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Scared of the Dentist? Our Advice

Patients who are scared of the dentist tend to avoid going to a dentist until they are in excruciating pain. The problem is that the more they postpone their visit the more likely they are to require more treatment. Visiting the dentistr regularly means that the treatments are shorter and problems can be prevented before they start.

Our advice to nervous patients is to try to overcome your fear. First, build up a rapport with a dental practice by calling their reception to have a chat or pop in to meet the team. Once you are familiar with the environment, it becomes much easier to book in with a dentist.

Look for recommendations. Look at a practice’s reviews and patient testimonials and see what other people are saying about them; this will increase your confidence in the dentist you have chosen.

If you are scared of injections, look for dentists who use the Wand to administer local anaesthesia as it is a gentler way to numb up teeth, no needles required.

You can also consider seeing a hypnotherapist prior to dental treatment to help you cope better. This has proven successful to patients.

If you find you would rather have treatment without being aware of it, then consider seeing a dentist who provides conscious sedation. This puts patients into a relaxed dreamlike state during treatment and most patients comment that they either did not feel or remember anything during their treatment

We have found that a combination of all of the above, helps patients overcome their fears of the dentist and allows them to make the first step to start treatment and become regular dental attenders.

Smoking and Your Oral Health

Smoking is a major health issue in our country. Approximately 70,000 people die each year due to smoking related problems.

Smoking affects every part of the human body as we are all aware. Looking at smoking from an oral health point of view, the habit causes several serious problems.

Smoking causes the following:

  • gum problems leading to tooth loss,
  • severe tooth staining,
  • bad breath,
  • higher risk of mouth cancer,
  • poor healing of dental treatments, such as gum treatment, extractions, implant surgeries.

A smoker is four times more likely to stop if they have help and your dentist and dental team can help. We can help by directing you in the right way by finding a support organisation, we can help you find a hypnotherapist whose special field of interest is smoking cessation, we can help you with your oral health care and with motivating you to stop smoking.

Please don’t forget that if you are a smoker, you will not be able to have dental implant surgery as your gums will not heal well and your implants would fail. Also be aware that if you are a smoker, you are more likely to have more pain after the removal of a tooth as the healing is impaired by the smoking.

We know that there is a marked overall health improvement when a smoker stops this habit, we know we can provide dental treatment successfully as well.

 

How often should you visit the dentist?

Regular dental visits are very important, not just to check the health of your teeth, but also that of your gums and your mouth in general.

During a dental check up your dentist asks about your concerns and then carries out a detailed examination. We always check for early signs of oral cancer, tooth decay and gum disease so that we can catch and treat any problems at the right stage. We always take a medical history and gain further details about your main dental issues, your social history, how much you smoke, drink, your lifestyle and your diet. All of these are important factors for assessment of your oral health and gum disease and cancer risks.

Your dentists will then carry out a clinical examination starting with checking your temporomandibular joint (TMJ, what connects your lower jaw to the rest of your head),  looking out for clicks, pain and any sign of arthritis. This is a common source of headaches and joint pain issues that we see a lot of. Other checks include:

  • The lips both on the outside and inside are examined for any signs of  ulcers and lumps and bumps.
  • The tongue is checked thoroughly to ensure it is a healthy pink colour and that there are no signs of red or white patches or asymmetry. These may signify disease or infection.
  • The roof of the mouth and inner cheek tissues are next examined to ensure they are healthy and there are no colour changes or signs of unexpected ulcers or growths.
  • We check each individual tooth, for cavities, abscesses and also tooth wear.
  • The gums are next examined for any signs of gum disease using a probe.

All results of this examination are accurately charted on your dental record and each time we compare the results of your examination with the previous one. In particular we record your caries risk, gum disease risk and oral cancer risk.

I agree with the American Dental Association and many other associations who believe that frequency of dental examination should be tailored to the patients oral health status and needs.

A high risk patient may require more frequent visits like six monthly check ups and three monthly hygienists, someone low risk may need yearly visits and two hygienist visits every six months. Everyone is different so each patient’s dentist is best placed to set the frequency of visits.

 

Gum Disease: What you need to know

Gum affects millions of people and leads to tooth loss in untreated. Gum disease is a ‘silent’ disease, people may not be aware they have it until the damage to the teeth and bone is too severe and irreversible. This is why regular dental check ups and regular hygienist visits are recommended by your dental health care professional.

What is Gum Disease?

A tooth consists of two parts: the crown, which is what is visible in our mouths and the root, which is into the jawbone covered by the gums.

When you see a dentist or a hygienist, they will use an instrument called a probe to check your gums, in order to see if you have any tartar build up and if your gums are swollen and becoming detached from the bone.

There are 2 types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.

  • Gingivitis is a reversible form of gum disease which presents with gum swelling and bleeding but the gums are still attached to the bone and the bone has not shrunk. Once gingivitis is treated and well maintained at home, the mouth can reverse back to health with no permanent damage to the gums or bone
  • Periodontitis is an irreversible form of gum disease. This means that there is permanent damage to the gums and bone. The gums may shrink and the bone may be eaten away. There are various degrees of bone loss. Mild-Moderate periodontal disease can successfully be treated in most cases, more severe cases unfortunately will lead to tooth loss.

What causes Gum Disease?

Tartar (Plaque) build up is the main cause of gum disease. This is a thin film made of bacteria and their deposits which irritate the gums. This build up, if not removed, can harden making it impossible to remove with a toothbrush. If plaque is left to grow overtime, it can build up under the gums then causing more damage to the gums and initiating periodontal disease. The gums start detaching from the bone and the bone starts shrinking in response to the irritation cause by the build up.

Gum Treatment

This is why we recommend regular hygiene visits so that this hardened build up can be removed by your hygienist with her special instruments. If the build up is only superficial then you would require a scale and polish. If the plaque is further down into the gum and you have periodontal disease you would require a series of appointments which require deeper cleaning and removal of the build up. These visit will require you to be gently numbed up so that you cannot feel anything while our hygienist removes the build up from the roots of your teeth.

Looking after your gums at home

Our dental team will provide their best treatment to improve the chances of healing but home maintenance is just as important to ensure further issues are prevented or acute disease is stopped.

So these are our tips for best home care:

  • Brush your teeth 2/3 times daily for at least 2 minutes.
  • Clean between your teeth daily with floss between the tighter teeth and with interproximal tooth brushes where there is more space between the teeth.
  • Use mouthwash daily.
  • Have a good balanced diet.
  • Be aware that certain health conditions can make you more vulnerable to gum issues and therefore you need to be even more careful with your oral care. These are some of the conditions to be aware diabetes, certain medications, manual dexterity issues which make it harder to brush your teeth, pregnancy.

Gum Disease and effects on overall health

There is increased evidence that gum disease can have an effect on one’s overall health

These are some of the recent findings:

  • A link between gum disease and increased risk of heart problems
  • A link between gum disease and low birth weight and premature deliveries
  • Possible links between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease

Gum disease and Smoking

Gum disease and gum treatment are affected by smoking. Smoking has an additive effects on gum disease, making it worse. Also if you have gum treatment, you are less likely to respond to treatment due to smoking as it impairs the healing process.

Children’s Dental Health and Sugar

Pre-schoolers’ dental health has been all over the news in the past year. We are all aware of the effects on sugar. High profile public figures have been raising more awareness on these effects. Well known health issues connected with sugar are decayed teeth, increased likelihood of diabetes, obesity and hyperactivity.

Recent studies have shown that 5 year olds in Leicester have one of the highest rate of rotten teeth in the country. In my career, as well as seeing pre-schoolers with one or more decayed teeth, I have also seen 3-5 year olds requiring all their teeth removed under general anaesthetic, which has been quite an upsetting experience.

PREVENTION

The best way to prevent rotten teeth is by

1 – Brushing regularly

  • Teeth must be brushed twice daily for 2 minutes with a fluoride toothpaste correct for your child’s age and it should be under parents’ supervision
  • Do not rinse out the mouth with water after brushing – spit out any excess instead so that the toothpaste and its helpful qualities can stay in the mouth for quite a bit longer than the brushing time.

2 – Maintaining a healthy diet with minimal or no sugary foods or drinks

  • Eat a diet with fruits and vegetables (but be aware that some fruits are acidic so keep an eye on frequency)
  • Try to keep consumption of sugary drinks and snacks as low as possible, and if they are consumed, try to have them with a meal rather than in-between.
  • Avoid fruit juices, as they can damage teeth.
  • If offering sweet drinks or foods, please keep to a minimum and do not have them as a daily occurrence.

3 –  Regular visits to the dentist

JUICE AND HIDDEN SUGARS IN DRINK AND FOOD

The recommended daily amount of sugar for a pre-schooler is approximately 19g approximately (5 sugar cubes) and for children aged 7 to 10 years old the amount is 24g (6 sugar cubes).  There are so many hidden sugars in our daily foods and drinks making it very easy to exceed their RDA. We mustn’t forget that juices especially orange and apple are highly acidic as they have a pH of about 3  and this will contribute to tooth wear and erosion of the enamel of their teeth.  All these factors added to daily exposure to juices will significantly increase the likelihood of the children developing decay. It is also well established that ready availability of juice to 3-5 year old children will lead to them growing a preference for such drinks over milk or water, setting them for life to favour sugary drinks and consume them more frequently. Our advise is look at the sugar content of cereals, cereal bars, biscuits, cakes and juices so that sugar consumption can be limited and avoid exposure to juice at an early age.

Did you Know that One in 5 people Fear the Dentist?

It is believed that at least one in five people living in the UK is afraid to visit the dentist, due to some form of dental phobia. That fear and nervousness, caused even by the thought of stepping into a dental practice, can mean lots of different things to different people. The truth is that dental phobias, just like any other phobia that you may have, do not have a single cause. It seems to be a combination of multiple factors that lead a person to feeling anxiety about going to the dentist. We see so many nervous patients at our practice and one of the first things that they tell us is that a calming environment and our friendly, informal approach helps to ease the nerves. However some patients that we see are so terrified that it takes a couple of appointments just to come to terms with talking about their dental problems. There are a wide range of reasons why people have an inbuilt fear of visiting the dentist, it could be something as simple as the sound of the drill, a previous experience or the clinical smell and environment of a dental practice.

The key to overcoming a phobia or fear of visiting the dentist is to take the first step and speak to somebody about it. It may be comforting to know that no matter how nervous that you are we will have seen and treated someone more nervous than you. Some of our patients are so scared of visiting the dentist that they are in tears when they make the first phone call and speak to us about their concerns. It may take a few phone calls before you come in and make your first appointment but it is a journey that we take with our patients every day.

Dental Phobias and Past Trauma

According to experts, a phobia could be caused by a particular trauma or past incident, or it can also be a response developed by the individual at a very early age and was created by a sibling or a parent. Finally, genetics also plays a vital role in developing phobias. Evidence has shown that some people are just born with a tendency to be more nervous and afraid of particular things than others.

Has any of these occurred to you? Could it be that some specific smells bring back memories of a bad experience you once had (in your childhood, perhaps)? Does the sound of the equipment we dentists, use trigger a nasty response? Relax. You are not the only one, and you are definitely not experiencing something that should stress you. There are many people just like you that think having a treatment will be painful and have associated smells and sounds with unpleasant memories from their past. For all of you, we have some great news!

Dental Phobias & Dental Advances

One of the greatest news is that dentistry has advanced so much recently that seeing a dentist is no longer a reason to be neither afraid nor nervous about. Why?

For two major reasons:

  1. The overall experience is much more bearable and gentler nowadays with the modern dental surgeries that take place in relaxing and far friendlier environments than several years ago. You get to visit practices with appealing waiting rooms decorated with beautiful art while you listen to soothing music as you wait. You also step into dental surgeries with much less noticeable instruments. Remember those noisy drills? Guess what! They are no longer so irritating!
  2. You can ask for Sedation Dentistry (a procedure where we give you medication to put you into a relaxed dreamlike state) and feel at ease as the dentist is working on your smile, with lovely background music playing. IV-sedation is completely painless, and the same applies to the WAND, which is a computerised injection system that looks much like a pen and delivers the anaesthetic in small doses at a time. It is ideal for anyone with a needle phobia! Alternatively, a numbing gel can be used to numb your gums before an injection, so you don’t feel the needle at all!

All that, and much more, is what you can find at The Dental Suite! We are not only trained to deal with patients’ fears (Dental-Phobia Certified), but also do a great deal to make dental treatments a more pleasant experience for you. In a dreamy environment, little will remind you of the dentist’s surgery you had in mind! Ask us how we can help you overcome your dental phobias. It is time you are well looked after. Don’t you agree?

Amy’s Teeth Straightening Journey

Our nurse Amy has just had metal six-month braces fitted to both her upper and lower teeth. The metal braces were chosen over ceramic braces as they are more cost-effective and perfect for those who are considering braces treatment on a budget but still want perfect results.

The reason that Amy decided to opt for braces treatment was that she had experienced something called post-orthodontic adult relapse. Amy had worn braces to straighten her teeth when she was younger, however because she didn’t wear her retainers every day her teeth started to move back to their original position.

The majority of adult patients that we treat have previously had braces treatment and come to see us because their teeth have started to move again (relapse). More often than not the relapse has occurred because retainers were not worn following their treatment every day. There are two types of retainers: a fixed retainer which is a thin wire that is fitted to the back of your teeth, and a removable retainer which looks like a clear gum shield that fits tightly over your newly straightened teeth.

If you are considering teeth straightening treatment of any sort, be sure to ask your dentist if they will be fitting you with both fixed and removable retainers following treatment.

Relapse is something that we see a lot in our clinic for many reasons:

  • The importance of retention may not have been explained at the time of removing the braces.
  • You may have thought that once you have worn your retainers for a short period of time you wouldn’t need them any more.
  • The relapse movement of teeth is very slow so initially you won’t notice it and then gradually the teeth will move until they are crooked again.
  • Once teeth have moved just a small amount your retainers will no longer fit.

Some clinics only provide removable retainers, which means if you forget to wear them your teeth will start to move. At our practice, we fit both fixed and removable retainers and emphasise the importance of wearing your retainers for the rest of your life if you want to keep your teeth straight. The removable retainers are only to be worn at night time.

 

 

You will also notice from Amy’s video that she has had some “bite blocks” fitted in order to stop her teeth meeting in the middle and knocking her braces as she chews food. A bite block is simply a small amount of filling material that is placed on your back teeth to stop them meeting together and hold your mouth open a few millimetres. By holding your teeth apart the blocks also help your teeth move easier.

If you are considering having fixed braces fitted be sure to ask your dentist what they will do to prevent your teeth from knocking your braces. Placing bite blocks is a very simple procedure but it is not done by all dentists.

Amy didn’t experience any pain or discomfort from having the braces fitted. The most difficult part for her so far seems to have been adjusting to her new bite, which can seem a bit strange at the beginning but she will quickly get used to this.

My braces are finally off

I’ve just had my braces removed and I am delighted with the results. In this video blog I will give you a few tips and tricks of how to look after your teeth once your braces have been taken off. There are certain things that you need to do differently once you have had braces including the way you clean your teeth and look after them.

Once my braces were removed and Anna was happy with the final position of the teeth, she took a mould of my teeth and use this to make a custom fixed retainer. I fixed retainer is simply a thin wire that is custom shaped to my teeth and fitted behind my front teeth to hold them in place following orthodontic treatment. it’s very important to have a retainer following any teeth straightening treatment as teeth have a natural tendency to move back into their previous position. At our practice I make sure that every patient is monitored for a minimum of 12 months following fitting of the retainer. this is to make sure the teeth don’t start to move after treatment, since the majority of adult patients that we see for braces treatment come to us because their teeth have started moving following previous treatments, because they were not fitted with a fixed retainer or given any advice on retention.

After having the fixed retainer fitted took a short period of time to adjust to it but after a few days I didn’t notice any different. after having the fix retainers fitted another mould was taken of my teeth to make a custom removable retainer which looks like a thin plastic gum-shield this fits snugly over my teeth and I wear it at night to provide additional support to prevent my teeth moving.

Your dentist will usually give you advice on how to put your retainers in your mouth. I usually advise to press it in with your thumbs and don’t bite down on your retainers as this could crack or damage them. you may have a slight lisp the first time you wear your removable retainers but after a few days you will get used to it.

When you have a fixed retainer placed is virtually impossible to floss your teeth as there is a wire in the way so it is very important that you see our hygienist regularly to get your teeth cleaned following any orthodontic treatment. The best way to clean between your teeth when you have a fixed retainer in place is to use interdental brushes or interdental sticks, your hygienist will demonstrate how to use these in order to maintain a good oral hygiene routine.

In the future I may consider having my teeth whitened as do many patients following orthodontic treatment.

The Big Day and Your Wedding Smile

Being married myself and having gone through it all I know the stress and excitement that comes with planning a wedding.

There is so much to think about right?

You’ve found your groom/bride (and I hope they are a good one) now it’s time to book a venue, caterers, DJ, hair and make-up etc. and then you think of hiring a photographer and videographer and the first thing that pops Into your mind is how will my smile look?

Weddings are costly, let’s face it. So today I want to talk about how we can give you that amazing smile for your big day. No matter what your time frame or budget is, there is a way we will personalise a treatment plan for every bride/groom.

The main cosmetic treatments we will discuss are:

You may need a combination of treatments again depending on time/budget.

Whitening

An easy procedure that can be done in 2-4 weeks and between £280-480 depending on the shade you want to achieve. A whiter, brighter smile is something that will always make a huge improvement cosmetically and is a painless procedure. We use a home bleaching kit which maximises the shade you will achieve and also offers better longevity than other methods of whitening. Whitening can be done within one month from start to finish so it’s perfect for last minute smile makeovers.

Orthodontics (Braces)

There are many options but the main ones are:

  • Clear Aligners such as Invisalign and Smilelign
  • Fixed Braces – Traditional
  • Six Month Braces

The type and length of treatment you can have depends on how much work needs to be done and also what end result you have in mind.

Porcelain Veneers

Can make a huge improvement in your smile if done correctly. You may need whitening or braces beforehand to maximise the result. There are certain cases that can be treated with minimal or no preparation of your underlying tooth structure which minimises the risks on your teeth.

Porcelain is a material made in the laboratory therefore you will need impressions and possibly some preparation to your teeth beforehand. They will be cemented to your teeth and require lifelong care.

Each smile is different and we would look at your face shape and create the correct smile best suited to you, you would be able to see a visual aid of this design either on a model of your teeth called a wax up or a digital simulation.

Composite / Cosmetic Bonding

This is a gentler method and is less expensive than porcelain. A white filling material is chemically bonded to your natural tooth, with this we can improve the shade, shape, length and surface texture of your teeth.

It requires great skill to do this procedure and can produce some fantastic results. The only downside is that the long term cosmetics aren’t as durable as porcelain and may require polishing/replacement more often. On average they can last at least 4-7 years quite easily if taken care of, including reducing your intake of tea coffee, wine and also to avoid smoking. Regular hygienist appointments are important for all treatments to remain at their best.

Example Case

A lovely bride on a budget wanted a great smile. Due to an issue with her jaw relationship her teeth could not be straightened and therefore she was limited with what could be done. She didn’t want perfection but just wanted her teeth to look whiter and more level. We did a 2 week course of home whitening followed by cosmetic bonding which involved absolutely no drilling or injections. The turnaround for this case was 6 weeks, cosmetic bonding can be done the next appointment after your initial consultation which again is perfect for a last minute makeover.

She was delighted with the result and said she will be smiling nonstop on her big day.

I remember my wedding day; it was very special and I always look back at my photos and my smile looked great and I was beaming with confidence.

If you are engaged and wondering what can be done with your smile I would be delighted to help transform your smile for your big day. Book a FREE consultation with me to discuss your options, costs and timeframes.

KJ

Why Should I Take My Baby to the Dentist?

Like adult teeth, baby teeth are susceptible to decay, gum disease and abscesses. And there is nothing worse than seeing your child suffer so it’s definitely worth regular trips to the dentist to keep nasty problems at bay.

When should I take my child to a dentist?

I advise parents to bring their children in from around 6-7 months of age, even if during the first visit I just have a basic look whilst they are in the pushchair, car seat, sat on mummy or daddy’s lap or even if it’s just to watch a family member have their check-up so they can see what happens. It’s not just about examining your child’s teeth, it’s also to get them used to the dentist and the surroundings so on a six monthly basis, so they are fully aware of what goes on during a dental check-up.

Quite often, I see children aged 6-7 years old who have never been to the dentist. Unfortunately by this age, they have often heard horror stories about negative experiences and as a result, some feel anxious and expect the worst. Sometimes they are too frightened to even sit in the chair as they feel so nervous, especially if they are in pain.

Remember that dental pain usually only arises if things have been left to progress without early detection. Also, as children are prone to falling over whilst playing, their teeth can become damaged and this can even affect the development of their adult teeth. The longer the baby teeth remain, the better it is for the adult teeth to follow their natural course. Losing baby teeth early can lead to crowding issues with the adult teeth. Sometimes teeth can develop with weaker enamel and the sooner this is detected the better, as they can be sealed for protection before they form cavities.

Your dentist can also assess the risk your child might be exposed to and can apply professional strength fluoride to their teeth every three, six, nine or twelve months to reduce their chances of decay.

The earlier your child comes to see us, the more we can do to help prevent issues arising in the first place. So please bring your children along from the age of 6-7 months. There are numerous fun children’s books about the dentist out there, for example Peppa Pig’s Dentist Trip, to help young children feel comfortable and familiar with dental clinics. The number of times I’ve been called ‘Dr Elephant’ is unreal! But this makes me happy as I know the books are a great help when it comes to making dental visits fun.

You can also get pretend doctors kits with mirrors in. It’s a good idea to play with your child- practice using this mirror on each other and count each other’s teeth. That way when your child visits the dentist they won’t be alarmed by the instruments. In fact, children often get really involved in helping me count their teeth!

My child won’t let me brush their teeth, what can I do?

As a mum, I’m also aware of the struggles of getting your child to brush their teeth. Sometimes it can seem like a chore to them, but with today’s technology it can be quite fun! There are electric toothbrushes in various themes, e.g. Disney princesses or Cars. These can be linked to the Disney Magic Timer app, which allows them to watch their favourite characters whilst brushing their teeth. These run for the recommend two minutes, which ensures a thorough brushing. Aquafresh Brush Time app is another popular brushing app. I advise parents to supervise their children until they are 7 years old.

Using the correct fluoride toothpaste for your child’s age group is also very important. Children under the age of 3 should use tooth paste with less than 1000ppm fluoride and children older than 3 should use no more than 1450ppm.

Electric toothbrushes are clinically proven to be more effective at removing plaque than manual toothbrushes.

Discourage your child from rinsing with water after brushing. Just let them spit out any excess, so that the benefits of the toothpaste can remain in the mouth for longer than the period of brushing.

From 3 years of age, professional strength fluoride will be applied to your children’s teeth every three to six months, depending on their risk. This ensures their teeth are getting fluoride protection even if you are struggling with getting them to brush at home or if they refuse to use toothpaste.

My child brushes well but has still developed a cavity. How much sugar is OK? How can I reduce their risk of decay through diet?

It’s important for children to eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, but be wary. Fruit can be acidic and can cause teeth to erode. To minimise this, you can do the following:

  • Wait approximately 40 minutes before brushing your child’s teeth after fruity foods and drinks, as brushing straight after can brush the acid into the enamel, causing it to wear down.
  • Give your child water or milk with acidic snacks, as this can neutralise the acid.
  • Eating cheese with acidic or sugary snacks can minimise the damage to your child’s enamel.
  • Try to keep sugary drinks and snacks to a minimum and try to consume them with a meal rather than in between. The recommended daily allowance for a pre-schooler is 16g of sugar, which works out at four teaspoons.
  • Avoid sticky foods like raisins, as these can remain in the biting surfaces of teeth and can easily lead to the development of cavities.

I hope this has helped and we look forward to seeing you and your child soon. If you have any further questions we are always happy to answer them at our dental practice in Leicester, Loughborough and Notthingham.