Billion Healthy Mouths Club

Periodontist Chris Barker from Australia:
“No medical technology exists that is better than maintaining healthy teeth from the outset.”

The biggest challenge is motivating patients to stay consistent with their oral care routines in the long term.

According to Queensland-based dentist Chris Barker, the ability to help someone move from being in a diseased state towards a state of health with an improved quality of life is the real reward. Read more about the daily rules and best practices recommended from this periodontist keen on finding the most painless possible periodontal therapies using the latest technologies.

What routines do you find most critical for maintaining proper oral health?

The most important routines are the simple ones that you should do every day: brushing your teeth, cleaning in between your teeth, and booking in for your regular check-ups in advance. Consistency and compliance are the key. You need to take care of your oral health on a regular basis. That is just essential. But there’s no need for that to be difficult – it is like everything else, once you build a routine, it becomes manageable.

What does the word prevention mean to you?

Prevention is one of the most powerful weapons when it comes to fighting many diseases – including oral health issues. It is taking action to eliminate or reduce the problem until it is no longer an issue. I see prevention as an inseparable part of health care in general. When something is taken care of in the early stages, this is very good and there is quite a fair chance it will be possible to resolve it happily. But when potential health issues don’t even appear thanks to effective prevention – that is the ultimate goal.

What is your “golden rule” or advice that you tell your patients often?

Keep in mind that teeth are not square. They have various nooks and crannies, so to clean them properly you need to be mindful and change the angle to adapt. Don’t ever forget the back teeth; the molars, because they are often easily omitted due to the fact that they are harder to reach with a toothbrush and harder to clean properly. Always clean each tooth carefully and don’t leave out the interdental spaces. It is necessary to learn how to clean your teeth effectively, because every set of teeth is unique and requires a different approach to cleaning.

What’s the biggest challenge of your job?

The most challenging thing for dentists in general is, I think, to keep patients motivated over a journey. The thing is, periodontal disease rarely happens overnight. It takes months or even years to develop periodontitis, as it is mostly the result of insufficient oral hygiene. Fixing patients’ oral health problems also does not happen overnight. Once periodontal disease is present, it takes time to heal the condition and reach the normal health within the oral cavity again. So yes, the biggest challenge is motivating patients to stick to the necessary oral hygiene routines in the long term.

Welcome to the Billion Healthy Mouths Club

Proper routines in prevention are the future of dentistry – that’s why we at Curaden launched the Billion Healthy Mouths Club – a community of dental professionals committed to the idea of having proper routines in prevention and a holistic approach to dentistry. Dentist Chris Barker is one of those dental professionals who shares these values, and we proudly present his experience and thoughts to other like-minded people from the field. Keep reading our Gently magazine to discover more interviews with forward-thinking professionals from around the world.

What’s the thing that you like about your job the most?

I get to truly help someone move from being in a diseased state towards a state of health, and improve their quality of life. This opportunity gives me the strength to carry on even in cases where it seems to be really hard to motivate the patients – either due to their lack of interest, or dentophobia, or many other reasons. Sometimes I need to be truly relentless when it comes to proper oral care. So, when the progress is visible at the end of the dental therapy, it is very satisfying. The most important thing is to give the patient the opportunity to regain their oral health and therefore, in a sense, also their overall health and confidence.

What’s the most important thing in the terms of oral care routine from your point of view?

Simply building the habit to care for your teeth in the same way you care for your clothes by washing them, or caring for your skin by using cosmetics products, caring for your garden, your pets, and so on. Please, care about your mouth regularly, too. Don’t lose the opportunity to be healthy, to indulge in your favourite food or to give a bright smile to the ones you love – just because you’re not taking care of your teeth. Oral health is a very important part of a happy and satisfying life.

What’s the biggest oral health myth that you fight against?

I often hear people say, “I don’t need to care about my teeth, I’ll just have them all extracted and replaced by artificial teeth / implants”. But this really is not the right perception of this matter. Implants are never better than one’s own functional teeth. What comes hand in hand with this, is the opinion that patients don’t need to worry about their implants forever more. This is such a dangerous myth. You need to clean and care for implants just like you should care for your own teeth. The cumulated bacteria will continue to negatively affect the gums – it doesn’t play a different role depending on whether you have implants or your own teeth. It is important to keep in mind that no medical technology exists that is better than maintaining healthy teeth from the outset.

Christopher Barker, B.D.S., B.Sc.Dent. (1st Class Hons), D.Clin.Dent is a Queensland-based periodontist. His biggest interest is in delivering the most painless periodontal therapy possible using the latest technologies.

He graduated from dental school at the University of Adelaide in 2004, and completed his Doctorate in Clinical Dentistry at Griffith University in 2014. He has completed a number of postgraduate programmes and fellowships. He is a former president of the Australian Society of Periodontology (ASP) and the Australian Osseointegration Society (AOS). Currently, he is the director of the Sunshine Coast branch of the International Team for Implantology (ITI) and director of the Australian Branch for the charity Fight Gum Disease.

Dr. Barker has lectured domestically and internationally and has been published for his research into bone preservation and intervention in poor quality bone. Outside of professional life, Dr. Barker enjoys time with family, rock climbing, mountaineering and slow-roasting BBQ. He used to be a jackaroo (Australian agricultural trainee) when growing up in regional Queensland. Learn more about Dr. Barker’s work on the website of Proactive Perio and the company’s Facebook and Instagram.