Keeping your pearly whites in tip top shape

Keeping your pearly whites in tip top shape

It’s important to maintain a good oral health routine, whatever your age, says St John WA dentist Dr Colleen Devine.

For the past 130 years St John WA has provided care for the community but did you also know their dentists can also care for your teeth, whether it’s an emergency or not?

Dr Colleen Devine, who trained in New Zealand before moving to Perth and joining a St John WA dentistry practice, particularly enjoys working for an organisation which puts patients first.

“Being able to work in a practice which sees such a wide range of patients, from looking after children’s teeth to elderly patients, using a multidisciplinary approach to give people back their smile, gives me a great deal of satisfaction,” says Dr Devine.

“When somebody comes in, covering their mouth because they’re embarrassed to smile, and I’m able to transform their lives as result of giving them a smile makeover, that’s just so rewarding.”

It’s particularly important too for women considering getting pregnant to book an appointment prior to a positive test, says Dr Devine.

“When you’re pregnant, there are some treatments – like certain surgical procedures or some X-rays – which we try avoid. So we suggest you come and see your dentist before you get pregnant, and then afterwards, come and have a check-up early on.”

Bleeding gums can be a problem for some pregnant women and Dr Devine, who is expecting her second child, says there are some solutions that can be offered to offset this issue.

“We’re also able to prescribe special toothpaste which helps protect against erosion caused by acid reflux or morning sickness, so it’s worth bearing this in mind if you’re planning on having a baby or are pregnant.”

As ever, prevention is better than the cure, so Dr Devine recommends putting in place a good oral health routine from an early age.

“I suggest parents bring young children along to their appointments, just to sit in the chair, with no treatments initially, to get used to the idea of going to the dentist. Then, if you plan to bring them every six months, we will be able to catch any dental issues early on and reduce the likelihood of an emergency situation.”

Common dental issues in children include crowding or missing teeth, while for older patients, decay and gum disease can cause discomfort.

“Interestingly, the elderly have the same rate of decay as teenagers, and as some people get older and perhaps suffer from Parkinson’s Disease or dementia, it can be increasingly difficult for them to brush their own teeth. We can help by prescribing toothpaste which makes decay much less likely,” says Dr Devine.

Anybody can attend a St John WA dentist’s surgery and patients should be reassured that in the current COVID-19 situation, all dentists follow the advice of the Australian Dental Association.

“Currently, receptionists will make sure nobody attends who may have symptoms, and once in the treatment room, we use the highest levels of hygiene, acting as if everybody we treat may be infected to ensure there’s no risk to patient or dentist.”

Unlike other dental practices which were forced to close during the height of the COVID-19 crisis earlier in the year in WA, St John WA surgeries were able to remain open to treat those in pain.

As the only dentist in her family, Dr Devine, who is from Ireland, explains why she chose this particular career path.

“I loved art at school and was very good at science, and by being able to design new smiles, I get to combine both my passions,” she says.

“My advice to somebody considering a visit to a St John WA dentist is to make it part of their routine – regular maintenance means you’ll save money in the long–run as there’s much less chance you’ll end up here as an emergency case.”

To find out more about St John Dental, visit our dental services page.