Don’t Let Dental Phobia Contribute To Unhealthy Teeth And Gums

Lockdown may have exaggerated this problem for some of our Epsom patients.

nervousAs many of our patients will know, we have had to cancel a significant number of previously made dental appointments. As we had to close suddenly due the Covid-19 situation, this will have included some scheduled treatment appointments as well as a large number of check ups. A few of those awaiting treatment may have since had these carried out at an urgent dental care hub if the problem became more urgent, but for most patients, it now means waiting until such a time that we can open again and treatments or check ups can be performed.

This is an inconvenience at the very least, and for some patients it probably also means managing discomfort from dental pain by using painkillers. This is a far from ideal situation and we will try to address it as soon as we possibly can.

There is one category of patient that we are particularly concerned about and that is those who suffer from dental anxiety, or phobia.

A challenging time

As anyone who suffers from significant anxiety about seeing a dentist will know, it can be a real challenge to overcome this enough to actually go through with the visit. Because of the additional challenges surrounding the Coronavirus and the isolation of lockdown, it is quite likely that these patient’s anxiety levels will have become even higher and there is a real possibility that they may not follow through with any rearranged visits when we are able to offer them.

As we have said before, the Clock Tower Dental Clinic firmly believes that preventative dental care is essential to keep teeth healthy and to avoid invasive treatments brought along by a failure to have oral health professionally monitored. We do encourage patients suffering in this way to do their best to see us and to call us if you are feeling especially anxious so that we can try to help the situation.

As we know, failure to detect and treat dental problems in the early stages will almost certainly mean that the problem will worsen and require even more invasive treatment than would have been the case initially. Usually, when it reaches this stage, not having treatment is no longer an option, even for the most nervous patient.

How we can help you

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You Are Never Too Old To Improve Your Oral Health Habits

Oral healthcare in our senior years

Smiling coupleThe older we get, the harder it can feel when it comes to making big changes in our lives. For some, this may be about insecurity in doing so, whilst for others it may simply be that they have arrived at a time in their life where they are perfectly happy where they are.

It is always good to have some challenges in our lives though, even if they are minor ones.  To help with this, the team at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic have set out a fun challenge to our older patients to see if they can improve the health of their teeth and gums.

Not just about appearance

Some of our older patients may feel less concerned with the way that their teeth look now than they used to be. Not everybody feels this way of course, and cosmetic dentistry is popular with our older as well as younger patients. For those who are less concerned about the appearance of their teeth though, this could also lead to relaxing their teeth cleaning habits.

Whilst there are certainly aesthetic benefits to be had from good quality brushing, the key reason for cleaning our teeth is to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. If we believe that we brush for aesthetic purposes only, we will also then leave our teeth and gums less healthy than they should be.

Problems caused by poor cleaning and care

The most obvious problem that occurs if you don’t clean your teeth well enough is that you are liable to suffer from tooth decay. Whatever age you are, a toothache can be very painful, and, at the present time, will very likely to be untreatable until practices are able to open again. Cavities will also weaken a tooth and potentially put it at a greater risking of breaking than when it can be filled straight away.

Tooth loss is not unusual in older people, although not inevitable. Years of gradual wear and tear are likely to have an effect and whilst losing any teeth is undesirable, replacements for the odd missing tooth means that you can eat and smile as you normally would. Too much neglect though can lead to multiple tooth loss and this can mean that you may find eating certain foods more difficult than usual, taking away much of the enjoyment.

Whilst our Epsom dental practice can replace missing teeth with dentures or dental implants, a little more care in brushing and flossing your teeth could prevent the need for these procedures altogether.

Gum disease

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Home Schooling? Why Not Add Oral Health Education To The Mix

Our Epsom dentists look at the oral health care of young children during lockdown.

healthy familyGood oral health care is important for all ages; from the very young to the very old. It isn’t simply a case of having nice looking teeth either; teeth and gums in poor condition can affect what we eat and also, in some cases, have an impact on our overall well-being.

At the Clock Tower Dental Clinic, we sometimes hear patients say that they wish they had known, when younger, what they know now as adults about taking care of their teeth and gums. It is fair to say that the earlier that the importance of good oral health care can be ingrained in our lives, the better.

Education

The Coronavirus has very few plusses going for it, but one thing it has provided for many of us is more time, and specifically more time with our children. This does bring a number of challenges of course, and how it affects you might depend on your living arrangements and how many children you have. Even in challenging situations though, there will be opportunities to learn things together with your children.

In addition to reading and other school work that they might have been set, we would like to suggest that you use a few minutes each day to introduce them to the basics of looking after their teeth. This doesn’t have to be particularly technical for younger children, but grasping the basics early on will be highly beneficial as they grow older.

Practical suggestions

To help parents include this in their daily education routine with their children, our Epsom dental team have put together, in bite size chunks, a few suggestions that you might wish to consider.

Practical demonstrations

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Maintaining Oral Health During ‘Lockdown’ Restrictions

Helping our Epsom patients maintain good oral health care at this challenging time

Toddler with toothbrushIt has been nearly three weeks now and there is every indication that we will be instructed to maintain this ‘lockdown’ period for even longer before restrictions can be gradually lifted. We know that it is a challenge for many of our patients as it is for us.

As you will likely be aware, all dental practices, including the Clock Tower Dental Clinic have had to close for all but urgent dental advice. This means that we are currently unable to monitor a patient’s general mouth health or to carry out minor restorative treatments such as fillings.

It is important therefore, that at this time, we pay even more attention than usual to looking after our teeth and gums. A minor toothache caused by tooth decay will make these long weeks seem even longer and will not be treated quickly until dental practices are allowed to open again.

As most of us probably have more time on our hands than usual, this is a good opportunity to look at ways that we can take even better care of our teeth and gums.

Brushing and flossing

These are the bedrocks of good oral health care. Take a look at your toothbrush. Are the bristles worn? Have you had the toothbrush for more than 3 months? If the answer to either is yes, then it is time to change it, or change the head of an electric one.  We appreciate that this may not be the ideal time to do this, but if you are currently going to the supermarket for your weekly shop, adding a new toothbrush to your shipping list will help you keep your mouth in good health. If not, make a note to change it as soon as possible.

Then we come on to the actual brushing. Night time shouldn’t be an issue because that part of our routine has probably not changed a great deal. Our morning brushing might be different though. Most of us will have a routine before we go to work, possibly brushing just before we leave the house. As many of us will not be currently working, it is easy to let this slip. We recommend that you find a new regular time spot to brush your teeth, perhaps straight upon waking or before you go for your morning walk.

Do you floss your teeth? If you don’t, now is a really good time to start. Around 80% of us in the UK do not currently use dental floss. This is bad news and adding this to your daily regime can make a real difference to your gum health. Floss helps to remove both bacteria and food debris from between the teeth and this is an area where decay and gum diseases such as gingivitis often take hold. Although some patients claim to find this tricky, we feel that, with the help of one of the many instructional videos available, you should be able to master this reasonably quickly. As we are probably spending more time on our laptops etc, why not use just a little bit of this to learn how to floss correctly?

Take extra care with what you eat

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Smoking? Now Is A Good Time To Stop!

With the added challenge of Coronavirus, stopping smoking makes more sense than ever

Oral health concernsIt is impossible to escape news about the Coronavirus and nor should we. It is, of course, important that we keep up to date with the latest official information so that we can avoid it as best as we possibly can.

As far as your dental appointments go, our practice is still open and will remain so unless the situation changes and we will advise all patients should this be the case.

In the meantime, our Epsom patients can rest assured that we are doing all that we can to maintain a hygienic environment for the safety of both staff and patients.

As we know, the Coronavirus attacks the respiratory system. How badly it affects us will depend on a number of things but logic says that someone with healthy lungs will probably fare better than those who already have a compromised respiratory system.

This brings us to smoking.

Why you should stop

The Clock Tower Dental Clinic has long advocated that our patients stop smoking, largely for reasons that we will discuss shortly. Specific to the Coronavirus though, chief medical officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, recently told MPs that those who smoke are likely at greater risk of the virus because of their potentially reduced immunity and lung function. He also said that now might be a good time for anyone thinking about stopping smoking, to do so; a sentiment that we agree with.

As more information comes out about the harm that smoking causes, it is surprising that some people actually start the habit. We appreciate that those who have smoked for a long time may find it very difficult to give up, but it is worth the effort and you will find very few people who have quit who wished that they hadn’t.

It isn’t just respiratory issues that smoking can cause though. Other general health issues such as heart disease and cancer are a greater risk if you smoke. There are also a number of oral health issues which we will quickly recap on today.

Oral cancer

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Dr Ravdeep Dahmi – Aesthetic Dental Care

Key roles within our Epsom dental team.

Dentist Dr Ravdeep DhamiWe thought that it would be interesting to take a look, from time to time, at the roles that some of our dental team play and the procedures that they are qualified to perform. Although many dentists are qualified to carry out a wide range of treatments, many tend to focus on particular areas of interest. In Dr Ravdeep Dahmi’s case, this is the area of aesthetic dentistry.

Aesthetic dentistry is very similar to ‘cosmetic dentistry’ in many ways and can involve a number of different treatments to help patients to improve their smile. This is not always done purely for ‘beauty’ purposes though and can also involve restoring damaged teeth in a natural looking way; for example, the use of white fillings instead of the darker coloured amalgam ones that are often used.

With a masters degree in aesthetic dentistry from King’s College London Dental Institute ( https://www.kcl.ac.uk/dentistry ) let us take a look at some of the treatments that Ravdeep offers for patients of the Clock Tower Dental Clinic here in Epsom.

Minimally invasive dental veneers

Each case is individual, but in some cases, it may be possible to apply dental veneers to a patient’s teeth without an invasive procedure. This isn’t always appropriate though and it takes a skilled practitioner like Ravdeep to know if this is the right approach for that particular patient. In the majority of cases, it will be necessary to prepare the tooth for a veneer by shaving away a fine layer from the surface. Through his skills in this area, Ravdeep will make sure that as little of the natural tooth is removed as possible in order to attain the desired result.

Broken and decayed tooth restoration

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Illegal Teeth Whitening – The Dangers

BBC report indicates that some illegal outlets are still offering this treatment.

A cosmetically enhanced smileAs many of you will already know, the teeth whitening procedure is one of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments currently available. There are several good reasons for this. It is very effective and fast acting, it requires no surgery and is also very affordable for many people.

Despite the apparent simplicity of the treatment though, there are things that can still go very wrong if it is carried out incorrectly.

We have written before about the potential dangers of attempting DIY teeth whitening treatments, but even using established methods can be dangerous if carried out by unqualified or inexperienced practitioners.

It is for this reason that the law now states that teeth whitening can only be carried out by dental professionals like those at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic who are registered with the GDC (General Dental Council) and is why most high street outlets that once offered teeth whitening are now no longer able to do so. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous outlets still continue to do so illegally.

What are the risks?

There are a number of possible risks if you opt to use an illegal outlet. It is very likely that the staff will not be sufficiently trained, if at all. There have, in the past, also been many cases of the incorrect strength of whitening solution being used, causing significant harm to the patient. Where the strength of the solution is too great, patients may well experience significant and possibly severe teeth sensitivity. This can be extremely painful and make eating and drinking many foods and drinks a real problem. There is also a serious risk of burning to the gums and other soft tissues of the mouth. If the solution is too strong, it is even possible that it can result in tooth loss.

Why do people choose to have it done illegally?

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The ‘Love Island’ effect – the search for the perfect smile

How far do people go in the desire for perfect looking teeth?

white teeth smilesWhether you watch the TV programme or not, it is very difficult to escape it. Whether on the news or social media, the effects of Love Island, particularly on the younger generation can easily be seen.

One of these is that younger people are starting to pay more attention to how attractive their smile is.

Perhaps this has always been the case, but with apps such as Instagram now allowing people to show theirs off, the pressure is possibly that much greater.

There is nothing wrong with a fantastic looking smile of course. Many patients of the Clock Tower Dental Clinic have told us how much better they feel about themselves after treatments such as teeth whitening. Whilst we are always happy to encourage patients to have great looking teeth, there is also practical guidance that come with it.

Considered improvement

A patient’s teeth can nearly always be aesthetically improved. Everybody is different though and some cases may require a lot more work to be done. Especially when you are very young, you might be tempted to spend way over your budget in an attempt to ‘keep up with the Joneses’, but this could put you in debt and cause other problems too. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek improvements. Our Epsom cosmetic dental team are here to offer advice and can suggest ways to improve your teeth either within a given budget, or through the use of our beneficial payment plans. We will not ‘push’ you towards treatments that you don’t need or cannot afford.

That ‘perfect’ smile

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Recuperating From Dental Surgery

Looking after yourself following treatment will help comfort and aid healing.

Kind dentistFor some nervous patients, a lot of the conversation around a forthcoming dental procedure is the possible anxiety and discomfort that might be felt whilst undergoing it. This is understandable and we have covered it and tried to allay any fears in earlier blogs. Today, we thought that we would take a look instead at what happens after a procedure when you have left our Epsom practice with a restored or extracted tooth.

While immediate aftercare begins in the dental surgery, patients should also consider how they will approach the next few hours or even days in the case of more extensive treatment.

The team at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic look at some examples of recovery below.

Fillings

For most people, recovering from a filling is straightforward. You should take care not to eat anything hard, or better still, anything at all until the local anaesthetic has worn off. This is usually just for a short time of a few hours. You should also allow around 24 hours before you use that tooth to bite anything hard and softer foods are better initially to give the filling time to fully settle. Recovery is usually straightforward with a filling but if you are in discomfort when the local anaesthetic has worn off, please get in touch with us straightaway.

Extractions

If you have a tooth extracted, the dentist will typically apply a piece of sterile gauze to the treament area. This will help a blood clot to form which you should not ‘poke’ at with your finger, tongue or any implement. This is essential for healing and if it does come out you may suffer from a painful condition known as a dry socket. Whilst an extraction is usually a straightforward procedure, it can feel quite traumatic and we recommend that patients take it easy for at least the rest of that day, taking time off work where possible. We also recommend that you avoid physical activity for a few days to allow yourself to fully recover. You should also avoid alcohol and cigarettes (if you do smoke) for a few days at least to minimise the risk of infections.

Teeth whitening

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A New Year, A New You?

With help from our Epsom cosmetic dental team, you can have a new and improved smile in 2020!

smiling older coupleChristmas and the New Year celebrations are over for yet another year and most of us will now be starting to get back to ‘normal’, whatever that may be for you.

Some of us will have made some very definite new year resolutions, whilst others may simply have a very loose idea of things that they want to change in 2020.

One of the most common areas for new year targets is self improvement. This can be educational, perhaps taking an evening class,  getting fitter by joining a gym or cutting out unhealthy foods, or improving our appearance. It is in this latter area that the Clock Tower Dental Clinic team can help.

Life takes its toll

For many of us, our daily lives present challenges, whether this be at work or bringing up a family. Both of these take both time and energy from our lives, often leaving us with very little time to dedicate to ourselves. Hastily grabbed meals, a lack of exercise and too little time for shopping and beauty treatments can sometimes leave us looking a little older than we really are.

There comes a point when some of us will look in the mirror and not be entirely happy with what they see. A new year presents an opportunity to take charge of this and do something about it. Eating healthily and making sure that we take more exercise, even if only walking to the shop instead of driving, is a good start. When it comes to improving how we look though, professional help is at hand.

Age reducing treatments

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