Are You Ignoring Your Gum Health?

Underestimating the importance of healthy gums could lead to serious problems

Dentist at work in BedfordMost of us probably consider that we look after our teeth at least fairly well. Years of being told to brush our teeth, by our parents, has probably drilled into us that we need to brush them every day.

This is a good start for sure, but it does sometimes mean that another important part of our mouths is given less attention than should be the case.

Having healthy gums is incredibly important, and not just for our teeth but for our general health too. Advanced gum disease can lead to many problems, not least the possibility of tooth loss. The good news though is that it is relatively easy to stop this happening, with just a little extra care.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is an infection caused by an excess of harmful bacteria in our mouths. This often involves involves plaque, a substance containing bacteria that coats our teeth and gums and ‘attacks’ them, causing damage. Mild cases are not uncommon and can happen, for example, when we are ill and maybe miss cleaning our teeth a couple of times. This is usually not too problematic and a return to regular brushing may be all that is needed to reverse it. When it is allowed to advance though, serious problems may lie ahead.

Symptoms of gum disease

Whilst it is possible to have ‘silent’ gum disease, where symptoms don’t really present themselves, this is not usually the case and there are a number of possible indicators that there may be problems with your gums. These include:

  • Sore or inflamed gums
  • Painful gums when you bite on food
  • Bleeding gums when you brush your teeth
  • Bad breath/halitosis
  • Receding gums
  • Loose or wobbly teeth

This is not an exclusive list and other symptoms may present themselves. If you feel that something is wrong with your teeth or gums, you should contact The Dental Centre Bedford as soon as possible to have the problem checked out.

Gum disease prevention

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‘Alternative’ Dental Care

Why our Bedford patients should be wary of any DIY or ‘natural remedy’ claims!

Dentist in a surgeryWe have all seen, on the news, about the anti vaccination movement and how misinformation has spread, largely via social media. Whilst this format has its benefits in that friends who live long distances away can communicate easily and various interest groups can come together to discuss their chosen topic, it also allows misinformation to spread easily and without checks and balances in place in most cases.

Although this has been highlighted during the Covid crisis, dental care has not escaped this either. Whether this is from those advocating ‘natural’ dental care or those offering tips on how to whiten your teeth cheaply and naturally. Unsurprisingly, anyone following this advice, runs a serious risk of harm to their teeth.

In today’s blog, The Dental Centre Bedford takes a look at some examples that we have seen online, and explain why they are usually not a good idea.

Fluoride free toothpaste

This is one that has been around for a long time. One of the main arguments is that fluoride can be harmful if too much is absorbed into the body. There is some truth in this in the sense that if we eat too much of anything, it can be harmful. The reality though is that this risk is very low if advice and common sense are followed. Using a toothpaste that contains fluoride will not harm your teeth and indeed, it is extremely beneficial to them. Fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel of your teeth and helps to prevent them from wearing down or cracking under normal use. Any compromise of the enamel is likely to lead to tooth decay, along with the often accompanying toothache.

‘Natural ‘ teeth whitening

This is one of the most common ‘alternative’ dental remedies that you are likely to find online. There are several suggestions which include the potentially dangerous use of hydrogen peroxide. Whilst this is used in our customised teeth whitening treatment, it is done so with professional supervision which ensures its safe use. Using this to whiten your teeth yourself is asking for trouble and burning to the soft tissue such as gum and lips is not uncommon. You could also suffer from long term and painful tooth sensitivity. If you want to have your teeth whitened, both safely and effectively, please talk to one of our Bedford dentists about it who will be able to recommend the best method for your own situation.

DIY dental braces

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Restorative And Cosmetic Dentistry – The Role of Dental Crowns

Crowns are a widely used method for restoring damaged teeth at our Bedford practice – here’s an overview.

Dental surgery in actionAlso sometimes referred to as a ‘cap’, a dental crown is a commonly used way of restoring damaged or broken teeth. They can also be used for cosmetic purposes, for example where a tooth has worn down and appears to be shorter than it should be.

Crowns are usually made from porcelain and offer a high level of strength as well as being largely stain resistant, meaning that they will stay white and natural looking.

In addition to this, The Dental Centre Bedford is pleased to provide crowns in just one visit using our in-house CEREC system; unlike many practices where you may have to wait a week or more for your crowns to be produced at an external laboratory.

There are three main uses of teeth crowns which we will take a look at now.

Broken or badly decayed teeth

This is one of the most common uses of a crown in dentistry. Where tooth decay occurs, we generally preserve it by removing the decay and then fill the cavity that is left. In some cases though, the cavity may be so large that this will leave the tooth significantly weakened. Equally, if a tooth breaks in a certain way, a filling might not be a pragmatic solution and we will often turn to crowns to resolve this problem.

To fit a crown, the natural tooth must be prepared and shaped so that the crown can be securely attached using a strong clinical adhesive. In some instances a post may also be required to provide the security needed to attach the crown in a way that makes it not only aesthetically pleasing but also suitable for everyday use.

Root canal completion

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Can Older Patients Benefit From Cosmetic Dentistry?

Don’t write off your smile if you are middle aged and beyond!

Ageing coupleA lot of money is spent on advertising cosmetic dental treatments to the younger generation. Brought up on the likes of Love Island and other ‘celebrity’ shows, they are accustomed to seeing people of their own age with beautiful white and even teeth. Whilst cosmetic dentistry is often aimed at this age group, it doesn’t mean that our older Bedford patients can’t benefit as well. In fact, they are likely to really benefit in a lot of cases.

There was a time when people reached 40 and were expected to live a quieter life than in their youth. While we do tend to slow down as we get older, 40 and beyond is no longer an age when we stop doing things that we enjoy. It is far from unusual to see people of this age in nightclubs and other places previously aimed more at the younger market. As we socialise more, we tend to want to look our best and this is where modern cosmetic dentistry can really help.

What treatments are available for older patients?

Most of the treatments at The Dental Centre Bedford can be performed for, and will benefit, older patients. In many cases, they will also offer practical benefits too.

Let’s take a look then at some of the treatments and explain how you can benefit from them.

Teeth whitening

As the name suggests, this treatment can provide you with a whiter, nicer smile.  This treatment is non-invasive and is purely a cosmetic treatment offering no other practical benefits (other than improving your confidence perhaps). It can whiten your teeth by several shades. Our teeth whitening treatment allows you to choose the shade of whiteness you would like and a treatment will then be prepared so that you can whiten your teeth at home. This technique uses trays that fit over your teeth and which are worn for a few hours a day for a couple of weeks or so. Results are typically excellent and affordable too!

Dental veneers

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Which Teeth Whitening Treatment Is Best For You?

A closer look at some of the cosmetic tooth whitening procedures available for Bedford patients

Whiter teeth exampleWith the expectation that society will soon open up further following Covid restrictions, we are sure that some of you may be thinking about comsetic dentistry as you get ready to mingle more freely again.

The last year or so has been hard on many of us and what could be better as we start to get back to normal, than giving your smile a real boost.

The most likely way that people will look to do this is by having their teeth whitened. This is perhaps the most popular cosmetic dental treatment at the moment and has been widely used and promoted by many TV ‘celebrities’. Given the widespread use, it is understandable that more and more people want to have a beautiful white smile.

There are various ways of approaching the problem of stained and discoloured teeth and each has its merits and will depend on each individual’s situation. In today’s blog, we will take a look at the options that we have available for patients here at The Dental Centre Bedford.

Professional clean

The first option is not a cosmetic treatment but should be an important part of your regular dental care. This is a professional cleaning that is provided by a hygienist. The treatment is more commonly known as a ‘scale and polish’ or as some call it, a ‘scrape and polish’ from the first part where tartar is ‘scraped’ from the teeth and gum line. This is an important treatment to help prevent gum disease and it is the final part of this treatment which also has some minor cosmetic benefits.

To complete the cleaning, the hygienist will use a high speed rotating brush to remove any remaining tartar. It also has the added bonus of removing some surface staining from the tooth enamel. This can help to ‘pep up’ the whiteness of your teeth although the effects are limited and, for a real improvement, one of the following two options are most likely to be needed.

Teeth whitening

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What Does Your Painful Tooth Mean?

Don’t leave those niggling discomforts to chance. Seek professional dental help.

dental checkEspecially since the advent of the internet, we have all become ‘experts’ at diagnosing our health problems. A quick search can throw up a lot of possible answers to why we are feeling the way that we are.

The reliability of some of these sources can sometimes be called into question however.

The same applies when it comes to a problem with our teeth or gums. We can enter our symptoms and be told of the possible nature of the problem. From there, we can also find out how to treat it, sometimes even cutting out professional help. Thankfully, most of us use this as guidance only and will contact our Bedford dentist’s surgery for an appointment to have the problem professionally assessed. Those that don’t, and rely on online advice, may well regret it further down the line.

When should you see the dentist?

It is probably built into the psyche of many of us in the UK that we don’t want to ‘bother’ the doctor or dentist about what might seem a relatively trivial problem. Some small niggling discomfort of the teeth or gums can often be ignored with relative ease, especially if it is masked with a common painkiller such as paracetamol. We can quite happily go about our day without giving it too much thought.

The problem with this approach is that whilst it is possible that the problem might be something as simple as a piece of food that has become trapped in the gum causing some discomfort, and which will go when eventually dislodged; it is more likely that it is the start of a problem that will become worse over time. The advice that we give patients of The Dental Centre Bedford, is not to take a chance and to see a local dentist as soon as you can. Virtually all dental problems will become worse over time and can cause quite a significant amount of pain too.

Let us take a look at some fairly common dental problems that might start out relatively mildly, and take a look at the consequences if these are not treated early on.

Tooth decay

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Using Dental Implants To Complete A ‘Gappy’ Smile

Missing teeth doesn’t necessarily mean dentures are your only option

dental implantTooth loss can happen for a number of reasons. These include neglect but also from the result of an accident such as a fall or a blow to the mouth. Especially if a front tooth is knocked out, or lost otherwise, it can have a distinct effect on our appearance and more often than not, we need to do something about it.

Any of our patients who are wondering what to do about their gappy smile would do well to look beyond dentures as the only available solution. It is true that modern dentures look reasonably realistic and have improved over the years, but they can’t match the stability of dental implants and if the denture starts to move around when we are talking to someone, it could cause some embarrassment.

Why dental implants?

The reason that we feel that teeth implants are often the best option available for patients of The Dental Centre Bedford is because they are not only very strong and secure in the mouth, but also last for a long time. Indeed, the first ever implant placed was still intact 40 years later when the recipient passed away. You can probably deduce from this that the 20 years of longevity that we suggest as an average for dental implants, providing that they are looked after correctly, is probably a conservative estimate and many will last even longer than that.

For most patients; even though the initial procedure is a fairly complex one, the biggest advantage is that it allows them to eat, speak and laugh normally without concerns about stability. No special cleaning beyond what you should do with your own natural teeth is needed too.

Prior to your treatment

To place a tooth implant, we first of all have to determine if there is sufficient jaw bone to accommodate it. This is determined through the use of x-rays and scans. Whilst a healthy mouth should ensure that this is the case, bone loss can occur for a number of reasons including old age, periodontal disease and where the bone has been damaged if a tooth has been knocked out. It can also occur if a tooth has been missing for a while as the minerals which make up the bone in that area are reabsorbed by the body.

In most cases, there will be sufficient bone structure but in cases where there isn’t, we can discuss options such as bone grafts which will allow the implant to be placed. Finally, because periodontal diseases pose a real threat to implants, it is essential that we make sure that your mouth is healthy and free of gum disease. Once we are happy with this, the procedure can begin.

The dental implant procedure

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Invisalign – The Modern And Discreet Way To Straighten Teeth

We are now pleased to offer the popular Invisalign orthodontic system at our Bedford dental practice

Invisalign wearer In our blog you will find several articles about the treatments we have available to help you have whiter teeth. These are very popular, but for some patients, there can be drawbacks in that they can actually highlight other ‘flaws’ in your smile; one of the most noticeable being where a patient has crooked or uneven teeth.

Unfortunately, there is no ‘quick fix’ for this particular problem and the fact that dental braces have to be worn, often for lengthy periods of time to correct it, means that a significant number of people decide against this treatment and miss the opportunity to have a really great looking smile.

One of the biggest issues for people when it comes to wearing teeth braces is that they are quite noticeable. Patients of The Dental Centre Bedford then, will be delighted to hear that we now offer one of the most discreet orthodontic systems available; namely Invisalign.

What are Invisalign braces?

When you think about dental braces, you probably think of the more familiar wire and bracket types that have been standard for many years. These are often very visible and as they may have to be worn for a year or more, it is probably not surprising that this is a deterrent for some people. Whilst there are systems that still use this approach for relatively minor corrections that may only take a few weeks, and which may be tolerable for this short period of time, the idea of wearing unsightly braces for a year or more can be a big ‘no no’ for some people.

Instead of using this approach, Invisalign teeth braces instead use a series of transparent plastic trays that fit securely over the teeth. The plastic used is of medical grade quality and is not only transparent but offers a high level of strength as well. The trays are produced from impressions and scans that we take of your own teeth. This ensures not only that they are effective but they offer a good degree of comfort too.

How do they work?

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The Covid Pandemic And Oral Cancer

With limited dental appointments currently available, the risk of a rise in mouth cancer cases is very real

Dental Centre BedfordAs many of our Bedford patients will be aware, routine dental appointments have not been as widely available as they used to be. The reasons for this are well known.

With a limited number of patients able to be seen by the dentist each day due to Covid restrictions, it is only logical that we should see and treat those who are most in need. We are sure that this is widely understood and anyone who has a dental emergency will be seen as soon as we possibly can, with priority given to those most in need.

These restrictions do mean that some of you may not have had your regular six monthly check ups at The Dental Centre Bedford. This is unfortunate, but hopefully most of you will have taken as much care as possible to limit the risks of tooth decay in these difficult times. There is another area of concern which has been raised following a study by the Oral Health Foundation ( https://dentistry.co.uk/2020/12/01/covid-mouth-cancer-referrals-fallen/ ) which notes that oral cancer referrals have dropped during the pandemic by a third.

This is unlikely to be the good news that a quick glance might indicate. This doesn’t mean that less people have oral cancer but that a large quantity are no longer being picked up as they normally would be during routine dental check ups. There is a serious concern that cases are going undetected and may reach a more advanced stage before they are noticed.

What can patients do?

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Root Canal Infections

Bedford Endodontist, Dr Joseph Masih, explains how this dental condition is treated

Dr Joseph Masih in actionIn today’s blog, we will take a look at a treatment that some of you may fear being told that you need to have. We are, of course, talking about a root canal procedure. There are many theories why there is more anxiety surrounding this treatment compared to others, but whatever the reason is, there is little doubt that it is one that patients hope to avoid. But fortunately those concerns are overstated.

The good news for those that do need to have it is that most of the rumours you may have heard about it are not really true. This procedure should cause you no more discomfort than other treatments and, of course, you will have a local anaesthetic to keep any discomfort to an absolute minimum. At The Dental Centre Bedford, we will also check for the presence of abscesses and if any are found, they will be treated before we start treatment.

What causes infections in the root canal?

How do the root canals become infected? That is a good question as the canals are situated  in the roots of the teeth which are seated in the jawbone. The problem arises when we get tooth decay, or the enamel of our teeth become cracked or chipped to the extent that it becomes compromised and enables bacteria to enter into the dentin layer below it. This part of the tooth is much more porous than the external enamel and allows bacteria to enter the root canals, causing the infection.

As the nerves of our teeth are located in the root canals, it is not uncommon for an infection to be quite painful and even the most nervous patient will usually contact our Bedford dental practice when this happens.

Root Canal Treatment

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A CARING FAMILY DENTIST YOU CAN TRUST