Archive for General Dentistry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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What is black hairy tongue?

What is black hairy tongue?

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

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

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

What is black hairy tongue?

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

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

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

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

What are the risk factors for black hairy tongue?

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

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

Is black hairy tongue harmful?

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

What is the treatment for black hairy tongue?

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

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

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

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How to take care of your teeth when you have braces

How to take care of your teeth when you have braces

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

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

Brushing

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

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

Flossing

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

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

Dental visits

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

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

Diet

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

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

Conclusion

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

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How to use an electric toothbrush properly

How to use an electric toothbrush properly

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

How long should I brush with an electric toothbrush?

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

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

How do I brush with an electric toothbrush?

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

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

Should I brush my tongue with an electric toothbrush?

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

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

How often should I change my toothbrush head?

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

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

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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 https://nutritiondata.self.com/, which is a website that will tell you roughly how much sugar there is in most types of foods.

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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.

Menopause

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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Microabrasion with Dr Emma Franks

microabrasian-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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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?

sadp-water

 

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.

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