Putting The Brakes On Deteriorating Oral Health

Even if your teeth and gums are unhealthy, our Wickford dentists can help to restore them!

Dentist doing examination‘Challenging’ is one word for the times that we are living in. The first lockdown was difficult, but for many, manageable, and even gave some of us opportunities for new discoveries such as country walks and even new business ventures.

With new restrictions coming into force though, more and more of us are perhaps wondering when it will all end.

This stress and anxiety is taking its toll not only on our mental health, but also very likely, our oral health too. Dental practices are doing their best to catch up on missed appointments from the first lockdown but restrictions mean that most can see fewer patients each day, prioritising the most urgent. This means that, as time goes by, some of us may find that our teeth and gums start to suffer in some way.

The present situation

We don’t know when, and we don’t know for certain, but scientists are optimistic that a vaccine will be available in the not too far off future which will help us all to get back to some sort of normality. In the meantime, we have to cope as best as we can. This applies to how we look after our teeth and gums too.

For those of you with a significant dental issue such as a toothache or sore or bleeding gums, we encourage you to call your local Cygnet dentists and we will do all that we can to see you as soon as possible. With a little care, and perhaps a little luck too, this type of appointment can hopefully be minimised.

To help with this, we encourage all of our Wickford patients to remember, and put into practice, the very basics of good oral health care.

  1. Try not to eat or drink foods that are high in sugar and especially those that stick easily to your teeth.
  2. Remember to brush your teeth both in the morning and the very last thing at night using a fluoride toothpaste.
  3. Use dental floss. Many problems start in the areas between the teeth where a brush struggles to reach.
  4. Drink plenty of water. This will not only keep you hydrated but will flush away some sugars and potentially harmful bacteria from your mouth.
  5. Try not to do anything foolish that might damage your teeth, such as opening bottles with them!

There is no guarantee that these will mean that you have zero dental problems, but they will minimise the risk and certainly help.

Going forwards

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The ABC OF Dentistry – Q – Z

We conclude our look at some dental terminology you may have heard but not understood

Dentist Dr Nabiha FarooqiWe hope that you have enjoyed the last 2 posts on this topic and found it useful. We know that we may sometimes use terms that you are unfamiliar with, especially when discussing treatment within the team.

This can be a little unnerving for some patients and would like to remind our Wickford patients that we are always happy to explain, should you wish to know.

In today’s blog, we end this series with a look at some dental terminology from Q through to Z.

Q – Quadrant – If you hear a dentist mention this at the Cygnet Dental Practice, it is simply referring to a section of your teeth. From the gap between the front teeth to the very back tooth equals one quadrant, so a filling on the upper right quadrant, for example, is simply an explanation of where the filling is.

R – Root canal – This procedure is often offered up as an example of extreme pain in everyday conversation, but fortunately this is not accurate. No one seems quite sure how this originated but it is thought to stem from pre x ray times when it would have been impossible to detect any abscesses that were present. A root canal procedure requires access via the top of the tooth so that the canals can be cleaned and filled before restoring the tooth with a dental crown. Whilst it is an invasive procedure, there is no reason why it should be any less comfortable than most others.

S – Saliva – We know that this is a widely understood term but is worth mentioning because of its importance to a healthy mouth. A healthy saliva flow not only helps to remove food particles that become trapped but also washes away some of the bacteria that can contribute to gum disease. Poor saliva flow, and especially a dry mouth, are prime conditions for the onset of gingivitis and other gum diseases.

T – Tooth straightening – As most of you will know, teeth are straightened using dental braces. These have become greatly refined over time with some, such as Invisalign, no longer using a wire and brackets approach. This method uses clear trays that sit over the teeth and offers a comfortable and discreet method of straightening your teeth.

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Continuing Our ABC OF Dentistry – Part 2

Continuing our alphabetical look at some dental terminology you might have heard at the Cygnet Dental Practice

Cygnet Dental Wickford LogoWe hope that you found our last ‘ABC’ blog interesting and may have learned a little more about dentistry in the process.

Last time we ended on G for ‘gingivitis’, so in this week’s blog we will start again with the letter H.

H- Halitosis – The word ‘halitosis’ originates from a Latin name for bad breath and was used by a well known mouthwash company back in 1928, rather than ‘bad breath’ as it sounded more medical and therefore more important that it was treated.

There are two reasons that bad breath can be problematic. The first of those is obvious if you have stood too close to someone who has it when they are talking. The other, and where it often originates from is that it is a common symptom of gum disease. If people start stepping back when you talk to them, it’s time to have your gum health checked by one of our Wickford dentists.

I – Implant – As in ‘dental implant’.  This is an increasingly popular way of replacing a missing tooth, or teeth. Increasingly considered to be the ‘gold standard’, there is no doubt that these currently offer the most realistic way to replace lost teeth. Whilst dentures and bridges can offer some benefits, neither of them are ‘rooted’ in the jawbone as an implant is, and therefore can’t offer the same level of stability. A dental implant not only offers a replacement tooth, but a replacement tooth root also, making it incredibly strong and stable, and, with the correct care, long lasting too.

J – Jaw (and jawbone) – We mentioned dental implants above. These are placed by inserting them into the jawbone in place of a tooth root. For this to be successful, there needs to be a sufficient amount of healthy bone. If this is not available, a bone graft or a sinus lift may be an option prior to the procedure.  We also use our jaws to bite and grind and occasionally, problems occur such as TMJ. This is an often painful jaw problem that can also cause painful headaches and other problems.

K – Klean (your teeth) – OK .. we had to cheat a little on this one but it does present a good opportunity to remind you how important it is to clean your teeth well twice a day, both morning and night. You should also floss too. Remember, after your night time clean, not to eat or drink anything other than water before you go to sleep.

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ABC Of Dentistry – Part 1

An alphabetical look at some of the terminology used in our Wickford dental practice

Hygienist VickiWe thought that we would set ourselves a challenge to come up with a dental term for each letter of the alphabet.

We will continue with this throughout our next few blogs to allow us a little more detailed explanation. Thankfully (for us anyway), some of the more difficult ones will come towards the end …. plenty of time to plan for ‘Z’!

Anyway, without further ado, here are some of the common terms that the Cygnet Dental Practice team came up with. See if you can think of any others.

A – Anaesthetic – Some of our older patients will probably be able to remember the old style ‘gas’ anaesthetic that was routinely used in the past. Whilst this may have suited our more nervous patients as it put them in a deep sleep, it also presented a number of problems. Firstly, there was no way that the dentist could communicate with the patient about a problem as they were ‘asleep’. Secondly, it left the patient very drowsy for some time and meant that someone had to come with you to make sure you got home safely. Finally, and sadly, there were a small number of fatalities in the UK which led to it being banned in practices unless there was a qualified anaesthetist present. These days, a powerful local anaesthetic is used instead. This is both safe and allows the patient to continue with their day after their dental treatment.

B – Braces – The bane of many teenagers in the days when dental braces were made from metal and were very visible. Although they were effective in straightening teeth, their high visibility meant that many people simply refused to have them. The wires and brackets used also meant that food could easily become trapped, potentially leading to tooth decay. Today, using modern cosmetic dental braces such as Invisalign, it is possible to have an even and attractive smile in a much more discreet manner.

C – Cosmetic dentistry – Gone are the days when people only saw a dentist in order to have healthy teeth. Whilst this is still the priority, the range of cosmetic treatments available has led to a big increase in the number of patients looking to have teeth that are also as attractive as possible. Although some of these treatments, such as teeth whitening, have cosmetic benefits only, others, such as veneers and dental implants also have practical benefits whilst also helping to improve your smile.

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Asthma And Dental Care

This common medical problem can have potential implications for your oral health.

Dental repairsAsthma is a very common problem amongst both adults and children. At its most severe, it can require emergency medical intervention although most sufferers are able to manage it well through medication, usually via inhalers prescribed by their GP.

Asthma can also have an affect on your oral health and also have implications for your treatment, especially where anxiety is a potential trigger for your asthma attacks.

What is asthma?

Briefly, asthma is a condition that causes breathing difficulties. It can be brought on by a number of things including both allergies and anxiety. In today’s polluted and often stressful world, it is probably not surprising then that we are seeing an increasing number of cases. In the UK alone, there are estimated to be in the region of 4.5 million people receiving treatment for this condition.

What dental problems can it cause?

There are a number of issues surrounding asthma and the use of inhalers that can result in dental problems. These include the fact that many asthma sufferers tend to breathe through their mouth rather than their nose due to constriction of the airways. Breathing in this way causes the flow of air over our teeth and gums and can lead to a dry mouth. As we know from previous blogs, a dry mouth can lead to problems such as gum disease and tooth decay as bacteria thrive in this type of environment. It is therefore very important to make sure that you stay well hydrated to minimise the risk.

The inhalers that are commonly used to manage asthma can occasionally lead to lesions on the roof of the mouth. If left, these can become infected and the infections may, potentially, spread to the other soft tissues in the mouth. If you notice a redness or soreness after using these, you should consult your GP.

Children are one of the groups most affected by asthma, although some do ‘grow out’ of this as they get older. The use of inhalers though can cause a child’s teeth to become ‘mottled’. This is because the medication that is provided in the form of a spray has a slightly acidic content and, over time, can cause the enamel of the teeth to erode. This can not only lead to a mottled appearance, but also increase the risk of problems like tooth decay. It is a good idea to rinse your mouth with water after spraying so that at least some of this will be removed. You should, of course, also see your convenient Wickford dentist on a regular basis so that we can monitor the health of your teeth.

Advise your dentist

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Drugs – Their Impact On Your Oral Health

With many people taking ‘recreational’ drugs, our Wickford dentists look at how this can adversely affect your oral health.

Concerned womanWe have written a number of times about the effects of alcohol on our teeth and gums. Whilst this is the most widely used ‘mind altering’ substance in the UK, it is certainly not the only one.

Whatever our own moral opinion is about the taking of drugs, figures show that just under 10% of the population take drugs from time to time on a recreational basis; some of these being Class A drugs. This figure almost doubles when applied to the 16-24 age group.

There is a big debate to be had about drugs and policies around them, both medical and criminal, and that is not within our remit. With so many people using them though, we thought it was important that our Cygnet Dental patients were aware of the potential harm that some commonly used drugs can do to your oral health.

Alcohol

Just a brief mention here as we have covered this before in previous blogs. Alcohol is widely used but even on a recreational basis, will increase the risk of gum disease and oral cancers.

Cannabis

For those who use cannabis in a ‘joint’, i.e. along with tobacco, the risks of the tobacco have to be included in our assessment. Gum disease and mouth cancers are much more likely if you smoke. If you must use cannabis, it is better to avoid the use of tobacco with it. Cannabis can also cause users to have a very dry mouth, which as we know can have an impact on our oral health. Dry mouth syndrome is a common cause of gum disease and whilst alcohol and cigarettes can also have this effect, cannabis is a major contributor too.

There is also the problem of our ability to make informed choices when we are ‘stoned’. Getting the ‘munchies’ can mean that we eat unhealthily and may also neglect our personal hygiene including not cleaning our teeth.

Ecstasy (MDMA)

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Three Options For Whiter Teeth

Whiter smiles for our Wickford patients!

Whitened smileA lot of things may have changed for us during lockdown; some more permanent than others. Some of us may have struggled whilst others may have used the time to consider where they really want to go in their lives. Nearly all of us will have made sacrifices though and this includes having to accept a lack of professional dental care whilst practices were closed.

Hopefully, most of you will have managed to maintain healthy teeth and gums at home, helped by a good brushing and flossing regime. There will have been a few accidents and unexpected problems which will be given priority for appointments now we are open again. One thing that is likely to have happened to some of us though, is that our teeth have darkened or discoloured.

What causes discolouration?

There are a number of things that can lead to stained or discoloured teeth. The most obvious of these is if we consume a lot of products that can cause this. Classic examples include tea, red berries and even soy sauce. These are all dark coloured foods and drinks that are well known to be problematic for the colour of our teeth. Even non dark coloured food and drinks can contribute though. Whilst red wine can be added to the list above, even white wine can lead to staining. This is because it is quite acidic and this can cause the normally smooth enamel to become rougher. This in turn ‘traps’ those darker staining foods and leads to darker looking teeth.

A similar thing occurs if we have missed out on our regular ‘scale and polish’ that we encourage patients to have every six months or so. This has not been possible for a while and the buildup of tartar on our teeth will have also created a rougher surface for staining foods and drinks to attach to. But not all discolouration comes from surface staining. The dentin layer beneath the enamel gradually becomes darker with age and can result in yellow looking teeth. It doesn’t matter how well we brush our teeth to get rid of this, it simply will not work as the staining is below the surface.

Restoring the whiteness of your teeth

If you are unhappy with the colour of your teeth, the best thing that you can do is to arrange an appointment at the Cygnet Dental Practice so that we can determine the cause of the problem along with the most appropriate treatment.

There are three potential treatments that we can use that can help you to have whiter teeth again.

Scale and polish

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How Cygnet Dental Uses Veneers To Restore Damaged Teeth

Versatile porcelain veneers used to repair stained and chipped teeth.

great smileAs we slowly come out of a period of lockdown and gradually return to something like normal, many of us will be looking at the best ways to get our lives fully back on track. Although problems like the economy can only be addressed by government policies and initiatives, there are areas of our own lives that we can take responsibility for and put a plan of action into place to change things for the better.

Several of us may have put on weight through lack of exercise and poor diet whilst others may have started drinking more than usual or even started smoking again. For those concerned about their general appearance, there may also be some concern about the way their teeth are currently looking as well.

Staining and chipped teeth

As it hasn’t been possible to see a dentist for a few months until very recently, it is no surprise that many dentists are currently busy treating those most in need due to decay and broken teeth. These cases take priority to prevent any further pain and damage.

Those of you who regularly use our Wickford cosmetic dental services may also be looking forward to making an appointment again to restore the whiteness of your teeth. If you have previously done this on a recurring basis, you will probably have noticed your teeth are more discoloured than would normally be the case when regular maintenance was in place. In many cases, this can be simply be addressed with a teeth whitening procedure, although where staining has become more severe, other options may also need to be considered.

Whilst the team at the Cygnet Dental Practice will always use the least invasive treatment where possible, a simple whitening procedure may only have a limited effect where teeth that have become badly stained. This limited improvement may be enough for some, but anyone looking for a really attractive white smile may wish to consider dental veneers instead.

Veneers may also provide a solution for anyone who has chipped or cracked a tooth as they can be used for both aesthetic and restorative purposes.

Pros and cons

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Looking Forward To A Smoke Free Future

Addressing habits which compromise your oral health

Wickford Principal Dentist Dr PabariThe last few months have been difficult for most of us in one way or another. Whether you were unable to work and are worried about your finances, missed the social interaction of friends and family or simply found that your anxiety levels were raised due to concern about the effect of the virus on yourself and those around you, no doubt you will be relieved that the number of infections is slowly decreasing.

As we start to return to some sort of ‘normality’; it is worth sitting down and looking at habits that possibly became more pronounced during lockdown and which are harmful to both general and oral health.

At the Cygnet Dental Practice in Wickford, we believe in an all round approach to good oral care. This includes helping patients to take preventative measures as well as treating existing problems. In today’s blog we take a look at smoking which, as well as being well known to contribute to lung and heart disease, can also have a devastating effect on our oral health.

Smoking and mouth cancer

The most serious of oral infections that smoking plays a major role in is undoubtedly oral cancer. This can affect any of the soft tissue of the mouth, head and neck areas.  It can manifest in a number of symptoms including:

  • Sore or red patches in the mouth
  • White patches of the soft tissue
  • Loose teeth
  • Formation of lumps or bumps on the soft tissues
  • Difficulty in swallowing

When you attend our Wickford practice for your six monthly checkup, we make sure to look for any of these, or other unusual symptoms. We are not qualified to determine if these symptoms are due to cancer, and could indeed be caused by other factors. As it is important that any signs such as these are investigated thoroughly, we may refer you to your GP. If we do this, please remember that this is a precautionary approach and does not necessarily mean that we have detected that you have cancer. This will need to be further investigated by your GP or any specialist they refer you to.

Smoking and gum disease

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Ensuring A Safe Re-Opening Of Our Wickford Dental Practice

What to expect when Cygnet Dental opens again for business

Cygnet Dental Wickford LogoAs you will probably know, dental practices were given the go ahead to open on Monday. This is good news but unfortunately dentists were only advised at the same time as the general public, leaving us very little time to finalise our re-opening plans.

We are doing all that we can to open as soon as possible but we will not do so until we are satisfied that new procedures and protection are in place for both staff and patients.

We are still evaluating the guidance that has been provided and taking steps to put new procedures into place. In today’s blog, we explain some of the things that we are looking at and at some of the differences that patients may well see when we open. Naturally, we will advise when we are opening and this will be as soon as we can.

PPE

PPE, or ‘personal protective equipment’ is essential to ensure that treatments can be carried out safely. Anyone who has kept up to date with the news though will be aware that worldwide demand for this means that it is very difficult to source at the moment. We continue to do our best to source the clothing and equipment needed so that we can see our patients once again.

Appointments

Currently, we are still offering a telephone service for patients who have a dental emergency. Where the problem is urgent, you may be referred to an urgent dental centre. For more routine problems, we will offer advice on how to manage it until it can be treated. We may also provide antibiotics where appropriate. Once we reopen, we will be contacting patients as quickly as we can. We do ask that patients understand that we will be prioritising those who are in need of prompt treatment or are in pain. Those who were mid way through a treatment will be contacted early too.

Our intention is to treat these patients as priority and then see others for more routine appointments. As it is likely that the number of patients we can see each day will be restricted, we ask that you really do make sure to clean and floss your teeth well each day. If you have a problem such as a broken tooth or have lost a filling, please try to avoid using that particular tooth when eating. This will help to prevent further damage until you can come in to see us.

Treatments

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