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Serious health implications associated with gum disease

Evidence from research undertaken by two independent medical studies has indicated links between gum disease and two serious health complaints.

Gum disease is well known for its immediate issues; it causes swollen, bleeding gums, bad breath and long-term problems for your teeth. It is surprisingly common, with around 90% of people in the UK suffering with some form of gum disease on one or more occasion in their lives, and around 45% of the population experiencing gum disease at any one time. Worryingly, the recent findings suggest that bacteria associated with gum disease is linked both to Alzheimer’s disease and, for some women, the onset of early labour.

Links between gum disease and Alzheimer’s

Scientists have discovered that bacteria present in the mouth of gum disease suffers can actually travel through the body and enter the brain. The study, which examined the brain cells of 53 adult Alzheimer’s patients, found that a massive 96% of them had this type of bacteria present in the brain.

Encouragingly, there is evidence to suggest that there is a drug which can block the migration of the dangerous bacteria to the brain. Although preliminary testing has been done on mice, not humans, results have been extremely positive, and it is hoped that similar results for humans will follow.

Nevertheless, it is always better to prevent rather than cure and keep gum disease at bay.

Links between gum disease and premature labour

The other recent study which has discovered a link with gum disease was one which evaluated pregnant women whose waters broke early. Almost half of women who went into labour before the 37th week of pregnancy (which is when they are considered ‘full term’) were found to have gum disease.

Gum disease creates plaque, which generates bacteria. It was discovered that this type of bacteria could travel through the bloodstream and enter the placenta, causing inflammation. The implication of the inflammation was that it caused the amniotic sac that contains the unborn baby to break too soon, hence causing labour to begin before the body is naturally ready for the baby to be born.

How to avoid gum disease

The good news is that maintaining a good standard of oral hygiene is one of the most effective ways of avoiding gum disease. Brushing your teeth twice a day for around two minutes per brush and flossing regularly are recommended as part of this routine, as are avoiding food and drink that can cause a build-up of plaque and damage to tooth enamel.

Better standards of oral hygiene are easy to achieve and if this has the added benefit of reducing the risk of developing serious medical conditions, then it is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that you are doing your best to minimise risk.

If you want to know more about preventing gum disease or are concerned that you may have symptoms already, get in touch with the team here at CK Dental who will be happy to talk to you and assess whether or not you need treatment.

Confused over dental terms?

Recently, the Dental Defence Union (DDU) advised dental professionals to use plain English rather than dental ‘jargon’ that could confuse patients. As the UK’s leading professional indemnity organisation, the DDU’s aim was to avoid potential misunderstandings that could result in a complaint or claim made against the dental professional.

However, as experts in dealing with patients suffering from dental anxiety, at CK Dental we believe that good communication is one of the hallmarks of calming nerves and ensuring a positive dental experience.

Leo Briggs, the deputy head of the DDU, commented in the article in the latest edition of the DDU journal that: “Jargon, acronyms and technical language are commonly used in dentistry. Because we are using the words day in day out, it can be difficult to distinguish what is and isn’t jargon.”

Dental terms that could be confusing to patients

The DDU provided a list of dental terms that we dental professionals use commonly, but which might be confusing to patients:

Amalgam – dental amalgam is a material used to fill cavities in the teeth and which has been used in dentistry for over 150 years. It is often called ‘silver amalgam’ and is silver-coloured but actually consists of a combination of metals.

Composite – a composite tooth filling is an alternative filling material to amalgam. It has a number of advantages over amalgam but is mainly preferred because it is tooth coloured, making it much less visible.

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) – the temporomandibular joint is the hinge that connects the upper and lower jaw to the temporal bones of the skull and TMD is a condition where the joint isn’t working correctly, often resulting in a number of problems. These include pain in the face or jaw, headaches, tenderness and swelling of the lower face, clicking or popping of the joint or a sensation where the jaw locks or becomes ‘stuck’.

Endodontic treatment – this refers to root canal treatment. This may be necessary to repair or even save a tooth that has become decayed. The root canal of the tooth refers to the nerve and pulp within the tooth which can become infected, leading to abscesses. During treatment, the nerve and pulp are removed and the tooth sealed, after which patients should experience no more pain or further problems from the affected tooth.

The importance of good dental communication

Leo Briggs went onto say in the article that by communicating clearly, patients gain “a greater sense of involvement in their own care” and that is at the heart of what we do at CK Dental in Bristol. Dental anxiety can be managed in a number of ways, but the first step is always to ensure that patients have a clear understanding of any treatment we recommend and what it entails.

 

New Year’s Resolutions: cutting your child’s sugar intake

 

Many of us have embarked on our New Year’s Resolutions to get into shape or lose weight this January, but if you’re a parent then ensure your new healthy eating habits extend to the whole family. At CK Dental in Bristol, we welcome the new initiative from Public Health England to combat the high sugar intake of the UK’s children.

According to the PHE, children as young as ten will have already consumed 18 years’ worth of sugar, resulting in a steep growth in childhood tooth extractions. This is why they launched their Change4Life campaign.

Oral health campaigners are welcoming the launch of the new Change4Life campaign, which aims to combat the high sugar intake of children across the UK. Often this can seem an overwhelming problem for parents to tackle, which is why the initiative advises simple, everyday swaps that will effectively reduce the amount of sugar your children are consuming. As well as oral health problems, we know that childhood sugar intake results in early onset obesity and the development of conditions such as diabetes in later life.

To help parents make smart but simple sugar swaps, the campaign identified four key ‘sugar occasions’ throughout the day and how best to tackle them:

  1. The Breakfast Swap: children get 8% of their daily sugar intake from sugary cereals so swap to a wholewheat biscuit cereal instead
  2. The Drink Swap: a staggering 17% of a kid’s sugar intake comes from the soft drinks they consume through the day, so try and buy sugar-free or no-added-sugar drinks, as well as swapping out some of those soft drinks for plain water if you can.
  3. The After School Swap: after a tiring day at school, many children come to rely on the sugar boost they get from the after school snack, whether it be a biscuit, cake or piece of confectionary. Fresh fruit and veg are best but you could also try dried fruit or nuts or low sugar packaged snacks.
  4. The Pudding Swap: offer fresh fruit or a low-fat, low-sugar yoghurt rather than ice cream or cake.

But remember, regular dental check-ups are also essential for preventing tooth decay as we monitor and care for your teeth as well as providing advice and help if you’re struggling to know how best to implement a good oral hygiene routine for you or your children.

Remember to look after your teeth at Christmas

Looking after your teeth at ChristmasWe’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

childhood dental habitsChildren, 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:

  1. Cosmetic dentistry (such as straightening, veneers, whitening)
  2. Laser hair removal
  3. 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

Dentist and mouth cancer preventionLast 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?”

 

looking after your children's milk teethToddlers 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:

Physiological signs

  • Looking pale, or alternatively, looking flushed
  • Dry mouth
  • Fast breathing (possibly evening hyperventilating)
  • Tight feeling in stomach
  • Tension in muscles

Behavioural signs

  • 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)

Cognitive signs

  • 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.

 

News

Serious health implications associated with gum disease

Evidence from research undertaken by two independent medical studies has indicated links between gum disease and two serious health complaints. Gum disease is well known for its immediate issues; it causes swollen, bleeding gums, bad breath and long-term problems for your teeth. It is surprisingly common, with around 90% of ... Read more

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