic policy also offers physio, optometrist and GP benefits.

Saving money by heading on a dental holiday

Dental holidays abroad, or travelling to another country where dental costs are considerably less, can save you money despite the cost of flights. However, buyer beware, it can be very risky.

Take into consideration:

  • Dentist and dental technicians qualifications.
  • Dental materials used. Quality materials will have a better longevity.
  • Technology available. Is the correct diagnosis and treatment plan achievable. Can a high quality procedure be carried out.
  • Sterilisation and cross infection protocols. The New Zealand Dental Council has a very high standard sterilisation protocol to avoid blood borne disease transmission.
  • What happens if something goes wrong. Unfortunately poor dental work can be irreversible, costly and can sometimes only be identified months to years later as symptoms progress. For example:

To find a dentist near you please visit or feel free to ask us a dental question on

All Dental Topics,Gum problems

Bad breath – Halitosis

3 Aug , 2015   Video

What is bad breath?

Bad breath is medically known as halitosis. Bad breath is a build up of sulphur compounds from bacteria breaking down proteins. These compounds form an unpleasant odour, which is often worst after sleeping.

It is  difficult for anyone to detect whether they themselves have halitosis. The best way to check if you have bad breath is to ask a selfless family member, partner or a close friend for their opinion. Another simple way to check if you have bad breath is to lick your wrist, starting at the back of the tongue and wiping the inner wrist to the tip. Leave the saliva to dry for 10 seconds and smell the area for any unpleasant odours. Many people think they have a problem with halitosis when they really do not.

Where does the problem come from? 

Bad breath usually originates from the oral cavity. Bad breath sometimes originates from the gastro-intestinal tract (stomach), the respiratory tract and maxillary sinus.

What causes bad breath?

Halitosis mainly occurs from an accumulation of bacteria if the whole mouth is not thoroughly cleaned daily. Other conditions that can influence bad breath are infections, illness, low fluid intake, stress, smoking, lack of salivary flow and exercise.

A lack of salivary flow can cause a dry mouth (xerostomia) and associated bad breath. Saliva is needed to moisten the mouth, neutralise bacterial acids and rinse away dead cells from the gums, cheeks and tongue. If not removed, these cells breakdown and cause bad breath. Dry mouth may be a side effect from too much mouth breathing, medications or salivary gland problems.

Certain medical problems can also cause bad breath such as respiratory tract infections (pneumonia or bronchitis), chronic sinus infections, postnasal drip, diabetes, chronic acid reflux, and liver or kidney problems.

Even though I brush my teeth daily, I still have bad breath. Why?

Brushing alone does not remove all odour producing oral bacteria. Inter-dental cleaning, tongue brushing and regular hygienist and dentist visits can eliminate more oral bacteria than brushing alone. People who have periodontal (gum) disease have more halitosis than people without gum disease. If your gums have any redness, swelling or bleed at all on brushing, flossing or inter-dental cleaning then you may well have some gum disease. However, gums may not be the only area where bad breath originates due to bacterial build-up within the mouth i.e tonsils, tongue, teeth.

Do foods cause temporary bad breath?

Certain foods such as onions, pizza, garlic, alcohol and spicy foods can cause bad breath. However, not eating these foods solves this problem. Likewise, many kinds of medication can have a similar effect.

What is the treatment options for bad breath?

Your treatment can be divided up into three different aspects:

  •  Professional Help

Following a full medical history and dental examination (which may include x-rays, photographs and gum charting), if the condition appears to be of a periodontal (gum) origin, a dentist/hygienist/periodontist will recommend a hygiene treatment. Any gingival or tissue inflammation will be treated over a series of appointments. Oral hygiene checks will be carried out to review your brushing and inter-dental cleaning technique and advice can be given to aid you in developing a good and effective oral hygiene regime.

  • Self Help

Probably the most important factor in managing bad breath is a thorough and careful home oral hygiene regime. Thorough brushing, flossing and use of other dental devices will be introduced to help with your oral hygiene. These may include electric toothbrushes, floss, mouthwash, tongue cleaners and plaque check tablets. You will be introduced to these as needed.

Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist. Chewing sugar-free gum also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps wash away food particles and bacteria. Gums and mints containing the ingredient xylitol is also beneficial.

Another good idea is to keep a logbook of the foods you eat. That way you can determine if there is something in your diet that is contributing to your bad breath.

Quit smoking. Smoking causes a myriad of oral health problem and can leave a very unpleasant smell.

  •  Antibiotic, chemical and mechanical help

A chlorine dioxide based rinse and toothpaste will help reduce any bad breath. The oxygen released from these products reacts with the gases causing the malodour, neutralising them and thereby getting rid of the odour. There also is a reduction in gingival (gum) bleeding.

Tongue cleaners work very well as halitosis often emanates at the back of the tongue.

Good tooth brushing (manual or electric) and flossing is essential to maintain good oral health.

Antibiotics may also be used for a short period of time to help with any periodontal condition you may have, however your dentist will discuss this with you.

Does mouthwash help?

You can buy a number of mouthwashes that claim to eliminate bad breath. Unfortunately, many of these generally provide only a temporary way to mask bad breath, for example astringent salts can serve as temporary deodorizers. There are however a few antiseptic mouthwash products that kill the bacteria that cause bad breath. Look for a mouthwash with antimicrobial agents such as products containing oxidizing agents like chlorine dioxide or sodium chlorite to neutralize volatile sulfur compounds and help control odour causing bacteria. The introduction of oxygenating compounds to your mouth will put a stop to bacteria’s chemical production of odors.

Ask your dentist about which product is best for you.


To find a New Zealand dentist/hygienist/periodontist near you who can help treat your bad breath please visit

All Dental Topics,Should I brush with?

Should I brush with…?

31 Jul , 2015  

Toothbrush fillinggaps what to brush with

What should I brush with?

In recent years the prevalence of home remedies for oral care has dramatically increased. This article aims to give you a dentist’s perspective on the reliability of some of the more popular remedies used to brush with. Typing the words ‘should I brush with’ into google offers some rather interesting results, the most popular being: fluoride, baking soda, hot and cold water, charcoal, coconut oil and hydrogen peroxide. Therefore, we will look at each in the articles below:


Baking Soda

Hot or Cold Water


Coconut Oil

Hydrogen Peroxide

To find a dentist or dental specialist near you visit For more information on how to best look after your teeth, read prevention and saving money.


Should I brush with?

Brushing my teeth in warm water?

31 Jul , 2015  

Should I brush my teeth in warm water or cold water?

In short, studies have shown that it makes no difference whether you brush your teeth with warm water or cold water.

That being said changing from cold to warm water rinses may make brushing more comfortable for those that have sensitive teeth and can serve to slightly soften the bristles of a tooth brush. However, it really is a question of personal preference.
The study referred to can be found here:

For more information on related topics, please see:

Should I brush with…?

To find a dentist or dental specialist in your area visit

Should I brush with?

Baking Soda whitening your teeth?

31 Jul , 2015  

Can baking soda whiten your teeth?

Brushing your teeth with baking soda has been a popular way for people to try and whiten their teeth at home without buying professional whitening products. However, the benefits tend to be mild and it is not a suitable substitute for toothpaste. Therefore, it is probably better to use a whitening toothpaste if you want to reduce the stains on your teeth.

Brushing your teeth with baking soda can remove some surface stains. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is mildly abrasive which is what makes it such an effective cleaning tool. However, for older, deeper stains specialised whitening treatment will be more effective.

While baking soda will not immediately damage your teeth there are some factors that should be taken into account. Firstly, continual use could damage the enamel of your teeth. Secondly, baking soda is not an adequate replacement for toothpaste, as it does not kill the bacteria which cause cavities, so if it is used it should be used alongside a normal regime of flossing and brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice daily. Finally, baking soda can soften the orthodontic glue  that holds braces in place so it should not be used by people with braces or permanent retainers.

For more information on popular home whitening remedies, please see:

Should I brush with…?

To find a denist or dental specialist in your city visit