Our passion is helping you have a healthy mouth

A brief look at some of the changes that patients might notice when we open our practice again

Many of you will have seen that dental practices in the UK are able to open their doors again from 8th June. This will not be a case of things returning to the previous ‘normal’ though, and patients of Mike Allen’s Dental Practice are likely to notice a number of changes. We can’t say how long these changes will be in place as much will depend on the status of the Covid-19 virus and perhaps even on the arrival of an effective vaccine for it.

More details will emerge as we evaluate the guidance that has been provided and we work out how we can best serve our patients again in a safe manner. The following though are some of the things that our returning patients might notice as we get business moving again.

Re-opening

Although we can open from the 8th June, this does not mean that we will necessarily do so. We will do our best to open as quickly as possible, but, before we do so, it is essential that we ensure that the practice and systems are in place to protect both our patients and our team as much as we possibly can. Once we have a date to re-open, we will let you know as soon as we can. Please also keep an eye on our website for updates on this.

PPE

PPE (personal protective equipment ) has been in the news a lot over the past few months and, sadly, often for the wrong reasons. As you can imagine, there has been huge demand for this and we are doing our best to source sufficient PPE for our staff.  Until we are happy that sufficient equipment is in place, we will remain closed other than for telephone advice.

Training and systems

Many things that have previously been routine in our practice will need to change. Not only the way that treatments are carried out but the process of attending the clinic. We are working on systems and training to ensure that as few people as possible are in our waiting room at any given time and that any communication with staff members, including our reception team, is done as safely as possible. You will also notice a number of hand sanitiser stations; please use these.

Appointments

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Burton dentist, Dr Mike Allen discusses common causes of ‘wobbly’ teeth

For some of us, it may be further back in our memories than we care to remember, but most of us will probably be able to recall when we were children and had a tooth that became wobbly, and may have even been just hanging on by a thread of skin from our gums. Wobbly teeth can occur both in young children and adults but whilst it is natural in children, adults who have loose or wobbly teeth should be concerned and arrange to see one of our Burton dentists to examine them.

Wobbly teeth in young children

At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we offer dental care to both young and old. As you can imagine then, we see a lot of wobbly teeth in children as they develop through the years.

As parents, we are always happy to see our young children’s first teeth erupt, although not always the discomfort to the child that can come with this. These teeth will help to wean children away from liquid and soft foods and onto a more varied and solid diet. The ‘baby teeth’ are temporary of course and will only last a few years but even so, it is important to look after them and keep them healthy so that the children don’t suffer from toothache and are able to eat comfortably. Premature loss of these teeth can also cause issues with speech development.

Eventually, the ‘baby’ teeth start to become loose as the adult teeth develop underneath them. Contrary to what some people might think, it is not the adult teeth beneath them that are pushing them through which causes them to become loose and wobbly, but the reabsorption by the body of the roots of the first teeth. As the roots vanish, the teeth become loose and will eventually fall out, leaving a space for the adult teeth to erupt.

Whilst most first teeth will come out reasonably easily, we do encourage our patients not to twist, pull or even worse, try some of the silly DIY removal techniques you see on the Internet. These dramatic actions may remove the tooth but can also cause damage to the gum. Most first teeth will eventually come out quite naturally but if you find that your child has a particularly problematic one, please contact our Burton dentist surgery for advice.

Wobbly adult teeth

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How to care for your children’s teeth, now and when they eventually return to school

It hasn’t yet been confirmed, but if reports are accurate, it seems that a return to school for year 6 pupils may happen on June 1st. As with coming out of lockdown generally, this is likely to be phased, and, depending on the results, it is likely that other years will follow shortly afterwards.

With this potential start date just under a month away, the team at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice feel that this would be a good time to assess or reassess how you are helping your children to take good care of their teeth and gums during these difficult times.

The current situation

Children are just as much individuals as we adults are. Some children will have been quite disciplined and done their (home) schoolwork, whereas others will have found this more difficult during lockdown. It is understandable that this might be the case, with some children having higher anxiety levels at this time. Parents often respond to this by giving their children more leeway in certain areas, such as what and when they eat. There is no need to feel guilty about this. We all want our children to feel as relaxed and safe as possible and if sweets help with that (within reason), then that is fine.

The reality though is that too many sweets will be harmful to their teeth, whatever our intentions. So, as things appear to be slowly heading towards at least some form of normality, now might be a good time to rein things in a little.

The same applies to their tooth care regime. The chances are that the times when they have brushed their teeth have been a bit more haphazard than normal. As they will have a more rigid routine as they return to school, it may be a good idea to work towards reintroducing regular times for brushing their teeth. This will help them to remember to do it and will ‘roll over’ when they start school again, rather than becoming yet another thing that changes.

On returning to school

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Opportunities for a ‘smile refresh’ as Burton starts to return to “normal”

The Coronavirus seems all consuming now, even covered by our own dental blogs. This isn’t surprising of course, as it dominates the news and also our own daily lives. Conversations by ‘phone probably revolve around it too, as the opportunities to communicate face-to-face are now essentially impossible.

We don’t know how long this lockdown will last, and even when it ends, it may do so gradually. From a dental practice perspective, we don’t know when we will be able to re-open, but we will do so as soon as we are advised by the relevant bodies that it is safe. Hopefully, we will be seeing both old and new patients at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice once again in the not too far off future.

So … where do we go from here?

Self care

Currently, all we can do to help our patients is to encourage you to take good care of your teeth whilst you are staying indoors most of the time. The usual things apply here. Make sure you brush your teeth well twice a day, both morning and night. If your morning routine has changed because you aren’t working or are working from home, make sure you find a new regular time to brush them. Try to add flossing to your regime too if you can. This is a good time to learn how to do it (there are many videos available) and doing so will be of benefit to your oral health.

Try not to eat too many sugary foods either. It is understandable that some of us will turn to ‘comfort foods’ to get us through this time, but try not to overdo it and it also helps to eat these at a time when you will be brushing your teeth soon afterwards.

The next step

Once we get the go ahead, we will be opening our practice again. What is unknown at this time is whether we will be able to go ‘full steam ahead’ and offer all treatments or, perhaps more likely, only be able to offer selected treatments. Hopefully, those that we are allowed to perform will enable us to restore any of our patient’s teeth that have become damaged or are decayed i.e. the more immediate problems.

There will be a number of patients who need treatment but can’t be classed as emergency cases and who we are not allowed to treat now. Even so, problems such as a minor toothache can be quite uncomfortable and, if caused by decay, will only get worse. So even if you have been able to control any pain with painkillers, please come to see us for treatment as soon as we are open. If the pain has become problematic, please call us and we may be able to refer you to an urgent treatment centre locally.

Looking ahead

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A possible link to “lock down” anxiety.

It is understandable that there is a rise in the number of mental health issues at the moment. If the worry about our own health and those around us wasn’t enough, the fact that we are largely having to stay indoors with no option to socialise with our friends does not help. Despite this, it is important that government guidelines are followed for the duration of this virus. We should expect that, at times, restrictions may be relaxed whilst at others they may be increased. Without these controls though, the problem is likely to be more severe.

In today’s Mike Allen Dental blog, we are going to take a look at the potential negative effects your mental health can have on your teeth as well as offering some advice for our Burton patients that we hope will help navigate these difficult times.

How does your mental health affect your teeth?

Anyone who has suffered from even relatively mild depression will tell you that one of the first things to go is their own self care. They may wash less often or wear the same clothes for several days. Equally, routine cleaning habits such as brushing our teeth and flossing may either go out of the window altogether or at least be reduced. Over a period of time, this less effective brushing may result in tooth decay and a need for treatment.

Regarding mental health issues, it is, unsurprisingly, anxiety that appears to be most on the rise. Anxiety can lead to us seeking ways to ‘comfort’ ourselves with one of the most common being comfort eating. In virtually all cases, this is likely to involve foods that are bad for us and often full of fat and sugars. These may taste good and make us feel a little better, but overindulging in these will lead our oral health to worsen. Instead of comfort eating, try to find a relaxation technique that works for you. Examples may include yoga or meditation and you can seek guidance from your GP or help groups which are prominent on the web.

Anxiety can also lead to teeth grinding (bruxism) which often happens when we are asleep and can be difficult to control. It can lead to the wearing down of tooth enamel and even cause teeth to fracture in some instances. Again, relaxation techniques may be helpful in preventing this.

Tips for positive mental health

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Does this rapidly spreading virus have any impact on our oral health?

By the time this blog is posted, there is a possibility that we will be moving to the next stage in the fight against the Coronavirus where large gatherings are banned and some movement restrictions may be in place, perhaps even to the extent that they are in Italy with a total ‘lockdown’.

Information about the virus itself is best left to the experts and we do recommend that our patients follow their advice and ignore some of the fake information that can be seen on social media. However, we are already being asked whether the virus can have a negative impact on our oral health and we will take a look at this in today’s blog by your Burton dental team.

A direct effect?

Firstly, we should say that there is no current information that the virus has any direct impact on our teeth and gums, and as many viruses of this type do, largely attacks the respiratory system. Having said that though, there are a few ways in which it could indirectly have an impact and we will look at those now.

Illness

If you are unfortunate enough to get the virus, or any flu like virus, it is almost inevitable that your oral health will suffer temporarily to some degree. Few of us, when we feel really ill, are likely to cook a healthy meal from scratch and may rely instead on quick and easy foods that can be put in the microwave. Whilst many of these ready meals are better quality than they were historically, many do tend to be higher in sugars than a meal we would cook for ourselves. This includes many savoury meals which have a lot higher sugar content than you might expect. Try to keep an eye on this and eat as healthily as you can.

If we are feeling poorly, there is also a good chance that we will reach for foods that elevate our moods such as ‘comfort foods’. For most people these probably include cakes and chocolate which are very high in sugar and the risks to oral health there are well-established.

Finally, if we are unwell, we may be less likely to brush our teeth for as long or as well as we usually do. Flossing may also go out of the window altogether. Above all, whatever you eat, do try to maintain your regular teeth cleaning habits to help keep your teeth healthy during illness.

Isolation

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Mike Allen Dental discusses the options available when a number of teeth are lost.

Most patients who lose teeth or need to have them extracted at our Burton practice, typcially only have to have one or two removed. There can be occasions though where multiple teeth need to be extracted, but this is usually only the case where long term neglect or significant damage has occurred. Tooth loss to this degree can also occur as a side effect of medical treatment.

All of these situations present the patient with the dilemma of what to do about it, so let’s take a look at some of the options available.

Leaving the odd tooth

In most situations, the team at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice will do all that they can to save a tooth. The situation does arise in multiple tooth loss though, where there may just be one or two teeth remaining on an arch. It is possible to work around the existing teeth, but often it is more effective, and cheaper, to remove the remaining teeth and replace the complete full arch of teeth.

Dentures

Dentures have been widely used for this purpose for many years and have improved in quality, providing a reasonable aesthetic look and restoring some of the function that has been lost. Whether a partial or full denture though, they rarely feel like natural teeth and some patients have issues with stability, particular as time goes on and the shape of the mouth changes slightly. Dentures are also quite fiddly to keep clean and need to be removed from the mouth to do so.

On the positive side, having dentures fitted typically does not require invasive treatment and may be an option for those who are more nervous about visiting the dentist.

Bridges

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Forgotten to buy a gift? Mike Allen’s Dental Practice might have the answer!

Don’t worry. We are sure that if you have forgotten to buy your partner a Valentine’s Day gift, you won’t be the only one. The shops will probably be very busy today with people frantically looking for something to buy, but perhaps finding the same old things on sale. So maybe we can help out a little here.

Rather than the usual flowers or chocolates, why not consider a more original gift and treat them to a cosmetic treatment that will help them to have a nicer and younger looking smile?

Especially if your partner is an ex smoker or if their teeth have become discoloured because of getting older, they will probably appreciate the opportunity to have a great looking smile once again.

Teeth whitening

The most popular and also most affordable treatment that we offer at our Burton dental clinic is the teeth whitening procedure. This is a fast acting treatment that can help to give your partner’s teeth a real boost and enable them to feel more confident in their own smile. It is also a non invasive procedure so if you or your partner have a dental phobia, you don’t have to worry.

We will provide a thorough oral health check before carrying out any treatment. After all, there is little point in having whiter teeth if you have cavities. Providing you receive a clean bill of oral health though, we can start to whiten those discoloured teeth.

First of all, we will take an impression of your teeth. These are used by an external dental laboratory to produce trays that fit over your teeth and into which the whitening ingredient will be placed. Whilst there are similar trays that can be bought over the counter, having these produced specifically for you will ensure a better fit, making them more comfortable and helping to prevent spillage of the whitening gel. This can burn if it comes into contact with the lips and gums, so a good fit  is very important.

When the trays are ready and have been returned to our Burton practice, you will be provided with the gel, along with full instructions. You can then use the trays in the comfort of your own home at a time convenient to you. We will of course, always be available if you have any questions or concerns at all during the treatment period.

You will start to notice a difference in the whiteness of your teeth after approximately one week, with the full benefits being seen at around two weeks. The whiteness achieved will last for quite a long period of time, especially if you avoid staining products, although the treatment will need to be repeated eventually if you want to continue to have whiter looking teeth.

This is not a problem and repeated teeth whitening treatments will cause no damage to your teeth providing it is done correctly by a qualified dentist.

Dental veneers

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Some things should belong to you alone; a toothbrush is one of them!

Hopefully, all patients of Mike Allen’s Dental Practice will own a toothbrush. Whether young or old, our daily brushing, both morning and night is the very bedrock of how we look after our teeth and gums. We will look a little later at what you can do when sharing a toothbrush seems unavoidable, but first, we want to discuss why our Burton patients should avoid sharing their toothbrush with others, however close they are.

Transmission of bacteria and viruses

The most obvious problem of sharing a toothbrush is that we can easily pass on infections and viruses that are carried in the saliva. There may also be minute traces of blood on the toothbrush if the owner has gum disease. This can increase the risk of transmission of not only gingivitis and periodontitis but also other blood borne diseases which could be potentially very serious.

It probably goes without saying that this means that you should never share your toothbrush with a total stranger, but also, we believe, not even with those closest to you. Even if you are confident about your partner’s oral health habits; like most of us, they will come into contact with others at work or on public transport, and there is sometimes no way of knowing if they are coming down with a viral infection. To be on the safe side, don’t share your toothbrush with anyone at all.

Emergency toothbrushes

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This popular tooth replacement method is ideal for older patients who have lost natural teeth.

Some of us might associate cosmetic dentistry with the young and potentially beautiful, but it can be beneficial for all ages. Some cosmetic treatments are just that; they improve the way that you look. Others also have practical implications as well. Dental veneers for example, can be used to help someone have a perfect white smile but they can also be used to help tackle tooth sensitivity.

One of the best known cosmetic treatments that ‘doubles’ as a practical one is dental implant placement. At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we have had many older patients who have had this procedure and have been delighted with the many benefits that they bring. In today’s blog, we take a look at how some of our senior Burton patients could benefit from implants and some of the practicalities involved in having them placed in our later years.

Tooth loss

As we get older, the likelihood of tooth loss becomes more real. Whether by accident or problems that evolve over time, tooth loss is a reality for many older people. Whether this is individual or multiple tooth loss, this can cause a problem and most people will look to replace them, often with dentures.

Dentures are greatly improved from the ones that your grandparents may have worn. They offer a greater degree of comfort and look more natural than their predecessors. Whilst some denture wearers are perfectly happy with them, others sometimes find them uncomfortable or unstable in their mouths. Because of this, more and more older people are looking into dental implants as an alternative.

Are dental implants suitable for older people?

In a nutshell, the answer to the above question is yes, with a few caveats. There is no reason why older people can’t have dental implants and it is often this age group that benefit the most from them.

Not only do dental implants look natural and, once established, offer a greater degree of comfort than dentures, but they are more practical too. Foods that can be a challenge to eat when wearing dentures are not a problem at all for dental implants. In fact, your implants will almost certainly be as strong as your natural teeth and even stronger in some cases.

Implants are also much easier to maintain. You basically treat them as you would your own teeth with regular brushing, flossing and ongoing professional dental care at our Burton clinic.

The caveats

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