The Impact Of Oral Cancers

Mouth cancer – a major impact on lives.

At the Confidental Clinic, we put a lot of emphasis not only on having healthy teeth but also on full mouth care. Our gums, cheeks, tongue and throat are all important and any problems that arise with them can have a significantly negative impact on our lives.

Taking good care of this area of our body is not difficult and, in addition to brushing our teeth and gums, largely involves avoiding certain bad habits which we will come to later. We will also take a brief look at what our patients need to do to minimise the risk of oral cancer, but first we are going to take a look at what it can mean if you do suffer from this disease.

Fatalities

The worst possible outcome of oral cancer is death. Although this is relatively rare if detected early on, it does happen and in the US, around 10,000 people die of it each year. Of course, with a smaller population, this number is not as high here in the UK, but it is important to remember that it can, and does, happen. One important way to minimise this risk is to make sure you keep up your oral health checks at Confidental Clinic so that any potential problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

Eating and drinking

The treatment sometimes used for mouth cancer cases can often leave the mouth very dry for a long period of time. This not only often causes soreness and irritation but makes swallowing much more difficult. Cancers in certain areas of the mouth can make this even more so, with some patients finding it difficult to even swallow liquids.

This can sometimes be eased with gels provided by your GP and you should use these as instructed. However sore your mouth is, you should also make sure that you clean your teeth and gums as well as possible and on a regular basis.

Speech

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Selfies And The Rise Of Orthodontic Treatments

Be careful how you achieve that great ‘selfie’ smile!

Dental braces have been around for many years now, but for quite a while, the only people who were happy to have them typically had teeth that were badly crooked and so very detrimental to their appearance.

Minor imperfections such as slightly overlapping teeth, were more likely to have been accepted by most people as just ‘one of those things’, and one that didn’t warrant treatment.

Things have changed though and one of these is the rise of the ‘selfie’ on social media. Not only are these images very often close up and very revealing of any flaws in your smile, but are also there for others to comment on, and those comments can often be very far from complimentary!

A business article out recently has claimed that a large American firm who ‘specialise’ in ‘online orthodontics’ has been successful, largely due to the popularity of the selfie. In today’s blog we will look not only at why you might want to improve your smile through orthodontics, but why you should do so using a reputable dentist such as those in the team here at our Greenwich dental surgery.

The Selfie smile

Especially if you are someone in the public eye; if you post a selfie, you can almost guarantee that not only will your fans be complimentary about it, but a whole host of others, sometimes deemed to be ‘trolls’, will do exactly the opposite. Although we might consider ourselves to be thick skinned, it really isn’t any fun being attacked by hundreds of people because of our appearance. This is probably one of the reasons that we are seeing an increase in the number of people expressing interest in our modern braces treatments.

Whilst some treatments are predominantly used to realign teeth that have become significantly crooked and uneven, there is also a wide range of orthodontics that are great for those minor imperfections that can spoil an otherwise attractive smile. One of the most popular of these is the Inman Aligner.

Unlike many orthodontics that can take a year or more to work, the Inman Aligner is designed to correct the appearance of the bottom and top front teeth, commonly known as the ‘social six’.

It is a removable brace which means that you can take it out to clean your teeth. This is important as tooth decay can occur more easily for those who wear fixed braces. Depending on the type of misalignment problem, the treatment time for this particular type of dental brace is between 8 and 16 weeks, often significantly less than most.

You will need to see one of our experienced dental team to make sure that this is the right approach for you, but if your issue is relatively minor, this may well be the best method available to give you straighter teeth.

Use a qualified dentist

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Is The Rise In Measles And Tooth Decay Linked?

Greenwich Practice Principal Dr Sandeep Patel explores what these issues may have in common.

On the face of it, you might think that measles and oral health issues have no common links. It is certainly true that one does not directly lead to the other.

There are important lessons to be learned though in how measles, once almost eradicated from the UK, is now becoming a serious problem once more.

A direct link?

As we said earlier, having measles does not lead directly to tooth decay, and vice versa. It is worth saying though, that any illness is likely to mean that we take less good care of our teeth. If we are tired, listless or in pain, brushing our teeth twice a day will probably be one of the last things on our mind. As with any illness, although it may not be our number one priority, we should still take care to brush and floss our teeth regularly.

The real link

Where the two problems are linked  is through misinformation. It is widely agreed that the current rise in measles is largely down to parents refusing to let their children have the MMR vaccine. There was a lot of concern from parents when this vaccination was linked with autism. This report was subsequently dismissed by most of the medical profession, but the damage was already done; with groups of concerned parents gathering together on Facebook and similar social media platforms, encouraging parents not to vaccinate their children.

As the incidences of measles rose, Facebook was finally encouraged to ban these groups that were spreading false information, sometimes with the best of intentions, but harmful misinformation nonetheless. As measles spread, others who had not had the vaccination became infected, increasing the rise in cases.

How is this related to your teeth you may ask? The reality is that there is an awful lot of misinformation available on the internet. Some of this is deliberate, and aimed at people for commercial reasons. ‘Influencers’ too sometimes offer ‘quick fixes’ to whiten or straighten your teeth without the need for a visit to the dentist, usually for financial reward. Some information is just wrong and potentially harmful and is often simply ‘forwarded’ or ‘re-tweeted’ without much thought at all. Each time this happens though, more people may take decisions about their teeth and gum health based on potentially harmful information.

Where should I get information about my teeth from?

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Mistakes To Avoid When Brushing Your Teeth

Optimising this basic, but essential, tooth care routine.

Modern dentistry can now do wonders to save and restore damaged teeth, and even to replace them using permanent methods such as dental implants. By and large though, much dental care revolves around the simple, yet important, act of brushing our teeth (and flossing as well, we hope!)

Whilst the vast majority of people do carry this out twice a day, it is not always the case that they do so as well as they could. In today’s blog, our Greenwich Confidental Clinic team take a look at some of the more common mistakes that people make when brushing their teeth.

Keeping a toothbrush too long

Ask yourself when was the last time you bought a new toothbrush, or changed the head on the electric one. If it was over three months ago, you need to change it. Using an ineffective brush is one of the more common mistakes that people make. Using a new one with bristles that aren’t worn out will make cleaning your teeth much more efficient.

Rushing it

We know that life can be busy, but cutting time out of brushing your teeth is asking for trouble. It is thought that, on average, we brush our teeth in the region of 45 seconds. This is a long way short of the recommended 2 minutes. Set a timer on your phone or play your favourite two minute song while you do it. You might be surprised at how long two minutes is and how far short of it you have been falling!

Brushing too hard

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Keeping And Re-Using Your Invisalign Trays

Once used, should you keep or throw away your transparent plastic trays?

In today’s world we are increasingly conscious of the need to preserve the environment and perhaps not live in such a disposable way as we have in the past. This probably suits the natural ‘hoarders’ amongst us, but may be more challenging for those who like to replace things regularly and often.

At our Greenwich dental practice, we try to be as ‘eco friendly’ as we can, and most of our dental equipment is sterilised and re-used. Some products, such as surgical gloves, have to be replaced to prevent cross infection. One of the more unusual, but perhaps not illogical, questions that we sometimes get asked on ‘green’ subjects, is what patients should do with their Invisalign trays once they have been used.

During the treatment period

As regular readers of this Confidental Clinic blog will know, the discreet Invisalign treatment uses a series of transparent plastic trays, made from impressions that are taken of your teeth. Each of these trays are worn for a short period of time, usually a few weeks. During this time, the trays will work to gently coax the misaligned teeth towards their desired position. The tray is then removed so that the next in the series can be fitted, and the correction continues on a gradual basis.

What do you do though, when you have finished with a tray? Should you keep it, or simply throw it away?

We generally recommend that patients undergoing this treatment should keep the tray that they have just taken out and store it somewhere safe. The reason for this is that if the tray that you are using to replace it becomes lost or damaged in any way, you can then re-fit the previous one as a ‘holding’ tray to prevent any reversing of the progress made. You should then, as soon as possible, consult our dental team to have a new tray made to replace the one that is lost or damaged.

There is no need to keep any other previous trays and these can be disposed of using the guidelines of your local council’s recycling scheme.

Full sets of trays

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The Importance Of Healthy Tooth Enamel

This first line of defence for our teeth should be looked after as well as possible

As some patients will already know from reading previous blogs, there are three essential parts of a tooth. The enamel, the dentin layer and the pulp which is stored in the body of the tooth and root canals.

Toothache, whether relatively mild or severe can occur when either the dentin layer or the root canals become infected with bacteria.

As these areas are vulnerable to bacteria if left unprotected, our teeth have a first defensive layer which is made of enamel. This is a very strong material that also allows us to chew even harder foods without harming our teeth when doing so. Although strong, enamel is not invulnerable and, if we don’t take good care of it, it can become compromised and eventually lead to tooth decay.

What damages the enamel on our teeth?

There are a few things that can harm the enamel on our teeth.  Instant damage in the form of a break or a crack will compromise it and allow bacteria to enter. This often happens in the form of an accident and there is often little that we can do to prevent it other than wear a mouth guard when playing sport etc. Even the smallest chip or crack should be examined by our Greenwich dentist in order for it to be treated as necessary, before the problem becomes worse.

Others ways in which the enamel of our teeth can be harmed are through bacteria and acid damage.

Bacteria will always collect on and around our teeth. In fact, our mouth is full of millions of bacteria and whilst some are not harmful or are even beneficial, not all of them are. Some bacteria will attack the enamel leading to damage if not managed properly. This can be done with good brushing at home and the addition of flossing to your dental routine if you don’t already do so.  You should also take advantage of the hygienist services at the Confidental Clinic and have your teeth and gums professionally cleaned with a scale and polish procedure. This will help to rid your teeth of the bacteria, plaque and tartar that home brushing does not.

The other main way in which enamel is damaged is through acidic food and drinks. These include both healthy foods such as citric fruits and less healthy options such as sports drinks or even regular sugary fizzy drinks. Although it is best if you avoid these altogether and opt for sugar free versions where available, if you must drink them, try to do so through a straw to minimise contact with your teeth.

Treatment for damaged enamel

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Can A ‘Minor’ Dental Problem Wait For Treatment?

It can sometimes be tempting for patients to avoid seeking help for a minor dental issue.

Like all dental practices across the country, we have helped patients at the Confidental Clinic who, when asked if there were any problems at a regular check-up, tell us that a tooth had been ‘playing up’ for a little while. Usually this would be either not painful or not overly inconvenient enough to seek prompt treatment and the patient chose to wait until their next check up appointment at our Greenwich dental surgery.

Although this may be understandable and it is perhaps a very English trait not to want to ‘bother’ the dentist, doing so is a mistake that you could, potentially, pay for dearly.

What constitutes a ‘minor’ dental issue?

This depends on who you ask. If you ask a patient they may well say that issues such as a chipped tooth, a small crack, or even a tiny bit of decay can all wait a few months to be treated. If you ask a dentist, we would say that none of these should be ignored, and whilst they may not be causing any immediate discomfort, they are all issues that should be treated as soon as possible, and definitely not left for several months.

Any problem that damages the enamel in any way, whether that be by decay, a chip or a crack needs to be checked and potentially restored .. and as quickly as possible.

What happens if you leave a small defect on the tooth enamel?

Once the enamel on your teeth becomes damaged or compromised, it exposes the dentin layer beneath it. This porous material is easily affected by bacteria and acids and will eventually lead to tooth decay. This alone can soon result in a toothache, or even a root canal infection, should it reach that far before it is treated.

If a tooth is cracked or chipped, it is not only decay that might be a problem. A cracked tooth is a weakened tooth and it may not stand the daily rigours that it is subject to. If ignored, even for a short while, further breakages may well occur which will need more extensive restorative treatment.

What sort of treatments should you expect?

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Tooth Crowns Explained

Confidental Greenwich dentist, Dr Lynn Hutchinson, discusses the procedures that use a dental crown

Along with fillings and extractions, the use of a dental crown is probably one of the most common restorative procedures that is used at dental practices across the UK.

It is a strong and versatile solution to a number of problems and, with good care, should last the patient for many years.

In today’s blog, we thought that it would be useful to look at what a crown is, and some of the more common procedures that make good use of this restorative item.

What is a dental crown?

A crown, or as it used to be more commonly known, a ‘cap’ is usually made from porcelain, porcelain bonded to metal, or increasingly, newer materials such as Zirconia. They are used to ‘cap’ a tooth that has been damaged or treated, and is shaped and ‘styled’ so that it matches the patient’s current teeth.

What procedures is it used for?

The most common reasons for using a dental crown are as follows:

Broken tooth – Whilst a filling is the most likely first option; where a breakage, or cavity is too large for a filling to offer sufficient strength, a crown may be produced and fitted instead. This not only protects the tooth, but gives sufficient strength for the tooth to be used for normal daily routine.

Root canal treatment – When a root canal treatment is carried out, it is often necessary for the dentist at the Confidental Clinic to remove the top section of the tooth, so that the root canals can be accessed.  Although, once the canals have been cleaned, a special filling is used to offer some strength and protect the canals, this is usually too weak on its own to be strong enough for the patient to use the tooth to eat with. To offer the additional strength needed, a dental crown is usually attached to complete the restoration.

Dental implants – Crowns are also used as the final part of a dental implant procedure. Once the implant itself has been placed and integrated with the bone, an abutment is attached to allow a crown to be added to the new artificial tooth. This makes for a natural looking and very strong tooth replacement.

Cosmetic purposes – Although usually used for practical reasons, crowns can also  be used in a cosmetic dental procedure to restore the appearance of teeth that have been worn down and appear shorter than usual. This could, for example, happen with someone who has a tooth grinding (bruxism) habit, once they have managed to overcome it.

How are they produced?

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Considering A Dental ‘Touch Up’ To Give Your Smile More Appeal?

Dr Sandeep Patel looks at common treatments which can be used to improve your smile.

You may well have come across stories of media personalities who have undergone dramatic changes to their appearance through surgery?

This often relates not only to facial features such as nose and lips, but sometimes also, their teeth.

Coming from this is a common misconception that in order to improve your own teeth, you would have to undergo significant treatment to do so; but fortunately this is not always the case.

If you have a car, that has a few minor scratches and scuffs, you wouldn’t necessarily consider having a full respray job. Instead, you might have those particular parts worked on. Although probably quite a loose analogy, it could be said that our mini smile makeover works in a similar sort of way, to some degree at least.

What is a mini smile makeover?

As the name suggests, this is a treatment, or a number of treatments that are designed to improve your smile, but without the need for the more significantly invasive procedures that are available, such as dental implant placement.

Each patient’s personal requirements will be different according to their needs and the type of smile they hope to achieve. Some people are happy with some minor defects, but not with others whereas other patients might want to improve their smile as much as they possibly can. Whatever your preference, our Confidental Clinic dentists will be able to produce a treatment plan for our Greenwich patients that will give them a significant improvement in their smiles.

Mini Smile Makeover Treatments

As mentioned earlier, a number of treatments can be used to produce an improved smile as part of a mini makeover. These are the more common ones that are used at the Confidental Clinic.

Cosmetic bonding

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Why Do Some People Have “Thin” Gums?

Translucent, thin gums give some patients for concern, but should they?

If you take a look at your own gums in a mirror, the chances are that you will see a set of healthy pink gums, providing that you have looked after them of course.

This is not the same for everyone though and some people may notice that their gums seem to be on the thin side, and sometimes semi transparent.

This is a condition known as gingival biotype and is largely hereditary. There is nothing that you can do to increase the thickness, but it is useful to be aware of this condition as you will need to pay extra special attention to how you look after them.

Healthy gums

Even with healthy and pink gums of normal thickness, you should, of course, not ignore your gum health. Thicker gums will not prevent gingival problems such as gingivitis if you don’t look after them. Brushing, flossing and a regular scale and polish at the Confidental Clinic in Greenwich are all essential components of a good oral health regimen.

As we have mentioned in previous blogs, allowing your gums to deteriorate will not only result in soreness and possible bleeding, but can even led to eventual tooth loss if it is not corrected.

Looking after thin gums

Patients who have thinner gums are at an increased risk of a number of dental issues. Due to having less protection, it is important to maintain what you already have, by looking after them correctly.

One issue that is perhaps more likely is tooth sensitivity. Hot and cold will be able to reach the roots of the teeth more easily, and especially as the roots of the tooth are not protected by an enamel layer, you may well find that you are in some discomfort. Although this is not necessarily harmful, patients with thinner gums may wish to avoid very hot or cold food and drinks to minimise this discomfort.

Excessive brushing

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