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Chessington Dental Practice Blog

My Tooth is Cracked! What are My Options?


We often take for granted the seemingly permanent nature of our teeth. Unfortunately, this mindset can be quickly "eroded" in the event that damage suddenly occurs. While this can be caused by long-term decay, physical trauma may also lead to issues such as chips and cracks.

So, what if you have recently developed a cracked tooth? Can broken teeth be fixed and if so, what are the options? The main intention of this article is to place your mind at ease by discussing potential solutions -- as well as the role that cosmetic dentistry plays.

Why Might a Tooth Suddenly Crack?

There are many reasons why one or more teeth can suffer from mechanical damage. Some are as commonplace as biting down on a very hard candy and cy chipping a tooth.

Physical trauma also plays a crucial role. A sudden fall or being involved in contact sports are also some of the leading causes of damage to your teeth and/or gums.

A final variable involves a tooth that is already physically weakened. This may occur as the result of a root canal, advanced gum disease or a particularly large cavity -- even if the cavity has already been treated.

Either way, even the smallest of imperfections should be diagnosed and treated right away by a dentist.

How to Spot the Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth

There are times when the damage is altogether obvious such as a large visible crack or when a portion of the tooth is missing. However, other symptoms are more subtle in nature. Here are a handful of warning signs that an expert diagnosis is in order:

  • Intermittent pain or discomfort when placing pressure upon the tooth.
  • Noticeable redness or swelling around the suspected tooth.
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods or drinks (such as soup or ice cream).

Note that there are also times when none of these symptoms are present. This is why minor damage may remain unresolved, leading to more serious problems. If you feel that your tooth has suffered from even a tiny chip or crack, do not delay confirming an appointment with a dentist.

A Quick Look at the Different Types of Fractures

Teeth are relatively complex structures and therefore, fractures can occur in a variety of ways. We'll quickly examine five common types of damage before moving on to discuss how a cracked tooth can be treated.

A Root Fracture

This type of damage begins at the root of the tooth and extends vertically to the biting surface. While the entire tooth may be compromised, you still might not feel any pain unless an infection develops.

Hairline Fractures

Sometimes known as "craze lines", these are minute cracks that do not generally extend below the surface of the enamel.

Cracks Around Fillings

Dentists will refer to this condition as a "fractured cusp". There are times when weaker portions of a tooth (such as near an existing filling) may crack off. In the majority of cases, fractured cusps are painless -- but do require a dentist’s attention.

A Tooth That Has Completely Split

In the event that your tooth has been severely damaged, the crack might actually begin at the biting surface and propagate above the gum line. In other words, the tooth is split in two and may need to be extracted. Cosmetic solutions such as partial dentures or implants can then be used to restore the appearance of your smile.

A Simple Cracked Tooth

This final situation involves a crack in a tooth that may or may not extend into the root. This is quite a common scenario and once again, it will require a professional diagnosis.

Can Broken Teeth be Fixed?

Believe it or not, the first examples of cosmetic dentistry can be traced as far back as the Etruscans. At the time, substances such as ivory and gold were used to address damaged teeth. You will be happy to learn that science has advanced in leaps and bounds over the centuries. Let's examine some of the current solutions.

First, a dentist will need to perform specific diagnostic procedures such as:

  • A visual examination.
  • A bite test to determine the level of discomfort you are experiencing.
  • A CT scan or an x-ray.

Your dentist will then choose the most effective treatment option based on the type of damage. For example, a simple surface contouring may be all that is required if only a small portion of the tooth is missing. Bonding or veneers can also be used to address small cracks or fractures.

If your tooth has been split above or below the gum line, a root canal or a complete extraction could be the best option. Note that this will depend on the damage as well as if other issues are present (such as an infection). This is also when an implant or dentures may be warranted.

Having said this, there can also be times when a minor issue might not require any type of intervention. This might occur if your appearance is not altered on in the event that a hairline crack is not at risk of becoming larger.

Adopting a Proactive Mindset

While home remedies such as drinking salt water and using an ice pack might alleviate some of the underlying systems, an expert examination is always warranted. Can cracks in teeth be fixed?

In the majority of cases, you will be provided with cutting-edge options that were not available only a few decades ago. This is the best way to ensure a healthy, attractive and functional smile in no time at all.




Sports Dentistry: The Importance of Mouthguards in Protecting Your Smile


Did you know that nearly 50 percent of all children will suffer some type of injury to the mouth that requires professional intervention? While this number drops off as we reach adulthood, there is little doubt that such traumatic scenarios can still occur from time to time.

Although it is virtually impossible to prevent an unexpected accident, there plenty of ways in which its effects can be dramatically lessened (or even avoided altogether).

One extremely practical method involves the use of a mouthguard and is part of a specialty known as sports dentistry. Your dentist likely has training in sports injury prevention and treatment.

We will first take a quick look at some common injuries to the mouth before discussing how a mouthguard can help to protect the teeth and gums. If you want to learn more about your options -- or you simply hope to safeguard those pearly whites -- this article should provide invaluable insight.

What Types of Injuries to the Mouth Can Occur?

Most of us associate mouthguards with contact sports such as boxing, mixed martial arts (MMA) and rugby. Although this is absolutely true, we need to remember that many physical activities can result in an oral injury.

From losing your balance when jogging in the rain -- to being hit by a pitch during a baseball game -- accidents are simply a part of life.

The injuries can include:

  • Trauma to soft tissues such as the gums or the inner cheeks.
  • Accidentally biting your tongue.
  • Chipped, cracked or even lost teeth.
  • Fractures of the jawbone.

We should note here that a mouthguard may not be able to entirely prevent severe injuries. The main intention is to instead lessen their effects. Let's now look at the different categories of mouthguards and the differences among them.

What Type of Mouthguard is the Most Effective?

There are actually a number of unique mouthguards that can be purchased. Three of the most well-known mouthguard types are:

  • Boil-and-bite mouthguards
  • Custom-fitted appliances
  • Performance-enhancing mouthguards

Some readers might already recognise the boil-and-bite type, as these are generally given to young athletes and/or distributed by schools.

The mouthguard is first heated in boiling water to increase its malleability. The wearer will then firmly bite down so that its shape conforms to his or her mouth as it begins to cool.

While this tends to be the most cost-effective type of mouthguard, most sports dentistry experts feel that it does not provide adequate levels of protection. It is therefore better to obtain a custom-fitted alternative.

Customised mouthguards will adhere to the unique shape of an individual's mouth. This is the first reason why they are much more effective. Secondly, a number of materials are used in their design.

Such a mouthguard generally uses a combination of a soft inner layer augmented by a harder acrylic surface. This provides an additional level of protection against blunt-force trauma, reducing the chances of sustaining an acute injury.

A performance-enhancing mouthguard is not only concerned with protecting the teeth and gums. They also intend to align the jaw in a specific manner – to improve endurance, speed and even strength.

This type of mouthguard can sometimes be referred to as mandibular orthopaedic repositioning appliances (MORAs) within medical circles. While highly effective, one potential drawback involves the relatively high price tag associated with this mouthguard. Athletes who hope to enhance their performance could nonetheless opt for such a device.

What Services Can a Sports Dentist Provide?

Let's now imagine that you have recently suffered an oral injury. While a standard dentist could very well provide targeted solutions, more complex matters might require a degree of expertise that only sports dentistry can provide.

The main point here is that a sports dentist will be intrinsically familiar with oral mechanics as well as how to address a specific injury, especially one that has caused a significant amount of trauma.

These experts are also capable of recommending the best type of mouthguard based on your requirements as well as explaining how each variant functions.

There are even instances when a sports dentist may be recommended if you happen to be suffering from chronic oral conditions such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.

How Will a Sports Dentist Treat an Injury to Your Mouth?

In principle, treating any injury resulting from trauma is not entirely different from addressing relatively common issues such as a severe tongue bite or a cracked tooth.

One major difference may still involve the associated time frame. For example, an athlete might require a temporary appliance such as a bridge in order to be able to compete in an upcoming event.

He or she will be provided with a more permanent solution at a later date. Sports dentists may therefore be required to produce short-term solutions as opposed to a one-off "fix".

The Power of Prevention

No one ever expects to suffer from an injury to the mouth, gums or teeth. Unfortunately, these can and will occur on occasion. Even minor accidents must therefore be evaluated by a trained professional.

The use of a high-quality mouthguard is also an excellent way to reduce the effects of such an injury and in many cases, to prevent any damage that would occur.

Whether you enjoy playing a contact sport or you are simply looking for an effective way to safeguard your smile, it is always wise to speak with a professional about mouthguards. You can then choose the most appropriate option.



Oral Health Tips for Pregnant Women: Ensuring Healthy Smiles for Mom and Baby


The health of our teeth and gums is one variable which should never be taken for granted. This is even more pertinent for women who are pregnant. However, studies have found that over 16 percent of all expecting mothers do not prioritise oral healthcare and this can have potentially serious effects.

How might failing to care for your teeth and gums lead to possible health issues? What are some useful tips and tricks to maintain that healthy smile during your pregnancy? Are there any other practical behaviours to keep in mind? If you want to keep those pearly whites intact, take some time to peruse the information found immediately below.

How Can Poor Oral Hygiene Negatively Impact Your Pregnancy?

One common mistake involves the assumption that the condition of the mouth will not have an impact upon the body. This is actually a dangerous supposition to make.

On the contrary, issues with your teeth and gums can lead to seemingly unrelated issues. For instance, studies have linked poor oral health with higher levels of chronic inflammation and even coronary heart disease. While this is a concern for everyone, pregnant women might be opening themselves up to even more grave consequences including:

  • Low birth weight
  • Premature births
  • Cavities and gingivitis
  • Loose teeth
  • Dry mouth

It is now clear to see that issues with the teeth and gums will impact both mother and child alike. Now that we have taken a look at a handful of undesirable consequences, let's move on by discussing some practical approaches to oral healthcare while pregnant.

How to Ensure the Health of Your Teeth and Gums

Thankfully, there are many ways in which you can maintain a healthy mouth without being forced to dramatically modify your daily routine. The suggestions below are relatively easy to implement and each should be used in synergy with the others.

Consult with Your Dentist

It is first important to notify your dentist when you learn that you have become pregnant. He or she will likely schedule an appointment in order to conduct a thorough examination. This is even more relevant if it has been more than six months since your last visit.

Dentists may also perform additional steps such as taking an x-ray of your mouth or providing you with a fluoride treatment (a chemical that is known to help protect the enamel of your teeth). Above all, always make it a point to speak with a professional at the first sign of trouble (such as bleeding gums that can occur during pregnancy).

Addressing Morning Sickness

Some women will experience the symptoms of morning sickness soon after they become pregnant. The good news is that this condition will normally resolve itself after between 12 and 15 weeks.

However, morning sickness can still cause a great deal of damage to your teeth due to the presence of acids when vomiting. The best way to reduce this risk is to rinse out your mouth with a teaspoon of baking soda immediately after becoming ill. Baking soda will help to neutralise the acids that might otherwise begin to erode the enamel of your teeth.

The Crucial Role of Hydration

As a general rule of thumb, everyone should make it a point to remain hydrated throughout the day. This is even more relevant for those who have become pregnant, as hydration also helps to ensure the health of the child. Drinking plenty of water will likewise benefit your oral health. Water helps to wash away any bacteria that might otherwise begin to accumulate around the teeth and gums.

What About Oral Care Techniques?

Experts recommend using an over-the-counter toothpaste that contains fluoride and to brush at least twice per day. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months (sooner if you notice that the bristles have become frayed).

It is also wise to use an alcohol-free mouthwash before going to sleep every night. Mouthwashes can loosen up any food particles that might have been missed when brushing. Chewing a sugar-free gum that contains a substance known as xylitol after eating is another effective strategy, as xylitol has been shown to kill oral bacteria that could otherwise lead to tooth decay.

Healthy Eating Habits

Nutrition is an obvious concern for any soon-to-be-mother. Adopting a well-rounded diet is equally relevant in terms of your oral health.
First and foremost, try to eliminate any foods that contain high amounts of refined sugars (such as candy bars and soft drinks). This will help to prevent cavities and other issues such as gum disease.

Opt for tasty alternatives including fruits, vegetables, low-fat cheeses, and unsweetened yoghurt. Furthermore, avoid processed foods that may contain artificial colours and/or sweeteners.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is a natural substance that helps to reduce birth defects. Doctors recommend obtaining approximately 600 microgrammes per day. While it is possible to obtain folic acid supplements, the following foods also offer substantial quantities:

  • Legumes including beans, peas and lentils
  • Green leafy vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli
  • Fruits including papayas, oranges and strawberries
  • Whole grains that have been fortified with folic acid

Note that these very same recommendations can be employed once you have given birth, as folic acid provides additional benefits to the body.

Never Take Your Oral Health for Granted

When the strategies outlined above are combined with other lifestyle changes such as eliminating alcohol from your diet, exercising and avoiding cigarette smoke, the benefits will be even more profound. Expectant mothers will therefore be able to enjoy a healthy smile while remaining confident in the fact that their little ones are being looked after at all times.



Pediatric Dentistry: Building a Solid Foundation for a Lifetime of Oral Health


While adults are often concerned about the condition of their teeth and gums, did you know that children might be at an even greater risk of developing oral issues over time?

A recent study found that more than 50 percent of all children between the ages of six and eight have already been diagnosed with at least one cavity. This is why adopting a proactive approach at an early age is one of the best ways to avoid serious issues later in life.

What are some of the duties that a pediatric dentist will normally perform? What type of education are they required to possess? Why is it important to schedule regular visits with this dentist and what will your child expect during his or her visit? These important questions should be made clear to any parent.

What Exactly is a Pediatric Dentist?

A pediatric dentist is associated with the oral care of infants, children and teenagers. This profession is also specifically concerned about monitoring the condition of the teeth and gums, as these areas of the body are still actively developing.

They may also perform other actions such as taking x-rays in order to determine if a child's teeth are properly aligned. If not, he or she might recommend the expertise of an orthodontist.

Pediatric dentists will likewise perform several additional duties. Here are some common examples:

  • Providing fluoride treatments in order to strengthen tooth enamel.
  • Regular cleanings between teeth and around the gumline.
  • Evaluating any mechanical issues (such as an overbite).
  • Detecting and treating cavities if required.
  • Checking for the presence of gum disease.
  • Rectifying any issues associated with an acute injury (such as a chipped or cracked tooth).

In other words, these dentists represent your "one-stop shop" for all issues associated with the oral health of your child.

Education and Training

Similar to other medical professions, those who wish to specialise in pediatric dentistry will be required to undergo a considerable amount of training before joining a practice. This includes obtaining a bachelor's degree from a reputable university, attending dental school and subsequently completing a series of rigorous examinations.

Assuming that these requirements have been obtained, it will then be possible to become either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). Finally, he or she enters into a residency programme to obtain even more real-world experience.

It is possible to specialise in a handful of areas particularly concerned with pediatric dentistry including:

  • Prosthetics
  • Orthodontics
  • Periodontics
  • Preventative care
  • Prosthetic dentistry

We can now see that obtaining a degree and becoming immersed within the world of pediatric dentistry is no easy fit. This is why these very same individuals are passionate about their roles and will go out of their way to ensure the oral health of your child.

Reasons to Schedule Regular Appointments

One common misconception involves the belief that children should only begin seeing a dentist once their permanent teeth begin to emerge.

On the contrary, it is important to schedule an appointment within six months of when the first baby teeth erupt. This arises from the fact that any issues with baby teeth could very well carry over and impact permanent teeth.

Another point to mention involves the educational nature of a pediatric dentist. Children (and some parents) may not be entirely aware of the proper oral health techniques and which habits to embrace. These professionals will provide hands-on guidance that can then be translated into the home environment.

As highlighted previously, prevention is yet another important advantage that this dentist can provide. Children (particularly infants) can often find it difficult to discuss any oral problems that they may be experiencing. Thus, potentially serious issues could be left unchecked. Pediatric dentists will address such situations before they become more profound concerns.

A Typical Visit: A Child-Friendly Experience

As many adults experience dentophobia (a fear of dentists), it only stands to reason that your child might likewise be hesitant of an upcoming appointment.

Thankfully, pediatric dentistry also teaches professionals how to interact with your little ones in order to place their fears at ease from the very beginning. This is important for two reasons.

First, they will be more likely to speak with a parent if a problem exists. Secondly, becoming comfortable with a dentist at an early age can help to establish healthy lifelong habits (such as scheduling an appointment at least once every six months).

So, what can children expect during an average visit with their dentist? Some routine procedures may include:

  • A general examination of the teeth and gums.
  • A child-friendly discussion involving the proper brushing and flossing techniques.
  • Cleaning and polishing the teeth to a mirror finish.

While x-rays may be performed on occasion, these only occur in the event that an underlying problem (such as an issue with the root of a tooth) is suspected. Note that pediatric dentists will also create an atmosphere that is pleasant and inviting for your little one. This helps to allay any fears or anxiety that they may have.

Setting a Solid Foundation for Later in Life

Thanks to modern medical technology, the field of pediatric dentistry now offers a host of solutions for infants, children and teenagers.

These professionals are true experts in their craft and their main goal is to prevent future issues from arising. If your child develops the proper oral health habits at a young age, the chances are high that he or she will not experience any profound dental issues as an adult.



Seniors and Oral Health


There is no denying that the aging process can bring increased health challenges, including oral health. While getting older in itself does not necessarily lead to dental problems, other medical conditions related to aging and medications can be factors that affect your teeth and gums.
However, it is not all doom and gloom. As a senior, you can still help reduce the risk of oral health problems by maintaining a good oral care routine.

Oral Health Care for Seniors

As you get older, your teeth and gums still need the same care and attention as when you were younger. Indeed, maintaining good dental health as a senior relies on the same principles of oral care regardless of age.

Neglecting your oral hygiene can soon cause a build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth. This in turn can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Therefore, it is important that as a senior you maintain the basics of a good oral care routine. This includes:

  • Twice daily brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Brushing teeth using toothpaste containing fluoride.
  • Continuing to floss daily.
  • Rinsing at least once a day with an antiseptic mouthwash to help reduce bacteria in the mouth and wash away food particles that may be trapped between the teeth.
  • Maintaining regular dental appointments, where your dentist can spot potential dental health issues earlier when they can be simpler to address.

Maintaining a consistent oral care routine helps reduce the risk of oral problems as you get older. However, other health factors as you age can also impact your oral health, and being aware of how they present will help you decide when you should consult with your dentist.

Oral Health Risks that May Increase with Age

The aging process brings overall health challenges that can also affect the health of your teeth and gums. Sometimes this can be due to the impact of medication required to treat a health condition. Other times this may be due to the condition itself.

For example, arthritis can make it much harder to hold a toothbrush to properly clean your teeth. In this case, the resulting build-up of plaque and tartar can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

The following list covers five areas around oral health where the aging process could place you at an increased risk.

1. Dry Mouth

Some health conditions and the medications required to treat them can cause dry mouth. This is where you experience reduced saliva production. Cancer treatments involving radiation around the head and neck can lead to a dry mouth.

Saliva helps you chew and swallow your food, and helps maintain the balance of bacteria in the oral cavity and assists with the breakdown of food particles. Someone with a dry mouth due to reduced saliva production is at more risk of tooth decay, gum disease and fungal infections.

Unfortunately, it is not just dry mouth that may result from medical conditions and the medication required to treat them as you age. While you can naturally lose some degree of your sense of taste as you get older, diseases, health conditions and medication can also be a contributing factor.

2. Gum Disease and Tooth Loss

Regardless of age, poor oral care can result in gum disease and tooth loss. Plaque will accumulate and form the hardened substance tartar which leads to cavities and tooth decay.

However, gum disease can also become a bigger headache as you age if the effects of a sustained poor diet, smoking and health conditions like diabetes take their toll on your dental health.

If you have dentures or a dental bridge that is ill-fitting this can also result in gum disease. Food particles and bacteria get trapped in the resulting gaps and this may result in gum disease, a leading cause of tooth loss.

3. Teeth Appear Darker

As we age the outer layer of tooth enamel can thin, exposing more of the darker yellow-colored dentin beneath. This gives your teeth a darker appearance. However, it is not the only reason why your teeth may get darker in color, as the food and drink we consume as well as nicotine products will stain teeth over time.

Teeth that appear darker may also indicate more serious health issues, so it is always worth consulting with your dentist if you notice such darkening.

4. Root Decay

Root decay is also something seniors can be more prone to experiencing. Gum recession can expose the tooth roots to the acids that also attack the tooth enamel. When the gums recede, they expose the root of the tooth, which is vulnerable to decay-inducing acids.

5. Candida Albicans

Candida albicans is a natural yeast found in the mouth and other parts of the digestive tract. However, certain conditions and medications that impact the immune system can increase the levels of the yeast. This may lead to a fungal infection such as thrush.

An overgrowth of this natural yeast can also cause inflammation of the tissue beneath dentures. Known as stomatitis, poor oral care or ill-fitting dentures can also cause such inflammation.

When to Visit Your Dentist

Seniors should continue to maintain regular dental appointments. However, if you notice any changes in the oral cavity such as those listed above you should also consult with your dentist. This could include experiencing:

  • increased sensitivity
  • loose teeth
  • pain or discomfort
  • bleeding when brushing
  • lumps
  • sores
  • problems when chewing or swallowing

Your dentist will carry out a thorough evaluation of your dental health and is likely to inquire about your past dental history if you are new to the surgery. Among the health conditions your dentist can check for is oral cancer.

Age is not the primary factor for dental problems for seniors. Lifestyle influences, health conditions experienced and medications taken as you get older can have an impact on your dental health. However, a good oral care routine and regular dental appointments will still help reduce the risk of poor oral health as you grow older.

Bleeding Gums? Learn About Gum Disease and the Risk


Bleeding gums is one of the signs of gum disease, a common oral health issue that affects nearly half of all adults. Also called periodontal disease, when left untreated, can worsen and affect the supporting bone beneath the gum-line. Indeed, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss.

What Causes Gum Disease?

A build-up of plaque on the teeth is the primary cause. Without good oral care practices, bacteria within plaque can cause an infection in the gums. The longer the plaque is allowed to build up the more potential for periodontal disease.

However, genetics can also play a part. If there is a family history of this oral health issue, then you could also be more likely to have the type of bacteria that causes the condition.

What Are the Symptoms?

When your gums are healthy, they are nice and firm. Periodontal disease has several symptoms, and these can develop as the condition worsens. The symptoms include:

  • bleeding gums
  • swollen gums
  • red or purple coloring to the gums
  • bad breath
  • bad taste in the mouth
  • gums starting to pull away from the teeth
  • pain when you chew
  • loose teeth

You should not wait for any pain or discomfort before seeking professional help. Many people will not experience pain, particularly in the early stages, when it is known as gingivitis. Once your gums swell or begin to bleed, you should consult with your doctor, as gum disease is treatable in the early stages.

Risk Factors

Since a primary cause is a build-up of plaque, poor oral care is a major contributing risk factor for the condition. If you lapse in how often you brush your teeth, floss, and visit your dentist for regular check-ups, you place yourself at an increased risk of a build-up of bacterial plaque that can cause infection.

As discussed, genetics is also a risk factor if you have a family history of the disease. Other health conditions are linked to this oral health issue too, including heart disease, diabetes and autoimmune diseases such as lupus and Crohn’s disease.

Lifestyle choices like smoking will also increase your risk. Smoking impacts the body’s immune system, making it harder for the body to counter any infection within the gums due to plaque. Smoking can also make it harder for the gums to heal.

Stress is another risk factor as it can also weaken your immune system’s ability to ward off infection.

Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Gum Disease

Gum disease can be prevented for the most part since one of the leading causes is poor oral hygiene. Ways to reduce your risk include:

  • brushing your teeth at least twice daily
  • flossing daily
  • rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash
  • regular appointments with your dentist
  • quitting smoking

How often you visit your dentist for a regular check-up can vary from person to person. Your dentist will advise you how often you should see them. In the case of someone genetically disposed to periodontal disease, their dentist will likely recommend more regular visits to help remove accumulated plaque more often.

How Periodontal Disease Progresses

Periodontal disease can be a slow-burner, the infection gradually damaging the gum tissue before affecting the supporting bone. There are four main stages of the disease.

1. Gingivitis

This is the early stage of the disease and is treatable. Your gums may swell and redden in color. When you brush your teeth, they may also bleed. Although you are unlikely to have any pain, the symptoms should not be ignored as this is the stage when the condition can be treated and reversed rather than just managed.

2. Mild stage

Your gums start to recede from the teeth as the bacteria has now reached beneath the gum line. The pockets formed by this recession of the gums can play host to more bacteria.

3. Moderate stage

The bacteria start to impact the supporting bone. The ligaments and tissue around the bone are worn down and you may start to experience pain. Bad breath is another symptom at this stage.

4. Advanced stage

Left untreated, you continue to lose more bone density. At this advanced stage of periodontitis you can experience tooth loss. Once you reach this point of bone loss the condition can not be reversed, only managed.

Treatment Options

Your dentist will assess for gum disease, and if present, the severity of the condition. Early intervention makes treating the condition simpler and reversible. However, once you lose the structures supporting the teeth, it is about management rather than cure.

The following are four possible treatments for the various stages of periodontal disease.

Improved oral care regime – while still at the early stages of gingivitis, improving your oral care regime, including twice daily brushing, daily flossing and regular dental appointments, can be enough to remove the plaque and bacteria before it has the chance to progress further.

Scaling and root planing – this is a deeper clean often performed by a dental hygienist. It removes plaque from areas where a toothbrush may not reach and is a good solution for mild periodontitis.

Pocket reduction surgery – used in cases of moderate to advanced periodontal disease to remove plaque that has penetrated well beneath the gums.

Grafts – bone or gum tissue grafts can be used to replace bone or tissue lost to the disease

Further treatments such as one using a laser that targets the diseased gum tissue may also be discussed with your dentist. However, the treatment recommended will depend on the severity and progress of the disease.

If you experience bleeding gums when brushing your teeth, it could be a sign of early gum disease. Consult with your dentist as soon as you are able, as the condition can be reversed at an early stage.

Mouth Sores: Should I See a Dentist or Doctor?

Mouth sores are lesions that develop on the soft tissues in the mouth and on the lips and gums. They are a common condition and can be painful. Most mouth sores are harmless and disappear within two weeks.

However, there are different types of sores and some can be a pointer to a more serious health issue. Your dentist can determine the type of sore and recommend a suitable treatment course. If the sore lingers, is larger than half an inch in diameter - or has white patches - you would be advised to consult with a healthcare provider.

What Causes Mouth Sores?

The lesions resulting from a mouth sore will differ in color from the surrounding soft tissue. They could be red, purple, yellow, or white depending on the type of sore. Inflammation and some degree of discomfort are also likely.

Mouth sores can be caused by everyday bad habits, injury, or an underlying health condition. These include:

  • Tobacco use
  • Medications
  • Stress
  • Irritation from orthodontics such as braces
  • Biting your lip or the inside of the cheek
  • Aggressive brushing of the teeth
  • Burning the inside of your mouth
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Bacterial, viral, or fungal infection
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Anemia

The symptoms and causes of sores depend on the type of sore. The following are examples of different mouth sores.

1. Canker Sores

This is one of the most common mouth sores, affecting around 20% of people during their lives. An area of redness with small white or yellow ulcers indicates a canker sore. They tend to be harmless, are not contagious, and usually clear up within one or two weeks.

2. Cold Sores

Another common sore, with blisters forming on the lips or close to the mouth. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are contagious for up to 15 days, the virus being passed on through kissing or sharing food, utensils and cosmetics. They may be preceded by a tingling sensation and can last between two to six weeks.

3. Oral Thrush

The signs of oral thrush are white lesions on the tongue and on the inside of the mouth. It is caused by a yeast infection resulting from Candida overgrowth, a yeast that occurs naturally in the body. Normally harmless and unlikely to be passed on to others, oral thrush can be treated and cleared within 14 days with the correct anti-fungal medication.

4. Leukoplakia

This condition is denoted by thick white patches in the mouth. It is a common mouth sore for people who use tobacco. While the sores tend to clear up of their own accord and prove harmless, the condition could increase the risk of oral cancer. Regular dental appointments help spot this condition earlier.

5. Gingivostomatitis

These sores appear most often in the mouth and on the gums of children. They are similar to canker sores and can be the result of either a bacterial or a viral infection. Gingivostomatitis can also be caused by poor oral hygiene. The sores may be painful and a reason why your child does not want to eat.

6. Pemphigus Vulgaris

The mouth blisters arising from this condition can be sore and may bleed. Pemphigus Vulgaris is an auto-immune disease that sees healthy tissues targeted by your misfiring immune system. Fortunately, the condition is rare and can generally be treated with systemic corticosteroids, although it may take up to three months for the treatment to kick in.

7. Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can be signified by ulcers and red and white patches. Unlike canker and cold sores, these lesions do not heal. You may also experience bleeding, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, ear pain and loss of weight. A healthcare provider can carry out a biopsy to assess for cancer. An early diagnosis of oral cancer could improve a patient’s outcome.

When Should I See My Dentist?

Regular dental appointments are a key part of maintaining good oral health care. Your dentist can spot oral health problems early when they can be easier to treat. This includes mouth sores and mouth blisters.

However, if you have ulcers or lesions develop between dental appointments you can consult with your dentist for peace of mind. Sores are usually harmless and will clear within a week or two, depending on the type of sore.

In most instances, your dentist can assess and treat sores and mouth blisters. However, if you experience the following conditions you should consult with a healthcare provider:

  • persistent sores that won’t heal
  • recurring sores
  • lesions larger than half an inch in diameter
  • fever
  • severe pain
  • white patches on sores
  • sores after taking a new medication
  • sores having started cancer treatment

Treatments and Prevention

If your sores are caused by a bacterial or viral infection, you could be prescribed medication to treat the condition. You may also be given pain relief, a steroid gel, or anti-inflammatories depending on the type of sore and the severity of the condition.
However, as most sores will gradually heal, your dentist may recommend ways to ease any discomfort and hasten the healing process from the comfort of your home. These include:

  • rinsing your mouth with warm salt water
  • eating cold foods like sherbet
  • taking over-the-counter pain relief
  • avoiding tobacco
  • avoiding the temptation to squeeze or pick the sores

As always, prevention is preferable. Ways to help prevent sores include:

  • good oral care practice
  • a balanced diet
  • stay hydrated
  • minimize alcohol intake
  • avoid tobacco
  • develop ways to reduce stress
  • use lip balm of at least SPF 15 when outdoors
  • avoid hot foods and drinks

Mouth sores often clear within a week or two. However, some types of sores can indicate a more chronic health issue. Your dentist can diagnose the type of sore and recommend the appropriate treatment. They will also recognize any sores that could be more problematic and refer you to the appropriate healthcare provider.


Why You Need Dental Hygienist Visits

undefinedMost modern dental practices employ a dental hygienist as well as a dentist. Their role is very important because hygienists are concerned with preventative dental work. Often, they are qualified as dental therapists, too.

A large part of their work is to help people clean their teeth effectively to prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar. Their aim is to keep your gums and teeth healthy so you can maintain your beautiful smile.

What type of work do dental hygienists carry out?

A dental hygienist is able to scale and polish your teeth professionally. Plaque is the sticky film that develops on your teeth after eating and drinking. If left on your teeth, it develops into tartar. If allowed to build up, plaque and tartar can lead to cavities, infections and gum disease --so it's really important to make sure these substances are cleaned off your teeth thoroughly.

Tartar cannot be removed without professional help. Tartar is a very hard substance and often looks yellow. It can develop in the crevices and hard-to-reach areas between your teeth and gums.

While some dentists may carry out a scale and polish themselves, others will refer you to their dental hygienist who is skilled and experienced in this dental procedure.

The hygienist is usually able to spend more time with patients in order to provide further education and advice. This enables the dentist to carry out more complex and specialised procedures.


In addition to carrying out tasks, a dental hygienist can support people to develop healthy oral hygiene routines. They can advise people about choosing healthy foods -- instead of sugary drinks and unhealthy snacks that can damage tooth enamel.

They can also provide support to help you stop smoking; this is important because smokers have a higher risk of gum disease -- and smoking can lead to various oral problems including mouth cancer and tooth loss.

The dental hygienist can also discuss the best way to clean your teeth and can show you how to floss effectively. They will check you are brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing correctly once a day.

They can discuss the benefits of electric toothbrushes and show you how to use interdental brushes to clean between your teeth more effectively. They can also discuss the benefits of mouthwash. By doing this, they are helping you prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar.

Other tasks

Dental hygienists may also carry out certain treatments. This can include the application of fluoride varnishes.

For some people, particularly children, the hygienist may seal the biting surfaces of the back teeth as they appear in the mouth. This is to help prevent decay. They may also apply fluoride varnishes to children's teeth, again, to help prevent decay.

Other tasks that the dental hygienist may carry out include preparation work for the dentist. They may take your dental X-rays so that the dentist can assess the condition of your teeth.

Work may include preparing gums for dental restorations like crowns or for fillings. In some practices, the hygienist may carry out teeth whitening as part of the dentist's 'prescription'. Whitening helps remove stains and can brighten your smile effectively.

If the hygienist is also qualified as a dental therapist, they may be able to extract 'baby' teeth and apply fillings. However, they are unable to carry out any work that involves the nerves of the teeth and cannot do restorations or crowns; a qualified dentist must do this type of work.

A dental hygienist carries out an important role as part of the dental team. They support the dentist and can help prepare you for your dental treatments.

An important part of their role is to provide education and advice to help you maintain healthy teeth and gums. Their valuable preventative work can help reduce the costs of more expensive dental treatments once gum disease or cavities occur. Your dental hygienist will work with you to keep your smile looking sensational.

Some recommendations for maintaining good oral hygiene:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush.
  • Floss once a day.
  • Quit smoking and stop using tobacco products.
  • Include nutritious foods in your diet -- and avoid sugary snacks, fizzy drinks etc.
  • Be aware that some drinks like tea, coffee and red wine can stain teeth.
  • Stay hydrated with plenty of water.
  • Attend your dental appointments and routine dental examinations.

If you would like to know more about the role of the hygienist and cost of their services, contact your dental practice.

For more information about the role of a hygienist:

When to Consider Acrylic Dentures for Tooth Replacement

undefinedAcrylic dentures are a common tooth replacement option. Dentures can be partial or full depending on how many teeth need replacing.

As well as making it harder to chew food, missing teeth can also impact your speech.

Replacing missing or damaged teeth can bring renewed confidence to a smile. This in turn boosts self-confidence in social situations both at work and in personal lives.

If you are considering tooth replacement options, acrylic dentures offer the most affordable solution.

What Are Acrylic Dentures?

Acrylic dentures are made from a plastic that is easy to mold. This allows them to be custom-made according to measurements taken from the patient’s mouth. Once made, they sit on the gums and form a seal where they have replaced the natural teeth.

This type of denture is a popular choice, constituting around 80% of partial dentures. Once molded, they quickly set to form a rigid denture, whether partial or full. The purpose of the denture is to restore functionality as well as a natural look to your smile.

When to Consider Acrylic Dentures

1. Missing Teeth

Dentures are a non-invasive option to replace missing teeth. This has traditionally been the go-to option to replace a set or row of teeth and restore a confident smile. Although they do not replace the tooth root, they do offer some support beneath the soft tissues to help preserve a fuller look to the face.

2. Tooth Extractions

Gum disease or an impact injury can necessitate the extraction of a tooth or several teeth. Replacing them with a denture provides a quick tooth replacement option, allowing you full chewing functionality again.

3. Damaged or Worn Teeth

Similarly, oral health issues such as gum disease can lead to tooth decay and the erosion of tooth enamel. If you already have teeth that are missing, the remaining teeth can wear down faster as they are being relied on more when chewing food.

4. Restore Your Smile

Knowing you have missing or damaged teeth can make you self-conscious of their appearance and leave you reluctant to smile. A denture can be made to match the size, contour and color of the surrounding teeth to restore a confident smile.

5. You Do Not Qualify for Other Options

Dental implants and bridges are also established and effective ways to replace missing teeth. However, not everyone will qualify for them. There needs to be enough jawbone to support the titanium screw for implants. If the tooth has been missing for a while jawbone may have been lost.

Certain health conditions that could affect the healing process can also disqualify you from dental implants. With dental bridges, you will need the teeth that support either end of the bridge to be healthy enough to qualify for the procedure.

6. Easier on the Budget

Acrylic dentures remain the most affordable way to replace missing or damaged teeth. As well as costing less than other replacement options such as dental implants, they are also less expensive than having a denture made from chrome.

Not only are they easier on the budget, the procedure is also non-invasive and your denture can be in place within a couple of weeks of giving the go-ahead to your dentist.


When you have missing or damaged teeth, it can affect the foods you choose to eat. You may avoid certain foods which you find difficult to chew. You may also not be able to chew healthy foods enough to enable digestion. The outcome can be that you are not receiving the necessary nutrients in your diet.

This increases the risk of a condition called malabsorption. This is where the body is not capable of absorbing the required nutrients from what a person eats. Bloating, stomach cramps, fatigue and diarrhea are among the early symptoms of the disorder.

However, without a diagnosis, a lack of nutrients can result in long-term problems including anemia, weight loss, increased risk of bone fractures and wasting muscles. If the lack of nutrients results from missing teeth then dentures may be recommended to ensure you can eat and chew all the healthy foods your body requires.

Further Benefits

Dentures remain a traditional choice as a tooth replacement option because it is non-invasive, more affordable, and can be delivered by your dentist in a short period. However, they continue to deliver benefits to the recipient even after they have been fitted. Three further benefits include:

An acrylic denture is easy to alter, which allows someone to have clasps added if they feel like they need extra support. This style of denture does not require clasps attached to the mouth, but they can be easily added. For some people, this can provide an extra degree of confidence in a denture as it may feel more stable.

A denture is subject to all the wear and tear from chewing food just like your natural teeth. Therefore, they can wear down or possibly crack or chip. However, the material the denture is made from can be repaired by adding more acrylic to the affected area to restore the denture to full working order. A damaged denture can be dangerous, so it is important to get any cracks or chips fixed.

The moldable nature of an acrylic denture also makes it easier to add new teeth at a later point if required. This works in a similar way to having a denture repaired. Therefore if you have a partial set of acrylic dentures fitted and lose another tooth you do not need to have a brand new denture made, you just add one additional tooth to your existing denture.

Acrylic dentures are a popular choice for denture wearers. If you are considering replacing missing or damaged teeth, you can talk to your dentist about whether this more affordable option is best for you.

Life After Braces: How to Maintain Your New Smile with Orthodontic Retainers


Everyone loves having a bright and attractive smile after wearing braces. However, teeth must be kept in the correct position after braces are removed – and that’s the role of the orthodontic retainer.

The main purpose of a retainer is therefore to serve as a "guide" so that no movement takes place.


Are There Different Types of Retainers?


There are actually two primary types of orthodontic retainers:

  • Permanent retainers
  • Removable retainers

Permanent retainers are sometimes known as "fixed" retainers and cannot be removed until the treatment is complete. These retainers are bonded to the teeth with the help of a dental cement.

Removable retainers will often be used to address portions of the mouth that are immediately visible (such as the front teeth).

A dentist or orthodontist will recommend a removable retainer. These are sometimes marketed as Hawley retainers. The main difference here is that users can take the retainer out during cleanings, helping to prevent an accumulation of bacteria that might otherwise lead to dental issues.

Removable retainers are generally used when only minor adjustments were initially made by the braces.


How Will a Retainer be Fitted?


You will be happy to learn that orthodontic retainers do not require any type of invasive procedure. First, the dentist will make a mould of the interior of your mouth (depending on the issues that need to be addressed). This mould is then used to create a retainer made from plastic or acrylic.

Note that digital impressions have become commonplace. As opposed to taking a physical mould of your mouth, the dentist will instead use a type of handheld camera to take numerous pictures of your mouth. These images are then combined in order to create a three-dimensional impression.

We should also mention that the process of creating fixed retainers is slightly more complex. After the mould has been taken and the appliance has been created, glue will be applied to the surface of your teeth. The retainer can then be set into place.


What are the Main Benefits of Wearing a Retainer?


The most obvious advantage involves the simple fact that the changes already caused by braces will not be undone. Otherwise, it might actually be necessary to repeat the process in the future.

Orthodontic retainers are therefore a powerful way to ensure a straight and attractive smile.

Another lesser-known benefit of a retainer involves a condition known as "tongue thrust". There can be times when an individual inadvertently presses their tongue forward when smiling. Should this occur immediately after braces have been removed, the position of your teeth may change. A retainer will help to prevent this scenario.

Protection is yet another quality of modern retainers. This is particularly the case from those who suffer from oral conditions such as bruxism, as instances of clenching the jaw are less likely. Therefore, alignment issues will not present themselves.

On a final note, oral health is directly impacted by the position of your teeth. Even small gaps can allow food to become trapped. This food may then begin to break down into sugars and acids, eroding tooth enamel over time. A retainer will help to guarantee proper dental alignment. If you adopt the correct brushing and flossing techniques, the chances of developing cavities will be dramatically reduced.


How to Care for Your Retainer


While orthodontic retainers are made from durable materials, there is still a handful of basic care guidelines to appreciate from the very beginning. Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to clean all its surfaces on a daily basis.
  • Try to avoid sticky or extremely hard foods.
  • Keep your retainer away from heat, as it might otherwise become deformed.
  • Assuming that you have been fitted with a removable retainer, place it within its protective case when not in use.

Of course, also follow the instructions of your dentist or orthodontist. Always wear your retainer for the period of time your dentist advises, as your teeth might otherwise begin to slip back into their former positions.

It is also prudent to schedule follow-up visits with your dentist. He or she will be able to gauge your progress as well as to determine if any slight modifications are necessary.

On a final note, try to be patient. The effects of an orthodontic retainer will not occur overnight. Their intention is not to make further changes, but rather to guarantee that the beneficial effects of braces become permanent. Thanks to these clever gadgets, obtaining a Hollywood smile has now become a reality.



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