Early years care – critical for the development of healthy teeth.
In a recent blog, we looked at what you, as parents, can do to help your young children have healthy teeth when they start back to school.
It is worth remembering though, that having a healthy mouth starts with good oral care starting even earlier on in life. From the moment we are born, the risk of oral health problems are there.
At least up to the point where our children start school (and probably a few years beyond), we are largely in control of how well they look after their teeth. Although we might encourage them to start to take some of the responsibility themselves, it is important that we supervise this so that they develop good teeth cleaning habits.
Although some parents have started to take better notice of their young children’s teeth and gums, with a reduction in the number of extractions needed being reduced by 8% since 2014, there were still over 21,000 extractions carried out on children last year. That is 21,000 too many!
In today’s Clock Tower Dental Clinic blog, your local Epsom dental team takes a look at some ways that you can help your very young children have healthy teeth and gums.
Clean the gums from a very early age
Even before a baby’s teeth come through, you should take care to clean their gums. This can be done just using water and a soft damp clean cloth. Do not use toothpaste at this stage as their gums may still be sensitive. This simple action will help to remove some of the potentially problematic oral bacteria and food debris from the mouth.
Their first toothbrush
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Is it time to throw away your old manual brush?
Brushing our teeth is one of the most fundamental things that we can do in order to keep our teeth and gums healthy. How and when we do this can also make a real difference, as can the type of toothbrush that we use.
Increasingly, dentists are discovering that, providing all other things are equal, patients who use electric toothbrushes are generally able to keep their teeth and gums in better condition than those who brush manually. We’ll take a look at why this is.
Before we move on to our post, it is important to say that even after reading this blog you decide to remain a manual toothbrush user, remember that you need to change it around every three months, the same as with an electric brush head. If you don’t do this, the bristles will soon become too worn to be fully effective.
Who will benefit from switching?
The answer, in the opinion of our Epsom dentists is that everyone would benefit from switching from a manual to an electric toothbrush. Whilst certain groups may benefit more than others (see later in this blog), it is a good move for almost everyone.
The rotating bristles or ultrasonic action of an electric brush means that more consistent cleaning is typically achieved. Many also have pressure sensors which cut out when you are brushing your teeth too hard. This is important as brushing teeth too hard is one of the possible causes of enamel erosion. Left untreated, this could result in sensitive teeth and even tooth decay.
The design of these brushes is also beneficial in the prevention of gum disease as the bristles remove plaque more effectively than a manual toothbrush. As gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in the UK, this can only be a good thing.
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Dentist:Patient understanding – the route to essential oral care in Epsom.
‘Empathy’ is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of others’. Some might argue that this is less common in the age of social media, but it still has an important role to play in our lives, and certainly within the dental practice environment.
The importance of good oral care should not be underestimated, with not only our teeth at stake, but as many studies are now indicating, our general health too. Although dental care is widely available, it is not taken up by everybody and a large factor contributing to this is patient anxiety.
Helping nervous patients
There are a number of ways that the Clock Tower Dental Clinic team can help patients who are afraid of their practice visits. We have spent a lot of time (and money) on ensuring that our practice is as welcoming and relaxing as it can be. This helps those with a moderate tendency towards anxiety, though it may just be a first step for others.
Technology has a role to play too. For example, The Wand and the INJEX systems, allow us to offer a more patient friendly anaesthetic procedure than the traditional dental needle. This is a common anxiety and so really helps many patients to overcome their fears and have treatment when needed.
We also offer dedicated support services to patients who need it because of their dental phobias. For those for whom this is a real challenge, we also offers sedation which enables patients to receive treatment with much lower levels of anxiety. You will need to bring a responsible adult with you when you have sedation to ensure that you are able to get home safely.
Our friendly (and empathetic) dental team
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Your Epsom dentists offer some timely advice for local parents.
It might only seem like five minutes ago that the children broke up for the summer holidays. Or perhaps for some, it might seem like forever, with the constant chaos and pleas of “I’m bored .. let’s do something” or the constant backdrop of cartoons on TV and fractious children!
It may sound like a horror show, but most of us love our kids really, and want the best for them and hopefully this applies to their dental care too.
Given that the children will be returning to school in the next few weeks, the team here at Clock Tower Dental Clinic thought it would be useful to offer a timely reminder about how you can help to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
Their first day back at school can be a bit of a shock to the system. All of a sudden, there is a time restriction to get them washed, fed and clothed in order to get them to school on time. In the rush, there are a number of potential pitfalls that can be detrimental to their young teeth. Breakfast can often be a rushed affair, especially if you have a larger family. High sugar cereals might be the order of the day, perhaps with a sugary and acidic fruit drink. These are far from ideal ways for young teeth to start the day, with sugar being a leading cause of tooth decay, and acidic drinks especially harmful to the enamel on children’s teeth.
Try to make time for a more organised and tooth friendly breakfast. Suggestions that are ideal for young children include unsweetened yoghurts, egg on toast (or boiled with ‘soldiers’), cheeses and fresh fruit. This gives them a healthier and more dental friendly start to the day.
If you pack their lunch too, try to make sure that it is a healthy option, perhaps with a small treat. Don’t be tempted to give in and provide an unhealthy high sugar lunch for them.
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Would increasing the age limit for buying cigarettes to 21 improve the nation’s oral health?
A campaign group called Action On Smoking And Health (also known as ASH) (http://ash.org.uk/home/) has called for the age limit for purchasing cigarettes to be increased to 21. It is hoped that by doing this, fewer people will start smoking at all.
Evidence currently suggests that few people actually start smoking after this age and most smokers of 21 or thereabouts had started a few years earlier.
There are a lot of reasons why people smoke and it may be seen as the the “done thing” within the family or peer group. We often have a carefree attitude towards our health when we are young too, as our mortality seems to be a very long way off. Other factors such as advertising and TV personalities and characters that smoke may have an effect too.
What effect would increasing the age have?
At the Clock Tower Dental Clinic in Epsom, we see many cases of oral health issues that have either been caused, or aggravated by smoking. Apart from failure to clean the teeth, it is one of the biggest risk factors for a healthy mouth. From treatable problems like gum disease, to potentially life threatening ones such as mouth cancer, smoking cigarettes is a serious threat to the nation’s oral and general health.
We believe that if the age was increased, we would slowly but surely see the incidence of these problems fall. They would not cease overnight and there are still potential problems such as the illegal sale of black market cigarettes. It could be quite effective though, as can be seen by the big drop in the number of smokers since it was banned in public spaces.
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From dentures to dental implants, there are several ways to replace missing teeth.
With good care, regular brushing and flossing, and perhaps a little luck, many of us will hopefully reach our later years having lost few, if any, of our teeth. For some though, lost teeth will unfortunately be a feature.
It isn’t just poor dental care that causes tooth loss; some illnesses such as diabetes and even some side effects of medication can increase the risk. There are also accidents as well, especially traumatic ones such as a car crash that can cause significant mouth damage, including the loss of many teeth.
Whether it is a single tooth that is missing, or a full arch, the team at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic are here to help rebuild your mouth and your smile.
Replacing missing teeth
Perhaps the best known method of tooth replacement is to use dentures and this is a treatment many patients still choose. Whilst it does have its advantages, such as the fact that often no surgery is required, patients are increasingly turning away from this method due to issues such as denture instability and also the fact that wearing them can make eating certain foods a little difficult.
Dentures can be used to replace individual teeth or a full arch and whilst still widely used, are slowly but surely being overtaken by dental implants.
A bridge typically consists of a replacement tooth that is held in position by the two crowns that are attached to teeth on either side of the gap. This method does allow for more stability and strength than dentures but also requires the preparation of the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. Especially where these teeth are in otherwise good health, it it is understandable why some patients prefer to avoid using a bridge.
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Techniques to help nervous dental patients in Epsom, Surrey.
Dental phobia is very common. Recent research has shown that around 80% of Brits are scared of going to the dentist, with around a quarter having cancelled appointments for just this reason (reference 1).
For a significant number of people, their fear and phobias have meant that they have not seen a dentist in the last three years.
Visiting the dentist can be challenging, even for some dentists when they need treatment themselves; so no-one is really going to pretend that it is a fun thing to do. It is however, very necessary, not only for the sake of your teeth and gums, but with oral health issues increasingly being linked with serious medical problems, perhaps even for your life too.
We will take a look at other anxiety issues a little later, but, for now, let us focus on the needle. Some people are nervous of any type of injection, whilst others are generally fine where it is in the arm. When it comes to putting a needle into the gum though, we often see even the calmest patient start to tense as the needle gets close.
What may interest some of our patients to know is that you barely even feel the needle as it enters the gum. Any sensation should be little more than a pin prick. What patients actually feel when they think this is causing the pain, is when the injected anesthetic meets the bloodstream. Whilst this can feel unpleasant, it usually only lasts for a few seconds before the area becomes numb. It would also be impossible to perform most procedures without it.
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Epsom dentist, Ravdeep Dhami, addresses patient’s questions about teeth restorations.
The days seem long gone now when dental practices offered little else other than fillings, extractions and dentures. The options for restoring both damaged and missing teeth are now much more extensive and offer some excellent opportunities for strong and realistic looking tooth restorations.
Even with a common treatment such as a filling, some patients have a number of questions and concerns. When it comes to more complex, and sometimes misunderstood, treatments such as dental implants, it is probably not surprising that patients want to know more about the treatment that they are about to receive.
Most patients have a range of questions that often vary from individual to individual; but there are a number of questions that occur regularly, and we take a look at some of these below.
Will the treatment hurt?
This is a question that we hear a lot from our more nervous dental patients, but even those who feel more confident about their treatment are often interested to find out if the procedure will be uncomfortable. There is little use in us pretending that dental treatments are an enjoyable experience and very few would would believe us if we did! The reality though is that treatments need to be carried out for a reason, even if it does mean a little discomfort for a short period of time. In many cases, the discomfort would become far greater if treatment was not carried out.
We can assure our patients that, with the use of a local anaesthetic, any discomfort felt will be kept to a minimum, often painless, and our dentists will be as gentle as possible. For those undergoing more extensive or longer treatments, IV sedation is available to enable you to have the treatment in a more relaxed state if you feel this would be beneficial.
Will it look natural when it is completed?
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A look at some of the bad, and potentially dangerous, habits that we sometimes use our teeth for.
A study that was carried out as part of National Smile Month has highlighted the fact that some people in the UK use their teeth for things other than eating food. Whilst some of these seem relatively natural things to do, they can be harmful for your teeth. Other habits fall more into the ‘foolish and dangerous category’!
Our Epsom patients should remember that our teeth are not solid objects like a block of marble, but are made up of a number of things which include nerves in the softer inner pulp, making them very sensitive to pain if the outer layer gets compromised.
Before we look at the many techniques the team at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic have in their portfolio to repair damaged teeth, let’s take a look at some of the worst and most common of the bad habits which can cause damage in the first place.
By far the most common misuse of our teeth is for tearing sellotape from the roll. Despite the many technological advances and general tools available, it seems that we revert to caveman like instincts when it comes to certain simple tasks. Although tearing tape in this way may see relatively harmless, the impact on the teeth are likely to cause them to chip, and if they are already weakened, possibly even break.
In a similar way to tearing sellotape, many people also admitted to opening crisp packets with their teeth which can also cause damage in the same way as above.
An extra hand and biting habits
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Taking care of your teeth as you age is just as important as in your youth.
We all hope to grow old one day, however far away that may seem at the moment. Younger people especially, may find it hard to imagine what it is like to be old, but it’s an inevitable route for most of us.
There is no getting away from the fact that there certainly are some disadvantages of reaching our later years, though many also find happiness comes easier in later life, once the stress of work and families etc has disappeared into the background a little more.
One of the most important factors regarding how much you enjoy your later years is how healthy you are. The better your health, the more likely you are to participate in events and meet up with friends etc. To most people, that is common sense. Perhaps too few though, tend to think about how the condition of their teeth might also affect them later on.
Eating and speaking
Having a healthy set of teeth in later life can make a big difference to the quality of our lives. It can mean the difference between tucking into your favourite food, or having to select only softer foods because your teeth can’t handle harder varieties. It can mean the difference between feeling confident that your teeth look OK and avoiding people because of your discoloured teeth. Many older people also wear dentures which may move around in the mouth, causing embarrassment and also sometimes affecting speech.
There are a number of cosmetic dental treatments now available at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic in Epsom that can help to rectify these problems and we will take a look at these a little later on.
The problems associated with older teeth
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