Are You A Nervous Dental Patient?

If you are, you are not alone. Our Epsom dental team offers helpful advice

nervousAsk most people what their biggest phobia is and going to see a dentist will be right up there, along with spiders and flying, for a great many of them. This is nothing new and even the significant advances that have been made in dental care over the years don’t seem to have changed this greatly. Despite this anxiety, most patients of the Clocktower Dental, Implant & Facial Centre acknowledge the importance of overcoming this sufficiently to ensure that they can maintain a healthy set of teeth and gums.

So, why are so many people afraid of the dentist and what can be done to help them overcome this, at least enough for them to receive essential treatment?

Modern dental care

The first thing to remember, and especially if you haven’t seen a dentist for a very long time, is that dentistry has changed. The improvements in the equipment means that many of the things you might remember from your childhood have changed beyond recognition. From the surroundings of the clinic itself to the refining and technological advances in equipment, your dental experience is likely to be far more comfortable than you might remember.

Having said that, the reality is that we do sometimes have to perform procedures on your teeth to ensure that they are maintained correctly. Although there might be some slight discomfort when we do so, we use a range of methods to help keep you as comfortable as possible during your treatment.

The ‘needle’

One of people’s biggest fears seems to be the ‘needle’. This has traditionally been used to apply a local anaesthetic into the area of the tooth when a filling or other invasive treatment is needed. The reality is that without the anaesthetic, it would be very painful indeed in many cases and would make the treatment almost impossible to do. This would result in the worsening of the condition of the tooth in question.

This problem has been the subject of a great deal of research over the years, especially as what is in effect such a minor part of any dental procedure can be a major factor in causing some anxious patients to cancel their appointment. The good news is that there is now a method that can often be used instead of a ‘needle’ to numb the area of your mouth where treatment is needed.

The Wand

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How ‘Stoptober’ Can Improve Your Oral Health

If you haven’t already stopped smoking, now might be the right time to do so

dental assessmentWe are now almost halfway through October. This is a month designated by the NHS as ‘stoptober’, a month when people are encouraged to quit smoking once and for all.

Although fewer people now smoke, there are still a significant number who do, and worryingly, a growing number of young people who are starting. Aside from the initial coughing when you start smoking, the effects are usually not felt until several years later, and when they are they can be very serious indeed.

Whilst lung cancer is probably the best known as the one most directly caused by smoking, others can be affected by it too. One that should be quite obvious and which impacts the dental profession is oral cancer. Even if you avoid the many serious health issues associated with smoking, it can still have unpleasant side effects on both the health of your teeth and gums and the appearance of your smile. Today’s blog offers our Epsom dental patients a guide as to why you should quit smoking now.

Oral cancer

Although it may not achieve the same amount of publicity as some other types of cancer, oral, or mouth, cancer still affects a lot of people. It can change lives negatively and can also be fatal. Smoking is, unsurprisingly, one of the major causes of this and stopping smoking is the best way to minimise your risk of having oral cancer.

At the Clocktower Dental, Implant & Facial Centre we check for any signs of this during your regular oral examinations. We are not trained to determine if something unusual that we see is cancerous or not and therefore we will refer you to your GP for further investigation. In most cases, it will probably be something unrelated but it is better to be safe than sorry. If it is cancer, the sooner it is detected the better, and early intervention means that you stand a better chance of a more positive outcome.

Gum disease

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How To Look After Your Gums

And the possible consequences if you don’t….

Gum diseaseFor many people, the focus of their dental care is on the teeth; both to make sure that they are strong and healthy, and increasingly, to ensure that they look good too. This is good news, but it can sometimes ignore another very important aspect of good oral care and that is the health of your gums.

Many of our patients are surprised when we tell them that poor gum health is a major contributor to tooth loss if it isn’t treated in time. It can also have a significant impact on our general health and social life as well, as we will see later. The good news though is that taking good care of your gums isn’t hard work and just takes a little care and attention, along with the help of the hygienist at the Clocktower Dental, Implant and Facial Centre Epsom.

The basics – cleaning

Most of us clean our teeth regularly and we probably think that we do it well. There is often room for improvement though, and along with ensuring that your toothbrush has healthy bristles and you use a fluoride toothpaste, the way that you brush can often be improved.

Many people tend to ‘flat brush’; that is they use the flat surface of the brush on the surface of the tooth. This will largely keep the tooth (or most of it anyway) clean. This method though does not enable the brush to clean around the gum line where food debris and bacteria are more likely to collect.

In order to clean this part of the tooth and beneath the gum line, you should angle the bristles towards the gums. This enables them to clean the parts that would otherwise be missed. Don’t forget that if you don’t already, you should start to use dental floss too so that the spaces between the teeth can be kept clean.

Gum disease stages

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Cosmetic Dentistry – Helping You Achieve A Younger Looking And Whiter Smile

Our Epsom dentists discuss the growing popularity of  teeth whitening

straight white teethThere is a popular belief that dull or discoloured teeth are always caused by what we eat and drink. This is partially true, but the reality is that our teeth will eventually lose their whiteness as we grow older anyway and we will discuss the reasons for this in more detail shortly.

There was a time, not so long ago, when this would mean that after a certain age, you would simply have to live with your teeth the way they were. These days though, treatments such as the teeth whitening procedure that we offer at the Clocktower Dental Implant and Facial Centre is available to most people, especially with the help of our finance plans, should you require them.

What causes discoloured teeth?

As we indicated, certain foods and drinks can cause surface staining to our teeth. Key culprits here are drinks such as tea and red wines, caused by the tannin in them. Dark fruits and soy sauce can also have this effect. Worst of all, and definitely the worst for your oral and general health, is smoking.

Whilst these products can cause surface staining, much discolouration later on in life actually comes from discolouration of the dentin in our teeth which lies directly below the outer enamel layer. Over time, this becomes darker in colour and will show through the translucent enamel, often leaving you with the appearance of having yellowing teeth. It won’t matter how hard you ‘scrub’ your teeth when you brush them, this will not change and you are more likely to cause enamel erosion this way, itself causing more staining as the surface of the enamel becomes rougher and attracts staining more easily.

Treating stained and discoloured teeth

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The Importance Of General Dental Care For Our Epsom Patients

If you think that your teeth don’t really contribute to overall health, it’s probably time to reconsider….

dental checkIt is fair to say that we all want to stay healthy and are thankful to avoid the serious diseases which we see around us every day. Health issues such as cancer can be quite frightening, especially if we have seen others suffer around us. Many of us will change our diet and lifestyle to minimise the risk of health issues such as this, but perhaps don’t pay the same level of attention when it comes to our oral health.

Whilst we don’t claim that losing a tooth comes close to having a serious disease like cancer, it is important to remember that most diseases don’t happen overnight and often have ‘slow burning’ causes. Increasingly, oral health problems are being linked with many serious health issues and we should therefore take care to keep our mouths healthy to help minimise those associated risks.

Oral and general health issues

There are many health issues that have recently been linked to poor oral care, including heart disease, strokes and Alzheimers. Studies have also indicated that those with severe gum disease such as periodontitis are more likely to die of Covid than those with healthy gums.

There are also health conditions that can be directly linked to poor oral care. One of the most obvious of these is oral, or mouth, cancer. Neglecting your teeth and gums can have potentially fatal repercussions if it leads to this and whilst many sufferers do recover, especially if the problem is discovered early enough, it can still leave long term problems such as facial disfigurement and difficulties with speech and swallowing. As with most medical issues, the sooner a problem is detected and treatment can start, the better the outcome usually is.  This brings us on to the need to improve how we look after our oral health.

Home and professional care

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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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