Archive for General Dentistry

Frequently asked dental questions in March

March dental questions

Q. I have teeth implants and I want to whiten my teeth. Will the implants whiten too?

Unfortunately dental implants do not whiten. They can be cleaned by a hygienist, which may help them appear whiter. You should be sure to let your dentist know that you intend to whiten your teeth before the dental implants are fitted, so the shade can be adjusted.

Q. Should I brush my teeth before or after my breakfast?

There is actually no evidence to say whether you should brush before or after breakfast. The ideal situation would be to brush before breakfast, and then again half an hour after breakfast but most people are too busy in the mornings for such a routine.

Brushing before breakfast reassures you that the bacteria that has accumulated in your mouth over night is removed before it is given a food to turn into acid – however this can make your breakfast taste unpleasant. Brushing after breakfast can be damaging to your teeth if you have not waited half an hour (as the enamel softens slightly after meals and needs some time to harden again). I would recommend brushing before breakfast and then chewing xylitol gum on your way to work.

Q. Why should I be using mouthwash? My breath doesn’t smell so I’m not sure how it could benefit me.

Mouthwashes don’t only tackle bad breath – they are antibacterial and also contain fluoride, which helps strengthen your teeth. The best time to use mouthwash is at a different time to brushing (preferably after lunch) to kill the bacteria and give your teeth a boost of fluoride.

Q. My dental implants feel like they are moving – what should I do?

Make an appointment to see your dental implantologist as soon as you can. Dental implants are not 100% successful and can fail in some rare cases. A wobbly implant suggests that the titanium screw and jaw bone have not fused together correctly.

Dental implants are also susceptible to a type of gum disease – invading bacteria cause the tissue around the implant to break down, allowing it to wobble. Be sure to clean around your implants daily with either floss or interdental brushes.

Q. My front tooth got knocked about ten years ago and I think it is changing colour now. It seems to look darker than all the rest. Is there anything I can do?

The tooth sounds like it is either dead or dying due to the trauma. Though it may not be causing you any pain, it would be a good idea to have a root canal treatment done (a type of filling that goes down the root canal of the tooth) to rid the tooth of any dead tissue.

The breakdown products of living tissue inside teeth can stain the dentine brown and yellow, meaning that some dead teeth look darker than others. You could have the tooth internally and externally bleached. This would involve having a small hole made at the back of the tooth that you can insert a tooth whitening bleach into at home, along with laying it over the front of the tooth. Speak to your dentist about root canal treatments and internal tooth whitening.

Q. Why do dentists call out numbers when they look at your teeth?

Normally when a dentist speaks to his/her nurse during your examination, it is merely to inform them which teeth and fillings you have. Each tooth is allocated a different number. They may also mention teeth that need some treatment doing, but not every number you hear suggests you need work done!

Dentists will also check your gums for disease and will grade their findings on a scale from 0-4, where 0 means healthy gums and 4 means severe gum disease. Ask the dentist to clarify if you are ever unsure about what they have said, or you do not understand.

Posted in: General Dentistry

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Halitosis – causes and treatment

A woman with fresh breath

Bad breath is one of the most common reasons that people visit the dentist, and for most people it is something that can be fixed with simple hygiene and perhaps a change in diet.

The tongue is one of the main causes of halitosis. Its anatomy makes it a perfect environment for flourishing bacteria, which can produce foul odours during their natural metabolism. Cleaning the tongue with a dedicated brush is one of the easiest ways to solve this problem, though it is rarely practised.

Gum disease is another significant cause of bad breath. When unnatural ‘pockets’ form around teeth, bacteria can thrive in protected envelopes of gum.

A bad taste in the mouth can often signify a dental problem and is usually coupled with an unpleasant smell. The cause of this is most likely due to a decaying tooth and/or a pus-filled abscess – both of which contain bacteria, necrotic tissue and debris.

These causes of bad breath can all be solved by the following:

  • Cleaning the tongue regularly (along with the rest of the teeth and mouth)
  • Resolve any gum disease by visiting a hygienist
  • Fix any areas of decay and other dental disease by seeing a dentist
  • Chewing gum can temporarily mask bad breath, but will not help eliminate the cause.

Lots of people (and their partners!) complain of the unpleasant, but common, phenomenon known as ‘morning breath’. At night, the mouth is less active and saliva production decreases by up to 90%. Without the mechanical washing action of saliva and the antimicrobial products it contains, the amount of bacteria (and consequently bad smells) increases. This can be decreased by cleaning the mouth efficiently each night.

However, for some people bad breath is a side-effect of a systemic condition. Some types of cancer, liver failure, diabetes and various infections have all been linked to foul breath. In these cases, treating the underlying cause and managing the bad breath symptomatically with chewing gum and mouthwash are the most viable options. Some medications have also been known to dry out the mouth, causing bad breath; saliva substitutes and stimulants are often called for in these cases.

Below are some substances known to increase and decrease the chances of having bad breath:

Good Products Bad Products
Chewing gum – chewing gum can dislodge food from teeth, remove bacteria, smell nice and encourages saliva production, which helps flush bacteria from the mouth.Alcohol and coffee – both of these dry out the mouth, inhibiting it from naturally washing away bacteria.
Water – drinking water helps flush the mouth and reduces the amount of bacteria and food debris.Onions and garlic – notorious causes of bad breath caused by lingering sulphur gases.
Some herbs – herbs like parsley release oils that help freshen breath.Smoking – not only does smoke itself smell terrible, but the act of smoking dries out the mouth, restricting it from cleaning itself.
Fruit and vegetables – vitamin C-containing products can help reduce the chance of gum disease, a notorious cause of bad breath.Protein-based foods such as meat and dairy – don’t stop eating these products, but be aware that they break down into amino acids, which can linger in the mouth and cause bad smells.

Posted in: General Dentistry, Periodontal Disease

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Is Going To The Dentist Painful?

Dental phobia and anxiety is a common problem in Birmingham

At Scott Arms Dental Practice we, as a team, strive to remove discomfort from our patients through either painless treatment or the removal of toothache. We are keen to help nervous patients overcome their fear of dentistry and help them to realise that pain-free dentistry is the way of the future.

With the practice of modern-day dentistry and the introduction of new technology and medicine, dentistry can be practised efficiently and effectively without the patient being in pain. In fact, it is often the dentist who relieves people of dental pain, rather than introducing it, and is one of the reasons that Scott Arms Dental Practice works 365 days a year as an emergency dental practice: emergency dentists work up until 11pm every day and over-the-phone advice is available all through the night.

Most dental treatment involves the patient needing to keep their mouth open for a period of time. This can sometimes be slightly uncomfortable, but for patients who find it more difficult than others, regular breaks will be offered. Dental treatments generally involve the use of water to keep the teeth clean and cool throughout the procedure, but a nurse is always present with a suction device to remove the water before it bothers you.

All our surgeries have comfortable, state-of-the-art dental chairs installed so you can relax during your time in the practice.
Furthermore, for treatment that would otherwise be painful, local anaesthetic injections are always offered. This involves the introduction of a numbing agent into the tissues, which stops you being able to feel anything. Injections are often hardly felt, but if not, the discomfort will last only a few seconds before the numbness starts to take effect. As a rule, we take every possible action to reduce the discomfort of any procedure, including injections: we purchase the thinnest-gauge needles, which cause minimal tissue trauma, and warm our anaesthetic cartridges to body temperature, both of which reduce the likelihood of the injection being felt. Furthermore, we offer a topical numbing agent, which is placed onto the tissue before the injection is given. After a couple of hours the numbness of the injection will wear off; very rarely there can be mild discomfort following a procedure but this is often eased by the taking of standard pain medication. Nobody likes injections, but rest assured that we at Scott Arms Dental Practice are constantly on the lookout for investments in technology that increase the comfort of our patients.

For people who don’t like going to the dentist at all and would rather be treated under sedation, Scott Arms Dental Practice is the right place to come. We have dentists who have a special interest in dental sedation and as a practice we are keen to provide dental care under your terms. We practise intravenous sedation at our clinic, which is carried out by placing a small needle into the back of your hand and monitoring the levels of sedative we introduce into your bloodstream. Many people opt for dental sedation, whether they are nervous patients or not, as it makes longer dental treatment fly by at maximum comfort. Though it is a conscious sedation, many people cannot remember the experience at all, as if they had been asleep, whilst others describe it as a very relaxing feeling, like having had a few glasses of wine. Speak to your dentist if you’d like to have any of your dental treatments carried out under sedation.

Posted in: Emergency Dentist, General Dentistry

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Work available for a Dental Student in Birmingham

Dental Student in Birmingham needed for work experience and our dental practice

We are looking for a dental student to help write, edit and organise information used to inform new patients seeking dental treatment through our new online gateway. This is a paid position, with flexible hours and an excellent source of work experience for a career in dentistry.

Scott Arms Dental Practice is one of the largest dental practices in the West Midlands, treating thousands of patients each month and is one of the leading practices for Dental Implant treatment. There will be a large emphasis on Dental Implant treatment with the new project.

We require help during July and August. The position is based at the Scott Arms Dental Practice in Great Barr, Birmingham. The successful candidate must be able to demonstrate excellent reading and writing skills, self-motivation, enthusiasm for dentistry and the ability to work to tight deadlines. For more information please contact Tom at tom.kavanagh@scottarmsdentalpractice.com.

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The role of a Dental Therapist in Birmingham

The role of a Dental Therapist in Birmingham

Our award winning dental team doesn’t just consist of dental implant dentists, nurses and office staff. There is another important role in our Birmingham based team that is there to help patients understand the connection between oral health and their overall health, the Dental Therapist.

Dental Therapists have an important role in promoting dental health, something which a large proportion of the population fail to take care of. They are able to work in all sectors in dentistry including our dental practice. They are experts in helping to prevent and dealing with Gum Disease, a common problem which has affected at least half of the UK population at some point.

How Dental Therapists help prevent gum disease

Dental therapists in Birmingham are trained to carry out a wide range of procedures including intra and extra oral assessments and scaling and polishing. They are are able to identify gum disease in patients and access just how severe it is. Even if you maintain good oral hygiene plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) can build up which can’t be removed by brushing alone. Dental Therapists are trained to remove this using a process of Scaling and Polishing the teeth, this physically removes the hardened substances from the the tooth surface preventing even more accumulating. It’s advised that everyone sees their dental therapist or dentist for scaling and polishing every few months to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

Dental Therapists are also known as oral health practitioners, they work with patients to ensure they are educated in how to maintain good oral hygiene, basically they are the people who can really teach you how to brush your teeth properly. A large number of us use an improper technique when brushing our teeth, which can cause us not remove plaque proper or even damage your gums from brushing too hard. A dental therapist can show you the proper technique to ensure your teeth and gums are kept healthy. Brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes, using a fluoride-containing toothpaste, daily flossing and regular dental checkups is the best way to prevent most dental problems.

Other roles of the Dental Therapist

Some of the other procedures a dental therapist in Birmingham can help you with are:

  • Taking and interpreting dental x-rays.
  • Monitor the stage of gum disease.
  • Apply fissure sealants to your teeth.
  • Can extract milk teeth under local anaesthetic.
  • Take impressions of your teeth, which can be used to make things such as bite guards and bleaching trays.
  • Can apply both white and metallic fillings to adults and children.
  • Therapists treat adults as well as children.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Dental Therapists in Birmingham feel free to contact the Scott Arms Dental Practice on 0121 357 5000. We’re open 7 days a week and have our own expert therapists on hand ready to help you with any dental problems you may have.

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Getting a Scale and Polish in Birmingham

Scale and Polish treatment from our Birmingham Dentists to remove plaque and tartar

Simply brushing alone won’t help in the war against plaque, sometimes you’re going to need the help of a scale and polish from your Birmingham Dentist.

Every day a white, sticky film of bacteria called plaque forms on the surface of your teeth. These bacteria are the ones that cause gum disease, they can be removed with correct brushing and flossing but sometimes we miss them in those hard to reach places. After 24 hours the plaque hardens into a substance called tartar (calculus), sadly this can’t be removed by brushing alone and requires the help of a dentist. A build-up of calculus on the teeth can provide the optimum conditions for bacteria to thrive next to the gums, leading to gum disease.

How does your dentist remove the hardened plaque?

Your Birmingham dentist or hygienist has undergone training to use special tools that gently remove tartar deposits without damaging the surface of the teeth. Before scaling and polishing takes place your dentist will carefully assess the condition of your teeth and gums. One way of achieving this is by using ultrasonic instruments which use vibrations which cause the hardened tartar to break away from the tooth surface, whilst spraying water to wash away the debris. This device usually makes a high pitched whistling sound which is quite distinct in the dental surgery. Once the larger pieces are tartar are removed the dentist will make use of a scaler, these are used gently to scrape off the smaller pieces of tartar from the teeth, leaving the surface of the teeth clean and smooth. FInally the teeth are polished, leaving them looking shiny and clean.

Sometimes after a Scale and Polish from your dentist your teeth may feel sensitive, this is quite normal and reversible so there is nothing to worry about. If any sensitivity problems persist you should visit your dentist for more help.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to dental treatment, preventing dental problems occurring is a lot cheaper and easier than having to treat the dental problems themselves. With a good standard of oral hygiene and regular scale and polishes, you should be protected against the onset of gum disease.

If you’re looking for Scale and Polish treatment in Birmingham or simply more information of the procedure and how to prevent gum disease, contact the Scott Arms Dental Practice on 0121 357 5000. We’re open 7 days a week and our friendly team can help you with any dental problems you may have.

Posted in: General Dentistry, Periodontal Disease

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Mouth Guards from your Birmingham Dentist

Custom mouth guards made by your local Birmingham Dentist

A large number of sports involve contact and require a simple piece of protective equipment that could save you thousands in dental treatment fees, the mouth guard. Whether you’re a rugby player or a cage fighter, it’s vital you ensure complete protection of your teeth, gums and lips. A mouth guard does just that, and your Birmingham Dentist can provide you with a tailor-made gum shield that fits your teeth and gums perfectly, to offer maximum protection from those collisions that could prove devastating to your smile.

Mouth guards have an interesting history, it is uncertain of their exact origins but in the early days of Boxing they were made using cotton, tape and sponge. The boxers had to hold these materials in their mouths between their teeth, concentrating on doing this could stop you focussing on the actual boxing match itself. A British dentist named Woolf Krause began to make mouth guards for boxers in 1892 by playing rubber strips over the teeth of the boxers before they went into the ring. Since then there has been evidence of other dentists creating the first reusable mouth guards using materials such as wax and rubber.

The history of Mouth Guards

Mouth guards have transformed dramatically over the past 100 years, they still do the same thing, however their comfort of fit and protection they offer has greatly improved. Mouth guards can be obtained in sporting shops in a “boil and bite” format, where you purchase a mouthguard made out of a thermo-plastic material. These are then boiled and moulded over your teeth to improve the fit of the mouth guard, whilst they offer adequate protection they don’t offer the comfort of a custom fitted mouth guard from your dentist.

Bespoke Mouth Guards from your Birmingham Dentist

The best mouth guard for both comfort and protection is a custom-fitted mouthguard available from a dentist. Our dentists in Birmingham will take an impression of your mouth which is then sent off to our dental lab, where a dental technician will create a custom fitted mouthguard designed for our mouth. There are many colour and design options to choose from with your custom mouth guard. When it’s made you can pop it in your mouth to see how it fits and you’re now ready to go back to your sporting interests with the comfort and protection of your new mouth guard.

If you’re interested in getting a custom mouth guard from our Birmingham dentists contact the Scott Arms Dental Practice on 0121 357 5000, we’re open 7 days a week including bank holidays.

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Dentist Birmingham answers your Bleeding Gums questions

Dentist Birmingham answers Bleeding Gums questions

Many people in Birmingham and the rest of the UK suffer from bleeding gums, a problem that is rather upsetting for the patient but can easily be prevented.

Bleeding gums may not be as simple as it seems. Can be a precursor to conditions such as gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), which if left untreated can lead to Periodontal disease that can damage the teeth and gums.

What are the causes of bleeding gums?

Bleeding gums are caused by the inadequate removal of plaque from teeth at the gum line. Over time plaque builds up and causes the gums to become inflamed, leading to gingivitis. If this isn’t dealt with the plaque can harden to tartar, leading to gum disease.

Bleeding gums can be also caused by infections in the mouth, damage to the gum tissue through an injury, dietry problems, hormonal changes, the use of dentures, flossing when your gums are not used to it (or you’re flossing too hard) and brushing too hard. Whilst the inadequate removal of plaque is the most likely cause of bleeding gums, it does take a trained professional to diagnose the cause.

How can bleeding gums be prevented?

Through maintaining a good standard of oral hygiene, your teeth can be kept free of plaque and prevent conditions such as gingivitis occurring.

Am I more susceptible to gum problems?

Gum problems are more common in patients over the age of 35. Around 30% of people are genetically susceptible to gum disease, this group of people to take extra care with their oral health to ensure periodontal disease is prevented.

Can bleeding gums be due to a problem with my diet?

Certain dietary deficiencies can have an influence on bleeding gums. Vitamin C is important to help the body repair and maintain connective tissue, its antioxidant effects are important in the presence of gum-damaging oxidants. Consuming less than your daily allowance of vitamin C can significantly increase your risk of gum disease.

How can I treat my bleeding gums problem at home?

Brushing your teeth after every meal, using an antibacterial mouthwash and ensuring that you floss at least once a day can prevent bacteria building up on the gum margin. Patients are always advised to reduce their sugar intake within their diet as this is a common cause of many dental problems, sugar promotes the growth of bacteria and the build-up of plaque, making your bleeding gum problem worse.

Smoking can aggravate bleeding gums making them worse. Smoking also reduces oxygen in the blood, with prevents the gum tissue healing properly.

What should I do if my gums get worse?

If you’re suffering from bleeding gums on a regular basis or you’re simply concerned about your oral health it’s worth heading down to your dentist to have a professional take a look. It’s worth seeing a dental hygienist for a professional teeth clean, removing the plaque build-up from the teeth, keeping them and your gums healthy. Feel free to contact the Scott Arms Dental Practice if you need any assistance with your bleeding gum problems.

Posted in: General Dentistry, Periodontal Disease

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