Make Your Teeth Resilient To Ageing

Older patients at the dentist

Dr Lynn Hutchinson discusses how our Greenwich team can help you with age related dental issues.

Good quality dental care is essential for everyone. Whether you are 1 year old or 101 years old, having healthy teeth is important and can have a significant impact on your well being.

Attitudes also change over time, and whereas, once upon a time, the older generation would often not bother seeing a dentist as regularly and accept poor quality and unattractive teeth, this is rarely the case now. Even into their 70s and 80s, and beyond, many people enjoy an active social life and take an ongoing pride in their appearance.

Whilst our teeth may remain healthy and reasonably attractive during our more youthful years, there are a number of challenges that can arise as we get older. There is usually a solution though, and we take a look at some of the more common problems with teeth and gums that are associated with old age.

Cavities

Cavities can occur at any age, and although older people may not be continually eating sweets as children are prone to do, tooth decay is quite common in older patients. These cavities often occur at the lower part of the tooth near the root. Much of this problem can be prevented by ensuring that you brush around the gum line as well as the upper part of the tooth. Where cavities do occur though, they can often be restored using our popular white dental fillings which is an aesthetically more pleasing option when compared to traditional amalgam fillings. Where the damage is more extensive and fillings are not longer suitable, other treatments such as a crown may be used instead.

Tooth sensitivity

One common oral health issue in older people is that the gums tend to recede, This exposes more of the tooth, and especially the less well protected dentin part which makes them more vulnerable to decay. Keeping your gums healthy with regular cleaning, and routine scale and polishes by our hygienist will help to delay this, although it can still happen eventually. There are a number of treatments including special toothpastes that are available to relieve this problem and we will be pleased to discuss these with you.

Mobility issues

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Correcting A Gappy Smile

Dentist Dr Krina Patel

When a tooth is lost, simply leaving a gap isn’t the answer, advises Dr Krina Patel.

Few of us will retain all of our teeth for our whole lives, however well we look after them.

At some point, whether in our teen years or later life, there is a reasonable chance that one or two may be damaged through an accident, or perhaps lost due to poor oral health care finally catching up with us.

Especially if the tooth is not a visible one, it may be tempting to just leave a gap but this is inadvisable, for reasons we will discuss. However, where the gap in the teeth is visible, we will almost certainly want to do something about it.

Diastema

Before we move on to where a tooth is missing, it is worth mentioning another kind of ‘gappy smile’. This is one known as a diastema and is where there is a gap between the top two front teeth. Whilst this look has its fans, it is generally unwise as it may cause other teeth to also become crooked if the gap is left. At the Confidental Clinic in Greenwich, we can correct a diastema, either through using one of our cosmetic dental braces, or sometimes, through the use of dental veneers.

Missing teeth

Before we look at the potential solution to replacing a missing tooth, patients should consider the risks if one is not replaced, whether it is a visible or less visible at the rear of the mouth. When a tooth is lost, the supporting bone structure will start to degrade and be reabsorbed by the body. As it does this, it causes a certain amount of facial shape change. Especially where more than one consecutive tooth is missing, this can cause aesthetic issues such as sunken cheeks, causing you to look older than you are.

Another real risk is that, when a tooth is lost, it creates a vacant space. Over time, it is likely that the adjacent teeth will encroach into this space, possible followed by others moving into theirs. The ‘domino effect’ of this is that you could potentially end up with crooked teeth.

The solutions

There are, essentially three replacement solutions for a missing tooth; dentures, bridges and dental implants.

Dentures

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Why Some Patients Prefer White Fillings

Practice Principal, Dr Sandeep Patel, looks at why patients are switching from amalgam fillings.

From time to time, there are negative stories about amalgam fillings in the media and claims that these can be dangerous are likely to deter patients from having them.

However, research by the General Dental Council, has shown that the use of mercury compounds is safe in this type of situation. Although they are safe to use, there is a drive to reduce the use of mercury in medical situations, including amalgam fillings. This is largely to reduce the amount of mercury that is released into the environment.

Any possible health issues surrounding the use of mercury should, of course, be investigated, and action taken where appropriate. This is not the only reason why patients of the Confidental Clinic in Greenwich are increasingly moving over to white dental fillings though.

Better aesthetics

Everybody knows that amalgam fillings, whilst strong, are dark in colour and very unsightly. They can even be seen on usually well hidden rear teeth when we yawn or laugh. Where they are used on the more visible front teeth it can be very difficult to hide and can cause some people to become somewhat reluctant to smile.

Because white fillings are made to match the exact shade of your natural teeth, they are all but invisible to those around you. This is probably the main reason for the increasing change from amalgam fillings to white fillings by many dental patients.

Bonding

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Why You Should Consider An Electric Toothbrush

Hygienist at Confidental Clinic Greenwich

Dental hygienist, Holly Gail, explains the benefits of an electric toothbrush.

The electric toothbrush is now widely found in households across the country. Although they feel very different initially, most people that have tried them do not switch back to a manual brush.

It is definitely possible to clean your teeth well with a manual brush, but we do feel that electric toothbrushes offer a better opportunity to have really clean teeth and gums.

As gum health is one of the key things that we look to improve, as dental hygienists, we not only perform routine procedures such as a ‘scale and polish’, but also like to arm our Greenwich patients with information they need to help them improve their own care.

Why an electric toothbrush?

It is true that there is an initial cost to buying an electric toothbrush, but, whilst they are nearly always more expensive than a manual brush, there are some very good ones available at a quite reasonable cost. We believe that the extra money is well worth spending for the benefits they can provide for your teeth and gums.

The shape of the electric toothbrush head means that it can access certain areas more easily than a manual brush. Providing that you change the heads regularly (approximately every three months or so), this alone should help improve the cleanliness of your mouth.

Using an electric toothbrush is arguably more fun. This probably doesn’t affect adults as much, but is a real benefit for children. Especially before bedtime, when tired, children are likely to give their teeth a half-hearted brushing. With an electric toothbrush, much of this work is done for the child, providing a better cleaning experience. We often find that children like brushing their teeth with an electric brush, and enjoy making different sounds as they clean!

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Is Our Snacking Habit Destroying Our Teeth?

Changing dietary habits presents a major challenge to both teeth and gums.

At one time, most people ate three meals a day; breakfast, dinner and tea (or breakfast, lunch and dinner, depending on where you came from). Times change though and whether through people being time poor or through clever marketing, many of us now snack throughout the day, rather than eating main meals.

It might surprise some of our Greenwich patients to know that, even if we eat healthy snacks throughout the day, this is still potentially harmful for our teeth.

Unhealthy food

Especially for people who snack because they have little time to cook a main meal, buying a ready made snack is a convenient option. Whilst it is possible to choose healthy snacks when we do this, many foods on offer will be high in fats and sugars and may prove to be too tempting to resist. Any high sugar foods are bad for our teeth and should be avoided as far as possible.

The time factor

It isn’t just what we eat, but how we eat it that causes much of the damage to our teeth. Even if we eat a main meal that is high in sugar; providing that we don’t eat again for a few hours, our mouths have time to produce sufficient saliva to wash away much of the food debris and sugars from the teeth and gum line. When we continually snack throughout the day, our teeth are exposed to sugars and acids for a very long period of time, with virtually no opportunity to allow the teeth to recover.

Consequences of snacking

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Giving Bad Breath The Boot In Greenwich

Stop looking for temporary ‘fixes’ and get rid of bad breath!

Most of us probably associate bad breath with something that we have eaten. Garlic is probably the most well known food that can lead to bad breath, but others, such as spicy foods and even coffee can cause our breath to smell. These smells are temporary though, and are simply a hangover from what we have just eaten. In a short time, our breath usually returns to normal.

Some people buy breath mints or sprays to mask these smells, and, as a temporary fix, these may work. If you find that you are having to use these on a regular basis though, there is every likelihood that your bad breath is caused by something more serious.

Causes of halitosis

If you have ever reeled back when someone has spoken to you, because of the smell of their breath, the chances are that it is not caused by food, but by oral health issues. The reality is that if your breath is unpleasant every day, it is time to pay a visit to your local Greenwich dentist to have your mouth checked.

One of the most significant causes of halitosis is, in fact, gum disease. This occurs when the bacteria in our mouth grow in number to the point where they are not being controlled properly. As these bacteria damage our gums and break down, they release gases which are what you can smell when someone has halitosis. Even where a spray or mint helps to hide this smell, your gums are still being damaged, eventually leading to possible tooth loss, and should be treated as soon as possible.

Bad breath treatment

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The Post Dental Implant Diet

No, not yet another eating craze, but sound advice for our dental implant patients!

If you are planning to have dental implants placed to replace a missing tooth, or a number of teeth, you have probably done some research into what the procedure involves, and, quite possibly, also the cost.

Making sure that your dental implant placement is a success though, comes down to more than just the skills of our Greenwich dentist, very important though they are. Aftercare is also important. This includes not only how we clean our teeth, but the diet that we follow afterwards too.

Immediately following the procedure

Given that your treatment involves minor oral surgery, you will certainly need to pay close attention to what you eat in the days and weeks following the implant procedure.

When the implant has just been placed into the bone, and the osseointegration period where bone and implant bond has not really started, you will need to avoid putting any stress on your new replacement tooth. This means no chewing of hard foods. Indeed, we strongly recommend that you follow a liquid diet only for a short while and avoid the temptation to ‘test out’ your new implant.

Intermediate term

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Same Day Dental Implant Placement

A one day treatment to replace a full arch of teeth

If you have more than ten consecutive teeth missing on either the upper or lower jaw, our one day dental implant procedure, sometimes called an ‘all on 4’ is a great way to replace them.

This method avoids the need to replace teeth individually and can also be used where a full arch of teeth are missing.

Although a full set of dentures could be used for the same purpose, in the opinion of our Greenwich dentists, the All on 4 treatment offers a number of benefits that dentures simply can’t.

The procedure

Unlike with individual implant placement for a single missing tooth, this revolutionary method uses just 4 (or occasionally 6) dental implants, even where a full arch of missing teeth is being replaced.

Once you have had a thorough examination at the Confidental Clinic, including scans and x rays to determine if you are a suitable candidate, the implants can be placed. Two special implants are placed towards the rear of the mouth. These are placed at an angle that provides significant extra strength and stability. The other 2 (or 4) implants are then placed towards the front of the mouth. These are regular implants as used for single tooth replacement.

Unlike individual placement where a three month period is necessary for the bone and implant to be fully bonded, your implants will typically be immediately ready to have a fixed bridge of replacement teeth attached. You will then be able to leave our dental practice with a brand new set of teeth, albeit there will still be some time needed for the implants to heal fully.

Advantages over dentures

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A Minor Cracked Tooth Should Be Treated Promptly

Don’t delay treatment for what you might consider to be minor issues!

With the wealth of medical information at our fingertips these days, it can be all too easy to self diagnose and decide whether a problem is serious or not. We often forget that our bodies, including our teeth, are far more sophisticated things than we might be aware of. Making a judgement whether we need treatment, rather than have it checked by a professional, could well lead to trouble a little further down the line.

Most people will see one of our Greenwich dentists when they are in pain from a toothache. Where the tooth doesn’t hurt or there is no obvious damage, such as a fine crack, it may be tempting to leave it; especially if you are a nervous dental patient. This is not a good idea though! Even minor problems can become bigger and may require much more extensive treatment at a later date, if not dealt with promptly.

A cracked tooth

Whilst some cracked teeth are visibly obvious, this is not always the case. Sometimes we may not be able to see the crack, but suspect it exists because we heard a loud sound as we ate something hard. After a bit of probing with the tongue and testing it out gently, we may decide that even if it is cracked, it doesn’t hurt and doesn’t seem to be causing a problem, so why have it looked at?

But taking this approach is asking for trouble and there are a number of issues which can soon arise from an untreated cracked tooth.

Decay – Once the enamel of the tooth has become compromised, the dentin layer beneath is more vulnerable to bacteria that causes tooth decay. Although it may be some time before the tooth actually hurts, the decay can become quite extensive and require a large filling, or even extraction, if not treated.

Infected root canals – If the bacteria reaches the pulp area in the root canals of the tooth, infection is almost certain to occur. This can be very painful as the nerves are stored in this area. Once this happens, the only way to resolve the issue is to have root canal treatment.

Treating a cracked tooth

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Causes And Solutions For White Spots On Your Teeth

Our Greenwich dental team examine this not uncommon problem.

Other than their regular appointments at the Confidental Clinic, patients generally come to see us when there is an obvious problem, such as a toothache or a broken tooth.

From time to time though, a patient will make an appointment because they have noticed something a little unusual with their teeth. One of these is when they have noticed white spots on them.

Are white spots serious?

Although it is sensible to have them checked out by your dentist, having white spots on your teeth is rarely a cause for serious medical concern. They can have a number of causes, and solutions can range from a change in lifestyle choices, through to cosmetic dental treatments.

The following are some common causes:

Dental fluorosis

Dental fluorosis usually occurs when we are young and develops before the teeth appear through the gums. A similar condition occurs when the enamel does not develop properly in its early stages. This usually corrects itself over time, but care should be taken as it does increase the risk of tooth decay.

Poor dental hygiene

If you eat too many sugary or acidic foods, especially when wearing a dental brace, you are more likely to see these spots. Make sure to clean your teeth well both at home and through seeing a hygienist for a thorough scale and polish treatment every six months or so.

Treatments

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