Encouraging Nervous Patients To Return When Dentists Reopen

The challenge of lockdown may have increased anxiety levels for some, but our team is on hand to help….

Dr NackashaIt is probably fair to say that all of us, in some way, have been affected by the current situation surrounding the Covid-19 virus. Even if we, or those around us, have not been directly affected by the virus itself, the lockdown will almost certainly have taken a toll in one way or another.

For the luckier ones, it may be little more than missing going to the pub with friends, but for some people, it is almost certain that anxiety levels have increased.

This may have had an immediate impact on our oral health care, perhaps with neglected brushing, exacerbated by consumption of ‘comfort’ foods; but could also have caused longer term implications too.

Dental anxiety

Dental fears and anxiety is common amongst patients, including some who visit us here at The Dental Centre Bedford. For many people this amounts to little more than feeling a little nervous on the day of their visit. The vast majority of these folk will be able to control their anxiety and attend their appointment and wonder what all the fuss was about afterwards.

There are others though, for whom an upcoming dental visit may mean a significant rise in anxiety for days, and even possibly weeks, before their appointment is due. Whilst some of these will still attend, a significant number may not. Even in normal times, this can be a real challenge, but with the additional stress of lockdown, there is a real possibility that the number of people failing to rearrange their appointment and therefore not seeing a dentist after we are open again, is likely to increase.

Avoiding the dentist

For those patients who choose not to reschedule an appointment when our Bedford practice is open again, there are likely to be significant problems ahead. As any regular reader of our blog will know, our cinical team firmly believes that good oral health depends not only on good care at home, but also ongoing professional supervision and monitoring.

Even patients who are careful about what they eat and who have an excellent brushing and flossing routine can still suffer from problems. All it takes is a tiny crack to appear in the tooth enamel and this can allow bacteria and acids to enter into the less well protected dentin layer of the tooth. Once this has happened, it will almost inevitably result in tooth decay, possibly including a painful toothache. In some circumstances, the bacteria could enter the root canals of the tooth, leaving the patient requiring root canal surgery to save the tooth. Although we do understand that some patients would rather not see a dentist, problems like this are an almost inevitable consequence if you don’t.

How we can help

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Gum Health – An Ongoing Priority

Take this time to renew your focus on good gum health

Dentist in a surgeryBecause dental practices across the UK are closed for all but urgent emergency advice, a lot of focus is being placed on keeping teeth healthy with the intention of avoiding the need for treatment. This is important of course, but we should not forget to take similar care of our gums as well.

Whilst a problem with a tooth can come on quite suddenly, especially in the case of a breakage, gum problems tend to happen more gradually and so can be managed or even reversed if caught early enough.

In an ideal world, your gums would be monitored during your six monthly examinations at The Dental Centre Bedford, but as we are currently closed, it is more important than ever that preventing gum disease is high on your list of priorities.

What is gum disease?

There are two predominant types of gum disease;  gingivitis and periodontitis. The former is the milder stage and is more easily treated whereas the latter is more serious and may require invasive treatment such as root planing. At this stage, the bacteria will have accumulated below the gum line, quite possibly on the roots of the teeth and even the surrounding jaw bone. At this latter stage, tooth loss is a real possibility so preventative care is extremely important to help avoid it.

It is also worth noting that there seems to be an increasing number of scientific studies that are concluding that poor gum health may be a factor in serious health issues such as heart disease and strokes. So taking care of your gums may be of greater benefit than you think!

How to look after your gums

Many of the same rules for looking after your teeth also apply to your gums. The most obvious ‘basics’ are brushing and flossing. There are ways that these can be improved though to help keep your gums clean and healthy.

Brushing

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Looking After Your Dental Health During Prolonged ‘Lock Down’

Maintaining a good oral health regime during stay-at-home restrictions

Caring for teethAlthough it has not yet been officially announced, it is looking increasingly certain that the current lockdown due to the Covid-19 virus will be extended, perhaps for a few more weeks yet. This won’t be good news for many of us who might be struggling at this time, but we do encourage all patients of The Dental Centre Bedford to follow government advice in order to eventually defeat this very dangerous virus.

As you will know, all dental practices in the UK, including ourselves, are now closed and only urgent emergency advice can be offered. So we are not able to undertake even relatively minor dental procedures such as a minor toothache or a lost filling. It makes sense therefore, to do all that you can to keep your teeth and gums healthy at this time.

In today’s blog, we reiterate some of the essentials that you should do to help look after your teeth. Hopefully this will allow you to avoid problems that could make the lockdown period feel even longer than it is.

Brush and floss your teeth

This is something that you should be doing as a matter of course. Now though, offers a good opportunity to make sure that you are doing it as effectively as you can. The first thing to check is your toothbrush. If the bristles are looking worn down or if you know that it’s more than 3 months old, it needs to be replaced. Worn bristles will not remove bacteria and food as efficiently as firmer ones. If you are unable to change it now, or change the head of an electric one, please make sure to do so as soon as you reasonably can.

Secondly, please make sure that you are still brushing your teeth morning and night, despite inevitable changes to your routine. You may need to find a new regular ‘slot’ to brush your teeth, especially in the morning, but doing so will help to make sure that you don’t skip it by accident.

Thirdly, check how you are brushing. Some people still brush too quickly with the bristles flat to the surface of the tooth and then spit and rinse. This is not the correct way to do it unfortunately.

Firstly, you should brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes, making sure to angle the brush bristles towards the gums so that bacteria is cleaned from beneath the gum line. There is no need to do this hard, in fact doing so can wear down the enamel. A gentle brushing should be sufficient. Finally, you should spit and then avoid rinsing your mouth with water afterwards. This enables the fluoride to strengthen your teeth more effectively than if you swill it away immediately.

Fourthly, use dental floss. If you don’t already do this, perhaps practice by using educational videos to learn how to do it correctly. Far too few people do this but it is beneficial for removing food and bacteria that have become trapped between the teeth and in the gums.

Be mindful of what you eat

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Encouraging Children To Take Care Of Their Teeth

With an extended break from school now likely, why not use some of that time to help your child with dental education?

dentist and hygienist for childrenSchools in the UK are breaking up early on Friday for an unknown length of time, and many parents around the UK will be wondering how to keep their children entertained and educated whilst also maintaining their own essential daily routines.

Although much is currently unknown as things are moving so fast, it does seem likely that schools may remain open for key worker’s children. But for most parents, they will be responsible for their children during holidays that are likely to be significantly longer than usual.

There will be many articles written on this topic and it is expected that schools will also provide some educational support remotely. Although this is not a pleasant time, it does present opportunities for things may not usually happen due to time pressure. At The Dental Centre Bedford, we would encourage parents to use some of this time to talk to your children about their oral health care and how they can have healthy teeth as they grow up.

The essentials

Although they should be obvious, it is worth repeating the basics of good oral care. This includes diet and how they clean their teeth.

One of the problems of this extended break is likely to be boredom. When kids are bored, they will often eat more sweets if allowed to do so. Try to discourage this, perhaps allowing them only as treats. It might be difficult, but try to use this time imaginatively to find other things that your children will eat that are more tooth friendly than sugary products.

Brushing their teeth is very important and you will have more time to supervise them as they do this, depending on their age.  You could get them to draw a chart where you can tick off whether they have brushed their teeth in the morning and at night, with a full sheet at the end of the week earning a small reward.

Take a look at a few videos on how to clean your teeth and get your children to copy them. Do make sure to get these from a reliable source though. Children don’t always respond to ‘nagging’ from parents, but will happily copy someone that they don’t know from a video. If you can also encourage them to floss as well, that would be beneficial, although this may depend on their age.

You are also likely to find suitable videos about oral health care in general which are child friendly and will hold their attention more than a ‘lecture’ by mum or dad.

Mum … I’m bored ….

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Cross Infection Control – Helping To Keep Patients Safe

A look at the small, but important role that our Bedford dental practice plays in preventing the spread of infections.

Specialist dentist using a microscopeViruses are big news at the moment. It is difficult to ascertain how serious the current situation might end up being but it does serve to highlight the importance of limiting the spread of viruses in general.

When it comes to cross infection control, there are a number of areas where we can take certain steps locally to help prevent infection both for our patients and our dental team.

Our dental practice

The Dental Centre Bedford is based in a modern building in the Meiklejohn Centre. The very nature of this type of building makes it easier to keep clean than older facilities, but doing this in a medical practice of any sort, including dental, involves much more than simply ‘sweeping up’. It is very important that the environment is kept as hygienic as possible for the safety of our patients and to that end, both our general and surgical areas are subjected to regular deep cleaning.

The same goes for all of our equipment such as probes and drills. These are thoroughly sterilised after each use to make sure that the risk of cross infection is kept to an absolute minimum.

Our dentists

You will notice, whether you have a check up or an invasive treatment such as root canal therapy, that all of our dentists wear both masks and surgical gloves in order to prevent cross infection either from dentist to patient or patient to dentist. This relates both to airborne infections but also blood born ones that could potentially occur where procedures such as an extraction are carried out. Both masks and gloves are single use and will be hygienically disposed of after use.

Whilst wearing gloves is an obvious precaution, you can also be assured that our dentists wash their hands in between each patient appointment as well.

Although we don’t like to do so; where a patient arrives for an appointment who is obviously ill with a virus such as the flu, our dental team reserve the right to refuse treatment until such a time that they have recovered and are no longer at a risk of infecting others.

How our patients can help

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Multiple Uses Of Dental Veneers

Bedford dentist, Dr David Nolte, discusses this versatile cosmetic treatment.

One of the key aims of cosmetic dentistry is to help the patient to have the best looking smile that they possibly can. There are many ways to achieve this and much will depend on the current condition of the patient’s teeth, along with what they want to achieve.

The most popular cosmetic treatment is to have the teeth whitened; which is understandable as it is non-invasive and largely affordable for many people. This treatment works best when the teeth are in reasonably good condition, but of course this is not always the case. One of the most widely used ways to resolve this, and indeed quite a few other dental problems, is the use of porcelain veneers. In today’s blog, we take a look at the many ways that this versatile treatment is used at The Dental Centre Bedford.

Teeth whitening

This is one of the most common uses. Although a teeth whitening procedure offers great benefits for many people; where the teeth have become very badly stained or discoloured, as can happen if you smoke for example, it will probably not achieve a level at which the patient would be entirely happy. In these situations, we are pleased to offer veneers as an alternative. Although it does usually require a minor invasive treatment, it is an excellent way of achieving great looking, white teeth. Porcelain which is often used to make the veneers, is non-porous and therefore unlikely to stain significantly with good care.

Sensitive teeth

Where the enamel of the teeth is eroded, it exposes the dentin layer beneath it. This is porous and allows temperatures, both hot and cold, to reach the nerves in our teeth more easily. When this happens, the sensitivity of our teeth is increased and can cause either sharp or continual pain at times. This can happen when we eat either hot or cold food and drinks or even when the weather is cold if we breath through our mouths.

Unfortunately, enamel will not grow back on its own and dental veneers are an excellent way of replacing the damaged or eroded front surfaces of our teeth. Once fitted, patients usually find that their sensitivity problem is resolved.

Cracks and chips

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Dealing With Tooth Loss

A Bedford dentist looks at how this impacts our life and the options available for replacement

Implant bridgeWith good care, and perhaps a bit of good luck too, it is entirely possible to go through life never losing an adult tooth.

Few people are this fortunate though and most of us will probably lose at least one tooth at some point in our life. This can happen through neglect or even an accident that we have no control over. Whatever the reason, it can have a big impact on our life.

Where a front tooth is lost, the gap will be visible for all to see. Few people will leave this gap and will look at ways to replace the missing tooth. But even the loss of a rear tooth can have an effect and can cause us to use other teeth to perform its role, potentially causing premature wear elsewhere in the mouth.

Whether your missing tooth leaves you with a ‘gappy smile’, potentially affecting your confidence, or means that you find eating some foods more difficult than before, it is always advisable to replace the tooth using artificial means. In today’s post, we will look at some of the treatment options that are available at The Dental Centre Bedford

Dentures

Dentures have been the ‘go to’ method of tooth replacement for some time now. Over the years they have improved, both in comfort and in appearance. Although they do not usually require dental surgery to be fitted, a factor which may tempt more anxious patients, it is not uncommon for wearers to become dissatisfied with them as they can cause soreness of the gums and may also move around in the mouth a little, creating problems when eating or speaking.

For this reason, a growing number of people are moving away from wearing dentures and opting for more secure methods instead.

Bridges

A more secure option than dentures is the bridge. As the name suggests, this allows the fitting of a replacement tooth ‘bridged’ between the adjacent teeth. This does secure the replacement tooth and makes eating much easier. It does have a few potential drawbacks though, for example, a bridge can typically only be used where there are teeth adjacent to the gap. This means that one of the most common teeth to be lost, the very back teeth which take a lot of strain and are more difficult to clean, can’t be replaced using this method.

To fit the crowns that will secure the bridge, the teeth have to be shaped so that the crowns will fit securely. Understandably, some patients are reluctant to have this done to teeth that are otherwise healthy.

As with dentures, cleaning the replacement tooth and surrounding areas can be a little tricky, but it is of course, still very important.

Dental implants

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Looking After Our Teeth In Middle Age And Beyond

Time can take its toll on our teeth. Here’s some advice on how we can help overcome it…..

white smilesWhen does middle age begin? It’s a very good question and the answer seems to change every few years. A quick search of the internet says that it currently starts at around 35 years of age and ends not long before your 60th birthday. Whatever the exact dates, the fact is that the years before will have brought challenges for your teeth and some of them may be showing the effects of time.

As we tend to be socially active until later on in life these days, it isn’t surprising that many middle aged people want to have not only healthy teeth but ones that look great too. A warm and attractive smile is a great way to introduce yourself to a new social group and can make winning new friends that little bit easier.

At The Dental Centre Bedford, we are able to help you have nicer looking teeth in your middle age and beyond using a variety of the latest dentistry techniques. We look at some of these below, but first, some advice on general oral care.

The basics are important

It doesn’t matter whether we are 8 or 48, the reality is that a good teeth cleaning regimen is essential. This will not only help you keep your teeth nice looking but will help to avoid problems such as cavities and tooth loss. Make sure that you brush your teeth well using a fluoride toothpaste both morning and night. Use dental floss too as this helps to remove bacteria and food particles that can get trapped between teeth and in the gum pockets. This will help to prevent gum disease.

We also recommend that you see a dental hygienist. In addition to helping you improve how you look after your teeth, they will provide a professional clean that removes any hardened bacteria and mineral deposits that both detract from the appearance of your teeth and which can also contribute to gum disease.

Cosmetic improvements

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2020 – A Year To Change Your Smoking And Drinking Habits

Make this the year to improve your health and minimise two serious threats to your teeth and gums.

dental checkWe hope that all of our Bedford patients had a fantastic Christmas and New Year, and with January now fully underway, some of you may have already made a start on your new year resolutions as well.

For those that haven’t, and indeed those that have, we would like to add a couple of suggestions to your list for consideration too.

Our prime concern for our patients here at The Dental Centre Bedford is for them to have a healthy set of teeth and gums. Diligent cleaning and a sensible diet play important roles in this, but there are a couple of other things that can have a serious effect, and it is these that we would like you to consider adding to your list of resolutions.

Smoking and alcohol consumption

Both of these are habits that are hard to break. Most people who have smoked and given up will acknowledge how difficult this can be. Alcohol can also be addictive but can also be the result of peer pressure too.

We will take a look at each of these in turn and at how they can negatively affect your oral health.

Smoking

Whether it is cigarettes, cigars, a pipe or even chewing tobacco, any tobacco product is harmful to your oral health and cutting down or preferably stopping altogether is likely to start to improve the health of your teeth and gums. Although fewer people now smoke than has been the case in the recent past, there are still approximately 4 million people in the UK who currently smoke. This is an awful lot of people that are putting many aspects of their health at risk for what is very often simply a habit.

This doesn’t mean that stopping smoking is easy and indeed, some people will find it very difficult. It is advisable for anyone considering stopping to seek out support from friends, family and even professionals where needed.

The reality though is that if you smoke, you are greatly increasing the risks of both serious gum disease and oral cancers. These can be life changing and in the case of oral cancers can even cause disfigurement and, in a worst case scenario, death. Stopping smoking may take some time, perhaps with a few hiccups along the way. With help and a little determination though, you can kick this habit and improve your oral and general health.

Alcohol

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Your Dental Care Plan For The New Year

Keeping your teeth healthy and looking great in 2020!

Caring for teethWe will soon be coming to the close of yet another year, and one that has probably been challenging for many of us. There has certainly been plenty going on that will have caused a few of us to grind our teeth in frustration, hopefully without causing any damage!

Soon, we will be looking forward to the start of a new year, possibly setting targets and making resolutions to change certain aspects of our lives.

As we are in the business of family dental care, our Bedford dentists decided to take this opportunity to look at some of the opportunities for our patients to have healthier and nicer looking teeth in the new year ahead.

New year, new toothbrush!

A good place to start improving our oral health is to make sure that our toothbrush is good enough. For those of you still using a manual toothbrush, we recommend that you switch to an electric one. These are more efficient and are especially good for those with mobility issues and for younger children too.

Whether you currently use a manual or electric toothbrush though, do make sure that the bristles are in good condition. You should change your brush or brush head at least every three months or risk a build up of bacteria on the teeth and gums.

Learn to floss

We hear a lot of patients say that they can’t floss. The truth is that most of us can; it just takes a little practice. Dental floss is cheap and is a great way of removing food that has become trapped between the teeth and in the gum pockets. Buy a packet of floss and watch a reputable video that shows you how. If you still get stuck, please do ask a dentist or hygienist at The Dental Centre Bedford to show you how to do it correctly. This simple addition to your daily routine will further improve your oral health.

Check your appointments

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A CARING FAMILY DENTIST YOU CAN TRUST