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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?

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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!

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

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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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When do you need a sports mouth guard?

sadp-mouth-guardDo you play contact sports such as football, rugby, boxing or basketball? These sports are intensely physical and unfortunately injuries are quite common, especially injuries to the teeth. Luckily, there’s something you can wear to protect your gnashers: a mouth guard.

How do mouth guards protect my teeth?

While mouth guards may not be seen as cool, they do help protect your teeth in a variety ways:

  • Mouth guards protect you from direct blows from your opponents. If you’re a boxer and your opponent punches you in the teeth, then a mouth guard will (hopefully) absorb the blow.
  • Mouth guards prevent your upper and lower teeth from clashing together. Your teeth are the strongest part of your body, so when they collide it can be like two rocks hitting one another. You don’t want that. A mouth guard will keep your upper and lower teeth separate during the game.
  • Mouth guards prevent you from biting your tongue during a game. A bitten tongue doesn’t sound too serious, but people sometimes need stitches after biting their tongue too hard. Mouth guards also prevent you from accidentally biting your lip too.

 

When should I wear a sports mouth guard?

You should wear a mouth guard for any sport involving a risk of injury to the mouth. This is basically any sport that involves speed, falls, body contact or flying objects like hockey pucks and rugby balls. You’d be surprised at the number of sports that are potentially hazardous to your teeth. We’re not just talking about football, rugby and boxing, but also sports like skateboarding, mountain biking, and gymnastics. If there’s a risk of injury to your mouth, then you should be wearing a mouth guard.

By the way, you’ll typically only need a mouth guard for your upper teeth. However, some dentists recommend mouth guards for lower teeth if you have braces or bridges.

 

Different types of mouth guards

There are three broad types of mouth guards:

  1. Off-the-shelf mouth guards. These are the cheapest type of mouth guard. No moulding is required, which means they are ready to wear straight out of the packet. Although these mouth guards are cheap and convenient, they are also often bulky and uncomfortable.
  2. Boil and bite mouth guards. These mouth guards become soft when you place them in boiling water. You can then mould it to the shape of your teeth by biting down into it. After the mouth guard cools down, it retains its new shape. This makes the boil and bite mouth guard superior to its off-the-shelf cousin, as you can mould the mouth guard to the shape of your teeth.
  3. Dentist-made mouth guards. These mouth guards are made by dental professionals in a laboratory. The lab technicians will make the mouth guard to fit your mouth exactly. Therefore, dentist-made mouth guards offer the best fit and protection. However, they are also the most expensive option.

No matter what type of mouth guard you get, make sure it fits well and feels comfortable. Also ensure it’s strong and tear-resistant – it’s going to be protecting your teeth, after all.

Posted in: General Dentistry

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Could tooth loss cause dementia?

Could tooth loss cause dementia?

There are almost a million people in the UK with dementia, which is a disease that makes it hard to think and remember. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which comprises over half of dementia cases.

There’s no cure for dementia and no real treatments either. Therefore, it’s no wonder that people are anxious to know what causes it. Sometimes this can lead to people getting a little too excited about new discoveries, like what happened last March.

What happened last March?

In March, The Express newspaper ran a story with the headline “Dementia breakthrough: Brushing your teeth can ‘help ward off devastating condition’”. Meanwhile, The Mirror covered the same story with the headline “Keeping more of your own teeth lessen [sic] the risk of getting dementia”.

Both stories were about a Japanese study published that same month. This study found that tooth loss is linked to an increased risk of dementia. Essentially, the participants with few teeth were more likely to develop dementia over the five years of the study. Specifically, people with 10-19 teeth had a 62% higher risk of dementia than people with 20 or more teeth, and people with only 1-9 teeth had an 81% higher risk of dementia. These figures certainly sound convincing.

How could tooth loss cause dementia?

The researchers offered several explanations for how tooth loss could cause brain disease. Perhaps people with a full set of teeth have healthier diets, and in turn their good diets help protect them from dementia. Or perhaps even the act of chewing stimulates blood flow to the brain.

The study’s flaw

Before you start brushing your teeth vigorously in an attempt to stop dementia, you should know about the study’s flaw: the researchers found no cause and effect between tooth loss and dementia. In other words, does tooth loss really cause dementia, or is there something else going on? Perhaps tooth loss and dementia were both just signs of poor overall health in the participants.

So what does cause dementia?

Instead of just one cause like tooth loss, dementia probably has many interlinked causes. Scientists think that factors like smoking, alcohol, a poor diet and lack of exercise can all contribute to the onset of brain disease. So, if you want to protect your brain, then certainly look after your body as well as your teeth.

So as long as I exercise and eat well, I won’t get dementia?

Unfortunately, nothing is certain with dementia. Some people seem to be have a genetic predisposition to it, which means that a healthy lifestyle isn’t guaranteed to protect them.

Furthermore, dementia risk greatly increases with age. Only 3% of people in the 65-74 age bracket have dementia, yet this figure jumps to nearly 50% for those aged over 85. Basically, if you’re lucky enough to live until your nineties, you’ll more than likely have dementia.

Take-home message

Don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper. And keep brushing those teeth – good oral health is important for many reasons, even if we don’t know if dementia is one of them.

Posted in: General Dentistry

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Standing up to oral cancer

Unlike some types of cancers which are fortunately declining, mouth cancer is rising in the UK. Around 7500 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer each year and sadly it takes more lives than road traffic accidents. The earlier it is identified, the more likely it is to be successfully treated.

When you visit the dentist

When visiting the dentist for a check-up, most people think about their teeth and gums. The dentist however, will routinely look far beyond these and do a full mouth cancer screening. This quick check has the potential to save a life. If anything seriously concerning is noted, you can be reassured that your dentist is able to arrange a hospital appointment within two weeks.

Who is affected?

Mouth cancer can affect anybody. Individuals using tobacco in any form, are known to have a higher risk of mouth cancer. High alcohol consumption may also further increase the susceptibility. Recently, there has been a rise in the number of affected individuals who are non-smoking, non-drinking, young and healthy. These cases are often associated with HPV. This is the family of viruses causing cervical cancer and if exposed to the mouth, can cause cancer in a similar way.

What can I do?

Attending your check-ups at the suggested interval will ensure your mouth is examined regularly. It is also useful to keep a look-out yourself for anything concerning. If you have any lumps, unusual patches or non-healing ulcers, speak to your dentist, even if you’re not yet due for a check-up. The poster explains how important it is look everywhere in the mouth – lips, tongue, gums and cheek.

Together we can fight mouth cancer.

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