The Impact Of Asthma On Oral Health

Our Epsom team addresses dental issues around this common medical problem

Oral health concernsAsthma is perhaps one of the more common medical issues in the UK, both in children and in adults. With pollution problems still significant and the additional stress that many of us are currently under, this is perhaps no great surprise.

Asthma is usually managed relatively easily through the use of inhalers, but it can, in serious cases, require professional medical intervention.

There are also potential consequences for oral health in those who suffer from this problem. This is especially significant for patients who also suffer from dental phobia and whose stress levels rise when visiting a practice, even ones with a kind and friendly team, like our staff at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic.

Asthma

Before we discuss its implications, we should perhaps briefly summarise what asthma is. It is a condition that can lead to breathing difficulties of varying degrees. Unfortunately, perhaps because of stress and pollution, it appears to be on the rise in the UK and there are currently somewhere in the region of 4.5 million people in this country who receive medical treatment for it.

How can it impact our oral health?

One common way in which our teeth and gums can be affected by this condition is that many asthma sufferers tend to breathe through their mouth rather than the nose in order to make it easier to breathe. This, unfortunately, will often have the effect of drying out the mouth and reducing the flow of saliva that helps to flush away food and bacteria from between the teeth and gum line. This is likely to cause an increase in the number of potentially harmful bacteria that can contribute to gum disease. If you find that you are breathing through your mouth, do try to drink more water so that you stay better hydrated.

Some of the inhalers used to manage this condition can also create dental issues. The brown steroid inhalers, for example, can cause erosion of the tooth enamel due to the acid content of the medication that is contained in the spray. This can lead to mottling of the teeth, especially in children who use these. If you use this type of inhaler for your asthma, you should swill your mouth with water as soon as you can after using it.

The other inhalers that are used for immediate relief from asthma attacks can also, though less commonly, cause problems in the mouth. These affect the teeth less but can lead to lesions in the mouth and especially on the roof of the mouth. If not treated, these could become infected. Our Epsom dentists will be able to spot any lesions during your regular check ups and may suggest that you speak to your GP about them if they are detected.

Stress and anxiety

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Healthy Teeth And Gums During Second Lockdown

Your Epsom dentist offers useful tips and information

Dentist chairSo, here we are again; it has for a while felt like there was an inevitability about the UK going into a second lockdown and it has finally arrived. There are differences this time though and a combination of more flexibility and better knowledge about how to control Covid-19 will hopefully mean that we won’t find things quite as restrictive as last time.

One thing that has changed is that patients of the Clock Tower Dental Clinic can still attend our practice for their appointments. Unlike last time, when dental practices were forced to close, we are allowed to stay open during the second lockdown which is due to end on December 2nd.

Some of you might wonder why this is the case? After all, the virus can still be deadly and dentists couldn’t open their practices before. There are many reasons for this which we will briefly explore here.

PPE and other protective measures

PPE was the big story earlier on and obtaining sufficient to be able to treat patients was a significant challenge. Thankfully, we managed to do this and now PPE is more widely available and there are no shortages, meaning that patient appointments can go ahead as planned.

There are also a number of other things that have been put in place to keep patients and staff safe. Social distancing notices have been placed throughout the practice and the reception area arranged to making seating safer. The reception area also has a Hepa air purifier which helps to clean the air throughout the practice. There is also now more ‘fallow time’ between appointments, allowing additional time for thorough cleaning of the treatment room between patients.

These actions have enabled us to keep treating patients safely, although the restriction on the number of patients seen each day does mean that some routine check up appointments have needed to be cancelled. This is far from ideal and we are doing all that we can to work through this backlog as quickly (but safely) as possible.

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums

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How Food Poverty Affects Our Oral Health

Both children and adults are likely to have poor teeth and gum health if healthy food supply is short

Sugary sweetsThe Marcus Rashford campaign has, once again, brought food poverty into the headlines. The papers will be covering the political aspects of this and we have no wish to comment on that here.

It does however, give us a good opportunity though to look at how poverty, and the accompanying poor diet, can have a major impact on our teeth and gums. Also how it can affect children especially and potentially harm their future prospects.

Although modern dental treatments such as those available at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic Epsom can do wonders to restore damaged or poor quality teeth, the basics of good oral care lie in how we clean them, but also what we eat.

Alleviating hunger

If we don’t eat, we will eventually feel hungry; we have all experienced that. For most of us, this isn’t a major problem and we just raid the fridge or cupboard for a snack to keep us going until mealtime. If we don’t have the financial resources to keep our cupboard stocked though, it means that we will go hungry, probably for several hours until the next meal time. Nobody wants to see their children going hungry, and it is distressing when they cry due to this. Because of this, most parents in this situation will look at ways of avoiding this happening. Unfortunately, this often means buying foods that provide instant gratification and fill the stomach without necessarily providing the correct levels of nutrition.

There are two problems that this can lead to. Firstly, healthy teeth and gums require certain vitamins and minerals to remain so. Key nutrients for healthy teeth and gums include calcium and vitamin D and these are widely available in a healthy diet, along with some sunshine to provide the vitamin D. So it is quite possible that anyone stuck indoors and who struggles to feed the family may well be lacking in these vital nutrients.

The other problem of course is sugar. Many foods that leave an immediate sense of satisfaction, and especially for a hungry child, contain high levels of sugar.  This does provide energy which helps to keep us warm amongst other functions, but it is, as we know, very harmful for our teeth. Understandably, a parent’s priority is to prevent hunger and the risk to teeth may be a way down the list, but a poor diet is likely to lead to tooth decay and probably toothache as well.

A future with poor teeth

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Will Dental Practices ‘Escape’ Another Lockdown?

Our Epsom dental team look at the likelihood of further dentist closures

Clocktower Dental Implant and Facial CentreAlthough most dental practices in the UK are doing their best to catch up with lost appointments from the previous lockdown, the number of new Covid-19 cases is rising rapidly and measures are already starting to be put in place to try to control this.

Whilst, for the time being, this is largely aimed at household mixing, and possibly hospitality venues too, it is inevitable that some of our Clocktower Dental Clinic patients will be wondering whether our practice may have to close again.

First of all, it is worth noting that cases in the Epsom area are relatively low at the moment, although we shouldn’t take it for granted that they will remain so. Of course we should continue to take good care to observe any medical advice that is given to hopefully avoid a further rise in infections. More restrictions being put into place could feasibly result in the closure of some premises, although we hope this will be avoided.

Will dentists close again?

Although we wish that we could see into the future, the reality is that we can’t. The general feeling though is that a second closure of dentists is unlikely and that if they were to close, it would be a last resort. A lot more is known about the virus now and how the risk of infection can be minimised.

After we re-opened on the 8th June, we put into place many new systems and procedures that are designed to make the dental environment as safe as possible. In addition to the usual face masks and disposable gloves, we have installed additional air filters to purify the air, are widely using PPE as well as ensuring patient’s temperatures are checked on arrival and that social distancing is observed where possible. These are just some of the things we have put into place and you can read the full list here .

We feel then, given the potential impact on the nation’s oral health, and with all the new safety systems in place, it is unlikely that we will be forced to close again as far as we can see at the present time.

Keep your teeth and gums healthy

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Peri-Implantitis And Your Dental Implants

Epsom dentist Dr Andrew Murphy, looks at this less well known threat to replacement teeth

Single dental implantIf you are a regular reader of our blogs, you will have previously come across the term ‘periodontitis’. This is the advanced stage of gum disease which can cause teeth to become loose and even fall out. Fewer of you may have come across the term ‘peri-implantitis’ however and this may be because it only affects those patients who have had dental implants placed.

With this becoming an increasingly popular tooth replacement option though, it is important that patients of the Clock Tower Dental Clinic are aware of this potential threat and understand how to help prevent it, should they ever have implants placed.

With advances in dental technology and the quality of the implants themselves, implant failure is very rare indeed, providing that the correct care is taken. Unfortunately, where this does not happen, peri-implantitis is a potential consequence.

What is peri-implantitis?

In effect, this is relatively similar to periodontitis and has similar causes; i.e. poor oral health. If we have dental implants and don’t look after them correctly, with regular brushing and flossing, as well as professional monitoring and cleaning, peri-implantitis is a possible outcome.

It is important for patients to remember that although the implant is made from an artificial material, it is essential that it is kept clean and not neglected. The implant itself won’t deteriorate but the tissue surrounding it can. As these tissues deteriorate, they are less able to support the implant that has been placed into the jawbone. This will then start to become loose and, like a tooth root, can even come out.

Peri-implantitis tends to happen in two stages:

Peri-implant mucositis

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Treatment For An Incorrect Bite

Crooked teeth leading to poor smile aesthetics and potentially functional issues too

dental checkCrooked teeth are not uncommon; indeed over the years, our Epsom cosmetic dentists have straightened many patient’s teeth to help them to have a more attractive smile. Many who choose this treatment do so primarily for cosmetic purposes, unaware of the functional and health benefits it also offers.

The fact is that crooked teeth can create what is known as a ‘bad bite’, or malocclusion. This can lead to a number of dental and related problems which need to be corrected to prevent additional issues in the future. In today’s Clock Tower Dental Clinic blog, we will take a look at some of the problems that might arise if you suffer with a bad bite.

What do we mean by a ‘bad bite’?

A bad bite or malocclusion can be said to be when the teeth don’t meet as they should do. Sometimes this is visibly obvious, such as when teeth protrude, but even the smallest malocclusion can create problems and  may lead to eventual long term damage to the teeth.

So what then are some of the problems that patients in this situation might encounter? Below, we list a few of these.

Broken teeth

Because force is applied less evenly when the teeth are incorrectly aligned, this means that some parts of a tooth might receive more pressure than they are built for. This probably won’t happen immediately but, over time, may weaken the tooth leading to breakage.

Jaw problems

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What To Do With A Wobbly Tooth?

Our Epsom dentists take a look at this not uncommon problem

replacing a lost toothAnyone who can remember as far back as their childhood will probably recall those wobbly teeth that seemed to take forever to come out.

Some of us may have even had to endure the ‘doorknob and string’ method of speeding this process up (more of that later), but wobbly teeth at this age are perfectly normal. Having teeth like this as an adult certainly is not.

Loose teeth are not good news if they happen in our adult life. It is usually a problem that can be avoided though and we will take a look at this, and potential restoration options, in today’s blog.

Children

As we mentioned earlier, wobbly teeth are normal in young children and should happen as their secondary teeth are pushing through, dislodging their ‘baby’ teeth. Even though it is normal, care should be taken in removing these teeth. Ideally they should be allowed to come out naturally, perhaps encouraged by eating foods that may help this along the way.

We don’t recommend twisting the tooth too much and certainly advise parents not to use methods such as tying a piece of string between tooth and door and slamming it shut, ‘yanking’ the tooth from the mouth. There does seem to be an unfortunate trend to find modern and ‘amusing’ ways of updating this and promoting it on social media, such as using drones attached to string to pull them out. Any forceful removal of a wobbly tooth though could result not only in pain for the child, but could also tear and damage the gum.

If your child has a problematic wobbly tooth that is refusing to come out, please call the Clock Tower Dental Clinic for an appointment so that we can remove it safely.

Adult loose teeth

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Obesity And Its Impact On Our Oral Health

How excess weight gain can be harmful to teeth and gums

Dentist chairObesity has long been recognised as a significant health issue. Although currently in the news because of its negative effect on Covid-19 recovery rates, it has long been known to be a contributor to heart disease and diabetes (more of that later). Our reliance on convenience foods and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle means that more and more of us are becoming at risk from this growing problem.

Although there may be medical advances at some point in the future that can help to prevent weight gain, the reality is that much of it is currently down to our own behaviour and even changing just a few simple habits could make a big difference to both our general and oral health.

In today’s Clock Tower Dental Clinic blog, we look at how obesity can have an impact on your teeth and gums along with a few simple tips to set you on the right path.

Sugar intake

One of the biggest causes of obesity is our diet. Not only do many of us eat too much for our current lifestyle, but we often end up eating foods that are not healthy for us. Many of these contain high quantities not only of fat, but also of sugar. Even many savoury ready meals contain this as it enhances the flavours and helps to preserve food longer as well. We can call this ‘hidden’ sugar as although we know when we eat cake, for example, that we are eating sugar, we may be unaware of it in other foods where we wouldn’t expect to find it.

Although this is a problem, it would be less so if we were careful not to eat so many foods that are blatantly high in sugar. The obvious examples being in cakes, chocolates, sweets etc. Even some supposedly healthy foods such as breakfast cereals are very high in sugar indeed.  As patients of our long-standing Epsom dentists will know, high sugar consumption is likely to lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Diabetes

One common consequence of being obese is the increased risk of diabetes. This can be very dangerous and can affect many of the essential organs of our body. The increase of glucose in our saliva if blood sugar is not controlled is an obvious risk factor, but diabetes can also damage our blood vessels and reduce blood flow to our gums, making disease more likely.

If you have diabetes, we recommend that you see a dental hygienist every three months for a scale and polish so that we can help to manage any gum health issues.

Sedentary lifestyle

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Going To ‘Uni’ Next Term? Make Sure To Look After Your Teeth!

University can be a life determining experience but don’t neglect your teeth

Happy personThere are many good reasons for going to university. The most obvious of these is to further your education, and for many of you, to gain the qualifications needed to pursue your chosen career.

University life offers so much more though and many lifelong friendships, and relationships, will be made during this time.

For many of you, it will be your first taste of independence too, especially if you are going to a university that isn’t in your home town. This can be exciting, although it can create problems as well.

The reality is that in order to function well and healthily, much of our life is relatively routine. When we are away from home for the first time, some of these routines are likely to change, or even disappear altogether. Unfortunately, our oral care is sometimes included in this!

Student lifestyle

Student life may have come a long way from episodes of ‘The Young Ones’ which older patients of our Epsom dental clinic may remember.  Few students will be cooking up Neil’s lentil curry and will be eating a lot more processed food instead. Although Neil’s curries may have looked revolting, processed foods are likely to be far more harmful for your teeth and gums.

Many processed foods contain fairly high quantities of sugar. This is the case even for savoury foods where sugar is used to enhance the taste. Cakes, biscuits etc are obviously high in sugar but savoury foods should not be ignored either. So much has been written about sugar and tooth decay that we probably don’t need to discuss this, but do make sure to include plenty of fresh food in your diet, perhaps supplemented with the occasional processed food ‘treat’.

It is worth mentioning that even non-sugar processed foods can be harmful to your teeth and gums. Junk food is well known to lead to obesity and this, in turn, makes diseases such as diabetes more likely. As readers of the Clock Tower Dental Clinic blogs will know, patients who are diabetic are at a much higher risk of gum disease than those who aren’t.

Alcohol and drugs

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Planning For Whiter Teeth?

As dentists open for business, cosmetic dentistry will soon make a welcome return

A cosmetically enhanced smileSlowly but surely, we are emerging from the lockdown period which has seen us socially isolated and adrift from the things that we’re used to. Gone, for now, are the gyms, the theatres and live music but some entertainments and establishments such as pubs, are slowly starting to open again. The good news for our Epsom patients is that the Clock Tower Dental Clinic is also open to patients once more and we all look forward to seeing you again soon.

As with other dental practices across the country, our priority is to treat those who were not able to access emergency treatment during lockdown and who may be in pain or have badly damaged teeth that need treating. This may mean that other treatments such as cosmetic ones might be delayed a little. We expect these to be available again soon though, and you may wish to use this time to consider your options for improving the appearance of your teeth and smile.

Discoloured and stained teeth

Lockdown may not have been kind to our teeth. Although it will have varied according to the individual, most of us will have had coping mechanisms to help us through, possibly including comfort eating, drinking more than usual and perhaps even starting smoking again for some ex smokers. All of the above and the fact that you will not have been able to see a dentist, means that not only problems such as tooth decay were likely to occur, but also the way that our teeth look is likely to have been affected. This is particularly so for their whiteness.

Many commonly consumed foods and drinks can cause staining of the teeth. These include tea, coffee, red wine or foodstuffs like dark coloured berries, soy sauce, curries and more. Although diligent oral care at home will help to remove this, over time, a darkening of the tooth surface is almost inevitable.

There will be some of you too, who sometimes have whitening procedures repeated to maintain a consistent level of whiteness of your teeth. As such, some of you will have had to miss appointments due to our temporary closure and are likely to have noticed a deterioration in the whiteness of your smile.

All is not lost though, and we should soon be able to help that white smile to return! There are two key procedures that we can use to achieve this.

Teeth whitening

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