Dental Dictionary

We’ve provided information below to give you insight into a number of dental related matters. We hope it is helpful.

Just click any subject below to reveal more details…

If you’d like to know more about anything at all, just get in touch!

bleaching

Upper teeth treated, lower teeth untreated as a comparison.

Tooth whitening (bleaching) is a totally painless and simple process which will make your teeth lighter and brighter and will give you something extra to smile about.

The process is completed in the comfort of your own home and usually takes about two weeks although results can be seen in just a few days.

This treatment can also be used to change the colour of individual teeth and in many cases can be an alternative to veneers or crowns. Ask your dentist if this treatment would be suitable for you when you are next in the practice.

We offer a 20% discount on cosmetic dental treatments for our Denplan Care patients. Ask at reception to see if you qualify for this reduction.

When you lose one or more teeth and you want to replace them but don’t want to wear a denture a bridge may be the answer.

A bridge is a false tooth or maybe a few teeth which are attached to adjacent teeth to act as a permanent replacement. Once cemented into position you clean and brush it like a natural tooth and it doesn’t need a plate to hold it in place.

Archaeological evidence shows that the first bridges were constructed thousands of years ago by the Egyptians who used fine gold wire to fasten human or animal teeth and white stones onto their other teeth to fill spaces. Modern bridges you will be pleased to know have come on a fair way since then and it is now often possible to replace a missing tooth in such a way as to make it impossible to tell.

There are many variations of bridges, most conventional bridges are held in place by a crown or crowns on adjacent teeth but there is a type called a Maryland bridge which is simply bonded into place with a resin cement. The advantage of this is that it is simple, inexpensive and doesn’t involve preparing other teeth but it is only really suitable for front teeth and it isn’t as strong as the conventional type of bridge.

If this idea appeals to you, ask us to investigate if you would be a suitable candidate.

Ancient Egyptians used fine gold wire to fasten animal teeth into their mouths to fill gaps! In recent years things have moved on!!

Good tooth brushinq techniques

The average ftime that people brush their teeth for is 45 seconds, and it is totally ineffective.

Electric tooth brushinq

We recommend electric tooth brushes as the best method.

They have a very efficient cleaning actiocarder models have a two minute timer, that ensures the teeth are brushed for long enough.

The technique is very different from that for manual tooth brushing. Just put the brush in contact with the tooth-gum margin and follow the contour of the tooth round to the next one.

Let the brush do the work for you. Brush each tooth individually, not as a “row of teeth”. Ask for a demonstration next time you are in the practice.

Manual tooth brushinq

The technique we recommend is called the Bass mini scrub technique.

This involves carefully placing the bristles on the gum margin, pointing 45 degrees up for upper teeth or down for lower teeth, and gently but firmly move the brush backwards and forwards, no more than a centimetre at a time, keeping the bristles in contact with the gum margin.

After a few seconds of this carefully roll the bristles away from the gum edge then start again with your toothbrush centred on the next tooth.

Gradually work your way around your mouth. Inside and out, top and bottom.

As a private practice we are able to spend the time necessary to provide you with the highest quality of treatment and advice.

At your initial consultation appointment we will almost always be able to provide you with a detailed written estimate of any dental treatment, which may be necessary. In more complex cases we may require a couple of appointments to fully investigate the treatment options and discuss the costs and implications with you.

Because we do not rush you in and out of the surgery, you can expect to be at the practice for about half an hour on your first visit.

We will also ask you to fill in a confidential medical history form, which we will normally post to you when you book your appointment.

Once we have completed any initial treatment required we generally recommend Denplan care to help you improve your long term dental health and as an excellent way to budget for any future costs. Along with this we recommend regular check-ups every three, six or twelve months to enable us to detect minor problems before they become major ones which means treatment is kept to a minimum. We believe very strongly in regular monitoring of your total oral health. We will advise you of the recall interval we feel is appropriate for you.

We will only start treatment with your consent and usually only because it is urgent.

We do not rush you in and out of the surgery. You can expect to be at the practice for about half an hour on your first visit.

One of the most common problems we encounter in modern dentistry is how to treat a cracked tooth.

With today’s lifestyles of eating healthy foods (muesli, granary bread, etc) with lots of hard bits in it, high stress working environments (many of us grind our teeth, often at night as a stress relieving habit) and the way we now retain our habit) and the way we now retain our teeth longer, often for life.

This means lots of often heavily filled and weakened teeth enduring heavy strains and workloads for many years. It is hardly surprising that cracked teeth become a problem, normally starting from the third decade of life.

Many teeth have superficial cracks in them which are visible but of no consequence.

These are thought to be caused by thermal cycling. (Hot drinks then cold air or ice cream, throughout your life.) However if the crack becomes deeper and enters the dentine layer, symptoms will occur. This happens mainly in back teeth. It may start as sensitivity to hot and cold things, or pain when biting crunchy things.

The treatment is to reinforce the tooth across the line of the crack. This may be done by use of a white (bonded) filling, or a crown.

If the crack is severe it may injure the pulp (nerve) within the tooth and cause an abscess. At this stage the tooth may require a root filling.

Ultimately the crack may propagate right through the tooth causing a fracture of one or more cusps and depending upon the depth of the fracture this may result in the tooth becoming unrestorable.

Although most cracked teeth can be treated simply and successfully, a small number (10%) will cause persistent problems and will ultimately require extraction.

Cracked teeth are unpredictable and it often takes a lot of time and effort to diagnose and treat them successfully.

What are composite fillings?

These are an alternative to conventional silver fillings. In the right place they are hard wearing and look like a natural tooth.

Advantages of composite fillings

  • A moderate sized white filling can increase the strength of the remaining tooth making it less likely to fracture in the future.
  • They look better than conventional silver fillings, in fact in some cases they can be virtually indistinguishable from natural tooth.
  • In some cases the better thermal insulation provided by non-metal fillings can make a tooth less sensitive.

Disadvantages of Composite fillings

  • White fillings may not be suitable if the cavity is too big.
  • Proper placement requires the site to be kept isolated of saliva. This can be difficult in very large cavities near the back of the mouth.
  • They are not suitable if the cavity is deep enough to go below gum level.
  • White fillings take longer to place.

Our practice policy is to use white fillings in cases where we would expect them to last at least as well as a silver amalgam filling but not if we feel the result may be compromised by moisture control or other clinical factors. This sometimes means we have to make a final decision when the filling is being placed.

Your monthly Denplan payment will cover the cost of white fillings where suitable.

What is a dental crown?

A crown (often called a cap) is a tooth shaped covering that encases the tooth on which it is cemented. Crowns are used generally when the damage or decay is so extensive that filling materials cannot make the tooth strong enough. They can also be used to improve the appearance of teeth. They are a long lasting and durable way to restore a tooth.

How are crowns prepared and fitted?

A crown is provided over two visits. At the first appointment the tooth is filed down to make room for the crown. An impression of the tooth is then taken and a temporary crown is placed. The impression is then sent to the dental laboratory for construction of thev permanent crown, which generally takes about two weeks. At the second appointment the temporary crown is removed and the newly constructed permanent crown is cemented onto the previously prepared tooth.

There are many different types of crown available with differing aesthetic and physical properties. We will always explain the choice of material we wish to use for your teeth and allow you to make the final decision.

Gold
Very strong even when in thin section.

Porcelain
Aesthetic but fragile. Only for front teeth.

Bonded porcelain
Quite good aesthetics and fairly strong. A good standard restoration.

High strength ceramic
Strong and beautiful but expensive.

Denplan Care is an excellent way to budget for your dental treatment. It is a fully inclusive insurance package which covers you at home and abroad. You pay one monthly fee and all your dental treatment is taken care of.

How it works

After an initial consultation covering all aspects of your oral health, your dentist will establish your monthly Denplan Care payment. This payment is based on the condition of your teeth and gums. The plan starts from as little as £10 per month.

What is included?

You monthly payment entitles you to regular check ups, advice and preventative care, plus any treatment normally carried out in general dental practice, e.g. fillings, crowns, extractions, scale & polish etc.

You also benefit from supplementary insurance which covers you for dental accident and emergency treatment, anywhere in the world. The only exclusions are laboratory fees. For items like crowns and dentures you will have to pay the fee the laboratory charges us to fabrication the item.

Denplan Essentials

Denplan Essentials is similar to Denplan Care in that it covers you for 2 check up and 2 oral hygiene visits a year with your dentist/hygienist, plus all the insurance benefits that come with Denplan Care.

You pay a monthly fee  you also receive 15% discount off the cost of any private treatment you require. This plan may suit you if you are someone who has had a lot of dental treatment in the past and would fall into a high category under Denplan Care, but hopefully will need a relatively small amount of treatment in the future.

It doesn’t however give you the same peace of mind as Denplan Care and if you do require substantial amounts of treatment it may turn out to be a false economy.

What is a denture?

A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth. It is made from acrylic resin (a type ofhard plastic) sometimes incombination with various metals.Complete dentures replace all the teeth whilst partial dentures replace some missing teeth and prevent the remaining teeth from moving.

Dentures can improve chewing ability, speech, and provide support for the facial muscles. They are also important in maintaining and improving appearance.

Newer materials now available can restore appearance so that others cannot tell you are wearing dentures.

How are they constructed?

Dentures usually require about 4 or 5 surgery visits.

Impression stage:

Initial impressions are taken of your teeth and gums and plaster models are made in the dental laboratory.

Bite Stage:

The dental technician then makes a wax rim for the dentist to register how you bite. This is returned to the lab and it tells the Botox technician how your top and bottom jaws meet. It will also give him/her information on how much tooth you will show and how your lips are supported. It is often a good idea to bring and old photo of how your teeth looked before you lost them.

Try-in stage:

Teeth are then added to the wax and tried in the mouth to gauge appearance and fit. We will check first for technical accuracy then let you see how the new denture looks. If you have any concerns about the appearance please let us know at this stage and we can change things very simply. A further try-in stage may be required.

Fit stage:

The denture is now finished in the laboratory and is ready to be fitted… You go away wearing it Subsequent visits may be necessary for adjustments as the dentures “bed in”.

It is particularly true in children but also with adults, if you are having problems with tooth decay it is probably your diet that is at fault.

To take this further it is not only what you eat and drink but the way you consume it. We are all aware that sugar, cakes and sweets are bad for our teeth but there are many other less obvious foods which can cause decay.

Tooth decay occurs when we eat and drink incorrect foods but the risk of decay increases if we eat them frequently. This means opening a packet of sweets and eating one every few minutes throughout the day will cause more decay than if we eat the whole packet all at once. Just half a tsp of sugar in hot drinks throughout the day still creates an increased risk of decay.

We recommend that food or drink which is likely to cause tooth decay is eaten straight after main meals. This cuts down the amount of times food is eaten which will result in less decay.

There are no safe snacks in between meals, milk or still water are the only safe drinks. Diet soft drinks are extremely acidic so even though they contain no sugar they are just as harmful as the regular type of drink. Even natural fruit juice and cordials are extremely harmful!

I often look at what people have in their shopping trolleys at supermarkets for the weekly shopping and I am stunned by the quantity of soft drinks, biscuits and sweets most families consume. The British Dental Health Foundation estimated that a tax of just 2% on this sort of product would fully fund private dental health care for the entire  population of the UK. How much do you spend on this sort of product?

For all dental emergencies…

Please note our Out of Hours emergency telephone number for Private & Denplan patients is 01845 571110. This is available for our registered private and Denplan patients only.

Everyone else should call 0845 603 1407.
Your problem will be assessed by a health advisor and if you need to be seen they will advise you to appropriate arrangements.

Phone the practice as soon as possible. If you phone before 10.00am we will be able to offer you at least one time for an appointment on the same day.

If the practice is closed, we have an out of hours emergency telephone number. This should only be used if the practice is closed and in cases of extreme emergency. Advice is free of charge, if you need to be seen by a dentist there will be a call-out fee of £65.00 plus the cost of any treatment required. Denplan patients are covered for these charges by their membership.

If you are not a registered private or Denplan patient you should call NHS direct on 0845 603 1407. From 1st April 06 NHS direct are responsible for all out of hours emergency treatment. Regrettably child patients who are not registered with us on either a private or Denplan basis will have to use this service since our own in-practice emergency rota has not been contracted to provide cover by local NHS commissioners.

If you knock a tooth completely out, try to find the tooth. If you can find it pick it up and handle it only by the crown (the bit you can normally see in your mouth) and avoid touching the root.

Speed is essential at this point, if you can re-implant it yourself this is the best possible option, alternatively you can take it immediately to the dentist/casualty department. You should transport it in cold milk or if this is not available put it in your mouth between your side teeth and your cheek. This will keep it moist and will keep the cells alive longer.

Do not disinfect or scrub the tooth as this will result in the cells dying.The dentist should be able to re-implant or reposition the tooth and then splint it in place for a few days.

When our first permanent molar teeth come through at approximately age six you can see a pattern of grooves and fissures on the biting surface. In many cases these are the weakest part of the tooth. In conjunction with the limited cleaning abilifies of the average six year old and the sweet diet that children often have, these fissures are generally the first part of a tooth to decay and need filling.

To protect this weak part of the tooth, we can bond a thin layer of plastic over the fissure. This prevents the bacteria and sugary foods from getting into the fissure and causing decay. Once the tooth has been sealed it should be monitored regularly to check its integrity. Fissure sealants can reduce the occurrence of decay by up to 80%.

Placing a fissure sealant is a quick and painless way of protecting a tooth. It is normally done shortly after the tooth erupts and requires some cooperation from the patient so may not be possible for all children.

Gum disease effects 99.9% of the population at sometime in their lives. Left untreated it may develop into Periodontal disease which may result in the loosening and loss of healthy teeth. Plaque is a soft film of millions of bacteria which grow in the mouth. It is extremely sticky and white in colour which makes it difficult to see against white teeth. Plaque collects and sticks around the gum line where the gum meets the tooth.

If plaque is not brushed away at LEAST once in 24 hours, then it produces toxins which cause the gums to become inflamed, red, swollen and sometimes painful. Gums will bleed when brushed, this is known as gingivitis. The Plaque will then begin to harden and form calculus (tartar) this cannot be removed with a toothbrush and you will need a scale and polish which your dentist/hygienist will do for you.

At this stage gingivitis is reversible and with good teeth cleaning techniques and effective removal of plaque taught by your dentist/hygienist the gums will become healthy (pink with no bleeding on brushing) within a few days.

Our Hygienist is professionally trained in the role of prevention and treatment of tooth decay and gum disease for adults and children.

As an oral health educator she will advise you on teeth cleaning techniques and dietary advice which is tailored to your specific needs. This will involve a combination of electric and manual tooth brushing and the use of dental floss or inter-dental brushes to clean even the most inaccessible spaces.

In the surgery the hygienist will scale and may polish your teeth to remove stains and tartar (calculus) build up which cannot be removed with your toothbrush.

Measurement of gum recession will often be recorded to monitor the progress of any gum disease in your mouth. The hygienist can apply Fissure sealants (thin plastic coatings) to weak surfaces of teeth, especially for children, to help prevent cavities.

No matter how hard we try to save your teeth and no matter how well you look after them, sometimes teeth need to be extracted. When this happens one option to replace the tooth is to insert an implant into the jaw and then fit to crown over this.

An implant is a titanium screw which is placed into the bone of the jaw in a simple surgical procedure. The bone then heals around the implant until it is held fast. Then the top of the implant can be exposed and a crown may be fitted. Some of the advantages of implants are that they replace the root of the tooth not just the crown therefore a better gum contour can sometimes be achieved than with conventional methods.

Modern implants have a very high success rate. Implants retain the bone around an extraction socket. Best results are often obtained by placing the implant within a few months of the extraction.

Possible disadvantages are complicated to complete and are correspondingly expensive. They are not necessarily suitable to replace multiple lost teeth. They need excellent oral hygiene to maintain them.

They are not suitable if you srnoke. In some parts of the mouth there are other anatomical structures which prevent the placement of an implant.

An inlay is a type of filling made in the laboratory. They have been made from gold for many years however more recently they have been fabricated from high strength porcelain materials.

Gold inlays are the strongest type of filling and this is sometimes important.

Porcelain inlays again are very strong [although not as strong as gold] and can sometimes be used in situations where a conventional white filling cannot be used. They are very aesthetic and can make a heavily filled tooth look like new again.

They do however take two visits to complete and since they are made in a laboratory they are considerably more expensive than the more usual type of filling.

(pronounced LY-ken PLANE-us)

What is it?

Lichen Planus in the mouth can affect the inside of the cheeks, the tongue or the gums. Usually it appears as white lines or patches, which are occasionally sore, but severe cases can lead to raw, red areas or ulcers, which may be painful. It is relatively common and occurs most often in middle aged adults (slightly more women then men).

It is not a progressive condition and although it may persist for several years, it usually becomes less active with time, eventually burning itself out.

In about 1 in 5 people with oral lichen planus the skin is also affected, with itchy purplish scaly patches, particularly inside the wrists and ankles. It may affect the genital area as well.

What causes it?

The exact cause is unknown, although sometimes certain medications can cause a reaction similar to lichen planus. Otherwise it is thought to be “immune related” I.e. the white blood cells attack normal parts of the skin or mucous membranes (instead of responding just to injury or infection).

Because it is not an infection, it is not contagious. It is not a cancer, it does not appear to be inherited and it is not directly related to nutrition.

What make it worse?

  • Certain foods e.g. wines/spirits, citrus juices, coffee, cola and spicy/crispy foods.
  • Mild trauma, such as rubbing on sharp teeth or fillings.
  • Stress.
  • Poor oral hygiene.
  • Smoking.
  • Contact with amalgam fillings (not proved).

Biopsy

It is usual to confirm clinical diagnosis with a biopsy. This sometimes reveals a fungal infection, which requires anti fungal medication before a re biopsy will detect underlying lichen planus. It also provides a baseline for any changes seen in the future. (blood tests may be taken).

Biopsy is minor procedure carried out in the department using local anaesthetic to numb the area to be sampled, after which dissolvable sutures are placed. Occasionally the healing areas can be quite painful for several days, so we recommend that you don’t plan any important activities during this time and suggest using painkillers and mouthwashes as necessary.

Mouth Cancer Facts

Mouth cancer can develop in any part of the mouth including the tongue, gums, tonsils, lining of the mouth, lips and upper part of the throat.

The early signs of mouth cancer can often be seen.  When changes are found early there is a very good chance of a cure. This page tells you about the changes to look out for and who is most at risk.

Who is most at risk?

Our lifestyle choices have a big effect on our risk of mouth cancer.

The most important causes of mouth cancer are…

  • smoking tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, pipes)
  • regularly drinking large amount of alcohol
  • chewing tobacco or betel nut

People who use tobacco and drink too much alcohol have the highest risk of mouth cancer. Up to three-quarters of mouth cancers are caused this way.

Mouth cancer is more common in men than women and is rare in people under the age of 40.

Early detection saves lives

It is important to notice changes inside your mouth. Tell your doctor or dentist if they last longer than three weeks. Early treatment is simpler and more effective and many people can be cured.

What should I look out for?

Look for the following changes. They may not be painful but you should still see your doctor or dentist if they last longer than three weeks.

The most common signs of mouth cancer are…

  • an ulcer or sore in your mouth or on your tongue
  • a red or white patch in your mouth
  • an unexplained pain in your mouth or ear

Other signs to look out for are…

  • an unexplained lump in your neck
  • a sore or painful throat
  • a croaky voice or difficulty swallowing

If you notice any of these changes and they last longer than three weeks, tell your doctor or dentist without delay. Usually they are not caused by cancer but it is better to play safe.

Checking your mouth

Sometimes the early signs of mouth cancer do not cause pain or discomfort but they can be seen. So it is important to check your mouth for any of the changes.

From time to time, spend a few moments in front of the mirror looking in your mouth. Check your tongue, gums, lining of your cheeks, lips, under your tongue and the roof of your mouth. But remember your dentist can easily check the parts you cannot see.

Your dentist can help

Dentists have special training to help them identify health problems and are often the first to spot early changes in their patients. As part of a regular examination, dentists check for the early warning signs of mouth cancer. They will refer patients with suspect changes to hospital.

Useful links

www.mouthcancer.org
www.drinkaware.co.uk

There are many different mouthwashes and generally we do not recommend you to use a mouthwash since they are of debatable value and are an expensive way to freshen your breath. There are however some specific situations where therapeutic mouthwashes can benefit.

Different types:

Fluoride Mouthwash:

Colgate Fluorigard, Plax and Mcleans iviouthguard are some examples. We recommend you Talk to either the Dentist or Hygienist about these mouthwashes. Also try the Alcohol Free alternative. These are of benefit if you are at particular risk from decay (cavities).

This may be due to an unsuitable diet, congenitally weak teeth, or more often factors such as poor ability to clean your teeth (arthritis, broken arm, stroke etc.) or gum recession which exposes the roots of your teeth which gum recession which exposes the roots of your teeth which are more susceptible to decay.

Usually you should change the cause [if possible] as well as using the mouthwash.

Breath Freshening:

Listerine, Listermint, Freshbreath, etc. We recommend don’t bother! The effect of these is very transient; they are of NO benefit in removing plaque and helping to clean your teeth. In effect they make you feel you are doing something and make your teeth feel clean although they are not That slippery clean feeling is achieved by the use of detergent. It does not clean your teeth.

If you want to freshen your breath and can’t manage to clean your teeth with a brush try SUGAR FREE GUM & MINTS OR SUGAR FREE STRIPS. However do not be under the impression that you are cleaning your teeth!

Therapeutic Chlorhexidine Gluconate:

This is the only mouthwash which has any significant action against the bacteria in your mouth. Daily use is highly effective to prevent and control all types of gum disease, however, it also causes severe staining of your teeth. Therefore we recommend that you only use it when we advise you to and for short periods only

Peroxyl:

Hydrogen Peroxide mouthwash which is effective against many bacteria which cause gum disease. It is only a “help” as correct cleaning techniques are far more important for the control of gum disease.

Sensitive Teeth:

Try Sensodyne gentle, Gel Kam or Duraphat toothpaste. These are all high fluoride products which reduce sensitivity when used on a regular basis. However we do not recommend you to use Sensodyne or similar products on a regular basis unless you discuss it with us first. Click here to find out more about Sensitivity.

“Periodontitis”

If gingivitis is left untreated it may develop into periodontitis. Periodontitis has all the symptoms/signs of gingivitis but deteriorates further as plague bacteria slides down the tooth root, underneath the gum and starts to rot away at the bone which holds the tooth in.

This causes the gum to split away from the tooth and form deep pockets which may result in gum abscesses, gum shrinkage (recession) and finally loose or drifting teeth.

Tooth roots will become exposed making them more susceptible to root decay and sensitivity.

You are at an increased risk to gum disease if you smoke, are stressed or take some prescribed medications which are known to irritate gums.

Treatment of Periodontitis

As periodontitis becomes worse it is important to establish the seriousness of the disease.

Your dentist/hygienist will measure the gum pockets so the progress of deterioration of the disease can be monitored. Treatment of periodontifis involves education, enabling you to effectively clean plague bacteria from the base of deep pockets ONCE A DAY.

Then your dentist/hygienist will clean and scale the teeth and all exposed root surfaces in order to remove calculus from above and below the gum line. This calculus is rough and traps live plague bacteria which will cause further disease.

It is possible to halt the progress of possible to halt the progress of periodontifis up to a point, but if too much bone is eaten away this is much bone is eaten away this is irreversible and will result in tooth loss.

What is a root filling and why might I need one?

A root filling is required when the nerve in a tooth dies. This may happen for a number of reasons. The nerve often dies in heavily filled teeth, or if a tooth is knocked in an accident. Teeth with big cavities or broken teeth may also cause the nerve to die, this often, but not always, presents as an abscess with pain and for swelling. At this point you will need either a root filling or extraction of the affected tooth.

A root filling is the process by which the dentist removes the dead or dying nerve from the centre of a tooth (root canal) then cleans, files and shapes the root canal to get rid of any infected or potentially infected material. Then fills it with an inert, radiopaque root filling (usually gutta percha, which is a rubbery material).

Once this has been completed the tooth is ready for a filling or a crown to rebuild it to full form and function. Root filled teeth tend to be rather brittle so a crown is often the preferred restoration since this can re-enforce the tooth to some extent.

This is one of the most common types of dental treatment. The intention is to remove all of the build up of plaque (live bacteria) and calculus (the calcified remains of dead bacteria) from your teeth. Unless this is done your teeth and gums will remain infected and may develop gingivitis or periodontitis.

In most cases we will use a sonic or ultrasonic scaler to do this. These instruments can quickly and effectively remove all the debris from your teeth and will leave a smooth and clean surface which can restore the health of your gums. These instruments use effects called cavitation and micro-streaming to clean. These are techniques which are used in many other processes in a wide range of scale from cleaning barnacles off the hulls of ships to cleaning the inside of delicate laboratory instruments. It is a very effective but also very delicate way of cleaning your teeth.

Traditional hand scaling may sometimes be used for particular individual situations but hand instruments do not flush away the debris as well and will not be able to remove calculus as efficiently as mechanical devices.

We will sometimes polish your teeth to remove superficial stain and soft plaque. We may decide not to polish your teeth if no stain is present and especially if you suffer from sensitivity or abrasion.

Sensitivity is the single most common problem in dentistry. At some point in our lives we will all suffer from sensitivity.

Sensitivity may range from mild (it is normal to feel the cold if you eat ice-cream or in severe weather) to the extreme. (You may suffer severe pain from drinking a lukewarm beverage or when brushing your teeth.)

The most common cause is receding gums. This can be caused by gum disease or by brushing your teeth too hard. When the gum recedes it exposes dentine which may be very sensitive to hot, cold or sweet stimuli. Treatment is to apply a variety of desensitising materials until the pain reduces and eventually goes away. You must also stop the cause of sensitive teeth or the problem will return. If it returns it means you have treated the symptom but not the cause.

This may mean changing to a more suitable toothbrush, changing your brushing or flossing technique or changing the toothpaste you use. Your dentist or hygienist will be happy to advise on your individual requirements.

Sensitivity can also be caused by a cavity developing in one of your teeth or by a very deep or broken filling, a failing crown or a cracked tooth can also cause sensitivity. If the nerve in a tooth starts to die and form an abscess the first symptom may be sensitivity.

If you suffer from persistent sensitivity ask your dentist to investigate it with you. You don’t need to put up with it!

In most cases sensitivity is easy to treat however sensitivity may be the first sign of an abscess developing.

Silver Amalgam fillings have been used in dozens of countries around the world for over a century.

Amalgam is a very well tolerated material and has been amazingly successful over this period of time.

There have been some concerns raised in recent years about the safety of amalgam, since it contains mercury. However there is no independent authorative evidence to suggest that there is a link between silver fillings and mercury toxicity. This is despite the fact that there are millions of amalgam fillings in the UK alone, and that these have been present in some cases for many decades.

Having said that, I still prefer to use non mercury fillings where they are suitable, however this is not always possible and I personally adopt a common sense approach to the issue. If a white filling can be used I will use it, if for clinical reasons it is not suitable I will use amalgam. This is the same rationale I apply to myself if ever I need one of my fillings replacing.

If you feel strongly about this matter please discuss it with us and we will try to come to a treatment plan which will accommodate your concerns. This however may involve using porcelain or gold inlays or crowns instead of a simple filling, where necessary.

You will be surprised how much sugar there is in seemingly “savoury” foods compared to obviously sweet foods… Here are a few examples.

1 Packet of Oxtail Soup = 6 tsp of sugar
1 Tin of Tomato Soup = 2 tsp of sugar
1 Tin of Baked Beans = 4 tsp of sugar
1 Tin of Sweetcorn = 3 tsp of sugar
4 tbl of Muesli = 3 tsp of sugar
1 Glass of Lucozade = 7 tsp of sugar

Natural Sugar

This is exactly the same as refined sugar and will still cause decay in your teeth. Natural sugar occurs in all fruit.

Acidity

The other problem with many foods is that they are naturally acidic. This means they cause damage to your teeth even more quickly than sugary foods. You can measure the acidity of a product by the PH value, the lower the PH the higher the acidity. Here are a few examples. Anything less than 5.4 causes damage to your teeth. Having acidic drinks at mealtimes makes them less harmful and continuous sipping is more harmful than consuming the whole drink at once. Drinking through a straw can also reduce the contact between the acidic drink and your teeth. It is also good practice to rinse your mouth with water when you have finished drinking soda.

Carbonated Drinks

Lemonade, orangeade, cola, etc.
(sugar and sugar free) PH 2.7-3.2

Diluted Drinks

Sugar free whole orange drink
PH 3.1-3.7

Herbal Teas

E.g. apple, mixed fruit, rosehip and hibiscus PH 3.0-3.2

Mineral Water

Still PH 7.6
Sparkling PH 5.4

Alcohol

Lager/Bitter PH 4.0
Red Wine PH 2.5
Cider PH 3.2

Every time you eat or drink anything containing sugar or anything acidic, it damages your teeth. How much damage depends on the frequency and how resilient your teeth are.

There is a bewildering array of toothbrushes available today, which one is right for you?

Manual Toothbrushes

Look for:

  • A small head- most of us will naturally choose a toothbrush with a large head. This is the first mistake. About 2 cm long is the best length for most people with an average size mouth ranging up to 3cm if you have a large mouth.
  • An oval head without any sharp edges to catch your gums.
  • A handle that fits comfortably into your hand.
  • Most importantly the correct bristles…
    “Soft” or “Natural” bristles can’t remove the build up of plaque from your teeth. “Hard” bristles will damage the delicate gums and cause recession. This leaves us with “Medium” bristles. These must always be nylon and we find that most reputable manufacturers use the same stiffness of bristles for all their main range of brushes.

Again, ask your dentist or hygienist which toothbrush is right for you.

Electric Toothbrushes

We are very keen on using electric rechargeable toothbrushes.

They produce a vigorous but controlled cleaning action which can’t be improved upon by manual brushing.

Whilst many people clean their teeth excellently with a conventional toothbrush we feel it is easier, faster and more sustainable to get the cleanest teeth with an electric brush.

Ask us for a recommendation next time you are in the practice.

We sell a wide range of manual and electric toothbrushes at prices that always compare very favourably with the high street.

Why do we need to take x-rays?

We may sometimes want to take one or more x-rays of your mouth. This is to give us important extra information, for example to spot decay underneath old crowns or fillings or to assist with completing a successful root filling.

How often do we take x-rays?

How often we will want to take x-rays will depend on a variety of factors. Usually we would need them at your first visit to the practice or if you have not been for a long time. After that we assess how much of a risk of decay your teeth are and take some x-rays to monitor progress about every 6 month to 3 years. We will always need x-rays to enable us to carry out root fillings or the removal of wisdom teeth and we also need a recent x-ray before preparing a tooth for a crown or bridge.

Safety

Many patients are concerned about their exposure to x-rays at the dentist and we too share this concern which is why we limit the number x-rays we take to a minimum and only to obtain essential information.

We use the latest x-ray equipment which is checked monthly and certified every 15 months to ensure that it complies with current legislation. This means that the lowest possible x-ray dose is used every time we take a film.

  • We use very narrow beam (only 6 cm wide) so only the area we are interested in is exposed.
  • The x-rays beam is filtered so that all the ‘soft’ harmful radiation is removed, since we only need the ‘hard’ relatively harmless radiation for x-rays of teeth.
  • The X-ray “dose” from one small film is about the same as you get from 6 hours background radiation. (The natural radiation you experience all day, everyday, wherever you are.)

We use the latest x-ray equipment which is checked and certified every 15 months.

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