New Year Oral Health Tips For Parents With Young Children

Adults and children together

Getting your child into a routine of looking after their teeth well will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.

There are probably a fair number of adults in the UK who wish that they had personally looked after their teeth better when they were younger.

Although some of the harm may have been our own fault, it is a fact that many parents in the past, did not have the information needed to provide the best care for their children in their early years. Much advice likely amounted to little more than “brush your teeth well”.

If only it were that simple! Thankfully, these days, parents are armed with much better advice and can help to provide more effective dental care for younger members of their family.

Whilst with slightly older children it is often a case of reminding and supervising; where the children are very young, or toddlers, if you wish, it is primarily a parent’s responsibility to provide the care for them.

To help with this, our Greenwich dental team have put together a basic guide to help parents who have toddlers take better care of their teeth and gums:

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Three Tips For Achieving Smoother Skin

Our Greenwich facial aesthetics team offer some tips for younger looking skin.

Although our skin will inevitably wrinkle as we grow older, we can do quite a lot to help delay this. A healthy lifestyle and diet are certainly good places to start, and some also argue that using techniques, such as meditation, can help us to relax and reduce the number of frown lines on our face.

These everyday tips make good sense, and we would like to add three of our own to this list which we hope will help you to stay younger looking for longer!

Protect yourself from the sun’s rays

Living in the UK means that when we see the sun, we tend to try to spend as much time in it as we possibly can, knowing that that could be it for a number of days, or even weeks. The sun though, however enjoyable it may be, can be very damaging to the skin and we should make sure that we are well protected when we expose our skin to it. Make sure to wear a high factor sunscreen on your face and any uncovered parts of your body. This especially applies if you spend a lot of time working outdoors. You may also wish to make sure that any outdoor clothes have UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) too, if you are in this situation.

Start your prevention strategy early

If you wait until your forties or fifties before you start thinking about skin protection, it will possibly be a little late, and your only effective route then may be the use of Botox treatment, and/or dermal fillers. This is a very safe and effective approach that we will discuss shortly.

In addition to the advice about sun protection, make sure that you stay well hydrated and definitely do not smoke. You will rarely see a forty year old smoker with good looking skin! You might also consider starting to use moisturising creams that include antioxidants and retinol too. Some of these are claimed to actually help reverse skin damage and also to slow down the loss of collagen, the natural substance in our skin which helps to retain elasticity and which reduces with age.

Restoring your skin

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Your Christmas Guide To Good Oral Health

The festive season can be a time when good habits go out of the window….

By the time you read this blog, many of you will probably be in full swing of preparing for Christmas. Especially if you have children, the ‘to do’ and ‘to buy’ lists can seem endless. Both in the busy run up to Christmas and the holiday period itself, the way that we look after our teeth can often slip.

This need not necessarily cause any long term damage, but extending this lack of care, as well as some increased risks of holiday accidents, certainly can. In today’s blog, Greenwich dentist, Dr Krina Patel (GDC 192609) offers some useful tips for keeping your teeth and gums in good condition over the holiday period.

Moderate your eating habits

Not even the strictest dentist would expect you to deny yourself the pleasures of some indulgent Christmas food. It does pay though, to keep an eye on what you are eating and drinking. Try to keep your sugar intake down as much as possible, however many boxes of chocolates you receive as presents!

Mind the alcohol

Again, the Confidental Clinic team respect the fact that many people like to drink more at Christmas. We have noted before, the risk of problems such as gum disease and even oral cancers that are increased through excess alcohol consumption. Try to balance your alcohol intake with plenty of water, your head will thank you for it the next day.

For some people, Christmas is the only time of the year that they drink much at all. Although this is positive from the point of view of overall alcohol consumption, it can mean that those who are not used to drinking are at an increased risk of accidents through falls and collisions. Indeed, most dental practices will see a few patients after the Christmas period who need emergency care for tooth damage received in this way.

Your Christmas present list

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Poor Oral Health And Your Blood Pressure

Progressive gum disease

Periodontal disease increasingly shown to contribute to other medical problems.

Around one in three adults in the UK have been diagnosed with having high blood pressure and it is estimated that there are also somewhere in the region of 5 million people who have probably not yet been diagnosed. Although high blood pressure need not necessarily indicate any immediate danger, it can eventually cause arteries to rupture as they weaken with age, sometimes leading to strokes or a heart attack.

The modern lifestyle of fast food, stress and other factors such as alcohol and smoking are widely believed to be amongst the most common causes of it.

In most cases, high blood pressure can be effectively regulated with medication. This should not be seen as a ‘stand alone’ treatment though, and dietary change and increased exercise are often recommended too.

A recent study has found that poor oral health can also be a factor in high blood pressure (hypertension) and that patients who have good overall oral health tend to respond better to any treatment that is given.

Periodontitis

One of the biggest oral health problems that can affect the outcome of treatment for this common problem is periodontitis. We have touched before on the harm that this can do, damaging the bone in the jaw and being one of the most common reasons for tooth loss amongst adults. Research has shown that not only do people that are free of periodontitis tend to have lower blood pressure, but those that do have high blood pressure, but are periodontitis free, also respond much better to any medication that may be prescribed to lower it.

The report recommends that any patient who does have gum disease, arranges with their GP to have more frequent checks on their blood pressure. This is especially the case for those who are at a higher risk of gum disease, such as diabetics, who may have less control over it than other patients. Conversely, anyone who is diagnosed with having high blood pressure, would benefit from seeing a dentist more regularly to monitor their gums. We would also add that you should also consider seeing our Greenwich dental hygienist so that your teeth and gums can be regularly cleaned professionally.

We don’t necessarily advise that you rush out to buy a blood pressure monitor as, whilst potentially useful, these are often not as accurate as when taken by your GP. If you are in your middle age especially, it is a good idea to see not only the dentist on a regular basis, but your GP too. They will be happy to monitor your blood pressure and other age related health problems over a period of time.

Other periodontitis medical links

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What Happens When Food Gets Stuck In Your Teeth?

Dr Sandeep Patel of Confidental Greenwich

Dr Sandeep Patel takes a look at the tooth decay process.

The fact is that whilst most of us do clean our teeth reasonably diligently, twice a day, only a small minority apply the same regularity when it comes to flossing, with many of us never using it at all.

Failing to floss though, is asking for trouble as failure to remove food that gets stuck between the teeth is a recipe for tooth decay, as well as gum disease.

The decaying process

Although we may attempt to remove any larger pieces of food that gets trapped in the spaces between our teeth, we may barely even notice smaller ones which can remain there for some time. Brushing is essential of course, but this often does not clean effectively between the teeth.

As food particles break down, they provide a food source for the bacteria within our mouth. This causes them to multiply and, as they metabolise the sugars produced by decaying food, they produce acids which start to eat away at the enamel on our teeth. Although our teeth remineralise under normal circumstances, to replenish enamel that is lost through the normal eating process, the speed at which these bacteria grow means that there is insufficient time for this to happen effectively and enamel will start to become compromised. It is at this stage that small cavities start to form.

Cavities

A dental cavity starts off very small and then gets larger if not treated. It can actually take several years for a cavity to be fully formed, which is why seeing your Greenwich dentist every six months helps to prevent large cavities from forming. As the cavity becomes larger and eats away at the enamel, the bacteria will eventually reach the dentin layer underneath it. This is a softer material than enamel and the decaying process is then likely to speed up.

Once the bacteria reaches the dentin layer, you are more likely to experience toothache due to the porous nature which enables the nerves to be affected more easily.

Root canals and beyond

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Join In With Stoptober For A Healthier Smile

Encouraging our Greenwich patients towards a healthier mouth by kicking the smoking habit.

Although Stoptober officially started at the beginning of this month;  the campaign, by Public Health England, is relevant at any time. There are advantages to starting at the beginning of course, but just because you may have missed out on this does not mean that you have missed the chance to stop this dangerous habit once and for all.

Although some of the struggle to quit smoking comes down to you alone, you may still be able to find local support groups, especially during this campaign. In many cases, these groups will offer continued support, long after Stoptober has ended.

Why should I stop smoking?

There are so many good reasons to quit smoking that it is difficult to know where to start. The following are just some of the reasons that immediately spring to mind.

  • Causes lung disease
  • Responsible for many heart diseases
  • Emphysema
  • Trigger serious attacks in asthmatics
  • Factor in other cancers, including oral cancer

These are just a handful of the medical reason. There are others too, including:

  • Bad breath
  • Cost (a 20 a day smoker will spend approximately £3000 per year)
  • Smelly clothes
  • Anti social, with smoking banned in public places
  • Wrinklier looking skin

So why are dentists concerned about my smoking habit?

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Tartar And Calculus

Dental hygienist at Confidental Clinic in Greenwich

Our dental hygiene team explains what these terms mean and the implications for your teeth.

It is quite likely that several of you will have wondered what some of the words mean that dentists use, for example when recording information during your six monthly check ups.

Some of the terms are ones that patients rarely come across, but some you may be more familiar with, but not really know what they mean. Two common words used that fall into this bracket are ‘tartar’ and ‘calculus’. In fact, these two terms essentially mean the same thing.

Both of these terms sometimes get mixed up with ‘plaque’ which is slightly different. Plaque is a collection of bacteria that forms in a sticky substance on the teeth and gum line. Providing that you brush and floss your teeth well, this should not cause any real problems, providing that you also see a hygienist every six months or so.

What is tartar (calculus)?

Tartar is a form of hardened plaque. A mixture of saliva and fluid from the gums acts to kill off the bacteria, but this then forms a type of ‘crust’ on the teeth. This rough surface is then, an ideal collecting ground for further bacteria that is much harder to remove. The rough surfaces will also attract staining materials and tooth discolouration is more likely. These are not the only problems though, and tartar (calculus) , where not removed, will lead to some of the more common symptoms associated with gum disease; namely inflamed or receding gums and halitosis, or bad breath.

To put the two terms into historical context. The word ‘calculus’ is thought to come from Latin, meaning ‘small stones’, whereas tartar is thought to originate from the Greek word ‘tartaron’, meaning  the crust that formed inside flasks. It is easy to see how these words become synonymous with this particular dental condition.

How it affects your teeth and gums

As we have already mentioned, the rough surface formed is a ‘magnet’ for further bacteria. As this causes the gums to become inflamed, they can pull away from the teeth. This allows the calculus to spread deeper and even as far as the roots of the tooth and the bone tissue; becoming a serious threat to the survival of your teeth, and also proving very difficult to treat.

How do I know if I have it?

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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

Dr Sandeep Patel of Confidental Greenwich

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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