Veganuary And Dry January

Good teeth on smiling people

What these two campaigns mean for the health of your mouth.

If you even just flick through the news, whether in papers or on the internet, you can’t help but have noticed that January seems to be a popular month for campaigns that can be life changing.

Dry January, a campaign to encourage people to go a month without alcohol, has been going for a few years now, whilst the furore surrounding Piers Morgan and Gregg’s now infamous vegan ‘sausage’ roll means that the campaign to encourage people to go vegan for a month, Veganuary, has received a significant boost in publicity.

Both of these campaigns may offer benefits to our health as a whole. Alcohol is widely linked with a number of health problems, and even if you don’t wish to become entirely vegan, most experts agree that increasing our intake of non animal based foods is probably very beneficial for us.

Few articles on these current campaigns though, have focussed on the effect that these campaigns can have on our oral health. At the Confidental Clinic in Clapham, we thought that we would address just that.

Dry January

Few would dispute that drinking to excess is bad for our health in many ways. In addition to the direct effect that it can have on organs such as the liver, alcohol is a prime cause of many accidents and assaults, as anyone who has visited an Accident and Emergency department on a Saturday night can probably attest.

Alcohol can also play a harmful role in our oral health in a number of other ways too.

Sugar content – Most alcoholic drinks contain sugar and some of the newer generation of drinks, often aimed at younger people, can contain very high quantities indeed. Even traditional beers such as a pint of bitter contain sugar though. Regular consumption means that we expose our teeth to more sugar than we would if we didn’t drink.

Dry mouth – Drinking alcohol often causes us to wake up with a dry mouth in the morning. This dehydration means that our mouths have provided an ideal place for bacteria to thrive in our mouth as we sleep. These bacteria are a significant contributor to both tooth decay and gum disease, both of which may lead to eventual tooth loss.

Accidents – as mentioned earlier, drinking too much alcohol may well lead to a stumble, fall or collision that damages our teeth. Whilst this can happen at any time, the effect of alcohol makes this more likely. In many cases, this will lead to the need to see an emergency dentist at our Clapham practice. Please call us as soon as you can and we will endeavour to see you the same day wherever possible.

Veganuary

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Brushing Your Teeth Immediately After Eating Could Cause Them Damage

Dentist surgery

Wait a little while after eating before you brush.

Brushing our teeth regularly is the very foundation of good oral health, and is something that we regularly remind our patients about to help them keep their teeth and gums healthy.

Without doing this, it won’t matter how healthily we eat or how often we see the dentist, and is almost certain to result in tooth decay. Even if we currently brush our teeth twice a day though, there is every chance that we may not be doing it as well as we should be.

Before we move on to the main topic of this blog, it is worth reminding our Clapham dental patients of a few basic rules when brushing.

  1. Use a brush with bristles in good condition. This means replacing the brush every three months or so
  2. Make sure that your toothpaste contains fluoride. This helps to strengthen the protective enamel on your teeth
  3. Make sure you clean your gums too, and angle the brush approximately 45 degrees towards the gums so that the gum pockets are cleaned
  4. Don’t rinse afterwards, but allow the toothpaste to remain on your teeth. This helps fluoride absorption
  5. Floss your teeth too. This helps to remove food and bacteria from those hard to reach spaces between your teeth.

Why wait before you brush your teeth?

If we choose to brush our teeth straight after eating; whilst it may freshen our mouths, it also catches our teeth at a time when they are more vulnerable. Although probably not widely known, our teeth soften slightly after we eat. This is caused by a loss of minerals such as calcium and phosphate, important components of our tooth enamel.

Brushing immediately after eating will remove even more of these minerals and make it more difficult for our teeth to remineralise afterwards. If done regularly over a period of time, the enamel on our teeth will become thinner and may cause problems such as tooth sensitivity and even decay. It is best to leave approximately half an hour before we brush.

Helping the remineralisation process

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Winter Illnesses And Your Oral Health

Dr Jignesh Patel

The season for coughs and colds is upon us and can even affect our teeth and gums if we don’t take care.

Although colds and the flu can occur at any time of the year, the colder Winter months typically mean that this is more likely.

If you use a busy public transport system, you will be all too aware of the various airborne germs and viruses that can be transferred as you hear people coughing and sneezing all around you.

Although there are a number of things that we can do to help avoid these illnesses, such as regular washing of hands, for the most part, they are an inevitable part of life and are rarely life threatening providing that you are generally healthy.

Oral health and the flu

Because a flu virus can affect you for several days, in some cases leaving you bed ridden, it can be all too easy for your teeth and gums to suffer during this period. Below, Clapham dentist Dr Jignesh Patel (GDC 81168), looks at some of the potential problems and what you can do to minimise the impact of the flu, and colds, upon your oral health.

General care

When you are feeling especially dreadful, the last thing on your mind may be to drag yourself from your bed to clean your teeth twice a day. Although skipping even a single brushing session is not a good idea, if this continues for a number of days, your teeth and gums are likely to deteriorate. Given that you may also be eating less healthily and opting for comforting high sugar foods, it isn’t hard to see what could go wrong.

If you physically can, do try to maintain your regular teeth cleaning regimen. Even a cursory brushing, with toothpaste, for a few days, is better than nothing at all.

Stay hydrated

If you have the flu, it is quite likely that your appetite will suffer and the fact is that most of us can go without food for a short period of time. What we do need though is water, and quite a lot of it. In addition to making us feel better, hydrated and potentially helping us to recover from the virus, drinking water regularly will help to flush away any food particles, as well as some of the excess bacteria that can lead to gum disease. Do stick to water and avoid high sugar energy drinks as these will only exacerbate the risks.

Vomiting

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Hyperdontia – The Problem Of Too Many Teeth

Confidental Clinic

Whilst tooth loss is a concern for many of us; for some, having too many teeth is a problem.

As we develop as young children, we should eventually have 20 baby, or milk, teeth. As we become adults, this number will grow and a healthy mouth should eventually consist of 32 teeth. This is not always the case though, and some adults also develop additional teeth.

Genetic factors and certain illnesses can contribute to this happening, and when it does, it can create a number of problems for the person concerned. It is particularly likely in people suffering from a Cleft lip, Gardner’s disease or Down syndrome. Twice as many men are likely to have this problem, than women.

In most cases of hyperdontia, just one or two extra teeth are likely to be present, but even more additional teeth are not unheard of. In one very rare case, 232 teeth were removed from a boy’s mouth in India (reference 1). Instances like this though are extremely rare and few people will have more than a couple of additional teeth. In some cases, hyperdontia can not only cause aesthetic problems, but can also lead to facial deformities and speech problems.

Not all additional teeth, also known as supernumerary teeth, may necessarily look like a natural tooth and can take many forms. These include small ‘peg’ like shapes, conical teeth and those that have a tooth like shape but are significantly smaller.

Also, not all additional teeth are necessarily visible, and some may not have yet erupted. These will show up during the x-rays that we take from time to time during your regular check ups.

The risks and complications

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Cracked Teeth – What Happens Next?

Almost invisible cracks can appear in our teeth, causing discomfort and potentially further damage.

Some cracks that appear in our teeth are visible, but this is not always the case. Although we might be tempted to ignore even the more visible cracks, except for when they lead to obvious damage such as breakage, this is inadvisable.

Cracks in the teeth, however,  do not always appear so obviously to the naked eye, and some may be so small that, even upon close inspection, they can be difficult to detect.

Whilst you may not be able to see these cracks, you may well notice their effects. If you notice a change in any of your teeth, whether in their appearance or the way that they feel, it is advisable to see one of our Clapham dentists as soon as possible to get them checked out.

Minor crack issues

Although aesthetics may not be an issue when you suffer from a tiny crack in a tooth, you may experience some additional sensitivity, especially when eating or drinking hot or cold products. Some discomfort may also be felt when eating and you should have this checked as soon as you can. Whilst sensitivity can be caused by other problems such as enamel erosion, all dental issues that cause unwanted results should be investigated.

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Fresher Breath With Healthier Gums

Hygienist Lauren Bennett

Looking after your gums has many benefits. Nicer smelling breath is just one of them.

When it comes to unpleasant smells, little can match the odour of severe halitosis and anyone who has stood too close to someone with this will understand what we mean.

There are a number of things which can cause bad breath and many of these are temporary; for example, eating certain foods such as garlic, can cause bad breath, as can others such as beer or coffee. These usually only last a short time though, and with reasonable oral health care, will soon go.

One type of bad breath that will not easily go though is that caused by gum disease, which occurs as the number of harmful bacteria increases in our mouths. This is often due to poor cleaning of the teeth and gums, although other factors, such as smoking or certain medical conditions such as diabetes, increase the likelihood of both gingivitis and periodontitis.

Unpleasant gases

Although, as we have previously discussed, gum disease can have serious consequences for the health of our teeth, and also cause a fair amount of soreness and discomfort; in this blog we will focus on halitosis. So, why does gum disease often lead to extremely bad breath?

The harmful bacteria that lead to gum disease do so by eating away at the soft tissues of the gums. This is often what causes the soreness, and bleeding when we brush our teeth. This is not the only result of this action though. As the bacteria ‘digest’ the flesh, they also expel gases and it is this that results in the often sulphurous smell of halitosis. This may be so strong that it is impossible to mask with breath fresheners or mouth sprays and even where a patient does successfully manage to mask the smell, this does not get to the root of the problem.

Gum health management

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Chipped Teeth – Unsightly And Uncomfortable!

Dentist surgery

Even the tiniest of chips in your teeth can lead to problems – act quickly!

Some people have a habit of putting off seeing a dentist where a ‘minor’ issue is present. Whilst some of this may be due to dental anxiety, or an appointment not being very far away anyway; leaving a problem is likely to lead to it becoming worse, if not treated. For this reason, we always encourage our Clapham patients to at least contact us for further advice if they notice anything wrong.

Whilst some patients will put up with a relatively mild toothache for some time before contacting us, a delay is even more likely where any damage seems almost irrelevant or unnoticeable. A case in point is where a tiny piece of tooth has broken away.

Tiny chips still matter

Whilst a larger piece of a tooth breaking away may be cause to ring the dentist for an appointment, the tiniest of chips may be almost invisible and very likely not cause any immediate discomfort. There are a number of reasons though, why you should have this looked at, as soon as possible.

Damaged enamel and tooth decay

Where a tooth has chipped, however small, it is possible that a small area of the dentin layer below it has become exposed. This softer, more porous, material can become affected by bacteria entering. This may eventually lead to tooth decay becoming a problem, and a filling is likely to be needed. Root canal infections may also start in this way.

Soft tissue discomfort

Even the tiniest of chips can create a razor sharp edge to the tooth and this can easily cause some of the adjacent soft tissue to bleed as it cuts into it. Any wound in the mouth needs to be kept clean to prevent infections. Even if you manage to do this though, any cut or graze is likely to be noticeable when you eat or drink certain foods and however tiny the cut, the discomfort can be significant.

How we treat a chipped tooth

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When You Might Consider A Smile Makeover

Dentist Dr Rohit Kumar of Confidental Clinic in Clapham

Dr Rohit Kumar looks at some of the common reasons why patients decide to have this treatment.

A smile makeover has long been popular amongst patients of the Confidental Clinic in Clapham, and with good reason. Having this treatment is a great way of giving your smile a real boost, often improving your confidence along with it.

When we have a toothache, it is obvious that we need to see a dentist, but what are the key factors which help patients decide that it is time to have a smile makeover? Dr Rohit Kumar takes a closer look below:

Unmovable staining

We know that if we drink tea or coffee regularly, our teeth may eventually stain. If we brush our teeth properly though, much of this can be removed and it does take quite a long time, especially if we attend the hygienist, for permanent staining to become a problem. But if you find that however well you brush your teeth, they still look discoloured, a smile makeover may be just the thing for you!

Tiny teeth

Some people may think that they have really small teeth. In the majority of these cases, it is likely not to be the teeth that are the problem, but overgrown gums. In some people, these grow further up the teeth than is normal producing what is sometimes referred to as a ‘gummy smile’. This can be corrected using a one off gum lift procedure to give you more natural looking teeth.

Gappy teeth

If you find that food becomes easily trapped between your teeth, it may simply be that they are not as straight and evenly spaced as they should be. This is a common problem, and one that can usually be corrected using one of our wide range of orthodontic treatments. These will not only provide you with a more attractive smile, but also reduce the risk of problems like decay and gum disease as the teeth are easier to keep clean.

Hiding your smile

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Investing In A Healthy Mouth

Confidental Clinic

Preventative dental care doesn’t have to cost a fortune and is money well spent, says Dr Moira Baldiraghi.

Whilst some patients may equate dental treatment with financial outlay, actually preventing the need for many of these treatments in the first place is very affordable. In some ways diligent personal oral can save you money and in today’s blog, I will take a closer look at how patients can improve their oral health, without breaking the bank.

Saving money

Let’s start with some ways that patients can actually save money AND improve their oral health by doing so. This can mainly be done by cutting out some of the things which we often consume but which are harmful to our teeth and gums.

The most obvious of these is smoking. With ‘Stoptober’ (1) not being far away, now is a good time to start to think about stopping smoking, if you haven’t already. Although some people do find it difficult to stop, this is not always the case, and you won’t know unless you try. Even if you do find it hard to stop, there is now a large amount of support available, and your GP should be able to help you with this. By stopping smoking, you greatly reduce the risk of some serious dental problems including oral cancers and gum disease, as well as saving yourself a small fortune.

Reducing your alcohol intake will also save you money as well as improving your oral health in much the same way as stopping smoking. Finally, try swapping those expensive high sugar drinks for water. This will be much better for your health, and especially for your teeth.

Having saved you some money then, here are some of the things that you could invest it in, and which our Clapham dental team feel are essential for anyone wishing to maintain a healthy mouth.

Toothbrush

You are probably thinking ‘I’ve already got one of those’, and we certainly hope that you have. Have you thought about how old and ineffective it may be though? Older toothbrushes wear out, and the worn out bristles are no longer as effective at removing food and bacteria from the teeth and gum line. If you haven’t bought a toothbrush for some time, why not splash out on a good quality electric toothbrush. These are generally thought to be more effective than a manual toothbrush and are easy to use. Even if you are tired when you clean your teeth, the fast rotating speeds of the bristles will help to keep your teeth and gums clean. Many also include a pressure sensor to stop you from wearing away the protective enamel on your teeth.

Dental floss and toothpaste

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The Problem Of Mouth Ulcers

Dr Jignesh Patel

Dr Jignesh Patel looks at this common oral health issue.

Although dentists are primarily responsible for looking after patient’s teeth and gums, we are also concerned about all other aspects of your mouth health too. For example, we are ideally placed to spot issues such as oral cancers, and refer you for prompt help from a relevant professional where necessary.

Occasionally we do come across potential signs of oral cancers, such as lesions or sore patches, but one of the more common problems that we see are mouth ulcers.

What is a mouth ulcer?

There are generally two types of mouth ulcer:

Firstly, ‘traumatic ulcers’. These occur as a result of some sort of trauma, even relatively minor traumas such as biting your lip or cheeks when eating. Generally, these are lone ulcers and only occur around the site of the trauma. These generally go of their own accord and are not usually serious. If you do have one that doesn’t seem to go away however, you should certainly have it looked at by one of our Clapham dental team.

The other type of mouth ulcer is what is known as a ‘recurrent aphthous stomatitis’. Despite the medical sounding name, these are generally not serious and appear in small groups of tiny ulcers, often in children and younger people. There is some uncertainty as to what causes this type of ulcer, and, again, if they are still there after a few weeks, we do recommend that you have them checked at the Confidental Clinic.

Infections

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