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technology and toothbrushing Bristol dentistEverything in our modern lives is eventually touched by technology, thanks to the technical wizards who are hard at work innovating, reinventing and modifying the things that we use on a day to day basis. From our phones to our fridges, our TVs to our heating, everything we use is being pushed to try and make it do more and more clever, useful things.

It was only a matter of time before the consumer dentistry market was the recipient of one of these new innovations, and here at CK Dental Practice in Bristol, we were interested to hear more.

Smart tooth brushes

At the recent Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, a new type of ‘smart toothbrush’ was unveiled. This new innovation promises to sync with an app to try and help you make your teeth brushing routine as efficient as possible. The logic behind this new tooth brush is that in the long run, the intelligence garnered from its use will save you lots of money in future dentistry work.

Artificial intelligence

These smart tooth brushes even promise that they use the very latest in artificial intelligence (AI), as they will supposedly study the way in which you brush your teeth, learn from this and then make suggestions about how this can be improved. The tooth brush is designed to connect to an app on your phone via Bluetooth, which captures information about your brushing habits, such as how often you brush, how long for and which areas of your mouth you give most attention to.

Interestingly, according to one toothbrush innovator Kolibree, a tech firm specialising in dental products, their new toothbrush has the capability of storing usage data while it is not connected to the app, and then syncing when the connection feature is activated.

Sounds very futuristic, doesn’t it?

Some of the big, well-known brands in toothbrush manufacture are already investigating the potential behind using AI to keep our teeth cleaner and healthier. If you like the sound of this but aren’t in a position to invest in one of these new smart toothbrushes, then there are other dentistry apps available that can help add a bit of sparkle to your normal tooth brushing routine. This is a great idea too if you’re trying to encourage children to find tooth brushing more interesting.

When it comes to dentistry innovations, it sounds like the future’s bright, the future’s pearly-white.

Bristol dental practiceThere are interesting innovations across all industries, and dentistry is no different. Electronic toothbrushes revolutionised the brushing experience when they were first introduced, but now there are so many more things that tooth brushes can offer.

Here at CK Dental practice in Bristol, we decided to take a  look at some of the latest innovations to have changed the humble tooth brush.

Tooth brushes with cameras

These clever electric toothbrushes have a tiny camera embedded within the handle which gives users the chance to film the inside of their mouths. With this knowledge and ability to see areas that are tough to see by looking in the mirror, this can help guide users to target problem areas and to ensure that problems such as plaque do not build up unnoticed.

Brushing for the correct amount of time

Another innovation is a toothbrush that comes with a built-in timer. It is recommended that teeth are brushed twice a day for at least two minutes, and with a timer available inside your toothbrush, there is no simpler way to ensure you’re meeting your daily brushing quota.

Tongue as well as teeth

Some toothbrushes come with special modes for cleaning your tongue, which are softer than modes required for brushing teeth. It is important to maintain a healthy tongue as part of your oral routine; otherwise it can become a breeding ground for bacteria which can be harmful for your teeth.

Applying just the right amount of pressure

There are also toothbrushes that have a pressure sensor to ensure that you’re applying enough – but not too much – pressure to the different areas of your mouth. Getting the pressure right is important, too little and you risk not leaving teeth fully clean, too much and you risk damaging tooth enamel or more sensitive gums.

What causes teeth to discolour? Bristol dentistThere are many factors that affect the colour of our teeth, some of which are well known, others are much more obscure. Whereas regular brushing can go a long way to helping keep teeth white, there are some issues where brushing alone won’t quite cut it.

Ageing causes the enamel to become thinner, giving teeth a yellowish tinge. This is something that will happen to all of us, some of us are happy to live with the discolouration brought on by age, while others feel it is not a compromise they are prepared to make. Strong coloured food and drink (such as coffee, tea and red wine) can also stain teeth, as will tobacco for smokers. But what else affects how bright our smiles are?

Exposure to fluoride

Most people have heard that fluoride is good for teeth, but exposure to fluoride when teeth are young and still developing can be harmful to the soft enamel. During early childhood, exposure to fluoride should
be carefully limited. Toothpaste containing fluoride is recommended only for children of three years and older, and for those aged between three and six years old, this must be no more than the size of a garden pea.

Even in adults, excessive exposure to fluoride can cause teeth to get darker. Luckily, professional whitening treatments can often reverse the effects of too much fluoride in later life.

Damage to the tooth or its root

If you’ve suffered an injury to your mouth then this can cause bleeding inside the tooth, leading to discolouration. A fall, a sporting injury or any other accident that has exerted pressure on your teeth can lead to permanent discolouration of the affected teeth.

At CK Dental Practice in Bristol, we can help if you’re suffering from a darkened tooth. Professional cleaning can help remove some stubborn surface stains, whereas for more serious discolouration there are some more technical options available. Individual teeth can be capped with a ‘bonding component’ which is attached to the tooth and will cover its darker appearance. This component will be matched to the colour of your non-damaged teeth. Alternatively, porcelain veneers can be fitted over the teeth. This is becoming more and more popular over time, with many high profile figures improving the appearance of their smile with veneers.

If you are concerned about the colour of your teeth and wish to discuss options, get in touch with the team here at CK Dental practice in Bristol, who will be able to offer advice based specifically on what is causing the discolouration you’re unhappy with.

Why do teeth discolour with age? Bristol dentistThere are many things that happen to the human body as we age, and one of these is discolouration of the teeth. Your once shiny, pearly white smile might start to take on a yellowish tinge as the years creep up on you, but what exactly causes this?

Despite the steps forward humans have taken in an evolutionary sense, we still only get two sets of teeth in our lifetime, the second of which last for the vast majority of our lives. As with any part of the body, teeth are subjected to wear and tear, and will naturally get weaker over time.

One sign that teeth are ageing is discolouration, which is caused by the tooth enamel thinning. As the enamel coating gets thinner it begins to take on a more transparent state, which means that the components inside the tooth start to become visible. Inside teeth is a material called “dentine” which is yellow in colour. It is this which starts to become visible, giving the appearance of discoloured teeth.

Can anything be done to combat the appearance of ageing teeth?

Here at CK Dental practice in Bristol we understand that people like to retain a youthful appearance for as long as possible. If maintaining a bright, white smile is important to you then there are options that can help address the natural aging process of your teeth.

As well as teeth whitening in Bristol, we also offer porcelain veneers, which can be fitted to natural teeth to mask the effects of tooth discolouration and are growing steadily in popularity.

A more natural alternative

There are also steps that can be taken to help keep teeth white that does not involve dentistry. Avoiding foods that stain teeth is a sensible starting point. Drinks such as red wine, coffee, tea and foods that contain a lot of artificial strong colouring should be avoided if you’re worried that your teeth are darkening, as these can exacerbate the problem.

Tobacco is also a common culprit for teeth discolouration. Nicotine and the tar found within cigarettes stains heavily, but the good news is the effects are not permanent. If you’re prepared to ditch the habit and to get your teeth ‘deep cleaned’ then it is possible to remove a lot of the discoloration caused by smoking.

What questions should I be asking at my Bristol dentist consultation?Most of us have clocked up many trips to the dentist over our lifetime, but how can we be sure that we are making the most of each appointment? Generally, appointments are led by the dentist so you have no need to ask specific questions unless you’re particularly interested or worried about a particular area.

Here at CK Dental practice in Bristol we want you to feel that you’re getting the best care and service from your dentist, so if you’re curious about your oral health and interested to know what your dentist will be looking for, here are some questions you could consider asking.

How often should I be coming for a check up?

This will naturally differ from patient to patient, and will be dependent on the condition of your mouth, gums and teeth. If your oral health is normal then check ups are usually recommended once or twice per year. Typically at the end of a consultation your dentist will specify when they wish to see you again and you can book in for your next appointment before you leave.

How can I look after my teeth most effectively between appointments?

Your dentist will be able to give you lots of helpful hints and tips for caring for your mouth, teeth and gums. You can expect that this will include brushing at least twice a day (morning and night) and also flossing regularly. Mouth wash can sometimes be recommended as this can help keep your mouth and breath fresh, and helps keeps your teeth white.

What food and drink should I avoid to keep my teeth healthy?

Eating and drinking things that are high in sugar should be avoided (especially in young children whose teeth are still developing). Carbonated (fizzy) drinks can also wear down the delicate enamel on the surface of teeth. As with most food and drink guidelines, most things are fine in moderation, but the problems creep in when you overdo a particular food or drink that has a known effect on a particular area of the body.

Sugary drinks cause tooth decayEveryone knows that sugar is bad for teeth. It causes tooth decay and often sugary drinks contain acids which can corrode the delicate tooth enamel. There are certain fizzy drinks that are well known culprits.

No one would be surprised to hear than a can of coke contains a lot of sugar and is therefore bad for your teeth, but there are some ‘healthier’ drinks that have a surprisingly high sugar content.

During 2016, the Government floated the suggestion of imposing a sugar tax on soft drinks, prompting the evaluation of exactly how much sugar was found in many of the nation’s favourite drinks. To make the findings easily digestible, the amount of sugar was then converted into ‘teaspoon equivalents’.

And the ‘winner’ is…..

The table below shows the rank order of the 10 worst offending soft drinks consumed in the UK, and how many grams of sugar are found within each.

Old Jamaica Ginger Beer Extra Fiery (15.7 grams per 100ml)

Rockstar Punched Guava (15.6)

Old Jamaica Ginger Beer (15.2)

Mountain Dew (13.0)

Coke Cherry (11.2)

Pepsi Cola (11.0)

Red Bull (11.0)

Monster Origin Energy Drink (11.0)

7 Up (11.0)

Coca Cola (10.6)

The drink containing the highest amount of sugar per 100ml is Old Jamaican Ginger Beer, and at just under 16 grams of sugar per 100ml this equates to almost four teaspoons of sugar. When you bear in mind that many fizzy drinks are consumed in 330ml cans, you can quickly see that this equates to a startling amount of sugar. Coca Cola gets a bad press for containing a lot of sugar, and just enters the top 10 with 10.6 grams per 100ml.

Brush away excess sugar

Here at CK Dental practice in Bristol, we recommend that brushing your teeth at least twice a day is a good starting point to removing a build up of sugar in between your teeth, but if you’re a fan of any of the types of drinks listed above then it might be sensible to begin brushing between meals too.

Our European cousins take this approach, with Italians in particular very stringent with their oral hygiene and regularly found brushing their teeth between meals, but this is something that is yet to really
catch on here in the UK. It’s never too late to start, so if you’re keen to keep your teeth healthy yet are partial to sugary drinks, then this could be a good contender for a 2017 New Year’s resolution…..