We smile naturally, but there are also many hidden benefits when we do….
What is a smile? One definition is a ‘pleased facial expression with the corners of the mouth turned up and the front teeth exposed’. This seems an accurate description and it is worth noting the exposure of the front teeth in it, but more of that later. We probably don’t think about it too much when we do smile and some of us will have more reason to do so than others; but smiling more can have a positive impact on many areas of our lives and we will take a look at some of these in today’s Alexandra Dental Care Blog.
Improvement in mood and sense of wellbeing
Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins which can improve our mood. It could be argued that unless we were in a good mood, we wouldn’t smile but some therapists do recommend that you smile, even if it feels artificial when you do so. This in turn, they say, can improve your mood and you will find yourself smiling more naturally and more frequently.
Relief of pain
Endorphins also act as one of nature’s painkillers. Although it may not relieve serious pain, it might be enough for those minor aches and niggles that we often get as we get older. The cause of the laughter that releases the endorphins may also act as a distraction from any discomfort as well.
Improves blood pressure
Studies have shown that when we laugh and smile, we take in more oxygen and increase our heart rate. As this subsides, it produces lower blood pressure as the muscles relax. High blood pressure can be dangerous and is more common these days with our more sedentary lifestyle. Whilst medications are available, if you can reduce your blood pressure through other techniques, including smiling, this can only be a good thing.
With appropriate care, this tooth replacement option can last for twenty years or more. Read on….
Understandably, when our patients are considering dental restorations or cosmetic improvements, price can be a factor. For those used to NHS prices, some of the treatments might seem a little on the pricey side for some. One of the reasons for this is that private dental fees are not subsidised and the full cost of the treatment has to be met by the patient. This especially applies where a cosmetic treatment is sought.
Amongst the cosmetic and restorative dental treatments that we offer our Burton and Ashby patients, there is one in particular which can sometimes raise eyebrows and that is dental implants. This sophisticated procedure not only uses expensive materials which are essential for a successful placement, but it also has to factor in the additional years of training required, making this one of the more costly treatments that we offer. We do understand why this might deter a few patients of Alexandra Dental Care, but there are many good reasons why we recommend looking beyond the ‘headline’ cost of this treatment.
Aren’t there cheaper tooth replacement options?
Yes there are. Both a bridge and dentures will not typically have the same initial financial outlay, but nor do they provide the level of strength and longevity of dental implants. User experiences vary with both dentures and bridges but some wearers will regularly avoid certain foods because they are difficult to eat, and in the case of dentures, can cause them to move around in the mouth, causing potential embarrassment and sore gums.
It should also be said that whilst these have a cheaper initial outlay, both dentures and bridges are more likely to require maintenance in the future, whereas good quality dental implants shouldn’t, providing that you have taken care of them and your oral health in general.
Are dental implants worth it?
A breakdown of this basic but essential element of oral care.
Things have been strange for all of us this last year or so and that goes for dental treatments too. With the success of the vaccine rollout though, and a better understanding of Covid, we are all hoping that it won’t be too long before our dental practice will be fully back to normal.
A solid foundation to good oral care should always include routine six monthly visits to Alexandra Dental Care for a check up. Many of you will be familiar with what happens at these sessions but it is worth breaking it down, partly to help patients understand the various parts of the appointment.
Medical history check
You will always be asked if your medication has changed or if there have been any significant changes to your health. These are often interlinked. We don’t ask this to be ‘nosey’, but to ensure that we carry out any treatment safely. For example, it is important for us to know if you are on blood thinning medication as this would need to be taken into consideration where, for example, an extraction was due to take place. Please do not be embarrassed and make sure to help us keep our records up to date. All information given to us will be kept private and confidential.
Checking of teeth
This is the most obvious part of the appointment. We will examine your teeth for any signs of decay or erosion, along with breakages and other damage. Any previous restorations will also be checked to make sure that they are still providing the functionality required.
Gum health check
In addition to checking the teeth, we will also check your gums for signs of gum disease. There can be many potential signs of this, some of which may not be noticed by the patient. We will also check to see if there has been any recession of the gums as this can expose the root section of the teeth which is less well protected than the crown and may be more prone to decay and tooth sensitivity.
Soft tissue check
You don’t have to settle for a smile you aren’t happy with!
As we gradually ease out of lockdown (hopefully for the final time), it seems like a good time to remind you of some of the cosmetic dental procedures that we have available for our Ashby, Swadlincote and Burton patients. With the warmer weather in the coming months and the ability to socialise more, now could be a good time to consider ways of boosting your smile.
This especially applies, although not exclusively, to those of you seeking to meet a new partner. Many studies have shown that the first thing that most people notice and are attracted to on the initial meeting is your smile. The chances are then, that you are more likely to find love if you have an attractive and white smile than one that is dull and discoloured and possibly crooked too.
Below, we offer a brief description of the benefits of some of the cosmetic dentistry treatments that we have available at Alexandra Dental Care.
Teeth whitening – This is one of the most popular cosmetic treatments that we offer. It is fast acting and affordable and can make a significant difference to how your teeth look when you smile. Our straightforward treatment means that you can whiten your teeth by several shades in just a short period of time.
Teeth straightening – Some instances of crooked teeth require lengthy treatment of a year or more to correct them. This isn’t always the case though where minor corrections are needed. With modern orthodontics such as Invisalign, Six Month Smiles or Inman Aligner, your crooked teeth can be straightened in a relatively short time.
White fillings – Our local patients who have fillings made from amalgam, the dark material that is widely used to fill a tooth, can now take advantage of modern white fillings instead. These are made to match the natural colour of your teeth and can replace the amalgam fillings that you already have through the amalgam removal service that we provide.
Dental veneers – A more permanent treatment than basic whitening that is growing in popularity. The veneers usually replace the surface enamel of teeth and are largely used where staining or discolouration is very significant or where cracks and chips are present. Whilst, with teeth whitening, this has to be repeated at intervals to maintain the whiteness, veneers should maintain a consistent colour for around ten years providing that you look after them as instructed.
How these near invisible orthodontics can help you build a great looking smile
Have you ever wondered how so many celebrities that we see on TV seem to have such great looking and even teeth? If you have ever asked the question, you may have concluded that they must have spent a small fortune on surgery to correct their teeth and that this is financially out of your reach. Most people will also conclude that the alternative would be to wear dental braces with all the images or wired teeth that this conjures up.
Whilst it is true that cosmetic dental treatments are not available on the NHS and therefore have to be paid for privately and in full, we think that you will be surprised at the value for money that these provide in return for a great looking smile.
With regards to the ‘wired up’ teeth; whilst these are still available, more and more of our Ashby and Burton patients are turning to a very discreet teeth straightening system; namely Invisalign.
Yes, Invisalign belongs to a new generation of orthodontic treatments that allows teeth to be straightened but eliminates the use of wires and brackets altogether. As we will see, this has a number of advantages beyond the most obvious one which is that they are barely visible when being worn. Like traditional braces, significant corrections in teeth repositioning takes time. This is because it is important not to put too much pressure on the teeth in order to avoid damage to both them and the supporting bone. Ultimately, this is the only way to do this safely but when wearing Invisalign orthodontics this becomes much less inconvenient as well as providing additional comfort.
What we eat and drink can have a significant impact on the health of our teeth and gums
Ask most people what the worst food for our teeth is and the vast majority will say ‘sugar’. This is largely true, but it also ignores the impact that other foods can have as well; often foods that we might not even consider to be harmful, and indeed may even think of them as being healthy.
In today’s Alexandra Dental Care blog, we will take a brief look at a few types of food and how these might affect the oral health of our Burton and Ashby patients.
Sugars – Let’s get this one out of the way first. We know that sugar is bad for our teeth but why? The fact is that sugars provide an excellent food source for bacteria which break them down to produce acids which then erode the enamel of our teeth; leading to gum disease and decay. Whilst some foods quite obviously contain sugars, such as sweets and cakes, it is also often hidden in many savoury products as well.
Fruit – Fruit is widely considered to be one of those things that are nothing but healthy and something that we should eat a lot more of. Whilst this might be true, it is also worth remembering that these contain a natural type of sugar, especially in the case of citric fruits such as oranges and lemons. These are also quite acidic and can damage the enamel of our teeth, increasing the risk of tooth decay and sensitive teeth. Fruit is good for us but is best eaten in moderation.
Wholefoods – Again, a healthy food that can cause problems for our teeth. It is far from unusual for us to see teeth that have been chipped or cracked through biting unexpectedly into a hard grain in a wholemeal loaf of bread or a bowl of muesli. Even worse, occasionally, a small stone from the milling process may find its way into the product and if it comes into contact with your teeth when you bite, your teeth are very likely to suffer damage. Don’t avoid these foods but please be aware when you do.
Dairy products – Again, milk and the like can contain sugars in the form of lactose, but dairy does offer some benefits as well. It is a good source of calcium which along with other vitamins and minerals is an essential building block for strong and healthy teeth. Cheese also is a very healthy food for our teeth. Not only does it contain calcium, but eaten at the end of a meal, it will help to neutralise the acidity in the mouth which can be damaging to our teeth.
Alexandra Dental Care Dentist, George Savva, recommends ‘stub it out’ for good!
Every day, our teeth and gums face challenges and the foods we eat and our daily habits all contribute to potential harm. Some of the things that we do such as eating are fundamental, although we can choose wisely of course. Other things that some of us do though, are unnecessary and indeed are harmful not only to our teeth and gums but also to our general health; none more so than smoking.
Although fewer people smoke than in the past when a large number of us did, there are still thought to be in the region of 7 million people still smoking in the UK. This means that in addition to increased risk of gum disease, there will almost certainly be a significant number of premature deaths through cancers and heart disease.
With this in mind, we thought it was worth reminding you of some of the very good reasons to quit the smoking habit.
1) As mentioned above, smoking poses a very big risk to your general health and wellbeing (we will discuss oral health separately). Lung diseases, including cancer, are a real possibility if you smoke, whether that be cigarettes, cigars or even a pipe. Even if you don’t die of one of these, the chances are that as you become older, you will feel less able to do simple things such as run for a bus or even go for a pleasant walk without being out of breath. It really isn’t worth the risk.
2) Smoking is a very expensive habit and anyone smoking, say 20 cigarettes a day, can expect to pay somewhere in the region of over £4,000 a year. That is a very significant amount of money that we suspect most of you could find better uses for.
A dental implant to replace a missing tooth is a great option, but what do they feel like?
As many cosmetic dentists will agree, an increasing number of people are expressing an interest in having dental implants instead of dentures when they have lost a tooth or a number of teeth. There are many good reasons for this as we have mentioned before, but to briefly recap, they are strong, stable and, with good care, they can last for 20 years or more.
In addition to their strength, enabling the wearer to eat whatever they want, implants look more natural than a denture. Although dentures have definitely improved in aesthetics over the years, they still look less natural than a dental implant does. One question that we do get asked reasonably frequently at Alexandra Dental Care though, is what do they actually feel like? This is understandable and some people do find the idea of having one placed into the jawbone a little off putting. Let’s take a look at this, both the procedure and the longer term ‘feel’ of dental implants.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for any of our Burton and Ashby patients who are considering implant placement is the idea of the implant being placed into the jawbone. There is no getting away from it that this might, on the surface of it, appear to be quite painful. The reality is different though. Whilst we are not about to claim that you will enjoy the procedure, you shouldn’t find it any more uncomfortable than many other invasive dental treatments.
The procedure is performed using the latest technology including scanning equipment to ensure that the implant is placed in exactly the right position. You will also be given a powerful local anaesthetic which will minimise any discomfort that you might feel. You might also wish to consider having IV sedation for this treatment. This is generally used for nervous patients but can also help for treatments which take longer, such as teeth implants.
Poor teeth can affect our confidence and our social life says Burton and Ashby dentist, Usha Sirdevi
Although teeth make up a very small part of the human body, we are probably more conscious of them than we are about some of the larger parts. Although we may wish to lose weight or build muscles, most of us probably think about our teeth much more than we do our other limbs etc.
One possible reason for this is that they are located so close to the brain and other sensory organs such as the lips, eyes and ears, making us much more aware of them. Another is that, as psychologists have shown, our smile is a very important indicator to others about our friendliness (or not). It is said that most of us, on meeting a new person, will make a decision about them in the first few seconds. Of course, this can change over time and friendships can develop. But if that initial meeting doesn’t provide a ‘spark’, a friendship may never be allowed to develop.
What is the first thing we notice when we meet someone for the first time? Almost certainly, it is their smile. If we greet someone and they don’t smile, that is not going to give a very good first impression. If they do smile, but their teeth are discoloured or crooked, however nice that person is, we may be less than impressed, especially if the meeting is a first date!
Most of us will happily get dressed up and wear smart clothes for this sort of meeting and whilst this is not as straightforward when it comes to our teeth, cosmetic dentistry now offers the opportunity to do the same for your smile.
We have discussed options for replacing missing teeth recently so let’s presume that you have a full set of teeth, but perhaps ones that are crooked or that have become stained or discoloured over time.
Straightening your teeth
A comprehensive treatment for advanced gum disease
We often talk about the importance of good gum health in our blogs, and hopefully this message will have been suitably received by our Ashby, Swadlincote and Burton patients. The fact is that many of us will have experienced tooth decay and not want to go through the pain of a toothache again, but gum disease, sometimes, doesn’t register in the same way.
There can be some soreness when your gums become infected and in many cases this can be reversed with better home oral care and a professional scale and polish carried out by the dental hygienist at Alexandra Dental Care. These relatively ‘minor’ symptoms (when compared to a toothache) can lead to a false sense of security in some people who may think that it isn’t all that serious and can be easily treated. The real problems arise when treatment is avoided in these early stages (gingivitis) and then the problem becomes much more significant.
Early stage periodontitis is similar in some ways to gingivitis and the layperson may not be able to tell the difference. In all cases we encourage you to make an appointment with us if, for example, your gums feel sore or have started to bleed when you brush your teeth. As with all dental problems, it is far better to treat any issue sooner, rather than later.
If not treated, the gums will start to pull away a little from the teeth. This may not be noticeable to you but it allows pockets to form between the tooth and gum which allows bacteria to collect there. As this worsens, it is not only the soft gum tissue that becomes infected but also the jaw bone which supports your teeth. Over time, this will deteriorate and be less able to hold your teeth securely. You may initially find that your teeth become loose and may well eventually fall out.