Synergy Clinic, Synergy House
24C High Street, Addlestone
Surrey, KT15 1TN

Addlestone dentist, Dr Shaimil Patel, helps patients understand this tooth saving procedure.

As dentists, we understand that many patients exhibit at least some signs of anxiety and worry when they need to see a dentist, especially if they know that they need to have treatment. The one procedure which is almost guaranteed to make even usually calm patients show more anxiety than usual is the root canal procedure. But there is no need to worry.

Indeed, this general dental treatment is a very good way to save a tooth under certain circumstances, which we’ll explain below.

In this blog, we will take a look at what the procedure is used for and what it entails, and also why we think that it may have gained the reputation that it has. And also why some of stories of discomfort you may have heard are significantly exaggerated!

Why you might need a root canal procedure

A root canal procedure is used for one main purpose, and that is when the ‘pulp’ area of the tooth becomes infected. This is at the very centre of the tooth, beneath both the enamel and dentin parts. The pulp includes tiny blood vessels and also the nerves of the tooth.

When the enamel of a tooth is broken or decayed issues can arise because the dentin layer beneath it is porous and bacteria can spread quite fast. Providing that it is detected and treated quite quickly, this will mostly entail filling the tooth to restore it. Where the damage is left for longer, or where the tooth breaks in such a way that the internal parts are exposed, the infection is likely to reach the root canals. When this happens, there are two options left, extraction or a root canal procedure.

Why are people so worried by the treatment?

This particular treatment seems to have built up a reputation as the worst procedure that you can have. There is no reason why this should be the case and most patients are happy to find that it is no more uncomfortable than some other invasive treatments.

Whilst no one seems to know exactly why people are so afraid of it, there is a growing consensus that it probably stems from a time before x-rays were widely available. Without the use of an x-ray, there is no way of knowing if an abscess has formed inside the tooth. Making contact with an undetected abscess during a procedure would be very painful! Patients of the Synergy Clinic in Addlestone will be pleased to know that x-rays are always now taken prior to this treatment being carried out, and should an abscess be found, the procedure will be delayed until it has been treated.

The root canal procedure


Getting your child off to a good start with healthy teeth will pay dividends later on.

As adults, hopefully we are all aware of the importance of taking good care of our teeth and gums. However, there are probably readers of this blog who have already had dental issues that could have been avoided if their parents had been more aware of this. As children, we tend to look after our teeth the way that our parents do, but unfortunately, this isn’t always a good thing.

No parent wants to see their child in agony with a toothache, but even issues that don’t necessarily cause pain can create problems later on in life. The Synergy Clinic dentists in Addlestone, firmly believe in looking after young teeth, helping them get off to a good start in life.

A child’s first appointment

It sometimes comes as a surprise to parents when we suggest that they should bring their child to see us at around the time of their first birthday. There are a number of good reasons for this though. Although no teeth may have erupted at this stage, checking the gum health is important too. These need to be kept clean and we can show you how, as infected gums could cause problems when the teeth do finally erupt.

It is extremely unlikely that there will be any need for any treatment at this age, and these gentle and friendly visits allow for a child to be exposed to a dental environment from an early age. As so many people suffer from dental phobia, it is thought that these non treatment early visits help to reduce the risk of this type of anxiety in later life.

Home care


Should seeing a dental hygienist be an ‘optional extra’ or an essential part of your oral health care?

Advances in home dental care, and better oral health education, means that most people are now increasingly aware of the importance of looking after their teeth. Home products such as electric toothbrushes and more scientifically produced toothpastes provide assistance in helping our Addlestone patients take more responsibility for their own oral health care.

Despite all of the products and advice available, patients do still need to use the services of the dental team at Synergy Clinic on a regular basis. It isn’t just your teeth that need to be examined though, and ideally patients should also take advantage of the comprehensive hygienist services that we offer. Although more and more  people are aware of the importance of good gum health, the fact that only around one in five people use dental floss, suggests that we are still a long way away from where we should be.

Why do you need to look after your gums?

Like teeth, gums can become infected and when this happens, gum disease will likely follow. This usually comprises of two stages; gingivitis, the relatively milder form, and periodontitis, a more severe form, where not only the gums, but the underlying bone structure becomes infected.

Both of these gum health issues can have a number of very unpleasant side effects, including

  • Sore and swollen gums
  • Loose and wobbly teeth
  • Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
  • Pus between the teeth
  • Bad breath/halitosis

Whilst these symptoms are very unpleasant, gum disease can also lead to tooth loss if not treated.

Why do we get gum disease?


Just having attractive teeth is not the only reason why you should consider orthodontic treatment.

Back in the day, the only way that you could have your teeth straightened was to have the old fashioned, sometimes uncomfortable and very visible, metal wire and bracket style braces.

Perhaps for this reason, many people will have decided against this treatment and, as a result, lived their life with crooked teeth.

With the rise of celebrity ‘culture’, more and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of cosmetic dentistry; not only the very popular teeth whitening procedure, but also modern orthodontics (braces) that can help you to have straight and even teeth in a much more pleasant way than in the past.

But why should you want to have your teeth straightened anyway?


It would be remiss of us to claim that people don’t have this treatment simply to improve their smile. This is still the number one reason why people choose to have this treatment at the Synergy Clinic in Addlestone.

There is nothing wrong with having a nice smile, and it can have a surprising effect on yourself and those around you. In addition to looking the best that you can do, many patients that have had this treatment find that they are less self conscious about their crooked teeth, and, as a result, start to feel more confident. This new found confidence can have a knock on effect in your daily life, and situations like relationships and career can benefit from your new smile and confidence. Many reports have also found that people respond more positively to a nice white smile, but are put off when someone smiles, only to reveal crooked or discoloured teeth.

If you are a younger person, you probably also use photo sharing platforms like Instagram. As your image may remain online for many years, it is always nice to look back and not have to regret that you didn’t get your teeth straightened at the time.

Practical reasons


Why is sugar harmful to our teeth and do you know how much you really consume each day?

It has long been established that sugar is harmful for our teeth and this is something that our parents, and their parents before them understood. Many of us will have heard this from numerous sources and accept it without really understanding why.

We also probably consume far more sugar than we think we actually do. In today’s Synergy Clinic blog, we look in more depth at the problems surrounding sugar in the diet of our Addlestone dental patients.

Why is it harmful?

Sugar is bad for your teeth, but why?

Few people probably realise this, but it isn’t really the sugar that damages your teeth. Without it though, any damage would be far less. The reason for this is that sugar is not the active element that harms your teeth but is the fuel for that element, namely some types of oral bacteria.

There are thought to be over 700 strains of bacteria that are alive in our mouths at any given time, with up to 1 billion bacteria on each tooth if the mouth is not kept thoroughly clean. Even where good oral practice is carried out, there are thought to be up to 100,000 living on each tooth surface. Not all of these bacteria are harmful by any stretch, and some fulfil important roles in helping us to break down and digest our food.

These bacteria cannot survive in a void though and require fuel to be able to live. Have you guessed the fuel source yet? Correct; it is sugar.  As the bacteria consume the sugar, they produce acids and it is this that damages the enamel on your teeth, eventually leading to cavities in the tooth. When this happens, you are likely to need an invasive dental procedure such as a filling or even a root canal treatment.

Where does the sugar come from?


Dr Mani Virdee discusses the risks some people take with unsafe tooth whitening methods.

First of all, let us be clear; a teeth whitening procedure when done correctly, is both perfectly safe and a really effective way of improving a smile.

Unfortunately, perhaps because it is not an invasive procedure, some people try to find shortcuts or cheap ways of whitening their teeth. This is a very risky approach and is likely to lead to damage and pain.

This is probably a good time to remind patients of our Addlestone dental practice, that teeth are a living thing. They are not like our fingernails, for example, which have no nerves. A tooth is made out of three main components; a hard protective enamel surface, a softer and more porous dentin layer beneath it, and finally, the pulp and root canals where blood vessels and nerves are located. If you cut your fingernails, you will feel nothing. If you damage a tooth, you almost certainly will.

Illegal teeth whitening

For some time now, it has been illegal for anyone but a qualified dentist to administer a tooth whitening treatment. Despite this, there are still a few illegal outlets offering this, presumably, because the risk of being caught is financially deemed to be worth it. In many of these places, the staff may not be qualified and there have been some horrifying stories in the press regarding the damage done. One of the problems is that, in order to produce a brilliant white smile, the strength of the bleaching agent used is often well above the recommended safe level. This has left some patients in agony and can cause very significant long term sensitivity.

We would also exercise caution about buying any teeth whitening products online. Although some of these may be relatively safe, such as those bought from chemists, this is not always the case as can be seen by the prosecution of Samuel Madine in Ireland who was said to be selling whitening products that would be the equivalent of “brushing your teeth with bleach”. (reference 1)

‘Natural’ remedies


Dr Werner Krohn looks at who may, or may not, be suitable for this popular tooth replacement procedure.

There was a time, not so long ago, when hardly anybody had even heard of dental implants. Now though, it is one of the most popular tooth replacement methods, alongside dentures and bridges. All of these have their pros and cons and we will be discussing these in more detail in a future blog.

In a nutshell though, whilst all of these procedures offer aesthetic benefits, both dentures and bridges can be more inconvenient to look after, and also lack the same degree of strength and stability of implants.

It is this, along with the fact that once the procedure is completed, the implant should last for more than twenty years, that we see an increasing number of people coming to the Synergy Clinic in Addlestone, seeking to have this treatment, when they have lost a tooth.

Assessing a patient’s suitability

For a successful dental implant procedure to take place, there are certain criteria that must be in place. The key one being that there needs to be sufficient bone into which the implant can be placed.

Whilst we all have a jawbone, these can vary in substance, especially when a tooth has been lost. If you see us soon after the loss of the tooth, it is likely that we will be able to place the implant straight away. If, on the other hand, you have decided to replace a missing tooth some time after the loss, it is quite likely that some bone loss will have occurred. This naturally happens when we lose a tooth as the body then reabsorbs the minerals for other purposes as it no longer has a role to play in that area.

It isn’t just tooth loss though that can cause this. Smoking can have a significant effect, as can the side effects of some medications.  Older patients too, may have experienced bone loss over the years. As sufficient bone density is essential for this procedure, we will always check for this before any treatment starts.

Bone loss – diagnosis and solutions


Why looking after our teeth well now, can have a significant benefit for our quality of life in the years to come.

When we are young, we tend not to think of the health issues that might affect us as we get older. This is natural, and few parents would want their children to worry about various ailments that become more common with age.

Whilst preventative health measures such as stopping smoking and keeping fit are becoming increasingly popular, the same is not always true of our oral health care.

This is all too often a part of our daily routine which is done largely out of habit, with perhaps too little focus on its importance. This should not be the case though and looking after your teeth and gums now can make a big difference to your quality of life as you become older.

Gum disease and medical issues

The link between periodontal diseases and medical problems is increasingly being investigated. Possible links have been found between periodontitis and health issues such as strokes, heart disease, certain cancers and even Alzheimer’s disease. Whilst these illnesses can affect us at any age, most are more likely to occur in older people, and such risks may even increase in older age if we find it more difficult to take care of our teeth. However, here at the Synergy Clinic, we believe that poor oral health is not inevitable, and a good combination of home and professional dental care is a very effective way of managing this problem.

Quality of life


If so, it may not just be the food and drinks that you are eating and drinking that are causing it.

Most of our Addlestone patients probably associate bad breath with the foods that we eat. Garlic, to take a classic example, is well known for causing bad breath (as well as keeping vampires away of course!) Other substances, such as coffee, can also cause smelly breath, and, to a degree, we can control this by what we choose to eat, or rather, what we choose not to eat.

Generally speaking though, unless you eat and drink these products every day, your bad breath should only be occasional, rather than something that you suffer from on a daily basis.

Persistent bad breath is not only anti social, but could also be a sign that you have an oral health problem that needs to be addressed.

How will you know if your breath smells?

If you try to breath out through your mouth and then sniff the air to see if your breath smells, this simply won’t work. Your breath disperses in the air far too quickly for any odours to be detectable by ourselves. There are a couple of ways that can be helpful though. Firstly, try licking the inside of your wrist, and presuming you aren’t wearing perfume there, if it smells unpleasant, then it is very likely that your breath will do so too.

Another way to tell how offensive your breath is, is if you notice people starting to leave a wider distance between you and them when you are speaking to them. If your breath is really offensive, they may not be able to avoid turning their head away from you, or may even make up an excuse on the spot to walk away from you. Even in everyday situations this would be bad enough, but important occasions, such as an interview, could be a success or failure depending on what your breath smells like!

What to do about persistent smelly breath

Food and drink

The most obvious thing to do initially, is to eliminate or at least cut down, on most of the foods that can cause your breath to smell. The following are some examples.

  • Garlic (of course)
  • Coffee
  • Onions
  • Tuna
  • Some dairy products (does not apply to everyone)
  • Cigarettes (more of that later)

If your breath is purely caused by food and drink products, it goes without saying that eliminating or reducing them will improve your breath significantly.

Your oral health


Regular monitoring of your oral health is essential for healthy teeth and gums.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, seeing a dentist every six months or so for a check up is key to maintaining a healthy mouth. Some patients, such as diabetics, for whom gum problems can be more likely, may be requested to have check-ups more frequently to detect and treat any problems that arise much earlier.

One thing that we must emphasise is that if any of our Addlestone patients find that they have a problem between these appointments, they should not simply wait until their check up appointment is due, but call us for a prompt appointment. Depending on the issue, leaving it for a few more months, or even a few weeks, could make all the difference between needing a minor procedure to restore a tooth and a more comprehensive one, or even the loss of the tooth. If you are in doubt, please call us for advice.


At the Synergy Clinic, we do understand that life sometimes gets in the way of appointments that you have already made. If this happens to you and you have to cancel your appointment, please let us know as soon as you possibly can. We also recommend that you book a new appointment at this time so that you don’t ‘let things drift’ and end up not seeing a dentist for a much longer period of time, during which, your oral health situation may have deteriorated.

Your examination