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Chessington Dental Practice Blog

Invisalign: What to Expect


If you’re self-conscious about your teeth, a dentist can help with braces.

Traditional dental braces are made of metal and attached to the teeth, and may be necessary for more complex dental problems. However, many people can benefit from teeth straightening with invisible clear aligners like Invisalign.

Modern and Effective

Rather than using metal braces to straighten teeth, Invisalign involves a system of aligners to achieve the same outcome. The aligners are made from a plastic which is almost invisible, making them an attractive option for self-conscious adolescents and adults.

The aligner is molded for each individual case and fits snugly over the teeth while applying a gentle, continuous pressure. This pressure gradually pushes teeth into the desired position.

Attempting to straighten teeth cannot be done in a fortnight and may take weeks or months in order to achieve the desired outcome. Once the first aligner has finished its work, it is swapped out for a second one which takes the process a step further. This swapping of clear aligners continues every two weeks until the teeth are finally exactly in the desired position.

Five-Step Process

Correcting problem teeth can, and will, take time. It is not a quick fix but a five-step process.

Dental Appointment

Not everyone is a suitable candidate for Invisalign clear aligners. The first step on the road to a perfect smile is to consult a dentist about whether the system can fix your dental problems.

If the system is recommended, the dentist will explain the process in detail and provide a rough timeline of treatment. If the issue(s) cannot be resolved with Invisalign, your dentist will discuss other methods of treatment.

Mold Making

A mold will to made to create your aligners. This can involve digital scanning, photographs and the use of x-rays to provide a perfect representation of mouth and teeth. These are sent to a dedicated laboratory where a 3-D model of the mouth and teeth is generated. This is used to make the first aligner and a following series of aligners, each designed to achieve incremental changes.

After the molds are completed, the dentist will fit the first aligners.

After a couple of weeks, the dentist will check to ensure the aligners are performing as they should. Once the first aligner has completed its task, it will be replaced by the second in the series. This is a simple matter of swapping the new aligner for the old – and does not require the assistance of a dentist.


During the process, regular appointments should be made with the dentist to ensure that aligners are moving the teeth into the desired position. Any deviations or difficulties should be detected as early as possible, although such problems are rare. Any early issues may require an adjustment to the aligners which may slow the process.

There is no set time on how long it may be necessary to wear the aligners as every case is different. While it may be possible to straighten teeth fairly quickly, there may be other associated issues which will also require attention.


The Invisalign system is a tested and proven method to straighten teeth, but this is not the only dental issue that can be treated. Although everything will depend on the severity of the problem, Invisalign can be used to treat:

Crooked teeth. In cases where there are no underlying issues with the jawbone.

Overbite. As long as the upper teeth are not too far out of alignment with the lower set.

Underbite. As with an overbite, it will depend on the degree of misalignment between the bottom and top teeth. In some cases, aligners may be used in conjunction with traditional braces.

Crossbite. Invisalign can often be used successfully to guide the problem teeth into the correct position.

Gapped teeth. The aligners have proven successful in closing gaps between teeth but this will depend on the width of the spaces as larger spaces may require the use of dental braces.

Open bite. Invisalign has been shown to be very effective in treating an open bite in many cases.

Crowded teeth. Moving crowded teeth can be a problem but can be treated using the system if the crowding is not too severe. This will need to be decided by the dentist.

While some issues with the teeth are beyond the capability of Invisalign to treat and cure, there are many common problems that respond extremely well to the system.

As the Invisalign system is constantly evolving and improving, there are increasingly more dental issues for which it can provide a solution.

Using Invisalign invisible aligners is not just an exercise in vanity, it is a proven method of correcting many common dental issues which will improve one's appearance and smile without the need to wear unsightly metal braces for months on end.

Smile Makeover: How Orthodontics and Cosmetic Dentistry Create a Stunning Smile



Have you been hoping to display those pearly whites with the help of a so-called "Hollywood smile"? You are certainly not alone in this respect. Did you know that three out of every five people are unhappy with the appearance of their teeth and gums?
Today’s dentists can utilize orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry to transform your smile – called a smile makeover.

Defining a Smile Makeover

A smile makeover is primarily concerned with the appearance of your teeth and gums. A series of relatively non-invasive techniques can be used to create the smile that you have always dreamed of.

Why Have a Smile Makeover?

The teeth are some of the most resilient elements of your body. They are meant to withstand a massive amount of wear and tear, providing years of continuous use. However, they can still succumb to various issues over time.

Examples include:

  • The loss of enamel
  • Injuries such as chips and cracks
  • Discolouration (such as from drinking coffee, wine or tea)
  • Orthodontic problems

As you might have already imagined, each of the scenarios summarised above will be approached in a specific manner in order to achieve targeted results.

Let's now take a look at some common procedures that may be included in a smile makeover.

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is arguably one of the most popular treatments due to how quickly appearances can change (often within a single session). This method is normally employed to address surface stains.


Crooked or misaligned teeth are likewise a cause for concern. Not only will these impact your overall smile, but they can lead to mechanical issues over time (such as uneven wear or even the inability to eat certain foods). In such cases, orthodontics are frequently the most logical solutions.

Here are some options to consider:

  • Traditional metal or ceramic braces
  • Clear plastic aligners
  • Lingual braces (attached to the backs of teeth)

Total treatment times will vary and yet, the end results are certainly worth your patience.

Replacing Lost or Damaged Teeth

You might instead be missing one or more teeth. In this situation, a quality replacement is in order. Well-known solutions include implants, partial dentures or dental bridges.

Note that dentists and those specialising in facial aesthetics may first evaluate whether it is possible to permanently attach a crown. Either way, implants can last for decades if cared for properly – and implants look and function just like natural teeth.


Veneers are yet another way to address tooth discolouration or surface imperfections such as small cracks or pitting due to a loss of enamel. In these cases, veneers consist of a porcelain or composite coating that is directly bonded to the surface of the tooth in question.

Other Cosmetic Issues

A smile makeover may address other issues than only those associated with your teeth. For example, a "gummy smile" (when excessive gum tissue is located over the top of your teeth) can be rectified through a process that essentially re-contours your gums.
In other cases, orthodontics will be recommended to correct problems like underbite, overbite, and crowded teeth.

How are Treatments Evaluated?

Let us now assume that you have opted for a cosmetic dentistry procedure. What should you expect?
The first step will always involve the initial consultation. This is when a specialist will evaluate the condition of your teeth and gums as well as the appearance of your smile. Keep in mind that such sessions can also determine whether other problems (such as cavities) are present. 3D images, x-rays and moulds may be taken during this time.

The procedure itself will then be scheduled. We should still note that the personalised approaches to cosmetic dentistry dictate that each method will be slightly different. You can discuss this with your dentist in advance. You can likewise address any questions along the way.


How to Care for Your Hollywood Smile

Any type of dental makeover represents a long-term investment. This is why it is crucial that you properly care for your teeth and gums once the treatment has been completed. Here are some professional tips and tricks:

  • Brush and floss on a daily basis
  • Don’t eat foods (such as hard candies) that could possibly damage dental veneers
  • Avoid sugary foods to reduce the chances of developing cavities
  • Stay away from foods and drinks that are known to stain the surfaces of your teeth, like coffee and blueberries.

Ultimately, achieving the smile of your dreams has now become a reality thanks to dental advancements. Consult with your dentist for additional information.

Toothpaste Tablets: Do They Work Better Than Regular Paste?



We know we should brush our teeth at least twice a day to remove food debris and prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar. This helps prevent cavities, gum disease and keeps our breath fresh.

However, there may be times when it's not practical or easy to brush your teeth - when you are travelling, for instance. In these situations, there are some alternatives to brushing teeth with toothpaste.


Tooth-brushing alternatives

When brushing teeth with toothpaste is not an option, try rinsing your mouth with water. This will help to remove food that's left behind that bad bacteria likes to feed on.

It's also a good idea to drink plenty of water between meals too. This keeps your mouth, gums and body hydrated.

Chewing sugar-free gum is useful too. Chewing encourages your mouth to produce saliva which contains special enzymes that deal with the bacteria that can lead to tooth decay.

Dental flossers are useful for removing the food debris that gets stuck between your teeth. When food gets trapped in the crevices around your gums it can cause irritation and the gums may swell as a result.

Also, you can carry toothpaste tablets and chew one when necessary.


What are toothpaste tablets?

Toothpaste tablets, also known as 'tooth tabs', are a practical alternative to brushing your teeth with toothpaste and a toothbrush.
Toothpaste tablets contains similar ingredients to regular toothpaste: usually fluoride which helps protect your teeth, and abrasives design to remove plaque from the teeth.

The tablets may also contain flavourings or colourings that help freshen the breath.

The water content that would be in your regular tube has been removed and the active ingredients are pressed into a tablet.


How to use toothpaste tablets

Pop a tablet in your mouth and chew. The tablet mixes with your saliva to form a paste. If you have access to a toothbrush and water, this is ideal as you can wet your toothbrush and brush for two minutes like you would using regular toothpaste.

Next, rinse your mouth to remove any grittiness and residue. If you do not have access to a toothbrush and water, the chewing action and the abrasives in the 'tooth tab' will help shift the plaque on your teeth.


Do these new tablets work better than regular paste?

The jury is still out. There is not enough research at the moment to prove whether toothpaste tablets are more or less effective than regular toothpaste.


What are the advantages of using 'tooth tabs'?

One of the key advantages of a toothpaste tablet is that they have the potential to prevent billions of plastic toothpaste tubes ending up in landfill and the oceans of the world.

Some manufacturers are actively researching more sustainable tube packaging while others are focusing on developing toothpaste tablets as an alternative.

Just like the shampoo bars that are now available, the packaging for these new tooth tablets is designed to be environmentally friendly such as compostable card, or easy to recycle like tin or glass.

If you would like to reduce the amount of plastic in your bathroom, tooth tabs could be an option. However, like switching to shampoo bars, you may need time to adjust to the habit

Another benefit: toothpaste tablets are also a great option when you are travelling and can be taken in your carry-on luggage. If brushing your teeth at work or the gym is not currently an option, carrying a pack of tooth tabs could be a great solution.

And, because the companies developing tooth tabs are focused on sustainability and our environment, most of the brands opt for natural ingredients and try to avoid preservatives and parabens.

Most still contain fluoride which is an important mineral and key ingredient used to protect your teeth.

It's always a good idea to check for fluoride and to make sure that you are happy with the ingredients listed on the pack. There are a lot more options available for people who are gluten-free or prefer their cosmetics and health products to be cruelty-free. There are also some vegan options too.


What are the disadvantages?

As previously mentioned, more research is needed into the effectiveness of new tooth tab products - and currently, they are more expensive than regular tubes.

However, your smile is priceless and so is our planet. If you need access to a more portable and practical way of brushing teeth and want to reduce your use of plastic, then tooth tabs could be the option.


For more information:

10 Common Oral Diseases Which Everyone Should Know About



There are numerous oral diseases which can develop over time if their symptoms are not kept in check. Let's look at ten common conditions and their causes so that professional advice can be obtained when necessary.

Gum Disease

Sometimes known as periodontal disease, this condition progresses from gingivitis. It can be caused by poor oral hygiene habits or even from brushing with too much force. As the initial condition may be painless, it is important to see your dentist regularly so it can be checked. There are several treatments which can stop gingivitis from progressing into gum disease. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to loose teeth –and teeth falling out.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is arguably one of the most common oral health conditions and it is caused by an accumulation of bacteria within the mouth. These bacteria begin to produce specific sugars that can erode tooth enamel in a relatively short period of time. If not addressed, cavities will often form. This is why it is important to brush and floss twice each day. Seeing a dentist at least once every six months is also recommended.

One or More Sensitive Teeth

There are times when a tooth may become sensitive to hot or cold substances. This is normally caused by enamel that has become worn down over time. As a result, the nerves within the tooth are triggered; resulting in an appreciable amount of discomfort.
Sensitive teeth can be caused by physical damage, the presence of a cavity, an infection, or gingivitis. If this sensitivity persists or becomes worse over time, an infection may have formed. It is pivotal to obtain an expert diagnosis so that more intensive solutions (such as a root canal) can be avoided.

Impacted Teeth

A tooth can sometimes become impacted. This occurs when there is not enough room for it to sit properly within the mouth. While some instances will cause no pain and can generally be left alone, certain situations may require an extraction.
An impacted wisdom tooth is a very common example. Anyone who feels that a tooth is not sitting properly should consult with a dentist or an orthodontist. Orthodontic treatments can sometimes provide a viable solution.

Damaged Teeth

Of course, there are also times when acute damage can occur to your mouth. Examples may include an injury caused by playing contact sports, biting down on extremely hard substances (such as ice) and accidents such as a trip or a fall. If a tooth becomes chipped or cracked, the chances of an infection dramatically increase. This is why seeking emergency treatment is always the most logical solution if you wish to maintain your oral health.

Tooth Gaps

Gaps between your teeth promote the accumulation of food particles and bacteria. This increases the chances of developing related conditions such as gingivitis, periodontitis and cavities.
Thankfully, such gaps can also be addressed through the use of orthodontics such as braces or the Invisalign system. The length of the treatment will often depend on the seriousness of the condition.

Enamel Erosion

Unlike many other substances within the body, tooth enamel cannot be replaced if it becomes eroded. When no enamel is present, a softer portion of the tooth known as the dentin will be exposed. This can lead to increased sensitivity (mentioned above) and it will also increase the risk of developing cavities.

Eroded enamel can cause changes in the colour of a tooth and it also makes the tooth more susceptible to physical damage such as cracks and chips. Make it a point to cut back on sugary and acidic foods; these can destroy enamel over time. If you have sensitive teeth, talk to your dentist about it – as it may be due to enamel erosion. Your dentist can advise you on treatment.

Root Infections

In some cases, the root of a tooth can become infected due to the presence of bacteria or physical damage. Cavities will also allow harmful substances to penetrate into the base of the tooth.
Many individuals who experience a chronic and long-lasting toothache will eventually be diagnosed as an infection. The majority of infections will not resolve themselves without some type of professional intervention such as a root canal. It is therefore extremely important to seek professional help right away.

Dry Mouth

Although dry mouth might not appear to pose a serious risk to your oral health at first glance, a handful of ancillary problems can result from this condition. A lack of saliva within the mouth makes it much easier for harmful bacteria to proliferate. Furthermore, it is more difficult to wash way food particles if your mouth is extremely dry.
Certain medications have been known to cause this condition. Alcohol, caffeine and sugary foods are also common culprits. In you suffer from dry mouth, try to remain hydrated throughout the day by taking regular sips of water.


Bruxism is the clinical name for a condition associated with excessive teeth grinding. As it often occurs while asleep, individuals may be unaware that a problem even exists.

The issue here is that bruxism will cause the enamel to be worn down and in severe cases, the teeth themselves may chip or crack. Bruxism can be caused by psychological stress or mechanical issues within the oral cavity such as an uneven bite.
The most common way to be treated for this condition is to obtain a custom-made mouthguard. This appliance will then be worn during the overnight hours; effectively preventing your teeth from grinding against one another.

Final thoughts

These ten oral health issues should always be taken seriously if you hope to avert more serious outcomes. While some may appear less concerning than others, the simple fact is that even minor symptoms can quickly devolve into conditions that require intensive treatments. So, be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist or oral hygienist t the first sign of trouble.


An In-Depth Look at Dentin Hypersensitivity


There are many issues associated with the teeth and gums, some more concerning than others. For example, when one more teeth become sensitive, you’ll want to know why – and what to do about it.

Understanding sensitive teeth

Dentin hypersensitivity is the clinical term given to sensitive teeth. As the name of the condition likely suggests, this type of sensitivity arises from a protective layer of the teeth known as dentin.

Dentin plays several roles. This hard outer layer helps to protect the internal structure of the teeth from damage. However, dentin also relays nerve impulses to the brain (as it is partially comprised of nerve tissue). This is why the pain comes when you drink hot tea or a cold beverage.

What Causes Dentin Hypersensitivity?

One primary cause of this condition involves the enamel of our teeth. If this enamel becomes worn down over time due to poor oral hygiene habits, it can expose the dentin.

Dentin contains tiny tube-like structures that are comprised of nerve fibres. If these fibres are not adequately protected by tooth enamel, they will become extremely sensitive.

To put it simply, tooth sensitivity involves nerves that are exposed via a loss of dental enamel. Here are some of the scenarios which can lead to this condition if left unchecked:

• Tooth decay
• Cavities
• Gum disease
• Receding gums
• Worn enamel (as mentioned earlier)
• Cracked or otherwise damaged teeth

While sensitive teeth are considered to be quite common, this may still be a cause for concern -- if the pain becomes severe or if there are other symptoms such as localised swelling, a foul taste within the mouth or a lo-grade fever. It is therefore wise to seek a professional diagnosis very soon.

Common Signs and Symptoms

So, how will you know if the pain that you are experiencing could be potentially related to dentin hypersensitivity? Closely examine the symptoms themselves. This condition typically involves short bouts of pain that are relieved once a specific stimulus has been removed. Here are some primary symptoms that are often indicative of dentin hypersensitivity:

• Pain when the teeth are exposed to hot or cold temperatures.
• Short sensations of discomfort when eating specific foods.
• Pain when touching one or more teeth that ablates once physical pressure is removed.
• Feelings of discomfort when cleaning your teeth and gums.
• Teeth that are sensitive to sweet or acidic foods.

While it is rather common to experience one or more of these symptoms from time to time, persistent sensations of pain and discomfort could very well indicate that you are suffering from overly sensitive teeth.

Risk Factors

Many symptoms mimic other potential dental problems such as cavities or gum disease. This is once again why it is always prudent to see your dentist. He or she will also take additional risk factors into account when evaluating your condition.

Some variables that may increase your chances of developing dentin hypersensitivity include:

• Brushing and flossing your teeth with too much force (this can wear away the enamel over time).
• Making it a habit of eating sugary or sweet foods on a regular basis.
• If you already have problems with your gums (such as gingivitis or periodontitis).
• Abrasive oral care products.
• Unconsciously grinding your teeth (a condition known as bruxism).

Dentists will evaluate these and other factors carefully before making a concrete diagnosis.

Treatment Option

Let's now assume for a moment that you have been diagnosed with dental hypersensitivity. What are some common treatment options to consider? There are two common approaches.

One involves modifying your current lifestyle habits -- while the other is a more straightforward type of intervention.
In terms of lifestyle recommendations:

• switch to a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth.
• brush and floss gently to keep any remaining enamel intact.
• make dietary changes so you’re eating a healthier plant-based diet.
• use a fluoride-based gel toothpaste to strengthen the enamel of your teeth (your dentist can prescribe one).

If you are experiencing a significant amount of tooth pain or sensitivity, you might instead opt for a tooth bonding or a veneer (these will protect any exposed dentin).

Should your sensitivity be the result of receding gums, a tissue graft may also be recommended.

There are times when the pain becomes so severe that a root canal is recommended. This will completely eliminate the pain, as it removes the nerves associated with the tooth in question.

Final thoughts

While sensitive teeth are normally nothing to worry about, there are times when feelings of discomfort increase over time. And the pain may be a symptom of another condition, like tooth decay, so it’s important to get treatment early to preserve your tooth.

It is therefore important to practice the proper oral hygiene habits in order to prevent such a situation from occurring. Of course, make it a point to regularly visit your dentist. Early detection is arguably the best way to prevent long-term issues.


What Causes Mandibular Tori and What Treatments are Available?


There are many oral conditions which individuals may experience from time to time. Some of the most common include cavities, damaged teeth, issues with the gums, and short-term infections.

However, other scenarios occur less frequently and are unfamiliar to the majority of individuals. Mandibular tori are a perfect example.
What are mandibular tori? What are the symptoms and how can they be treated?

Mandibular Tori at a Glance

Mandibular tori are benign growths that can sometimes occur on the surface of the lower jaw bone and directly beneath the tongue. Note that these should not be confused with palatal tori (growths associated with the roof of the mouth).

There are times when these bumps can be detected by moving the tip of the tongue around the lower area of the oral cavity.

Some lumps may be nearly imperceptible to the touch while on rare occasions, they can enlarge to the point where physical discomfort is noted. It has also been shown that males are more likely to develop this condition than females.

What are the Causes of Mandibular Tori?

A great deal of research surrounding this condition is ongoing and new causal factors are being found on a regular basis. However, scientists have still been able to draw a handful of conclusions.

It is thought that genetics may play an important role. Studies seem to indicate that the genes associated with oral tori can be passed from father to son (one of the reasons why it tends to be more common in men).

Additionally, a handful of physical factors correlate with developing these tori over time. Examples include (but may not be limited to):

  • Acute injuries to the lower jawbone or the surrounding area.
  • Stresses resulting from bruxism (grinding the teeth).
  • Diets lacking certain nutrients or an abnormally high intake of calcium.
  • Certain dental appliances such as implants and dentures.

Another school of thought hints that tori may develop as a result psychological or physiological stress, as this condition tends to occur during early adulthood. Therefore, certain hormones could also play an important role. This has yet to be conclusively determined.

A Brief Look at Some Common Symptoms

There are many symptoms associated with this condition and as you might have already guessed, these will often be determined by the size and location of the tori themselves. Here are some common indications that a problem may be present:

  • Difficulties with speech.
  • Lower teeth that have become loose or changed position over time.
  • Pain or soreness in the jaw and/or upper throat.
  • Inflammation of the gums.
  • Tonsils that have become swollen or painful.

The tori themselves also come in a variety of shapes. Some may feel flat or spindle-shaped while others could appear to be round and uniform in nature. The size of these bony nodules can also increase over time although there are other instances when their dimensions will remain the same. Once again, this is based on the individual.

What Treatment Options are Available?

Let us now assume that you suspect tori are present within your lower mouth. How can this condition be treated?

It is always important to mention that the majority of mandibular tori are benign in nature. In other words, smaller nodules are generally no cause for alarm.

Treatment may nonetheless be desirable if they have significantly increased in size or they are leading to a fair amount of discomfort. Some other reasons why professional remedies might be the best solutions include:

  • If you experience a great deal of pain when eating.
  • In the event that they begin to interfere with dental prosthetics.
  • If the tori have grown to the point where they impede the functionality of your tongue.

Note that scraping these tori also increases the risk of developing a bacterial infection. This is when expert advice is required.
In terms of treatments, there may be instances when surgical intervention is the most logical solution. In this case, you will be referred to a maxillofacial surgeon. He or she will evaluate the condition in order to determine if an extraction is the best option.

Should you require surgery, this can normally be performed on an outpatient basis. Similar to any type of invasive oral treatment, it may take up to eight weeks for your mouth to fully recover (similar to many other types of oral procedures).

At-Home Ways to Mitigate the Risks and Effects of Mandibular Tori

Assuming that surgery is not warranted, there are several ways in which you can address the symptoms of this condition. For instance, it is wise to purchase a toothbrush with soft bristles. This will help to avoid any unnecessary irritation when brushing.

It is also important to adopt an effective oral care routine.

Abstain from eating unhealthy foods, use a mouthwash on a daily basis and floss between your teeth. A clean mouth is much less likely to develop more severe symptoms in the event that the skin above the tori is scraped or otherwise damaged.

Although mandibular tori are not familiar to the majority of individuals, it is still wise to appreciate some of the most common warning signs that these benign nodules may be present.

Your dentist will be able to provide you with an expert evaluation in order to better determine if intervention may be required.


Dental Implants: Advantages, Risks and Aftercare


Dental implants are probably the best (and certainly the most popular) method for replacing damaged or missing teeth -- but they are not always suitable for every person.

Before opting for dental implant surgery, the pros and cons should be discussed in detail with the dental specialist who will perform the operation. This includes the likelihood of a successful outcome.

But what are dental implants exactly? Are they better than dentures? How do they look, feel and act? What are the benefits and risks? Do they require special treatment or care? Read on…

What are Dental Implants?

An implant is a permanent fixture consisting of a titanium or metal screw that is embedded in the jawbone and to which a crown (false tooth) is attached. The metal screw replaces the root of the missing tooth -- while the crown is shaped and coloured to match the surrounding teeth.
The result is a natural-looking tooth that is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.


Depending on the size, location and number of teeth being replaced, a number of dental specialists may be required in the preparation process including a periodontist, prosthodontist and ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist.

This team will:

  • Review medical history with specific attention to existing medical conditions and prescriptions.
  • Conduct a detailed oral examination including X-rays and 3D imaging.
  • Construct model replicas of the teeth and jaw.
  • Devise a treatment plan for the surgery and aftercare.

Controlling pain during surgery is done with local or general anaesthesia. The method will depend on suitability, the extent of surgery being undertaken and a patient's preference.

Implants or Dentures?

One of the biggest advantages of dental implants over dentures is their natural look and feel. Once fitted, it is virtually impossible to distinguish a dental crown from its neighbouring natural teeth.

Unlike removable dentures, dental implants are permanent fixtures anchored to the jawbone -- and cannot slip or fall out. Implants are also easier to clean and maintain than dentures. They require no special cleaning materials but are simply brushed along with the rest of the teeth.
Chewing, eating and talking are not an issue with dental implants as they are solidly locked into position -- unlike dentures which can slip.

Many Benefits

A missing, misshapen or damaged tooth is not just unsightly but can also signify poor dental health. While dentists prefer to save a tooth, this is not always possible -- and dental implants are the next best thing.

Implants have many physical and aesthetic benefits including:

  • Reducing possible bone loss around the base of the missing tooth or teeth
  • Preserving the health of adjacent teeth, gums and jawbone
  • Maintaining the stability of nearby teeth
  • Making chewing and eating less troublesome
  • Being colour-matched to existing teeth
  • Being long lasting
  • Allowing for a confident smile and increased self-confidence
  • Restoring physical appearance
  • An added benefit of dental implants is that they cannot decay or develop cavities – as they are artificial teeth.

Few Risks

No tooth replacement system is ever perfect (at least not yet) and dental implants do have some risks -- although these are few, and the exception rather than the rule.

The main risks are:

  • Possible accidental damage to adjacent teeth
  • Possible oral tissue damage
  • Possible nerve damage
  • Possible infection around implant
  • Possible Implant failure

The first three risks are minimal and can normally be attributed to a novice or inexperienced surgeon -- while infection is always a risk in any dental or medical procedure.

Implant failure is an infrequent occurrence -- and is rare as patients are thoroughly screened and tested for medical or dental conditions that may result in the procedure failing.

Dental Implant Procedure and Timeline

Whether having a single or multiple dental implants, the procedure is basically the same:

  • Damaged tooth is removed and the site cleaned
  • Jawbone density is tested and bone grafting carried out (if required)
  • Metal (or ceramic) post is inserted into the jawbone
  • Time is allocated for new bone growth and the implant site to heal
    *Abutment (to which the crown will be attached) is attached to the post
  • Dental crown is fixed to the abutment then trimmed to a finish
    * In many cases the abutment is already attached to the post thus avoiding this surgical procedure.

Depending on the number of dental implants being fitted, and the complexity of the procedures, it can take months to complete the entire process with much of the time spent in healing and new bone growth.


Because it is an invasive surgical procedure, there can be some after-effects. These are to be expected and can include one or more of the following:

  • Swollen gums and face
  • Bruised gums and skin
  • Localised throbbing or pain
  • Minor bleeds around and under the implant

These are normal reactions and can usually be treated with antibiotics or pain medications. If symptoms persist, however, the operating dental surgeon should be informed immediately.


Dental implants are the best and most effective method of replacing missing or irreversibly damaged teeth. Implants look, feel and act like natural teeth. Dental implants also have the added bonus of requiring no special cleaning or attention once set in place and are durable and long-lasting.

Many people prefer them to dentures. In many cases, a few dental implants can make dentures more secure – so it’s a win-win. Talk to your dentist, and learn if dental implants have a place in your dental care.


Laser Dentistry in the Modern Practice


Lasers (an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”)
Lasers have been used in dentistry since the early 1990s and are now almost standard equipment in a modern dental practice.

Originally lasers had a somewhat limited use in dental procedures but, over the past decades, their use (and usefulness) has expanded considerably.

A dental laser works by emitting light in a focused beam and this narrow beam is used to scan and sterilise as well as shape, reform or remove tissue and even bone.

The laser either cuts or vaporises the tissue or bone it contacts and replaces the need for scalpels, drills and other cutting surgical instruments. Today laser dentistry is usually associated with teeth whitening but it is also extensively used in treating many common dental issues including:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease

Many dental experts consider laser dentistry to be more effective, efficient and comfortable than more traditional methods and the use of lasers has been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) although the American Dental Association has yet to follow suit.

Two Laser Types

Depending on the individual case a dentist will use either a soft tissue or hard tissue laser or very occasionally both.

Soft Tissue Laser - This type of laser is used for minor treatments where no cutting is required. Typical uses include treating gum disease, killing oral bacteria and activating the regrowth of damaged tissue. It is also used to seal blood vessels or nerve endings that may have ruptured during the procedure. The laser also promotes faster healing than other dental techniques with many patients reporting little or no pain after the procedure.

Hard Tissue Laser- When it is necessary to cut through or reshape teeth a stronger laser is required and a hard tissue laser will be used. The powerful beam can easily cut, trim and shape harder material and is also useful for dental repairs.

Most Common Uses

Soft tissue lasers are used for gum conditions and problems with oral soft tissues while a hard tissue laser is reserved for heavy-duty treatment. Which type of laser is used will depend on the individual case but these are the most common uses of lasers in a modern dental practice.

Gum Disease. A laser is used to destroy harmful bacteria on and under the gums as well as those in infected gum pockets.

Tartar Removal. Using a laser rather than dental tools to remove tartar is easier, more effective and less stressful.

Tooth Sensitivity. A laser can seal holes in the tooth's root which is the principal cause of tooth sensitivity.

Root Canal Infection. Infections of the root canal can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss but laser treatment can prevent and treat these infections.

Filling Preparation. A laser can be used to clean debris and bacteria from the inner tooth in preparation for a filling.

Nerve Regeneration. Damaged nerve endings can benefit from laser therapy which helps with regrowth and regeneration.

Tissue Removal. Excessive soft tissue in the throat can be problematic and lead to sleep apnoea. Lasers can remove unwanted tissue to reshape the throat and improve breathing.

Denture Adjustment. Poorly fitting dentures are often due to underlying tissue which can be removed or trimmed with a laser.

Tongue Frenulum Correction. The frenulum is the piece of skin that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Issues with the frenulum can lead to speech impediments, problems with breastfeeding and tongue-ties. Lasers can be used to remove or restructure the frenulum in order to treat such conditions.

Gum Reshaping. Overgrown gums make the teeth look unnaturally short but excess tissue can be removed and the gums reshaped using laser dentistry.

Muscle Treatment. Muscle issues that impair the function of the tongue and lips are candidates for laser treatment.

Pain Relief. Cankers and cold sores can be uncomfortable and even painful. Laser treatment has been shown to help with pain relief from these conditions.

Preparation Work. Hard tissue lasers are often used to roughen the surface of teeth or remove portions of tooth enamel in preparation for tooth bonding or restorative work.

Teeth Whitening. Laser technology is used to speed up the whitening process after a bleaching agent has been applied.
Apart from the practical uses, laser technology is also commonly used in a modern dental practice as a diagnostic tool. Lasers can be used to:

  • Remove samples of soft tissue for biopsy.
  • View the interior of gums and teeth in detail.
  • Detect possible decay and the formation of cavities.

Pros and Cons
No system is ever perfect or without criticism and this is also true of laser dentistry. While many professionals are in favour of laser treatment, and view their use as a positive technological advancement, others remain (as yet) unconvinced.

The benefits of laser treatment over traditional methods include:

  • Reduced necessity for anaesthesia
  • Less bleeding after procedures compared to regular dental equipment
  • Minimal pain or discomfort
  • No need for drilling (which many patients fear)
  • Usually faster healing times than with traditional dentistry
  • Creation of a sterile environment reducing the risk of infection
  • Less invasive procedures than with drills or probes
  • Preservation of more of the healthy parts of a tooth or gums
  • More accurate results with minimal damage to healthy gums or teeth

To counter the positives there are always some negatives. These include relatively minor issues such as:

  • Lasers cannot be used on teeth that already contain fillings
  • Lasers are not an option for common procedures like filling cavities in awkward positions or for the removal of crowns or fillings
  • Dental drills may still be required for finishing purposes after laser treatment
  • Laser treatment does not totally eliminate the use of anaesthetics

It should also be noted that laser treatment can be more costly than traditional methods and this should be take into consideration when contemplating a dental procedure.

Safety Concerns
Because radiation is used in laser treatments there have been questions asked about the safety of using this technology. Dental lasers are perfectly safe when used by trained practitioners which is (or should be) the case in a modern dental practice.

Protective eye wear should always be supplied and worn during treatment but it is also important to have trust and confidence in the operator's training, qualifications and experience. It is advisable to discuss any upcoming treatment with the dentist who can answer any questions about the procedure and remove any concerns regarding potential risks involved.

White Spots on Gums: Causes, Symptoms and Cures


White spots or patches appearing on the gums can have a range of causes -- and the symptoms and cures will depend on the diagnosis.
Generally speaking, there are four dental conditions that can result in these patches or spots developing. Some are easily treated with medication while others will need the attention of a dentist or oral specialist.

The four main culprits that cause white patches or spots are canker sores, oral lichen planus, oral thrush and leukoplakia.

Canker Sores

Causes - The precise cause of canker sores remains unclear but experts suspect that bacteria, improper diet, oral irritation or injury and even stress may all be contributory factors.

Symptoms - Often referred to as mouth ulcers, canker sores are round or oval shaped with a red edge and have either a white or yellowish centre.

Cure - Most minor cases of canker sores will generally clear up within one to two weeks without treatment. More persistent cases will need to be discussed with a dentist who may recommend a mouthwash or an over-the-counter medication.

Oral Lichen Planus

Causes - As with canker sores, there is no exact cause for oral lichen planus but experts believe it may be an autoimmune reaction to oral infections or injury to the teeth. Other possible causes include an autoimmune disorder or reactions to medications or certain materials.

Symptoms - Oral lichen planus causes inflammation of mucous membranes in the oral cavity which can cause white lace-like patches or red swollen patches to appear. These sores can sometimes peel or blister and be accompanied by burning sensations or pain. In some cases, there can also be discomfort or slight pain when speaking, chewing or swallowing.

Cure - There is no cure for this chronic condition but it can be controlled with proper treatment. This focuses on healing any sores or lesions and relieving any pain or discomfort.

If white spots on the gums are the only issue, then treatment may not be necessary but more severe issues may require the use of topical numbing medications for pain relief or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.

Oral Thrush

Causes - Also called oral candidiasis, the condition occurs when an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the mouth allows for the growth of the candida albicans fungus. This imbalance can be be caused by a number of factors including:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Diabetes
  • Diseases such as leukaemia and AIDS
  • Vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy
  • Certain medications may also reduce the amount of good bacteria in the body.

Symptoms - Oral thrush is typified by the presence of raised sores which are cream or white in appearance and have a soft cheese-like texture.

Cure - Treatment is aimed at preventing the fungus from spreading -- but the underlying cause must also be explored to prevent a recurrence.

Many topical medications including tablets, lozenges and mouthwashes are widely available and a dentist or doctor can recommend which may work best on an individual basis.


Causes - Another cause of thick, white spots or patches on the gums, the inner cheeks, in the mouth and (occasionally) on the tongue is leukoplakia. Like other dental issues that cause white patches, the exact cause is unknown but the use of tobacco products and the excessive intake of alcohol are the chief suspects.

Symptoms - In many ways leukoplakia is very similar to oral thrush with symptoms including patches or spots that are:

  • White, grey or grey-white in colour
  • Thick to the touch or slightly elevated
  • Coarse or hard in texture

Although leukoplakia patches are generally painless, they may be sensitive to heat, touch, irritation or spiced food.

Cure - Treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause. Smokers will be encouraged to quit or cut down as will heavy drinkers.

If the condition is caused by irritation from rough teeth or ill-fitting dentures, this issue will need to be resolved. If the root problem cannot be rectified, it may be necessary to have the patches surgically removed by a dentist or oral specialist.

A Reason to Smile

In the vast majority of cases white spots and patches are nothing to worry about -- and will either clear up on their own or are easily treatable. It should be noted, however, that some very isolated cases of leukoplakia can be an early indication of cancer.

White or cream spots are most common but occasionally the lesions may be red in colour (called speckled leukoplakia) and these may be cancerous growths.

Pre-cancerous leukoplakia is called dysplasia which can be mild, moderate or severe. Severe cases are most likely to develop into cancer and the diagnosis will determine the best course of treatment.

Whatever the size, shape, colour or location of white patches or spots they should never be simply ignored and always brought to the attention of a dentist or doctor.

As is the case with any physical ailments, it is good practise to keep the teeth, gums, tongue and mouth in the best condition possible by following a good dental health regimen and scheduling regular appointments with a dentist.


Help Your Child Feel Good About Dental Visits


Visiting a dentist for the first time can be confusing and even slightly frightening for some children. This is why parents should begin to prepare them for what they can expect.

Indeed, fostering healthy teeth and gums at an early age is the best way to avoid problems in the future.

Here are three effective strategies to embrace:

  • Always answer any questions that your child may have.
  • Play a game of dentist at home.
  • Explain why dentists are important as well as some of the procedures that will be performed.

"Your child will likely have some questions or even concerns about going to the dentist."

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