However well intentioned, amateur dental advice could ruin your teeth
We have issued words of caution in the past about DIY dentistry. There is certainly no shortage of suggestions on ways to whiten your teeth or even straighten them using elastic bands! In some ways, some of these seem so extreme that you would struggle to imagine anyone trying them, but the reality is that some do, probably especially within the younger generation.
There have been a couple of new ones recently on the increasingly popular Tiktok platform which have hit the headlines. Hopefully our Ashby and Burton patients wouldn’t attempt these but, just in case, Alexandra Dental Care offers our thoughts on them below.
Filing down of teeth
A teenager who was unhappy with her teeth being uneven at the edges, decided that rather than see a dentist to determine what to do about it, she would try to correct this herself using a nail file. Having ‘successfully’ achieved this, she posted it on the social media platform and the post became widely popular and equally widely condemned by dentists.
You mighty wonder what could go wrong if you are just filing down a few rough edges from the bottom of your teeth? Well, quite a lot actually.
Your teeth are not a solid block of enamel and once you have worn away the hard enamel layer, there is a softer part of the tooth underneath. This part, known as dentin, is porous and once exposed can be affected by bacteria, eventually leading to tooth decay and even root canal infections. There is also every chance that anyone doing this will notice an increase in sensitivity, often a painful one, when they eat or drink hot or cold food and drinks.
If you really are unhappy with the appearance of your teeth, even what might seem a minor issue such as this, please never try to do anything about it yourself. The staff at Alexandra Dental Care will be only too happy to offer their professional advice.
Flossing with your hair!
As colder and duller days approach, why not bring a bit of brightness back into your life?
Let’s face it, 2020 has been a tough year for many of us, and the signs are not looking great at the moment with Covid-19 figures rising. Add to that, the political turmoil that constantly dominates the news and it’s no wonder that some of us are struggling to lift our spirits at the moment. The fact is that the next 6 months or so are likely to be hard work for many of us and anything that we can do to bring a little brightness into our lives is well worth exploring.
Although our Swadlincote dental team would love to be able to wave a magic wand and make things return to ‘normal, unfortunately we can’t. We can, however, provide a range of cosmetic dental treatments that offer patients of Alexandra Dental Care the opportunity to have a whiter, brighter smile.
There are many cosmetic dental procedures that can help you to have a great looking smile. Which one you need will, of course, depend on your own situation. By far the most popular one though is the teeth whitening procedure. The market for this is large and growing as can be seen by the number of tooth whitening products currently being advertised on TV. As we have mentioned before; due to legal restrictions, these are only allowed to include a small quantity of the active ingredient that whitens your teeth and anyone using them should not expect to see very significant results.
By far the best way to make successful improvements to your discoloured teeth is to allow a cosmetic dentist to whiten them professionally for you.
A healthy smile
Whilst a teeth whitening procedure is a straightforward one, it is essential that your teeth and gums are healthy before we start. There is little point in having a white smile if parts of the teeth are decaying or if gum disease is present. At Alexandra Dental Care we firmly believe that our Burton, Ashby and Swadlincote patients deserve to have a healthy smile and we will always examine your mouth and provide any necessary treatment before we start to whiten your teeth.
Why a good understanding and communication between the patient and dental team is important.
Medical knowledge and advances in dental technology have been very beneficial for patients, whether you have a damaged tooth that needs restoring or wish to improve the way that your teeth look. These advances have been important but the relationship and communication between the patient and their dentist still have very important roles to play in ensuring that you receive the best treatment possible.
Putting patients at ease
Like other dentists Alexandra Dental Care sees its share of patients who exhibit various degrees of anxiety about their visit. Whilst some stoically manage their way through it, others are much more nervous and need reassuring throughout their treatment. We do all that we can to make sure that you feel at ease, taking time to explain the procedure and answering any questions that you might have. In many cases, the calm and gentle manner of our dentists is enough to put the patient at ease, but IV sedation is available if required.
Our Burton and Ashby patients come to us with a variety of problems. Some of these are visibly obvious, such as a broken tooth. Whilst we do have x-rays and scanning equipment to help us diagnose any issues, it always starts with the patient explaining what the problem is that they are experiencing. We encourage you to let us know if you are experiencing any issues with your teeth, even if they don’t seem that important to you. For example, an occasional and minor ‘niggle’ with a tooth may seem like something you can ignore, but letting us know these things will enable us to detect and treat a problem, if there is one, as early as possible. This will also help us to preserve more of the natural tooth if we do need to intervene.
Life often throws up challenges, some of which can result in harm to your teeth and gums
Few would disagree that 2020 has not been a good year. Every headline seems to bring negative and often stressful news, whether it be the Covid-19 pandemic or the trauma caused by the current examination results. At every turn, it seems like there is something happening which just wants to make our lives more difficult. It is no wonder then that many people are reporting that they are feeling more stressed than at any other time in their life. This probably isn’t helped by the difficulties involved in getting away for a break from it all!
It is well known that stress can contribute to a number of health issues including heart problems and it is therefore important that we do what we can to manage this. We will offer a few tips on this later on. Although we often associate stress problems with the heart, it can also play a role in the deterioration of teeth and gum health as well.
Ask almost any of our Burton or Ashby patients and they will probably admit that their diet has changed over the last few months. Whilst some may have taken the time to do more home cooking, many will have turned to comfort foods to try to help ease the strains and stresses. In the majority of cases, these are likely to be unhealthy and potentially tooth damaging foodstuffs. Cakes, biscuits and sweets offer those with a sweet tooth something pleasant to take their minds off other things. Whilst the odd one won’t do too much harm, as long as we clean our teeth well, a regular habit may lead to both tooth decay and/or gum disease.
Smoking and alcohol
Taking good care of repaired teeth
A healthy set of white teeth that never needed treatment would be ideal, but unfortunately for most of us, it is also a fantasy. Whether it is through neglect during an earlier stage of our life or because of an accident or similar circumstances out of our control, most of us will eventually have a tooth, or teeth, restored through one means or another.
The most common of these restorations is the dental filling, but there are also more advanced methods such as dental implants. From the most straightforward to the more complex, all of these need taking care of once completed. At Alexandra Dental Care, we use high quality restorations and these and the surrounding areas of natural tooth and gum tissue need to be looked after ongoing.
Dental fillings offer a long life if looked after correctly. As some of our Burton and Ashby patients who have had amalgam fillings may be aware though, this particular type can shrink a little over time and leave small gaps around the edges which allow bacteria to enter, potentially leading to further decay. Regular monitoring by one of our dentists should prevent this from becoming a problem and occasionally, fillings may need to be replaced. For those preferring white tooth fillings, this is less of an issue as they bond very well with the natural tooth and very seldom come away.
You should always remember that whilst a filling can’t decay, the rest of the natural tooth can, so it is important that you brush and floss well to prevent decay from occurring on the natural part of the tooth.
Crowns and veneers
Alexandra Dental Care discusses the pros and cons of various tooth replacement options
Although we all hope to avoid it, the fact is that most of us will probably lose at least one adult tooth during our lifetime. Unlike baby teeth, there are no more teeth waiting below the gum line to erupt in their place when this happens. Depending on whether the gap left by the missing tooth is visible or not, we may then look at the various options that are available to replace it rather than be left with a ‘gappy smile’.
We always recommend that our Burton and Ashby patients do replace any missing teeth, whether the gap is visible or not. Even lost teeth towards the rear of the mouth can cause a number of problems including leaving you with an uneven bite, and therefore possible additional tooth wear. Movement of other teeth may also mean that they then encroach into the available space and even issues such as speech defects can then arise.
The good news is that there are a number of tooth replacement options available, and we look at the pros and cons of each of these below.
Leave the gap?
Pros – Convenient and no cost. Providing that you brush the gum in that area, oral health care is straightforward.
Cons – If there is a visible gap, most people will feel embarrassed or awkward with a gappy smile. This can also make eating some foods difficult along with potential speech difficulties. ‘Tooth drift’ may also happen where other teeth move into the gap. This can cause general movement of the rest of the teeth leaving you with an uneven and crooked smile that requires orthodontic correction.
Cosmetic bonding and veneers as possible solutions
As our Burton and Ashby dental practice re-opened recently, we have initially been focussing on helping out those patients who were in urgent need of treatment. These included those who were in a lot of pain from toothache or had suffered major damage to their teeth. As time has passed, we are now starting to treat those less serious, but still problematic, issues that may have arisen during our time in lockdown.
One of the more common problems that may have occurred during this time is a chipped or cracked tooth. These don’t necessarily cause any discomfort although sharp edges can cause cuts and grazes to the lips and cheeks. A minor chip or crack may also not pose any immediate major risk to the tooth but equally may have exposed the dentin layer of the tooth making decay and, potentially, root canal infections a possibility.
Even a small chip or crack can also be detrimental to having a great looking smile. Whatever the issues they may cause though, we recommend that you consider having the tooth restored, both to protect it and to help you have a nicer smile.
Cosmetic bonding material is similar to that used for a white filling and it can also be used to build up a damaged tooth. Because it bonds well with the natural tooth, it can be applied to the damaged area and shaped to leave a natural appearance. The advantages of this treatment is that it is usually non invasive and is a relatively straightforward one to perform. It may not be the best long term solution though as the material can discolour over time and, under pressure, may break away from the tooth and need to be reapplied.
For a longer lasting solution and where damage or aesthetics are more challening, Alexandra Dental Care may recommend the use of porcelain dental veneers.
Porcelain veneers offer a long term solution that not only preserves and strengthens the affected tooth but also offers long term aesthetic improvements. Although it usually requires more complex surgery, veneers should last for approximately 10 years providing that you look after them well.
If you are looking to restore a single tooth that has been damaged, we are able to match the colour of the new veneer to that of the rest of your teeth so that it blends in well when you smile. If you wish to use them to improve the colour of your teeth, we can adjust the degree of whiteness to a level that you are happy with, whether this is a complete transformation or an improvement of just a few shades whiter. The choice is entirely yours and we will discuss this option with you during your consultation.
A precautionary word about alcohol and your teeth and gums.
From July 4th, The pubs will be open again in Ashby, Burton and across the rest of England. This will largely be welcomed by much of the public, both as a sign that we are possibly finally on the road to something like ‘normal’ again as well as the chance to socialise in a communal space. There will be many changes to the ways that pubs and restaurants operate of course, but some of our Alexandra Dental Care patients will be looking forward to a nice pint of beer or gin and tonic again we’re sure.
Whilst we welcome the easing of lockdown restrictions, there is a note of caution from our dental team about the way that alcohol can play a negative role in the health of your teeth and general oral cavity. We aren’t saying that you shouldn’t enjoy a drink, but it is important to be aware of the potential harm if you drink too much or too often.
Most alcoholic drinks will contain sugar, with some of those aimed at the younger market probably being much higher than others. Even a standard rum and coke will have the equivalent of more than 5 teaspoons of sugar in it, with some even higher. As we all know, sugar is the enemy of your teeth and will lead to tooth decay and cavities if your teeth aren’t cleaned sufficiently well. Even with the best brushing though, sugar can find its way into places that are not easy to keep clean. As around 80% of the population don’t use dental floss, it is perhaps not surprising that much tooth decay starts in the tight spaces between your teeth.
A decaying tooth can sometimes be restored with a filling or a crown. Where decay is very advanced though, the tooth may need to be extracted.
Oral, or mouth cancer is less well known than some other types but still kills approximately 4000 people a year. Survivors may be left with disfigurement and sometimes with difficulty in carrying out everyday functions such as a swallowing. Smoking is the biggest single contributor to oral cancer, but alcohol plays its part too. Especially if you drink regularly or excessively, you are at a much higher risk of mouth cancer than those who drink moderately or occasionally.
During your six monthly checkup at our Burton and Ashby dental practice, we carry out general oral health checks, inspecting not only your teeth and gums, but the tongue, cheek and other soft tissues of the mouth. If we find something that concerns us, we will refer you to your GP for further investigation.
If you had to resort to DIY dental care during lockdown, please have this checked by your dentist
Over the coming months, the team at Alexandra Dental Care will probably come across a number of cases where a patient has had little option but to resort to some form of self care during the lock-down period when dentists were closed. In most cases, this will probably have been taking painkillers to manage a problematic tooth, but, where a filling has fallen out, some of you may have been advised to use a DIY filling material that is available from high street chemists as a ‘stop gap’.
These filling materials are similar to those used in dental practices though don’t offer the same level of strength or longevity. As the ‘temporary’ part of the name suggests, these should not be considered to be a permanent solution and you should have this checked out by your local dentist.
Difficulties of placing a filling yourself
There are many good reasons why the general public does not usually perform its own dental surgery. The most obvious of these, of course, is that dentistry requires a high level of skill and an awful lot can go wrong which could lead to serious issues. Even a highly skilled dentist doesn’t do their own dentistry and relies on another dentist to do this. In addition to skills required, the lack of visibility and dexterity that accessing our mouth requires, makes self treating almost impossible.
If you have had to place a temporary filling yourself during lockdown, you will probably have found it an uncomfortable experience, but may be pleased with how well you managed to do it. The problem is that whilst the filling that you placed may look ok, leaving it as it is may well lead to problems.
Incorrect fittings and residual decay
Helping nervous dental patients to keep new appointments
It has been a strange and, for some, very stressful few months. Fear of the virus itself and the restrictions that have been placed on our daily life are likely to have affected a lot of people. Those that miss social interaction with others may have found this a lonely time, whilst those who have a tendency towards anxiety and nervousness may have found that this has worsened.
You will probably be aware that dental practices are allowed to open again on the 8th June, providing that they follow new protocols. These are currently being evaluated and refined and to keep you updated we’ve written a full blog on this, which you can read here. This should help to give our local patients some understanding of the changes that they are likely to notice.
For those patients who struggle to overcome their anxiety about going to the dentist, this may have become worse with the additional stress of the last few months. So in today’s blog, we offer some advice to help.
Act now – don’t store up problems
The first thing that we want to say is that dental problems don’t go away. Avoiding seeing a dentist when you have a minor toothache is not a viable long term strategy. You may be able to manage any discomfort with painkillers (as some have had to do whilst dentists are closed), but underneath the relief of painkillers, the tooth will continue to decay. A small cavity can usually be filled with a routine filling, but if left this may require a large filling. If left to advance too far, it may require a more extensive treatment such as the fitting of a crown or even removal of the tooth where it can’t be saved. Please don’t just hope that your problem will go away; it almost certainly won’t.
The same also applies to having a regular check up. Many of you will have had appointments cancelled due to the Covid-19 situation. We will be gradually contacting you to arrange new appointments so that you can resume the preventative care that we at Alexandra Dental Care believe is so important.
There is a risk that patients who are anxious about dental visits may use this opportunity to decline, or not keep, a new appointment. As mentioned above, delaying these may well lead to the need for treatment that could have been avoided. A good case in point being your gum health. By detecting gum disease early, it may be possible to improve this solely by better home brushing and flossing. Not detecting it could lead to you eventually needing a highly invasive deep clean procedure, or even losing a tooth altogether.