Category Archives: News

How a dental crown can help to protect your teeth

Despite our very best intentions we all might at some point face that dreaded realisation that one of our teeth has cracked – or has developed a large cavity.

Dentists are committed to doing all they can to protect patients’ natural teeth and when serious damage is caused they will take whatever action they can to save the tooth.

In the case of a crack, fracture or serious cavity the best course of treatment is often a dental crown.

What is a dental crown?

A dental crown is essentially a cover for the damaged tooth that is shaped to fit in with the other teeth. Its prime purpose is to protect the remaining tooth from further damage – and in the long run to avoid the need for the tooth to be removed should the problem worsen.

A dental crown can be made from different materials, which often different strengths. These are:

Metal: Gold crowns have long been used to protect teeth from further damage and due to the material’s natural strength are very long lasting and durable, however, due to the colour these are generally used at the back of the mouth.

Porcelain-metal fused: These combine a more natural finish that can be better matched to the colour of the other teeth, while also benefitting from the strength of the metal underneath to help withstand daily wear.

Porcelain/ ceramic: Ceramic dental crowns have a more natural finish than other materials and make an ideal choice from front teeth that need dental work. However, the material is weaker than metal and more prone to damage if used on molars.

When would you need a dental crown?

Teeth can be damaged in accidents or cracked through biting into hard food – such as popcorn kernels, toffee etc. If the damage results in a ‘fracture’ that has not reached the root of the tooth a crown can be fitted to prevent the damage worsening, which will in effect save the tooth.

A dental crown could also be used to give added protection to a tooth where a large cavity has emerged due to decay. While a filling would be used to repair the cavity there can sometimes be a risk that if a filling is large enough it will split the tooth.

For more information about dental crowns, or if you are concerned about a cracked tooth contact Bhandal Dental Practice.

Dental resolutions to keep your smile shining bright

Good dental health is a marker of good well being – and is vital to confidence. The key to protecting your dental health is not to take it for granted. As with so many ills prevention is better than cure when it comes to looking after your teeth.

Here are some New Year’s resolutions to get your teeth into to improve your dental heath and protect yourself from future problems.

Brush at least twice daily

A good brushing routine is the cornerstone of good dental care. Regular brushing helps to prevent a build up of plaque by removing harmful bacteria.

Floss

Flossing regularly is an important part of maintaining dental hygiene as flossing between teeth removes bacteria that toothbrushes cannot reach.

Regular dental check-ups

Keeping up to date with your dental appointments is essential to allow any potential dental issues to be flagged up before they become a serious problem. Early treatment can usually resolve problems quickly. Dentists will also give teeth a professional clean, targeting hard to clean areas.

Cut back on sugary snacks

Sugar is your teeth’s worst enemy in that it mixes with harmful bacteria in the mouth to create acids that attack the enamel. Too much sugar – in particular sugary snacks – will lead to tooth decay.

Drink wisely

Fizzy drinks, fruit juice and sugary coffees will flood your mouth with sugar, impacting even further damage done from too many sugary snacks. Opt for water, milk or green/white tea to give your teeth a break.

Quit smoking

The health problems connected to smoking are well documented and these also extend to dental health. Stopping smoking will cut your chances of developing gum disease as well as a number of oral cancers.

Small changes can make all the difference when it comes to looking after your dental health. With just a little effort you can help to protect your dental health for years to come by sticking to a good dental routine.

How your lifestyle can damage your oral health

Research is showing a definite link between oral health and general well-being – but it is also true that how well you look after yourself can affect your dental health.

dental-check-ups-woman

Study after study has flagged up smoking, poor diet and excess alcohol consumption as problematic to many areas of health – and oral health can certainly be added to the list. Within that trinity of red flags for health are contained a multitude of problems for oral health.

The main lifestyle factors affecting oral health

Poor diet – more specifically a sugar-rich diet

Sugar is bad news for teeth, it clings onto the surface feeding bad bacteria that then sets to work attacking the protective enamel of the teeth leaving them prone to decay.

The upshot of this is that sustained attacks are a direct route to cavities, which will need fillings. Cutting back on sugar – and certainly avoiding snacking on sugary foods will help to avoid decay.

Smoking

Not only does smoking cause unsightly discolouration of the teeth it is also linked to some very serious conditions. Smoking is a major cause of periodontal disease, which if left untreated can cause irreparable damage to the structure of the mouth causing teeth to be lost.

Stopping smoking will help to halt the spread of the problem and a good hygiene routine – with the support of a dental professional – will help to keep gum disease under control.

Oral cancers such as mouth cancer and throat cancer are all heavily linked to smoking, which it is estimated is responsible for 65 per cent of cases.

Alcohol

The chances of developing oral cancers are also higher for people who drink alcohol, with research showing that 30 per cent of mouth and oropharyngeal cancers were attributed to alcohol.

Drinking alcohol can also cause damage to tooth enamel adding to the possibility of decay.

Together smoking, alcohol and infections are to blame for 91 per cent of oral cancer.

The good news is that sticking to government drinking guidelines and living well – eating lost of fruit and vegetables – could help to cut your risk.

If you have any worries about your oral health, please contact Bhandal Dental Surgery straight away.

Research is showing a definite link between oral health and general wellbeing – but it is also true that how well you look after yourself can affect your dental health.

Study after study has flagged up smoking, poor diet and excess alcohol consumption as problematic to many areas of health – and oral health can certainly be added to the list.

Within that trinity of red flags for health are contained a multitude of problems for oral health.

The main lifestyle factors affecting oral health

Poor diet – more specifically a sugar-rich diet

Sugar is bad news for teeth, it clings onto the surface feeding bad bacteria that then sets to work attacking the protective enamel of the teeth leaving them prone to decay.

The upshot of this is that sustained attacks are a direct route to cavities, which will need fillings.

Cutting back on sugar – and certainly avoiding snacking on sugary foods will help to avoid decay.

Smoking

Not only does smoking cause unsightly discolouration of the teeth it is also linked to some very serious conditions. Smoking is a major cause of periodontal disease, which if left untreated can cause irreparable damage to the structure of the mouth causing teeth to be lost.

Stopping smoking will help to halt the spread of the problem and a good hygiene routine – with the support of a dental professional – will help to keep gum disease under control.

Oral cancers such as mouth cancer and throat cancer are all heavily linked to smoking, which it is estimated is responsible for 65 per cent of cases.

Alcohol

The chances of developing oral cancers are also higher for people who drink alcohol, with research showing that 30 per cent of mouth and oropharyngeal cancers were attributed to alcohol.

Drinking alcohol can also cause damage to tooth enamel adding to the possibility of decay.

Together smoking, alcohol and infections are to blame for 91 per cent of oral cancer.

The good news is that sticking to government drinking guidelines and living well – eating lost of fruit and vegetables – could help to cut your risk.

If you have any worries about your oral health, please contact Bhandal Dental Surgery straight away.

Teeth straightening for adults: What do I need to know?

We are well accustomed to seeing children wearing braces in their teeth but in recent years increasing numbers of adults have chosen to have their teeth straightened.

While children are still growing dentists frequently take action to correct problems with the teeth to solve as the fact that the body is still growing makes this easier.

However, this does not mean that adults cannot have their teeth straightened it could instead take a little longer to manipulate teeth into position once they are established.

Why choose teeth straightening?

Very often the reason for an adult opting to have braces fitted to their teeth is cosmetic.

Yet it is not only the appearance of the teeth that will be improved, problems with the positioning of the teeth that can cause an overbite or make eating uncomfortable can also be addressed.

The decision to have this done later in life could be as a result of missing out on having braces fitted when a child, or because the teeth have moved over the years making an issue more pronounced.

What braces are available for adults?

The beauty of modern technical advances is that dental intervention looks far less obtrusive than you may remember in your youth.

Yes metal braces are still used and are very effective but there are other options too.

Metal braces are still the fastest way to straighten teeth but these have reduced in size and are now available in different colours.

Adults having their teeth straightened are often more conscious about the appearance of the braces and to counter a number of more discreet options are available.

These include ceramic braces that are clear or can even be matched to the colour of teeth, lingual braces that are fitted to the back of the teeth, and virtually invisible teeth aligners that fit over the teeth.

Teeth straightening treatment usually takes between 12 and 18 months but can take more or less time depending on the extent of the problem.

Are you considering teeth straightening? Get in touch with Bhandal Dental Surgery for more advice.

Protect your teeth: Foods that cause acid enamel erosion

Enamel plays a vital part in protecting our teeth. This tough substance – the hardest substance on the body – forms the outside of each tooth.

If enamel is damaged is can eventually lead to tooth decay. As there is no way to repair tooth enamel it is important that we take care of our teeth.

What is acid erosion?

Acid erosion occurs on teeth when certain foods with a high acid content – or sugary foods – come into contact with the teeth temporarily softening the surface.

Saliva acts as a natural remedy to this, restoring the natural ph balance. However, repeated acid attacks on the teeth compromise the body’s natural ability to neutralise acid in the mouth and the acid in food and drinks can start to damage enamel.

If acid enamel erosion becomes a problem the protective surface of the tooth begins to wear away exposing the dentine below. This can cause the teeth to appear yellow in colour and can lead to pain and sensitivity when eating.

Foods that can cause acid enamel erosion

  • Fizzy drinks
  • Fruit juice
  • Citrus fruits
  • Wine
  • Tomatoes
  • Coffee
  • Pickles
  • Sweets
  • Berries – cranberries and blueberries

All foods with a high acidity level can be problematic for teeth. While many of them are best avoided (sweets and fizzy drinks certainly), others have health merits of their own. To minimise the effect of acid on teeth it is best that acidic foods are eaten as part of a meal, rather than as a snack to minimise acid attacks on the enamel.

It is also advisable to drink water after consuming an acidic food or drink to help to wash away the acid.

Brushing teeth after eating will also help but it is important to leave a gap of up to an hour after eating acidic food as brushing when the surface is already weakened could cause further damage.

If you have any concerns about decay contact Bhandal Dental Practice today.

Bruxism: Why do I grind my teeth?

It is estimated that up to a third of the population grind their teeth.

Bruxism – as teeth grinding is medically known – usually affects people in their sleep, when they grind their teeth or clench their jaw. It can also be an issue throughout the day – although this is usually just jaw clenching.

But what causes people to grind their teeth?

Causes of bruxism

There is no exact answer as to what causes people to grind their teeth. As it is largely a subliminal action most of the possible causes are psychological.

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disorder
  • Medication side effect
  • Lifestyle factors

Stress and anxiety are seen as a major factor in teeth grinding. This is in part due to the fact that stress can cause sleep disruption, which bruxism is commonly related to. It goes without saying that when someone is worried or anxious this can affect their ability to relax, which has a knock-on effect for sleep quality.

Likewise if someone already displays some sort of sleep disorder, such as snoring, sleep apnoea or sleep talking they are more likely to grind their teeth.

As with many other issues, lifestyle factors can also play a part in bruxism. The energy boost that many people enjoy with their cup of coffee can be a factor in teeth grinding if multiple cups (more than six) are consumed on a daily basis.

Drinking alcohol, smoking and using recreational drugs have all also been shown to be a possible cause of some cases of bruxism.

Teeth grinding can also affect children, although this is generally linked to the arrival of baby teeth and later adult teeth.

Treatment for Bruxism

If you recognise that you are suffering from stress and anxiety, the first step in combating bruxism will be to deal with those underlying issues. Identifying the cause of stress will be helpful and then working on making changes, if possible, to ease the pressure. The NHS suggests a number of ways to try to combat the effects of stress. If you are struggling with anxiety or stress it may be worth contacting a medical professional for help.

Mouth guards to protect the teeth can also be made in consultation with your dentist, which while not removing the cause will protect your teeth.

If you are concerned about the effects of bruxism get in touch with Bhandal Dental Surgery.

Don’t let dental anxiety stop you from getting regular check-ups

Anxiety about visiting the dentist can be a serious problem.

For those with no experience of the stress a serious fear of the dentist can cause, it is easy to underestimate the importance of seeking specialist support.

Anxiety can leave a person paralysed with fear, and can even lead to panic attacks. Not only can dental anxiety have a profound effect on the mental health of a patient, it can also impact their dental health.

Dental anxiety: You are not alone

Research has found that half the UK population has a fear of going to the dentist – and of those, 12 per cent suffer a severe anxiety.

Dental anxiety is behind the failure of a large number of people to make routine visits to the dentist.

The impact of this on dental health cannot be underestimated. Regular visits to the dentist are vital to pick up the early signs of tooth decay and to have those treated early on.

Prolonged absence from the dentist will more than likely only serve to worsen an anxiety – and to further risk dental health.

Coping strategies

While some adults have a fear of the dentist routed in a childhood experience, it is important to recognise that modern dentists make patient comfort a priority.

Dental surgeries often have toys for children and the dentist will work hard to put young patients at ease from day one.

Dentists will also discuss treatment with patients, keeping them fully informed and talking through options.

It could help to make appointments first thing in the morning to stop anxiety building up throughout the day. Also bring a friend or family member along if you want extra support.

Sedation for dental anxiety

In cases of extreme dental anxiety sedation is an option. It could also help worried patients get used to the idea of visiting the dentist and receiving treatment.

Where dental patients need sedation it is usually inhaled as ‘gas and air’. This quickly makes patients feel calm and relaxed ahead of treatment. The patient remains conscious and the effects wear off quickly after treatment.

Don’t feel that anxiety is a barrier to getting dental treatment – kind, caring and compassionate dentists are ready to help.

Prevention is always better than cure. If you are anxious about visiting the dentist please contact Bhandal Dental Surgery, we will be more than happy to reassure you.

Dental surgery: will I need an anaesthetic or sedation?

To make the experience as painless and comfortable as possible, dental surgery will require the patient to have some form of anaesthetic.

In the vast majority of cases where dental treatment such as fillings or tooth extraction are needed the dentist will use a local anaesthetic.

What is a local anaesthetic?

Local anaesthetic sees a drug injected into the gums around the tooth to be treated, which makes the area go numb. This works by blocking nerve receptors so you do not feel any pain, although you may still be aware of movement this will not hurt.

Local anaesthetic takes just minutes to work and the numb feeling should wear off within a few hours. Patients remain awake and alert during treatment and can communicate with their dentist.

It is the preferred form of pain relief during dental surgery as its use is quick, easy and largely risk-free. Complications related to its use are very rare.

The only discomfort a patient would be expected to feel is when the local anaesthetic is injected.

However, there are times when dental surgery also requires sedation – this is usually in the cases of extremely anxious patients.

When do dental patients need sedation?

When local anaesthetic is being used the patient will co-operate with the dentist on some level – staying relaxed, opening wide etc.

For patients suffering from serious dental anxiety this is something they may not be capable of. In these cases, it may be that the use of a sedative to relax them is the solution.

By inhaling gas and air (nitrous oxide) dental patients will become relaxed and, unlike general anaesthetic, will not have to lose consciousness. The effects last for only a short time – as little as 15 minutes.

Patients may also be offered intravenous sedation (IV sedation), which sees a drug injected into the patient. Again for severely anxious patients, IV sedation allows the patients to remain conscious through treatment, although in a deep state of relaxation – and due to the effects of the drug they are unlikely to remember anything from the procedure.

The use of IV sedation is very safe, but the effects can take some time to wear off, so patients need the support of an adult on the day of treatment.

General anaesthetic

The use of general anaesthetic is very much a last resort in dental treatment.

It would only really be used in cases of complicated dental surgery – or in a tiny minority of people who are unsuitable for IV sedation.

General anaesthetic, where patients are unconscious, carries a higher risk of complications. As such its use is generally restricted to hospitals, where more complex dental surgery would take place.

In the vast majority of cases though, dental treatment is quick, easy and over within an hour.

If you have any concerns about dental treatment please get in touch with Bhandal Dental Surgery without hesitation

Facts About Tooth Staining and Discoloration

Why aren’t my teeth white?

The colour of your teeth can be influenced by lots of factors, including the translucence of your enamel (or surface) layer, the darkness of your dentin layer underneath your enamel, the size of the tooth (big teeth have more of the dark dentin layer, which makes them look darker) and even the lighting in the room you’re in.

Then there is tooth staining and discoloration, where your enamel is tinted by things other than your teeth’s natural state.

What causes tooth staining and discoloration?

Most tooth staining is the result of two things:

  • Tartar (calculus) build up
  • Surface stains caused by the food and drink you consume, by tobacco or by medicines you take

Luckily, there are lots of treatment options for both kinds of staining.

How do I remove tooth stains?

Cleaning

The simplest way to remove surface stains is with careful cleaning. You can clean your teeth using best tooth brushing practices at home, and for more stubborn discoloration you can have a professional cleaning, often called scaling and polishing.

Professional cleanings are the best – and often only – way to remove tartar build up.

Bleaching

If your teeth are discoloured by surface stains, you may need to turn to bleaching. Most bleaching products use either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide (which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide) to brighten enamel colour and remove stains.

If you want to start with home options, you can find low-level bleaching products in the form of

  • Whitening strips
  • Bleaching pens
  • Gels
  • Gentle laser treatments

For more advanced stains and discolouration, professional bleaching options include:

  • Light-accelerated bleaching, where the tooth is coated with a bleach gel, then treated with a light blast to accelerate the effects of the gel
  • Internal bleaching

Masking

You can also mask stains with bonding or tooth veneers, both of which involve covering teeth with materials of various thicknesses that are then bonded directly to the teeth.

Remember that all of these treatment options can result in tooth sensitivity and gum irritation, so start with the gentlest treatments and get advice from your dental care professional if you have any concerns.

Why snacks could be playing havoc with your teeth

Children’s diets are constantly in the news, but what about adults – how much sugar are we actually consuming every day?

Sugar has crept more and more into our diets through an increase in processed foods – and as our choice of snacks has got sweeter and sweeter.

Experts recommend that anyone over the age of 11 should limit their sugar intake to 30 grams a day – about 7 sugar cubes. However, the average person gets through almost 60 grams of added sugar a day, with teenagers consuming even more.

While eating this level could have serious health repercussions, it will also play havoc with your teeth as sugar is the main cause of decay and cavities; fuelling harmful bacteria that attacks enamel.

Why is sugar such a problem?

The way we eat sweet snacks as a nation has certainly changed, with lower prices and larger servings, and a huge array of choice it is difficult to avoid chocolate and sweets. It makes a cheap, easy, convenient snack and is quite often the only choice when out and about.

The problem is eating sugary snacks has now become routine – cakes in the office, ice cream at the park, biscuits with tea, muffins for breakfast, and monster bags of chocolate in front of the TV at night – never mind this all being washed down with fizzy drinks.

And we can’t get enough of it. The ‘high’ eating sugar brings is quickly replaced by a crash, leaving us craving more sugar.

This onslaught of sugary snacks is bad news for our teeth as it continues to damage enamel.

What are the alternatives?

Snacking is the main culprit as teeth cannot cope with the constant attacks. So, while a bit of sugar is ok at mealtimes, try to cut sugary snacks out of your diet where possible.

Drink coffee, tea, water, or milk instead of fizzy drinks and snack on sugar-free foods, or those only containing naturally occurring sugar such as:

  • Nuts
  • Cheese
  • Boiled eggs
  • Humus and carrot sticks
  • Meat
  • Crab sticks
  • Fruit

It may be hard at first to cut back on sugar, but once a new snacking routine has been established things will fall into place. If you’re in need of some motivation, just think about protecting your teeth.

If you have any concerns about enamel erosion or cavities in your teeth contact Bhandal Dental Practice today.