Starting Your Regular Daily Flossing Regime

flossing teeth

A look at some of the challenges and tips for better oral health through flossing.

It is the start of a new year, and perhaps no better time to start to make changes to our lives. There are many pieces of advice that we offer our Wickford patients to help them to have better oral health, but perhaps one of the most simple of these is the introduction of dental floss into their daily routine, for those who currently don’t do it.

There is every chance that you don’t use dental floss at this point. Nearly four in five of us don’t do this, yet it is a simple task that takes very little time, yet really can contribute significantly to a healthier mouth.

Types of flossing

Before we look at the ‘hows’, it is worth acknowledging that there are now a variety of methods available. Not only the string type of floss that most of our patients are probably familiar with, but also inter-dental sticks and even water flossers. Whilst all of these have their advocates (and opposers), the view of our Cygnet Dental Practice team is that the standard ‘string’ type of floss is more than adequate for the job.

Starting to floss

We know, from patient feedback, that some people really do find it a struggle to floss between their teeth. It is true that it can be a little fiddly initially, but most people soon get the hang of it and it is certainly worth persevering with. If you really do struggle after watching tutorial videos etc, then pop along to our Wickford dental practice. We will be only too happy to offer our help and advice!

When you start flossing, it is worth remembering that you only need to do so in the evening (though some may wish to remove stubborn food directly after a meal too) and should be done, ideally,  after you brush your teeth. If you can only brush before though, or find that much easier to do, it is much better to do so than not to floss at all.

Initial bleeding

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Your End Of Year Dental Quiz!

A little festive fun to see how much our Wickford patients have learned about their oral health this year.

As this will almost certainly be the last Cygnet Dental Practice blog until 2019, we thought that we would have a little change, and, rather than provide further insight into oral health issues, we would see how much you have learned so far. This is, of course, just for fun and there are no prizes other than perhaps serving as a reminder about how you can care better for your oral health. After all, a great looking smile is a real winner.

So, without further ado, here are your questions, with the answers at the bottom of the page … no cheating please 🙂

  1. How long does the Six Month Smiles orthodontic system take to work?
  2. What is the sometimes ‘controversial’ material used in amalgam fillings?
  3. Name the disease that can very occasionally occur in patients that have dental implants placed, and which can cause them to fail.
  4. What is it called when there is a gap between the front teeth?
  5. Why are fruits, such as oranges and lemons, potentially harmful for your teeth?
  6. Why do teeth discolour specifically with age?
  7. Aside from leaving a gap, name the three available options for replacing a missing tooth
  8. Name the dental instrument that we use for removing a fine layer of enamel from your teeth when dental veneers are being fitted
  9. How long, after eating, should you leave before cleaning your teeth?
  10. When should you change your toothbrush?


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Tooth Remineralisation

How a healthy mouth contributes towards this important process.

Many patients tend to think of teeth as solid objects, whereas they actually consist of several layers. The exterior enamel layer is hard and offers the necessary strength to chew and bite our food.

The layer beneath, the dentin layer, is softer and porous and allows ‘access’ to the nerves which are stored in the root canals of the tooth. It is the enamel layer which we see when we look in the mirror though, and what many of us may be unaware of is, that when we eat, we lose some of the minerals from this layer, causing it to soften just a little.

This softening is not something that our Wickford patients would notice, but for a short period of time, with the loss of some of these minerals which include calcium and phosphate, our teeth are a little more vulnerable to problems such as decay and acid damage.

A word about brushing your teeth

Before we move on to discuss the remineralisation process, it is probably a good time to mention that, due to the softer nature of our teeth following a meal, it is a good idea to allow at least 30 minutes to lapse after we have finished eating before we brush our teeth. If we brush before then, the enamel is softer and more vulnerable and may result in some enamel erosion. Doing this on a regular basis can cause significant long term damage to our teeth.

What happens during remineralisation?

As we lose minerals from our teeth when we eat, so these are restored afterwards, or at least where our overall oral health is good. The minerals that are used to restore the enamel of our teeth are contained in our saliva. Finishing a meal with something that promotes good saliva flow is an excellent idea as this will help to speed up the remineralisation process. Cheese is ideal for this as it not only stimulates saliva flow but helps to reduce the potentially tooth damaging acid environment in our mouth as well.

It is also important that we stay well hydrated in order to keep a healthy saliva flow. This should be done by drinking sufficient water, not only in hot weather, but in cold too. High sugar drinks are not a suitable replacement for water and their high acid levels are also likely to contribute to further mineral loss.

Signs of demineralisation

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Peri-Implantitis – A Threat To Dental Implants

Dentist Harminder Sehmi

Dr Harminder Sehmi of the Cygnet Dental Practice discusses the problem and how it can be avoided.

As we have discussed before, dental implants offer an excellent option for anyone looking to replace a missing tooth, or teeth, with a secure and strong alternative. Advances in technology and a more advanced understanding of the process of osseointegration (where the implant fuses with the jawbone) have led us to the point where implant failure is very rare.

This does not mean that we can ignore their aftercare however, and making sure that we keep our implants clean will help us to remain problem free for the maximum time possible.

So what are the main threats to dental implants? These fall into a number of categories. Damage to an implant caused by a blow to the face is an obvious one, and one that we may not be able to avoid. If you play contact sports though, it would be a sensible approach to talk to our Wickford team about using a mouthguard during the activity. General poor oral care is also one of the main reasons for implant failure. This is particularly important in the period immediately following the procedure where it may lead to infections and poor osseointegration. Bad habits such as smoking and excessive drinking, will also increase the chances of a poor outcome.

Peri implantitis overview

One lesser known, but very real threat to a dental implant, is a disease known as peri-implantitis. It is closely related to the better known gum disease, periodontitis, but differs in certain ways.

As with periodontitis, if the area around the implant is not cleaned sufficiently, bacteria will start to multiply. If this is allowed to happen for a period of time, the soft tissue of the gums will start to become inflamed, worsening if not treated. It can also affect the bone structure into which the implant is placed.

There are two main stages of this disease:

Peri-implant mucositis

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Changing The Image Of The ‘British Smile’

Dentist doing examination

The state of the UK population’s teeth is often ridiculed by some living in the USA. Is it justified?

The idea of the British having ugly and discoloured teeth has long been a standard subject of American humour.

British characters are often seen to have crooked teeth, along with what often seems a very strange accent indeed! Although most countries do have stereotypical views on certain attributes of citizens of other countries, is it really true that our teeth are in such poor shape?

In fact, a study a few years ago showed that the British are less likely to have tooth decay than our American counterparts. This may be a symptom of a different medical care system and the fact that the USA has a large population, pockets of which contain families on very low incomes. Without the NHS dental care of the type that we are able to offer at our Wickford practice, regular dental care may be out of the reach for many people.

A whiter smile

What is true is that the Americans do spend more on cosmetic dentistry than those in the UK.  This is probably not surprising as cosmetic dentistry largely came about through the need to improve the smile of Hollywood stars in the industry. As many of the actors and actresses were then heavy smokers, a full screen shot of a smile could have been very unsightly. In order to correct this, dentists provided the first dental veneers to make their smile look as the public expected it to.

Although these veneers were probably fairly rudimentary, it would not be difficult to imagine that those who saw these new ‘perfect’ smiles would want to achieve the same, especially amongst the wealthier classes. With this new awareness that teeth did not have to be ‘as god intended’ the cosmetic dentistry industry was born.

Not just whiter teeth

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The requirement for pre-treatment consultations

treatment discussion

Why these appointments play an important role in your dental care.

Initial consultations at our Wickford dental practice are widely used when a patient is considering a new type of treatment. These are not usually necessary for routine dental care, but they are a critical part of some procedures to ensure the most appropriate treatment and the best outcome for the patient.

Many of our patients lead busy lives and are understandably keen to get started on the treatment straight away. For them, it may seem that an initial consultation is a drain on their already limited time; so today’s blog tries to explain why we consider consultations to be such an important part of the treatment process.

What happens at an initial consultation?

Unlike an examination where a thorough inspection may be made of your overall oral health, a consultation will also include a broader discussion between patient and dentist. There may well be an examination in a clinical consultation, but also an introduction to a treatment such as dental implants for example. This helps to make sure that there is a thorough understanding both of the patient’s desires and circumstances, and, on the patient’s part, what the treatment entails. For a procedure such as implants for example, a patient may have a number of concerns about the treatment, perhaps from reading some unreliable information on the internet. So the initial consultation serves as an excellent opportunity to fully explain the procedure, answer the patient’s questions and assess suitability.

Amongst the questions you are likely to be asked, are the following:

What do you want to achieve from the treatment?

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Professional And ‘Ready Made’ Teeth Whitening Kits Compared

Dr Krupa Thakrar at Cygnet Dental

Using shop bought tooth whitening kits may not be as effective, or as safe, as you might think.

Teeth whitening is, understandably, one of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments currently available. Having nice white teeth is something that most of us would aspire to, given a choice between that or discoloured teeth.

Those who choose to do something about it may not, initially, consult a cosmetic dentist about how best to achieve this, and instead, look to either find a DIY solution or purchase a ready made kit from a shop.

The DIY approach often involves searching YouTube for instructional videos, but we don’t recommend that you do this! Whilst some ‘natural’ whitening tutorials are relatively harmless, though nearly always ineffective, others are very likely to cause serious harm to your teeth and gums.

Safe and effective home whitening kits?

The other option for many is to buy a kit from a shop. The logic behind this is often that if you buy them from a reputable shop, they will be safe and effective. Although this is definitely a better option than randomly buying an unknown brand from an unknown online retailer, there are still some issues involved, issues that aesthetic dentist, Dr Krupa Thakrar explains below:

Poor results?

Before we look at any potential issues when using these kits, it is worth addressing the main reason why people buy them in the first place; namely, to have whiter teeth. The key question then is do they work?

The fact is that if you use these kits, you may well be disappointed with the results. All whitening treatments involve the use of a bleaching ingredient that works to lighten the inner part of the tooth. Typically, this is hydrogen peroxide. Because, with unrestricted use, this is a potentially dangerous substance, its use is regulated. Although a home whitening kit will contain more of this active ingredient than a whitening toothpaste, it is still restricted due to safety concerns. The amount allowed is much less than if the treatment is overseen by a dentist and you should, therefore, not expect the same level of success.

Won’t mask dental problems

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Your Six Monthly Dental Examination

Dentist Harminder Sehmi

Dr Harminder Sehmi explains why it is important to maintain regular visits.

Whether you are young or old, you should always try to see your local dentist for an examination every six months or so. Those in a high risk group, such as diabetics (1), may need to keep these appointments more frequently to be able to keep their teeth and gums in good health.

For most people though, once every six months should be sufficient unless any problems arise in between. If this does happen, you should not wait until your next check up date, but call our Wickford practice to make an appointment to be seen by a dentist as soon as possible.

Visiting us once every six months is a small price to pay for having a healthy mouth. Anyone who has neglected to do this for a lengthy period of time will almost certainly have problems such as sore gums or toothache, and burying your head in the sand is not a good idea when it comes to your oral health!

What happens at your examination?

Whatever your appointment time is, please try to arrive at least ten minutes or so beforehand. This will give our reception team sufficient time for any paperwork (though much of this is now done digitally). Making sure that you are on time allows our dentists to see patients at their allocated times and helps to reduce any delays.

Once the ‘paperwork’ has been done, you will be called in to see one of the clinical team. Once seated in our comfortable dental chairs, we will first of all make sure that your medical records are up to date. Please do be honest with us when we ask you questions about your general health. Neglecting to tell us about a medical condition could, potentially, put you at risk if you need certain treatments. The same applies to any medications that you are on. Blood thinning medication, for example, may mean that you need to receive treatment in hospital in certain instances.

During the examination itself, we look for a number of things. Most obviously, we look for any signs that you may have tooth decay. This can be quite minor at first, but will require treatment even if this is the case. Small cavities will not ‘heal’, and, if left alone, will almost certainly become larger and may even result in a very painful tooth. If we detect any small cavities, we will ask you to arrange a treatment appointment where we can complete a small filling for you. In some cases, very minor work might be completed on the same day.

It is not just your teeth that we inspect though. Your gum health is important and we will look for any signs of gum disease which is often straightforward to reverse if detected early enough. Symptoms such as inflamed or receding gums, means that a thorough clean by one of our hygienist team is necessary to clear the teeth and gum line of any hardened bacterial deposits known as tartar. If the issues have progressed, additional treatment may be required, possibly with a dental specialist.

Finally, we will look for any possible signs of oral cancers. This is a growing problem in the UK, and especially in smokers or heavy drinkers. Signs of possible oral cancers may include the likes of lesions or red or white patches on the tongue. These can be caused by other things too, but if we do detect anything, we will refer you to your GP for further investigation. It is important to have a an additional medical check quickly so that you can receive rapid treatment should anything untoward be uncovered.


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Stop Smoking – Jumping The Gun On ‘Stoptober’!

Dr Suky Ghuman

If you are planning to stop smoking in October, why not now? Says Dr Suky Ghuman of Cygnet Dental.

Traditionally, October is the month for the anti smoking campaign, ‘Stoptober’, run by Public Health England. Throughout the country, there are exhibitions and roadshows, along with general publicity to help people stop smoking.

Although we are a month away from the start of this campaign; if you are thinking of stopping anyway, or are a smoker who hasn’t yet taken action to do so, why not take the step a few weeks earlier?

There are many good reasons to stop smoking. The effect on your pocket is certainly one that deters some people, with a dramatic rise in the price of tobacco products over recent years. Whilst you will obviously benefit financially if you stop smoking, there are other reasons, from a health perspective, why you should do so.


Let’s start with the big one. Most people now understand cancer to be very serious, and potentially fatal. Lung cancer is the one most associated with smoking, but other cancers may be caused by the habit too. One type of cancer which certainly is, is of particular concern to the dentists at the Cygnet Dental Practice in Wickford i.e. mouth cancer.

Oral cancer

Smoking is considered to be the most significant risk factor for oral, or mouth, cancers. Whilst others, such as alcohol, may also contribute, stopping smoking is the biggest thing that you can do to prevent this problem which has seen a rise of just under 70% (1) in the past twenty years.

Oral cancer can prove fatal or life changing (2) and should not be ignored. As part of your regular six monthly check up at our practice, we make sure to check for any potential symptoms that may indicate oral cancers If we do find any, we will refer you to your GP for further investigation. If we do this, please remember that our role is a front line role to detect any changes in your mouth. We are not able to diagnose cancer directly, which is why we refer you to your GP. It may well be that there are other reasons for the signs that we have noted, so please don’t panic if we refer you.

Gum disease

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Fed Up With Your False Teeth?

If so, now is the time to consider dental implants, says Dr Michael Gulnezer.

False teeth, or more specifically, dentures, have been around for a very long time. Evidence has been found of early attempts, using stones or even seashells to replace a missing tooth. This would not have been very successful from a practical viewpoint, but may have achieved some minor success from an aesthetic angle.

Fortunately times have moved on considerably and we are now happy to offer a more practical alternative in the latest dental implants, for those who require them.

Dentures do still have a role to play of course. They do a reasonable job of maintaining the appearance of a full set of teeth, and have a reasonable level of functionality for eating. Despite this though, for some patients, there are restrictions on what they can eat successfully and a lack of stability can also be an issue, with the dentures moving around in the mouth.

Stable and secure implants

Whilst dentures act to replace lost teeth, they can ‘float’ around on the gum surface a little. Dental implants, on the other hand, replace not only the tooth, but the root of the tooth as well. This is an important distinction as placing the new artificial root of the tooth into the jawbone is what gives it its excellent level of stability and strength. With good aftercare, a dental implant can last for twenty years or longer, providing a ‘gold standard’ replacement tooth.

We do know, from talking to some patients of the Cygnet Dental Practice, that one of the biggest deterrents to having dental implants, is the thought of placing the implant into the bone. For those patients, we offer a few words of encouragement.

How ‘painful’ is a dental implant placement?

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