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Are there bacteria on your toothbrush?

Are there bacteria on your toothbrush?

We use our toothbrushes every day and yet we don’t usually give them a second thought. But should we pay them closer attention? Just how clean are our toothbrushes anyway?

Rather alarmingly, several studies have found that toothbrushes actually harbour quite a lot of bacteria. In this post, we’ll investigate this in more detail.

Studies into toothbrush contamination

In 2012, a study looked at the findings of ten other studies into toothbrush contamination (which is the theory that we contaminate our toothbrushes with bacteria every time we brush our teeth). The findings were conclusive: every one of the ten studies found that toothbrush contamination is actually real. And not all of the bacteria are harmless either. Some of the studies found bacteria such as e-coli, staphylococcus and herpes lying on toothbrushes.

What’s more, the more you use your toothbrush, the more contaminated it gets. So it’s a good idea to change your toothbrush every few months!

What can we do about toothbrush contamination?

While toothbrush contamination might sound alarming, there’s no need to be too concerned. For one thing, most bacteria that you’ll find on your toothbrush are harmless. For another thing, there are bacteria everywhere, not just on your toothbrush. In fact, it would be very unusual if your toothbrush didn’t contain any bacteria. So there’s no need to worry too much.

However, it’s still a good idea to change your toothbrush often. That’s because, over time, your toothbrush bristles become more splayed and worn out, which makes your them less effective at cleaning. So try to change your toothbrush every three to four months for maximum effectiveness. This will also help ensure that you always have a clean toothbrush.

Tips on how to keep your toothbrush clean

If you want to keep your toothbrush clean without having to buy a new one every week, then try leaving your toothbrush to soak in mouthwash for a few hours. Mouthwash contains a bit of alcohol which is lethal to germs. In fact, it’s been proven that mouthwash can kill most of the bacteria on a toothbrush.

Another way to keep your toothbrush clean is to rinse your mouth with mouthwash before brushing. This will reduce the number of bacteria that get transferred to your toothbrush. It’s a win-win all around – your mouth is cleaner and so is your toothbrush.

But don’t bother trying to remove germs from your toothbrush using tap water. One study has found that rinsing your toothbrush in the tap water does practically nothing to remove bacteria.

Conclusion

It’s not just a myth that toothbrushes have high levels of germs; it really is true. What’s more, every time you brush your teeth, it leaves more and more bacteria on the toothbrush.

However, there’s no need to be too alarmed. Most of the germs are harmless and they’re probably already in your mouth anyway.

Still, it’s a good idea to change your toothbrush often though – about once every three months or so should do the trick. You can also try soaking your toothbrush in mouthwash between brushings to keep it clean. This will kill the bacteria and ultimately improve your dental health.

Posted in: General Dentistry

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How does stress affect your oral health?

How does stress affect your oral health?

Do you suffer from stress? Whether it’s office politics, toddler tantrums, or a late bill notice in the post, there are lots of things that can cause stress.

Unfortunately, stress can have a damaging effect on your health. And that’s not just your physical and mental health, but your dental health too.

In this month’s post, we’ll discuss some of the effects that stress can have on your mouth and teeth. So if you suffer from stress, then don’t worry – we’ll show you some ways to mitigate its effects on your oral health.

Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding is a classic sign of stress. People who are under a lot of stress often show it by grinding their teeth at night, although some people also going to teeth during the day too.

Over time, when you grind your teeth a lot, it can wear down your enamel and lead to problems such as teeth sensitivity. Eventually, you might even need to get extensive work done to fix the damage.

It goes without saying then that teeth grinding is something to avoid. But what can you do about it? Well, the main solution is to wear a mouthguard at night. In fact, a mouthguard is a very effective way of preventing any damage to your enamel. If you feel like you could benefit from a mouth guard, then simply speak to your dentist.

Mouth sores

Did you know that you’re more likely to get mouth sores when you’re stressed? Mouth sores are small spots in your mouth that have a white centre and a red ring around them. Fortunately, they’re nothing to worry about and they often go away on their own.

Failing to take care of your teeth properly

Prolonged stress can make you feel angry, depressed and upset. When people feel like this, they no longer care as much about taking care of themselves, and this can include taking care of their teeth.

However, it’s important to brush your teeth twice a day to keep your teeth clean and healthy. Failing to do this can lead to problems such as cavities and gum disease.

So if you’re feeling stressed, do remember the importance of sticking to an oral hygiene routine. If you don’t, then it could lead to dental problems later on.

Eating unhealthy foods

Another common thing people do when they’re stressed is to turn to junk food as a source of comfort. Unfortunately, however, a lot of junk food is high in sugar and of course, sugar is bad for your teeth. So be careful as a diet high in sugary foods can easily cause cavities. Make sure to stick to foods low in sugar instead.

Conclusion

Stress can have lots of detrimental effects on your oral health. Fortunately, there’s a solution for most of them. By giving yourself a bit of TLC, you can help to eliminate most of the effects of stress on your teeth.

If you’d like to talk to a dentist about any of the topics we’ve covered today, then please don’t hesitate to make an appointment by calling one of our friendly receptionists.

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Wrinkle Reduction Now Available at Scott Arms

Wrinkle Reduction Now Available at Scott Arms

We wanted to let you know about a new line of services we are now offering at Scott Arms Dental Practice in Birmingham. We are pleased to announce that we are now offering anti-wrinkle treatment and fine line reduction.

We also offer various dermal filler/lip filler services.

It involves the use of a cosmetic drug that is primarily used to smooth fine lines and wrinkles. It can also be used to help treat excessive sweating from the underarms, and pain from grinding your teeth at night. We can also use it to reduce a ‘gummy smile’.

How anti-wrinkle injectibles work

They work by temporarily blocking the signals sent between the nerves and muscles causing the skin to become firmer and younger looking. We use multiple well-known brands which are suited for different applications and areas of your face. 

Why a dentist is more suited to supply this treatment for you?

  • 5 year undergraduate degree with years of post graduate experience in (facial anatomy, facial asymmetry, dental cosmetics and muscle movements)
  • CQC regulated service with ensures a high level of cleanliness and professionalism
  • Highly reputable dentists at an award-winning dental practice. Not all of our dentists offer these treatments, only the ones who have undergone additional training. 

Why should you have wrinkle-reduction treatment? 

  • Safe
  • Virtually pain-free
  • Fast treatment
  • Results last up to 3-4 months
  • Fight against aging while lines are not permanent
  • Little downtime

Please ring us now on 0121 357 5000 to book a consultation. There will be a £20 deposit for the consultation which comes off of your treatment. 

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When should I start taking my child to see the dentist?

When should I start taking my child to see the dentist?

Did you know that most children in the UK don’t see a dentist until they’re two or three years old? Unfortunately, this is a lot later than what most dental professionals recommend.

Ideally, children should go to the dentist within six months after their first tooth emerges. For most children, this will be around the age of 1, because children begin teething at about six months of age. However, some children start teething sooner and some start teething later, so it will depend on your baby.

Why is it important for young children to see a dentist?

Many parents believe that the age of 1 is too early to take a child to the dentist. However, it is important to take children to the dentist at an early age. This for several reasons, including:

  • The dentist can spot early signs of plaque and prevent your child from getting cavities.
  • The dentist can give you advice on how to best take care of your child’s teeth, including advice on brushing and flossing. This can set the foundation for lifelong oral health.
  • Dental visits at an early age can help make your child accustomed to going to the dentist, thereby making future visits easier.

In all, dental visits at an early age help to keep your child’s baby teeth in good health. Without regular dental visits, your child could be at risk of plaque, dental decay and even tooth loss.

Does it matter if my child lose her baby teeth prematurely?

You might wonder if it’s such a bad thing if a child loses a baby tooth due to bacterial decay – don’t all baby teeth fall out anyway when the adult teeth come in? This is true, but in fact, baby teeth are important for many reasons. These include:

  • Baby teeth help children to chew their food properly, thus helping your child to maintain good nutrition
  • Baby teeth actually help your child to learn to talk
  • Having a full set of healthy baby teeth makes it more likely that your child will have healthy, straight teeth as an adult
  • Having a full set of teeth makes children feel good about their appearance

What if my child is scared of going to the dentist?

Dental anxiety is normal in young children and thankfully there are a few things you can do to ease your child’s nerves.

  • Take your child with you to your own dental appointments. This way, he can see that daddy or mummy is comfortable in the dentist chair.
  • Read stories or watch videos with your child about dental visits. There are lots of books about dental visits available, or you can look on YouTube for fun videos targeted to children.
  • Play games with your child about dental visits. You can pretend to be the patient for example and your child can roleplay being a dentist. Have fun examining each others’ teeth so that your child will feel more at ease during a real dental examination.

Conclusion

Dental visits at an early age help to keep teeth healthy not just in childhood but also throughout adulthood too.

If you’re looking for a dentist who’s good with children, then look no further than us. We have years of experience helping children to feel confident in the dentist’s chair. Simply book an appointment by calling our reception team.

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What is black hairy tongue?

What is black hairy tongue?

This month we’re addressing a hairy problem – black hairy tongue.

Black hairy tongue might sound like something we’ve just made up, but in fact, it’s real. It’s the term used to describe a condition where the tongue temporarily turns black due to an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth. Although the problem sounds scary, it’s actually harmless (although it might harm your dating chances).

In this post, we’ll cover black hairy tongue in more detail, paying particular attention to the causes and treatment.

What is black hairy tongue?

We all have bacteria in our mouths, and normally we can keep them in check with a good oral hygiene routine, such as brushing our teeth twice a day. However, when the bacteria grow out of control, problems can occur.

This is the case with black hairy tongue. It’s caused when bacteria on the tongue grow out of control. The bacteria build on the papillae on the tongue, which are the small bumps on the top of the tongue.

Normally, papillae fall off when they get too long (about a millimetre in length), but when there are too much bacteria on your tongue, the papillae just keep growing. The papillae can grow as long as three-quarters of an inch, which is around fifteen times their normal length. This can make the tongue look ‘hairy’, even though it’s not actually hair but the papillae.

What about the black part? Well, normally your papillae are a pinkish-white colour. However, when they grow too long, they can tend to get stuff trapped in them, such as pigments from foods and drinks. This can cause your tongue to become dyed black. However, other colours can occur too, such as yellow and green.

What are the risk factors for black hairy tongue?

Various risk factors for black hairy tongue are suspected. These include:

  • A poor oral hygiene routine (failing to brush often enough, for example)
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Drinking a lot of coffee or tea
  • Dehydration from not drinking enough water
  • Antibiotics, because they can alter the flora of bacteria in your mouth.
  • Excessive use of mouthwashes that contain astringents (such as witch hazel or menthol)

Is black hairy tongue harmful?

No, black hairy tongue is a harmless condition and it doesn’t hurt. Furthermore, it usually causes no other symptoms than a change in the tongue’s appearance. Sometimes however it has been known to cause strange tastes in the mouth and bad breath.

What is the treatment for black hairy tongue?

Luckily, the treatment for black hairy tongue is quite simple. All you have to do is follow these two easy steps:

  1. Brush your tongue twice a day with your toothbrush as part of your brushing routine. It’s a good idea to keep doing this even after your tongue is back to normal because it can prevent the problem from happening again.
  2. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water and then rinse again with plain water. Do this a few times day.

Finally, if your problem remains stubborn and won’t go away, make sure to book an appointment with your dentist.

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Six tips to cure bad breath

Six tips to cure bad breath

Did you know that bad breath is a regular problem for a quarter of adults in the UK? It’s true: 25% of British adults routinely suffer from unpleasant smelling breath.

If you’re a sufferer of bad breath, then the good news is that you don’t need to be. There’s plenty of ways to fight bad breath (or halitosis, as it’s also called). In this blog post, we’ll go over the ways you can prevent bad breath and keep your mouth smelling nice and clean.

1. Brush often

Brushing your teeth is a great way to prevent bad breath. Brushing not only kills the bad bacteria that produce smelly chemicals, but it also dislodges leftover bits of food stuck in your mouth. Furthermore, most brands of toothpaste contain ingredients such as mint which help to freshen your breath. So do try to brush your teeth twice a day – once in the morning and once before going to bed.

2. Floss once a day

Flossing is another important weapon in the fight against bad breath. It’s a great oral hygiene tool because it dislodges food stuck between your teeth. In other words, floss can reach places that your toothbrush can’t. So while your toothbrush should be the cornerstone in your battle against halitosis, make sure to use floss too.

3. Use mouthwash

Mouthwash is another effective way to combat bad breath. It often contains special antibacterial ingredients that help to keep the bad bacteria in your mouth under check. Furthermore, most brands of mouthwash contain ingredients such as chlorine dioxide, which helps to neutralise bad smells in your mouth.

4. Use a tongue scraper

We’ll admit that tongue scrapers are not all that common – do you know anyone who actually uses one? However, they can be a great tool to fight bad breath. This is because your tongue is a place where bacteria often accumulates. The bacteria then create smelly sulphur compounds that cause bad breath. So if you’re serious about eliminating your halitosis, then considering using a tongue scraper every night to keep your tongue nice and clean.

5. Use chewing gum

If none of the other methods has worked, then why not try chewing gum? It’s been shown that chewing gum can actually freshen your breath by encouraging your mouth to produce more saliva – this, in turn, helps to kill the bacteria that cause bad breath. And of course, most brands of chewing gum are flavoured, which can temporarily alleviate bad breath by masking bad smells. If you do use chewing gum though, make sure to choose a sugar-free version so you don’t encourage the formation of cavities!

6. See a medical professional

If all else fails, then it’s time to seek professional help. This can be a dentist or a doctor. Although it’s unlikely, your bad breath might be a symptom of an underlying issue, such as diabetes, gastritis or a liver problem. Don’t be too worried though, as most cases of bad breath aren’t caused by anything serious, and they clear up once your oral hygiene improves. So get out that toothbrush!

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How to take care of your teeth when you have braces

How to take care of your teeth when you have braces

Braces are a wonderful way to straighten your teeth and improve your smile. However, taking care of your teeth can be a little more complicated when you have braces on. For example, food can easily become trapped in your braces, and this food can become plaque, which in turn can cause cavities. Because of this, it’s important to take extra care of your teeth if you have braces. This includes brushing your teeth with extra care.

In this post, we’ll talk more about how to look after your teeth if you have braces. We’ll be discussing four aspects of oral hygiene care as they relate to braces: brushing, flossing, dental visits and your diet. So let’s go!

Brushing

If you have braces, then it’s important to brush your teeth thoroughly. Brushing removes any food or plaque that is left stuck between your braces and your teeth. So make sure to clean in all the nooks and crannies of your braces – and don’t miss anything because bits of leftover food can lead to plaque.

What kind of toothbrush do you need if you have braces? In general, you want a toothbrush with a small head so you can get into all those hard-to-reach places. Some companies sell special toothbrushes and toothbrush heads designed for people with braces. For example, Oral-B sells an electric toothbrush head called the Ortho Brush Head which is specially designed to remove plaque from around brackets.

Flossing

Flossing is more difficult with braces because the braces get in the way. In fact, it’s almost impossible to floss the gum-line, for example, because the floss simply can’t past the braces.

But don’t despair, because they are special floss products designed for people with braces. One example is the floss threader. This is basically a disposable loop which helps you to floss your gum line. If you’re interested in how a floss threader works, we recommend watching this short but informative YouTube video.

Dental visits

As your braces treatment progresses, you’ll need to see your orthodontist regularly so that he or she can adjust the braces. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions or voice any concerns during these visits, especially if you’ve had any problems or difficulties with your braces.

Your routine dental check-ups are also still important when you have braces. In fact, they’re more important than ever, since your risk of cavities and gum disease are higher when you have braces on. So make sure you still visit your general dentist every six months for a check-up.

Diet

Your diet has a major effect on the health of your teeth: if you eat lots of sugar and sugary foods, then you’re more likely to suffer from plaque and cavities. This is especially important to know if you have braces because food is more likely to get stuck to your teeth and cause plaque.

A good way to protect your teeth when you have braces is to limit the amount of sugar you eat. Avoid sugary foods as much as possible, limiting them to mealtimes if you have to eat them at all.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you’ve now more confident about taking care of your teeth with braces. Remember: brush well, be careful with what you eat, and see your dentist regularly.

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How to keep your child’s teeth healthy

How to keep your child’s teeth healthy

There’s nothing worse than seeing a child in pain, which is why it’s important to keep your child’s teeth strong and healthy. That’s because if you don’t take care of your child’s teeth, cavities can form, which can become quite painful and even eventually cause tooth loss. To make sure your child has healthy, cavity-free teeth, follow the advice in this post.

Make sure your child brushes their teeth twice a day

Dentists recommend that adults brush their teeth twice a day – the same goes for babies and children too. In fact, you should start brushing a baby’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears, which is usually between four and seven months.

For babies and children, it’s best to use a toothpaste that’s relatively low in fluoride – around 1,000ppm will do the trick. Adults are better off using a toothpate with around 1250ppm of fluoride, which is a bit stronger. Children need a weaker toothpast because they’re more likely to swallow the toothpaste than adults, and swallowed toothpast can cause a condition known as fluorosis if it’s ingested often enough. That’s why you should only use a tiny smear of toothpaste for babies and a pea-sized blob for children.

If you find that your child refuses to brush his teeth, then there’s a few things you can do to overcome the problem. First, let your child choose his own toothbrush – the ones with cartoon designs on them are often popular with children. Second, try using a flavoured child’s toothpaste as they can be more agreeable to a child’s palate. Third, make sure your child sees you brushing your own teeth, as there’s nothing a child likes more than copying Mum and Dad.

Take your child for regular dental checkups

It’s said that adults should see a dentist at least once a year. Children should see a dentist even more frequently – around every six months or so. This is because children tend to eat a lot of sugar in their diet and this can quickly lead to cavities. Dental checkups are important because a dentist can give a filling if the cavity has become too large, thus preventing further damage to your child’s teeth.

Many children are apprehensive about going to the dentist. If your child feels this way, then don’t worry; it’s entirely normal. You can help your child to overcome this fear by teaching her about what happens at dental checkups and by letting your child watch you yourself go through your own checkup, if possible.

Limit your child’s sugar intake

As mentioned, children tend to eat a lot of sugar. Sugar is found everywhere nowadays and it’s especially prevalent in kids’ diets – sweets, chocolate, biscuits, breakfast cereal, whole fruit, dried fruit and fruit juice are just some common sources of sugar. Try to limit your child’s sugar intake as much as possible because it wreaks havoc on children’s teeth. Sugar is the main cause of cavities in the UK, not only among children but with adults as well. Children should be eating no more than 25 g of sugar (that’s six teaspoons) per day.

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How to use an electric toothbrush properly

How to use an electric toothbrush properly

An electric toothbrush can be a great replacement for a manual toothbrush. To get the most out of an electric toothbrush, however, it’s important to understand how to use one properly. In this blog post, we’ll go over the steps to brushing with an electric toothbrush, and we’ll also answer some of your other questions about this type of brush.

How long should I brush with an electric toothbrush?

Some people think that just because they have an electric toothbrush, they can brush for just one minute or less. The truth is that you need to brush for at least two minutes – and that’s whether you’re using an electric brush or not. In fact, you might need to brush for even longer if you’re using an electric toothbrush than if you were using a manual toothbrush. Sounds counter-intuitive but it’s true! What’s also true is that if you brush for less than two minutes then it means you’re not cleaning your teeth effectively. So make sure to brush your teeth for at least two minutes – and even longer if your teeth need it.

Fortunately, most electric toothbrushes nowadays come with a timer that lets you know how long you’ve been brushing for. This is one reason why dentists often recommend electric toothbrushes over their manual counterparts because with a timer, you can be certain that you’ve brushed to exactly two minutes.

How do I brush with an electric toothbrush?

To clean your teeth with an electric toothbrush, simply follow these steps:

  1. First, place the bristles of the toothbrush against your teeth and then turn on the toothbrush.
  2. Make small, slow circles against the external surface of the tooth. Try to get under the gums and between your teeth, as these areas are often where plaque and bacteria build up.
  3. After a couple of seconds, move on to the next tooth, and then the next, until you’ve cleaned the external surface of all your teeth.
  4. At this point, you should still have a minute left to clean the inside surfaces of your teeth. The method here is the same as before – simply place the bristles of the brush against your teeth and make small, circular movements. You should clean each tooth for around two seconds before moving on to the next one.

Should I brush my tongue with an electric toothbrush?

The answer is yes, you should. This is because your tongue is an area where bacteria can accumulate.

To clean your tongue with an electric toothbrush, simply place the toothbrush head against your tongue, turn the toothbrush on and then gently scrub your tongue clean.

How often should I change my toothbrush head?

It’s best to change your toothbrush head every three months or so. Also, you should change the head even sooner if you see that the bristles are becoming worn and splayed. By making sure that the toothbrush head you use is in good condition, it will make brushing your teeth more effectively.

If you’d like to speak to one of our dentists about electric toothbrushes or any other dental topic, simply make an appointment with by our friendly reception staff!

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All you need to know about cavities

All you need to know about cavities

Cavities are a problem that affect the enamel, which is the hard, outer layer of your teeth. Along with gum disease, it’s one of the most common dental problems, especially among older patients.

How do dental cavities occur?

Your teeth are covered with an invisible layer of plaque, which is made up of bacteria and tiny bits of food from the meals you’ve eaten. This plaque forms just twenty minutes after you’ve eaten.

If you don’t clean off the plaque by brushing and flossing, then the bacteria that make up the plaque will take the sugar and starch from the foods you’ve eaten and convert it into acid. This acid will attack your enamel by demineralising your teeth, and eventually, you’ll get cavities.

What are the main risk factors for cavities?

The main risk factors for cavities are:

  • Poor oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth the wrong way, not brushing your teeth for long enough and forgetting to use floss can all lead to cavities.
  • Crooked teeth. If your teeth are crooked or are too close together, this can be a risk factor for cavities because it makes it harder for you to clean between your teeth.
  • Diet. A diet high in sugar, starch and acidic foods can easily lead to cavities.
  • Acidic saliva. Some people naturally have slightly acidic saliva, and unfortunately this puts them at greater risk of cavities.
  • Vomiting. Vomiting and gastrointestinal reflux can lead to cavities because the acid weakens your teeth.

What are the symptoms of cavities?

Initially, cavities are symptomless, but as they get larger your teeth will become more sensitive to certain foods, such as hot and cold foods as well as sweet ones.

Other early signs of cavities are stains, bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth.

Once the cavity has grown large enough to get through the enamel, you’ll probably feel pain as the cavity makes it way to the tooth’s pulp and nerve. You also might experience inflammation.

If you think you have a cavity, then it’s best to see a dentist as soon as possible. A dentist will be able to tell if you have a cavity or nor and will be able to administer treatment if necessary.

How can I prevent cavities?

Avoid cavities isn’t complicated. There are two main things you have to do: maintain a healthy diet and stick to a good oral hygiene routine. Here’s a few more tips on how to keep your teeth cavity-free:

  1. Brush your teeth twice day. Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, change your toothbrush every three months and make sure to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
  2. Floss. Make sure to floss every day before you go to sleep. It will help to dislodge food and bacteria from between your teeth.
  3. Chew gum. Chewing gum can help to prevent cavities because it stimulates your mouth to produce saliva. If you do chew gum though, make sure it’s sugar-free!
  4. Eat a healthy diet. Limit the amount of sugary and acidic foods that you eat, such as fruit juices.
  5. Visit a dentist regularly. Visit a dentist twice a year for a checkup.

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