Our passion is helping you have a healthy mouth

Different Types Of Dental Fillings

A look at the filling options that are available in modern dental care.

One of the most common procedures that we carry out at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, and probably every other practice in the UK, is a filling. These can vary in size from a very small one to those used for large cavities in cases where decay has been allowed to advance. The procedure is usually carried out using a local anaesthetic and is generally a relatively short one.

There are many different types of fillings that are now available for us to use. These vary in qualities such as appearance, as well as the level of strength that they offer. For this reason, not all types of fillings are suitable for every situation.

In this blog, we will take a look at the options that are available for our Burton patients when they are in need of a filling.

Amalgam

These are perhaps the best known type of filling, and, until relatively recently, were the only viable option, especially for larger fillings. The advantage of this type of material is that it is very strong, and can be used on even very large fillings. It is also hard wearing and will withstand a great deal of stress.

It is not without its ‘faults’ though. Amalgam is made from a combination of metals, and accordingly, has a metallic appearance that is very dark in colour. This means that amalgam fillings are very visible, especially if used on the teeth that show when we smile. Over time, amalgam fillings can also shrink a little. This can leave tiny gaps between the filling and the natural tooth. Where there is a gap, bacteria are able to enter, and further decay is quite possible. Amalgam also sometimes requires more of the natural tooth to be removed than is the case with some other alternatives. There are also some concerns about the mercury component used in amalgam but the dental authorities have deemed it safe to use other than for a few categories of patients.

Composite/White fillings

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Have You Had Your Regular Dental Check-up?

A reminder to patients who may have had to cancel an appointment.

Most patients of Mike Allen’s Dental Practice are fully aware of the importance of their six monthly dental examinations. Whilst most do keep to this routine, there will always be instances when someone has to cancel or rearrange because something else crops up. We do understand this and will try to accommodate you with another suitable appointment when you ring to cancel. But please do try to give us at least 48 hours notice, where possible.

Occasionally, patients are unable to commit to a new appointment date due to circumstances out of their control, and may not know their availability for a few weeks. This often leads to them telling us that they will call us in a few weeks time to rearrange, once things are more settled. Unfortunately, not everyone does so, perhaps forgetting, and this can sometimes lead to a very long period of time without seeing one of our Burton dentists for a routine dental examination.

A gradual decline

If a major problem, such as a broken tooth, arises during this time, then this is likely to jolt the person into action, probably calling the dentist for an emergency appointment. For most people though, a slow and gradual decline in their oral health is more likely. This often means that no obvious problems will be evident and gives them no cause to be reminded that they need to see a dentist.

Tooth decay

A tooth does not suddenly develop a large cavity, but typically starts with a very tiny amount of decay. With good home oral care, its development can be slowed down, but it will eventually become larger and may eventually lead to a severe toothache. By this stage, a large filling or even an extraction may be the only treatment possible. Root canal infections may also occur, leading to the need for root canal surgery.

Gum diseases

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Beating Tooth Sensitivity

If eating or drinking hot or cold food and drinks makes you wince in pain, Mike Allen Dental can help.

If you have strong healthy teeth, then you should be able to consume food or drink at any reasonable temperature. Sadly, not everybody has teeth in good condition and some people find eating and drinking certain things to be quite uncomfortable, to the point that even a nice cup of tea can be challenging.

There are a number of potential reasons for tooth sensitivity including where teeth have been damaged or are decayed. Where this is the case, a filling will probably be needed; possibly using a natural tooth coloured filling such as those we are pleased to provide at our Burton practice. For many people though, the problem exists due to the wearing down of the enamel on their teeth over time.

What causes enamel erosion?

Some enamel erosion can occur if you are a habitual teeth grinder. Especially where teeth overlap, it is quite possible that this habit will have worn down your teeth to some extent. For the majority of people though, enamel erosion is likely to have been caused through a diet high in acidic foods and drinks. Citrus fruits and fizzy drinks are some of the worst culprits for this and can be highly damaging, especially if you consume them regularly. Reducing your intake of these food and drink items should help you to keep tooth enamel healthy for much longer.

It is also possible to wear down the enamel through excessive brushing, so don’t ‘scrub’ your teeth hard, but brush them gently. A good way to learn how to do this, and other methods for looking after your teeth, is to discuss this on a one-to-one basis with the oral hygienist at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice.

Solutions

Because, when enamel is lost, it exposes the more porous dentin layer underneath it to the extremes of temperatures, you will almost certainly notice more sensitivity. The exposure of the dentin layer allows easier access to the nerves within the tooth roots. To prevent this discomfort, there are two possible solutions you may wish to try.

Toothpastes for sensitive teeth

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Tooth Restoration In Cases Of Significant Damage Or Decay

A look at how dental crowns are widely used at our Burton Practice

With our modern diet being so high in sugars, including many ‘hidden ones’, it is especially important that we all take good care to keep our teeth clean and healthy. Failure to do so is likely to result in a number of problems that will need to be treated by a dentist. Although some teeth will require extraction, especially where there is long-term neglect, in most cases, restoration is the first thing we check in order to try to save the tooth.

We have mentioned before the importance of taking prompt action to see a dentist as soon as you notice a problem. By doing so, your tooth may be restored using a relatively minor treatment, such as a filling. Where a problem is ignored though, the decay may have become too extensive for a filling to provide the tooth with sufficient strength. There may also be scenarios where a tooth is badly broken by accident. In situations like these, the use of a dental crown is one of the most frequently used solutions to restore the tooth.

Tooth decay

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria entering the inner part of the tooth. This can occur when the enamel of our teeth become compromised through cracks, chips or enamel erosion caused by an acidic diet or wearing of the teeth through excessive brushing. Decay can spread quite quickly, and, if you don’t act soon enough, too much of the natural tooth may be affected for a filling to be practical and a crown may need to be used instead.

For a crown to be fitted to a decaying tooth, the infected material needs to be removed first of all. It may also be necessary to remove some of the healthy tooth too, in order to shape it so that the crown can be securely attached. Once fitted though, a crown will give the tooth a good level of strength. You should remember to keep your crown clean, along with the remaining natural tooth, as any further decay of the natural tooth may cause the bond between the tooth and crown to weaken.

Broken Tooth

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Preparing Your Child For Their First Dental Appointment

A child’s first appointment may determine how they feel about visiting the dentist in the future.

We have mentioned in previous blogs, that ideally you should take your children to a dentist at around one year old for their first visit. Of course, life often gets in the way, and with the best will in the world this sometimes doesn’t happen. Especially if your children have no apparent problems with their teeth, it is quite possible that their first appointment may be a year or so later. Providing that you have made sure that they have cleaned their teeth well, and not eaten too many sweets, with a little luck treatment may not be necessary at this stage. However, please try to visit as near to the age of one year old as possible.

Even where the likelihood of treatment is small when a child first visits the dentist, this doesn’t mean that they won’t be nervous. Some children may have seen cartoons or even heard adults talk about how they hate seeing a dentist. Children often pick up on things that we don’t realise, and it is quite easy to pass on our dental phobia to our children without even realising.

The first visit

Even if you are later than intended in bringing your child to our Burton practice, it is important that you do so as soon as possible. Early intervention, where needed, can make a big difference to their oral health and help to prevent future problems. Once you have got into a routine of bringing your children to us, we also recommend that you see our dental hygienist on an ongoing basis for non invasive teeth cleaning. This is also a great opportunity for children to learn how to look after their teeth and gums in a friendly environment.

But first, you need to prepare your child for their first ever visit to Mike Allen’s Dental Practice.

Some tips for parents

As adults, we understand about what happens during a dental visit. Your child will not. Below are some tips which might help them to feel more at ease with the idea of their first dental visit.

Picture books

You should be able to find some child friendly books in the style of ‘Your first visit to the dentist’. You can use these to read to them and point out the various objects in the pictures, explaining what they are. Be prepared to answer any questions that they might have to put them at ease. You may find that, in doing so, you will also answer some of the ‘triggers’ that may be causing your own dental anxieties too.

Bring a toy

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Oral Cancer, Periodontitis And Diabetes

Associate Dentist, Peter Reece, explains why diabetics should pay particular attention to their oral health

It goes without saying that we believe that all of our Burton patients should pay close attention to their oral health, but some groups are at a higher risk of problems than others. One of these high risk groups are diabetics. With just under 4 million diabetics in the UK, and with figures expected to hit 5 million by 2025 (1), this is a sizeable portion of the UK population who are especially prone to some serious, and potentially life threatening, oral health issues.

Naturally, anyone living with diabetes will have a number of health issues to be concerned about, and it may be tempting to consider that dental care is not one of the most important ones. Recent research though, has shown that this is definitely not the case.

Oral cancers

Research just published in Diabetologia has noted that women have a 13% higher risk of oral cancer if they are also diabetic. Whilst diabetes is not the only contributing factor to this potentially fatal disease, a 13% rise is certainly something to take seriously. If you have diabetes and also smoke or drink regularly, the risks are even greater.

So, what can you do to prevent, or at least, reduce the chances of contracting this disease? The most obvious way is to stop smoking and cutting down on your alcohol intake. This will, at least, reduce risks that you are largely in control of. Making sure that you take any medication and following any other advice provided by your GP, will also play an important role in managing your diabetes.

It is also critical that you see one of the dentists at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, for an oral health check up, on a regular basis. For most patients, this is usually every six months, but for diabetics, we recommend that these are more frequent. Not only will this help to keep other dental problems under control, but will also enable us to detect any potential indicators of mouth cancer at an early stage. Currently, the five year survival rate for mouth cancer is approximately 50%. If the disease is detected and treated early though, this then rises to 90% (2). It is not just fatalities that can be avoided though; Quality of life will be improved if the cancer is detected and treated earlier. Surgery to treat oral cancers may cause some facial disfigurement, and the sooner the cancer is treated, the less extensive this effect should be.

Periodontitis

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Replacing Lost Teeth With Dental Implants

Dr Mike Allen gives a dentist’s perspective of this increasingly popular solution.

Much has been written in the press, about the benefits of dental implant placement. Most of this has been positive, although there have also been a few negative reports as with any treatment. Often, these originate from when the implants were placed overseas at a less than experienced practice or where short cuts were taken.

From the point of view of a dentist, whilst implant placement is a sophisticated and exact procedure, it does offer the patient many benefits which alternatives, such as dentures, simply don’t.

Are implants for everyone?

Whilst we are able to place dental implants for almost any patient, it is worth considering a couple of cases where this may be more of a challenge, and where patients may wish to consider another option.

Lack of bone – If a tooth has been lost for a lengthy period of time, the bone that would previously have supported the tooth will almost certainly have been reabsorbed by the body, at least partially. As this would mean that there may be insufficient bone to hold an implant in place, this means that an implant cannot be used immediately. Fortunately we can build up the bone using bone augmentation techniques. This however, does add significantly to the total treatment time, as well as the cost. We will discuss this with you during your consultation at our Burton dental practice to allow you to make an informed choice which tooth replacement route you wish to take.

Nervous patients – The thought of a dentist inserting a titanium ‘screw’ into the jawbone can be too much for some nervous dental patients. The reality is that this should be no more uncomfortable than some other invasive procedures; but, as with most concerns of this nature, it is the thought, rather than the reality, that can be so overwhelming. We do believe that implants are the best option where possible though, and would encourage even nervous dental patients to talk to us about the procedure, rather than relying on sometimes incorrect media information.

A little about the procedure

Discussions about the procedure are best done on a face to face basis when you have your initial consultation at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice. For those of you who know very little about them though, this is a very brief description below:

A dental implant is a titanium screw like object which acts to replace the root of a tooth. This is placed into the patients jawbone and is then allowed to bond with it for a period of approximately 3 months. Once this time has passed, the implant will be firmly embedded and will not move at all. To this we add an abutment, and finally, a custom made crown will be attached to complete the replacement tooth.

All implant dentists at our Burton practice are fully trained, and, combined with the use of modern equipment, we are confident that patients will be happy with their new replacement tooth.

The advantages of dental implants

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Look After Your Gums – It Really Pays Off!

Dental hygienist, Alison Lowe, looks at why you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of healthy gums.

If you take a look at the team page on Mike Allen’s Dental Practice website, you will see that there are currently three dental hygienists within the practice. This is because we firmly believe that a preventive oral care strategy will pay dividends for our Burton patients.

Generally speaking, most people who see a dentist, will do so on a fairly regular basis. Hygienist appointments however, may be a little more sporadic, with some people perhaps never even seeing a hygienist at all. In our view, and that of the dental profession in general, this is something that should be encouraged, and here are just a few reasons why.

Gum disease

Periodontitis especially, is a serious problem that causes not only gum problems, but also causes degradation of the supportive bone tissue. As the bone deteriorates, the tooth supported by it will become loose. This lack of stability can make eating difficult and uncomfortable, and, if not treated successfully, there is every possibility that the tooth will eventually fall out.

Both periodontitis and its earlier stage, gingivitis, can cause quite a lot of discomfort, with sore, inflamed and bleeding gums amongst other things.

Halitosis treatment

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The Perils Of DIY Dentistry!

Your teeth are important, use a dental professional.

Taking responsibility for looking after our own teeth and gums is important. Daily cleaning and flossing are essential if you want to avoid common problems like decay and gum disease. When it comes to having treatment though, the expertise required should not be underestimated, and even the most straightforward procedures should be carried out by one of our Burton dentists.

Unfortunately, it does seem that some people are taking matters into their own hands and are attempting to treat themselves, sometimes even for more advanced treatments like teeth straightening! Of course this is a very bad idea and below we look at some of the most common examples of DIY dentistry that can go horribly wrong.

Teeth whitening

Anybody who has searched the internet for ways to whiten their teeth at home, will have found millions of results. Many of these are duplicated, leaving perhaps a few dozen ideas. These include some very strange ones such as using strawberries to whiten your teeth, to the downright dangerous ones involving household bleach. The latter especially should be avoided and could cause very serious injuries or even worse. Most DIY teeth whitening treatments though fall into the categories of ‘do not work’ or ‘may potentially cause serious damage’. Many use natural ingredients that may appear safe; lemon juice being a classic example. Unfortunately, even seemingly innocent ingredients like this can strip the enamel from your teeth, causing irreparable damage.

Replacing detached restorations

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Teeth Whitening For Older Patients In Burton on Trent

Why age should not prevent having nicer looking teeth

Cosmetic dentistry is often associated with younger people looking to perfect their smile. Whilst this group may be more likely to have cosmetic treatments, this does not mean that older people should feel excluded. Indeed, most cosmetic dental procedures offer significant benefits to older people whose teeth may be in poor condition.

Aside from any functional benefits that a treatment provides, older patients are increasingly seeking aesthetic improvements to their teeth as well. With people living and socialising for longer than they used to do, this probably isn’t surprising.

Teeth whitening

One inevitable result of becoming older is that our teeth lose the sparkle that they once had. Some of this may be due to consumption of tooth staining food and drinks, but it is also inevitable that the dentin layer of our teeth, which lies below the enamel surface, will become darker too. As this happens, it increasingly shows through the enamel layer and can make our teeth look quite dull and yellow in colour.

Although there are teeth whitening toothpastes available, these will have little or no effect on this problem and you will need to seek help from the cosmetic dental team at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice for a better solution.

Whiter teeth for older people

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