How to look after your teeth this Christmas

Christmas is the time of year when we all want to look and feel our best. December is peak party season; the ideal time to rock the frock and get gorgeous from head to toe. Christmas and glam celebs were made for each other. The festive season is the perfect backdrop for that slinky LBD, some immaculate makeup – and a killerwatt smile. But ‘film-star’ teeth need lots of TLC to stay merry and bright throughout the Christmas period. So don’t let the festivities lead to oral health neglect. It’s important to maintain your usual home care routine if you want to maintain that celebrity-style smile. Follow our must-read guide on how to look after your teeth this Christmas:

Make time to brush and floss

We all know there are never enough hours in the day at Christmas. There are countless jobs to tick off, places to be and things to organise. We’re creatures of habit and rely on our usual routines more than we realise. So if you’re rushing around from the moment you wake up, it’s surprisingly easy to forget to clean your teeth! It can be even more tempting to skip that brush after a late evening out. But there could be serious repercussions for your teeth and gums if you don’t clean them regularly over Christmas. It takes minutes to brush and floss properly. Resolve to clean your teeth as soon as you wake up, to avoid forgetting. And don’t let your head hit the pillow at night unless you’ve done that final clean! Why not put a new toothbrush on your Christmas list to give your brushing a boost?

Beware of festive fare

We realise that for many of us, Christmas is all about the food. Unfortunately, most festive fare is laden is sugar, which just isn’t good for your teeth (or your waistline!). We know that mince pies and Christmas pudding are difficult to resist. If you must indulge (and it’s almost impossible not to), do so in moderation. Above all, don’t continuously graze. Grazing delivers a steady drip-feed of sugar to your teeth, and it’s a key cause of tooth decay. How often you consume sugar is just as important as the amount. Every time we eat a sweet treat, our mouths produce acid, which attacks your tooth enamel. So indulge yourself in one sitting, or as part of a meal, rather than snacking throughout the day. This is one of the best ways to look after your teeth this Christmas.Image: festive food

Take care with your toffees

In addition to being full of sugar, toffees are a tooth hazard if you’ve had certain types of dental work done. Anything that’s sticky and chewy has the ability to damage fillings, crowns and veneers. So step away from that Quality Street Toffee Penny to look after your teeth this Christmas, if you don’t want to risk your dental restoration. For the same reason, take care when consuming Christmas nuts. And don’t even contemplate crunching that ice in your Christmas cocktail. The cold will feel very unpleasant if you have sensitive teeth. And biting into ice can crack and chip even the healthiest of molars. It can also damage fillings and crowns.

Be parsimonious with the Prosecco….

With regard to festive drinks, for many people Prosecco is still top of the pops. But if you overdo the bubbles, your teeth will pay the price. Prosecco combines alcohol, sugar and acid – all of which play a key role in enamel erosion. That’s why fizzy drinks (both soft and alcoholic) can be just as damaging to your teeth as sugary snacks. To minimise the effects and look after your teeth this Christmas, alternate your bubbles with water (your liver will thank you, too!). Certain foods can also help to minimise ‘acid attacks’ and protect your teeth enamel.

…but don’t stint on the cheese!

Good news! That Christmas cheeseboard isn’t just a delicious treat. Cheese is one of the few festive indulgences your dentist will approve of. The reason why? Cheese excels are reducing the acid levels in your mouth after eating. This in turn helps to reduces the likelihood of tooth decay. So crack out the Cheddar and celebrate with Stilton. That post-dinner cheeseboard is one of the most pleasurable ways to protect your smile this season!

Never use your teeth to multi-task

We know that sometimes it’s tempting to use your teeth as tools. Resist. Your teeth are for biting and chewing food – and nothing else. They should not be used to help you wrap Christmas presents. Tearing sticky tape with your teeth is just asking for trouble. It’s a sure-fire way to weaken or even crack your teeth so this is a big no if you want to look after your teeth this Christmas. And if you have crowns or veneers, they could also be damaged or even dislodged. Don’t risk it. Treat yourself to a tape dispenser and protect your pearly whites. Invest in a nutcracker if you’re batty about Brazils. And never, ever use your teeth to open bottles.

Supervise the excitement levels

You might not be aware of it, but Christmas mouth injuries are A Thing. The combination of not enough sleep and too much alcohol understandably produce accidents. But they aren’t the only factors. Overexcited children are prone to jumping around, which can lead to nasty knocks to your mouth or jaw. So take steps to calm things down and supervise some quiet time, if necessary. This is just another easy way in which you can look after your teeth this Christmas. Make sure you keep an eye on pets too, especially larger dogs. And allow plenty of room for the more active traditional Christmas games, such as charades.

Regular visits to your dentist are the best way to look after your teeth all year round, not just at Christmas. At the Lighthouse Dental Practice our expert team is led by Dental Surgeons Dr Tocca and Dr Griffin. They are supported by our qualified dental nurses and knowledgeable practice receptionist. For enquiries, or to make an appointment, please call our practice on 01473 257379.

Easy ways to pamper yourself this Christmas

According to the popular song, Christmas is supposed to be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. For many of us, however, it’s also the most busy and stressful period. There is so much to do in the run-up to the big day. Planning, presents, shopping, cooking and cleaning – preparing for Christmas is almost a full-time job in itself! On top of all this, it’s peak party season. Drinks, dinners out and even the traditional big office party can seem like just another chore when you’re frantically busy. That’s especially true if you’re not entirely happy with the way you look. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Putting aside time for some pampering is more important than ever during the festive season. How we look and feel are closely connected. So, indulging in some pampering from a facial or new hair-do to an aesthetic treatment doesn’t just help you put your best face forward in December. It can also boost your mood and your confidence – and help you cope with the Christmas craziness better.

Get serious about skincare

If you care about your appearance, good skincare is a must. We should all be cleansing thoroughly, using a daily SPF (even in winter) and moisturising conscientiously. However, there are limits to what topical products can achieve. Luckily, we offer a range of effective non-surgical aesthetic treatments, to help you look and feel your very best.

Say goodbye to wrinkles

Anti-wrinkle injections are one of the most popular anti-ageing aesthetic treatments in the world. The reason why? They really work. These are injections, which basically relax certain facial muscles. This means they can no longer contract into lines and wrinkles. This is one of the quick aesthetic treatments that gets fast results – you should see the effects within a few days. It’s a really effective way to treat crow’s feet, frown and forehead lines. So it’s perfect if you want to look rested and refreshed throughout the hectic Christmas season.

The effects of anti-wrinkle injections are temporary, but they can last for weeks. So you should still look rejuvenated well into the new year. Tempted to treat yourself to a smoother, fresher look? These aesthetic treatments are safe, hygienic and won’t leave you looking fake or ‘frozen’.

Look fantastic with facial fillers

Dermal (or facial) fillers are another effective anti-ageing injectable treatment. They are different from but actually work well together with anti-wrinkle injections.

Instead of relaxing muscles, dermal fillers replace lost volume, lift, contour and plump the skin. These aesthetic treatments are basically small gel injections, usually made up of hyaluronic acid. This is a substance that occurs naturally in our bodies, but decreases as we age. It performs a number of functions, but plays a huge role in skin hydration and stimulates the production of collagen. Think of collagen and elastin as your skin’s ‘scaffolding’. When these deteriorate, wrinkles, sagging and bagging soon follows.

Dermal fillers are an excellent way to effectively refresh your overall appearance. These aesthetic treatments can be used to smooth lines, contours and enhance definition. They’re a great treatment for the lower half of the face. They can even be injected into lips to create a fuller, luscious pout. The results are instant and last for months. So they’re a worthwhile investment if you’re keen to look younger, not just throughout Christmas, but well into 2019 too. Why not combine fillers with anti-ageing injections for long-lasting full-face rejuvenation? It’s a great way to combat those almost inevitable January blues.

Style your hair

Why not make this Christmas the time to try out one of the latest hair trends? Whether you’re looking for a bob with a fringe or gorgeous curls, is certainly the season to curate your coiffure. Even if time is tight in the run-up to the big day, you’ll feel so rejuvenated following a trip to a professional hair salon. This way, you could be belle of the ball at your Christmas party. If you just can’t fit in a trip to the hair salon before Christmas, why not book an appointment for January when you can really look forward to some pampering in the new year?

WIN! A £50 Hair Ministry Group Gift Card

Even if you’re not ready to explore the world of facial aesthetics, there are plenty of other pampering treatments available in Ipswich. So we’ve teamed up with Hair Ministry Group as they offer pure indulgence with a focus on luxurious hair care and beauty for men and women in a relaxed environment. The team specialises in a whole host of hairdressing techniques from colour, extensions and cuts through to hair smoothing, gents hair, bridal hair and they even offer beauty treatments. Choose from facials, massages, manicures, makeovers, brow and lash services. In fact, what better way is there than to start the new year with a fabulous cut and blow-dry or beauty treatment?

Hair Ministry Group is the perfect place for some indulgent pre-Christmas pampering. Or why not set aside some me-time in January, if your December schedule is already at capacity? We’re giving away a £50 Hair Ministry Group voucher to give you a helping hand into the new year. To be in with a chance of winning, simply FOLLOW the Lighthouse Dental Practice Twitter account (@LighthouseDent2) and RETWEET a competition post. The winner will be chosen at random after the closing date [Monday 31st December 2018] and will be notified accordingly. Good luck!

Terms & Conditions

* You are providing your information to Lighthouse Dental Practice, not Twitter or Hair Ministry Group.
* You must be aged 18 or over to enter this competition.
* Entrants must live in Suffolk in the UK.
* If you are not a resident in Suffolk (in the UK), you will be disqualified.
* Closing date for all entries is midnight December 31st 2018.
* We will select a winner at random on Wednesday 2nd January 2019. We will then notify the winner with a direct message.
* The prize must be used by March 31st 2019 or it will be invalid.
* This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Twitter or Facebook.
* The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative will be given.
* Winner has 48 hours to respond to the notification that they’ve won. If we do not hear back from you, we reserve the right to choose another winner.

Want to know about the aesthetic treatments which are available at Lighthouse Dental Practice? Get started with our  blog on dermal fillers by clicking here

Dealing With A Dental Abscess

oral pain

This painful and potentially serious problem should be dealt with quickly.

It is quite likely that several of you who are reading this blog will have experienced some dental pain during your lives.

A toothache is never fun and can range from a mild irritation to severe pain that stops you from sleeping. Although most toothache is caused by tooth decay, there is one particular cause of toothache that almost guarantees that you will be in quite severe pain, and that is when a dental abscess is present.

If you have a dental abscess, or suspect that something is wrong with a tooth, you should always have it checked out by one of our Ipswich dentists straight away. Although the abscess may currently be contained within the mouth, the infection can spread throughout the body and cause problems such as septicemia which can even prove to be fatal.

What is a dental abscess?

An abscess occurs when an infection causes a small pocket of pus to be formed. These usually occur in either the teeth or gums but can also be present in other areas of the mouth such as the tongue or cheeks. This pocket becomes larger as the infection takes hold causing swelling to occur. Many patients with an abscess can also experience flu like symptoms, with a high temperature and nausea being not unusual.

Although most abscesses develop following the onset of tooth decay, they can also be caused by trauma of the tooth, gum disease and even in those who have very poor oral health care. As an abscess expands, it creates gaps in the enamel of the teeth and allows the infection to spread to the root canals of the teeth. As this is where the nerves of a tooth are located, it isn’t hard to see why, at this stage, it can be incredibly painful.

Can an abscess be treated?

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Oral health habits

These days, it’s fair to say we are more health-conscious than ever before. We know how important it is to eat well, maintain a sensible weight and exercise regularly. We understand the dangers of smoking and excess alcohol consumption. And – even in the UK – we know to protect ourselves from too much sun exposure. But how much do we know about oral health and hygiene? Are we really doing everything we can to avoid dental problems developing? Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings are vital. But these should be complemented by a conscientious home care routine, in order to establish excellent oral health habits.

Clean your teeth

It might sound obvious, but clean teeth (and healthy gums) are the cornerstone of good oral health. We should all be brushing thoroughly, but gently, twice a day. But not everybody does. According to a YouGov survey in 2017, three in ten Brits (29%) only brush their teeth once a day. And a further one in fifty Brits (2%) said they didn’t brush their teeth at all on a typical day!

This is obviously very bad news for the nation’s oral health. Teeth that aren’t brushed enough will not produce a mouth that looks and smells healthy. It is really important to keep teeth clean and free from debris. Brushing at least twice a day – and flossing daily – are key preventative measures. These simple steps help to stop complications developing in the first place. In particular, they greatly decrease the risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. And prevention is always better than a painful problem or expensive cure!


Boost your brushing

To keep your teeth and mouth healthy, you need to brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for two minutes. This helps to stop plaque building up. Official NHS guidance states that manual and electric toothbrushes are equally good. However, many people find it easier to clean more thoroughly with an electric version. What’s important is that you brush all the surfaces (inside, outside and chewing) of every tooth. And make sure you’re using a toothpaste with the right concentration of fluoride. This can prevent cavities and tooth decay. After brushing, spit our excess toothpaste, but don’t rinse straightway, as this will dilute the fluoride in your mouth. Lastly, don’t forget your tongue! Gently brush the surface to remove any lingering plaque and bacteria and freshen your breath.

Effective flossing

Daily flossing is another key component of excellent oral health. But that YouGov survey reveals that the vast majority of Brits don’t floss either. Only 31% of respondents said they cleaned between their teeth on a typical day. Yet NHS guidance states that flossing should form part of a daily oral health routine from the age of 12.

Flossing helps to dislodge food that’s become wedged between your teeth. It can also help to reduce gum disease and bad breath, by removing plaque that forms along the gum line. It’s important not to be too vigorous, or you’ll damage your gums. Flossing should be firm but gentle. If you find using dental floss difficult, try dental tape instead.

Some people do experience tender gums and/or bleeding when they first begin flossing. This should resolve itself as your gums become healthier. But if it persists, or you have any concerns, do contact your dentist as soon as possible. We will be able to give you advice and instruction on the best ways to clean between your teeth.

Say no to constant snacking

Day-long grazing is a very common, modern phenomenon. We lead busy lives and often don’t have time to sit down and eat proper meals. Instead, we snack constantly, usually on sugary treats such as biscuits and sweets. This is not great for our oral health, as it raises the risk of cavities. Every time we snack, bacteria reacts with leftover food to produce acid that attacks your tooth enamel. The solution? Try to eat three meals a day instead of grazing. If that’s really not possible, choose your snacks wisely. Raw/crunchy vegetables, breadsticks and cheese are all good options. Chewing sugar-free gum after eating can also help to minimise ‘acid attacks’ and protect your oral health.

Fizzy drinks can be just as damaging to your teeth as sugary snacks. Any sugar they contain causes decay, while their acidity can cause tooth erosion. It takes roughly one whole hour for tooth enamel to remineralise and recover after encountering sugar and acid. That’s even after just one sip! So switch your sugary soda for water. It won’t harm your teeth – and staying hydrated will enhance your general (as well as oral) health.

Don’t use your teeth as tools

Your teeth are for chewing food. Don’t use them to open things, tear things, or to nibble your nails. These bad habits are not good for your oral health. They put you at risk of tooth cracks and chips, jaw damage and swallowing things you shouldn’t.

Attend your appointments

Last, but by no means least, visit your dentist regularly, as often as recommended. Maintenance check-ups are vital. Dentists often spot the early warning signs of a potential problem long before it gets serious. We can also offer guidance and advice, and recommend appropriate treatment solutions.

At the Lighthouse Dental Practice our team is led by Dental Surgeons Dr Tocca and Dr Griffin. They are ably supported by our qualified dental nurses and knowledgeable practice receptionist. For enquiries, or to make an appointment, please call our practice on 01473 257379. For more information on how to enhance your oral health, follow us on Twitter @LighthouseDent2

Helping Your Children Feel Good About Their Dental Visits

child at the dentist

Our ‘gentle dentist’, Dentist C Tocca offers some helpful tips for parents

There are a number of theories as to why seeing a dentist invokes such anxiety and fear in some patients.

One school of thought is that much of this relates to the fact that the dentist’s work in the oral cavity is so close to all of our major senses. We hear the drill at close quarters, we see the masked dentist looming close to our face as they examine our mouths, and we smell the antiseptic smell so familiar to anyone who has ever entered a dental practice.

As adults, most of us can see past these issues, understanding that we need to see a dentist to make sure that our teeth and gums remain healthy. With an increasing number of reports in the media about how our oral health may affect other things, such as our heart, we understand that good oral health care is important, even if we don’t actually enjoy going to the dentist.


Young children do not have the capacity for logic that, as adults, we do. This means that they can build up phobias and anxieties about visiting the dentist that can be very difficult to overcome. Looking after your teeth is important though, even at a young age. Even the first teeth which will eventually fall out should be kept clean. Decay and infections of the first teeth can have an impact on the health of the adult teeth that are yet to erupt.

As well as supervising children when they brush their teeth and monitoring the amount of sweets that they consume, making sure that your child sees a dentist is essential to ensure that they remain healthy. As any parent will know though, this is not always as straightforward as it seems. Children hear tales at school and, perhaps, come across ‘evil’ dentists in books and magazines, often leading to them having a real fear of what a trip to the dentist entails.

A quick ‘help’ list for parents

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Jaw pain problems

Jaw pain is a surprisingly common problem with many different origins. Many people automatically assume that their teeth are the cause and this is often the case. But there are a number of other medical conditions that can contribute to this issue. This means that pinpointing the exact reason for the problem isn’t always so straightforward. But correctly identifying the cause of jaw pain is the key to swift, successful treatment. That’s why it’s vital to visit your dentist if you are experiencing symptoms. At the Lighthouse Dental Practice, our team is led by Dr Tocca and Dr Griffin. They are experienced in all areas of general, cosmetic and complex dentistry, including the issue of jaw pain. Our qualified dental nurses and knowledgeable practice receptionist work with us to provide additional support.

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

This is one of the most common causes of jaw pain. The temporomandibular joint connects your jawbone to your skull. You have one joint on each side of your jaw. Temporomandibular Disorder causes pain both in the joints themselves and in the muscles that control jaw movement. There are a number of different signs and symptoms of TMD. This actually makes it harder to diagnose as some of these symptoms are also indicative of other problems. You should visit your dentist if you experience jaw pain so we can make an accurate diagnosis.

The most common signs and symptoms of Temporomandibular Disorder include:

  • Pain and tenderness in or around the jaw, face, ear or temple area
  • Pain and tenderness in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
  • Headaches (especially around the temples)
  • Earache
  • Pain and/or pressure behind the eyes
  • Difficulty chewing or pain
  • Pain or difficulty fully opening your mouth
  • Clicking or popping sounds when your mouth opens or closes
  • Facial swelling
  • Jaw ‘locking’ or the feeling that it’s ‘stuck’.

Temporomandibular Disorder can be caused by a number of different issues. These include an uneven bite, injury, arthritis and wear and tear of the jaw joints. There are a number of steps you can take to ease some of the milder symptoms however. Eating soft food, such as soup and pasta, is helpful. Painkillers, including paracetamol and ibuprofen, can provide relief. Heat packs (or ice packs) can also be soothing, as can gently massaging the muscles affected. Certain temporomandibular jaw exercises (ask your dentist) can also help to manage the pain.

Temporomandibular Disorder is not usually serious and it often gets better on its own. You can help to further alleviate the symptoms by limiting large jaw movements, such as yawning. And avoid chewing gum and biting your nails.

Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding can be more serious you think. It can cause severe damage to your teeth and is also one of the leading causes of jaw pain. Teeth grinding and/or jaw clenching is also known as bruxism. While it doesn’t always cause symptoms, jaw pain, earache and headaches are a classic side effect. Worn-down teeth and even broken fillings can occur in severe cases.

Most symptoms disappear when the tooth grinding stops. The problem is, many people aren’t aware they are even doing it. Bruxism often happens during sleep. As the condition is often stress-related, people also grind their teeth while they’re anxious or concentrating on a task.

There are a number of potential treatments for teeth grinding. If you grind your teeth at night, your dentist may recommend a mouth guard or mouth splint. Basic models are available to purchase over-the-counter at many pharmacies. However, a custom-made dental appliance will fit more precisely, work more effectively and last much longer.

If you grind your teeth while you’re awake, habit-reversal techniques may offer a solution. Stress-relieving strategies, such as deep breathing, yoga, visualisation or cognitive behavioural therapy, are another option.

Dental abscess

An abscessed tooth occurs when the dental nerve, or pulp, becomes infected. More generally, a dental abscess can form inside a tooth, in the gum or even in the bone that holds a tooth a place. An untreated dental cavity, which then gives rise to a bacterial infection, is a common cause.

As the bacteria spreads, it can cause significant jaw pain, which may also affect the ear and neck. Abscesses can be serious, especially if the infection starts to spread. It may become hard to open your mouth fully and you may even experience difficulty swallowing and breathing.

If you suspect you have an abscess, you must see your dentist as soon as possible. They will drain any pus that is present and remove the source of the infection. Root canal therapy is a common option. This procedure allows your dentist to treat the abscess, without removing the tooth. If root canal treatment isn’t possible, extraction may be necessary.

Young woman at dental consultation


This is one of the less common causes of jaw pain, but is still worth being aware of. Osteomyelitis is a bone infection. It most often affects the leg, back and arm bones. However, osteomyelitis of the jaw can cause jaw pain, swelling and fever. In theory, anyone can develop osteomyelitis but there are certain risk factors. For example you’re more likely to contract it if you have recently broken a bone or have a weakened immune system. Fortunately, osteomyelitis can usually be treated with antibiotics or in extreme cases by removing the affected areas of bone. As with all jaw pain issues, your dentist will be able to make an accurate diagnosis.

If you’d like more information about jaw pain and how to treat it, call our practice now on 01473 257379. Our team will be pleased to assist you.

If You Have Toothache, Don’t See The Doctor!

dentist surgery

Why the dentist should be your first port of call if you have problems with your teeth or gums.

A report out today indicates that around 400,000 people each year, make an appointment to see their GP about a problem with their teeth or gums (reference 1 below). This makes no sense at all to us, and, in the vast majority of cases, there is every likelihood that you will simply be told by your GP, to see a dentist instead; meaning yet another appointment that will take time out of your busy schedule.

There may be occasions where you see your GP about a concern with your mouth that you feel is more general, and may then be referred to your dentist. Equally, dentists may also refer you to your GP if they notice possible indicators that could mean the presence of oral cancer. In general though, if you have a toothache, sore or bleeding gums, the dentist should be the first place to contact.

A welcoming practice

We know that some people may worry about seeing a dentist, and this may be one of the reasons for the number of people who see a doctor instead. At the Lighthouse Dental Practice, you will find that we have a friendly and welcoming team who will do all that they can to make your visit as pleasant as possible. Many people who suffer with dental anxiety do so because they have not been for some time, and this is one of the reasons why we encourage our patients to maintain their six monthly checks. Doing so also reduces the likelihood of needing more extensive treatment.

Where any invasive treatment is needed, we can offer our Ipswich patients dental sedation. This enables you to remain conscious during your treatment, albeit in a very relaxed state.

Preventative dental care

The type of problems with the mouth that may cause people to see their doctor may well stem from a lack of preventative oral health care, both at home, and under the guidance of a dental professional. However long it has been since you saw a dentist, doing so is the only way to prevent further deterioration and to start to get your teeth and gum health back on track. Longer term absentees, in general, are more likely to need treatment than those who have perhaps missed just one six monthly appointment. Our experienced team can help restore your teeth to a healthy state and hopefully minimise the need for significant intervention in the future; but only if you attend regularly and keep up with your personal oral care at home.

Where to start

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Food & drink that stains your teeth

Everyone loves a bright, white smile. Today that should be easier than ever to achieve, given the widespread awareness of good dental health. These days, you know it’s important to look after your teeth and gums but do you know which food stains your teeth? Your dentist will have mentioned that you need to brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. You will also be advised to floss (or use an interdental brush) daily to remove food and plaque. Deep down, you will probably realise how important regular dental check-ups are for early problem detection, too. And, of course, you may realise how vital it is to act promptly if dental treatments are needed.

The information above should help to provide a fool proof path in your quest for perfect pearly whites. However, it isn’t that easy. The reason? You still need to eat and drink. However, did you know that the foods and drinks you enjoy could be why you are struggling to keep your teeth gleaming? So, follow our guidelines to help you combat food stains on your teeth and consider which drinks can be just as harmful.

The different types of teeth staining

Broadly speaking, there are three different types of teeth staining: intrinsic, extrinsic and age-related.

Intrinsic staining happens if the dentine (the inner structure of your tooth) becomes discoloured. There are a number of factors that can cause dentine to darken or become more yellow. These include:

  • Tooth trauma
  • The use of tetracycline antibiotics during pregnancy or early childhood
  • Too much exposure to fluoride during early childhood
  • The tooth development disorder condition dentinogenesis imperfecta.

Extrinsic staining takes place when the enamel (the outer layer of the tooth) becomes discoloured. This type of staining is often caused by certain food and drink. Smoking can also cause extrinsic staining.

Age-related staining is the result of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Our teeth experience wear and tear too. Unfortunately, dentine naturally yellows as we age. Over time, our tooth enamel also gets thinner, which allows this yellower dentine to show through. Lastly, any physical knocks or chips to our teeth (more common as we age) can also cause discolouration.

Why do certain foods stain my teeth?

Foods and drinks, which are high in chromogens, all have the potential to stain your teeth. Chromogens are pigment-producing substances that can stick to your teeth’s enamel. As a guide, almost any food or drink that can stain clothes can also stain your teeth. As you’d expect, dark-coloured foods and beverages tend to be the biggest culprits.

Tannin is another substance that makes teeth more susceptible to staining. A bitter compound often found in drinks such as wine and tea, tannin helps chromogens attach themselves to tooth enamel.

You also need to be aware of the acid effect. Acidic foods and beverages can erode tooth enamel. This also makes it easier for pigments to latch onto your teeth and result in food and drink staining, and discolouration.

Which is the most common teeth-staining foods and drinks?

Here is our list of some of the most common foods and drinks that can stain your teeth:

Tea and coffee

Not many of us can get through the day without any, but tea and coffee both contain tannins. Research suggests that adding milk might help to counteract the staining. Unfortunately, green teen isn’t much better, as this can stain teeth grey!

Red wine

It’s bad news if you’re mad about Merlot. Like tea and coffee, red wine also contains tannins and is one of the most common causes of tooth staining. Unfortunately, switching to white wine isn’t the solution, as it’s actually more acidic than red.

Fizzy drinks

Drinks that are filled with sugar are just as bad as sugar-laden snacks. Carbonated sodas (even sugar-free versions) are very acidic. And anything dark, such as cola, is doubly damaging where stains are concerned.

Fruit juices

This might seem like a healthy option thanks to the vitamins within. However, most fruit juices are also very acidic, which can compromise your tooth enamel. Again, darker juices, such as blueberry, grape and cranberry, are the worst offenders.


Packed full with spices with powerful colouring, it’s not surprising that curry can cause extensive teeth discolouration and food stains. If you really can’t bear to forego your biryani, add some fruit and vegetables that can help prevent staining. These include carrots, apples, celery and cauliflower.

Balsalmic vinegar

Balsalmic vinegar is a hugely popular condiment these days – and a great salad dressing – but it’s not very tooth-friendly. It’s not only naturally dark, but it also sticks to your teeth. So staining is very likely indeed, unless it’s quickly brushed away.


They might be a fabulous way to consume your recommended five a day, but berries also stain your teeth. Darker pigmented fruits such as blueberries and blackberries are especially problematic.


Need we say more? Beetroots are an excellent source of fibre, folic acid, manganese and potassium. Some studies suggest that drinking beetroot juice may even help to lower blood pressure. But if you’ve seen what it does to your fingers/clothes, you’ll understand what it can do to your teeth.

What can I do to prevent teeth staining?

It is very difficult to completely avoid every type of food and beverage that can stain your teeth. But it is possible to limit consumption. In fact, small changes can make a big difference. Why not substitute a cup of coffee with something less staining, such as flavoured hot water? Rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water after eating or drinking foods that stain can also help.


Using a straw to consume cold drinks such as fruit juices, sodas and colas can also help to limit stain damage. Crunchy fruit and vegetables are useful, natural stain removers. This is because they help to boost saliva production and ‘scrub’ your teeth. Consuming a small cube of cheese after eating can also help to neutralise the acids that cause stains.

Above all, make sure you visit your dentist and hygienist regularly. We’ll be happy to dispense advice about how to keep your smile brilliantly white. If you’d like more information or to make an appointment, please call our practice .

Dental crowns explained

Most people have heard of a dental crown – but not everybody is sure what it actually is. A crown is actually an artificial cover or ‘cap’ that fits over an existing tooth. It is nothing to do with fillings, veneers or dental implants. A crown is most often used to repair and strengthen teeth that are broken or weak. It’s an effective way to restore a tooth’s shape and size, and also improve its function and alignment. Teeth with cavities that are too big to be filled are usually restored with a crown. In addition, crowns can be used for aesthetic purposes, to camouflage discoloured, unsightly or misshapen teeth. Crowns can be temporary or permanent. Certain materials offer more longevity than others. However, properly cared-for crowns should last for many years.

The different types of dental crowns

Crowns are available in a variety of different materials. The most common include:

  • Porcelain
  • Porcelain bonded to precious metal
  • Ceramic
  • Porcelain and composite.

As the name suggests, porcelain crowns are made entirely from porcelain. Their main advantage is that they are smooth and translucent, so look very natural. This is why they are most often used for the front teeth. However, they are less durable than other options, and not as strong as bonded crowns. In fact, porcelain is more susceptible to wear and tear, chipping and breaking. Some patients experience hypersensitivity to hot and cold, too.


Porcelain bonded crowns are a very popular option, largely because they provide a good compromise between strength and aesthetics. The porcelain top is applied in layers over a precious base metal. These crowns are suitable for both anterior and posterior teeth. However, it is sometimes possible to see a dark line (the metal component) where the crown meets the tooth.

Ceramic crowns are a metal-free alternative that deliver the strength of a bonded crown, combined with the appearance of porcelain. They are less durable than metal crowns, and more prone to cracking.

Porcelain and composite crowns are another natural-looking option. They are not the most durable, so are likely to need replacing earlier. But they are ideal for anyone with metal sensitivities.

How will my dentist fit my crown?

Preparation is key to a successful crown fitting – as is a skilled practitioner. Most crowns will require two separate fittings. At Lighthouse Dental Practice, our expert team is led by Dental Surgeons Dr Tocca and Dr Griffin. They are supported by our qualified dental nurses and knowledgeable practice receptionist.

Before your chosen crown can be fitted, your dentist will need to prepare your tooth. To do this, he or she will remove/trim down the tooth’s outer layers, so the crown fits neatly on top. The tooth’s inner core will remain. The thickness of the crown dictates how much tooth should be removed.

Once your tooth has been appropriately shaped, your dentist will take a number of impressions or moulds. These will help the crown to be custom-made, for a perfect fit. Your dentist will also note the shade of your natural teeth, so your new crown will blend in. At this stage, you may be fitted with a temporary crown as an interim measure. As a result, this will protect your tooth until the permanent crown is ready.

At your next appointment, your permanent crown will be checked for fit and appearance. If you and your dentist are happy, it will be fixed in place with an adhesive known as dental cement. This forms the seal that will hold the crown in place. You’ll need to bite down, usually on cotton gauze, until the cement sets completely. Then, any excess cement around the tooth will be gently scraped away.

Will having a crown fitted hurt?

No, it shouldn’t hurt. Before the treatment begins you will be given a local anaesthetic to numb your mouth. Some of the “filing” sensations may feel a little strange. However, the preparation work should feel no different to that of a filling.

Once the crown is fitted, initially it may feel unfamiliar and you will probably be very aware of it. This is perfectly natural, as it is likely to be a different size and shape to your pre-treatment tooth. But you’ll get used to it very quickly. Before too long your crown should look, feel and function like a natural tooth.

However, if your new crown continues to feel uncomfortable, or your bite feels wrong, make sure you tell your dentist. He or she will then check and make any necessary adjustments to the fit.

How should I care for my crown?

It’s completely normal to feel nervous with something new in your mouth. But it’s important to treat your crown like a natural tooth. You’ll need to keep it scrupulously clean. Because it’s an artificial restoration, the crown itself cannot decay. However, decay can occur in the small space where the edge of the crown joins the tooth. To combat this, you’ll need to brush thoroughly – we suggest at least twice a day – with a high-quality toothpaste. You should also floss regularly, or use a special interdental brush, to clean in between your teeth.

Lastly, if you’re prone to clenching or grinding your teeth, your dentist may recommend wearing a mouth guard at night. Repeated grinding will wear down your crown (and your natural teeth!). However, a suitable guard will offer good protection and help prolong the life of your crown.

Want to find out more about our range of dental crowns? Call our practice now on 01473 257379 for more information.


Stubbing It Out In ‘Stoptober’

The Lighthouse Dental team offers their support to those who are trying to stop smoking

Even if you have never smoked yourself, you will almost certainly know someone who does and likely who has tried to quit. For the very lucky few, this is straightforward. They make the decision to stop smoking and simply do just that. For the vast majority though, stopping smoking can be a very difficult thing to achieve.

To help those who wish to stop smoking, Public Health England runs a stop smoking campaign, aptly called ‘Stoptober’, due to the October month when it takes place. They offer a wide range of support and information on their website, and you can even download the Stoptober App to help you keep track of your progress.

Getting started

Making a decision to stop smoking is the first stage. It doesn’t have to be this month, if for example, you have a particularly stressful few weeks ahead. If you can though, it is a good idea as there will be support readily available and you may also find that you are not the only person in your workplace, or group of friends, who are trying to quit at the same time. By joining forces, you may be able to support each other through the most challenging times.

Why stop smoking?

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