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

Read more ›

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?

Read more ›

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

Read more ›

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

Read more ›

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

Read more ›

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?

Read more ›

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

Read more ›

Dermal Filler Facial Restorations Now Available At The Dental Centre Bedford

Smoother and younger looking skin is now achievable with our experienced and fully qualified team.

Our facial aesthetic team at The Dental Centre Bedford are pleased to announce that Dermal filler facial restorations are now available from our practice.

As we age, lines and wrinkles gradually appear on the face and neck, and the signs of ageing are usually accompanied by other symptoms such as thinning of the lips, as well as sagging cheeks and jowls.

Whilst some lifestyle elements such as a healthy diet, regular exercise and not smoking can help in reducing the effects of ageing on the face, as well as using moisturiser daily, facial ageing is still inevitable. But we can help you!

We offer our patients a range of safe and effective facial filler restoration treatments using approved dermal fillers applied by our fully-qualified team.

What are dermal filler facial restorations?

Essentially, these facial aesthetic treatments at our Bedford dental centre involve the injection of medically-approved fillers to reduce signs of ageing effects. Quick, easy and relatively painless to administer, dermal filler facial restorations are typically delivered within 15-60 minutes and have long-lasting benefits and effects. Our patients are delighted to see younger looking skin as a result.

What problems can dermal facial filler restorations treat?

It’s important to point out that dermal facial filler restorations are used to treat the natural signs of ageing, mainly around the face. These facial aesthetic treatments are not permanent, although they can offer long-lasting results.

Many of our patients are unhappy with crow’s feet around the eyes, sagging cheeks and jowls, wrinkles around the general face area, as well as looking tired or older. Our team of facial aesthetic experts can guide and advise you.

What are the risks of using dermal fillers?

Read more ›

Periodontal Disease, Prevention And Treatment, And Why It Matters

Keeping your gums healthy is as important as your teeth say our Bedford dental team.

From a very young age we are taught to take good care of our teeth, making sure to brush them twice a day and as far as possible, trying not to overindulge in sugary food products. This is good general advice and it is also very helpful when parents encourage their children to look after their gums better too.

Of course, there is every likelihood that some parents do not fully understand the importance of looking after their gums. If this is the case, they are unlikely to pass this important information on to their own children.

The dangers of periodontal disease

The two main stages of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. The first of these is relatively common, and it is likely that we will all have it at some point in our lives, at least to some degree. When we are ill, for example, we may not clean our teeth as well as we usually do, and bacteria may increase during this time. In many cases though, things will return to normal once we resume brushing correctly.

Gum disease can present a number of different symptoms, although these do not have to be present and you could have symptom free problems. Some of the most common though, are sore gums, or gums that bleed when you brush your teeth. Bad breath is also commonly associated with both gingivitis and especially, periodontitis.

Avoiding gum disease

Read more ›

Charcoal Toothpaste – What Is It Good For?

Amongst the trends for ‘alternative’ toothpastes, charcoal seems to be a top choice, but why?

Back in the day, as some like to describe the past, if you went to the shop to buy a toothpaste, you were usually faced with a choice of just a handful of different brands. These were all pretty similar in quality and preference largely depended on whether or not you liked the taste of a particular toothpaste.

Anyone who walks down the dental care isle of a supermarket now though, will know that this limited choice is very definitely a thing of the past.

There are now toothpastes for almost every occasion. Some of these offer very positive benefits, whereas others, such as teeth whitening toothpastes, are often quite restrictive in the benefits that they offer (hint: check the small print). One of the more unusual ones that seems to be fairly popular though, is charcoal toothpaste.

Why charcoal?

It should be noted that the charcoal used in these toothpastes is ‘activated’ charcoal and not just any old charcoal that you might find on a barbeque, for example. This means that it has been heated to a very high temperature. This changes its structure and produces a very fine powder which is non toxic, and is both tasteless and doesn’t give off any odours. Strangely enough, charcoal has been used for cleaning the teeth for a long time. The Romans used to use the bark of a tree, combined with charcoal to clean their teeth. We are, however, pretty sure that they wouldn’t have done so if minty toothpastes had been around at the time!

What is it used for?

Those that claim charcoal toothpaste to be beneficial argue that it is an excellent and natural way to whiten the teeth and also freshens the breath. The latter argument is based on the evidence that charcoal can absorb toxins and other substances. In fact, it is widely used for treating some stomach complaints and can be used to treat certain types of drug overdoses. The logic therefore, is that it will also cleanse any toxins etc from the patient’s gums. To date though, there has been little research into whether this is actually true for problems such as gum disease, so the jury is currently out.

The problem with charcoal

Read more ›