Tooth Crowns Explained

Dental implant crown

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?

Great smiles

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?

Dr Sandeep Patel of Confidental Greenwich

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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Tiredness And The Affect On Our Teeth And Gums

picture of a dentist

Insufficient sleep can make us less careful with our oral health.

Are you tired right now? If you are, it may simply because because you had a late night last night, perhaps going out to a party or similar. If these are rare occasions, we usually soon catch back up on our sleep, and any neglect to our teeth, caused by being tired, is usually resolved when we get back to our normal routine.

If you are permanently tired though, or have a lifestyle that results in a lot of late nights, this could be having an ongoing negative effect on the health of your teeth and gums which may result in the need for treatment by our Confidental Clinic team.

Skipping or sloppy brushing

Many of us will have, at one time or another, gone to bed without brushing our teeth, or giving them a brush so quick that the only benefit is being left with a minty taste in the mouth. Whilst not ideal, this usually causes no long term harm, provided that it is a one off occasion. Where we are permanently tired though, or go to bed very late, there is every chance that our brushing routine is much less effective than it should be. Flossing too, an important part of everyday oral health care, is likely to go out of the window as well.

Poor diet

Although it is just as easy to prepare a healthy salad; most of us, if lacking energy, will probably unwrap a chocolate bar or prepare a ready meal. Whilst chocolate will nearly always have more sugar, some convenience foods are also very high in sugar, especially compared to food that we cook ourselves. A regular diet like this can soon speed up harm to our teeth!

Energy boosters

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Regular Dental Implant Check-ups

3 parts of a dental implant

Periodic monitoring of this tooth replacement system is important.

Taking the decision to replace your missing teeth with dental implants may not have been a straightforward one.

There are a number of factors you may have had to consider, including cost, suitability, and, potentially, the apprehension of undergoing a longer dental procedure.

Patients that do go ahead, often take advantage of the finance plans that we offer at the Confidental Clinic in Greenwich. This helps to spread the cost and helps manage what is many people’s main concern about having implants placed.

Those that do choose to have dental implants, rather than dentures, are nearly always glad that they did. This is a stable and secure replacement for natural teeth, and as close to the real thing as it is currently possible to achieve. Once placed though, your implants will need monitoring, along with your natural teeth.

Why implant check-ups?

Patients are sometimes confused as to why they need to have their implants checked on an ongoing basis, once they have been placed. From a layman’s perspective, they are after all, made from titanium, with the crown also being artificial. Because of this, they are right to deduce that their new replacement teeth can’t decay and from this perspective they are absolutely correct.

However, whilst dental implants won’t decay and are incredibly robust, that doesn’t mean that they will necessarily remain problem free if you ignore their aftercare.

Periodontal diseases

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Cancelled Appointments

Dr Sandeep Patel of Confidental Greenwich

Why “no shows” can prove problematic for patient and dentist alike.

Many of us will probably have had to cancel either a doctor or dentist appointment at some time in our lives. Usually this is for a genuine reason and can’t be avoided.

This is completely understandable, but sometimes the reasons are less genuine. In today’s Confidental Clinic  blog, we thought it would be useful to look at the ‘knock on’ effect of cancelled appointments along with what we do to try to minimise these, as much as we can.

Your own oral health

There are probably two main reasons why people cancel an appointment. The first is for a genuinely good reason, and often one that crops up at the last moment, such as having to collect a sick child from school, for example. We completely understand that people have to prioritise in situations like this and will always do our best to work with them to find an alternative new appointment.

The second reason that people cancel is that, as the day of their appointment draws near, their dental anxiety levels rise. We do understand that this affects some people quite badly. If you are an anxious patient, please do discuss this with us in advance of any treatment. We can then discuss various options e.g. sedation which make the procedure pass more pleasantly and lessen any anxious feelings that may be surfacing.

In either case, if you do cancel, please arrange a new date at the same time so that you don’t forget to do so and miss seeing a dentist for some time.

The effect on our practice

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Pain And Discomfort Following Dental Treatment

Dental pain

A look at what you might feel and what you shouldn’t feel, following dental surgery.

There are a number of reasons why people might need treatment for unhealthy teeth. Accidents can happen at any time which require immediate treatment. Poor oral health care may lead to tooth decay and the need for a filling or crown.

Finally, you may just have decided that you are fed up with having loose dentures and voluntarily opt to have a dental implant placed instead.

All of the above will require some degree of invasive dental surgery. Few would ever describe having this as a pleasant experience, but, with the use of modern equipment and powerful local anaesthetics, for most people, it is relatively stress and pain free.

After the treatment

It is common for patients to be concerned about how the tooth will feel following a procedure, once the anaesthetic has worn off. This is something that our Greenwich patients often ask us about. In many cases, such as a filling, you may feel little discomfort at all, apart perhaps, from a little additional temporary sensitivity.

Other, more invasive procedures may cause minor trauma to the surrounding tissues and may also cause swelling in some cases.

Expected after effects

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Oil Pulling – Twenty Wasted Minutes Of Your Life?

Although its popularity appears to be waning, this ancient method of oral care still has its followers.

In the days before the internet, most people who wanted to look after their teeth just trusted their local dentist. Of course, there were a few ‘old wives tales’ that did the rounds, but even these often had some elements of wisdom in them, passed down from generation to generation. These days though, most people have access to the internet and a search for alternatives to professional dental care is a popular one.

Whilst there is quite a lot of information available about (often dangerous) DIY treatments, some people do seem to believe that, out there, there is a ‘miracle’ way of preventing your teeth from having problems in the first place. Enter the ancient Ayurveda method of oil pulling!

What is oil pulling?

Essentially, the belief is that swilling, usually coconut or sesame oil, around the mouth for between ten and twenty minutes each day will effectively dislodge food particles and clean the teeth of the potentially harmful bacteria that can lead to decay and gum problems like gingivitis and periodontitis. It is also claimed that it can ‘pull’ harmful toxins from the body and improve general health.

These types of claims are not exactly helped by the fact that they are sometimes endorsed by celebrities or ‘influencers’, which adds an additional appeal for some people. It is always worth remembering that whilst they may be great singers, actors or footballers etc, they certainly aren’t dentists and will not have undergone the years of training that the dentists at the Confidental Clinic in Greenwich have.

Look at the history

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Saliva And Tooth Decay Control

picture of a dentist

Healthy saliva levels are essential for teeth and gum protection.

Looking after your teeth is not overly difficult, with a little care and attention. It is, however, multi-faceted and requires a number of care factors to come together for the best protection possible against tooth decay, gum disease and other oral health issues.

Most of our regular Greenwich dental patients are aware of most of these, and, in addition to watching what they eat and drink, will regularly brush their teeth, and hopefully floss too. Combine this with visits to the Confidental Clinic for regular checks on their oral health, and they are hopefully well on their way to having a healthy mouth.

There are also other factors though, which can affect the health of our teeth and gums, and one in particular can affect older patients, as well as those who have type 2 diabetes. That is the lack of efficient saliva production.

Why is saliva important?

Apart from the fact that a lack of saliva produces a dry mouth and can lead to us feeling dehydrated and tired, it is also essential for oral health protection. The most obvious way in which it does this is through washing away food and bacteria from our mouth as we drink and swallow. This isn’t its only role though.

Saliva is important as it helps to keep the number of potentially harmful bacteria in our mouth under control. By doing this, it reduces the risk of infections to both teeth and gums. As we have mentioned in other blogs, a lack of saliva, and therefore a dry mouth, is a significant factor in common gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Making sure that you are sufficiently hydrated, especially at night, is a positive move in keeping teeth and gums in overall good health.

It is also worth mentioning, of course, that saliva also plays an important role in the breakdown and digestion of our food. It also enhances taste (hence why some older people find that their sense of taste is reduced in their later years), and also lubricates around muscles in our mouth which helps with our speech. Finally, a lack of water in the system is a well known contributor to constipation.

Acidity reduction and minerals

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Fizz Free February – Are You Taking Part?

Helping to prevent tooth decay and obesity by reducing fizzy drink consumption.

February sees the start of a brand new health campaign, and one that could be of significant benefit to adults and children alike. It encourages us to cut out, or at least cut down, on the number of fizzy soft drinks that we consume. Although this is a general health campaign which is also aimed at reducing obesity; if successful, it could have a very positive effect for our Greenwich patients.

Sugar, as we know, is one of the foodstuffs that is harmful for our teeth. Even if we don’t eat sweets, we probably consume more than our fair share in ready made products, even savoury ones. Those who also consume sugary fizzy drinks may be unaware of just how much sugar there is in a can.

For example, did you know that the sugar content of a can of a very well known brown fizzy drink contains just over 9 teaspoons of sugar (12oz can)? Given that the recommended maximum amount of sugar we should eat each day is approximately 7 teaspoons and you can see that just drinking one can a day already exceeds this figure.

How much damage can sugar cause

As we aren’t qualified to offer general medical advice, we won’t explore the issues of obesity and diabetes here, but instead, turn our attention to some of the dental issues that we see at the Confidental Clinic, which too much sugar can contribute towards.

Tooth decay

How many of us have been told that if we ‘eat too many sweets and your teeth will fall out’? Probably most of us we suspect. The fact is that excess sugar consumption will certainly increase the likelihood of tooth decay which could ultimately lead to the need to have teeth extracted. If you see a dentist at our Greenwich practice on a regular basis though, you may not have to have fillings if problems are detected early enough. Continued excess sugar consumption though, will almost certainly lead to oral health issues.

Enamel erosion

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