Seemingly innocuous things in our day-to-day lives that can damage our teeth.
Hopefully, with the professional advice given by both dentists and hygienists at Alexandra Dental Care, most of our Ashby and Burton patients are aware not only of the importance of a healthy mouth, but also how to maintain it. Professional dental supervision combined with diligent care at home means that you have a good chance of retaining your natural teeth well into your later years.
Even with the best advice and good cleaning habits, there are still plenty of potential pitfalls for our teeth. Some of these may be out of our control, such as an accident, but others may be the consequence of some habits that we have and may have carried out for many years without thinking about the potential consequences. We take a look at a few of the more common ones below.
How many of us have used our teeth for this? Probably most of us at some point in our lives. Once we have fiddled about trying to find the end of the sellotape, we usually just want to snap it off to the required length. The logical way to do this would be to use scissors, but when we have the sellotape waiting and stuck to our fingers we are unlikely to look for scissors unless we have thought about this in advance. What then is the most available ‘tool’? Yes, our teeth.
Unfortunately, as teeth collide as they slip off the tape, the impact can cause them to chip or crack, weakening the enamel. This means that they are then less well protected from future damage and may even break in time.
An easy way to avoid the temptation to use our teeth for this is to buy the sellotape on a holder that has a cutting edge so that we can break it off easily. Failing that, make sure that you have scissors ready in advance.
The implications for our teeth and gums when plaque is not well managed.
Plaque is a word that many of us associate with poor oral health. It can certainly be damaging to both teeth and gums, and it is also something that all of us have to deal with. Plaque is formed simply because our mouths are full of bacteria. Not all of these are bad and some help to break down food ready for better digestion; but left unchecked, some of these bacteria can eventually cause damage to both our teeth and gums.
At Alexandra Dental Care, we endeavour to educate our patients on the importance of keeping oral bacteria under control through improved home care and periodic professional help.
What is plaque?
Plaque is the sticky translucent substance that adheres to our teeth and on the gum line. Most of the time it will be more or less unnoticeable, especially if we clean our teeth well. Some of our readers though may be more familiar with it if they drink alcohol. Alcohol can often cause a dry mouth overnight and this encourages the growth of bacteria in our mouths, leaving a noticeable sticky white ‘goo’. This is plaque, albeit in larger quantities than normal.
Why is it harmful?
Although plaque is entirely natural, it is important that our Burton and Ashby patients take action to keep it under control. If you don’t, the risk of both tooth decay and gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis will significantly increase.
The acids generated by the bacteria in plaque, if left uncontrolled, will gradually cause the enamel on our teeth to erode, leaving them more vulnerable to cavities. Soreness and irritation of the gums is also likely and gum disease will almost certainly soon follow. As we have mentioned before, this can lead not only to unpleasant side effects such as gum soreness and bad breath, but eventually to unstable or even lost teeth.
How can it be managed?
Switched from smoking to vaping? You may still be at risk of gingivitis and periodontitis.
We have previously written blogs about the harm caused by smoking regular cigarettes and in these we discuss problems like gum disease and oral cancers. Understandably, the conclusions drawn are that smoking is very harmful for your oral health as well as creating other general health issues. Because of this, we always recommend that our Ashby and Burton patients stop smoking.
In these blogs, we have also mentioned vaping and that this is an alternative that many people find it easier to switch to, rather than nicotine patches etc, probably because it also mimics the action of smoking. Whilst vaping has largely been thought to be much safer, we have always said that there was still much research to be carried out and this belief could change. It now seems that vaping may not be as safe as many previously believed.
Is vaping a threat to your health?
According to news coming out of the USA, there are 530 cases of either confirmed or probable lung injury cases caused by vaping, with seven people already dead. In one case, an 18 year old smoker was told by doctors that they had the lungs of a 70 year old! Although most of those hospitalised recover from the immediate problem, there are concerns that the long term implications are not yet known.
The problem is being taken so seriously that India has now banned the sale of e-cigarettes altogether.
Your oral health and vaping
At Alexandra Dental Care, our area of concern is your oral health. We cannot provide general health care advice and if you are concerned about any problems that you feel might have been caused by vaping, then you will need to see your GP. Given that smoking is a well known contributor to gum disease though, it is worth considering, with respect to this particular problem, whether vaping is actually any better. A recent study suggests not.
A two year study was carried out in Korea between 2013 and 2015. The study consisted of around 14,000 people who were equally divided into groups of vapers, smokers, ex smokers and those who have never smoked. For those who wish to read the full ten page report, you can do so here. There are some simple conclusions that were drawn in this report though, which give significant cause for concern to anyone working in dental care.
Unsurprisingly, the level of gum disease was higher in smokers than in non smokers, but one piece of information really stands out. The study found that in both men and women, the rate of periodontal disease was only slightly higher in smokers than in those who vaped. In addition to this, other problems such as toothache and cavities were also higher in these groups.
Should you stop vaping?
Burton dentist Dr George Savva looks at dental implants as a potential solution.
Modern dentures have come a long way in design and comfort and they are still very often the first choice for patients who need to have teeth ‘replaced’. Whilst many people seem perfectly happy with dentures, others are sometimes disappointed. After thinking they had resolved the problems of eating and smiling with missing teeth, they may find that their dentures lack stability, at least to some degree, and may even cause discomfort.
There are a number of reasons that this can happen. A leading one being that the bone in the jaw will continue to degrade and change shape when no tooth root is present. This sometimes causes the dentures to fit less securely than they did as time passes.
Whilst having dentures does mean that you avoid the need for dental surgery, it may also mean that you have to put up with these inconveniences over a long period of time. On the other hand, a one-off treatment could provide a permanent solution to this problem.
Dental implants can be used to replace individual missing teeth, or where a number or a full arch are missing. For the purpose of this blog, we are going to concentrate on the use of implants where a full arch, or a number of consecutive teeth are missing.
Dental implants can be used in two ways to provide patients with a set of stable and strong replacement teeth. Indeed they can be used to stabilise your dentures, or to replace them completely.
If you have dentures, they will be probably be secured through the use of denture adhesive, and possibly through the use of clips too. Whilst this does offer a degree of security, anyone who has tried tackling more challenging foods to chew will possibly have found that their dentures started to move around as they did so. For those who are happy with their dentures, one option is to use dental implants to stabilise them. This involves the placing of a few dental implants, depending on the number of replacement teeth, into the jawbone. Your dentures can then be adapted so that they can be securely attached to the implants, anchoring them securely in place.
‘All On 4’
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!