sensitive toothpastesThere’s a bewildering selection of toothpastes on offer nowadays, and the waters have been muddied somewhat by the rise of ‘sensitive’ toothpastes. Not necessarily by their claims to take the edge off pain, though: here at CK Dental in Bristol, we find them to be very effective.

However, not everyone knows if they actually need them or not.

Why do people suffer from sensitive teeth?

Tooth sensitivity is a very real symptom, especially when it comes to cold food and drink. The most common cause for this is gum recession, which exposes part of the root of the tooth. There are many reasons for gum recession: simple gum disease, aging, and – in certain instances – overbrushing. Or a combination of all three.

What ingredients are in sensitive toothpastes?

Almost all of the sensitive toothpastes on the market can be split into two categories.

The cheaper brands contain two strains of potassium – potassium nitrate and potassium citrate. These work by seeping into the nerve of teeth and preventing it from transmitting pain signals to the brain. The downside to these toothpastes is that they take a while to get to work, so expect to have to used them on a twice-daily basis for two weeks before they start to work.

The more expensive brands, on the other hand, contain ingredients such as strontium, argintine and calcium sodium phosphosilicate. These are a lot faster in taking the edge off, as they block the dentine tubules – the pores located
in the roots of teeth. There are other active ingredients, but they haven’t been clinically proven as yet.

And more often than you’d expect, they don’t contain fluoride, which is absolutely essential in fighting tooth decay.

Our advice: if you’re suffering from tooth sensitivity, come and talk to the team here at our Bristol dental practice as soon as possible, especially if the problem has recently flared up for the first time. We’ll be able to check the condition of your gums, see what’s causing the pain, and advise accordingly.

is fear of the dentist genetic?We may be far removed from the experiences of yesteryear, but there’s still a lingering terror amongst certain people of the dentists.

Here at CK Dental practice in Bristol, we were alarmed to read this recent news story, which claims that up to thirty patients per day are ducking out of vital appointments at the Birmingham Dental Hospital, mainly due to odontophobia.

Seeing as the majority of patients have been referred there because they require work that is too complex for the average dental clinic, this is a huge problem – both for the people involved (as they’ll be struck off the waiting list and left to sort the problem out themselves) and the NHS (which isn’t in a position to throw money away).

DNA = Did Not Attend

While there are many reasons why people are not attending, from not being able to book a time convenient to their lifestyles to simply forgetting, it’s clear that some of the biggest myths about the pain of dental care are yet to be completely expelled.

But does fear of dentists run deeper than we first thought? According to a recent study conducted by West Virginia University, maybe it does.

The study – conducted by two members of the University’s Department of Psychology – concluded that some of the genes we inherit that harbour a fear of pain can also influence and prey upon dental fears. We’ve always believed that odontophobia was caused by learned behaviour in childhood – now it appears it may run even deeper than that.

What can you do to fight the fear?

Our advice, as always, is to be honest with yourself first and foremost. Being afraid of drills and needles is a natural response – but resisting steps to relieve and prevent years of future dental discomfort goes against all our natural inclinations to protect ourselves.

And if you’re worried about passing your fear onto your children, this guide we prepared earlier can help.

children's dentist in BristolWe see a lot of parents with very young children here at CK Dental in Bristol, and that’s a very good thing – it’s never too early to get your children into good dental habits.

But one thing we’re concerned about is how certain parents see milk teeth as a trial run, with little consequence as to what happens to them. And this recent news story bears our concerns out.

Why are milk teeth so important?

Deciduous teeth – the official term for milk teeth – form as early as the embryo stage, usually appear at the six-month stage, and are pretty much fully-formed by the time your child is two and a half.

It’s not usually until your child is six before the permanent teeth are ready to make an appearance, and it could be as late at the twelve-year period before milk teeth are completely replaced. So it’s vital
that while they’re there, they are treated with the same care and respect as our adult teeth.

In many cases, the general attitude towards milk teeth is that they’re disposable: they’re only here for a while, so why bother with them? Because the care of them is vital for the future of your child’s dental health, and if things go wrong early, it can magnify problems for adult teeth.

Space is not the place

The main problem with premature milk teeth loss is a condition known as ‘space loss’. When one tooth goes before its time, the adult tooth that’s getting ready to replace it will not get the space it needs when its time comes, leading to braces in the teenage years.

What’s more, severely decayed milk teeth can cause abscesses that cause pain in the short term and damage to the adult teeth before they even appear.

Want to get your kids into good dental habits? Here’s a good place to start.

teeth whitening in BristolHere at CK Dental in Bristol, we get asked many questions by our clients on the subject of teeth whitening – in particular, what food and drink they should be avoiding to keep their teeth as gleaming as possible. So it’s time we had a look at what foods and drinks are the prime offenders – and some that actually help keep your teeth at their best…

The main culprits

Along with black coffee, red wine is the biggest contributor to teeth-staining, but white wine can be just as bad. The red version contains chromogens, which are the source of the all those tooth-discolouring pigments, but it also contains a lot of tannins, which dry out the mouth and cause a sticky mess on the teeth.

And just like red, white wine and rose contain erosive acid, which opens up the door for other foods to stain the teeth.

Hate teeth-staining? Hard cheese

However, there are plenty of foods that can help fend off staining, and they’re not all bland. Strawberries are packed with malic acid, which acts as a natural astringent. Seeds and nuts when chewed act as a natural exfoliant. Apples produce tons of saliva, which wash away bacteria. And harder cheeses boost tooth enamel as well as providing a shot of calcium.

Water is your best friend

…not only for its hydrating benefits, but because it really is the kindest drink for your teeth, for obvious reasons. Even if you refuse to give up black coffee, red wine and all the other food and drinks that can cause staining, a lot of their damage can be washed away with a slug of water immediately afterwards.

Get into the habit of having a glass of water handy when you eat or drink, if only for mouth-rinsing purposes.

Bristol dentists CK Dental explain why brushing is a mustThis article that popped up on the Glamour website gave everyone here at CK Dental in Bristol a laugh – at first, anyway – as it crystallised a regular complaint we hear from certain clients. Particularly the younger ones.

Yes, spending two minutes in front of a sink twice a day is seen by many as a chore – especially last thing at night – but there’s no getting round it: brushing your teeth regularly is an essential part of your routine and should never – ever – be skipped. Here’s why…

Brushing your teeth prevents tooth decay

An absolute no-brainer, but it can’t be stressed enough. Over the course of the day, your mouth picks up all manner of plaque build-up: brushing is the only way to fend it off. And yes, it has to be for two minutes – scientists have proved that one minute of brushing only gets rid of 60% of plaque.

Brushing your teeth prevents gum disease

This really can’t be stressed highly enough. Remember that your gums are one of the easiest parts of the body for bacteria to invade – and once they’re in, they’re hard to get out. The first symptom of non-brushing is usually gingivitis, which causes gum bleeding, which can lead to periodontitis, which can do even more damage.

Gum disease can lead to even nastier illnesses

Dental and medical experts have drawn a convoluted – yet clear – link between gum disease and heart attacks, strokes and even dementia. This is because the more extreme the gum disease, the more the floodgates open to bacteria, which can then circulate around the body.

This all may sound extreme, but putting aside the obvious benefits of tooth-brushing (it stops your breath from stinking and your teeth from discolouration), there is a clear heath benefit to scrubbing away for a couple of minutes. So don’t skip it!

Bristol dental practice looks at the dangers of metal fillingsHere at CK Dental in Bristol, we’ve been taking notice of a recent study released this month which claims to draw a link between metal fillings and mercury exposure.

According to American scientists who studied data from 15,000 patients, there’s a correlation between an excessive amount of metal fillings and the raising of blood mercury levels, which can increase the risk of brain, heart and kidney ailments.

This is pretty alarming for Americans, but even worse for us Brits, who are noted for having poorer dental health. Over a million children under the age of five already have at least two fillings, while the average British adult has seven fillings – and according to the compilers of the report, having more than eight puts you at risk.

Why are metal fillings a potential danger?

Metal fillings – otherwise known as dental amalgam – contain a mixture of liquid silver, tin, copper and mercury, which then hardens. It’s been used by dentists since the 19th century, but the fourth of those ingredients – mercury – makes up 50% of the formula, and has always been seen as a worry.

Health authorities have always stressed that dental amalgam is safe, but they don’t completely recommend it for pregnant women or the very young.

Luckily, here at CK Dental in Bristol, we take full advantage of the very latest filling materials which are metal and mercury-free. Not only that, but it is deployed and fitted in a natural-looking colour, and the service is now available at an affordable rate.

If in doubt, talk to us

So, if you’re worried about the state of your fillings, our advice is: don’t panic. If you do have a mouth full of metal and would like a more natural look, come and see us for a consultation to find out how we can help.

Bristol dentist asks: are you brushing your teeth with microbeads?We’re all aware of the introduction of microbeads – tiny balls of plastic smaller than a grain of sand – to the exfoliating products we use.

We’re also equally aware of their drawbacks – how they end up in the oceans, sucking up toxins and eventually ending up ending up in the bellies of fish (some of whom end up in the bellies of some of us). In fact, it’s been announced that they’ll be banned in cosmetics in the UK by the end of 2017.

Microbeads in dental products

But were you aware that microbeads can also be used in dental products? That fact was recently drawn to our attention by a Mail Online article about a London woman who started using a whitening toothpaste, unaware that
it contained microbeads – and her use of an electric toothbrush meant she was effectively grinding small particles of plastic into her teeth and gums.

Now she’s claiming that she’s lost about 2mm from the gums surrounding her lower front teeth and complains of pain when she drinks fruit juice.

This problem flared up a couple of years ago, when American dentists started to notice tiny flecks of plastic embedded in their patients’ gums, and although most toothpastes in the UK have cut them out, there are still a few
toothpastes that haven’t yet.

It goes without saying that microbeads are a definite no-no when it comes to oral health – not only do they cut into the enamel and gum tissue, they can also trap bacteria and lead to all manner of infections.

So why put them in?

Usually found in skin products, microbeads are seen as a cheap and always-available substitute for natural exfoliants, and they can also bulk out and add colour to a product. There’s no actual benefit for the user.

Because the toothpastes involved don’t advertise the fact that they use microbeads, you need to take a close look at the ingredients – if they contain the likes of plastics such as Polyethylene, Polypropylene, Polyethylene Terephthalate and Polymethyl Methacrylate, you need to stop using them right away. If in doubt, ask your dentist

Bristol dentists explain the different types of mouthwashThere’s an ever-expanding and bewildering array of mouthwashes on the shelves nowadays, and they all make different claims. Here at CK Dental in Bristol, we receive a lot of enquires about the gargly stuff, so here’s a few things you need to know…

Therapeutic v cosmetic mouthwash

Mouthwashes fall into two categories. Cosmetic mouthwash (which is used solely for the freshening of the breath), and therapeutic mouthwash (which contains ingredients designed to fight oral bacteria).

If you’re just after the former, you don’t really need mouthwash – a stick of sugarless gum will suffice. If you’re after the optimum treatment with your mouthwash, you need to make sure you pick up the latter.

Alcohol

Many cosmetic mouthwashes trumpet the fact that they’re alcohol-free on the packaging, and usually contain astringent salts that will freshen the mouth – but won’t kill germs.

However, the new generation of mouthwashes are beginning to turn away from the hard stuff, as it dries out the mouth and can burn gum and cheek tissue, creating a whole new breeding ground for bacteria.

Antibacterial agents

If you want your mouthwash to put in serious work, this is the sort of element you need to have in your choice of brand. Even better if they contain germicides like cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) which fight plaque as well as take down bacteria and combat bad breath.

Fluoride

A no-brainer of an ingredient, to be honest.

When should I use mouthwash?

An easier question to answer would be; ‘When shouldn’t I use mouthwash?’, because if you’re using it directly after brushing your teeth, you won’t get the maximum benefit from either of them.

It’s always best to not rinse your mouth after brushing – either with water or mouthwash – because you want a film of toothpaste on your teeth for as long as possible. Get into the habit of leaving the toothpaste to do its work for a while before reaching for the mouthwash, or – even better – use mouthwash after meals if you haven’t the time to brush.

electric toothbrushAccording to a recent survey conducted by the Oral Health Foundation, one in four Britons believe that electric toothbrushes are for the lazy, which came as an enormous surprise to us here at CK Dental practice in Bristol.

So let’s lay out a few comparisons between the electric toothbrush and good old elbow grease and see if that’s really the case…

Brush movements

According to tests, the average motions made by the user of a regular toothbrush result in 300 to 600 movements per minute. An electric toothbrush, on the other hand, can deliver over 48,000 movements a minute – a huge improvement.

Furthermore, while manual toothbrush users can easily fall into bad brushing habits – such as an endless back-and-forth motion, as opposed to the circular motion that dentists recommend – virtually all electric toothbrushes rotate, which is far more effective in sweeping plaque away.

Over-brushing

While manual toothbrush users are getting far less activity going on in their mouths as opposed to their electric counterparts, they also run more of a risk in damaging their teeth by pressing too hard.

This is not so much of a danger with the more modern electric toothbrushes, as a lot of them have built-in sensors that alert the user when they’re being pressed against the tooth.

Child-friendliness

Another department where the electric toothbrush comes out on top is with kids. While they can’t usually brush as well as they might with a manual toothbrush (and find it boring), the electric toothbrush does all the hard work – and they actually enjoy brushing their teeth with one.

In short, there’s nothing at all wrong with using a standard toothbrush – providing you know how to use it properly. If you feel you could use a little more power and convenience during your daily dental routine, however, we recommend you upgrade to electric as soon as you can.

Free_Macro_White_Teeth_With_Dental_Floss_and_Red_Lipstick_Creative_Commons_(509495525)It’s been a part of the ‘proper’ dental care regime for decades now, and promoted as the one treatment that can get your teeth and breath truly clean. But the reputation of flossing has taken a battering of late with the introduction of interdental brushing – and according to recent studies, certain experts are predicting it may have reached the end of its tape.

A lot of floss about nothing?

Ever since America’s Associated Press conducted a secret survey amongst governmental health and dental experts – and came away with the conclusion that none of them would actually say that flossing had any real benefit – the US federal government quietly dropped its recommendations of the practice in its recent dietary guidelines, which has been there for 37 years.

Should you stop flossing?

Now that the NHS has announced that it may be reviewing its position on the matter, where does that leave us? It bears repeating that, like their modern counterparts, the incorrect and forced use of dental floss can do more harm than good. Poor technique can cause tooth and gum damage, but it can also dislodge bad bacteria, which can cause infection.

However, while interdental brushes have been proven to be more effective in removing food debris in hard-to-reach places, not everyone can use them: those of us with very little gap space between our teeth due to their natural growth (or impacted wisdom teeth) find that even the thinnest interdental brush is too large to fit snugly.

And there’s also the psychological benefit of flossing: not only does flossing shift mouth debris when it’s there, the user actually feels that they have a cleaner mouth after using it, which is important.

Our advice: if you haven’t tried interdental brushes yet, give them a try – they might work better for you. And if they’re not hitting the spot, review and improve upon your flossing technique.