The link between sugar and tooth decay

The link between sugar and tooth decay

Thousands of bacteria live in your mouth. Most of them are harmless, but unfortunately, some are harmful and they can cause tooth decay. Their food source is sugar, so if you put lots of sugar in your mouth, these bacteria will cause tooth decay.

In this post, we’ll discuss bacteria, sugar and tooth decay in more detail. By the end, you’ll know how to prevent tooth decay and also what foods are high in sugar.

What causes tooth decay?

As we mentioned, many species of bacteria live in your mouth, but only a few species actually do any harm. The main harmful species are Streptococcus mutans, Lactobacillus, Actinomyces and Nocardia. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of them before – the only thing you need to know is that these bacteria can harm your teeth. They do this by feeding on sugar, which they turn into lactic acid. It’s this acid that erodes your enamel.

How can I prevent tooth decay?

One of the best things you can do to prevent tooth decay is to limit the amount of sugar you eat. Sugar is the food that feeds the bacteria in your mouth, so the less sugar you eat, the better.

However, it’s not just about the amount of sugar you eat; It’s also important to think about how often you eat sugar as well. For example, if you eat an entire packet of sweets in one go, you might feel a bit sick afterwards but it’s actually not too bad for your teeth. You’re only putting your teeth under one single sugar attack. What would be worse for your teeth is if you ate the same packet of sweets slowly over the whole day. If you did that, then you would be bathing your teeth in sugar throughout the whole day, and that long exposure to sugar would be much more likely to cause tooth decay.

So, it’s not only important to limit the amount of sugar you eat, but also how often you eat sugar as well. Try to eat sugar only at mealtimes – this way, the number of sugar attacks will be lower than if eat sugar throughout the whole day.

And of course, avoiding sugar is just one of the things you should do to prevent tooth decay. Other things you can do is brush your teeth twice a day, floss, and see a dentist for regular checkups.

What foods are high in sugar?

There are many obvious foods that are high in sugar, such as sweets, fizzy drinks, biscuits, cakes and chocolates. Many foods are high in sugar but aren’t so obvious. For example, did you know that ready meals are usually high in sugar? Another hidden source of sugar is alcohol – a bottle of beer can sometimes contain more than 20 g of sugar.

To learn how much sugar a food or drink contains, read the packet, as the nutritional information will tell you exactly how much sugar there is inside.

You can also visit, which is a website that will tell you roughly how much sugar there is in most types of foods.

Posted in: General Dentistry

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How to look after your teeth after you turn 40

How to look after your teeth after you turn 40

Turning 40 is a milestone that many people consider to be the start of middle-age. As well as being a time for transition and reflection, it’s also time to think about your dental health. That’s because if you’d like to reach old age with all your teeth still intact, then it pays dividends to start thinking about your teeth now. So, in this post, we’ll get you off to a good start by going over the main oral health problems suffered by people over the age of 40.

Gum disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, can occur at any age, but it’s more likely to occur as you get older. In fact, after you turn 35, you’re more likely to lose a tooth to gum disease than to tooth decay.

The good news is that gum disease is preventable. The main thing you can do to prevent it is to brush your teeth and gums for two minutes, twice a day. Make sure to pay special attention to your gums, brushing them thoroughly. Flossing once a day can also help prevent gum disease.

Note that if have bright red gums or if your gums bleed regularly, then you may already have gum disease. Make sure to see a dental if this is the case.

Oral cancer

Oral cancer, which includes cancers of the mouth, tongue and throat, is more frequent in people over the age of 40.

Oral cancer is usually first spotted by a dentist at a routine dental check-up, so make sure you keep going to the dentist regularly. Also, do watch your alcohol and tobacco use, as they both increase your risk of getting oral cancer.

Breakdown of dental fillings

Did you know that fillings don’t last forever? It’s true: over time, they break down and no longer work as well as they should. In fact, fillings are only expected to last around 10 years, although some can last longer. Your dentist will look up for worn out filings during your regular check-ups.


Changes in female hormone levels during menopause can lead to several unwanted oral symptoms, including gum inflammation, mouth pain, dry mouth and increased susceptibility to plaque. That’s why brushing and flossing are more important than ever during menopause to prevent tooth decay and fight gum disease.

Dry mouth

As we get older, our mouths produce less saliva. This is bad for our teeth because it increases our risk of dental decay. If you suffer from dry mouth, then one solution is to keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Seeing a doctor can also help to rule out underlying causes.

Sensitive teeth

Aging means that our tooth enamel gradually wears away. One sign that your enamel is wearing away is tooth sensitivity. Your teeth might feel more painful when you brush them for example, or when you eat hot and cold foods. Sensitive teeth aren’t only a sign of aging, however. It can happen for several reasons, such as tooth decay, worn out fillings, and gum disease. Tell your dentist if you’re suffering from sensitive teeth because you will want to rule out the possible causes.

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Six reasons why your wisdom teeth might need to be removed

Six reasons why your wisdom teeth might need to be removed

Did you know around 35% of people are born without wisdom teeth? It’s true! These lucky people don’t have these troublesome teeth to deal with.

The other 65% of us, however, do have wisdom teeth. Furthermore, many of us end up having them taken out.

But what are the reasons why a dentist would need to remove your wisdom teeth? In this post, we’ll go over some of the reasons why you might need your wisdom teeth removed.

1) Cavities

No one wants cavities, but unfortunately, your wisdom teeth are at a higher risk of cavities than your other teeth because they’re harder to clean. Being at the very back of your mouth, your wisdom teeth are certainly easy to neglect. They’re also more difficult to see than your other teeth, which means you can’t visually inspect them as easily.

Partially impacted wisdom teeth (which is where the wisdom tooth has only partially emerged from the gum) are at an even higher risk of cavities because bacteria can easily get trapped between the tooth and the gum.

2) Pericoronitis

Partially impacted wisdom teeth can sometimes leave a flap of gum covering the tooth. This flap of gum can be problematic because food can get stuck under it and cause an infection called pericoronitis.

Pericoronitis is the most common reason for why people need their wisdom teeth taken out. Did you know that it usually happens with the lower wisdom teeth rather than upper ones?

3) Pain

Impacted wisdom teeth can push against your other teeth and cause pain. In this case, your dentist will recommend that you get the wisdom tooth removed. However, many people have impacted wisdom tooth and feel no pain at all, in which case removing your wisdom teeth might not be necessary.

4) Crowding

Crowding is another complication of impacted wisdom teeth. Crowding happens when your wisdom teeth push against your other teeth and cause them to become crooked. If you want to make your teeth straight again, then braces and removal of the wisdom tooth are the order of the day here.

5) Cysts

Wisdom teeth can also cause cysts, which are fluid-filled growths that can permanently damage your teeth, bone and nerves. If a dentist sees a cyst on an x-ray, then he or she will almost certainly recommend that you get the cyst and wisdom tooth removed as soon as possible.

6) Tumours

Finally, the most serious type of complication arising from wisdom teeth are tumours. Don’t worry though because they’re very rare. Furthermore, most tumours are non-cancerous (benign).

For the very small number of people who do have a tumour, removal of tissue and bone may be required, along with the tumour and wisdom tooth.

What to do if you have problems with your wisdom teeth

There’s not much you can do to prevent problems with your wisdom teeth apart from brushing and flossing twice a day. You should also visit to a dentist for regular check-ups as this can help spot problems before they get worse. To make a check-up appointment with us, simply call our friendly receptionists!

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What are the benefits of implants?

What are the benefits of implants?

If you’re missing one or more teeth, then there are several treatments to consider: partial dentures, full dentures, bridges, crowns and implants. These are all options to replace missing teeth.

Implants are typically the most expensive option, but they’re usually the most effective too. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of implants that you can make an informed decision about the best treatment for your smile.

Implants are a permanent solution

Implants are permanent. This means that once you have them, you should never need to take them out or get them replaced. In contrast, dentures, crowns and bridges all require replacement every few years as well as regular maintenance. This means that in the long run, implants can work out cheaper than other methods of tooth replacement.

Implants are comfortable

Another benefit of implants is that they’re very comfortable to wear. They feel just like natural teeth and you’ll soon forget that they’re artificial.

In comparison, dentures can sometimes be uncomfortable to wear. Sometimes dentures don’t fit properly or they take a long time to get used to. Implants don’t have this problem.

Implants are stable

Implants are also very stable. They attach securely to the jawbone which means they won’t ever fall out. You also won’t have to use adhesive to keep them in place.

Implants are easy to maintain

Implants are very easy to look after as there’s nothing special involved in maintaining them. All you have to do to take care of them as you would your own teeth. This will involve brushing them twice a day with toothpaste, flossing once a day and seeing a dentist regularly. That’s not too difficult – it’s what you should be doing anyway!

Furthermore, unlike dentures, you don’t need to take implants out to clean them. It’s unlikely that your dentist will ever have to repair them.

Implants are good for your bone health

One of the greatest advantages of implants is that they protect your bone health. They integrate directly into your jawbone, which helps prevent bone deterioration. This helps maintains a healthy facial structure and can keep you looking younger for longer. Indeed, we often see implants can take years off our patients’ smiles.

Other methods of replacing a missing tooth don’t have this advantage. Crowns, bridges and dentures don’t stimulate your jaw bone, and if you’ve already lose most or all of your teeth, then your jaw bone could start to dissolve away. This can add years to your face, due to wrinkles and a general deterioration of the facial structure.

You can get quick results

Implants are a typically faster procedure than a bridge or dentures – some patients can even receive implants in as little as one sitting. We’ll restore your smile in no time at all!


So, are implants the best option? While it’s true that dental implants are usually the most costly choice, the benefits they offer over other treatments can be priceless. To find out if implants are the right decision for you, book an appointment with one of our dentists. We’ll be happy to discuss your options with you.

Posted in: Replace Missing Teeth

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Microabrasion with Dr Emma Franks


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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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


What are cold sores?

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

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


How can I get rid of a cold sore?

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

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


How to avoid cold sores in the first place

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

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

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The causes of gum pain and ways to alleviate it

The causes of gum pain and ways to alleviate it

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

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

Common causes of gum pain

The most common causes of gum pain are:

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

What to do if you have gum pain

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

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

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

Posted in: Periodontal Disease

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

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

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

How does chocolate affect my teeth?

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

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

Which type of chocolate is worst for my teeth?

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

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

Advice on how to enjoy chocolate safely

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

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

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

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Why is whitening such a great treatment option?


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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