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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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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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We’re Recruiting Dental Nurses

We’re Recruiting Dental Nurses

We’re currently recruiting 3 Dental Nurses at Scott Arms Dental Practice due to expansion.

Now is your time to join an award-winning dental team.

Full time and part time positions are available. Competitive salary, flexible hours, overtime and bonuses paid.
Immediate starts available.

To apply, simply email your CV to info@scottarmsdentalpractice.com.

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Taking Care of Your Dental Health During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman during pregnancy, enjoying the time

Pregnancy is a very exciting time. But between all the doctor’s visits, prenatal classes, and morning sickness, you might find that your dental health might end up on the side-lines. However, it’s still important to look after your dental health throughout the pregnancy. This is because some oral health problems, such as gum disease, become more common when there’s a bun in the oven. Read on to find out the special precautions to take during pregnancy.

Gum disease

Gum disease is more common in pregnancy. This is because hormonal changes during pregnancy affect gums and make them more susceptible to plaque. Signs of the disease are gums that are sore, swollen, inflamed or bleeding. See a dentist if you suspect you have these symptoms.

How to prevent gum disease during pregnancy

Prevention is better than cure, as they say. So be proactive and take these steps to prevent gum disease when you’re pregnant.

    • The best way to prevent gum disease at any time, whether you’re pregnant or not, is to maintain a good oral hygiene routine. This should consist of brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Also, floss once a day to dislodge food and plaque from between your teeth.
    • Don’t eat sugary foods and drinks too often. These include non-diet cola, sweets, cake, and even spoons of sugar in your tea. These foods are bad for your teeth as well as your baby. Try to replace sugary snacks with healthier ones, such as carrots, oat cakes, and celery. Cheese and yogurt in particular are good snacks because a growing foetus needs a lot of calcium.
    • If you smoke, then stop immediately. Smoking harms your unborn baby and can also make gum disease worse. Avoid second-hand smoke too wherever possible.
    • If you vomit during pregnancy (i.e. morning sickness), then don’t brush your teeth straight away. Vomit is acidic which means it can soften teeth; brushing your teeth after vomiting might therefore damage your teeth. So, wait at least an hour after vomiting before brushing. What you can do straight away is rinse out your mouth with water. This will stop the acidic vomit from eroding your teeth.
    • Keep seeing a dentist for your routine check-up.

Dental treatments during pregnancy

Dental treatments are often postponed for pregnant women due to risk of harm to the foetus. This is why dentists tell patients to postpone elective treatments (such as braces and removal of amalgam restorations) until after they’ve given birth.

If you really need treatment, then try to wait until after the first trimester. This is because the first trimester is a critical time for the development of the foetus and all dental treatments should be postponed if possible. After the first trimester, routine dental procedures (such as cleaning and fillings) become safe up until the final few weeks of pregnancy. At that point, it’s best to avoid all dental treatments again until after birth. However, emergency treatment is still recommended at any point during pregnancy to ensure the comfort and safety of the mother.

Finally, after the baby is born, make an appointment with a dentist to make sure there are no problems with the baby’s oral health. We wish you have a happy and healthy pregnancy.

Posted in: General Dentistry

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The truth about teeth whitening at home

teeth-staining-red-wine

There is a huge demand for teeth whitening in the UK, and it looks like the demand is ever increasing. Maybe our increased use of social media plays a part in this, increasing our appearance anxiety and demand for bright pearly whites.

There are many products on the market, especially in local supermarkets which claim to “whiten your teeth”. But do they actually whiten your teeth? Or are their manufacturers selling false hope to people who want a nice set of pearly whites in 2017.

Do most whitening products work?

Well most whitening products don’t actually “whiten” your teeth at all. Whitening products tend to remove stains from your teeth, without actually changing the colour of them. Surface stains can be caused by a wide variety of food and drink – including coffee, red wine and certain fizzy drinks.

What sort of products whiten your teeth?

Now to actually whiten your teeth, you need to use a product containing peroxide, a bleaching agent that whitens the enamel of your teeth.

We strongly advise you don’t try to use any peroxide containing gels by yourself. You should visit a dentist for this, where you can get a close-fitting, custom-made tray to use to prevent the whitening agent leaking onto the gums and into the mouth. Incorrect applications of peroxide can lead to blistering and tooth sensitivity.

What foods and drink can discolour your teeth?

  • Curry – It has a deep pigmentation which can cause your teeth to become yellow over time. When opting for a curry, ensure you mix in fresh fruits and vegetables to help reduce its staining effect.
  • Coffee – It’s very high in chromogens and it’s also very acidic, with both cause your teeth to yellow over time.
  • Red wine – in moderation it can be good for your health but it is very acidic, contains lots of tannins and is high in chromogens, which can stick to your teeth quite quickly.

Where can I get teeth whitening which works?

By far the safest and most effective way to whiten your teeth properly is with your Dentist. Our dentists use a teeth bleaching gel containing carbamide peroxide to your teeth. This chemical will bind to any stains on the surfaces of your teeth (enamel) and remove them. A special covering is used to protect your gums and any irritation will disappear within a few hours.

You can find out more on our teeth whitening page, or call our team on 0121 357 5000 to see one of our teeth whitening dentists.

Posted in: Cosmetic Dentistry, Teeth Whitening

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Your teething baby – Everything you need to know

sadp-baby-teeth

If you’ve just had a baby, then you might be wondering when their first teeth will come through. Don’t worry: this blog post will give you the lowdown.

When does teething start?

Most babies start teething around 6 months of age. All babies are different however. Some don’t start teething until after 12 months. Others are at the other extreme and start teething in their first few weeks. In rare cases, babies are even born with one or two teeth. These are called ‘natal’ teeth. If the natal tooth isn’t attached to a root, the paediatrician might want to remove it to prevent the baby from accidental swallowing it.

The order babies’ teeth appear in

Different teeth come through at different times. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Usually the bottom front teeth are the first to come through. These typically appear at around 6 months.
  • The next teeth to appear are usually the top front teeth, which come through at around 7 months.
  • The teeth on either side of the front teeth are next. These appear at around 10 months.
  • The back teeth come through at around 14 months.
  • The canines (the sharp-looking teeth) appear at around 19 months.
  • Finally, the second molars (the teeth right at the back of the mouth) come through at around 2 years.

Most young children will have all their teeth at around 2.5 years of age.

Symptoms of teething

Teething sometimes causes symptoms such as:

  • Chewing on things a lot
  • Dribbling
  • Flushed cheeks, or just one flushed cheek
  • Sore gums
  • Fretful behaviour, such as crying

See your GP if your baby has any symptoms that concern you.

How to soothe your teething baby

Teething can sometimes cause discomfort and even mild pain for babies. This is usually normal, but there are some things you can do to help your baby.

Sometimes babies chew objects to ease their discomfort. Common items are toys, clothes, and even their own fingers! A safer alternative is teething rings. These rings are made of plastic or wood and are usually large enough to prevent your baby from swallowing them. Some teething rings can be put in the fridge before use – the coldness will help to soothe your baby’s mouth.

Another way to sooth a teething baby is with teething gels. These gels contain a mild anaesthetic that numb the pain around the erupting tooth. These gels can be used safely on babies aged more than four months. Speak to your GP however before using gels on babies younger than four months. Also, never use adult pain relief gel on babies; always use a teething gel that’s made specifically for young children.

If your baby is over six months old then you can give them food to chew on, such as pieces of bread, carrot, or apple. However, never leave your baby alone with food in case they choke.

Register with a dentist

Don’t forget to register your baby with a dentist when their first teeth come through. We like to think we’re a good choice, so don’t be shy and contact us today!

Posted in: General Dentistry

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