Our passion is helping you have a healthy mouth

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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Antonia Kemp, dental hygienist at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice explains

It is not uncommon to find that many people don’t really fully understand the importance of seeing a dental hygienist on a regular basis. Whilst they do understand why they should see a dentist, this additional appointment can seem like an extra drain on both their time and finances.

This is unfortunate as your hygienist visits can, and should, be seen as an investment which will help to prevent a lot of problems further down the line, some of which will probably need dental surgery to restore your teeth once they have become damaged.

In order to help you to understand why you should have your teeth professionally cleaned by the hygienist, we have compiled a quick list of some of the best reasons.

Removal of tartar

Tartar is a collection of bacteria and minerals that build up on your teeth and the gum line. However well we clean our teeth, this build up is almost inevitable, especially in those hard to reach places. The rough surfaces provided by tartar allows even more bacteria to collect and increases the risk of gingivitis and periodontitis with all the issues that can entail including sore and bleeding gums, bad breath and potentially a loss of teeth as well.

Painless and beneficial

The procedure used to remove tartar is called a ‘scale and polish’ and is entirely non-invasive and usually done in a short visit. If you haven’t seen a hygienist before or for a long time, we may suggest that you book a longer appointment initially so that we can thoroughly clean your teeth and gums and get your mouth into a healthier condition.

The treatment typically takes part in 3 stages:

  • The ‘scraping’ away of excess tartar
  • The ‘shattering’ of the rest of the tartar using a sonic cleaning implement
  • A final clean using a professional high speed brush

A combination of these three stages should help to leave you with healthy clean teeth.

A whiter smile!

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Modern orthodontic treatment for older Burton patients

Some of our more ‘mature’ patients may think that dental braces are only worn by children and teenagers and that, if you have crooked teeth later on in life, you have missed out and will just have to put up with it. Although it is true that many teenagers do need to have braces fitted, this doesn’t exclude the rest of us from having our teeth straightened too.

Uneven teeth can cause quite a few problems. The most obvious of these being the fact that it affects your appearance, especially where unevenness is significant. This isn’t the only issue though as uneven teeth can cause wear and may even cause breakages due to the pressure being exerted where it shouldn’t be.  It is worth remembering too that even just a few crooked teeth can cause other teeth to ‘drift’ into any spaces, potentially causing an accumulation of crooked and uneven teeth.

Correcting an uneven smile

At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice in Burton upon Trent, we believe that everyone should be entitled to consider having a nicer smile and that includes our older patients too. Although we may envisage braces being worn by the younger generation, there are now a wide range of adult orthodontic treatments available which enable many of us to have a great looking, even smile. There are a number of different systems that are available to use, the choice of which will be most effective will be decided following your initial examination. A number of factors will be taken into account including the severity and position of any crooked teeth.

There are three main categories of orthodontics which can be used if you want to have your teeth straightened.

Traditional braces

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Dentist Mike Allen looks at issues that can be caused by unevenly spaced teeth, along with possible solutions

If we have looked after our teeth well, with regular brushing, flossing and dental appointments, there is a good chance that they will be fairly healthy. This is the most important thing of course, but our teeth also play an important role in our appearance, especially when we smile. Healthy teeth are great, but if they are discoloured or are uneven, they can really detract from an otherwise nice smile.

We discussed tooth discolouration in our previous Burton dental blog and today we are going to take a look at the problems which can result from gaps between the teeth.

There are different types of gaps. There are the larger ones that are caused by tooth loss but also smaller gaps where our teeth have grown unevenly. Some of these, such as a diastema, are argued by some to be an attractive facial feature.

What’s wrong with a gap?

The most obvious issue with a gap in the teeth is that it can look unsightly. Even where some  argue that this isn’t the case, such as with a diastema (a gap between the top two front teeth) the fact is that having uneven teeth can lead to problems further down the line. If there are gaps between some of our teeth, it almost certainly means that others are closely crowded together, or even overlapping. This closeness means that it is much more difficult to keep them clean, with bacteria becoming trapped in places that a toothbrush, and sometimes even dental floss, is unable to reach. Leaving these areas insufficiently clean may well lead to tooth decay and gum disease after a while.

Obviously, it is easier to clean in a larger gap between the teeth but this space means that there is also room for other teeth to gradually move into. This happens quite slowly, but over time, you may find that more and more of your teeth become crooked and uneven. For both of these reasons, the team at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice believe that gaps in the teeth should be closed in most cases.

How do we close gaps in the teeth?

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Restoring teeth that are stained and discoloured

In the last few blogs, we have focussed on immediate oral health concerns following the easing of the lockdown in the UK. For most people with dental problems, it has been a priority to receive treatment to resolve these often painful issues. As we work through these cases, we hope that it won’t be long before our dentists can start to treat less urgent cases, and indeed, those where aesthetic improvements are required.

At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice in Burton, one of our most popular cosmetic dental treatments is the teeth whitening procedure. In today’s blog, we will take a look at why people’s teeth may have suffered aesthetically in the last few months, and at the treatments that can be used to help reverse this.

The lockdown period

We have written much about looking after your teeth to avoid decay and gum disease, and of course these are problems that definitely should be avoided as much as is practically possible. Increasingly though, more and more people are concerned not only about the health of teeth, but their appearance too.

One of the things that lockdown may have contributed to is discoloured and stained teeth. This may have occurred in two ways:

Lifestyle – Our diets and lifestyle may have changed in order to help us through this tricky period. Some of us will have drunk more, eaten less tooth friendly food, and some of us may have even started smoking again. All of these factors alone or together, may have led to surface staining of your teeth.

Pausing treatments – Although a lot of people have the teeth whitening procedure carried out as a ‘one off’, such as before a holiday or wedding, there are a number of our Burton patients who have this done on a recurring basis; in effect ‘topping up’ the whiteness to keep it as consistent as possible over time. Inevitably, as practices closed, these treatments will not have been carried out and those of you who have been forced to miss appointments may find that your teeth now appear duller than usual.

Restoring the whiteness

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