Links between stress and oral health problems.
Did you know that April 2018 was declared to be Stress Awareness Month by the World Health Organisation?
Stress is widely considered to be one of the most serious health epidemics of our time, with a faster pace of life and ‘always on’ technologies probably being at least partially responsible.
Whilst an element of stress can be a good thing, too much stress can have a negative impact on our mental health and can lead to depression and anxiety.
This, in turn, may well lead to a worsening of our oral health.
When we become affected by stress, many of our healthier habits can go out of the window and we turn to short term solutions to deal with it. Two of the most common of these are smoking and alcohol consumption, both of which can have a major impact on our mouth, especially in the increased likelihood of periodontitis and even mouth cancer. Stress affects the gums by increasing the level of a hormone called Cortisol. Whilst this hormone does reduce inflammation, which is generally a good thing, it also suppresses the immune system over time. This reduces our capacity to fight off infections such as gum disease.
Stress can even affect our ability to sleep, and lead to a general worsening of how we look after ourselves. A poor diet, high in sugar, is increasingly likely and is a well known factor in contributing to oral health issues.
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Special care to look after your teeth and gums should be taken if you have diabetes.
Generally, we suggest that our Ipswich patients come to see us for a check up at the Foxhall Dental Practice on a six monthly basis. If you are a diabetic though, we may recommend that you see us more frequently. This is because, on the whole, diabetics are at an increased risk of dental problems, and especially gum disease.
Because of an often weaker immune system, infections are more likely and it is important, where gum problems such as gingivitis occur, to treat this as soon as possible. Interestingly, a number of reports have linked gum disease with an increased incidence of diabetes, so it seems that these two medical problems are perhaps interlinked to some degree.
An important part of full mouth health care is to receive ongoing care from the dental hygienist at our Ipswich practice. They will discuss your oral health and offer suggestions of ways that you can improve how you look after it.
Another important part of hygienist appointments is the ‘scale and polish’. This non invasive procedure cleans hardened bacteria, known as tartar, from the teeth and gum line. This is done by ‘scraping’ away the tartar from between the teeth, before using a sonic tool to shatter and remove most of the rest. Finally, a high speed brush is used to remove any remaining bacteria. This also has the cosmetic benefit of removing some surface staining.
Can diabetics have dental implants?
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Early stage intervention means a better chance of saving your tooth.
If we wake up in the middle of the night with a raging toothache, the first thing that we will, or should, do in the morning is to call the dentist to arrange an emergency appointment. Taking this action is common sense.
Where a dental problem is less painful or inconvenient though, some of us may tend to do our best to ignore it and do nothing about it, in the hope that it goes away.
At the Foxhall Dental Practice, we know that many of our Ipswich patients live very busy lives, and a minor issue with teeth or gums may feel like it can be left until your next scheduled appointment with the dentist. To take this approach though is risky at best, and ignoring a relatively minor issue could lead to more damage if not treated promptly.
There has been a rise in the use of painkillers in the UK and hopefully some of this is not down to masking dental discomfort. If you need painkillers to mask pain with your teeth or gums, then you really do need to see your dentist as soon as you possibly can. Pain is our body’s way of telling us that all is not well and that corrective action needs to be taken!
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A quick guide to efficient *and* effective brushing.
There has been some debate recently, in the media, about whether you should brush your teeth before or after breakfast.
Brushing our teeth is one of the most fundamental things that we can do to keep our teeth clean. It also only takes a few minutes a day, but it is important that this time is well spent by cleaning correctly.
At the Foxhall Dental Practice in Ipswich, we are always happy to answer any questions that patients might have about general dental care, including when you should brush your teeth. If you have any questions on this, or any other topic, you would like us to cover, please let us know.
When to brush – morning
The truth is that it really doesn’t matter if you brush before or after your breakfast. There are pros and cons to both times. If you don’t brush before your food, much of the sticky plaque on your teeth and gums may be swallowed. This isn’t harmful but may be a little ‘yucky’ for some. On the other hand, if you brush before eating, some food, such as fruit, can have a very strange taste indeed. It won’t make too much difference to be frank, but our recommendation would probably be to brush after breakfast so that any sugars are cleaned from the teeth well before you eat again. If you do this though, make sure to leave a short time after eating before you brush. Some foods marginally soften the enamel, making it easier to wear them down just a little when you brush them.
When to brush – evening
There is only one strict rule here and that is once you have brushed your teeth, the only thing you should consume is water. Any other food, including milk, will leave sugars or other food deposits in your mouth whilst you sleep. Make sure that you go to sleep with clean teeth and gums.
Getting it right
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Some useful dietary advice for our Ipswich patients.
If we are honest with ourselves, how many of us now sit down to eat three meals a day, with no snacking in between? Probably very few. The reality is that a combination of societal changes, work practices and the availability of convenience foods means that we seem to be eating smaller amounts but on a regular basis throughout the day.
It could be argued that there are health benefits in doing this as it allows our stomach to digest smaller amounts of food, especially if we would otherwise eat too much at mealtimes. For our teeth though, this snacking habit can be very harmful indeed.
One of the problems of convenience foods is they they tend to contain large amounts of sugar (and often fat too). Naturally, this additional intake of sugar is a significant cause of tooth decay, especially if the snacks are washed down with high sugar fizzy drinks as well!
Even our coffee break can be harmful, with one well known chain’s ‘speciality coffee’ containing as many as fifteen teaspoons of sugar per serving.
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Dental implants offer a highly effective way of replacing lost back teeth.
Whilst, given a choice, most of us would probably rather lose a rear tooth than a visible front one, the reality is that a rear tooth is very important.
Although a loss of one of our back teeth may make little difference from an aesthetic viewpoint, these are the teeth that help to break down our food, making it easier to digest, and therefore to extract nutrients from.
There can be a tendency not to replace a missing back tooth but to do so would be a mistake. In today’s Foxhall Dental Practice blog, our Ipswich dental clinicians discuss why this is potentially a mistake, and why implants offer the best solution for replacement.
We are always told to chew our food. This is because the digestive system actually starts in our mouth. Not only does grinding the food with our back teeth break it down into smaller pieces, but the enzymes in our saliva also help to start the digestive process. If we lose too many rear teeth, there is a chance that our food will not be digested as well.
From a dental perspective, there is also a common problem, especially when rear teeth from both sides of the mouth are missing. Because we still need to chew our food, in order to be able to swallow it, we then have to use teeth that were not really designed for this purpose. Although we can chew with our canine teeth or incisors, these are really designed to tear food and start the process of breaking it down. Long term use of these teeth for chewing and grinding can wear them down prematurely, creating other problems.
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Far too few of us floss between our teeth. Here are some of the most common excuses that we hear.
We have mentioned, many times before, on our Foxhall Dental blog, how important it is to not only brush, but also floss, our teeth on a daily basis.
This simple action not only helps to prevent tooth decay but is also an important tool in the fight against gum disease.
With only around 20% of us using floss, we thought that we would take a look at some of the most common excuses for not doing so – and more importantly, why they’re invalid!
I don’t have time
Sorry, but this one does not wash at all. Flossing your teeth takes only a couple of minutes or so. We think that most of our Ipswich patients would agree that two minutes out of our day is well worth it to avoid the discomfort and pain that dental problems can bring.
It’s too difficult
Actually, it isn’t, though we appreciate that it can be tricky at first. Even some of the 20% who do floss their teeth do so incorrectly. This can create its own type of damage and it is important to get it right. Thankfully, this is actually quite easy and our Ipswich oral hygienist will be happy to show you the correct way to use dental floss.
It makes my gums bleed
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A look at some of the consequences of losing a tooth.
A full set of healthy teeth will give you the ability to have a confident smile, especially if you have had them enhanced by one of our many cosmetic treatments such as teeth whitening.
At our Foxhall Road practice in Ipswich, we will always do what we can to not only save a natural tooth which has been damaged, but to do so in the most aesthetic way possible. Sometimes though, a tooth simply is too badly decayed or damaged to be saved, and has to be extracted.
Once an adult tooth has been removed, unfortunately there will be no more teeth coming through, unlike your first teeth. Depending on the location of the missing tooth, it may be tempting to simply leave the gap, but there are a number of good reasons why you shouldn’t.
It probably doesn’t need to be said that if you lose a front tooth, it is going to look very obvious and few of us would be happy with our smile in this situation. Even a gap in the teeth that is not directly visible when we smile can often be seen when we laugh or yawn.
Aesthetics are important, not for any reasons of vanity, but because they help us to feel confident and losing that confidence can have a real knock on effect in our personal lives. For this reason, we generally recommend that our patients consider the tooth replacement options that we have available at our Ipswich practice.
The ‘knock on’ effect of a missing tooth
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How eating and drinking certain foodstuffs, can help you have a healthier mouth.
It may seem as though dentists spend a lot of time telling you what you shouldn’t eat. Sugars that cause tooth decay, tea that stains teeth etc etc.
So, for a change, we thought that we would dedicate this blog to foods that not only don’t have a bad effect on your teeth and gums, but can positively help them too.
It shouldn’t need to be said, but it is important to remember that the use of these is not a replacement for good general care, including brushing, flossing and regular dentist and hygienist visits at our Ipswich dental practice.
“Water, Water Everywhere”, and in our case, quite a lot to drink. In the West, we are privileged to have easy access to clean and (relatively) free water. We should make the most of this, and using water to stay hydrated is very important, not only for our teeth and gums, but our general health also. Dehydration leads to a dry mouth, a perfect environment for harmful bacteria to breed. An increase in bad oral bacteria can eventually lead to diseased gums. Drinking enough water will help to prevent this, as well as washing away bacteria and small pieces of residual food.
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A recent study shows that nearly half of us are unhappy with how our teeth look
A recent survey of 666 participants has indicated that around 40% of people in the UK are unhappy with their teeth, particularly their appearance.
Of this group, around half were planning to seek treatment to correct it. There is certainly a wider acceptance now that there is no longer any need to have crooked or discoloured teeth, and that treatments are widely available that can correct problems such as these.
An interesting aside from this survey was that a smallish percentage that had previously undergone a cosmetic dental procedure were unhappy with the outcome. We know, from experience, that given the correct treatment, and a suitable candidate, there is no reason that this should be the case. There may be many reasons why the patient was unhappy with the outcome, but in some cases, we suspect that the patient may have had unrealistic expectations of the results.
Choosing the right cosmetic dentist
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