The Mouth – A Window Into Our General Health

Studies are increasingly linking poor oral health with a number of serious medical conditions.

We use our mouth for essential functions, such as eating and drinking, as well as communicating with those around us. Unfortunately, despite its obvious importance, some people probably take better care of their fingernails and hair than they do their teeth and gums.

In addition to the obvious advantages of having healthy teeth, such as the avoidance of toothache, studies are increasingly indicating that it may not just be our teeth and gums that suffer if we practice poor oral health care.

Protect the gums

No one wants to lose a tooth, but once a tooth has deteriorated to the point that it needs to be extracted, that is the end of the matter. The same cannot be said our our gums. Our gums are linked to the rest of our body and, from studies, it seems that they may provide an entry point for bacteria and infections that can threaten our general well being.

There are many articles available which discuss the ‘hows and whys’ surrounding how poor oral health can lead to illnesses, but, for the purposes of this blog, these are some of the more serious health conditions that have been mentioned.

●     Heart disease

●     Strokes

●     Diabetes

●     Arthritis

●     Alzheimer’s

●     Respiratory diseases

This is not an exhaustive list, but, as you can see, the implications of poor oral care are potentially very serious indeed, and could even prove to be fatal.

Not all doom and gloom

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How Serious Is Gum Disease?

Does the UK treat gingivitis and periodontitis too lightly?

It is possible that younger people, with the aid of easily accessible information via the internet, are now more aware of gum disease than our older patients. For many in their later years, gingivitis was something that they may have given their dog chewing sticks to prevent, unaware that they may themselves, also be suffering with it!

Unlike tooth decay, where the patient may suffer from a painful toothache, gum disease can be relatively ‘silent’, at least until it becomes more advanced.

What to look for

There are a few potential signs that all may not be well with your gums, although these are not always present. Potential symptoms of gingivitis, or early stage gum disease, may include:

●     Red, or sore, gums

●     Bleeding when you spit after brushing your teeth

●     Inflammation

●     Receding gums

●     Bad breath

Gingivitis can often be treated in a straightforward manner, either through the improvement of your personal oral care regimen, or through a programme of ‘scale and polish’ treatments by our Bedford dental hygienist.

Periodontitis

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Medication And Your Teeth

Some common medicines may increase the risk of problems such as tooth decay.

Whilst a sensible tooth friendly diet, good home cleaning and professional monitoring by your dentist will give you every chance of having healthy teeth; sometimes there are external factors which can cause problems and which may be beyond our control.

One of these external factors is medication, both prescribed and over the counter. We should make it absolutely clear that you should not stop taking prescribed medication, especially for serious illnesses, but you may wish to discuss with your doctor if you feel that your teeth are suffering as a result. In some situations, such as the use of antacids, you may be able to find a more gentle way of treating this.

Whether your medication is prescribed or not, we always request that patients of The Dental Centre Bedford advise us of any medication that you are taking when you come for your regular check up, or any treatment that may be required outside of these appointments.

The following are some of the more common medicines which may have a negative effect on your teeth.

Antacids

Acidity resulting from heartburn or acid reflux can damage your teeth through erosion of the enamel. Taking an antacid to counteract this, however, can also have negative results. In addition to any sugar that may be in them, antacids can weaken the teeth, leaving them more prone to tooth decay. In particular, try to avoid the use of chewable antacids.

Painkillers

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Smoker’s Teeth – Yellow Forever?

Have you stopped smoking? Here’s how to have nice looking teeth again.

If you are of a certain age, it is very possible that you smoked during your younger years.

With the numerous health warnings since, many will hopefully have stopped by now, with even more likely to do so in the future. Whilst it is a fact that, once you stop smoking, your health will usually improve, smoking can leave a legacy behind; one that you will probably see when you look in the mirror!

Smoker’s teeth

All smokers, but heavier smokers especially, are likely to have teeth that are quite yellow, or even brown, in colour. This is caused by the tar and nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products that  have stained your teeth over time. Although stopping smoking should prevent them from becoming worse, they are unlikely to improve in colour without a little help from your local Bedford dentists.

Oral health first

Before we take a look at the best way to restore the whiteness of your teeth, it is essential that the health of your teeth and gums are checked. Smokers especially, are in a high risk category for gum disease and you may need to undergo treatment in order to fully restore the health of your gums. Once this has been done, we can look at the whitening options available at The Dental Centre Bedford.

Whiter teeth for ex smokers

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Specialist Dental Care – The Endodontist

Dental microscope

Advanced treatment available at your local Bedford dentist.

In addition to providing routine dental care, including checkups, fillings and extractions, along with cosmetic dentistry; we are also pleased to offer our patients the services of our specialist dentists when the need arises.

It is good to know that you will be able to have treatment at your own local dentist and not have to be referred to an unfamiliar practice to have the procedure done.

One of the well known specialist treatments that we provide is endodontics, more commonly known as root canal treatment. In today’s blog we take a closer look at what this entails.

Specialised training

Although all dentists that practice in the UK must undergo training and attain qualifications in line with the General Dental Council’s requirements, a number of dentists go on to study specific fields in more detail. One of these fields is endodontics, literally meaning ‘inside the tooth’. This is an important part of the tooth as it contains both tiny blood vessels and the nerves that allow the tooth to have sensation.

Root canal infections

When the enamel of the tooth is broken, or even cracked, it can allow bacteria to enter. Eventually this can reach the root canals, seated deep inside the tooth. When this happens, infections are likely to occur, and with them, often significant pain. Whether there is minor discomfort or severe pain though, the tooth will usually need to be treated immediately to prevent the situation from getting worse.

Root canal therapy

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Keeping Teenage Teeth Healthy In Bedford

The teen years can be challenging, especially for teeth and gums.

As any parent knows, having a teenager is not always fun. As their find their way and place in the world, they inevitably challenge authority figures, and that, of course, includes mum and dad!

Although our children gain more independence as they get older, parental influence  does still continue, and it is important that we use some of this influence to make sure that they look after their oral health.

Whilst we probably can’t stand and watch a 14 year old whilst they clean their teeth, there are ways that we can still at least help them to enter their adult life with healthy teeth.

Food

Although we can’t monitor everything that our children eat outside the home, we can at least make sure that they have a healthy diet within the home. Keeping sugary sweets and snacks out of the way of eager hands, and reserving them for special occasions only, is a good start. The same applies with sugary drinks which are increasingly being blamed for a rise in tooth decay.

Even if we don’t recognise it sometimes, our teenagers do still watch what their parents do and say, so try to be a good example to them when it comes to what they eat and drink.

Take control

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Can I Put A Knocked Out Tooth Back In?

Attempting to save a natural tooth when it has been knocked out.

Thousands of teeth are knocked out each year, both in children and adults.

This can happen in a number of ways, perhaps a fall, a play fight amongst children or a sporting accident, as some of you may have seen happen during a live football match on TV this weekend.

You may have heard some people say that the tooth can be put back in straight away and it will be saved. The truth is that whilst this is possible, it is a lot more complicated than that.

As this may be a topical subject following the football game we referenced, we thought we would explain what to do, should this happen to you.

If your tooth is knocked out, you should:

Immediately retrieve the tooth from the ground, or wherever it has landed. Make sure that you pick it up by the crown part of the tooth. That is the part that would be visible above the gum line if it were in your mouth. Do not touch the root part of the tooth.

Rinse any dust or dirt from the tooth. Do not try to brush, scrub or wipe it, simply rinse it briefly. Don’t wrap the tooth in a tissue or any type of cloth.

If possible, and it is not too painful, try to put the tooth back into the socket. Carefully insert it and press gently with your finger or by gently ‘biting’ it into position.

If, for any reason, you can’t insert the tooth back into the socket, you must keep it moist. The best place, if you are comfortable doing so, is in the cheek of your mouth. Take care not to swallow it though if you do. Alternatively, place the tooth in some milk. Don’t use water as, perhaps surprisingly, the living cells remaining on the tooth will not tolerate it. If water is the only option, use bottled water that is chemical and chlorine free, but preferably use milk instead.

Ring The Dental Centre Bedford straight away explaining what has happened. We will attempt to see you straight away as the sooner the tooth is correctly back in place, the greater the chances of success.

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Whiter Teeth For The New Year In Bedford?

Give your smile a boost with our fast acting teeth whitening procedure!

Most of us will be going into the new year with some resolutions, or at least a  ‘wish list’ of things that we want to achieve. It is probably no surprise then, that we tend to see a rise, in January, in the number of patients attending our Bedford dentists, for our popular teeth whitening procedure.

Our teeth become darker for a number of reasons. Some of this is caused by surface staining from products such as tea and red wine, both of which contain tannin which is notorious for staining the teeth.

There are certainly some things that you can do yourself to help keep your teeth as white as possible. In addition to moderating staining drinks, and other staining foodstuffs, you should:

  • Brush your teeth correctly twice a day. This will help to remove surface deposits, as well as helping to keep the teeth healthy.
  • Avoid high sugar or citrus drinks. These can damage the surface enamel, allowing it to become stained more easily. It also means that the darker inner part of your teeth starts to become visible. More about that shortly.
  • Don’t smoke. Not only is smoking extremely likely to make your teeth yellow, or even brown, it is incredibly harmful and is a leading cause of oral cancer. Heavy smokers where staining is severe, may need to have a more complex cosmetic procedure to fit dental veneers if they wish to have their teeth whitened.

As we mentioned, the inner part of our teeth is often darker than the enamel and gets progressively darker as we age. This is something which happens naturally, however well we care for our teeth. The only way that you can restore this part of the tooth to a lighter shade, is through a cosmetic treatment known as teeth whitening.

Whitening your teeth

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Why We Use X-Rays And What They Can Reveal

Revealing hidden oral problems at our Bedford dentists.

From time to time, our Bedford dentist may take x-rays, either to diagnose a specific problem, or simply to monitor what is happening beneath your gums.

Used correctly, x-rays are safe and cause no discomfort to the patient. They are also essential to help make sure that your teeth and the underlying structure is in good shape.

Whilst surface decay and some other problems are usually visible to the naked eye; without the use of x rays, many other problems would remain undetected. In today’s Dental Centre Bedford blog, we take a look at some of the common uses of x-rays.

Crowns and fillings

Crowns and fillings are widely used to restore damaged teeth. This does mean though, that they can also hide problems that might be happening beneath them. Through the use of x rays, we can detect if any of the underlying natural tooth is decaying, and treat it accordingly.

Infected root canals

If a patient comes to us in pain, but with no obvious external damage, there is a likelihood that the problem is caused by an infection in the root canals of the tooth. This can only be detected using an x-ray. If an infection is detected, a root canal treatment will be needed to restore the tooth. X-rays are also important here in order to make sure that there are no abscesses present which would need treatment before any root canal therapy could start.

Gum disease

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When To See The Hygienist?

Hygienist in Bedford Hilary Sinclair

The importance of our Bedford hygienist’s role should not be underestimated.

The majority of people in the UK will see their dentist twice a year for their regular check ups. Whilst some people may choose not to, regular attendance is widely recognised as the sensible thing to do if you want to keep your teeth healthy.

Far fewer people have the same approach to their local dental hygienist however. This is unfortunate as they play a very important role in keeping your whole mouth in good health. For those unfamiliar with what happens during a typical visit, our Dental Centre Bedford hygienist explains below:

Education

Education plays an important part of the hygienist’s role. For this reason, we recommend that even children see a hygienist on a regular basis. This is a great way to encourage them to clean their teeth properly, without it being seen as a ‘lecture’ from mum and dad! For very young children, we may use toys and other child friendly methods to get them into good oral health habits from an early age.

It isn’t just children who can benefit from these visits. Many adults clean their teeth as their parents taught them, often incorrectly. We will not only demonstrate how to clean your teeth correctly, both by brushing and the use of dental floss, but also discuss potentially damaging habits such as smoking and alcohol.

Scale and polish

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A CARING FAMILY DENTIST YOU CAN TRUST