Our passion is helping you have a healthy mouth

Renewed optimism for 2021 in Burton on Trent?

It may, for some of us, feel that lockdowns and restrictions on our lives are becoming a permanent feature; although the need for them at the moment is clear. Even in the past when restrictions were lifted to a degree, things seemed to rapidly take a turn for the worse and we ended up back where we started. This latest lockdown may feel especially stressful for some people, especially in this grey and wet weather which deters us from getting outside for some fresh air.

It is a trying time for sure, but there are signs of hope. The vaccination roll out seems to be going reasonably well, and even if there are a few drawbacks along the way, we should hopefully expect things to start to improve by the spring or summer of this year. Of course, it is over optimistic to expect things to be completely normal but with a little care, we should all be able to start living our lives again.

When this time arrives, what better way to greet it than with a brighter, whiter smile.

Sprucing up for spring with cosmetic dentistry

It might seem a long way off at the moment as we look out onto another rainy day, but in a few months, the sun will be out more and flowers and buds starting to come through. This is often a time when we start to think about a new set of clothes and look at general ways to give our lives a bit of a ‘kick start’ for the year. At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, it is often around this time of year when we start to see more patients coming to us for cosmetic dental treatments to improve their smile. Whilst some of these treatments offer an almost immediate result, some are better started a little earlier to allow time for them to work fully.

Let us take a look then, at some of the treatments available at our Burton dental clinic that can help you have a nicer smile with more attractive teeth. We also offer some guidance on how long these take to work so that you can plan your treatments accordingly.

Dental braces

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Your Burton dentists offer some food for thought during the current lockdown

On the 4th January, the inevitable happened and we were told, once again, that we were going into lockdown. This is a similar one to the first lockdown and is certainly stricter than the previous Tier 4 restrictions. Most of us would agree that however unpleasant this lockdown is, it is essential to control the rapid increase in cases and deaths from Covid-19 that we have seen recently.

We don’t know yet how long this will last, but some commentators believe that it will continue possibly into March, with restrictions being eased more gradually than before. One big difference between the first lockdown and this one though, is that dental practices are allowed to continue treating patients and Mike Allen’s Dental Practice will be open for patient appointments as we have been since we re-opened in June.

We hope that patients understand that we are still having to implement a lot of restrictions due to Covid, and that means we are unable to see as many patients as before this all started. Your oral health is important though and we are doing our best to ensure that essential dental care is carried out as quickly as possible.

Daily oral care

We have covered much of this in previous blogs but it is always worth reiterating that you have a lot of control over the health of your teeth and gums. Your lifestyle choices and the care that you take in cleaning your teeth and gums will go a long way to avoiding most dental problems. This doesn’t mean that they won’t necessarily occur though and professional care is still important.

During lockdown, do try to avoid eating too much sugar, and make sure that you clean your teeth well, both morning and night. This is also a good time to introduce flossing to your daily routine if you don’t already do so.

Essential and emergency dental treatment

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A few festive suggestions to help you look after your teeth and gums in the coming weeks

As this will probably be our last blog until 2021, we thought that we would use it to help you get through the festive season, keeping your teeth and gums in good health. For many of us, this will probably be a completely different Christmas to the ones we have been used to, with gatherings being much smaller or even cancelled altogether. Despite this, it is quite likely that some of us will compensate for what has been a pretty horrible year, with a major ‘blow out’ of festive food and fun.

We are not expecting our Burton patients to be ‘angels’ and we know that more sweets, chocolates, alcohol etc will be consumed in the coming weeks than would normally be the case. The fact is though, that no one wants to spend the festive season nursing a toothache or a damaged tooth.

With that in mind, here are some top festive tips from the team at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice to help you keep your teeth healthy over Christmas and the New Year.

Maintain your teeth cleaning regime

Most of us hopefully brush our teeth twice a day without really giving it a second thought. It has long been a routine which we keep to. Christmas can be quite a disruptive period though, especially if you have children, and it is quite possible that our usual routine quickly goes out of the window.

Although this is understandable, it is important that we do not skip our teeth cleaning routine. Whilst the morning brushing may not pose too many problems, although you may forget in the excitement of opening your presents of course! The evening brushing is likely to be more vulnerable as we become tired after a long day of cooking, entertaining etc and we may feel too tired to brush our teeth and go to bed without having done so. As you will know from our  previous blogs, going to sleep with your teeth coated in sugar is a very bad idea and a recipe for disasters including tooth decay and gum disease.

However tired you are, make sure to give your teeth the usual two minute brushing just before you go to bed, and no sneaking that last chocolate afterwards!  Also, do try to floss as well. This is a great way of removing pieces of food that have become trapped between your teeth.

Go steady with the chocolates

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A Burton dental hygienist looks at the pros and cons of these oral health accessories

There has recently been an increase in TV advertisements for toothpastes and other products that target gum disease. This is a positive move as it will hopefully make people more aware of how serious gum disease can potentially be. As a dental hygienist at Mike Allen’s, my role is to help our patients have healthy gums, both by professionally cleaning them and offering advice on how they can better take care of them at home.

One of the main pieces of advice we give to those patients who don’t already do so is to use dental floss. It is then a very common response to be told that they have tried and couldn’t do it or found it difficult and gave up. Some have tried alternative methods such as interdental sticks or waterpiks and found these easier to use.

Given that there are now alternatives to dental floss, we thought that we would take a look at these and see how they compared to traditional floss.

Dental floss

Before we look at the alternatives, it is worth discussing dental floss. Most local dentists and hygienists will still recommend that you use this as the first choice. It is a traditional and long standing method that is very effective if used correctly. It is cheap and very flexible for getting into those difficult spaces. Given its low cost, we do recommend that you try this first of all and we are always happy to show you how to do so if you find it a little difficult. A little patience may be required but once you have mastered it, cleaning between your teeth with floss should only take a few minutes each day.

Interdental sticks

Traditionally called ‘toothpicks’ and not to be confused with interdental brushes which we will look at in a minute. These are traditionally made from wood and are a little like cocktail sticks, with a pointed end to make it easier to get between the teeth.

They have their uses in that they can be taken out with you if you are going to a restaurant and can help to remove larger pieces of food that get trapped between the teeth and, perhaps, look unsightly. By and large though, they are limited in effectiveness as they will not remove smaller pieces as well as other methods. The pointed end also means that there is a risk of damaging the gum and you may also push small pieces of food beneath the gum line rather than removing them. So please take care.

Interdental brushes

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With implants gradually replacing dentures, we take a look at why they are well-worth considering

At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we have been supplying dentures for our patients for over 30 years. This has been the long standing method of replacing missing teeth, along with bridges, and has provided an acceptable solution for many. However, few people would argue though that dentures feel as natural or are as practical and convenient as your own natural teeth. Given that it is not currently possible to grow a new tooth, it probably comes as no surprise then, that an alternative was sought for many years before finally being discovered in the 1960s.

This new discovery was dental implants. Although not widely available until relatively recently, they are becoming increasingly popular with patients around the world, and for very good reasons.  Our Burton dental clinic is pleased to offer them, both for replacing individual missing teeth and where a full arch of missing teeth needs to be replaced.

What is a dental implant?

Before we look at the advantages of implants, it is worth a brief recap about what they are. The implant itself is a screw-like object that is placed into the jawbone. This then bonds securely with the bone, providing a secure artificial tooth root. An abutment is then used to attach a dental crown to the implant. It is a relatively simple idea that does require a sophisticated, but highly successful, procedure.

Let us take a look then at some of the main reasons why dental implants have an advantage over dentures.

Strength and stability

Although denture wearers are often satisfied with their appearance, it is in the areas of strength and stability that dentures sometimes let people down. Because they sit on top of the gums, they are less stable than a natural tooth, even with the use of denture adhesive. This means that when you bite harder foods especially, the dentures can start to move around. For this reason, many denture wearers are careful about what they eat, potentially limiting the enjoyment of eating out with friends or other social occasions.

Less commonly, but it does happen, dentures can become loose during a conversation and start to move around in the mouth, or even fall out. This can be highly embarrassing for the person concerned.

With dental implants being secured by the artificial tooth root, you will experience neither of the above situations, meaning that you can eat comfortably and without worrying about them working loose.

Easy to care for

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Our Burton practice remains open during the current restrictions

Well, it’s fair to say that our last blog didn’t age that well. A few days after announcing a tier system, here we are again, back in a full national lockdown, except that this time, there are a number of differences with some sectors remaining open. Whilst much attention has been given to schools and universities being allowed to open, the good news for patients of Mike Allen’s Dental Practice is that this time around, dentists are staying open as well.

This is very good news as the last thing that any dentist wanted was to see the backlog of appointments that we are working through as fast as we can, lengthen again. A lot of things seem to have been learned from the first lockdown, including lack of access to care potentially harming the nation’s health and wellbeing.

Improved safety protocols

One important factor in dental practices remaining open is the additional protection that has been put into place for both staff and patients. With the addition of PPE, social distancing, hand sanitation stations and fallow time between patients for additional cleaning, dental clinics are safe environments for our patients.

Naturally, not all risks can be entirely eliminated and we all have a role to play in keeping ourselves and others safe. For example, if you are feeling unwell when your appointment is due, please don’t risk it thinking that you are ‘probably’ OK. Just one case could spread very quickly and affect both staff and patients. If you are unsure, please be on the safe side and cancel your appointment and get tested. We do appreciate our patients following these guidelines and we will do all that we can to re-arrange a prompt appointment when you are clear again.

Could dentists close later on?

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Dentist Mike Allen looks at possible implications for dentists

At the time of writing, Burton upon Trent has a relatively low number of new cases of Covid-19. Like many other places though, this could quite easily rise and there will, inevitably, be changes that we have to make to the way that we live in order to keep the numbers down and to make sure that the hospitals are not overwhelmed. It isn’t an easy time for any of us and we hope that our patients are taking care to look after themselves and others by abiding by any new guidelines that are introduced.

There has been some concern amongst dentists (and patients) including those at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice that we could see another enforced closure of practices like we did in the initial lockdown period. In order to assess the risk of this, we look at some of the issues below.

Medium tier

First, let’s look at where we are now and hope that with care and a sensible approach we can stay in this tier or even improve on it. Currently, there is no talk of practices closing at this level. The restrictions on our life at this level are not too severe and we can continue to work and to socialise to some degree. Although not ideal, it does at least mean that we can live a ‘normal’ life up to a point.

What happens if we end up on a higher tier?

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Why dentists are seeing more cases of cracked and damaged teeth due to stress

A report in the Independent has recently suggested that dentists in the USA are seeing a greatly increased number of patients coming to them with cracked or chipped teeth. Much of this is thought to be due to stress related to the Covid-19 situation. The same can probably be said of the UK, and if, as it seems, the number of cases are starting to get significantly higher again, this is probably only likely to get worse before it gets better.

In today’s Mike Allen dental blog, we will take a look at the damage that stress can do to your teeth (and your gums) but also look at ways you might be able to reduce it and methods of restoring your teeth when damage has occurred.

Stress – a growing problem

Stress can occur for many reasons, some of them personal and, to a large degree, out of our control. Some cases, such as when caused by a bad relationship, can improve when it ends. Others may continue for longer and may be related to work or our health. Today, of course, there are undoubtedly a lot of people that have seen a rise in anxiety due to the current global pandemic. With cases now dramatically rising, many of us will already have noticed that we are becoming more stressed again, especially those who may be under additional restrictions to help stop the spread of the virus.

Whilst we all wish that the virus would just go away so that we can get on with our lives, it is likely to be around for some time yet and planning ways to reduce our stress levels, especially over the colder winter months, will benefit our mental well being as well as physical. It will also help to prevent at least some harm to our teeth too.

Damage caused by stress

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Widely advertised on social media, we take a look at this relatively new ‘innovation’

If you are on social media and have ever looked into any dental issues online, there is a very good chance that you will recently have noticed a lot of advertisements promoting either snap on veneers or snap on dentures as they are also sometimes known. A quick glance at the adverts can make them look appealing; after all, who wouldn’t want a convenient and attractive new smile. But is it really this simple and should patients of Mike Allen’s Dental Practice be tempted?

Because we can see the attraction of these for patients looking for a ‘quick and easy fix’, we thought that we would dig a little deeper and look at any benefits that these might offer, but also potential pitfalls which are unlikely to be mentioned in the adverts.

What are they?

It appears that there are two types; one which provides a kit so that you can take impressions and send them to a laboratory for your snap on teeth to be produced. The other type also does this but then, we understand, even produces the teeth at home as well. Looking around at reviews, and perhaps not surprisingly, those made professionally do tend to get the better reviews but are the more expensive option.

It should be pointed out that these are not intended to be worn all of the time but are for occasional cosmetic purposes only. In no way do they offer an effective long term alternative to professionally produced porcelain veneers or, in the case of missing teeth, dental implants.

Benefits

The benefits of this type of cosmetic improvement is just that. They can provide a reasonably attractive smile at a reasonable cost. That said, and it probably does depend from brand to brand, but quite a few people who had them said that they had to file some of the false teeth down as they made them look much too long and unnatural. It isn’t hard to imagine how tricky this would be for many people and may well result in irreparable damage.

Ultimately, the cosmetic factor is about the only real benefit unfortunately. They are probably fine if you want to wear them once or twice for the occasional night out (though less so if you are eating .. more of that later). For longer term cosmetic improvements though, you should seek the advice of one of our experienced Burton cosmetic dentists.

The negatives

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This popular technique can be used in a number of restorative and cosmetic treatments

If you are into middle age, you will no doubt have seen a lot of changes occurring over the years at our Burton dental practice. From basic restorative care when we first opened over 30 years ago, through to the sophisticated treatments that we now have available such as dental implants and dental braces that are almost invisible when worn.

While these advances have offered many patients of Mike Allen’s Dental Practice a way to have strong, great looking teeth, there are also some treatments that have been around for a long time and sometimes get forgotten amongst the ‘headline’ treatments that are now available. One of these long-standing treatments is bonding, sometimes also referred to as ‘cosmetic bonding’.

What is bonding?

Bonding is done using a composite resin that can be used in a number of procedures. These are usually relatively minor ones, often used for cosmetic, rather than restorative purposes. As its name suggests, this resin can be applied to the tooth by bonding, or sticking to it. In many cases, bonding will offer a quick and immediate solution to a problem, particularly as it often requires minimal preparation of the affected tooth.

What situations might it be used in?

Although fillings and dental crowns are more widely used where significant damage has occurred to a tooth, bonding can help where there are no significant structural implications and the restoration needed may be more cosmetic. A good example of this is where a tooth has been chipped but has not compromised the tooth structure. This can have the effect of spoiling the look of the tooth but can also leave a sharp edge on which you could cut your tongue. Bonding is excellent in this situation and can be shaped and smoothed to provide a natural looking, and smooth edged tooth.

In some cases it can be used to close a gap between the top front teeth, also known as a diastema. Although, in many cases, this may require a more extensive treatment such as porcelain dental veneers or orthodontic treatment, bonding is an option that we would certainly explore due to the minimally invasive nature of the procedure.

Bonding composites can also be used for fillings and may also be used to protect the lower part of the tooth if the patient’s gums have receded, revealing the root part of the tooth that is unprotected by enamel.

Pros and cons

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