But don’t rely on them alone!
Anyone who has read our previous blogs will know that, for all the advances in oral care available at Alexandra Dental, the most essential thing that our patients can do is to clean their teeth well. Most of us understand this to mean brushing our teeth both morning and night, and hopefully using floss to clean between them as well.
In today’s busy life, we may also try looking for shortcuts to save time. Despite the fact that brushing our teeth should only take two or three minutes twice a day, with a little extra for flossing, for some people, it seems, even that is too long.
Mouthwash often tastes vaguely medicinal and is promoted widely on TV as killing off bacteria that can cause harm to our teeth and gums. Using this product then must surely be hugely beneficial for our teeth, right? Well, yes, sort of. Mouthwash can certainly be a useful additional tool in the fight against gum disease and can reduce the number of bacteria. However, it can’t remove all of the bacteria and deposits that have attached themselves firmly to our teeth or gums. Even the most vigorous swilling will not do this.
Some of the mouthwashes that aim to reduce or prevent gum disease do so by coating the teeth with a protective film. Although this does have its benefits, the coating is actually quite sticky and can attract staining substances, leaving your teeth looking discoloured.
So mouthwashes contain fluoride but many don’t, unlike the toothpaste we use on a daily basis. Fluoride is important as it helps to strengthen and protect the enamel surface of your teeth.
All in all then, using mouthwash can be helpful, but using it alone will not prevent tooth decay from the food residues and “bad” bacteria that are in our mouths.
Have you ever wondered what the tray of tools that you see are used for?
Dental care continues to advance as new procedures become more widely used, and with it, new equipment. For all the new equipment such as 3D scanners that are introduced though, most patients will be more familiar with the tray of dental implements that are used by the dentist to perform most of the more regular treatments.
Some of these tools may look a little scary, especially to nervous patients. They are however, very effective for the purpose of restoring damaged and decayed teeth. Below, we take a look at some of the more commonly used tools at Alexandra Dental Care and indeed all other dentists around the UK.
Let’s start with the piece of equipment that is probably the most unpopular with many of our Ashby and Burton patients. The sound of a whirring drill can cause even the calmest patient to shudder. The fact is though, that the high pitched sound means that the drill is rotating at extremely high speeds, enabling the dentist to remove any decay both quickly and effectively. A quieter drill may also be slower and procedures would last that much longer.
Very close in unpopularity to the drill is the ‘needle’ that is used to administer your local anaesthetic. Without this, it wouldn’t be possible to carry out most procedures. We accept that having an injection into the gums isn’t always pleasant, though few patients realise that any discomfort usually comes when the anaesthetic meets the bloodstream and is not the result of the needle piercing the gums.
These symptoms may be an indicator of potentially progressive problems.
Inflamed and bleeding gums are no fun, and understandably most patients want to deal with this type of dental problem as soon as possible. It is also likely that this could be an indicator of serious problems lurking below the surface that could cause even bigger issues further down the line.
Anyone who has read our Alexandra Dental Care blogs will probably be aware that these are two prominent symptoms of gum disease. At best, it can be uncomfortable and unpleasant when you spit blood into the sink after brushing your teeth. At worst, it can eventually lead to tooth loss, and according to a number of medical studies, a whole host of other serious health issues including heart disease and strokes as well.
Before we move on to discuss gum disease, it is worth noting that when inflammation occurs anywhere in the body, something is wrong. For example, if you sprain or even twist your ankle, you will notice some swelling (inflammation) in that area. More severe inflammation is often found in more serious diseases, including some cancers, diabetes and also in Alzheimer’s patients.
Where gums have become inflamed, it is very likely that you have gum disease. This may not only manifest in the oral cavity, but you may also find yourself feeling more tired than usual and also notice other things such as bloating and constipation. Not all, or even any, of these will necessarily be present for everyone, but if you have noticed that your gums are sore and inflamed, you should definitely pay a visit to our Burton and Ashby dentists to have them examined.
Advice for our Ashby and Burton patients who are considering implants.
Dental implants are one of the great success stories in dentistry of the last 50 years or so. They have enabled people who have lost teeth, whether individually or as a full arch, to have replacement teeth that are strong, stable and look and function just like a natural tooth. The success rate of this treatment is also extremely high, but this does not mean that it cannot fail.
We have carried out this procedure at Alexandra Dental Care for a number of years now and, where patients have followed our advice, the procedure has resulted in many years of a strong replacement tooth or teeth. Not all patients do follow our advice though, and this is where implant failure becomes an unfortunate possibility.
The patient’s role
Although the skills and experience of your dentist is a major factor in a successful implant placement (one reason why it is usually best to avoid the ‘cheap dental implants abroad’ kind of offers), the patient has a major role to play in their success too.
The following are some of the most significant things that you can do to help prevent implant failure.
Avoid smoking and alcohol
Although this is good advice, both from a dental and general medical perspective, it is especially critical in the months before and after you have had your implant placed. Both smoking and drinking can lead to poor gum health and also increase the risk of infections. Both of these, and a lesser known one called peri-implantitis (similar to gum disease) are a major cause of dental implant failure. You must be honest with yourself about this if you are considering implants. If you are unable to forgo these habits for a few months, then teeth implants may not be for you.
Yogi Savania offers our Burton and Ashby patients some essential tips during teeth straightening treatment.
The number of people seeking treatment to straighten their teeth is thought to be increasing and there are likely to be a number of factors contributing to this. The rise of ‘celebrity culture’ and the success of image based social media platforms probably means that people have become more self conscious about their own smile and are prepared to do something to improve it.
Another factor is likely that there are now a wider selection of orthodontic braces treatments available; many of which avoid the worst of the aesthetic aspects of wearing traditional braces.
But even with the highest quality braces and care, there are a number of things that patients of Alexandra Dental Care need to remember for the duration of their teeth straightening treatments to help make it a real success.
Visit your dentist regularly
This should be a given. Especially as orthodontic treatment can sometimes take over a year to correct the positioning of your teeth, there is a lot that can go wrong in that time. Both tooth decay and gum disease are common problems if teeth are not looked after correctly. Wearing braces can present a particular challenge from this perspective (more on that later), and it is essential that you maintain regular appointments to have the general health of your teeth checked. There is little point in having a set of teeth that are beautifully even if you have tooth decay and inflamed gums!
Have your teeth professionally cleaned regularly
Ashby and Burton Dentist, Dr Moe Issa, offers some dietary advice beneficial for your teeth.
At Alexandra Dental Care, we have a wide array of modern equipment at our disposal, including digital scanners and x ray technology. These are hugely beneficial when it comes to advanced procedures such as root canals and dental implant placement.
But despite these advances in modern dental care, basic oral health care is still essential of course. The majority of this comes down to how well we clean our teeth, but also what we eat; whether the food and drink that we consume is beneficial or harmful for our teeth. There are those who argue that ‘healthy eating’ is almost a ‘cure all’, but this is not always the case!
Beware of ‘natural’
We are not ‘anti natural’ but feel that it is very important to say that because something is natural, does not mean that it is safe. There are many ‘natural’ poisons in the world that are quite capable of killing you. Anyone who watches wildlife programmes will also know that nature is quite often far from being kind and gentle, and can indeed be quite brutal.
A good example of this in dentistry is the temptation by some to take a ‘natural’ approach to whitening their teeth. Rather than have it done professionally by a trained cosmetic dentist, some people have tried using lemon juice on their teeth. The logic is that the lemon juice will ‘bleach’ the teeth and whiten them. The reality is that lemon juice is an acid and will actually wear away the enamel. Needless to say, this DIY approach should be avoided!
Foods that are beneficial for our teeth
A quick look at what happens to our teeth as we grow older.
Apart from very early on in life, most of us will have at least some of our teeth right up until we die. The quantity and quality of those teeth will depend on how well we take care of them and whilst some people may think that teeth are only important to help us to eat, they also play a big part in other aspects of our lives.
An attractive smile can help to form relationships and friendships, and, in addition to eating, our speech depends quite heavily on having healthy teeth. If you want to test this, try talking without your tongue touching your teeth; it is almost impossible!
As our teeth are important, it is useful to understand how they change as we grow older.
When we are first born, we have no teeth, or rather, they have not yet erupted through the gums. This usually happens at around 5 months onwards, although this can vary from child to child. Even before they come through though, parents should keep the gums of the baby clean as this can help to prevent problems when they do finally erupt.
Although baby teeth are not permanent, they should still be looked after well. Not only will they help a child develop by enabling them to eat a wide range of foods, but poor quality teeth, or teeth that have to be extracted, can also affect speech development. If this happens, it can have a significant impact throughout their lives.
Baby teeth last for a number of years and tend to fall out at various stages. Some even last into our early adult years. Because of this, we should take good care of them and not let our oral care slip just because they will eventually fall out.
The teenage and early adult years
Gum disease treatments explained.
In today’s blog, we are largely going to focus on the ‘deep clean’ that is sometimes carried out for patients who have periodontal disease. Before we discuss this though, let us take a look at the type of more routine cleaning that a dental hygienist does.
Scale and Polish
The cleaning provided by the hygienist at Alexandra Dental Care is known as a scale and polish and is partially a preventative treatment. We will all have plaque on our teeth, most of which will be removed if we brush and floss effectively. Any remaining plaque will eventually harden though, and turn into tartar. This provides a rough surface that makes it easier for bacteria to stick to, eventually harming teeth and gums. It is not possible to remove this with regular brushing.
When the hygienist cleans your teeth, they will ‘scrape’ away the excess tartar, then shatter much of that which remains using a special sonic tool. Finally, a high speed brush will be used to remove any that is left. This treatment will leave your teeth free of tartar and greatly improve your chances of avoiding gum disease.
A ‘deep’ clean
Our Ashby and Swadlincote dentist explains the differences.
If you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time, or have only just come across the term ‘dental sedation’, you may well be a little confused about what these terms mean, and which ones are available and appropriate for you. In the past, nitrous oxide (or ‘laughing gas’) was widely used in the UK for dental treatment. This is no longer the case, as you will see later.
Anaesthetics and sedation all make the dental experience more comfortable for patients undergoing treatment, and, at Alexandra Dental Care, we aim to make each visit as pleasant and comfortable for all of our patients as we possibly can.
If you look back to the early days of dental care, you will find images of patients being held, or strapped down, to enable the dentist to carry out their work. A quick look at this page shows rudimentary equipment, such as clockwork drills and some rather unpleasant tools for extracting teeth!
Even with modern equipment, such as the high speed drills which allow fillings to be carried out faster and more effectively, the procedure could be very painful for our Ashby and Burton patients if it weren’t for the use of a local anaesthetic.
Lidocaine is one of the most widely used local anaesthetics which is very powerful and numbs the area where the procedure is to take place. It is injected into the target area, and although some patients think they experience pain from the needle, it is actually the anaesthetic entering the bloodstream that causes some temporary discomfort. Without this though, the procedure could not go ahead. There are no long lasting effects from this type of anaesthetic and it is relatively short lasting, with your mouth returning to normal not too long after the completion of the procedure.
Social media can be useful, but it can also communicate potentially harmful advice.
Whilst there may be some of our Swadlincote, Burton and Ashby patients who refuse, point blank, to use social media; for most people it is a great way to stay in touch with others and also to keep up to date with certain hobbies and interests. By and large, this is a useful addition to our daily lives, but of course, not everything that we see on social media is necessarily true, or even safe.
One increasingly used tactic by manufacturers is to use ‘influencers’ to promote their products. These are usually young social media celebrities, often with their own popular video channels. They may do a whole video on a product or sometimes simply ensure that they mention the product a few times during their videos. Naturally, most of these influencers will be paid, either in money, or free goods, for their services. In nearly all cases, they will have little knowledge of the product that they are promoting, beyond the basic information.
One of the most popular dental products that these influencers promote are teeth whitening solutions. We are all familiar with the beautiful white teeth that some TV celebrities have, and this may encourage other younger people to attempt to use these products too.
There are two key issues surrounding this as follows:
Firstly, the age group that these influencers usually target is quite young, sometimes even in their teens. The fact is that no one at this age should really need a teeth whitening procedure in the first place. Although some in their early twenties, who perhaps may have smoked for a while or with naturally dark teeth might consider it, there are very few circumstances where younger teens should need to whiten their teeth.
The second issue is around regulations. Any advert that appears on TV has to pass certain standards, and anything that appeared not to be sufficiently safe would almost certainly fail to pass this test. The internet though, as we well know, is much less well regulated and almost anything could be promoted which could fall far below the safety standards that we expect.
Although it is probably more likely that any teeth whitening treatments offered via social media platforms will be ineffective, rather than dangerous, there are no guarantees, and however much you generally like the people doing the influencing, it is important to remember that they will almost certainly not have any dental qualifications. Hence they are not really the people you should be listening to about having your teeth whitened.
Do it safely