Our passion is helping you have a healthy mouth

Dental restorations are more effective than you might imagine; give our team a call.

Ideally, all of our Burton patients would have looked after their teeth well from childhood and need little treatment other than perhaps a small filling or two during their lifetime.

In the real world though, this is almost certainly not true for everybody and a few, at least, may have reached a point in their lives where they feel that their tooth health is on a downwards spiral and that it is too late to do anything other than wait for the inevitable tooth loss and the need for a full set of dentures.

Some people in this situation will have neglected their teeth and almost certainly not been to see a dentist for some time. The longer it has been since you saw a dentist, the more likely it is that you may think that you are beyond help.

The fact is that dental care has advanced a lot in the last decade or so and it is now quite possible that we may be able to restore your teeth much more effectively than you might imagine. Even when teeth do need to be extracted, dentists can now offer a wide range of tooth replacement options to get your smile and mouth function back.

Saving your teeth

To allow us to put an action plan into place to save your teeth, you will off course need to make an appointment. It doesn’t matter how long it has been since you last saw a dentist, the team at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice will not ‘judge’ you but will work with you to help you to restore your teeth and general oral health to a much better condition.

The first step is to have an examination. As you may not have seen a dentist for some time, this is likely to involve x-rays so that we can see what is going on below the gum line. Although some problems may be obvious, those such as root canal infections can only be determined through the use of scans and x-rays.

Unless you are in immediate pain, one of the best places to start is with a thorough clean by our hygienist. This should be an ongoing appointment every six months, but by doing this initially we can start to bring the health of the mouth up and potentially make any additional treatments a little bit easier.

Fillings and extractions

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Caring for this important part of our teeth.

Regular readers of our bi weekly blogs will probably have come across the term ‘dentin’ quite a few times and they may well understand that this is the area of the tooth that is located directly below the protective surface enamel. In today’s Mike Allen’s Dental Practice blog, we are going to look at this part of our teeth in a little more detail and also how we can help to keep it as healthy as possible.

What is dentin?

As mentioned above, it is situated beneath the enamel of our teeth. It is a hard section of a tooth but not as strong as the enamel which is always the first line of protection against many tooth problems such as decay and eventual root canal infections. It is also a yellow colour and is one of the reasons for tooth discolouration as we get older as it darkens over time, beneath the translucent enamel layer.

Around 70% of the dentin material is made up of a mineral called Hydroxyapatite (1). The rest is made up of organic matter (20%) and water (10%).  As you can see, the water content in this region means that it won’t be as hard as enamel.

Within the dentin layer are tiny tube-like structures that we call ‘tubules’. These contain cells and fluids and it is these which can allow us to feel pain when we have a toothache and can also accelerate the advance of tooth decay.

The dentin layer’s role is predominantly to support the enamel, but also enables sensations to be passed from the tooth, via the tubules, to the nerves and subsequently to our brain. It is these sensations that prevent us from biting too hard on harder foods which could potentially break our teeth even when they are healthy.

Tooth sensitivity

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We may reach out for our daily caffeine ‘hit’, but coffee isn’t necessarily our friend!

Most of the staff and patients of Mike Allen’s Dental Practice probably drink coffee at least occasionally. For some people though, it is almost a ritual and to start the day without one might seem next to impossible. Coffee has been around for a very long time and largely is thought to be OK, or even positive, for our health as long as we don’t drink it to excess.

Even taking this into account, we should still stop and consider whether our regular coffee habit  may not be that great for our teeth. That might seem a bit harsh, but here is our reasoning why.

Teeth staining

Whilst tea stains our teeth due to the tannin in it, coffee is a rick, dark beverage, especially when drunk in the form of espressos etc. These stronger forms of coffee can certainly stain our teeth if we drink them very regularly. Dark and discoloured teeth are not harmful in themselves, but they don’t look very nice and most of us would prefer to have our teeth white, particularly for when we smile.

Brushing your teeth obviously helps to remove some of the staining, but if you drink your coffee after your morning brush, there is plenty of time for staining to take effect before you brush them again. A regular ‘scale and polish’ with our dental hygienist will also help to remove some surface staining but where this is not sufficient, you may wish to consider our non invasive teeth whitening procedure.

Sugars

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Calm and happy kids means successful dental visits and a healthier mouth!

Phobias are strange things and it can sometimes be difficult to understand where they have come from. Some phobias are common, such as a fear of flying or even of spiders. Others are definitely more on the ‘weird’ spectrum, including ‘linonophobia’ (a fear of string) and ‘chorophobia’ (a fear of dancing).

One of the most common ones that many people suffer from to varying degrees though is ‘odontophobia’ which, as you may have guessed from the name, is a fear of the dentists.

At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we see our fair share of nervous dental patients from the Burton area. Many are not only afraid of visiting the dentist, but when they do, they often apologise for their anxiety. The thing is that we see lots of people like this, and if you are afraid of having dental treatment, or even a check up, don’t worry, you are most definitely not alone.

There are a number of ‘tactics’ that you can use to reduce your stress levels, but, seeing as it is believed that many phobias start when we are very young, we thought it would be worth looking at how parents can help their children to avoid this problem in the early years.

Deal with your own phobia first

The truth is that, especially early on, children learn much about life from their parents. So, if mum or dad are panicking about their upcoming dental visit, it is hardly surprising that the children also see this as something to avoid if they possibly can. Dental phobia is a problem, and one that can lead to serious oral health issues. For parents whose anxiety is relatively mild, it may be enough to just put on a brave face around the kids. More serious anxiety though may need to be addressed.

There are lots of websites dedicated to dental anxiety solutions and it is worth looking at these to find one that works for you. It may be a case of trial and error but hopefully you will gradually overcome it.

If you are still very anxious about dentists, you may wish to ask a close relative to bring your child when they need to have their teeth checked. A favourite auntie might even make it into a treat for the child. Just make sure that they are not nervous too, and that you have authorised them to be the carer for your child with our team.

Keeping kids relaxed

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Mike Allen looks at the problem of weakened teeth.

As we get older, it is highly likely that we will have had some dental treatment and many cases, it might be quite a significant amount. The most common treatment is the tooth filling, which usually offer a long lasting restoration where cavities have formed.

Although some people have no problems with their restored teeth, others may start to lose confidence in them, not trusting them when eating harder types of food. This might lead us to eat a more restricted diet largely made up of softer foods. It doesn’t have to be this way though, and regular supervision and possibly alternative solutions can help.

Fillings

Dental fillings are strong and many of us will have older amalgam type fillings that were placed many years ago. There may be a lot of truth in the old adage that ‘if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t need fixing’ but while strong, amalgam fillings don’t last forever, over time they can become loose, weaken or crack and may even lead to further decay of the tooth as they age.

The main reason for the additional decay is that amalgam shrinks slightly over time. As it does this, it sometimes leaves a tiny gap between the filling and the rest of the tooth. Bacteria will collect here and decay is very possible.

Providing that you see one of our Burton dentists for a regular examination every six months or so, we will be able to monitor any deterioration of your fillings. If you have been experiencing any sensitivity or discomfort in a filled tooth, please do let us know.  When an amalgam filling does need replacing, you may wish to consider our white dental fillings. These offer not only a better appearance but are strong and adhere better to the tooth than amalgam.

Crowns

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An American company is coming to the UK, apparently offering online orthodontics (braces).

At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we are positively in favour of new technologies working for the benefit of our patients.It can help both accuracy of diagnosis as well as improving outcomes and speeding up procedures. Not all new ideas are necessarily good though, and in today’s blog, we take a look at an American company that is heading to the UK, offering orthodontics online, without the need to see your dentist.

At present, apparently they are opening 9 shops in the UK and no doubt, if these are successful, they will expand. Even if you live nowhere near the shops though, they also offer an ‘at home’ kit which allows them to create your own personalised trays that aim to straighten your teeth without ever having to visit a dental practice.

But is this a good idea?

Some may simply argue that we dentists don’t like competition. The fact though is that we want the best for our patients, many of whom have been attending our Burton dental practice for many many years. Although this online route might seem like a tempting idea to some, it is important to be aware of the potential pitfalls of going down this road.

How does it work?

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Local dentist Mike Allen offers his thoughts on this sometimes underused facility.

From a young age, we are told that going to see the dentist (however much we don’t want to) is essential if we want to have healthy teeth and not suffer from toothache. It is only relatively recently though that patients have also been encouraged to see the hygienist. A growing number of our Burton patients now do so and most would agree that doing this is a very good thing.

At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we have three hygienists, Alison Lowe, Lindsey Reece-Jones and Antonia Kemp, available to see you, underlying the importance that we place on the role that they carry out.

What does a hygienist do?

The role of a hygienist s largely a preventative one. The procedure that they are best known for is the scale and polish. This is a non invasive procedure that is used to remove tartar, the hardened form of plaque that builds up on the teeth and gum line, and which is next to impossible to remove with home brushing, or even flossing.

They are also there in an educational role and to help you to build up your cleaning regimen so that it is as effective as possible. This not only includes advice on brushing and flossing techniques, but also general advice such as that relating to your diet.

Who should see a dental hygienist?

If you ask any dental professional, they will tell you that everybody should see a hygienist regularly. We would agree with that, although certain groups of people may need to see them more regularly than others. Due to illness, medication or simply lifestyle, some patients are more prone to gum disease than others. If not treated, patients can find that they have periodontitis, a particularly serious form of gum disease that can eventually lead to tooth loss.

How often should you see them?

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This is a common area for cavities to form. Burton dentist Peter Reece offers advice on how to avoid it.

Tooth decay is one of the most common dental problems that we see at our practice. It can be caused by a combination of factors including poor teeth cleaning and poor diet. It can occur on any of your teeth, although it is more common on those at the rear which some find more difficult to keep clean.

When it does occur, fillings, including white, cosmetic versions, are available at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice here in Burton to restore the tooth. Given that decay is largely a preventable issue though, we would prefer not to have to do this as often as we do.

Below, we offer some advice to our Burton patients to help them eliminate, or at least reduce, the need for fillings for tooth decay. Whilst this is general advice, it does include specifics about decay that starts between the teeth, which is common but very preventable.

Mind what you eat and drink

This is standard dental advice but always worth repeating. What you put into your mouth will have an effect on your teeth and gums. If you have a diet that is high in sugars then the risk of tooth decay is quite high. Chewy and sticky sugary foods especially can become stuck to the teeth and remain there for long periods of time. Remember that there are lots of sugars in savory foods too.

Eaten in excess, acidic foods, including ‘healthy’ foods such as citric fruits will also wear away the enamel on your teeth, making them more vulnerable to tooth decay. One way to counter this, to some degree, is to finish each meal with a small amount of cheese as this helps to neutralise the acid and provide a more balanced PH level in your mouth. Clearly this isn’t always practical, but it’s an interesting and potentially useful food fact nonetheless.

Try to avoid fizzy sugary drinks altogether. If you must drink them, try to do so through a straw so that tooth harming liquid bypasses the front teeth entirely. Sugar-free alternatives are now widely available.

Brush your teeth well

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How common illnesses like colds and flu can have a detrimental effect on your teeth.

Although dosing up on vitamin C, washing your hands frequently and avoiding people that you know have a cold, might help to keep down the number of colds we get each year, the virus usually manages to find a way to catch up with us at some point. When this happens, we tend to feel under the weather and lethargic and less bothered perhaps, about the way we take care of ourselves.

Colds usually only last a few days, but flus and some other illnesses can last much longer. It is especially when we have these latter illnesses that our oral health care can sometimes take a back seat.

Does the virus attack our teeth?

The answer to this is no, not directly. As far as we are aware, the cold and flu virus doesn’t have a direct effect on our teeth or gums. Indirectly though, feeling ill and not at our best can create conditions that do mean a likely deterioration in the health of both teeth and gums.

Our Burton dental team have identified a number of ways in which this can happen.

Dehydration

It used to be said that drinking plenty of water would flush the virus from the body. This is now largely thought not to be true. What is true is that when we are ill, we do tend to  suffer from dehydration, and this definitely can have a negative effect on our oral health.

A healthy saliva flow helps to flush both food particles and bacteria from the teeth and gums. It also helps to maintain a less acidic environment too. Too much acidity will harm the enamel on our teeth and dehydration also means that gum disease is much more likely. To this end, we recommend that all patients of Mike Allen’s Dental Practice try to drink water when they are ill, however much they might not feel like doing so.

Sickness

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How poor oral health care plays a role in us having ‘smelly breath’.

The team of Burton On Trent dentists at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice quite frequently treat patients who have bad breath during their appointments.  It’s a real concern for some patients and it’s far from uncommon. However, we are here to help and there is no need to feel embarrassed.

Whilst most of us suffer from morning breath to some extent or another, and it’s a common issue, there’s no reason why this can’t be resolved with a better oral hygiene routine and regular check-ups with our Staffordshire dentists, along with ongoing cleaning by our hygienist every six months or so.

The information below should help to ease the worries of our patients and blog readers, whilst also providing simple and practical help with halitosis.

What are the main causes of bad breath?

The technical term for bad breath is halitosis, and there are a number of causes of it, including:

Food – the breakdown of food we eat increases bacteria levels and can cause odours to develop.

Tobacco – smoking causes unpleasant odours in the mouth, leading to bad breath issues.

Poor oral hygiene – brushing teeth twice a day, with thorough flossing and regular check-ups, are all essential in reducing halitosis-related problems.

Dry mouth – taking certain medications, for example, can cause a dry mouth which is a contributing factor for smelly breath in certain people.

Infections – tooth, gum, throat, nose and mouth infections can all contribute to an increase in poor breath quality.

Is there a link between halitosis and gum disease?

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