Our Epsom dental team look at the likelihood of further dentist closures
Although 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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Epsom dentist Dr Andrew Murphy, looks at this less well known threat to replacement teeth
If 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:
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Crooked teeth leading to poor smile aesthetics and potentially functional issues too
Crooked 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.
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.
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Our Epsom dentists take a look at this not uncommon problem
Anyone 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.
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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How excess weight gain can be harmful to teeth and gums
Obesity 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.
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.
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.
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University can be a life determining experience but don’t neglect your teeth
There 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 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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As dentists open for business, cosmetic dentistry will soon make a welcome return
Slowly 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.
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Getting oral health back on track as dentists re-open
With the ongoing easing of lockdown restrictions, and a seemingly gradual reduction in the number of new cases of Covid-19, this is probably a time to be cautiously optimistic about the future. For sure, things won’t go back to the where they were immediately, but finally, we do seem to be returning to some sort of relative ‘normality’ in the UK.
As part of the easing of lockdown restrictions, patients are once again able to visit the Clock Tower Dental Practice. You will notice quite a few changes regarding your appointments and the protections that we have put into place for the safety of both our patients and staff and you can read about these here.
Understandably, a number of you will not have been able to receive treatment for a troublesome dental problem while we were closed. Our first priority then is to do what we can to restore any teeth that have become damaged or suffered from tooth decay during lockdown, starting with the most urgent cases. In today’s blog, we will take a look at some of the more common treatments that are used to achieve this.
Where tooth decay is present or where a small part of the tooth has broken away, a dental filling is probable unless the damage is more extensive. Although amalgam has long been the traditional material used for this, more and more people are opting for tooth coloured fillings, sometimes also used as part of a general smile makeover, instead. In addition to the obvious benefit that white fillings are less noticeable, they are also long lasting and bond well to the natural part of the tooth; often meaning less preparation of the tooth is required. Unlike amalgam, this material does not shrink which helps to prevent the problem of decay that can form around the edges of the filling.
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Some of the changes you might see when dentists open again
Like other dental practices around the UK, the team members at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic have been waiting for news on when they might be able to open again following the Covid-19 lockdown.
As many of you will have seen, this has now happened, with dentists able to open from last Monday. Unfortunately, as dentists were given very little notice of this, many will need to remain closed for a little time until new safety guidelines are put into place.
Re-opening a local dental practice whilst the virus is still circulating, is not simply a case of unlocking the front door and getting back into things the way that they were unfortunately. Patient and staff safety must be at the heart of what we do, especially at this moment in time. We are currently evaluating the guidance that we have received and today’s blog covers some of the main changes our Epsom patients are likely to see when they join us again for treatment.
The first thing to say is that we will only open our doors for face to face appointments again once we are sure that all possible measures are in place. Whilst we can deep clean and make sure that equipment is fully sterilised, one of the biggest challenges is sourcing the PPE equipment that you will see our team wearing. As you can probably imagine, demand for this is very high and sourcing sufficient to keep the practice running is not straightforward. Please rest assured that we are doing all that we can to purchase the necessary PPE so that we can open as soon as possible.
Because of the need for social distancing and thorough cleaning after seeing each patient, the number of patients that can be seen each day will be reduced. We will endeavour to see and treat the most urgent cases first, before moving on to more routine appointments.
Given the current restrictions, this may take some time so please bear with us whilst we do our best to help those most in need and do also please take good care at home to clean your teeth and gums well to help avoid any problems such as tooth decay.
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Lockdown may have exaggerated this problem for some of our Epsom patients.
As 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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