Are artificial sweeteners a good alternative to sugar?

Are artificial sweeteners a good alternative to sugar?

We are all aware of the risks to our health of eating too much sugar; weight gain, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, to name just a few. Sugar also, of course, increases your risk of tooth decay and cavities. In a move to minimise these health risks and still enjoy some sweetness, alternative sweeteners in your morning coffee seems like a sensible switch – but is it?

Sugar and Your Teeth

A recent study has recently shown that sugar (sucrose) is the carbohydrate most likely to cause tooth decay. The way it works is this: bacteria in your mouth break sugar down into acids. These acids combine with bacteria, saliva and food to create plaque which eventually wears away at tooth enamel, creating cavities and tooth decay.

Artificial Sweeteners

One of the obvious appeals of artificial sweeteners is that they can add sweetness without the additional calories of sugar.

If you are looking to sweeten a drink or snack and consume fewer calories than you would with sugar, there are many options available. Some common artificial sweeteners include:

  • Sucralose
  • Stevia
  • Saccharin
  • Acesulfame K
  • Aspartame
  • Neotame

The good news is, unlike regular sugar, artificial sweeteners do not contribute to tooth decay.

Even better is the emerging thought that artificial sweeteners may have actions that help to prolong and prevent tooth decay from occurring. In the same way that sugar causes the pH of the mouth to drop, artificial sweeteners seem to do the opposite, which decreases the amount of bacteria in the mouth.

Are artificial sweeteners the way forward?

Artificial sweeteners clearly provide some benefits for your oral health and teeth. Does this mean that we should eliminate sugar entirely from our diets and use artificial sweeteners instead? Not quite. While cutting back on sugar is definitely a wise move for many reasons, you might not want to add an artificial sweetener to everything. This could lull you into a false sense of security.

As we know, we should aim for a balanced and varied diet for our general health but also our oral health, so we do not want to eliminate sugar entirely. If you swap a sugary fizzy drink to one containing an artificial sweetener instead, you are making sure that you do not have too much sugar that will create plaque in your mouth and also consuming fewer calories, but fizzy drinks are often not a very nutrient – savvy choice. An occasional treat is fine!

It is worth noting that diet fizzy and soft drinks contain acid that can wear down enamel and contribute to decay.

Whatever you decide to do to continue enjoying your food and drink, whilst at the same time minimising your tooth decay risks, always remember to continue brushing your teeth twice a day and to floss regularly. It is important to discuss any questions or concerns you have about your oral health and oral care routine with your dentist.

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Dental floss or dental tape?

Dental floss or dental tape?

We all know that flossing is a crucial oral health habit. We often have good intentions to do but it so often gets missed when life gets busy. Luckily, there are many different products available to assist with flossing so it is good to try out a few different products until you find something that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine.

Usually, your dentist or dental hygienist will recommend dental tape or floss, but you will likely need to try them both and see which you prefer.

Floss or tape?

Both dental tape and dental floss are devices designed to clean the hard-to-reach surfaces between teeth that your brush just cannot get to. Dental floss is a thin strand, whereas dental tape is broader and flatter.

You must choose the right product for you and the one which is the most effective at cleaning between your teeth and which you find easiest to use. If your teeth are tightly pressed together with little room between, you might find dental tape easier to use. Depending on your dexterity and your mouth, it can sometimes be tricky to handle thin strands of floss, in which case tape might be easier for you to use.

How to use dental floss or tape

The advice for flossing is the same, whether you choose dental tape or floss:

  1. Tear off a suitable strand of tape or floss; people tend to struggle because they tear off too little.
  2. Wind one end of the tape around one of your middle fingers. Do the same with the other end of the tape on your other hand.
  3. To keep control of the tape or floss and be able to manoeuvre it effectively, pinch the string on each hand with your pointer finger and thumb.
  4. Slowly and gently insert the tape or floss into the space between two of your teeth.
  5. Using a back-and-forth motion, gently move the floss or tape up the tooth until it comes out from between the teeth.
  6. Unwind a new section of floss or tape from one hand and wind it up on the other hand so that you have a clean section to work with.
  7. Repeat the motion on the space between your next two teeth and work logically and systematically around your mouth in this way.

As you can see, the method of flossing is far more important than which product you use. Flossing removes plaque from between the teeth, and if this isn’t done regularly, it can turn into a hard substance called tartar that only dental professionals can remove. If this happens, your gums can also swell and bleed.

Alternatives to dental floss and tape

If you try both tape and floss and find them difficult to use, there are other products available.

It is important to floss once a day to maintain good oral health and not just give up. If you struggle to find a flossing product that works for you, don’t hesitate in speaking to your dentist or dental hygienist.

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How to Take Care of Your Retainer

How to Take Care of Your Retainer

Braces in Birmingham are a great way to get a perfect smile and straighter teeth. But did you know that after your braces are removed, you may need to wear a retainer?

Retainers are custom-made devices designed to hold your teeth in place. Dentists often prescribe them after braces to keep your teeth from moving back to their old position.

If you have a retainer, it’s important to take care of it. For one thing, you’ll need to keep it clean. A dirty retainer can harbour bacteria that can damage your teeth or give you bad breath. You’ll also need to protect your retainer from damage, which means storing it properly when you’re not wearing it. A retainer is expensive so it’s important to take good care of it.

In this post, we’ll go over what you need to do to care for a retainer.


Cleaning a retainer isn’t difficult. It generally involves brushing it once a day and occasionally leaving it to soak in water.


You should brush your retainer every day, just as you brush your teeth. This is the best way to keep your retainer free of plaque and stains.

Here are the steps to brushing a retainer:

  • First, rinse the retainer underwater.
  • Then, take your toothbrush and scrub your retainer until there are no stains, plaque or tartar. Don’t forget to brush all the surfaces of the retainer!
  • Finally, give your retainer another rinse and then leave it out for half an hour to dry.

Some dentists advise using toothpaste when you brush a retainer. However, other dentists say toothpaste can scratch the plastic over time due to its abrasive qualities.
If you do use toothpaste, only use a pea-sized drop.

Don’t clean your retainer in your dishwasher or with boiling water. The heat will warp the material and the retainer may not fit you anymore.


As well as brushing your retainer, it’s a good idea to soak your retainer from time to time in some type of cleaner.

Many orthodontists recommend using mouthwash or denture-cleaning tablets for soaking retainers; however, some orthodontists advise against these cleaning agents, as they contain chemicals like persulfate and alcohol that can damage your retainer and cause problems in your mouth.

A safe alternative to cleaning agents is baking soda. Mix two teaspoons of baking soda into a bowl of water and soak your retainer in that mixture.

Don’t leave your retainer soaking overnight because it can weaken the plastic.


When the retainer’s not in your mouth, you should store it in a dry and clean case to protect it.

Any time you take your retainer out of your mouth, whether for eating, sports, or cleaning your gear, you should always store it properly. This will help ensure that your retainer is not lost or damaged.

Keep your retainer away from heat. As mentioned, heat will warp the material.


Now you know how to keep your retainer clean and in good condition. If you’d like more information, just pop in for a visit or give us a call!

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Four dental tips for your holidays

Four dental tips for your holidays

Okay, so you’re not going on holiday this year. You’re staying at home because of COVID. That’s okay. Don’t cry. Most people are in the same boat. Or they would be if boats weren’t cancelled due to COVID.

But honestly, there’s no need to go on holiday, really, is there? It’s only been, what, three lockdowns so far? 213 days of lockdown in total? What’s a few more days at home at this point? Or months? Or years?

Okay, so there’s another option. You don’t have to stay at home. You can go on holiday somewhere in the UK! You don’t even need to get on a plane for that. You just need to drive for a couple of hours. Simple and it means you don’t need to quarantine yourself for ten days afterwards.

That’s why, according to the news, most people this year are choosing to stay in the UK for their holiday.

If you are going on holiday this year, then don’t forget to look after your teeth. What? You thought we’d write about travel destinations or something? Sorry, but this is a dentist blog.

People often overlook their teeth before a holiday. It’s easy to take care of your teeth when you’re at home because you get into a routine. But things become more difficult on a holiday: travelling disrupts your routine and you might end up neglecting them.

That’s why we’re here with some tips to keep your teeth in good health during your holiday. If you’re going on one, that is.

Tip 1: Get a dental check-up before you go

If you’re due for routine a check-up, then it’s a good idea to get it done now, before you go away. This way, the dentist can fix any problems that might have otherwise ruined your trip. That only includes problems with your teeth though, mind you. The dentist can’t magically make your kids behave.

Tip 2: Be mindful of sugar

We tend to change our eating habits on holiday and indulge. This includes more sugary foods, such as cake, ice cream, ice lollies and sweets.

It’s okay to let loose on holiday and enjoy yourself. If you can’t eat treats on holiday, then when can you?

But it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on how much sugar you’re eating. Ideally, try to limit sugar to meals and stick to sugar-free options when you can.

Tip 3: Brush your teeth twice a day

Even though you’re on holiday, you should still brush your teeth twice a day. When sugar is left on your teeth, it can start to cause cavities, and brushing your teeth is the best way to prevent this.

Tip 4: Don’t forget your toothbrush

The toothbrush is the one thing people always forget when they go on holiday, or at least that’s if the saying “don’t forget your toothbrush” is to be believed. So remember to take your toothbrush, as well as toothpaste and floss for that matter.

Finally, whatever you’re doing this year, have fun and stay safe! And of course, don’t forget your toothbrush.

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How to clean and store a night guard

How to clean and store a night guard

If you grind your teeth at night, you’ll probably need a nightguard.

A nightguard is a device that fits over your teeth and protects them during the night. If you grind your teeth in the night, the nightguard will prevent any damage, such as premature wear, sensitivity and fractures. In this way, they can save you from costly dental work in the future.

But how do you take care of a nightguard? The good news is that it’s not hard. All you need to do is clean it properly every day. In this post, we’ll tell you how to clean a nightguard.

How to clean a nightguard

Cleaning a nightguard is very simple and shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes.

First, give the mouth guard a quick rinse. This will remove any debris or loose plaque.

Then, brush the nightguard with a toothbrush as if you’re brushing your teeth. It’s easy! Note that you shouldn’t use toothpaste however as toothpaste is abrasive and can damage the night guard.

Once you’re done, leave the night guard out to dry for 15-30 minutes. This is important because bacteria could grow on the mouth guard otherwise.

And there you go: one freshly-cleaned nightguard!

Deep clean

At least once a month, you should give your night guard a deep clean. There are two ways to do this.

The first way is to use a denture-cleaning tablet. Even though these tablets are designed for cleaning dentures, they work great for cleaning night guards too.

To use a denture-cleaning tablet, drop one tablet into warm water. Then, put the night guard in the water – there should be enough water to cover the night guard. The solution will change colour as it cleans. After five minutes, remove the night guard and rinse it thoroughly. There’s no need to do this every day though – just once a month will do.

The second way to deep clean a night guard is with a mixture of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide.
First, soak the night guard in distilled white vinegar for 30 minutes. Then, soak the night guard in hydrogen peroxide for 30 more minutes. Once finished, rinse with night guard with water and allow it to dry completely.

How to store a nightguard

We’ve covered cleaning a nightguard, but how do you store it once it’s clean?

The best way to store it is in a plastic container. This will protect the guard from dust and bacteria.

Do remember to clean the glass or container regularly, as it can become contaminated with germs over time. Also, remember that the mouth guard should be dry before you store it in a container.

Some people say to keep your night guard in mouthwash, but this is a bad idea because the alcohol in mouthwash can drastically shorten the lifespan of your appliance.

Also, take care not to expose your nightguard to high temperatures – don’t leave it on a radiator for example or in direct sunlight. Heat can change the shape of your nightguard and it might no longer fit properly.


Taking care of a nightguard isn’t difficult – just brush it every day with a toothbrush, leave it to dry and then store it in its container.

If you need more advice, then don’t hesitate to make an appointment with one of our dentists!

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Ways to get your teeth whitened

Ways to get your teeth whitened

Teeth whitening is a popular procedure in the UK. More and more people are paying for brighter, whiter teeth.

However, some of the ways to whiten your teeth aren’t as good as others.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some at the ways you can get your teeth whitened.

The best way = Dental clinic

Let’s start with the best way to get your teeth whitened: at a dental clinic. It’s by far the safest way and also the most effective.

And we’re not just saying this because we’re dentists – the NHS also says that dental clinics are the best and safest place to get your teeth whitened.

This is because teeth whitening is a type of dentistry and it should only be carried out by a regulated dental professional (such as a dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist). It carries risks if not done properly, which is why it’s only safe in the hands of a professional.

Whitening toothpaste

You can find whitening toothpaste in pretty much every supermarket. These kinds of toothpaste promise they’ll make your teeth whiter.

But whitening toothpaste is a bad idea. This is for two reasons:

  1. They’re not as effective as they claim to be. They won’t make your teeth all that much whiter.
  2. They contain abrasive materials that actually damage your enamel. This can make your teeth sensitive and even make you more prone to cavities

Beauty shops

Some beauty salons offer teeth whitening services, often at a lower price than dentists.

However, it is actually illegal for beauty salons to offer teeth whitening if there’s no dental professional present. Beauty salons are not dental clinics and they aren’t licensed to offer teeth whitening services.

What’s more, getting your teeth whitened at a beauty salon can be dangerous. The staff won’t be trained to whiten teeth and they might use products that are harmful to your teeth and gums.

DIY kits

Another option is DIY home-whitening kits. These kits promise to give you perfect white teeth, at home, often at a fraction of the price of a dentist.

However, whitening your teeth yourself is very risky. It can damage your teeth and gums.

For example, some home kits don’t contain enough whitening product to be effective. Also, if a dental professional isn’t doing the whitening, the mouthguard provided may not fit properly so some of the bleaching gel may leak out onto your gums and into your mouth, causing blistering and sensitivity.

Teeth whitening is not something you should be doing yourself at home.


There are lots of ways to get your teeth whitened, but the best by far is at a dental clinic. It’s the safest and most effective way.

So don’t be tempted to try to save money by using a DIY kit or a beauty salon. These methods could damage your teeth and gums and the repairs could be more costly than the treatment.

If you want teeth whitening in Birmingham, then look no further than us. Check out our teeth whitening page for more information or call us to book an appointment.

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What are dental abscesses?

What are dental abscesses?

Dental abscesses are a build-up of pus in the gums, jaw, or a tooth. They cause a lot of pain if left untreated.

This post will discuss what dental abscesses are, where they come from, their effects on your body and how to treat them.

What is an abscess?

Pus is a white, smelly liquid that your body makes when it’s fighting an infection.

It’s made up of dead bacteria, white blood cells, and dead tissue.

When pus builds up in your gum, jaw, or teeth, it’s known as a dental abscess.

But an abscess can appear anywhere in the body, not just your mouth. Some other types of abscess are:

  • skin abscess
  • brain abscess
  • abdominal abscess
  • subcutaneous abscess

What causes dental abscesses?

Your body and mouth consist of two bacteria: good bacteria and bad bacteria.

When the bad bacteria overwhelm the good bacteria, it causes an infection. The infection can lead to an abscess (a build-up of dead cells).

Infection can happen when you have a decayed or injured tooth or when you haven’t been brushing your teeth properly.

Symptoms of dental abscesses

Knowing the symptoms a dental abscess will help you to tell if you really have an abscess or if it’s a different dental problem. The main symptoms of dental abscesses are:

  • Intense throbbing pain in the affected tooth or gum
  • Pain in your ear, jaw, and neck on the same side as the affected tooth
  • Bad breath
  • A swollen cheek
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Swollen, red gums
  • Fever

How to treat an abscess

If you believe you have an abscess, then you should see your dentist as soon as possible. It’s important to get help as soon as possible, as abscesses do not go away on their own. If left untreated, the infection could spread to your other teeth and make your situation worse.

If you’re in pain, you can take ibuprofen or paracetamol to relieve the pain in the meantime, or even visit the nearest hospital to get treated. However, generally, it’s best to visit a dental clinic because only dental professionals can give you the best care.

How to relieve pain from a dental abscess

While you’re waiting to see a dentist, there are some things you can do to relieve the pain.

  • Take a painkiller like Ibuprofen or paracetamol
  • Avoid hot or cold food and drinks
  • Eat cool, soft foods using the opposite side of your mouth
  • Use a soft toothbrush to clean your teeth instead of a hard one
  • Avoid flossing around the affected tooth

How to prevent abscesses in the first place

They say the prevention is better than cure, and that’s definitely true for abscesses. Preventing abscesses is easy: you just have to take care of your teeth. You can do this by:

  • Brushing twice daily
  • Reducing your sugar intake
  • Using a toothpaste that contains the right amount of fluoride
  • Visiting your dentist for regular check-ups

If you’d like to see a dentist about an abscess or any other problem, then give us a call. We’ll be happy to see you and to check your teeth.

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Frequently asked questions about gum disease

Frequently asked questions about gum disease

Most people suffer from gum disease at some point in their lives. It’s a very common problem in the UK.

This disease can cause unwanted symptoms such as bleeding gums and bad breath.

We get lots of questions about gum disease from our patients, so in this post, we’re going to be answering these questions.

What causes gum disease?

Most times, gum disease is caused by plaque on your teeth. Plaque contains bacteria that irritate your gums and makes them red, sore, and swollen.

What are the stages of gum disease?

There are four stages of gum disease.

  1. Gingivitis: This is the early stage of gum disease. You might notice that your gums bleed when you brush your teeth. You may also have bad breath.
  2. Periodontitis: If gingivitis is untreated, then periodontitis can occur. This affects the tissues that support the teeth and hold them in place.
  3. Bone damage: If periodontitis is untreated, it can damage your jawbone and create small spaces between the gum and teeth.
  4. Tooth loss: Eventually your teeth can become loose and may fall out.

How do I know if I have gum disease?

Look out for these symptoms:

  • bleeding after brushing
  • red, sore or swollen gums
  • bad breath

When you notice any of these symptoms, you should see your dentist immediately. If left untreated, your gum disease might result in a severe condition known as periodontitis; a condition that damages your bone and tissue and makes your teeth start falling out.

What should I do if I have signs of gum disease?

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should visit your dentist. The dentist will check and confirm if you have gum disease.

If you do have gum disease, then your dentist will tell you how to treat it.

How do I treat gum disease?

Gum disease can be treated either by you or your dentist, depending on how severe the condition is.

For mild gum disease, you can either remove the plaque yourself by brushing and flossing the affected area.

For severe gum disease, you should visit your dentist for treatment. You cannot treat it yourself.

It is crucial to see your dentist regularly for check-ups. The dentist can spot gum disease early on and get rid of it before it causes more harm.

How can I prevent gum disease?

Prevention is always better than cure, and that’s definitely true for gum disease: it’s easier to prevent gum disease than to treat it.

In fact, preventing gum disease is very easy: all you have to do to is to clean your teeth and gums often. Ideally, you should brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day.

As mentioned earlier, you should also visit your dentist regularly. Your dentist can spot gum disease early and treat it before it becomes severe.

Usually, one or two check-ups a year should be enough. But if you’re prone to getting gum disease, then you should see your dentist every three to six months.

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Can children use electric toothbrushes?

Can children use electric toothbrushes?

Getting children to brush their teeth isn’t easy. You can try explaining about cavities and tooth decay all you want but it’s likely to fall on deaf ears for young children. The fact of the matter is that many children don’t like brushing their teeth.

But one possible solution is an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes are usually designed for adults, but in practice, children can use them too. If it makes them want to brush their teeth more often, then it can only be a good thing.

In this post, we’ll look at electric toothbrushes for children and how these toothbrushes can help them brush their teeth.

Advantages of electric toothbrushes for children

Electric toothbrushes actually have several advantages over normal toothbrushes. Here are the main ones.

  • More effective. Studies show that electric toothbrushes are better cleaning at your teeth than manual brushes. This is good for children who can’t brush their well with a manual toothbrush yet.
  • Easier to use. Children often don’t have the fine motor skills needed to brush their teeth properly. An electric toothbrush can make brushing easier because all you have to do is hold the toothbrush against your teeth and the toothbrush takes care of the rest.
  • Comes with a timer. Electric toothbrushes often come with a timer that tells you how long you’ve been brushing. This can help ensure that your child brushes her teeth for the recommended two minutes.
  • Makes them feel like a grown-up. Children like to copy their parents, so if their parents are using an electric toothbrush, it makes sense that they will want to use one too. This can be the difference between your child wanting to brush her teeth or not.

Choosing the right electric toothbrush for a child

You might think that your child can use the same electric toothbrush that you use to brush your own teeth. However, children actually need a child-size electric toothbrush.

Child size electric toothbrushes are smaller than the adult versions, making them easier for children to hold. The heads are also smaller, ensuring the toothbrush will fit comfortably in your child’s mouth.

Child size electric toothbrushes are not hard to find. They’re available from many pharmacies, supermarkets, and of course, Amazon. Search for “child-size electric toothbrush” if you’re looking online.

It’s a good idea to let your child choose the electric toothbrush he wants. For example, your child could choose a brush that has pictures of characters from his favourite TV show. This can make brushing more fun.


Letting your child use an electric toothbrush might seem a bit strange at first, especially if your child has only been using a manual toothbrush until now.

But it’s actually a really good idea for children to use electric toothbrushes. These toothbrushes are more effective and easier to use than normal toothbrushes. What’s more, they usually come with a timer that helps your child brush for the correct amount of time.

If you’d like to talk to one of about dentists about electric toothbrushes, or indeed any other dental topic, then just make an appointment by speaking to our reception.

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Four ways to protect your smile this Christmas

Four ways to protect your smile this Christmas

Food at Christmas tends to be high in sugar. Think of sweets, chocolates, Christmas pudding, candy canes, gingerbread men, yule logs, the chocolate in Advent calendars… the list goes on and on.

And all this sugar can be bad for our teeth. Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth, which in turn can cause plaque and cavities.

Don’t worry though, because, in this blog post, we’ll give you a few tips on how to keep your teeth healthy during the Christmas holidays.

1. Brush your teeth twice a day

The most important thing you can do to keep your teeth clean and healthy is to brush them twice a day. That’s once in the morning and once before going to bed. Regular brushing helps to keep plaque under control and it stops cavities from forming.

Children should brush their teeth twice a day too, and this includes during Christmas. We know that it’s easy for children to forget this at Christmas, especially on Christmas Day, what with all the excitement and new toys to play with. But please do spare a few minutes for your children to brush their teeth. It’s the best way to prevent tooth decay and cavities.

2. Limit the sugary food you eat

Food is an important part of Christmas, but one of the best things we can do for our teeth is to reduce the sugary foods we eat.

This could mean buying sugar-free mince pies instead of normal mince pies. It could also mean getting your child an Advent calendar with a toy or a picture behind each window instead of chocolate.

When you start to think about it, there are lots of ways to reduce the sugar you eat at Christmas.

3. Put out carrots instead of mince pies

It’s tradition to put out a mince pie and a glass of milk on Christmas Eve. It’s supposed to keep Santa fed on his long journey from the North Pole.

But why not replace the mince pie with some carrots instead? You can tell your children that the carrots are for the reindeer, who will be hungry after flying so far. By using carrots (which are good for your teeth) instead of mince pies (which are bad for your teeth), you’re setting a good example of healthy food choices.

4. Make sure you see a dentist if you have any dental problems

If you get tooth pain at Christmas or any other dental problem, it’s best to see a dentist as soon as possible. You might be tempted to put off seeing a dentist until after Christmas, but by then, the problem could be worse. So see a dentist ASAP!


At this time of year, it’s more important than ever to look after your teeth. There’s a lot you can do though to keep your teeth healthy – this includes brushing twice a day and watching the amount of sugar that you eat.

That’s it from us for this year. We hope that you and your families have a great Christmas and that you find a spare moment to think about your children’s teeth. From all of us here, have a merry Christmas and we’ll see you next year!

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