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.
How we can help
As the Government lock-down eases we are advised to re-open on the June 8th June.
We are following latest guidelines from medical professions and the Government. This update outlines modifications to our normal procedures that we intend to employ to ensure patient and staff safety.
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is still being evaluated and studied and policies and recommendations are likely to change in line with new scientific evidence over time.
We would like to thank all of our patients for their patience and understanding during this period of lock-down and for their cooperation whilst we implement new measures at the practice.
We will of course be providing dental care to all of our patients in the safest possible environment. We greatly appreciate your assistance with any new or modified procedures at the practice.
Our normal cross-infection control protocols at Alexandra Dental against all previously known pathogens are already woven into all clinical activity carried out at the practice.
It should be remembered that a dental practice is already a very clean environment compared to public areas and there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission occurring in increased rates in dentists or their staff.
Before attending the practice
Patients will only be seen if they have a booked appointment so please contact via phone or email if you require an appointment.
Digital communication is encouraged
We aim to minimise face to face contact and time in the practice, and minimise administration tasks at the reception desk.
As such we ask all patients to complete their medical history forms online prior to attending. If you have any difficulties with completing the forms we can help you with this over the phone. If we do not receive the completed questionnaire in time and we are unable to contact you, we may need to cancel your appointment.
We may also ask for payments to be made over the phone prior to attending or contactless payment in the practice.
Video consultations with your dentist are availiable via the Smilemate app if you require..
If we feel that you are at risk of having possibly been infected with Covid, even if you are asymptomatic, we will respectfully request for you to delay booking any appointments with us for at least 14 days.
We recommend that patients in the high-risk groups for developing complications from coronavirus delay non-essential dental treatment until the trend of the pandemic becomes clear.
Please attend alone (where possible) and only one adult is able to attend with a child; please do not bring additional family members with you unless they are happy to wait in the car or outside the building.
We intend to reduce waiting inside the practice and at reception. Accordingly, appointments will be staggered to reduce contact with other patients as far as we are able to manage.
There will be markings to indicate social distancing inside and also outside the entrance.
We will operate a one-way system through the practice and a member of staff will guide you.
When you attend the Practice
There may be a queue outside the practice. Please observe the social distancing markers. We may have a closed door policy at times as deemed by the UK Covid-19 alert levels, in those instances patients will be called in at the time of their appointment directly to the surgery.
We will confirm your health status on entering the practice.
We will ask that you use the hand sanitiser in the reception area, or thoroughly wash your hands for 30 seconds with the antiseptic hand wash provided in the surgery.
Your bags and belongings will be safely placed in a closed box during treatment.
We may ask you to use a Hydrogen Peroxide mouthwash before some dental
Rubber dam may be used for some dental procedures.
All dental staff will be using personal protective equipment in line with current recommendations and evidence.
We apologise in advance for the necessary reduction in social interaction that this will necessitate. Whilst our masks may make us appear impersonal and distant, please be assured we are still the same friendly team underneath it all!
When using the restrooms, please do your best to ensure that you leave the facilities as you would expect to find them and wash your hand thoroughly. The restrooms will be regularly disinfected between patients.
These changes to the practice are being made to ensure your health and safety whilst in our care. The new protocols will mean we will require longer appointment time to allow for all the additional safety measures to be implemented. This does mean we will be seeing fewer patients but we plan to operate extended opening hours to accommodate all of our patients.
Despite the financial impact of the coronavirus, we will not be adding a “corona surcharge” to our fees unless absolutely necessary.
Hopefully these forced changes to our practice may not be for the long-term, and this policy will be constantly reviewed and updated as necessitated by circumstances over time.
If you have any concerns then do please contact our team and we will endeavour to help.
Once again a big Thank You for your patience and support and look forward to providing your dental care soon!!
Since the lockdown began in March all dental practices were told by Public Health England and the Chief Dental Officer to cease face to face routine dental care as part of the national effort to stay at home and save lives. Their guidelines stated that we were to offer Advice , Analgesics and Antibiotics.
As yet we are still awaiting further guidelines and advice on re-opening.
We have endeavoured to maintain contact with our patients by ensuring team members are available on the phone to discuss your concerns. A dentist has been available to provide this service every day with our team members. We have also introduced remote video consultation facilities.
So if you do have any dental concerns please do contact the practice and we will try our best to help. Patients in extreme pain are being triaged and referred to Urgent Dental Centres.
We apologise for the numerous appointments and treatments that have had to be postponed during this crisis.
New safety measures in place
Alexandra Dental Care has always worked to the highest standards of cleanliness and routine cleaning as part of our Cross Infection Control Policy. These will increase and all employees will receive updated training on these Cross Infection Protocols
We will introduce the following measures to help keep our staff and patients safe:
- Perspex screens on reception and floor markings will be introduced in specific areas
- We will provide additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) of medical grade standard such as face masks, visors, gowns and gloves
- Your temperature may be checked on entering the building and you will be asked about your Covid-19 status. Hand gel stations will be available for you to use on entering, around the practice, and on leaving the building
- All team members will be asked to confirm they are fit and able to work, and we will use contactless thermometers with temperatures taken on arrival at work
- We will also introduce social distancing measures for all our team and for our dental deliveries and dental providers
Limited Treatments and Hours
When we re-open it is likely there will be restrictions on certain treatments and appointment times may be increased, as advised by Public Health England and the Chief Dental Officer.
We anticipate that we will offer extended opening hours to accommodate all patients that have had their treatments and routine dental care delayed.
We will inform you of our opening hours as the re-opening program evolves.
Serving the community
We have tried to provide the best service we can under very difficult circumstances and thank you for your patience
Here at Alexandra Dental Care we are immensely proud, alongside colleagues from Melbourne Dental Practice and The Delph Dental Practice to have been selected to help the NHS provide Face to Face emergency dental care for the region as part of the Urgent Dental Centre arrangements. To see how colleagues have pulled together from different practices to look after patients at this time of need has been a truly inspiring and humbling experience.
A very big thank you
You may not be able to visit us at the moment, but we can still help you with your teeth!
Things have started to slowly move, with the first tentative steps towards easing lockdown already being taken. Dental practices may not be in the first batch of easing and may well not be in the next either, but we hope to be able to provide Alexandra Dental Care patients some news on when we can open again in the not too far off future.
In the meantime, we are still here to help our Burton, Swadlincote and Ashby patients. In addition to offering advice when urgent dental care is required, we are now offering ‘virtual consultations’. These are additional to our one to one video ‘chats’ and are aimed at helping patients who are not entirely happy with their teeth and are interested to see what can be done to improve them.
In normal circumstances, the first step would be to visit us and have a discussion with one of our team who would then be able to explain the treatments available to help you with a particular problem. As this is not possible at the moment, there is now a quick and easy way to take the first steps towards having a nicer set of teeth.
Whether Coronavirus, flu or any other virus, your oral health can suffer
Naturally at the moment, a great deal of focus is on the Covid-19 virus. Hopefully the pandemic is now coming under control with the focus now leading towards keeping the numbers of illnesses and deaths as low as possible until a vaccine and/or treatment is found. This is obviously a very dangerous virus but is not the only one of course. Flu can also be very dangerous and kills thousands of people each year and, although less dangerous, even a bad common cold can make us feel under the weather for a period of time.
Hopefully, our Burton and Ashby patients have managed to avoid Coronavirus, but for those that have had it and recovered, or for those generally recovering from any illness, Alexandra Dental Care offers some advice about getting your oral health back on track in the weeks that follow.
Can a virus affect your teeth?
Directly, a virus should have little or no effect on your teeth at all. But the problems stemming from having a virus for a week or two is that your teeth will almost certainly suffer from neglect to some degree. When we have a virus, our bodies go to work to try to eliminate it. We will tend to sleep more and many of us will also feel very tired and lethargic much of the time. With this lethargy often goes poor oral health care and a less than healthy diet.
When we feel like this, we might be tempted to skip cleaning our teeth or perhaps just swill mouthwash to freshen our mouth. In addition to this, we may well eat more foods that are high in sugar which, as we know, is very bad for our teeth. Over a period of time, our teeth and gums are likely to suffer, so once we have recovered, we need to work on restoring our teeth to good health again.