Remember to look after your teeth at Christmas
We’ve just had Black Friday, the Bristol Christmas markets have opened, and festive adverts are everywhere… that can only mean one thing, Christmas is coming. Here at CK Dental, we love getting into the festive spirit, but take our duty as dental professionals very seriously. Each year, we try to ensure that our patients strike the right balance between enjoying festive indulgence and looking after their teeth effectively. It doesn’t have to mean you can’t enjoy the things you love, it is more a case of recognising the worst offenders and ensuring you keep your teeth and gums as healthy and clean as possible.
Know your enemies
It is a common misconception that some of the festive favourites aren’t as bad as we might think because they contain fruit. For the likes of Christmas cake, mince pies and Christmas pudding, this is far from the truth. These puddings all contain a lot of dried fruit, which is packed with sugar. They are also notoriously sticky, which means the sugar is likely to remain on your teeth for longer.
Everything in moderation
Part of the fun of this time of year is passing around the chocolate box, having another slice of cake, unwrapping another chocolate orange or indulging in more sweet drinks, but it is easy to eat and drink for the sake of it. If you’re full, feeling lethargic or just conscious of how many calories you’re consuming, take a break from it. Say no thank you to the treats. Your teeth (and no doubt your waistline) will thank you for your restraint.
Don’t forget good dental habits
They say that a routine is hard to establish and easy to break, and that can certainly be the case for adults and children alike when the family is off school and work over Christmas, and our usual routines are disrupted. Making sure that children are still brushing their teeth first thing in the morning and last thing before bed is crucial. Sometimes more often than that if you’re aware that you have eaten a great deal of sugary food/drink. We may be up at strange times and going to bed later than usual but making time to keep caring for our teeth is really important.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from us all at CK Dental.
‘Less than a third’ of children are brushing their teeth twice a day
Children, like adults, should be brushing their teeth twice a day right from when the very first milk teeth make an appearance. Although they will need help to begin with, establishing a good brushing routine is setting young children up with a good dental hygiene routine from a young age, and will help ensure their teeth and gums remain healthy.
According to recent research undertaken by StemProtect.co.uk, this isn’t happening, with findings suggesting that less than one-third of children are in fact brushing their teeth regularly enough. Dentists are worried that this pattern means a generation of young people could be exposing themselves to a heightened risk of dental problems later in life.
The research study involved 600 families in the UK, and indicates that there are big gaps in the regularity that young children are brushing their teeth:
- Proportion of 2 to 4-year olds who brush their teeth once per day – 60%
- Proportion of 4 to 8-year olds who brush their teeth once per day – 70%
This is exacerbated by an alarming number of parents who claimed not to know how long their children were brushing their teeth for – with around eight in ten parents unaware how long their children were spending brushing their teeth. Here at CD Dental, we advocate using a timer for this, and ensuring that children use this as part of the fun of brushing their teeth. The timer could be set to music, or there are a number of apps that can be downloaded for free that give children an indication of how long to brush for.
According to the study, only 3% of parents were using a timer, and this is one of the easiest ways to ensure you have confidence in the duration children are brushing for. Depending on what resonates with your children, there are other creative techniques available too, such as reward charts and a bit of gentle bribery… although using treats like stories as the rewards, not sweets or chocolate.
A spokesperson for StemProtect, Anne Edwards, summarised the concern that this report has raised: “Younger children tend to be more resistant to tooth brushing, but caring for your teeth is a lifelong job. Not brushing regularly can lead to gum disease, which has been proven to have a number of serious health risks associated, including cardiovascular disease. Parents may think their children will look after their own oral hygiene once they’re old enough to brush, but it’s not worth leaving to chance.”
Growing interest in cosmetic dentistry
Recently published findings from an online survey conducted by Harris Poll, have identified that a massive 40% of us in the UK are considering some form of cosmetic treatment over the next year or so. Survey results have been divided into those wishing to have a cosmetic surgery procedure, and those wishing to have non-surgical enhancement work. Interestingly, cosmetic dentistry tops the non-surgical poll.
The poll, which was undertaken amongst a large sample of 1,030 UK adults aged 18 and above, was carried out during the summer of 2018 and looked at future interest in surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures.
Topping the aesthetic enhancement poll were the following treatments:
- Cosmetic dentistry (such as straightening, veneers, whitening)
- Laser hair removal
- Facial treatments (such as microneedling and dermaplaning)
With the main reasons for wanting to make these cosmetic tweaks being an increase in self-confidence and self-esteem, it’s no wonder cosmetic dentistry features so high up the list. Here at CK Dental, we know how important it is to our patients to have a smile that they are proud of and confident of. It is one of the first things that people notice upon meeting and interacting with others and can make a huge difference in terms of how people feel about themselves.
So, which cosmetic dentistry procedures are driving this trend?
According to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedure. It is easy and quick to perform, and results are instantly noticeable. Although DIY kits are available for people who wish to try this at home, the best results are achieved by visiting an expert and having your teeth whitened by a qualified dental professional.
Porcelain veneers are also growing in popularity, especially for those whose teeth are damaged beyond the capabilities of teeth whitening to fix aesthetic problems like serious discolouration. This procedure involves a porcelain cap being fitted over the existing tooth, which adjusts the colour or shape of the original tooth.
For those of us who are not blessed with naturally straight teeth, many are opting for invisible braces. Most of us think of the unsightly metal train-track braces that were offered in our youth, but thankfully as an adult, there are many more discrete options available nowadays.
It is no wonder that cosmetic dentistry is now desired by so many. In fact, the Consumer Guide to Dentistry cites research undertaken across the pond by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, which reports that “a staggering 99.7 per cent of adults view a smile as an important social asset, with 74 per cent believing that an unattractive smile has the potential to inhibit career success.”
CK Dental supports Mouth Cancer Action Month
Last month, BBC Radio DJ Mark Radcliffe announced on-air that he was taking a break to deal with a diagnosis of oral cancer. He reassured his fans that “It’s all been caught very early and so everything should be fine. All being well I’ll be back in action in the New Year – or sooner if I feel well enough – but I will be back, you can depend on it.”
Early diagnosis is essential for beating mouth cancer. If caught early, the chance of surviving mouth cancer is nine out of ten, which is why November’s Mouth Cancer Action Month is such an important initiative.
Mouth cancer can affect the lips, tongue, gums and cheeks, and here are some of the symptoms to watch out for:
- Mouth ulcers which fail to heal after a few weeks
- Sores in the mouth that bleed
- Red or white patches inside the mouth
- Lumps or swellings in the mouth or the head and neck area
- Loose teeth
- Tongue pain
- Jaw stiffness or pain
- Difficulty or painful chewing or swallowing
- Sore throat that doesn’t resolve
How to check for mouth cancer
Check if both sides of your head and neck look the same and search for any lumps or swellings that appear on only one side of the face. Press along the sides and front of your neck to check for any tenderness or discomfort.
Pull down your lower lip to check for any sores or changes in colour. Run your finger along the inside to feel for any lumps, swellings or changes in texture. Repeat this process on the upper lip and then check the roof and floor of your mouth.
Then, pull out your cheek and look for darker red or white patches. Place your index fingers inside your cheek, with your thumb on the outside and gently check for any lumps or swellings and any tenderness.
Finally, examine your tongue for any changes to colour and texture, making sure you also check the sides and then the underside by placing the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
During a routine dental appointment at CK Dental in Bristol we will always check for any signs of mouth cancer but if you spot any changes out of the ordinary then make an appointment immediately.
‘’My child’s milk tooth has turned grey. What should I do?”
Toddlers and young children are always getting into scrapes, with bumps, knocks and tumbles commonplace as they explore their surroundings. It is not uncommon for a youngster to knock their milk teeth, and sometimes this can cause problems.
Milk teeth have an important role so need to be looked after more carefully than some may think. They are placeholders for the adult teeth that emerge later, so if the milk teeth become damaged then this can affect the spacing and alignment of adult teeth as they come through later. At CK Dental, we work with parents to ensure that milk teeth are looked after properly and that any concerns are addressed quickly.
Colour change following an impact
If a milk tooth receives a hard knock, then it may discolour and start to turn grey, yellow or black in colour. This often happens two to three weeks after the initial accident. This means that the tooth’s blood supply has been affected and it is struggling to get the necessary amount of blood. Inside the tough enamel coating of each tooth is a soft centre, which is fed by a nerve. If the nerve has become damaged, then it can cause the soft centre to die.
This isn’t always cause for concern, depending on the severity of the knock sometimes the tooth will lighten again of its own accord, although this can take a long time. The tooth will need to be inspected by a dentist though as it may have been seriously damaged and could need removing if the nerve has been too badly affected. Your dentist will make a judgement of whether or not it is best to remove the tooth. Sometimes it will be appropriate to leave the tooth where it is, but sometimes the affected soft centre of the dead/dying tooth can create a breeding ground for bacteria which can lead to infections.
Other things to watch out for
It is important to keep a close eye on the gums around a damaged milk tooth, and if you see any lumps, bumps, redness or swelling then make an appointment to see your dentist quickly as this could be an infection or abscess.
If you recognise these symptoms in your child, then it is important to arrange to see your family dentist for a professional examination to ensure that your child receives the best treatment for any damaged teeth.
Dry socket – what it is and how to treat it
‘Dry socket’ is a dental condition which can occur in adults after they have had a tooth extracted. It is not very common, typically affecting up to just 5% of all cases, but if you are having a tooth extracted for any reason, it is something to be aware of and to be familiar of the symptoms. It is more likely to occur in the lower jaw, but it has been known to occur in the upper jaw as well.
What is dry socket?
During the usual healing process when a tooth has been removed, a blood clot will form in the gap where the tooth has been extracted from. The purpose of the blood clot is to form a protective barrier to look after the gum, the bone and the nerves underneath where the tooth was previously attached. In the case of a dry socket, the blood clot becomes dislodged before it has time to forge a strong enough bond with the gum, which means that the hole is not able to heal effectively.
Recognising and diagnosing dry socket
Unfortunately, if you develop dry socket this is usually very painful and will need to be treated quickly. Although discomfort is expected in the days following a tooth extraction, this should be able to be treated at home with the painkillers prescribed by your dentist, so if you feel that the pain is exceeding a ‘normal’ amount, then speak to your dentist quickly.
Speed is also important as the absence of the blood clot means that there is no barrier protecting the wound, which means that fragments of food can find their way into the hole. Dry socket usually occurs a couple of days after a tooth extraction and patients will usually find they are experiencing a worsening pain at the extraction site, which spreads through the face and causes a lot of discomfort.
On closer inspection, it may be clear to see that there is no blood clot in the place where the tooth used to be, and some patients may even be able to see the exposed bone. Many patients also report an unpleasant taste (and often odour) in their mouth as well, as a result of the infection.
How is dry socket treated?
Dry socket typically requires a return trip to a dentist where the wound is thoroughly cleaned and sometimes a dressing is applied. Once this initial stage is complete, your dentist may also treat dry socket with a course of antibiotics to help cure any infection. They may also prescribe antiseptic cream to be applied around the site of the extracted tooth and could recommend an antibacterial mouthwash.
Here at CK Dental in Bristol, we work with patients who have teeth extracted to ensure that they follow a good hygiene routine after any tooth extraction to mitigate the risk of conditions like dry socket occurring. Although rare, it can happen, but we can help reduce that risk as much as possible.
Recognising the signs of dental anxiety
Being nervous about visiting the dentist is not uncommon, it is thought to affect a significant proportion of the adult population in the UK. In the late 1990s, a UK Adult Dental Health survey was conducted, and the results suggested that around one-quarter of adults ‘definitely’ felt anxious about visiting the dentist and a further quarter felt anxiety to ‘some extent’.
Although experiencing nerves in situations where we don’t feel fully in control is quite normal, for some of us we may actually be experiencing ‘dental anxiety’, which is a recognised condition.
How to spot dental anxiety
According to an article published in 2008 by dental experts Banerjee and Fiske, the signs of true dental anxiety can be grouped into three key categories: physiological, behavioural and cognitive. Physiological means symptoms that you can actually feel, behavioural are outwardly visible symptoms and cognitive describes the way you feel.
This is what you might expect to feel/experience in each of these if you are suffering from the condition:
- Looking pale, or alternatively, looking flushed
- Dry mouth
- Fast breathing (possibly evening hyperventilating)
- Tight feeling in stomach
- Tension in muscles
- Being angry/agitated and directing this at dental staff
- Cancelling or being very late for appointments
- Talking a lot on arrival (delaying the onset of the appointment)
- Dreading the appointment
- Feeling anxious, negative or generally apprehensive about what to expect
- Focussing on the worse-case scenario when considering different outcomes from the appointment
Does this sound familiar? It doesn’t have to be prohibitive to ensure your teeth are well cared for, you just need to ensure that you find a dental practice that recognises the condition and can help make the experience of visiting the dentist as stress free and calming as possible.
Putting patients at ease
Here at CK Dental, we acknowledge that for patients suffering from dental anxiety – and those who are just not entirely confident about visiting the dentist – booking an appointment to have a routine check-up can be very daunting. Our staff are specially trained to help patients feel at ease, and we believe that this begins with nurturing a caring and calm environment, plus talking openly with patients who have got concerns about their dental care.
Missing appointments, making excuses and generally assuming that your teeth are ok are all risky patterns of behaviour that could lead to longer-term serious dental problems, so if this resonates with your experience then it might be time to try and overcome these concerns and have a think about some of the more positive things associated with overcoming these concerns and getting a clean bill of health for your teeth.
Causes of dental anxiety
There are many different reasons why a patient might feel nervous about visiting the dentist, some of which could be rationally justified, others may be based on lack of information or incorrect assumptions about what to expect. Here at CK Dental, we look through some of the most common causes associated with the condition of dental anxiety…
Being in a situation you cannot control
The act of reclining in the dentist’s chair may feel relaxing to some people and nerve-wracking for others. Some people find being asked to recline daunting, but rest assured this is purely to enable to best view inside your mouth at an angle that will cause the least discomfort for the patient.
The other issue for some is the worry that they are unable to communicate with the dentist while the appointment is underway, due to the fact they have their mouth open and dental implements are sometimes used to look and feel inside your mouth. A simple hand motion will be enough to alert your dentist that you wish to communicate with them, and if this is something that you are very worried about then tell your dentist before the appointment begins and they will be able to agree on a hand signal that they will keep an eye out for should you wish to talk to them.
Not knowing what to expect
The fear of the unknown often a factor anxiety and although this is a common symptom of dental anxiety, it is also pretty easy to find a solution for. Firstly, try not to overthink the potential outcomes of the appointment. Remember that all your dentist wants is to check that your teeth and gums are healthy, and then hopefully send you home reassured that you are looking after your teeth sufficiently.
If you need some work done to keep your mouth in tip-top condition, your dentist will explain clearly what they are recommending and what the process will involve. If you tell your dentist about your concerns they will be able to offer dialogue and reassurance throughout the process and work with you to ensure that you are feeling fully informed. Clear, concise information can really help mitigate feelings of anxiety and if your dentist knows this is important to you, they will no doubt love to talk about it in more detail and help you feel reassured.
One of the most common reasons that children are nervous about visiting the dentist is because they have witnessed their parents eliciting signs of nerves. From a very young age, children are like sponges, soaking up what they see and hear around them, and they are surprisingly perceptive.
If you are bringing children to the dentist and you are prone to suffering from dental anxiety, try and pretend that you are not phased by the experience. Putting on a brave face for the sake of the kids is a great coping device and will mean that they are less affected by your own fears. Not only that, if you successfully put on a brave face throughout an appointment, focusing your thoughts on your children rather than your fears, you might be pleasantly surprised that the whole experience isn’t nearly as daunting as you were expecting.
Dental anxiety linked to poor self-confidence and can lead to social isolation
Most of us don’t love going to the dentist, but for a surprisingly high number of patients – the Oral Health Foundation estimates that approximately 10 million adults in the UK suffer from dental anxiety to some degree – it can develop into a dental phobia that prevents them from seeking treatment even if they are suffering extreme problems with their teeth.
Now, a new study published in the International Dental Journal has revealed the true impact that dental anxiety has on sufferers. The issue extends beyond your oral health and, in fact, it can negatively affect social wellbeing such as income and education and will typically extend into the next generation.
Dealing with dental phobia
A few years ago, a study published in the British Dental Journal evaluated the use of cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT. Twenty-one patients with severe dental phobia underwent CBT and twenty of them were able to undergo dental treatment without sedation. For patients that are unable to undergo this approach, choosing a dental practice that is experienced with treating nervous patients is key.
At CK Dental in Bristol, we are skilled at putting nervous patients at ease. Our approach is as follows:
- An informed patient is a confident patient: we discuss all aspects of your treatment and what you can expect every step of the way as we find that patients are less nervous if they are fully informed
- Pain-free dentistry: no dental procedure should be painful and we use pain relief and local anaesthetic injections to ensure the experience is pain-free
- Conscious sedation is an option: carried out by our consultant anaesthetist, the patient is semi-conscious, so they are completely comfortable and relaxed throughout their procedure.
At CK Dental, we differ from other private dental clinics in the UK as we can also offer patients the option of having dental procedures performed under general anaesthetic. This can only be performed within a hospital environment and CK Dental is located in the Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital, so you have all the assurance of a state-of the-art facility combined with our expert care.
To find out more about our approach to dental phobia, call us on 0117 906 4868 to arrange a consultation.
UK scientists find a way to regenerate tooth enamel
Tooth wear is on the rise in the UK with over three-quarters of adults and 50 per cent of children showing some signs or erosion or abrasion. Tooth enamel is the hardest structure in the body, even harder than bone. It coats our teeth, protecting the sensitive dentine layer underneath and it can become eroded gradually as the result of acid attack.
As well as aesthetic changes to the teeth, enamel erosion can lead to increased sensitivity to taste and temperature and also puts sufferers at increased risk of tooth decay. Up till now, it’s not been possible to reverse enamel erosion, but researchers at Queen Mary University of London have recently developed an innovative way to regenerate lost dental enamel.
The scientists found a protein that triggers the growth of crystals similar to the way that dental enamel develops in the body. “This is exciting because the simplicity and versatility of the mineralisation platform opens up opportunities to treat and regenerate dental tissues,” Dr Sherif Elsharkawy, a dentist and part of the team, explains
This discovery could have many applications in regenerative medicine and be of huge importance for modern dentistry. However, in the meantime, preventative measures remain the most effective solution to dental erosion.
How do I prevent dental erosion?
Every time you eat or drink anything acidic, it attacks the enamel on your teeth, causing your teeth to become softer until your saliva restores the natural balance in your mouth. Over time and if this acid attack happens too often then this repair process becomes less effective and enamel becomes eroded. Medical conditions such as alcoholism, bulimia or oesophageal problems which cause vomiting or release of acids into the mouth from the stomach can all increase the risk of enamel erosion.
Here are our tips on how to prevent enamel erosion:
- Fizzy drinks can be highly acidic and should be limited to mealtimes to reduce the number of acid attacks on the teeth
- Don’t be fooled by diet or healthy options – even flavoured fizzy water can cause dental erosion over time as they contain weak acids
- Many sports drinks also contain ingredients that contribute to dental erosion
- Limit highly acidic foods and drinks such as fruit and fruit juices, particularly citric juices as they contain high levels of natural acids
- Using a straw can reduce contact on the teeth
- Certain foods and drinks can help cancel out acid attacks such as cheese and milk
- Chewing sugar-free gum after your meals can stimulate saliva production
- Don’t brush teeth immediately after eating or drinking as it gives your teeth a chance to harden
- A fluoride toothpaste and/or mouthwash should be used
Regular check-ups are also an essential aspect of prevention as erosion can be spotted at an early stage and treatment provided, in the form of a filling or crown, if required. Call Bristol dentist CK Dental on 0117 906 4868 to arrange a check-up today.
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