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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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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Detrimental habits we may have when appointment time is due!
Whether you are a nervous patient or not, the likelihood is that you aren’t particularly looking forward to your dental appointment. Even those with generally healthy teeth and a good cleaning regimen may, at the back of their mind, wonder if the dentist is going to find something wrong. The reality is though, that your regular mouth checks at our Burton practice are important, as are any appointments that you may have to treat a problem.
Having been established in Burton Upon Trent for over thirty years, we have seen thousands of patients in that time and, from our experiences with them, we thought it would be useful not to look at what you SHOULD do when you see your dentist, but what you SHOULDN’T do.
1 – Get yourself worked up about your appointment
This will affect some people more than others. Those who are especially nervous about seeing the dentist may find that their GP will be able to provide them with something which will help to keep them calm during the appointment, so that they can receive essential dental care. It might be easier said than done, but making yourself worry about seeing the dentist will not make it go away, and it does need to be done. Try not to think too much about it and perhaps go out to see a film or something that will take your mind off it, at least until the appointment is nearly due.
2 – Spend ages brushing your teeth the morning of the appointment
Whilst it is good not to have pieces of food stuck between your teeth when we examine your mouth, and also, fresher breath is always nice, the truth is that one good brushing session before you see us will make no difference. Most dental problems happen over a longish period of time and if you haven’t been brushing your teeth well for some time we will know whether you have brushed your teeth before you see us or not. If you don’t want to feel embarrassed about the poor health of your mouth, although of course we won’t judge you, then please make sure that you brush twice daily as advised by all dentists.
3 – Don’t tell the truth
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Burton dental hygienist, Antonia Kemp, discusses effective treatments.
Many of you will have seen various advertisements for toothpastes that claim to get rid of plaque, as well as generally cleaning your teeth. This is slightly misleading though as plaque, or rather the bacteria that form plaque, are an ever present in our mouth and can’t really be eliminated entirely. What we can do, on a daily basis, is to keep these bacteria under control, and that is the aim when we brush and floss our teeth.
What is plaque?
Plaque is a light film of bacteria that collects on the surface of the teeth, and the gum-line. It is made up of millions of bacteria of different types. It is colourless but can feel a little ‘slimy’, especially if you have not cleaned your teeth or perhaps have gone to sleep dehydrated and woken up with a gooey white substance in your mouth which is simply a larger collection of plaque.
Plaque has a habit of finding its way into small crevices of your teeth and is one of the main contributors to tooth decay. Without regular brushing, the bacteria and acids present in plaque will eat away at the tooth enamel until the more vulnerable inner part of the tooth becomes exposed. At this stage, decay is likely to advance more quickly, with toothache likely to follow soon after.
By and large, plaque control is relatively straightforward, and a good regime of regular brushing will help to keep it under control. You should also consider adding flossing to your regime too, if you don’t already do so. This is a great way of removing plaque that has become trapped between the teeth and on the gum line.
Why do I need to see the hygienist?
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Dr Mike Allen discusses this question, and the possible consequences of taking this approach.
Most patients of Mike Allen’s Dental Practice come to see us every six months or so for their regular check ups. If a significant problem occurs between these appointments, such as a badly broken tooth, most will make an emergency appointment to see us as soon as possible to have the tooth restored. Sometimes, this is clear cut, and a badly broken and sharp tooth, or a painful tooth, is an obvious indicator that the problem shouldn’t, and usually can’t, be ignored.
Dental problems are not always ‘black and white’ though, and there are many problems that can occur somewhere in between. These are often issues that might be considered to be mildly uncomfortable or inconvenient. In situations like this, some patients will simply leave the problem until it is time for their next check up, often making a mental note to let us know about it.
Is this the right approach?
The answer to this is almost certainly no. As our Burton dental team will tell you, ignored dental problems, even relatively minor ones, will not improve, and, in almost all circumstances, will worsen, sometimes resulting in the need for more extensive treatment. Even if your appointment is only a few weeks away, we recommend that you have any issues checked out when they occur. After all, if your memory fails you during your check up, you may even go several more months before your dentist is aware of any problems. At this stage, you may be in significant discomfort.
What can happen?
Let us take a look at some examples of ‘minor’ problems that tend to be ignored by some patients, and look at what the result may be if they are not treated reasonably promptly.
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Dental phobia is a significant problem that can have a profound impact on your teeth and gums.
Any phobia is unpleasant. They can often produce unwanted symptoms such as profuse sweating, a racing heartbeat, or even full blown floods of tears. Whilst there are some relatively rare phobias, there are also some well known common ones, with a fear of the dentist ranking almost alongside a fear of flying. The good thing about phobias though, is that they are largely irrational and can often be overcome with help and persistence.
Like many phobias, the longer you put off facing them, the worse the fear becomes when you reach a time when you can avoid it no longer. In the case of dental fear, if you have not seen a dentist for a long time because of it, you are likely to be extremely scared when you finally have to go because you are in so much pain with a very bad toothache. At this point, there is no real option but to face the fear and have the tooth seen too. There is a more gentle approach to dental fear though, and we are happy to help you try to overcome it.
Regular dental care
Let’s be honest; however nice a dentist is, virtually no one actually enjoys a dental visit. There is always that lurking concern that, however healthy your teeth seem, your dentist may find a problem that needs dealing with. The best way to reduce this risk is to look after your teeth well and see your dentist on a regular basis. That way any serious issues are more likely to be avoided, and any treatment that is needed, to be less invasive.
The best time to overcome your phobia is now. The longer you put it off, the harder it will become. If you have looked after your teeth well, it is possible that you may not even need treatment at this point. The longer you leave it, the more likely it is that you will. Once you have started seeing a dentist regularly, the less stressful future visits will become.
Why Mike Allen’s Practice?
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Burton dentist Mike Allen offers some thoughts on how you can improve your smile in the New Year (with a little festive humour at the end)!
Christmas is coming and the goose may be getting fat, but most of us will probably be too busy preparing for Christmas to think much beyond that. With the New Year upon us before we even know it though, now can be a good time to start thinking ahead if you are looking to do something to improve your smile in the new year.
There are now many cosmetic dental procedures that we have available at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice which can make significant improvements to the appearance of your teeth. Some of these are quite complex, such as dental implant placement, where teeth are missing. Most treatments that are generally considered to be components of a smile makeover though, are less invasive, but still very effective.
Your personalised smile makeover
Treatment for each patient will vary according to their needs. The one thing that every single patient will need to have though is a thorough examination, as it is important that your teeth and gums are in good health before we go ahead with any cosmetic treatment. Any problems that are detected will need to be resolved before your smile makeover treatment commences.
This is one of the most common cosmetic treatments that we carry out at our Burton dental clinic, and is often the only procedure needed by many people to bring out their best possible smile. Although procedures such as the scale and polish carried out by a dental hygienist can remove most surface staining, the fact is that, for many people, tooth discolouration stems from a darkening of the inner part of our teeth. This can only be reversed using a teeth whitening procedure which legally, must be carried out by a registered local dentist.
At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we use a custom home whitening kit to help you to achieve a whiter looking smile. We will, of course, make sure that this is designed specifically for your own individual needs and we will offer appropriate advice and instructions. We are also available should you have any concerns or questions about this treatment either before or during the treatment itself.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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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