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Microabrasion with Dr Emma Franks

microabrasian-emma-franks

This young patient came to us because she was becoming very conscious of staining on her front teeth. She had been told previously she would have to wait until age 18 to have them whitened.

We decided to carry out a conservative treatment known as microabrasion. This involves polishing the teeth with a mild abrasive polish, to remove the staining in the enamel.

The treatment is carried out without anaesthetic, and completed in approximately 10 minutes. It is very safe and conservative.

The patient was very happy with her new appearance and has gained the confidence to smile again.

This treatment is suitable for various types of staining- depending on the cause and severity of the stains. It can be used in conjunction with whitening before or after the microabrasion, for more complicated aesthetic cases.

If you are interested in this treatment please contact the practice.

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Posted in: General Dentistry

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What are cold sores and how can I get rid of them?

What are cold sores and how can I get rid of them?

Cold sores are a type of blister that occurs on the lips and around the mouth. They’re common and usually nothing to worry about, and they normally go away on their own. However, if you’ve got an important event coming up – like a wedding, for example – then you’re probably looking for a way to get rid of your cold sore quickly. So, in this post, we’ll discuss some of the ways you can get rid of your cold sores faster.

 

What are cold sores?

First, let’s discuss what cold sores actually are. Cold sores (also known as fever blisters) are clusters of tiny blisters that appear on and around the lips. The cause is a virus called herpes simplex virus type 1 (or just HSV-1 for short). Most people are actually already infected by this virus, but the virus lays dormant most of the time. Occasionally, and especially during periods of stress, the virus will activate and cause a cold sore.

You can tell a cold sore is coming because of early warning signs like redness, burning, swelling and tingling of your lips or around your mouth. A day or two after the first sign, tiny blisters will start to appear (these are what are called fever blisters). These blisters eventually pop to form what are known as cold sores. Finally, the sores will crust over and heal.

 

How can I get rid of a cold sore?

Here are a few things you can do to get rid of a cold sore fast:

  • Use a cold, damp cloth. A good way to make your cold sore heal faster is to apply a cool, damp cloth to the affected area. This will also help make the sore less red and crusty.
  • Apply ice. If you don’t have a cold sore yet but you can feel one coming on, then try applying ice to the affected area. With a bit of luck, it will prevent a cold sore from appearing.
  • Apply ointment. If you want to get rid of that cold sore fast, then try an ointment. You can get a cold sore ointment over-the-counter at most pharmacies. Apply the ointment frequently and it should help to make the cold sore go away faster.
  • Use antiviral medications. Certain antiviral medications can make a cold sore disappear quickly. These medications include famciclovir and acyclovir. However, they’re not available over-the-counter, which means you’ll have to get a prescription from your doctor or dentist. Also, keep in mind that these medications are more effective when taken before a cold sore has appeared. So, keep an eye out for the early signs of cold sores and get a prescription quickly.

 

How to avoid cold sores in the first place

Once you’re infected with HSV-1 (and unfortunately, most people already are), you’ll probably suffer from occasional cold sores for the rest of your life. However, there are a few things you can do to minimise the risk of outbreaks.

  • Reduce stress. Cold sore outbreaks are often triggered by periods of stress. So have a cup of tea, meditate, take time off work – whatever you need to do to reduce your stress levels.
  • Use sunscreen. There’s evidence that people can reduce their risk of cold sores by applying sunscreen around their lips.
  • Take antiviral medications. If you suffer from cold sores all the time, your doctor might give you a regular prescription you with an antiviral medication to help prevent further outbreaks.

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The causes of gum pain and ways to alleviate it

The causes of gum pain and ways to alleviate it

The gums play a key role in the mouth – they protect your jawbone and help keep your teeth in place. Sometimes, however, things don’t always go as they should. A typical sign that something is wrong is gum pain. Gum pain can happen at any age, but it’s more common in older people. It can be very painful and it’s therefore something that should be taken seriously.

In this post, we’ll discuss the typical causes of gum pain and various ways you can alleviate it.

Common causes of gum pain

The most common causes of gum pain are:

  • Smoking. Smoke and cigarette chemicals, such as tar and nicotine, are very irritating to the gums and can cause gum problems.
  • Period hormones. Women sometimes find that they become more susceptible to gum infections during their period. This is because of changes in hormone levels.
  • Poor oral hygiene. A lack of proper brushing can lead to lesions and infections inside your mouth and on your gums.
  • Genes. Some people are genetically predisposed to gum problems. In particular, these include people with autoimmune diseases where the body attacks its own cells and tissues.
  • Diabetes. Diabetes can cause issues with blood circulation which in turn can lead to gum problems.
  • Some medications. Certain medications can impact your gums. For example, antihistamines, which some people need for allergies and asthma, can dry your mouth which in turn increases your risk of gum infection. Another example is contraceptives, which can cause gum inflammation.

What to do if you have gum pain

If the cause of your gum pain is an infection, then see a dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to temporarily alleviate your gum pain.

  • Apply cold to your gums. Cold is an effective way to reduce gum pain because it numbs the area. To apply cold to your gums, try making a cold compress. Start by putting ice in a plastic, sealable bag. Then add a bit of water to the bag, seal it and wrap it in a damp towel. Finally, apply to compress to your gums. You should immediately feel some alleviation of your pain.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water. Salt can help to kill an infection. Stir two spoons of salt into a glass of water and then rinse your mouth with it. Don’t drink it though, as the salt can dehydrate you.
  • Rub clove oil onto your gums. Try rubbing clove oil on your gums as it can sometimes reduce gum pain.
  • Take painkillers. You can buy over-the-counter painkillers from a pharmacy that will temporarily alleviate your gum pain.
  • Rinse with a special mouthwash. Some mouthwashes are specifically designed to help treat gum problems. Ask your local pharmacist for help choosing one.

At Scott Arms Dental Practice, we have many years’ experience dealing with gum problems. If you have a gum problem that you’d like us to take a look at, call us on 0121 357 5000 or book online. We also have an emergency dental service available 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Posted in: Periodontal Disease

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How to protect your teeth from chocolate this Valentine’s Day

How to protect your teeth from chocolate this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day is only a couple of weeks away and we’re already salivating in anticipation of boxes of chocolates. Of course, though, chocolate isn’t the best thing for your teeth, which is why it’s good to practice moderation. In this post, we’ll discuss how chocolate affects your teeth and provide some tips on how you can minimise the damage.

How does chocolate affect my teeth?

Chocolate is generally bad for our teeth. This is because it contains sugar, and as we all know, sugar is bad for us. Certain bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and turn it into acids, and these acids erode your teeth and make cavities.

However, the real situation with chocolate is more complex, because some types of chocolate contain less sugar than others. There are three broad types of chocolate: white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. What’s the difference between them? Well, milk chocolate is basically cocoa butter, cocoa solids, milk and sugar. White chocolate is the same as milk chocolate except it doesn’t contain cocoa solids. Finally, dark chocolate doesn’t contain milk and it has more cocoa than milk and white chocolate.

Which type of chocolate is worst for my teeth?

White chocolate and milk chocolate are the worst type of chocolate for your teeth because they contain the most sugar. This is because only a small proportion of white and milk chocolate is actually cocoa – usually only 20%. The rest of the ingredients are milk and sugar. So it’s not hard to see why white chocolate and milk chocolate are bad for your teeth – when you eat them, you’re mainly eating sugar.

Dark chocolate is better for your teeth. This is because dark chocolate is at least 45% cocoa, which means there’s less sugar than white and milk chocolate. Also, dark chocolate isn’t just better for your teeth because of its lower sugar content. It also appears to have ingredients that can protect our teeth from decay. Specifically, dark chocolate is high in theobromine, a molecule that’s poisonous to dogs but a slight stimulant to humans. Theobromine is also thought to help to preserve tooth enamel. According to a study in 2013, theobromine combats the demineralization of tooth enamel and therefore helps prevents cavities.

Advice on how to enjoy chocolate safely

Finally, here’s some advice on how to enjoy chocolate without necessarily damaging your teeth.

  • Pay attention to the chocolate’s sugar content. Avoid chocolate that’s high in sugar, such as white and milk chocolate. Consider switching to dark chocolate instead, and go for the darkest chocolate available. This is because the darker the chocolate is, the more cocoa it contains and therefore the less sugar there is to damage your teeth.
  • Consider switching to chocolate with zero sugar. You might think that zero-sugar chocolate would taste too bitter to eat, but it actually contains artificial sweeteners to simulate the sweetness of sugar, so the taste is often quite similar to real chocolate.
  • Maintain a good oral hygiene that consists of brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day.
  • See a dentist regularly. This will help to catch any tooth decay caused by eating chocolate and sugar.

If you think your teeth have been affected by too much chocolate or sugar, contact us at 0121 357 5000 to book a dental appointment.

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Why is whitening such a great treatment option?

teeth-whitening-birmingham

How important are our smiles?

With the ‘American smile’ being all over current magazines and social media, many of us aspire to have that perfect white smile. A smile shows confidence and happiness and is an incredibly important feature to many of us helping with our relationships and success. The oral health foundation state that a smile is at the top of the list of things that we first notice when meeting a new person and that teeth/smiles are the second most important attractive feature by both men and women (personality being first). They also found that nearly 50% of the population are unhappy with their teeth and that 64% of these people are unhappy due to them being discoloured.

Whitening is a safe, conservative and affordable option to help brighten your smile and here at Scott Arms Dental Practice we can offer you affordable whitening with great results.

What is it and when can it be used?

Tooth whitening is application of a whitening solution into a custom made tray to fit your mouth. It lightens the natural colour of your teeth safely without removing any of your tooth surface. Perhaps you’ve noticed your teeth aren’t as white as they used to be, after all they do discolour over time. Or, perhaps you drink a lot of coffee or tea and this has contributed to a discolouration of your teeth. Surface stains such as these can be effectively lightened using a whitening treatment in order to give you a brighter, whiter smile.

Which product is used to whiten teeth?

Here at Scott arms dental practice we use ‘Boutique whitening’. Boutique offers two different systems- both a day and night which caters for patients’ individual needs. Night tends to be the most popular- with so many people having such busy lives, using the night time whitening system is perfect to fit into your schedule. It is also great for those who suffer with sensitivity as it is less likely to cause sensitivity after the whitening. It’s super simple for you to do at home and gives you the flexibility to get the exact results you wish for as you can use it for as long a period of time as you like to get the results you want. The night time product is 16% carbamide peroxide and is placed into your tray and worn throughout the night. We recommend to use it every night for two weeks to get optimum results- however this amount of time can be adjusted to ensure you get your own personal results.

Once you’ve reached your desired shade, you have the trays for life. Therefore, whenever you feel as though it needs a top up- you’re able to do this as and when needed.

Whitening really is a great treatment option for those looking to brighten their smile. Not only is it simple for you to do at home, it is also minimally invasive on your teeth- no drilling or long appointments is required!

Posted in: Cosmetic Dentistry

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Soft drinks and acid erosion

Soft drinks and acid erosion

We all know that soft drinks aren’t good for your health. Some soft drinks are high in sugar, and even the sugar-free versions contain acid that can erode your enamel. In this post, we’ll examine this topic further by answering some of your questions about soft drinks.

 

Why are soft drinks bad for my teeth?

Soft drinks are bad for your teeth because they are high in sugar and/or acids. Sugar is harmful because it encourages bacteria and plaque, which in turns causes cavities. Acid is harmful as it erodes the enamel (the outer layer of your teeth).

 

Is diet cola better for my teeth than regular cola?

Diet drinks, such as Diet Coke and Coke Zero, are indeed better for your teeth than regular cola. A can of cola contains a whopping 33 g of sugar, while diet cola is sugar-free. So, yes, the sugar-free version is better for your teeth than regular cola.

 

So diet cola is okay for my teeth?

No. Although diet drinks are sugar-free, it doesn’t mean they’re good for your teeth. This is because all fizzy drinks contain acids that erode the enamel on your teeth. Even sugar-free drinks contain these acids. Therefore, it’s best to limit your consumption of all fizzy drinks.

 

Which other drinks are high in acid?

The following drinks are high in acid: carbonated drinks such as fizzy pop, white wine, cider, alcopops, some sports drinks, fruit teas, juices made from citrus fruits (e.g. orange juice and grapefruit juice).

In addition, some foods are acidic. These include citrus fruits, such as lemons, oranges, blackcurrants, and grapefruits. However, the benefit of these healthy citrus fruits for your overall health, outweighs the negative effect of tooth erosion.

 

So what’s the best thing to drink?

The safest drink for your teeth is still water, whether it’s from the tap or from a bottle. Still water is pH neutral which means it reduces acidity in your mouth.

Though of course it would be a boring life if water was all we drank. Alternatives to water are sugar-free squash, diluted fruit juice, tea (without sugar) and coffee (also without sugar). Although these drinks don’t benefit your teeth, they don’t do much harm either.

Try to avoid drinking large amounts of fruit juice. Even though fruit juice has a reputation as healthy drink, it’s actually quite bad for your teeth as it’s high in acids. A good idea therefore is to dilute your fruit juice with water.

 

How can I prevent tooth erosion from getting worse?

If you already have enamel erosion, then the bad news is that it isn’t reversible – you can’t get your enamel back. However, you can stop it from getting worse and your dentists may be able to protect your teeth with a protective filling or crown. Here are some tips on how to prevent erosion from progressing further:

  • Limit your intake of acidic drinks and foods
  • Don’t brush your teeth too soon after eating acidic foods. Acid weakens enamel, and if you brush them when your enamel is weakened, you could damage your teeth.
  • Don’t drink acidic drinks before you go to bed. The acid will linger on your teeth during the night and weaken your enamel.
  • Talk to your dentist or doctor for help or treatment.

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Six tips to help you look after your teeth this Christmas

Six tips to help you look after your teeth this Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner and people are once again getting gearing up for the festivities. But amidst all the mince pies, pudding and turkey, we ask that you spare a thought this Christmas… to your teeth.

We don’t want to put a downer on things, but your teeth are assaulted with sugar over Christmas, whether it’s sugar from pudding, sweets, chocolate or Bucks Fizz. All that sugar can cause cavities. So, give yourself a present by following our six tips for a tooth-friendly Christmas.

  1. Practice moderation. Moderation is definitely the best thing you can do for your teeth at Christmas. So don’t be afraid to say no to the sweet tin as it comes around the table, or to decline the offer of a mince pie. Saying that, you don’t need to be a Scrooge – after all, Christmas is the one time of year when you should be able to eat and drink as you like. We’re just saying to keep in mind the amount of sugar you eat, and to try to keep it reasonable.
  2. Don’t break your dental routine. Our routines tend to get a bit wobbly during Christmas due to all the stress, excitement and festivities. But Christmas is also the time when your dental hygiene routine is more important than ever. Make sure your dental hygiene routine is one you don’t break. That means brushing your teeth when you wake up and brushing again before you go to bed. The same goes for children. Christmas morning is very exciting for children, but they can spare a couple of minutes to brush their teeth.
  3. Put out carrots for Father Christmas. It’s a Christmas Eve tradition in some homes to put out a mince pie and a glass of milk for Father Christmas. But why not substitute the mince pie for some carrots instead? You can tell your little ones that the carrots are for Father Christmas’s reindeer for their long journey. By incorporating carrots into a Christmas tradition, you’re subtly teaching children the importance of vegetables, which will help serve their teeth well for the rest of their lives.
  4. Don’t open bottles with your teeth. You’ll probably open a bottle or two at Christmas, whether it’s wine, beer or champagne. But please don’t use your teeth to open bottles. This is because your tooth can chip or even break off entirely! Stay on Santa’s nice list and use a bottle opener instead.
  5. Don’t forget the dentist. If you have a dental appointment near to Christmas, then don’t forget to go. We know that Christmas can be a busy time but that doesn’t mean you should skip dental appointments.
  6. Consider switching to sugar-free foods. If you really want to score bonus points with Father Christmas this year, then consider buying sugar-free versions of popular Christmas foods. The big supermarkets usually sell lots of sugar-free options, including mince pies, chocolate and cake. These foods are usually intended for diabetics but they’re good for your teeth too.

From the team at Scott Arms Dental Practice, we wish you a merry Christmas! And one final tip: if you’re playing reindeer games with Rudolph this Christmas, then don’t forget to wear a mouth guard!

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Everything you need to know about dental check-ups

ScottArms_SMM_20171101_patient-and-dentistsDental check-ups are something that many people see as inconvenient and unnecessary. Why bother going to the dentist if your teeth are perfectly healthy? The truth of the matter is that we all need to see the dentist every now and then. Dentists can catch any problems in their early stages and treat them before they get worse. A check-up is also an opportunity for you to discuss your oral health and hygiene habits with your dentist. In this post, we’ll answer some of the most common questions our patients ask about dental check-ups.

 

How often should I have a check-up?

The typical advice is to see a dentist every six months. This allows your dentist to spot tooth decay before it becomes serious. However, six months isn’t necessarily the best option for everyone: the ideal frequency of your check-ups depends on you. Some people need to visit a dentist every three months, whereas luckier patients only need to see a dentist every couple of years. It all depends on the health of your teeth and your risk of developing problems.

 

What’s the purpose of dental check-ups?

Dental check-ups are important because they allow dentists to catch problems such as cavities or plaque. And if do you have problems then the dentist can take care of them there and then instead of letting them get worse. After all, the longer you leave a dental problem, the more difficult it becomes to treat. That’s why it’s best to catch problems early and to see a dentist frequently.

 

What typically happens at a dental check-up?

At a check-up, your dentist will typically:

  • Examine your teeth
  • Ask you if you’ve had any problems with your teeth since your last visit.
  • Ask you about your teeth-cleaning habits and advise you if you can make improvements
  • Tell you when you need to come back for your next visit

 

What about appointments for other things?

Along with general check-ups, you might also need to visit the dentist for other reasons. For example, if you have braces, then you’ll need to visit the dentist every few weeks to have the braces adjusted.
And if you experience problems with your teeth between check-ups, then you should contact your dentist and make an appointment as soon as possible. If you wait until your check-up appointment then the problem may be worse by that point.

 

What about dental check-ups for children?

Children need regular dental check-ups too. NHS dental care for children is free, so there’s really no excuse! A child’s first appointment should be when her first milk teeth appear. After that, your dentist will advise you how often your child needs check-ups. Typically this will be around every six months.

 

Conclusion

We hope that you now feel more comfortable about dental check-ups. If you have any more questions, then feel free to contact us at 0121 357 5000 or visit in person at our clinic in Great Barr. If we don’t see you, then we’ll be sure to see you at your next check-up!

Posted in: General Dentistry

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How can conscious sedation can help the anxious patient?

How big a problem is dental anxiety in the UK?

According to the oral health foundation, almost half of UK adults have a fear of the dentist. They also found that visiting the dentist is ranked first (22%) for making people nervous- even more popular than heights (19%). This is significant and it is the job of dentist to put people at ease, build a rapport and try to reduce the prevalence of dental anxiety in the UK.

For some, an upcoming visit to the dentist can cause anxiety and fear in the days and weeks leading up to the appointment. The specific thing that causes this apprehension is different from person to person. For some, it’s the needle, others it’s the sound of the drill. Even the fear of an x-ray causing gagging or the smell of the dentist can cause anxiety in some patients.

Some patient’s may never have experienced dental anxiety before- they may never of had extensive treatment before and now the day is looming. Things that they have never been scared of or thought about before suddenly come to light.

How can we help?

In-house sedation can be a perfect solution for these scenarios. It is both effective and safe to use. Whether someone has always suffered from dental anxiety or perhaps feel they need a little something to get them through their first course of treatment, sedation is often a helpful tool. It may also be used if a procedure is going to be a little uncomfortable, for example, extractions.

What is conscious sedation?

Conscious sedation is when a sedative drug is given through a plastic tube into a vein in the hand or arm to help a patient relax.

Intravenous sedation is different from general anaesthesia. Many patients misunderstand and believe they will be put to sleep. This is not the case and is one reason why sedation is safer than general anaesthesia. The patient remains conscious throughout, however are often drowsy, have little awareness of what is going on and often no memory of the procedure afterwards.

What drug is used and what is the procedure?

Most commonly the drug used is midazolam, which is in the group of drugs called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines help to dampen down stimulation in the brain, and therefore help the patient remain calm and relaxed. As it is given intravenously (through a canula in a vein) the amount of sedative drug given can be easily, and therefore safely controlled. This is what we use at Scott Arms and it makes visiting the dentist far less scary for many of our patients.

Once sedated, we still numb the gum close to the area to be treated, to ensure the patient is numb throughout and for a short while after the procedure. Patients are monitored closely throughout the procedure. Afterwards clumsiness, sleepiness and forgetfulness are all very common and are all good signs the sedation has worked well.

Sedation can help patients cope with dental treatment and reduce anxiety. It can help interrupt the cycle of anxiety and patients are often more willing to come to the dentist afterwards. It is a very safe and effective option to ensure patients get the care and treatment they need, as well as being able to relax in the dental environment.

Posted in: General Dentistry

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What’s the deal with fluoride in the water supply?

sadp-water

 

Since the 1960s, the government has added fluoride to the drinking water in some parts of the UK with the aim of preventing tooth decay. The first large scheme began in Birmingham in 1964. Today, 10% of England’s population receives fluoridated tap water, which is 5.8 million people. The places where fluoridated water is most common are Birmingham, Staffordshire and Dudley.

Fluoridation is a controversial topic. On one side of the argument, people claim that water fluoridation poses health risks and is therefore too dangerous to add to tap water. Meanwhile, supporters of water fluoridation point out that that there is no evidence of side-effects at normal doses.

 

The evidence

In the early 20th century, scientists noticed that people living in areas with naturally high levels of fluoride also had low levels of tooth decay. This led to an experiment in an American city called Grand Rapids, where the city’s officials started adding fluoride to the water supply. Over the next few years, scientists found that the people in Grand Rapids enjoyed lower rates of tooth decay. In light of these findings, other towns and cities around the world quickly adopted artificial water fluoridation.

In 2015, an independent organisation of researchers known as the Cochrane Collaboration analysed studies into water fluoridation. They found many flaws in these studies. For example, they found that studies from before 1975 are no longer relevant because there was a widespread adoption of fluoride-containing toothpaste after 1975. The findings of the Cochrane Collaboration shed doubt on the usefulness of mass water fluoridation.

 

What are the benefits of fluoridated water?

We know for certain that fluoride helps to prevent cavities. This is shown in cities across the UK and the world. For example The Telegraph claims that in Manchester, where there is no fluoridated tap water, the rate of tooth decay is twice that than in Birmingham, where fluoridated tap water is commonplace.

 

What are the dangers of fluoride?

One known danger of fluoride is a condition known as fluorosis. The condition is where bones and teeth lose their minerals and become porous. However, fluorosis only occurs at very high levels of fluoride. The amounts added to tap water are too small to cause fluorosis.

Some preliminary research suggests that high doses of fluoride might be toxic to the brain and nerve cells. Furthermore, other studies have found that fluoride might cause learning and memory problems at high doses. However, the fluoride level used in these studies is higher than the levels found in water supplies.

 

The bottom line

We know for certain that fluoride helps prevent cavities. But since we already add fluoride to toothpaste, so do we really need to add it to our drinking water as well?

To answer this question, more research is needed. Governments need to know exactly how much fluoride they should be adding to the water supply. Given that too much fluoride poses health risks, we shouldn’t add use any more fluoride than necessary. Scientists also need to perform more research on the adverse health effects of fluoride on the brain.

Posted in: General Dentistry

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