Bristol family dentists

As a nation, we are becoming increasingly aware of our impact on the environment and many of us are looking for ways in which to live more sustainably. From the 5p plastic bag charge in supermarkets to those of us who try to go ‘plastic free’ when purchasing packaged goods, it is something that many of us are taking very seriously nowadays.

Toothbrushes are traditionally a throwaway commodity, made almost entirely of plastic and used for a relatively short amount of time before they are disposed of. It is estimated that more than 2 billion plastic toothbrushes ending up in landfill sites every year. They are not something that is typically recyclable, so this has left some consumers feeling concerned about the ongoing environmental impact of cleaning their teeth. Here at Bristol family dentists CK Dental, we wanted to share some information about how to be more environmentally aware when making choices about your toothbrushes.

Eco-friendly toothbrushes

There are in fact eco-friendly toothbrushes and dental care products that are designed specifically with environmental impact in mind. These toothbrushes are made using recycled plastic and/or more sustainable products such as bamboo.

Avoiding plastic nasties

Amongst their environmental credentials, the eco-friendly toothbrushes are often BPA free, which means they don’t contain certain chemicals which are believed to be harmful to humans. BPA is found in many plastic products, ranging from plastic bottles to toothbrushes, and with increased awareness of what BPA is and what it does, have come an increasing amount of people who are keen to avoid it where possible. “Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA. Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behaviour and prostate gland of foetuses, infants and children. Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure.”

Not just the toothbrush

There are more sustainable toothpastes and floss on the market too, all of which can be sourced from specialist stores and online. Some are even making their way into mainstream shops now too. For those of us who are more ethically aware, these promise to contain more sustainable ingredients that are sourced and supplied in a more humane way. These toothpaste products contain more naturally derived products and ingredients from ethically managed supply chains.

This just goes to show that more ethical and sustainable products are available across so many aspects of our lives; we just need to know where to look for them. If throwing away plastic toothbrushes doesn’t sit comfortably with you, there are many more environmentally sustainable options out there to explore.

Bristol dentist

Some people consider a packet of chewing gum an essential component of the handbag or pocket, while others find the sight of others chewing gum somewhat annoying. But what’s the science behind gum? Is it good for your teeth or are there hidden issues we should be aware of? Here at Bristol dentist CK Dental, we have set to work myth-busting the humble gum.

Important to check the ingredients

All gum is flavoured, whether this is minty and fresh or the more exotic flavours typically associated with bubble gum, but it is the nature of these flavourings that we need to keep an eye on.

If the flavouring contains sugars then you need to be careful as this will put your mouth at risk. Not only will you be exposing your teeth to sugars, acids and other harmful substances at meal times, if you chew sugared gum between meals then this is prolonging your teeth to sugar exposure throughout the day. The sugar in gum essentially feeds bacteria that live within the mouth, enabling it to thrive. This will in time cause damage to your teeth and gums.

And gum without the sugar?

Sugar-free gum is different though, in fact, the Oral Health Foundation suggests if it is not possible to brush your teeth between meals then chewing sugar-free gum once you have eaten can be beneficial for your teeth and gums. “Your teeth are more at risk of acid attack after you have eaten. The acid is produced by plaque bacteria, and the sugars in our food and drink, and it slowly dissolves away the enamel and dentine of the tooth, to produce a hole or ‘cavity’.

The actual process of chewing gum actually causes the mouth to produce more saliva which helps it wash away the harmful bacteria that can grow within the mouth. Not only that, some artificial sweeteners have been found to prevent tooth decay, so far from causing damage to your teeth, they are actually helping it: “Studies have found that chewing gums sweetened with the sugar alcohol xylitol are more effective than other sugar-free gums at preventing tooth decay. This is because xylitol prevents the growth of the bacteria that cause tooth decay and bad breath.”

So, there you have it. Sugar-free gum can bring real benefits to your mouth if chewed in moderation between meals. Gum that contains sugars should be avoided, as this can lead to tooth decay or gum disease.

cosmetic dentistry and social media

It is no secret that we are living in the era of the selfie. A quick glance through social media and you’ll see endless self-portraits of individuals, pouting into their camera phone, having applied the necessary filters to portray themselves as the ‘best’ version of themselves. So just what are they tweaking? Interesting, many are using filters to enhance the look of their teeth and may be fueling the demand for cosmetic dentistry procedures.

Cosmetic dentistry: try before you buy

In a report published recently by the BBC, young people spoke of how the apps they used to upload pictures of themselves to social media gave them easy access to tweak and modify their appearance. The resulting images sowed the seeds for them of what they could actually look like if these tweaks were made in real life. The apps essentially give them a chance to view the results before making a decision about which cosmetic dentistry procedures to opt for.

One user says her constant use of a selfie editor app has made her consider certain cosmetic procedures: “I use it every time I take a photo. I hate my chin so sometimes make that smaller, smooth out my face and whiten my teeth… Before I was ‘meh’ about my teeth but now I want them professionally whitened after seeing how they look post-edit. Ideally, I’d have my chin, lips, teeth [altered cosmetically] and liposuction. But whitening is my main goal as it’s least invasive and least costly. I want to look like an edited version of myself, essentially.”

What results can you expect

There are many things that can be done to help people whose teeth are affecting their self-confidence. For those who are concerned about the colour of their teeth, these can be professionally cleaned or whitened to help remove a build up of plaque or stains caused by things we consume, such as red wine, tea or coffee.

Some fixes are more long term than others. Teeth whitening, for example, is a relatively short-term fix, but also one of the least expensive treatments you can choose to improve the appearance of your teeth. More expensive and more invasive steps include procedures such as dental veneers or crowns, where teeth are permanently altered to improve how they look.

If you wish to change the look of your teeth above and beyond the use of filters and photographic tweaks, get in touch with the team here at CK Dental who can talk you through the best options based on what you are looking to achieve. Call us on 0117 905 9866 to arrange a consultation.

fruit and tooth decay

It has long since been recommended to consume five portions of fruit and vegetables per day to ensure that you’re giving your body enough vitamins and minerals found within these foods. Although dentists have warned about the acidity of some fruits (citrus fruits in particular) causing harm to teeth enamel, new links have been found between some fruits and a reduction in harmful bacteria inside the mouth.

Scientists have found that blueberries and cranberries contain polyphenols, which is a naturally occurring component that fights harmful bacteria that can live in the mouth. Essentially, the polyphenols make the environment unsuitable for this bacteria to cling effectively to the teeth, meaning it is unable to stick around and cause too much harm.

HARVESTING POLYPHENOLS

Although fruits contain natural sugars, the good news for polyphenols is that these are actually sugar-free. So, if used in isolation, do not cause any of the unwanted side effects that sugar can cause the mouth.

The other exciting revelation is that these polyphenols can be extracted and added to water or oral care products, therefore it is not only possible to ingest them by consuming the fruit. Dr Nigel Carter who is the Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation explains that polyphenols “can be added to oral care products in several ways … They can dissolve in water so can be used to create healthy drinks… and mouthwash could benefit from this ingredient, as could toothpastes”.

Development of these polyphenols is still in its infancy at the moment so more research will need to be done into the practicalities of this, but it certainly looks very positive.

BE MINDFUL OF NATURAL SUGAR CONTENT

Experts here at CK Dental are keen to remind patients that although this is very good news that these fruits can help kill harmful bacteria, it is important not to forget that all fruits contain natural sugars, so do need to be consumed in moderation. Anyone who has eaten a cranberry before will know that these are not particularly sweet so therefore do not contain as much natural sugar as many fruits. Blueberries, by comparison, tend to be much sweeter and their sugar content is unsurprisingly much higher. According to the Oral Health Foundation, “one portion of cranberries contains up to four grams of natural sugar (equivalent to one teaspoon) while a serving of blueberries is nearly ten grams.”

If you like the sound of these benefits and wish to weave cranberries and blueberries into your diet, it is advised to eat them at meal times rather than as a snack, as this minimises the amount of time that your teeth are exposed to other components contained within them, such as the naturally occurring sugar content and acidity.

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.

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.

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.


Get In Touch




Get In Touch

Email: info@ckdental.co.uk

Telephone: 0117 9059 866

CK Dental | Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital – The Chesterfield, 3 Clifton Hill, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1BN