Springtime Oral Health Tips

oral hygiene equipment

With the first signs of Spring, now is the time to consider a ‘spring clean’ of your oral health habits.

Perhaps we are jumping the gun a bit, but there are early signs of spring everywhere, with snowdrops and crocuses starting to push their way through the earth. Even the sun seems to be finding a way through the gloom from time to time.

With this new season often comes a sense of renewal, of a chance to start afresh. We can apply this to the way that we look after our teeth too.

Below, the team at the Foxhall Dental Practice in Ipswich offer some suggestions as to what you can do to refresh the way that you look after your teeth and gums this season and onwards.

New toothbrush time

Toothbrushes aren’t generally expensive. Despite this, some people continue to use the same toothbrush for much longer than it is effective to. So why not use Spring to make a new start? Throw out your old toothbrush and replace it. The same applies to your electric toothbrush, or more specifically, to the head of it. Make sure too, to keep your electric toothbrush charged or replace batteries to make it more effective. This is a simple and inexpensive way of improving how you look after your teeth. If you do this at the start of Spring, you can then do the same at the start of each new season, making it an easy way to change your brush, or head, every three months.

Check mouthwash expiry dates

Especially if you are only an occasional user, have a look at the expiry date of any mouthwash that you have. Mouthwash that is past its ‘use by’ date will be less effective at fighting the bacteria that can play a role in gum disease.

Stock up on floss

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Grandma, Why Are Your Teeth So White?

white smiles on older people

Attractive teeth in later life.

Although the caricature of a Grandmother is probably an elderly lady sitting in front of a fire knitting a sweater or scarf, the fact is that it is quite possible to be a Grandmother in your forties or fifties.

Of course, to young children, you are probably going to be an ‘oldie’ whether you are 40 or well into your 90s, but for ourselves, well, we generally like to feel as young as we possibly can, whatever the grand kids think!

No one can avoid getting older, and it certainly does take its toll on our bodies. We can help to alleviate some of the worst symptoms of this through healthy eating and exercising, but some things, such as wrinkles, will eventually happen anyway (although, we can help with this through our facial aesthetic treatments).

One area that often gives away our age, is our teeth. Even if we have looked after them well, and they are otherwise healthy, most of us will lose some of the sparkle or brightness that our teeth had when we were younger.

Teeth discolouration

Whilst surface discolouration of our teeth can certainly play a role in their appearance, the likelihood is that the main reason that our teeth no longer have the sparkle that they used to do is down to internal discolouration. This inner part of our teeth will darken with age, no matter what we do to try to stop it. As the external enamel layer of our teeth is translucent, this darkness will eventually show through, making our teeth look dull, and sometimes yellow, in appearance. All of this adds to the overall ageing effect.

Whilst it isn’t actually harmful to our teeth, discolouration is certainly not desirable, especially for someone who wants to look younger for as long as possible. Below, our team of Ipswich cosmetic dentists investigate how this problem can be reversed.

Surface staining

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Dry Socket Following Tooth Extraction

fast dental care

Monitoring your mouth after having a tooth removed.

Having a tooth extracted is a relatively common procedure. Although, with good home care, and regular visits to the dentist, we hope to minimise the need for this, there are occasions when an extraction might be the only viable option.

It is always best to keep your natural teeth wherever possible, but, where a tooth is severely decayed or has broken so badly that it is causing problems, extractions, and replacement by a denture, bridge or dental implant, is sometimes the best solution.

Although no one enjoys losing a tooth, the procedure itself is usually relatively straightforward. A local anaesthetic is given and then the tooth in question then manoeuvred gently until it is loosened  from the bone holding it in place. It can then be removed from the socket. Some extractions may be more complicated, such as when the tooth has broken off at the gum line. This may require the services of an oral surgeon, but should still pose no real problems in most cases.

After an extraction

When a tooth is removed, as you might expect, the area will bleed. This is an important stage in the healing process. Naturally, the flow of blood needs to be stemmed, and this is done by placing a piece of sterile gauze over the hole left by the extraction. This helps to encourage a blood clot which both seals the hole and starts the recovery process. Occasionally, this may become dislodged, or start to bleed again. Patients of the Foxhall Dental Practice will be given additional gauze in case this happens, and this is, again, placed over the area until a clot has formed.

Care should be taken not to dislodge the clot, whether by poking it with the tongue or when cleaning the teeth. For this reason, it is important not to brush that area for some time, instead tipping a saline solution over it to help prevent infections. Full aftercare advice will be given at the time of the procedure.

Dry socket

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What Actually Happens To Your Body Once You Have Stopped Smoking?

gum disease probe

A timeline of how your body reacts to the lack of nicotine and tar entering its system.

At the Foxhall Dental Practice in Ipswich, we have long encouraged our patients to stop smoking.

Aside from a reduced amount of coughing coming from our waiting room, the benefits of not smoking are not just in better breathing and better health, but, as we’ve addressed before, in a reduction in tooth staining as well as less chance of gum disease and oral cancers.

It should go without saying that stopping smoking alone will not entirely resolve these problems, and ongoing dental care at our Ipswich practice is essential. By cutting out those cigarettes and other tobacco based products though, you will have made a significant start on the way to better oral and general health.

Rather than discuss oral cancers and gum disease this time, we thought that it would be interesting to take a look at the timeline of what actually happens to your body when you quit smoking. We know that many people struggle to quit, and understanding the process of what happens to your body may be helpful.

So .. you have finally stubbed out your last ever cigarette (hopefully) … and the clock starts ticking.

Twenty minutes

Yes, even just twenty minutes after your last cigarette, changes start to happen in your body. Any smoker will tell you that their cigarette gives them a ‘lift’. This is because nicotine is a stimulant, and one which raises both heart rate and blood pressure. Within twenty minutes, your body will start to recover as the effect of the stimulant wears off and your heart rate and BP return to normal.

Eight hours

This is an unpleasant time for many people who quit as it is around the time when those cravings really start to kick in and you may find yourself giving in and lighting another cigarette for relief. When you stop smoking, try to arrange it so that you will be doing something to take your mind of it at this time.

Your first day without a cigarette

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Your Christmas And New Year Dental Guide

Don’t let your teeth and gums suffer during the holiday season.

Like our own team, we are sure that most of our Ipswich dental patients are looking forward to the forthcoming festivities. It is a time to relax and enjoy time spent with friends and family.

In many ways it is a carefree time, but one that can pose problems for the health of our teeth and gums if we are not careful. This does not mean that you have to be a ‘killjoy’ to protect your teeth, but simply observing a few basic rules can make all the difference for your oral health at this time of the year.

Your festive diet

There is no need to deny yourself the pleasures of Christmas food, but there is a case to be made for keeping an eye on what you eat at this time of the year. As long as we take care to clean our teeth well, they should be capable of withstanding harm from a few indulgent luxuries. That said, we can also help by perhaps not over indulging too much.

It is often not the food that we consume at mealtimes that is the problem. It is usually the bowl of sweets and chocolates that we can conveniently dip our hands into throughout the day. This continual ‘grazing’ means that our teeth are in almost constant contact with sugars throughout the day, and not leaving a break means that the enamel on our teeth doesn’t get the chance to remineralise properly, making it more vulnerable to decay and damage. Try to give your teeth a bit of a break between eating where you can, and perhaps alternate chocolates etc with more tooth friendly foods.

Take care too when eating foods such as Christmas puddings. These are generally soft, but some may also contain nuts. If you are expecting a ‘soft chew’ and your teeth come into contact with a particularly hard ingredient, it could cause the tooth to crack or break, especially if it has already been weakened through having a large filling or root canal treatment in the past. It is probably no longer relevant as this is now a bit of an old fashioned custom, but it should go without saying, that putting a coin in the pudding is a bad idea too!

Alcohol

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Your Friendly Family Dentists In Ipswich

child friendly

A look at our role in helping your children to grow up with healthy teeth and gums.

It may sometimes appear that the dental profession often focuses largely on the more complex procedures that offer both oral health and aesthetic benefits, such as dental implants.

Digging deep into complex procedures can be fascinating and they are also very important for those patients that need to receive these treatments.

At the Foxhall Dental Practice, whilst we are delighted to be able to offer specialist treatments for our patients, we still feel that it is important to emphasise our role as family dentists for Ipswich patients. The oral health care that children receive, from very young, right through their teenage years, can have a long term effect on their life. With many oral health issues now being linked to long term medical conditions, this is becoming even more the case.

Your child’s first visit to the dentist

It isn’t unusual for parents not to bring their children to see a dentist until they are at primary school, and sometimes well beyond that. The argument may seem logical that until they have their teeth, there is little point, but this is not the case. There are many benefits to taking them to see a dentist at around one year old, despite their lack of teeth at this age.

This very early visit allows us to check their overall oral health. Despite having no teeth, gum problems can still occur. In most cases, no treatment will be needed though we may offer advice on how to keep their mouths healthy. There is also evidence to suggest that visits at such a young age help children to avoid any fear of the dentist in later life, due to their early familiarity with the dental environment.

First teeth

We have heard it said that a child’s first teeth are not that important as they only have them for a short while, and it is the adult teeth that are important. From a layperson’s perspective, this line of thinking may be understandable. But from a dentists, and child’s, viewpoint, it certainly isn’t.

Poor teeth, even the first set, can cause problems with eating and even create speech impediments. Both of these could have long lasting effects which could affect a child’s quality of life as they grow up. In addition to this, poor oral care may affect not only their first teeth but also the next set of teeth that are growing beneath them, ready to erupt.

Whatever age you are, a decaying tooth that is causing you pain is no fun. We are sure that no parent wants to see their children in pain and preventing their teeth from reaching this stage, through regular checkups, alongside good oral care at home, is the best way to avoid this. Where appropriate, we can also offer fissure sealants and fluoride treatment which can help your child avoid tooth decay.

The teenage years

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A Better Smile With Straighter Teeth!

Invisalign braces

How removable orthodontics can be a dental ‘game changer’ for our Ipswich patients.

Many problems that visibly affect the way that our teeth look can often be corrected with a one off procedure.

Dull looking teeth can be whitened with a tooth whitening treatment, or through the use of porcelain veneers in more severe cases. A broken tooth can be restored using a crown and even missing teeth can be replaced with dentures or dental implants. One problem which does take longer to correct though, is where the teeth are crooked or uneven.

Where only minor adjustment is needed, orthodontics such as the Quick Straight Teeth system, can often correct problems in between one and six months. However, for some patients, straightening their crooked teeth is likely to take a year or more in order for the treatment to be fully effective.

The problem with braces

One of the ‘problems’ of wearing traditional dental braces is, of course, that they are very visible and there can be no hiding from the fact that you are in the process of having your teeth straightened. Although modern braces are more refined than in the past, many do still use traditional wiring that is very visible. Newer generation cosmetic dental braces are an improvement, and may use a tooth coloured material to replace the widely used metal wiring and brackets. This is less visible, though can often be seen when in close proximity to the wearer.

Even these latter types of braces are not without their drawbacks though. Any system that uses wires and brackets runs a risk of causing food to become trapped in them, potentially leading to problems like tooth decay and gum disease. Cleaning your teeth well when wearing them is very important.

The ‘no wires’ alternative

Because dental braces may have to be worn in excess of a year, it is important for the patient that these will cause the least inconvenience possible, as well as being effective at straightening the teeth. Whilst some cosmetic braces achieve some of these aims, they can fail to some degree, in areas such as visibility and comfort. With this in mind, we recommend that patients of the Foxhall Dental Practice who are considering having their teeth straightened, take a look at the Invisalign system, at least so that they know about all of the options available.

What is Invisalign?

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Make Your Winter Diet A Tooth Friendly One!

Hygienist Louise Bambrick

It isn’t just ice cream and sugary drinks that can cause erosion and decay of teeth says Louise Bambrick, our dental hygienist.

Although the sun may still be shining and the occasional bit of warmth may still be left, there is little doubt that we are entering the colder part of the year. It can be a beautiful time, with the Autumn leaves and the snowy Winter landscapes ahead, but along with the weather, many of our habits will also change, and not always for the good.

What we eat and drink affects our health, and that includes the health of our teeth and gums as well as our body in general. Whilst the hotter weather usually sees us eat lighter meals, we also often consume a higher number of potentially tooth damaging food and drinks, such as ice creams and fizzy and sugary drinks. Although we are unlikely to consume anywhere near as many of these in the colder months, they are often replaced by food and drinks that are equally damaging.

Enamel damage

At the Foxhall Dental Practice, myself and the hygienist team do our best to educate people on how to prevent dental problems from arising, through better oral care. Cleaning by better brushing and flossing plays a big part in this, but so does diet. Foods that harm the enamel on our teeth mean that they are less well protected from decay than if the enamel remains strong and healthy. Excessive starchy and sugary foods also increases the risk of gum disease as these provide fuel for the bacteria that contribute to it.

In addition to an increased risk of decay, when the enamel wears down, it also exposes the underlying layer, known as the dentin layer. This is a porous material that leaves the nerves within our teeth more exposed. When this happens, an increased sensitivity is likely to be noticed. This can be quite uncomfortable, especially when consuming hot or cold products.

Foods to avoid

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Advantages Of Dental Implants Over Other Tooth Replacement Methods

double dental implant

The treatment period may be longer, but dental implants offer benefits that other techniques don’t.

Losing a tooth can be traumatic for the person involved and this is especially the case if the missing tooth is one of the ‘social six’ teeth that are visible when we smile.

Very few people will choose not to replace the missing tooth with an artificial one when this happens, but there are also strong arguments for replacing a non visible tooth too. Although the gap may not be seen by others, losing a non visible tooth can cause a number of potential problems, including:

  • Other teeth encroaching into the space, leaving teeth crooked
  • Thinning of the bone in that area, potentially causing facial changes
  • Chewing and grinding of food with other teeth that are not designed for that purpose. This can lead to premature wearing down of these teeth
  • Compensation made for a missing tooth can lead to bite problems and also potentially TMJ, a painful jaw disorder

Whether you can see a missing tooth or not then, it is strongly advised that a replacement be sought.

Dentures and bridges

Before we take a look at what dental implants can offer for our Ipswich patients, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of two of the most popular alternatives; dentures and dental bridges.

Dentures are still the most widely used tooth replacement method and they do have certain advantages in that they often require no dental surgery at all. This makes them especially popular with patients who are anxious about receiving dental treatment. Modern dentures are also more natural looking and comfortable than dentures of old. There are still drawbacks to this method though, and most denture wearers will admit to at least some degree of dissatisfaction with them. One of the main problems for some people is their lack of stability which can cause them to move around a little when eating. Not only does this make it more difficult to eat certain foods, but the friction involved can lead to soreness of the gums as well.

Bridges have an advantage over dentures in that they are more stable. The biggest disadvantage in this method is that their fitting often requires the teeth either side of the gap to be shaped in order to secure the bridge by means of dental crowns. Where these teeth are healthy and strong, it is not surprising that many patients are reluctant to have this done.

For both of the methods above, cleaning the replacement teeth involves more effort and can be quite tricky. Additionally, neither method resolves the problem of bone loss in the area of the missing teeth and in particular, this is a significant reason why dentures become less stable over time.

Dental implants

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Endodontic Treatment Recovery

root canal work

Advice on what to expect following root canal therapy.

Root canal treatment may cause anxiety in some patients when they are told that they need it and this is understandable given its historical bad press.

Fortunately, this anxiety is generally unfounded and a root canal procedure should cause no more discomfort than most other invasive dental procedures. A combination of an effective local anaesthetic and the skills of our Ipswich dental team, means that patients should have no cause for concern and any discomfort should be minimal.

Before we look at ways to help you recover from the procedure; our principal dentist Hiten Pabari offers a brief reminder about why endodontic treatment may be needed.

Nerve damage

Where a tooth has become damaged or decayed, bacteria can sometimes reach the root canals of our teeth. These are the ‘prong’ like parts that go down into our jawbone. In these canals are blood vessels, and, most notably for patients, the nerves. If bacteria enter this part of the tooth and damage the nerves, it is almost certain that you will know about it due to the pain which can become quite severe. Unlike decay in other parts of the tooth, the canals cannot be treated using a regular filling, and a root canal treatment will be necessary.

Although some patients may feel reluctant to have this treatment, for reasons mentioned above, there are really only two other alternatives. One is to live with the pain, which will only get worse and is something that, even if you can stand it, we certainly don’t recommend. The other is to extract the tooth. Whilst this would eradicate the pain, it would mean that you risk other teeth from becoming misaligned or would need to consider a replacement option, such as a bridge, denture or dental implant.

Using root canal treatment, we can usually save your natural tooth, giving it a reasonable level of strength and function.

Treatment

We have covered the actual treatment in an earlier blog, but to briefly remind patients of the Foxhall Dental Practice, this involves accessing the root canals and removing the infected material. The now hollow canals are cleaned and then filled with a material called gutta percha before finally attaching a dental crown to complete the treatment.

Aftercare considerations

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