Periodontal Disease, Prevention And Treatment, And Why It Matters

Dentist at work in Bedford

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

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Charcoal Toothpaste – What Is It Good For?

Dentist in a surgery

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

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Practical Oral Health Tips For Parents With Toddlers

Family dentist Bedford

Helping to keep your children’s teeth strong, healthy and pain free.

Some of us may have suffered from dental problems when we were children. This may well have entailed a number of visits to our local dental practice and some, perhaps, unpleasant memories.

Whilst this may not have been a very nice experience for us, it does mean that, as parents, we are probably extra determined to ensure that our own children don’t have to go through the same thing.

Although young children can be quite wilful, parents are, by and large, in control of what they can and can’t do. This puts us in an excellent position to help them keep their teeth nice and healthy.  With this in mind, the team at The Dental Centre Bedford offer some useful tips for parents with young children.

Baby teeth care

There may be some parents who consider baby teeth to be relatively unimportant as they will eventually be replaced by adult teeth. This is a mistake though, and, in addition to not wishing your child to have toothache and be in pain, keeping their baby teeth is important too. These first teeth act as ‘placeholders’ for the adult teeth, and their premature loss can affect how the adult teeth come through and may well lead to bite problems in later life. Make sure that you help them to look after their first teeth, as well as when the adult teeth finally erupt.

Use fluoride toothpaste

It is important to use a fluoride toothpaste both for our own and our children’s teeth. Fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel of our teeth and consequently helps to protect them from issues such as tooth decay. You should use a pea-sized quantity of toothpaste on the brush and make sure to keep the tube out of reach of inquisitive little hands. Some children will quite happily eat toothpaste from the tube if allowed. This could be potentially harmful and should be avoided at all costs.

Depending on the age of the child, you should either brush their teeth for them, or, if they are old enough to be encouraged to do this themselves, you should make sure that you supervise them whilst they do it. This will ensure that they do brush their teeth well and not simply suck on the brush as some young children are inclined to do.

Avoid sugary drinks, especially at bedtime

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Do You Have ‘Runners Teeth’?

Dental surgery in action

Bedford dentist, Dr David Nolte looks at why some people who run, complain of less than comfortable teeth.

Running is probably the UK’s number one exercise when it comes to keeping fit. It requires little more than a decent pair of trainers and somewhere to run.

Even in large cities, it isn’t unusual to see someone, water bottle in hand, pounding their way down the streets, almost oblivious to the busy shoppers around them.

Whilst sore and stiff muscles, and perhaps the odd sprained ankle, are some of the most common complaints from regular runners, one of the more unusual ones is that some complain of their teeth hurting when they run. This can make this type of physical activity a less than pleasant experience, and can be caused by a number of different factors that we will take a look at now.

Bruxism/teeth grinding

When we grind our teeth together, it is almost inevitable that they will become damaged if this is something that we do on a regular basis. It is widely thought that stress is a major cause of this, with many people grinding their teeth in their sleep, perhaps working off the stress of a busy and difficult day.

Although teeth grinding is less common when we are awake, it is not entirely uncommon in runners, or anyone going through significant physical exertion. If you run, think about when you come up to that tricky hill on your route, when you really have to push yourself to get up it as fast and hard as you can. The chances are, that when you do that, you may ‘grit’ your teeth together, grinding them as you push yourself to reach the very top.

Even when we run hard on the flat, perhaps sprinting or doing intervals,  we may well lock our teeth together. Even if we don’t actually grind them when we do this, the pounding of your feet on the pavement will reverberate through your teeth if they are locked together. This can cause some discomfort as our nerves in the teeth pick up the pounding sensation which is transferred via our feet.

Although this is a relatively common habit in runners, it can potentially also have a negative effect on performance. For the muscles to function to the best of their ability, the blood needs a regular supply of oxygen. This is more easily attained if you relax your jaw, allowing the oxygen to be breathed in more easily, and reducing potential damage and discomfort to your teeth as well.

Sensitive teeth

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Should You Have A Chipped Tooth Treated Or Can You Just Ignore It?

Dr David Nolte

Bedford dentist, Dr David Nolte looks at the options available when a tooth is chipped.

However well we look after our teeth, there is always a risk that they can suffer some damage, however minor. The better we look after our teeth though, the stronger they are likely to be.

However strong they are though, minor damage can still occur and one of the most common types of damage that we see is when a tooth becomes chipped.

If this happens to a patient and their next regular appointment at The Dental Centre Bedford is some time away, it can leave the patient with a bit of a dilemma; whether to simply leave the chip or make an additional appointment to have it looked at.

Always play it safe

The first piece of advice that I would give a patient who this has happened to is to be on the safe side and have it looked at by a professional. Although it may appear to you that just a tiny piece of tooth has been lost; with closer examination, it is possible that more of the enamel may have cracked with it. If left untreated, this could allow bacteria to enter the tooth through the cracked enamel and lead to infection and decay. Catching problems like this at an early stage will mean that you are less likely to need more extensive treatment later on.

Treating a chipped tooth

There are a number of options available to restore a chipped tooth. We take a look at some of these below, starting with the least invasive; no treatment at all.

Leave the chip

If the chip in the tooth is very tiny and has not compromised the enamel to any significant degree, it may be perfectly possible to leave the chip as it is. This will depend on a number of factors though, such as does it have a sharp edge that is causing discomfort and whether it weakens the structure of the tooth.

Smoothing the enamel

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Millennials, How Well Are They Looking After Their Teeth?

Reports suggest that this generation is failing to brush their teeth as well as they should.

‘Millennials’ is a word that seems to be bandied around quite a lot these days. For those who don’t know, it means those born from 1981 to 1996 (or who are now 22-37 years old). Life, it is claimed, is going to be harder for this generation, whilst others ‘mock’ them for expecting things to simply fall into place.

We are not going to look at those aspects of a millenial’s life however, but address another concern that has been raised following research carried out in Germany. It should be said, of course, that the same results may not be found in the UK, but working on the assumption that similar results might be expected, here is what it had to say. Of course, this won’t apply to everyone one, but on average, the research does suggest that the millenial generation hasn’t quite got it right when it comes to personal oral care.

A random sample of around  100 people of this generation were asked to perform their daily oral health cleaning in front of a camera so that they could be recorded. The results were then studied to see how well they actually cleaned their teeth on a daily basis. Although this group seems to have taken on board the 2 minute rule and brushed their teeth for longer than a previous study of a similar age group in 1992, both groups tended to ‘scrub’ their teeth rather than use the gentle circular action which is now widely recommended. It was also noted that both groups tended to brush the front surfaces of their teeth, neglecting, or only giving a cursory brushing, to the rear of their teeth.

What can millennials expect?

Whether front, back or side, the enamel surface of our teeth is always vulnerable to attack from acids and plaque that builds up on the surface. Wherever it is, if not cleaned properly, it is more than likely that tooth decay will soon set in. It would seem that this age group are storing up problems by not cleaning their teeth correctly.

This is also a generation that possibly consumes more convenience food, drinks more and also possibly smokes more too. Combined, the prospect for their oral health does not look too good.

Investing in the future

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Looking After Your Teeth During The Cold And Flu Season

dental check

Colds, flu and other winter viruses can have an adverse effect on our teeth.

Despite the fact that winters seem to be generally milder than in the past, cold spells are still quite possible. In addition to the cold weather, this is also a time of the year when many of us will be struck down with colds, or even worse, with the flu.

There are a number of ways that you can reduce the risk of these, including the flu vaccination and making sure that you wash your hands regularly. Even then though, the risk of colds and flu are still ever present.

There is no doubt that we feel rotten when we are ill with these viruses, and even our teeth can be affected by them. In today’s blog, our Bedford dentists look at how you can avoid the worst effects of both colds and flu on your teeth.

Stay hydrated

They old saying used to be that you should drink plenty of water to help ‘flush away’ the virus. Whilst this has since been challenged, it is still a wise and valid point when it comes to your teeth. Illnesses can make us dehydrated and lethargic. We have mentioned before that water is great for helping to avoid gum disease and for flushing food debris from the mouth. Given that you may be more easily dehydrated when you are ill, and your oral bacteria probably also affected, drinking plenty of water is definitely a helpful thing to do.

Sensitivity and discomfort

It isn’t unusual to feel a little discomfort in your teeth when you are ill. This can lead some patients to suspect that they have a cavity, an abscess or other dental problem. Whilst this may sometimes be the case, it is often due to pressure building in the sinus cavity, or inflammation. As a general rule of thumb, a tooth cavity usually leads to a throbbing kind of discomfort, whilst discomfort caused by sinus cavity inflammation is likely to be a constant level of discomfort. If the discomfort persists after you have recovered from your illness, you should have the issue checked at The Dental Centre Bedford.

Throw away your toothbrush

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Looking After Your Toothbrush

Dentist in a surgery

How we look after this everyday piece of personal care equipment could make a real difference to the health of our teeth and gums.

The humble toothbrush; a fairly ‘boring’ piece of equipment that we (hopefully) use twice a day to clean our teeth. Even after the initial appeal of electric toothbrushes, we doubt that many of our Bedford patients give them a second thought very often, or even at all.

Despite this, the humble toothbrush is the patient’s main weapon in the fight against tooth decay and gum disease. Even those of us who avoid sugar as far as possible will still be at risk if we don’t clean our teeth and gums properly.

We have discussed your options about whether to buy a manual or electric toothbrush in a previous blog. Whichever you choose though, it is important that you look after it well to ensure the best cleaning experience possible.

Keep it clean

What do you do once you have brushed your teeth? The chances are that most patients of The Dental Centre Bedford will simply rinse the head of the brush, give it a shake and put it back where it came from. This is unlikely to kill bacteria that has collected on the bristles and whilst some may die naturally when exposed to an external environment, this may not be the case with them all. We would recommend that you clean the brush head by immersing it in boiling water for a few minutes or soaking it in antibacterial mouthwash periodically. This is especially important if you have had a cold or flu virus. In that situation, you may prefer to throw it away and replace it instead.


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What Can You Remember From This Year’s Dental Blogs?

eating an apple with good teeth

A quick end-of-year ‘refresher’ quiz for our Bedford dental patients.

Over the last year, we have written many blogs covering different topics relating to oral health care. Some of these were related to everyday issues such as tooth decay and gingivitis, whilst others related to less well known and common problems such as peri-implantitis. We hope that our patients have enjoyed reading our regular blogs and have learned something useful from them.

We are always happy to write a blog on any dental subject that you would like us to, so please let us know if there is anything you would like us to cover in the new year ahead.

As this year is now drawing to a close, we thought that it would be fun to use our last blog of 2018 to see how much you can remember. Unfortunately there are no prizes, other than a reminder of ways that you can look after your teeth better, or improve the way that they look. We wish you all good luck with the quiz, and, of course, a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all patients of The Dental Centre Bedford.

Your quiz:

  1. If a tooth is knocked out, it can sometimes be saved if you see a dentist straight away. What is the best way to preserve the tooth until that time?
  2. What specific role does an endodontist have, and what is the treatment most commonly performed by them?
  3. Name three of the five possible causes of enamel erosion which we discussed in a blog back in March?
  4. Name a key reason why it may not always be possible to place a dental implant straight away
  5. What is the difference between plaque and tartar? (clue – both are related to gum disease)
  6. Name two serious oral health issues which are significantly more likely if you smoke, or use tobacco products
  7. Unlike many other dental practices, where they have to be sent to a dental laboratory, we are able to produce crowns and bridges at our own practice while you wait. Name the technology that is used to achieve this.
  8. Patients seeking smoother skin are able to take advantage of the treatments that we offer, including Botox and Dermal Fillers. Which of these two is specifically used to plump up thinning lips?
  9. What is an ideal food to eat at the end of a meal to rebalance the acidic environment of your mouth?
  10. How often should you see your dentist?


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Planning Your Festive Smile Makeover

Whiter teeth example

Whether you want to boost your smile in time for Christmas or are planning further ahead, we can help.

The New Year tends to bring out the optimist in many of us and the idea that we will suddenly become fit enough to run a marathon or lose enough weight to fit into the slimmest of clothes, seems eminently possible at this time of the year.

As those of us of a certain age know though, many of these aims are left unfulfilled due to lack of time or determination. There are other resolutions though, that can be achieved and these are often best done with the aid of a professional to help us along the way. One case in point is the desire to have a more attractive smile.

Your pre Christmas boost

Although it is cutting it a little fine, it is still possible to give your smile a real boost before the Christmas festivities begin. The most effective way to make this change in such a short time is to have your teeth whitened. Because this does involve the production of trays which fit over the teeth, you will need to act quickly. With a quick appointment, the production of the trays and a treatment time of around two weeks, your treatment may just be complete in time for Christmas day. Even if it is not, as long as you act quickly, you will be well on your way and should still see a significant improvement in the colour of your teeth by the 25th.

For those who do leave it too late to have this procedure, all is not lost. Although less effective than a whitening procedure, a scale and polish, performed by the hygienist at our Bedford practice, may also brighten your teeth a little, removing some surface staining. It will also help in making sure that your overall oral health is in a good condition before festivities begin.

Longer term improvements

In the event that you simply don’t have time to organise teeth whitening procedure before Christmas, you might wish instead, to look to the longer term, taking your time to get the results just right. The best way to do this is to arrange to have an initial consultation with one of our cosmetic dental team at The Dental Centre Bedford. During this consultation we will discuss with you, your hopes and aims, as well as practicalities such as budget and payment plans. We will also need to ensure that your mouth is healthy before any work starts. There is little point in having beautiful looking teeth if they will soon need to be filled or extracted because of tooth decay!

Your personalised smile makeover may consist of a single treatment, or, where required, a combination. This will vary from person to person.

The first step

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