Our passion is helping you have a healthy mouth

Children And Dental Phobia

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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Do You Trust Your Teeth?

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.


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.


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Straighter Teeth Without Seeing A Dentist?

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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How Often Should You See A Dental Hygienist?

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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Preventing Decay Between Your Teeth

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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What Happens To Your Teeth When You Become Ill?

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.


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.


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What Causes Morning Breath, And Bad Breath During The Rest Of The Day?

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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Three Types Of Anxiety That Can Affect Dental Patients

Some tips for our Burton patients who suffer from this relatively common problem.

Stress is increasingly common in our society. Although we may live a relatively privileged life in the West compared to some parts of the world, there are still many things that can happen in our lives which can lead to an increase in stress. If this is not managed correctly, it can lead to health issues, and, from our perspective, can also have an effect on your oral health.

In today’s blog then, the team at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice take a look at three common types of anxiety that can have an impact on dental issues.

Dental anxiety

This is the most common and most obvious type of anxiety that can have a really significant impact on a patient’s oral health. Most people probably have some degree of stress when a dental visit is due, but for most people, this is relatively low level and does not prevent them from attending their appointment. For these people, providing that they look after their teeth correctly at home, any dental issues are likely to be relatively minimal.

Not everyone is so fortunate though. Some people find the idea of visiting the dentist to be extremely stressful and may even bring on panic attacks. The problem is that taking the ‘easy’ option and not seeing a dentist will only make things worse when you finally have no other option, perhaps as an emergency appointment due to severe toothache, for example.

Our Burton dentists do understand patient’s concerns about visiting the dentist and be assured that some dentists are none too keen to have a dental procedure performed either. The reality is though, that without regular professional supervision, your oral health will suffer. If you have significant anxiety about seeing a dentist, please talk to our friendly team who will do everything that they can to help you to relax and have any necessary treatment.

Smile anxiety

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What Causes Plaque And Tartar To Build Up On Our Teeth?

Burton dental hygienist, Alison Lowe, looks at the fundamentals of good oral care.

As patients, most people probably focus on the condition of their teeth when it comes to their oral health care. This is more likely to be the case if they have experienced a bad toothache or two in the past. There is no doubt that no one wants to have tooth pain, which can be very severe indeed, and obviously, no one wants to lose their teeth.

This is all well and good, and anything that encourages people to brush their teeth properly is only to be encouraged. There is another good reason why people should pay special attention when brushing though, and that is to control the buildup of plaque and tartar, not only on the teeth, but on the gum line too.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky film that collects on the teeth and gums. It is made up of millions of bacteria. Not all of these are necessarily harmful, but some certainly are. If not controlled, over time these will not only cause enamel erosion, and potentially tooth decay, but potentially also gingivitis and even periodontitis, both forms of gum disease.

Plaque should not be confused with tartar. Plaque can largely be controlled with diligent brushing and flossing. Over time however, a hardened form of plaque called tartar builds up which causes a rough surface which attracts further bacterial and mineral build-up. This can only be removed by a hygienist cleaning known as a ‘scale and polish’ here at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice in Burton.

What causes plaque build up?

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Mouth Cancer In The UK – A Report

Burton dentist, Mike Allen, looks at the conclusions of a new report.

The Oral Health Foundation has very recently put out a new report entitled ‘State Of Mouth Cancer UK Report 2018/19. You can download the PDF version here if you wish to do so. Mouth cancer is a very serious issue and one that that this report indicates to be growing.

We have touched on this topic in previous blogs on the Mike Allen’s Dental Practice website, but, with this new report, we feel that it is worth looking at some of the key recent conclusions and then addressing how our practice can help patients minimise their own personal risk of oral cancer.

What does the report say?

The report states that there has been an increase in the number of new cases of mouth cancer each year in the UK of 49% within the last decade, and 135% when compared with 20 years ago. The number of new cases now being reported per year is 8,302.

Over half (56%) of mouth cancers occur either on the tongue or the tonsils.

Last year, there were 2,722 deaths of UK citizens linked to oral cancer.

Depending on the location of the cancer and how early it is detected and treated, the ten year survival rate is currently between 19% and 58%.

88% of adults in the UK are now aware of oral cancer. This is positive news, although only 8% were confident in their knowledge of this serious oral health issue. More bad news is that three quarters of this group did not know what the major symptoms and signs of it were. Generally, overall awareness of this issue remains far too low.

Key challenges to improving oral health

Although there is now more information available about oral cancer, it appears that much more work needs to be done to ensure that people have the information that they need, and that they know how to act upon it. This needs to be propagated at national level, perhaps with increased use of social media, and also in dental practices like our own. Discussions need to take place about lifestyle choices, and especially our drinking and smoking habits.

Education and preventative measures around HPV are also important, with vaccinations playing a potentially major role in reducing the risks caused by this virus.

What can our Burton practice do to help?

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