Our passion is helping you have a healthy mouth

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.

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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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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Options For Restoring Or Replacing Damaged Rear Teeth

Our molar teeth take a lot of strain and can be prone to problems.

Every day, when we eat, all of our teeth are set to work, biting off chunks of food, breaking it down into smaller pieces, then chewing it before we finally swallow. This, quite naturally, puts  strain on all of our teeth, but perhaps none more so than the rear molars. Especially if we eat something that requires a lot of chewing, our molars, or rear teeth, can be put under quite a lot of pressure.

In addition to this, our rear teeth can be more difficult to keep clean due to their location in the mouth. A very common place for decay to start for example, is at the very rear of our very back teeth. Reaching behind these teeth with a toothbrush can be quite tricky, even for the most dedicated brusher. As only around one in five of us also use dental floss, this problem is often exacerbated.

Treating rear teeth

Given the above, perhaps it is not surprising that the rear teeth are some of the most commonly treated at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice. As with all teeth, treatment can be minimised through regular examinations and early treatment where applicable. Problems can range from decay, to broken teeth, and in order to treat them effectively, there are a number of treatment options available to us.

Fillings

The dental filling is perhaps the best known treatment of all. Our Burton dentists often use white coloured fillings for many cavities as these offer the most natural look, and also require less of the natural tooth to be removed. Although much stronger than they used to be, this type of filling may still not offer sufficient strength for rear tooth restorations, especially for larger cavities. Other options, where a filling is needed are amalgam fillings, or, alternatively, a ceramic inlay or onlay, which offers both strength and a natural appearance.

Broken teeth

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Please Spare A Thought For Your Dentist!

Dentists are here to help you have healthy teeth and gums. Here are some ways that you can help us 🙂

At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we pride ourselves on doing all that we can to help our Burton patients have healthy teeth and gums. Advances in dental care have led to a wider range of treatments being available for problems such as missing teeth as well as many others. Although there is some ongoing discussion on professionals forums, about whether robots will eventually perform some of theses tasks, for now, you will have to put up with us mere mortals!

You may think “why should I spare a thought, you’re not the one who has to undergo a treatment”. This is true and we don’t mean ‘poor old dentist’ when we say this. The reality though is that we need to be on top of our game to be able to offer the best treatment possible.

Helping our practice

We rarely get chance to choose the straightforward check ups first thing in the morning and may well find that our first patient needs emergency treatment. Obviously, much responsibility for being ready from the first to the last patient falls upon the dentist, and so we need to be alert and ready. So to help us perform as well as we can, here are some important things we kindly ask for your help with:

Keep your appointments

Any dental practice will tell you that one of the most frustrating things is when patients don’t turn up for their appointment, especially when no notice is given. We do understand that there are circumstances where appointments have to be cancelled, but do try to give us at least 48 hours notice where you possibly can. In the event of a genuine emergency, where an appointment has to be cancelled at very short notice, please still let us know. Even a late cancellation may enable us to use your appointment slot to treat someone who is in severe pain. It could be you one day.

We also recommend that if you do cancel, you rearrange your appointment at the same time. It can be easy to put off doing this otherwise, and you may end up not seeing a dentist for a long time, with the subsequent tooth and/or gum problems that are likely to arise.

Please be factual

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Help Your Heart Stay Healthy Through Better Gum Care

Periodontal diseases are increasingly being linked to a number of serious illnesses.

Why do people visit the dentists? It seems an obvious answer, doesn’t it? to make sure that their teeth are healthy and they don’t get decay or toothache. This approach has been the basic standard for many years, but, with advanced knowledge, and a wider range of treatments now available, people actually go to see their dentist for a number of reasons.

The one that we have covered most often in our blogs, as an addition to general oral health care, is to see what Mike Allen’s Dental Practice can do to help them to have a more attractive smile. Procedures such as dental implants, veneers and teeth whitening mean that an attractive smile is now achievable for more and more patients.

Health comes first

Although the cosmetic dental procedures noted above can make significant improvements to someone’s appearance, and quite often to their confidence too, it is the health aspect of oral care which takes priority. Whiter teeth are, quite frankly, pointless if you have serious gum disease that may cause them to become loose or even fall out in the not so distant future.

Healthy teeth and strong enamel are very important to help our Burton patients keep their smile in good condition well into their later years. Few though, may be aware of how significant their gum health is, not only so that they can keep their teeth, but also the negative effect that poor gum health can have upon the heart.

Increasingly, a number of studies are indicating that there is a link between periodontal diseases and the health of your heart. Cardiovascular diseases and strokes may well be the consequence if you don’t take enough care to keep your gums healthy.

Signs and symptoms of gum disease

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Dental Implants – Is The Procedure Painful?

Mike Allen looks at why some patients are deterred from having implants, and why they shouldn’t be.

We have covered in earlier blogs, how beneficial dental implants can be, especially in the longer term. No more fiddling about having to clean dentures, or worries about teeth moving around when you eat or speak.

Despite this though, there are some people who simply can’t entertain the idea of having dental implants placed, ‘because of the pain’. Here at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we thought that it was about time that we put that right and helped people overcome this unnecessary fear.

How painful are dental implants really?

The most obvious thing to say is that, once the whole treatment process is complete and your implants are settled in, you should feel no discomfort at all. In fact, there is no reason why you shouldn’t just think of them exactly as you do your natural teeth. Almost all of our Burton implant patients say they mostly forget they have implants after a while.

You will, of course, need to look after them, and there are a number of things that can cause problems, including periodontitis and peri-implantitis. With good home care and a six monthly clean by our hygienist (which you should do anyway, implants or not), there is no reason why you should not have strong and healthy dental implants.

What about the procedure?

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