Change habits and have regular dental checks to help keep your mouth healthy.
When people think of dentists, they generally think about their teeth, whether this is about their health or ways in which they can improve their appearance through cosmetic dentistry. Although we certainly do look to see if there are any problems with teeth or gums when you have a check up at our Ipswich practice, this is not all that we check for.
In addition to your teeth and gums, we are also in an ideal situation to be able to spot any changes to your mouth in general, including tongue, lips and cheeks. Although most changes that we see are often quite explainable, it is always good to have these checked by your doctor in case they are potential symptoms of oral cancer. This is a growing concern to the medical profession, but there are a number of ways that you can reduce your risk.
Not just cigarettes, but any type of smoking material. In fact, if you switched from smoking to chewing tobacco, you are actually around 30 times more likely to get oral cancer! Don’t use this as an excuse to keep smoking though – staying well clear of any smoking related products is the sensible choice.
Some patients of the Lighthouse Dental Practice have also asked us about vaping. Whilst we can’t actually ‘recommend’ this, especially as long term effects are largely unknown, it does seem to work in helping people to quit cigarettes, so may be worth considering if you are unable to stop; at least as a transitional measure.
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Our Ipswich dentists investigate claims increasingly made on social media adverts.
Home teeth whitening strips have been around for a long time now and home whitening trays are also available.
Some of these systems claim to whiten your teeth in around a fortnight or so, but just how effective are they? As we’ve discussed previously on our blog, the home whitening kits supplied by dentists will typically be much more effective, and arguably safer, than those bought from a chemist.
We were curious though, about the increasing number of adverts that we have seen whilst on social media, claiming that teeth can be whitened in ten minutes. These are not DIY suggestions but an actual product that is manufactured at an affordable price; but how well do they work?
The device supplied is disc shaped with a section for you to put against your teeth. The theory is that this piece of equipment uses a UV light which whitens your teeth within ten minutes. This is all good in theory, but there are a couple of potential issues here.
Firstly, if UV light is to have any power, the traditional method is to pass an electric current through vapourised mercury and other gases. We are certain that this device does not work like this and that the technique may not actually produce the quality of UV light needed to be very effective.
In addition to this is the question about whether UV light can actually whiten your teeth at all. These products often claim that they can remove surface staining and turn your teeth from yellow to white in a matter of minutes. Sadly, UV lighting alone will not achieve this.
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Why you should think carefully before having facial piercings in this area.
Facial piercings are now commonplace, especially, though not exclusively, amongst younger people.
Some argue that even if they are just a ‘trend’, they can be removed easily, unlike tattoos which are more permanent. Although this is true; having your tongue or lips pierced can have an effect on some aspects of your oral health.
Our Ipswich dentists have put together a list of some of the potential problems that mouth piercings can create, from an oral health perspective.
Our mouths are full of bacteria. In fact there are more bacteria in our mouths than the population of the whole world! Whilst not all of these are bad, it does mean that where you have a piercing, there is an increased risk of infection, especially if you do not take care to keep it clean. In addition to this, any food that gets trapped around the piercing will accumulate bacteria and may cause swellings and other problems.
Although not strictly an oral health issue, there is little doubt that some piercings, and perhaps especially one in the tongue one, may cause some aspects of speech to change.
Perhaps the most damaging problem caused by oral piercings is that of chipped or broken teeth. It is inevitable that your piercing will come into contact with your teeth, either when eating or speaking, and there is every chance that this will cause at least some minor damage eventually. Whilst chipped and cracked teeth can be restored using techniques such as bonding and dental veneers at the Lighthouse Dental Practice, it is better to avoid this problem in the first place. Piercings may also irritate the gums, causing inflammation and other issues.
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A look at two related problems which can threaten your implants.
When you have a tooth implant placed by our experienced implant dentist at the Lighthouse Dental Practice, there is no reason why it should not remain strong and healthy for a minimum of twenty years, and often more.
You will need to take care of it, of course, but this is relatively straightforward to do.
Aside from an accident where the implant is damaged, there are two major risks to the titanium implant. These are periodontitis and peri-implantitis.
Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease, but one that is reasonably easy to avoid with just a little care. Although some groups, such as diabetics, are at an increased risk, there is no real reason why gum disease should reach this stage. Preventative care is all that is needed to reduce the risk of this becoming a problem for your dental implant.
These are the basic ‘rules’ that should be followed:
- Brush your teeth twice a day, angling the bristles towards the gum so that it cleans just beneath the gum line.
- Use dental floss to clean in the spaces between your teeth, including around the implant.
- See the hygienist at the Lighthouse Dental Practice every six months or as recommended for a professional clean.
These three simple tips should help to keep you free from periodontitis and your implant in good health.
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Sensitive teeth? Get them checked for potential problems.
If you experience discomfort when you consume either hot or cold food and drinks, this means that the nerves within your teeth may be more exposed than they should be. This can be quite uncomfortable and may put you off eating certain foods, perhaps even denying you the pleasure of a nice ice cream on a hot summer’s day.
There are a number of possible reasons for your heightened tooth sensitivity, and our Ipswich dentists take a look at a few of these below.
If you eat a lot of acidic foods or drinks, or brush your teeth too hard, there is a strong possibility that the enamel of your teeth will have eroded over time. When this happens, it offers less protection to the dentin layer beneath it. This layer is more porous and allows easier access to the nerves. Without healthy enamel, there is every chance that your teeth will be sensitive to hot and cold.
Even if you cannot see it yourself, if you have a sudden sensitivity to hot and cold, you may well have suffered a minor crack in your teeth. As above, this will expose the dentin layer, leading to more sensitive teeth. If you notice a sudden change such as this, you should arrange an appointment at the Lighthouse Dental Practice to have it checked, as soon as possible.
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Infections and abscesses may mean that a root canal procedure is necessary.
Whilst a healthy tooth is robust and strong enough for regular daily tasks, it can still become damaged in a number of ways, whether through neglect or accidents. Whilst a broken tooth can often be restored with a filling or a crown, depending on the extent of the breakage, when the root canals of a tooth become infected, the treatment may be more complex.
Because the root canals are where the nerves of our teeth are stored, any infection can be very painful. There is also the possibility that an abscess may be present, which will add to the pain and also the need to have the tooth treated promptly by one of our Ipswich dentists.
When the root canals become infected, there are only two options available for treatment at The Lighthouse Dental Practice; extraction or root canal treatment. Of these two, a root canal procedure is nearly always the most appropriate treatment, given that we will always try to preserve your teeth rather than extract.
Although an abscess may not necessarily be present in or around a tooth infected in this way, it is important that we check for any that may be there. To do this, we will x-ray your teeth so that we can see what is going on inside and near to the tooth. If an abscess is detected, this will need to be treated before the root canal procedure can take place.
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A simple way to boost the health of your mouth.
Keeping our mouth clean and healthy involves a number of different actions that we have mentioned before; brushing, flossing, dental and hygienist visits in particular.
There is one simple addition to these which we all can do, and that is to make sure that we drink plenty of water.
Staying well hydrated is good for our health in general, helping to flush toxins and waste from our body. It also is great for our teeth and gums too.
First of all, water is the best way to quench your thirst. Although sugary fizzy drinks may taste good and give us a refreshing taste, at least initially; most of these are very high in sugar and also, often, acids. These are very harmful for our teeth and we would be well advised to stick to water as much as possible, saving this type of drink for special occasions. This especially applies to younger patients of our Ipswich practice who are likely to have a very sweet tooth.
Remove food particles
Although it will not remove it all, drinking water regularly will help to flush away some of the food that gets stuck between our teeth. It won’t be as effective as flossing, but given that around 80% of the population don’t use floss, drinking more water can only be a good thing to help move in the right direction. In fact, it is worth swilling the first couple of mouthfuls around the mouth before swallowing, or spitting if you prefer, to make this even more effective. This should not be a substitute for brushing, flossing and seeing the hygienist at the Lighthouse Dental Practice of course.
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Nervous patients are more likely to suffer from oral health issues.
If you start to feel anxious as your dental appointment approaches, you are not alone. The reality is that most people exhibit at least some signs of anxiety when they are due to see the dentist. Whilst this is understandable if you are due to undergo a procedure, quite a few people become anxious even when a simple check up is due.
There are a number of theories as to why this might be the case. Perhaps the most convincing is that we particularly worry about dental treatment due to all of our major senses such as sight, sound and smell being located in the head area, in close proximity to where we are receiving treatment.
Whilst some level of anxiety is understandable, it is important to try to remain calm enough to keep your appointment. Whether you are due to have a check up at the Lighthouse Dental Practice or undergo a procedure, it is important that you keep the appointment if you can. If you need a procedure and delay it, the likelihood is that the situation will become worse and may eventually require more extensive dental surgery. There is also a real chance that you will end up seeking an emergency appointment due to being in pain or discomfort.
Even missing your check up can have consequences. These are usually carried out every six months at our Ipswich practice; frequently enough to be able to detect and treat most problems whilst they are in their early stages. Even if you think that you look after your teeth well and that they are healthy, there may be problems such as small cracks or decay or even gum disease, that you may not be aware of.
Treating nervous patients
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Can our Ipswich patients really cut down on this tooth damaging food product?
It is a well established fact that sugar is bad news for our teeth.
Increasingly, we read stories of children having to have teeth extracted in hospital due to neglect, and no doubt, a high sugar consumption. This can arise from eating too many sweets, but sugar is now present in a growing number of products that we might not even think about.
Although much of the blame for decaying teeth in children seems to be falling on fizzy drinks, it is worth remembering that even fruit drinks often contain high sugar levels. In some cases, it is added, but even pure fruit drinks contain high levels of sugar which occurs naturally in fruit.
How can we avoid sugar?
In truth, it is almost impossible to avoid sugar altogether, and most of us will not want to. Sugar should be seen as a treat, for special occasions etc and not treated as an essential foodstuff, which it certainly isn’t, especially in its refined state. As far as children go, sweets are sometimes used as ‘currency’, as a ‘bribe’ or to placate them when they are in a bad mood. Try to avoid doing this, and, where you deem it necessary, perhaps offer small toys or other non sugar treats as an alternative. If they are thirsty, give them water or very dilute juice, saving sugary drinks only for special occasions.
Negotiating the supermarket aisles can be tricky and it is no accident that they are designed to draw children in with bright colours and giveaways. Then, at the end of a weary shopping trip, even adults are drawn in by the chocolate bars so temptingly placed near the till for a quick sugar boost when we are feeling tired.
All things in moderation
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Why you should avoid advice from sometimes unreliable sources.
We have probably all done it; watching TV with a laptop in front of us and suddenly thought ‘I wonder why my gums are itching’ or some other almost idle thought that pops into our head.
The first thing that many of us do is to search online for it, and for sure, there will be a lot of information that appears instantly on our screens. Whilst some of this may contain good advice, the reality is that some most certainly will not.
The same applies with social media. One of the biggest dangers there is that ‘fake news’ or sensationalist cures are quite likely to be shared around, often with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, many of these are what are called ‘clickbait’; their only purpose is to drive you towards the desired web page which may either be selling a product or providing information for propaganda purposes.
The risks of incorrect information
One of the most common searches related to dentistry is for ways to whiten teeth naturally. On the surface of things, that seems relatively harmless, and, if it’s natural, then it should be OK .. shouldn’t it?
Unfortunately, this is a good example of the type of information that is so misleading for our Ipswich patients. You will find a number of suggestions on how to whiten the teeth naturally. Many of these simply don’t work at all and those that do, will do so in a way that may produce some level of success, but will very likely damage your teeth in the process.
Let’s take a look at two of the most common ‘natural whitening suggestions’ that appear in search results:
Lemon juice (sometimes mixed with baking soda)
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