First Dental Visit For Years?

What to expect upon your return to our Bedford dental practice

As we have mentioned numerous times before in our blogs, receiving regular dental care is essential if you want to have a healthy mouth. Most of our patients maintain this routine, but events can happen that throw us off course.

A cancelled appointment, especially for something that is causing upheaval in your life, can sometimes lead to us forgetting to make a new one. The same can apply when a patient who has dental phobia hits a real wall over it and simply avoids seeing the dentist at all, sometimes for many years.

Although this is far from ideal, we are always pleased when someone who hasn’t seen a dentist for some time decides that now is the right time to start getting their oral health back on course.

What should you expect?

First of all, it is important that patients of The Dental Centre Bedford know that they will be treated with respect by all of our team, from receptionist to dentist. There will be no lectures about neglecting your teeth and gums and no ‘tutting’ as we examine your teeth. We know how difficult making that first step can be and the last thing that we want to do is discourage any returning patients.

The first physical step that we take to start the restoration of your teeth is to examine them thoroughly. This will be done both visually and through the use of x-rays. Although many dental problems can be observed by the dentist, we can’t see below the gum line, and x-rays are therefore necessary to investigate issues such as root canal infections and any bone deterioration caused by gum disease. From the results of this examination, we will discuss an appropriate treatment plan with you.

Possible problems

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What Happens When Food Becomes Trapped In Your Teeth?

Decay Prevention – The Basics

Working on the assumption that all of our Bedford patients brush their teeth twice a day, both morning and night, this should be sufficient to ensure that they have a healthy set of teeth, right? Well, not quite. Brushing your teeth is only a part of the story, albeit a great place to start.

It is true that brushing is essential, and you should take care to renew the brush or head of an electric one at approximately three monthly intervals to ensure that the bristles are still effective. Although brushing is very important, it is still likely that small pieces of food will have become trapped between the teeth and in and around the gums.

Before we look at how to remove these, let us first of all, take a look at what happens when this occurs.

Food breakdown

Whilst we might notice a larger piece of food that becomes trapped and make an attempt to remove it, even the tiniest piece of trapped food can pose a risk for a healthy tooth. It isn’t actually the food that is the problem, but what happens to it next. Our mouths are full of bacteria, some good and some not so good, and this bacteria loves trapped food as a source of energy. As the bacteria consumes the residual food debris, acids are formed as bi-products and it is this that causes the damage to the enamel of our teeth. The tooth enamel is there to provide protection for the softer inner sections of our teeth and it is easy to see why we should avoid it being compromised.

These bacteria also create plaque, a clear sticky film that covers our teeth. Where not removed, this will eventually turn into tartar, a harder form which is impossible to remove through simple home care. If left too long, problems such as gingivitis and periodontitis can occur; exacerbated by the tartar build-up. Although this process can take time and doesn’t happen overnight, the potential long term implications include loose teeth that may even fall out, caused by periodontitis where it degrades the bone that supports the teeth.

Removing trapped food debris

Diligent brushing of your teeth is essential and fundamental for a healthy mouth; but this alone isn’t enough. There are a number of things that you can do to aid removal of the tiny fragments of food which can remain even after you have brushed well.

Straight and evenly spaced teeth

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The Rapid Decline In Smoking

And how your oral health will be all the better for it.

A recent report has noted that cigarette consumption in England fell by just under 1.5 billion cigarettes each year between 2011 and 2018. That equates to approximately a quarter less cigarettes being smoked on a regular basis than previously. This is good news for the general health of the nation and also for our oral health too.

Smoking is a leading cause of gum disease and oral cancers and the reduction in the number of smokers, and a reduction in cigarettes smoked by those who still do, can only be a very positive thing.

We shouldn’t be complacent though, and at The Dental Centre Bedford, we will continue to encourage our patients to quit smoking as best as we can.

Why the fall in smoking?

It has been a long time since doctors recommended taking up smoking to help people to relax. As more and more studies showed the risks of smoking, it became obvious that this was a serious issue that needed to be addressed. Unfortunately, one of the main ‘enjoyments’ of smoking was the nicotine ‘hit’ that it gave. This proved to be very addictive and when people tried to stop, they found that they suffered from a whole host of withdrawal symptoms which resulted in them failing to quit.

Some of these withdrawal symptoms can now be better managed through nicotine gums and patches which gradually reduce the quantity of nicotine, allowing the smoker to gradually reduce their habit. Although nicotine is addictive, it is not one of the more harmful ingredients in cigarettes, with tar and various carcinogens causing most of the damage. To this end, e-cigarettes or vaping products have proved to be a great help to those who wished to stop. However, the jury is still out on the safety of this method too.

Perhaps the biggest change though came when legislation was passed which banned the smoking of cigarettes and similar products in many public spaces, and perhaps especially in pubs and bars. This inevitably caused some concern to some smokers, but the majority seem to have accepted it quite readily and often used it as a ‘trigger’ to take action to quit the habit themselves.

The dangers of smoking

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Thumb Sucking – A Parent’s Guide

Dr Sarah Nackasha offers some advice and encouragement for parents.

Parents are all too aware of how young children are prone to suck their thumb. This is entirely natural for a period of time, but if it continues for too long, it can cause potential harm to their teeth, and also the roof of their mouth.

It is a habit that children often use to calm or comfort themselves, often sucking their thumb as they fall asleep at night.

Some children suck their thumb relatively passively whilst others do so more aggressively and it is the latter that is likely to cause the most harm. In today’s blog, The Dental Centre Bedford looks at the potential harm this habit can do, and also offers some advice to parents of children who do this.

For how long is thumb sucking acceptable?

Advice varies on how long children can suck their thumbs before stopping. Much advice in America indicates at around 4 years old whereas The British Orthodontic Society says that providing a child stops sucking their thumb by the age of seven years old, the teeth will usually correct themselves with normal growth. It is better to try to gradually wean your child away from this before the age of seven though, as creating a ‘full stop’ at that age is likely to be quite difficult, and potentially distressing, to implement.

After the age of seven, the adult teeth that are developing are less likely to correct the position themselves and your child may need orthodontic correction to avoid having crooked teeth and an incorrect bite.

How to stop children sucking their thumbs

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Why Do Some Of Us Grind Our Teeth At Night?

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a habit that can destroy even the healthiest teeth.

It is quite common for people to clench or even grind their teeth a little when they are facing an anxious moment.

This is usually very short lived though, and as we are awake, rarely excessive enough to do any real damage to our teeth.

When we are asleep however, we do not have the same awareness to know when to stop or how hard we are grinding our teeth before they experience some damage.

It is this night time grinding, also commonly known as bruxism, that is particularly destructive to our teeth. Under extreme duress it can even cause teeth to shatter, especially if already weakened through previous decay and fillings.

Why do we grind our teeth?

Some medical conditions such as Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease can cause this to happen. Most cases that we see at The Dental Centre Bedford though, are most likely caused by underlying stress and anxiety. Like patients across the country, our Bedford patients are likely to suffer some of the same anxieties in their life over work, relationships and perhaps money worries too.  Although we may put on a brave face about this during the day, when our subconscious takes over at night when asleep, this is likely to come to the surface and manifest itself in restless sleep and, sometimes, in teeth grinding.

The effects of grinding our teeth at night can range from relatively mild damage such as enamel wear, to broken and fractured teeth. Wearing of the enamel is more likely to be seen in patients who have uneven or crooked teeth, leading to more contact between the teeth than in those with even ones.

What are the symptoms?

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Taking Good Care Of Your New Dental Implant

Immediate and long term care – what you need to know.

Dental implants are known not only for their strength and stability, but for their longevity too.

It can be tempting to think that because they are made from artificial materials it is just a case of placing the implant and then nothing can go wrong afterwards. Unfortunately this is not true, and whilst implants are straightforward to look after, if you fail to do this properly, problems can occur which may threaten their survival.

In today’s blog, we are going to take a look at how patients can take care of  their new implant, both immediately after placement and in the longer term. You will of course, be given full aftercare instructions when you have an implant placed at The Dental Centre Bedford, but hopefully you will also find this brief guide useful.

Immediate aftercare

Once your dental implant has been placed into the jawbone, a process known as osseointegration will start to take place. This is a slow moving process but one that is essential in order for the implant to be firmly held in place, in effect replacing the natural root of a tooth. This process, where the implant and bone bond together, usually takes around three months, or sometimes a little longer.

This is a critically important time for the implant, and how you look after it at this stage will help to determine its success. There are a number  of things that you should take into consideration at this stage.


It is very important that you put no stress on your new dental implant for a while after it has been placed. Common sense alone should tell you that biting into hard foods with it is probably going to cause damage. In fact, we advise that you stick to a liquid diet for some time after the treatment, gradually introducing soft foods after a while. It is probably best if you avoid eating the hardest foods until the next stage of the treatment, where the crown is fitted, just to be on the safe side.

Smoking and drinking

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Four Reasons To Opt For Non Mercury Dental Fillings

Amalgam fillings are strong and functional, but should you now be looking to choose white fillings instead?

The use of mercury in traditional amalgam fillings has long been a matter of debate amongst patients. One reason for this is the safety concerns some have and which we will discuss shortly.

This is not the only reason though, and our Bedford dentists take a look at some of the main reasons that people are changing to alternatives below.

The ‘safety’ factor

By far the most talked about reason for avoiding amalgam dental fillings is that mercury is used in their production. This is a toxic substance which can cause a number of serious health issues so this is perhaps not surprising. The reality however, is that many studies have been carried out that have shown amalgam fillings to be safe in this form.

Although more recent studies have found that mercury can be released in vapour form as the amalgam fillings wears away, this is in such small quantities that it should have no ill effects on the person involved. It is worth remembering that we all absorb some mercury from the air, water and soil during our daily lives. Again, in most cases, this will be in such small quantities as to cause no harm. The official position of the UK legislators at this point in time is that amalgam fillings are safe, albeit there is a recognition that phasing-out will be beneficial for various reasons.


There is a good reason that amalgam fillings have been used for a long time in that they are strong and very durable. For many years, no other alternative was deemed suitable for anything other than the smallest fillings. This has now changed, and suitable alternatives are available as we shall see later.


The other main reason that people are gradually turning from traditional fillings is that they are unsightly. They may be strong, but a dark coloured filling is very visible. Where larger fillings are placed on the rear teeth, a common place for decay, they can often be seen when the person laughs out loud. An amalgam filling on a front tooth would be very visible indeed.

Environmental issues

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Saliva – Its Role In Your Oral Health

Why a dry mouth can present oral care problems.

It’s probably something that we don’t talk about very much, yet the average human being produces an amount of saliva equivalent to approximately two swimming pools over our lifetime.

Like all functions of our bodies, it has a key role to play, and one area where it is especially important is in our oral care.

Although not producing enough saliva, and therefore having a dry mouth, may feel generally unpleasant, the problems it produces go much further, as we shall see below.

What is saliva?

Saliva is produced by the salivary glands within our mouth and is predominantly made up of water. This is not the only component though and it also contains important proteins and minerals that help to protect our teeth. It also contains millions of bacteria. Some of these are what we generally refer to as good bacteria, that help to fight off infections and also play an important role in breaking down our food as we chew, so that it is easier for us to digest.

As our Bedfordshire blog readers will know, there are also bacteria that, if not kept under control, can lead to gum diseases including gingivitis and periodontitis. Good quality saliva flow helps to keep this under control, along with regular brushing and flossing at home. Poor saliva production though, can lead to a number of dental problems.

Gum disease

As mentioned above, poor saliva flow leaves patients with a dry mouth and this often occurs at night while we sleep. It is this type of warm and dry environment which allows bacteria to grow out of control. As the number of bacteria in our mouths increase, the likelihood of gum disease becomes much higher.

Tooth decay

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Seven Commonly Asked Questions About Tooth Crowns

Bedford dentist, Dr David Nolte, answers your queries.

After fillings, dental crowns are perhaps the most commonly used treatment for a broken or badly damaged tooth.

They are an excellent way to provide a sufficiently strong repair in this type of situation. They are also commonly used as part of both a dental implant procedure and a root canal treatment.

Although generally fairly well understood, there are a number of questions that we hear from time to time at The Dental Centre Bedford, and we address these questions below.

Why do I need a crown?

To some patients, it might seem as though a crown is used to restore the appearance of a tooth, rather than for any practical purposes. This is generally more widely asked where a tooth has broken but is causing no pain and has no uncomfortable sharp edges. It is true that a crown will improve the appearance of a tooth, but this is rarely the sole reason why it is needed.

Any tooth that has broken to the extent where a crown is required, will almost certainly have exposed the less well protected areas of the tooth, such as the dentin layer. This needs to be protected to prevent inevitable tooth decay. Where a filling would not work or be insufficient, a crown will be needed. If this was not applied, you would almost certainly suffer from toothache in the not so distant future and it may eventually result in the need for an extraction.

Will it look natural?

This applies particularly to the front teeth where any difference in the colour could appear obvious. You can be assured that any crown that is produced for you will be made in a shade to match the colour of your natural teeth. If you are planning to have your teeth whitened at any stage though, please discuss this with us, as this procedure will whiten your natural teeth but will not affect the crown.

How many appointments will it take?

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Children And Dental Emergencies

Dentist, Dr Sarah Nackasha, offers parents guidance when a young child is in need of urgent dental care.

Anyone with children will be all too aware of the ongoing likelihood of accidents at any time and falls, scrapes, collision etc are all part of one of the more worrying aspects of parenthood.

Most of us will probably already have marvelled at how resistant children can be when they fall or collide with an obstacle. Unfortunately, this won’t always be the case and there may be occasions when injuries are a little more serious than a grazed knee.

As children often fall, or bang their mouths against tables or floors etc, there is an ever present risk of damage to their young teeth. In today’s blog, we will take a look at what to do when a dental emergency strikes for a young child.

Be supportive

The first thing to do if a child comes to you, probably crying, with an obvious dental injury is to try to stay calm. This will not only help to reassure the child but will enable you to make a quick decision as to the next step to take. One serious issue that must be decided is whether the collision may have also caused a head injury. If you didn’t see the accident and are unable to get sufficient information from them, you may wish to pay a visit to the local A&E just to be on the safe side.

Once you have been there, or if you were able to clarify that there wasn’t the need, the next step is to call The Dental Centre Bedford for an emergency appointment. Do make sure to explain the nature of the situation to the receptionist. They will do everything that they can to make sure that your child is seen at the first opportunity available.

First teeth

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