Our Addlestone dental team examines this topical subject
A lot has happened in the last few months and we are probably not out of the woods yet when it comes to the Coronavirus. Hopefully, a better knowledge of the virus and how it spreads will help to keep it under control in the months ahead. One thing that has been discovered during this time is that obesity is a very significant factor for those who get the virus and that being overweight increases the risk of mortality.
This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise as it is widely accepted that being obese brings with it many health issues. One that hasn’t really been examined in too much detail though, is the impact that obesity can have on our teeth and gums.
At the Synergy Clinic in Addlestone, we believe that a holistic approach to oral care is important and that, whilst we will do all that we can to restore damaged and decaying teeth, we also offer advice on how to prevent this from occurring in the first place.
Although some of us are more predisposed than others to being overweight, with genetics playing a part, the reality is that for most people, it is what we eat and also how much, that contributes most to us being overweight. Although fast foods, with their often high fat content play a significant part in this, so do cakes, biscuits and sweets etc. Indeed, whilst we might eat fast food in place of a home cooked meal, it is the cakes, biscuits and sweets that we are most likely to reach for at times when we are inactive and perhaps watching TV.
As dentists have known for a long time, sugar is responsible for most tooth decay and our fondness of sweet products makes this a problem. As the bacteria in our mouth breaks down the sugar, it produces acids. These acids then erode the enamel on the teeth, allowing bacteria to enter the porous area beneath. Eventually, teeth affected in this way are likely to need to be filled or even, potentially, extracted.
Synergy Clinic Addlestone offers parents some advice surrounding this common childhood habit
Nearly all children will suck their thumbs for a while and this happens most often during the transition from breast or bottle feeding to eating solid foods. Stress and anxiety can also cause children to suck their thumbs to help them stay calm. Although relatively unusual, this can even continue into adulthood.
Although any long term thumb sucking is potentially harmful for a child’s teeth, it can be divided into thumb sucking that is done gently, such as when they are going to sleep, and that which is done more aggressively, usually in the case of anxiety. We hope that this blog will help our Addlestone patients who are parents understand the problems that this can cause and help them to wean their children from this habit effectively.
What’s so bad about thumb sucking?
Aside from the occasional sore thumb caused by sucking it too much, there are longer term implications for the teeth of a young child. With most children sucking their thumb so that it is positioned behind the rear of the top teeth, this creates pressure which will tend to push them outwards, making them more pronounced. This movement can also cause other teeth to move into any spaces created and multiple crooked teeth are a possibility as they develop.
When to stop sucking
According to the British Orthodontic Society, providing that a child manages to stop sucking their thumb by the age of 7, there is every chance that the teeth will correct themselves providing that good oral health and normal child development is present. After this age, there is a likelihood that this will not happen and the child may need to have orthodontic treatment in order to correct their bite and reposition any crooked teeth.
Encouraging children to stop
Dental implants may be the ideal solution for you!
If you have lost a tooth either relatively recently or maybe some time ago, you have probably had occasions where you thought it would be a good idea to do something to replace it. Especially where the gap is visible, it can have an obvious negative impact on your smile. Even where it is less visible, such as towards the rear of the mouth, it can still affect your ability to eat certain foods.
There are also good practical reasons to replace a missing tooth. The fact that a gap exists where the tooth once was means that other teeth can start to encroach into that space, leaving small spaces of their own. Over time this can lead to your teeth becoming crooked and uneven.
Tooth replacement options
It is likely that a lot of people believe that dentures are the only way to replace a missing tooth. This was certainly true at one time but bridges have also been used for some time too. Both of these offer aesthetic improvements as well as a degree of practical benefits. In our opinion though, neither come close to the benefits of dental implants which we are pleased to provide at the Synergy Clinic in Addlestone. As our aim is to offer impartial advice to our customers, it is only fair that we allow you to choose a solution which suits you most, guided by our professional advice. Below, we offer a brief guide to these three tooth replacement options and, of course, we are always happy to discuss any of these in more detail with you to help you to make up your mind.
This is one of the most widely used methods of replacing missing teeth. Modern dentures are much improved on older style ones and offer a reasonably effective replacement, aesthetically. From a comfort perspective, they are also improved with some now available which flex with the movement of your mouth. Despite this, some people do still find them a little uncomfortable, occasionally causing sore gums. They may also move around in the mouth a little and lack the stability that most wearers would ideally want. You may also find that you start to avoid some foods because they are a little difficult to eat. Cleaning can also be a little fiddly and requires removal of the dentures from your mouth. On the plus side, dentures are one of the most affordable options and typically do not require invasive dental surgery.
A look at the effect of alcohol on our teeth and soft tissues of the mouth
We are sure that many of our Addlestone patients will have been pleased to hear the news about the reopening of the pubs from the 4th July. It will almost certainly be very different from what we knew as a night out pre lockdown, but for most, it is a welcome step towards some sort of normality.
Going to the pub for a drink and to meet friends has long been a standard night out in the UK.
But unfortunately it isn’t free from potential consequences for our health, with coronovirus still circulating and also if we drink more regularly or in greater quantities than we should. Problems with the liver, heart and bladder are well known, but fewer people are, perhaps, less familiar with the damage that alcohol can do to our teeth and gums.
As we have mentioned in a number of our blogs, poor gum health can contribute to several problems, including tooth loss. As the bacteria attacks and weakens the bone that supports our teeth, they become loose and wobbly and may eventually fall out. Providing that patients of the Synergy Clinic have their gum health checked and managed through appointments with our dental hygienist, most cases of gum disease should not reach this stage. Prevention too is important and this also means being aware of how alcohol can play a role in gum health.
The first issue is that many alcoholic drinks are high in sugar. However natural these are, sugar provides an excellent food source for potentially harmful bacteria, causing their numbers to rise. There is also a risk that we may not brush our teeth as well, or even at all, before we go to bed if we have been drinking. This means that we may go to sleep with our teeth and gums coated in sugars which can lead to decay.
Alcohol also creates another problem for the health of our mouth. As some of you will probably be aware, drinking causes dehydration which means that we wake up with a very dry mouth. Bacteria thrive in this environment, making gum disease more likely to occur. If you do drink, try to do so in moderation and make sure to drink plenty of water to avoid the consequences of a dry mouth.
What to expect?
As part of the easing of lockdown restrictions, patients of the Synergy Clinic here in Addlestone will hopefully be pleased to see that we were allowed to open again from 8th June.
Those of you who have been struggling with a relatively minor dental issue, such as a toothache, will no doubt be relieved to hear this, but there will be some changes when you visit us next. The health and safety of our patients and staff is our primary concern and with this in mind, today’s blog looks at some of the changes you might see when you attend your appointment.
One of the biggest challenges facing dental practices has been the purchasing of PPE (personal protective equipment). As you will probably know, this has already been a challenge for hospitals and care homes and is no different for dentists. Because of the worldwide demand, it has been difficult trying to source this. We have been fortunate in managing to source sufficient PPE so that we can open the practice again and this will be one of the most noticeable changes that you can expect to see when you come back to us for treatment.
Although disposable masks and gloves have been used for some time, PPE equipment, for obvious reasons, offers a more intrusive barrier between the dentist and patient. This helps keep both parties safe, but it does mean that conversation will need to be more limited and mostly restricted to discussions around the treatment. Although we may not be able to discuss a football match or local news, please be assured that our team are still the same friendly faces behind the mask! As we are sure that you do too, we look forward to the day when normal conversations can resume again.
A look at some of the treatments that you can expect if your oral health has suffered during lockdown.
At the time of writing this blog, the Synergy Clinic is still closed for all but telephone advice and urgent dental emergency referrals. As things are very slowly opening up, with outdoor markets and retail due to open in the next few weeks providing adequate protection is in place, we are hoping that dental practices opening again will not be too far away.
We know that this has been a frustrating few months and that some of our patients will, inevitably, have suffered from dental problems during this time.
Some of the most serious cases will have been referred to urgent dental care units for essential treatment, whilst most cases will have been given advice on managing their problem, or provided with appropriate medication to keep the problem at bay until such a time that it can be treated.
When we are able to open again, our priority will be to treat these patients first. In today’s blog we take a look at some of the most likely dental treatments that will be called upon.
This is likely to be the most common problem we find. As it doesn’t necessarily result in discomfort initially, you may even have the start of the problem before the closure if your last appointment was none too recent.
This most common treatment is to have the decaying material removed, followed by an amalgam or cosmetic filling. Whilst amalgam fillings are the most traditional, white fillings provide a more natural appearance and bond very well with the rest of the tooth. In cases where the decay is more extensive, it may be necessary to restore the tooth with a crown or even extraction if the damage is too severe or prognosis too poor.
Broken or lost fillings
With anxiety levels higher in difficult times, your Addlestone dental team looks at how to prevent damaging our teeth
Although it appears that we are slowly and cautiously relaxing some of the measures around ‘lockdown’, it is likely that some restrictions will continue for some time yet. We are also seeing a reduction in the number of daily infections although there are still too many of course.
The whole lockdown period will have affected people in different ways. For some, it may have been little more than a break from normal life, whilst for others, it will have proved to be very challenging indeed and it is widely agreed that levels of stress at this time have been much higher.
Whilst we know that factors such as a poor diet and poor teeth cleaning can lead to dental problems, it is perhaps less well understood that stress can also play a significant role. In today’s Synergy Clinic blog, we will take a look at some of the damage that stress can cause.
When we are stressed, some of us will grind our teeth, usually while we are asleep. It is this factor that makes it so difficult to control. Whilst most of us probably do this on the odd occasion after a very stressful day; for those who do this on a regular basis, the damage caused can be quite significant. The most dramatic damage that can be caused through this action is when a tooth breaks or fractures. This usually only occurs where the grinding is very severe and also usually on teeth that have already been weakened.
More commonly, tooth grinding, or bruxism, causes gradual erosion on the enamel of our teeth as we grind them together. This enamel is the protective layer which helps to ward off bacteria from the more vulnerable inner parts of our teeth. As the enamel becomes worn through grinding, the inner part becomes more exposed and problems such as decay, sensitivity and even root canal issues can occur.
Although there are restorations available to restore any damage done, such as crowns and veneers, it is best to use these once the patient has managed to reduce their stress levels and have stopped grinding their teeth.
Advice from our Addlestone dental team on how to look after your children’s teeth during ‘lockdown’
The current ‘lockdown’ situation is a challenging one for most of us and for any number of different reasons.
Those of us who have children that are currently off school will have their own set of challenges, both in trying to keep them safe as well as entertained.
Like everyone else, we are waiting for signs that the lockdown might be at least eased, but it is important that this is done at the right time and that may mean that our children may not return to school until the new school year at the earliest.
Change of routines
Lots of things will have changed in our lives, and perhaps more importantly, our children’s lives. In general, kids like some form of routine that they can structure their day around. This includes having certain regular times that they clean their teeth. Under normal circumstances, this would probably be done before they left for school in the morning. As they won’t be doing this presently, this creates a risk that their morning brushing at least may be missed altogether.
Some people might believe that the morning brushing is not that important as we haven’t eaten anything whilst asleep. The fact though is that bacteria accumulate whilst we are asleep and can contribute to both tooth decay and gum disease. The morning brushing is equally important as your regular night time one.
You may need to try to instigate a new routine in the morning. You will know your children better than us and for some, that might mean getting them to brush before they do anything else and become distracted. For others, it might be better to let them wake up a bit and avoid any arguments early in the day. The important thing is to stick to whatever new routine you develop that works for your family.
Take time with younger children
Our Addlestone dentists offer some useful advice to help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
It has been 3 weeks now, and to some of us it will likely have felt like a lot longer! The current lockdown brings different challenges for different people, with some struggling with it more than others.
All the evidence though appears to point to our imposed semi isolation starting to work, with hospital and fatality figures expected to decrease over the coming weeks. Although it has yet to be announced, it now seems likely that this lockdown period will be extended for a few more weeks at least, in this lengthy battle to defeat the Coronavirus.
As patients will be aware, the Synergy Clinic is currently closed, and will be until such a time that we are allowed to open again. At the moment, we do not know when this will be but we hope to offer our dental services once again as soon as possible.
This unexpected closure will mean that some patients will not have their twice yearly check up at the usual six monthly interval. This means that any problems that are taking place with the teeth and gums may not be detected for much longer, with the possibility of issues such as tooth decay more likely.
It is in the patient’s interest to put extra focus on looking after their teeth and gums at this time so that these problems can be avoided as far as possible. Bear in mind that we are currently unable to carry out any minor procedures such as restoring a lost filling or to treat a minor toothache. Only urgent dental emergency advice can be given at this time.
To help our patients maintain a healthy mouth until we open again, here are a few essential tips.
Brush and floss
Our Addlestone dentists look at some of the problems that most commonly occur with our front teeth.
At the Synergy Clinic we perform both restorative and cosmetic dentistry on all types of teeth, both front and rear. Although most dental issues can occur with any tooth, there are areas of the mouth where certain problems are more common.
In today’s blog, our Addlestone dentists are going to take a look at some of the problems that are most common with the ‘social six’ teeth; that is the visible teeth that we can see at the front of the mouth when we smile.
The front teeth are at risk of eroded enamel if we don’t take care to look after them well enough. The two main ways in which this can occur is through wearing down manually and through acid erosion due to our diet.
One of the ways that our teeth can suffer damage, including our front teeth, is through grinding them together. This problem, also known as bruxism, can lead to significant wear and even breaking of the teeth. The root of this problem seems to lie in anxiety and this needs to be addressed to help prevent it from happening. Even brushing our teeth too hard can cause the enamel to wear down, especially if we do so too soon after eating when our enamel is a little softer. Make sure to leave at least half an hour after eating before brushing to allow the enamel to re-harden. Also try to brush gently in a circular motion and do not ‘scrub’ your teeth too hard.
Acidic food, and drinks especially, pass over our front teeth and can cause erosion. Most soft drinks that contain sugar will contribute to this but high sugar, high acid sports drinks seem to be one of the worst culprits.
Although prevention is naturally the best option, any of our Addlestone patients who have already suffered from enamel erosion can have their teeth protected using porcelain dental veneers; effectively replacing the damaged enamel surface.