Back to school: remember to pack your sports gum shield

New uniform; pencil case; notebooks; PE kit – as your children head back to school, there’s a long list of things to remember. As dentists, we have one more item we believe it is vital to add to that list – a sports gum shield.

sports-gum-shieldMany cases of accidental tooth loss are caused by sports injuries, and the majority of these could have been avoided by wearing a sports gum shield. Losing a tooth is a traumatic experience and, while dentists can sometimes replace the tooth in the socket if you get to the dental practice quickly enough, it is often necessary to replace a lost tooth with a bridge or other artificial restoration.

Sports accidents are also often the cause of broken or chipped teeth, which again may need extensive restoration through crowns, veneers or composite bonding. Wearing a gum shield can prevent the unnecessary pain and discomfort of a sports injury to the teeth, as well as the cost of restorations, and can even help to prevent broken and dislocated jaws.

When should you wear a sports mouth guard?

Sports mouth guards should be worn during all contact sports, such as boxing, martial arts, rugby and American football, and for all sports involving fast-moving objects – hockey, cricket and football, for example.

Why you should get a mouth guard from your dentist

Unlike mouth guards that can be bought online, a mouth guard made by your dentist will fit your teeth and gums exactly. This improves the level of protection provided, and can help to prevent injury to the jaw, the neck and even to the brain – helping to prevent concussion.

Your dentist will take impressions of your teeth and will send these off to the laboratory for your mouth guard to be made. When it’s ready you’ll be called back to the practice to check that it fits properly. You should bring your mouth guard with your to your dental check-ups to ensure it remains in prime condition.

Make a great first impression with a beautiful smile

For many people, your smile is the first thing they notice about you. A good smile helps to make an excellent first impression, and can even have an impact on your earning potential. If you are unhappy with the appearance of your smile, the chances are this will impact on your self-confidence, which can have serious negative repercussions for your personal and professional interactions.

cosmetic dental treatmentsCosmetic dentistry is the branch of dentistry that deals with the aesthetic appearance of your smile. It comprises a wide selection of treatments designed to align, enhance and brighten the teeth for a more attractive appearance.

At Forest Dental we have a skilled team of cosmetic dentists who have helped many patients transform their smiles. Using the latest techniques, equipment and materials, our team offer a wide range of cosmetic dental treatments, from a quick brightness boost with teeth whitening treatment to a full smile makeover using a combination of two or more of our specialist treatments.

Smile makeovers use the latest technology to assess your smile and establish the best course of treatment to provide the smile of your dreams. Your dentist will find out what you like and dislike about your smile, and what you would like to achieve. Using photographs, x-rays and models, they will then go through all the treatment options available to help you get that dream smile. They will discuss the pros and cons of all appropriate treatments, including how they may impact on your lifestyle, so that you can make an informed choice about your treatment.

Among the cosmetic dental treatments we offer at Forest Dental are:

  • Teeth whitening
  • Porcelain veneers
  • Componeers
  • Discreet orthodontics
  • White fillings, inlays and onlays
  • Cosmetic contouring
  • Cosmetic dentures

Dentistry – Is it similar to other health care?

A recent survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of Simply Health showed that there are stark differences between the practices and attitudes of men and women when it comes to caring for their dental health.

dentistryThe survey looked at men and women from a variety of age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds, and came up with some interesting findings.

Among the key findings were:

More men than women put off visiting the dentist

It was found that 32% of men hadn’t visited a dental practice in the past year, compared with 25% of women. This figure rises to 37% of men aged between 18 and 24, which could suggest a more carefree attitude to dental health, but could also reflect a large number of people in this age group are students, so more prone to financial worries that may prevent them seeking dental treatment.

At Forest Dental we offer a wide range of dental plans to suit all budgets, because we know the importance of maintaining good oral health and preventing further, more expensive to treat problems at a later stage. Our basic plans start at £5.57 a month, covering basic check-ups and hygiene appointments, as well as offering a discount on many common treatments. This can be an ideal and ongoing gift from parents whose children are off to university, to help keep their teeth in good condition while finances are tight.

The survey also showed that more men admit to having bad dental habits, such as 41% who say they have gone to bed after a night out without brushing their teeth. Only 35% of women admit to the same thing. Again, men in the 18-24 age group are the worst for this, with 49% admitting they don’t always brush their teeth before bed.

Women’s worst habit is opening bottles or containers with their teeth, which can cause damage. Some 15% of women and 12% of men admit to opening bottles or containers with their teeth.

The most worrying statistic, however, is about awareness. The survey showed that 75% of men and 66% of women say they are not aware of the symptoms of mouth cancer. Early diagnosis is vital, so something must be done to raise the awareness of early warning signs and symptoms.

At Forest Dental we provide mouth cancer checks as standard during your regular dental check-up.

Children’s dental health

Establishing good dental habits from an early age will help your children to have good oral health for life. At Forest Dental we recommend bringing children to visit the dentist from the age of six months – when their first teeth start to appear.

childrens-dental-healthChildren in the UK still have very high levels of tooth decay. While this is improving, there is still a lot of work to be done. At Forest Dental we believe in preventative dentistry, stopping problems before they start. We offer a range of preventative dental treatments for children, including fluoride varnish and fissure sealants, to help prevent decay from developing, avoiding the need for more invasive and uncomfortable treatments at a later stage.

Bringing your child to the dental practice from an early age will also help to prevent them developing a fear or phobia of the dentist. Many cases of dental phobia can be traced back to a bad childhood experience; at Forest Dental our clinicians are skilled in treating children, and can help them to establish good habits so that there is no need for traumatic treatments such as tooth extractions. Your child will soon start to view visits to the dental practice as routine, positive experiences, and the dentist as a friendly face they look forward to seeing every six months.

If you bring your young child along to an appointment with Dad or Mum, or with an older sibling, they can learn by observing and copying how to sit in the chair and open their mouth so the dentist can look at their teeth.

Here are our top tips for helping your child look after their teeth:

  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, for at least two minutes.
  • As they grow older and want to brush their own teeth, guide their hand to ensure a good brushing technique, and supervise children up to the age of eight.
  • Bring your child to the dentist from the age of six months, and make it a positive, fun experience.
  • Avoid sugary treats and drinks. Make water the first drink of choice, and serve fruit juice diluted with water at mealtimes only.
  • Your dentist or hygienist can help your child understand the importance of diet for healthy teeth, as well as showing them how to brush their teeth correctly in a fun, age-appropriate manner.
  • Fluoride varnish will be offered from the age of three, and fissure sealants when permanent back teeth appear.
  • Never dip dummies in anything sweet, such as honey, sugar or jam.

White fillings to replace metal amalgam fillings

At Forest Dental, we are proud to be a mercury-free practice, using only tooth-coloured composite material (commonly referred to as “white fillings”) to fill teeth. These fillings blend in perfectly with the natural colour of your teeth, as several shades of composite material are available and your dentist will pick one that closely matches your tooth colour.

white fillingsIf you have old, worn or obvious metal amalgam fillings that make you feel self-conscious about smiling, we can also remove these fillings and replace them with new tooth-coloured composite fillings – a fast, effective and safe way to restore your confidence in your smile.

Once upon a time, metal amalgam was the only option for patients who needed fillings. While it is very strong, it can also be very obvious. White fillings used to be thought of as less strong than their metal counterparts, but thanks to advances in dental techniques, technologies and materials, white fillings are now considered very strong and durable, and suitable for use anywhere in the mouth. They are made of a composite of resin and tiny particles of glass, and will last you for many years with proper care and regular dental visits.

For patients with larger cavities in their teeth, your dentist may recommend fitting tooth-coloured inlays or onlays. These are made from porcelain and fit into (inlay) or on to (onlay) a tooth. They are in many ways a half-step between a filling and a crown – ideal when the tooth requires more support than a standard white filling can provide, but enough of the tooth structure is still intact to avoid the need for a crown.

White fillings are usually placed under local anaesthetic. Your dentist will carefully remove all areas of decay from your tooth before placing white filling material – matched to the natural colour of your tooth – in the cavity.

The need for the dentist even if you have no teeth

One of the questions we are often asked at Forest Dental is, do patients who have lost all of their natural teeth still need to visit the dentist? Our answer is always the same: yes, you do. Whether you have replaced your teeth with standard dentures or dental implants, the importance of keeping up regular dental appointments even when you have lost your natural teeth cannot be overstressed.

Dentures

denturesDentures are the most common option for patients who have lost all of their teeth. It is important to visit the dentist regularly to ensure that your dentures remain comfortable, fit snuggly and remain in the best possible condition. It’s also important to keep an eye on the health of your gums.

Many patients who wear dentures discover that they become loose over time, as their gums and bone recede, meaning that dentures that once fitted snuggly over the gums become loose and unwieldy. This can cause problems with eating and speaking, and can also cause dentures to fall out at inopportune moments. Regular visits to your dentist will ensure these problems are rectified early, and your dentures adjusted as necessary.

Dental implants

Dental implants and the crowns, bridges or dentures attached to them look and act like natural teeth – and, like natural teeth, require regular dentist and hygienist appointments to keep them healthy.

Mouth cancer screening

Everybody should have regular screening for mouth cancer, which is notorious for being difficult to diagnose in the early stages. Approximately 2,700 people per year die from mouth cancer in the UK, and it has a high proportion of deaths to number of cases. Late diagnosis is a major factor in this. As with all types of cancer, early diagnosis vastly increases your chances of making a full recovery. Your dentist is expertly placed to spot the early signs, and will refer you to a hospital consultant if anything suspicious is found.

Halitosis: causes and how to deal with it

Bad breath – also known as halitosis – is a common problem, but one that people don’t like to talk about. Everyone is likely to suffer from halitosis at some point in their life, but for some people it can become a chronic problem that friends and family are too embarrassed to tell them about. Here, we look at the common causes of bad breath, and how to get rid of it for good.

gum diseaseIt’s easy to know if someone else has bad breath, although not always easy to tell them. However, it can be tricky to know if you are suffering from halitosis yourself: lick the inside of your wrist and sniff. If it smells bad, your breath is likely to smell bad too.

If this is the case, don’t panic; book an appointment to see your dentist. At Forest Dental Practice we have helped many patients to cure their halitosis, boosting their self-esteem to boot.

Common causes of bad breath

There are many causes of bad breath. These include:

1 Strong-tasting foods and drinks.

Certain foods and drinks, including onions and garlic, some cheeses and coffee, can cause bad breath. This will be temporary, for a few hours after eating or drinking. Brushing your teeth after every meal can help to combat this type of bad breath.

2 Medications.

Certain medications can also cause temporary bad breath. This can be particularly true for medicines that leave you with a dry mouth. Chewing sugar-free chewing gum and regular tooth brushing can help, and the problem should resolve itself after your course of medication is complete.

3 Poor dental hygiene.

Poor dental hygiene is the biggest cause of long-term bad breath. Particles of food that get trapped on or between the teeth start to decay and release unpleasant-smelling gasses, which leads to bad breath. A build-up of plaque bacteria on the teeth can also cause halitosis. It is often one of the first noticeable symptoms of gum disease.

You can prevent this by regularly brushing and flossing your teeth, and by visiting your dentist and hygienist at least every six months. They will be able to diagnose and treat the early signs of gum disease, can remove any plaque from your teeth, and can recommend the best brushing and flossing techniques for you to use at home.

New Year’s resolutions for your teeth – and how they can help boost your overall health and wellbeing

Happy New Year! Have you made any New Year’s resolutions for 2016? Many people take the opportunity of a fresh start to improve their health, joining the gym or resolving to eat more healthily. These are all great ways to boost your health, but as dentists we encourage you to remember your dental health too.

gum diseaseGood oral healthcare is obviously important for your teeth and gums, but did you know it’s also vital for your general health?

One of the most common dental health problems in the UK is gum disease, also known as gingivitis. Research has shown that as well as causing gum problems, bad breath and tooth loss, gum disease may also increase your risk of a wide range of other health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Gum disease has also been linked to problems in pregnancy and to dementia.

Looking after your teeth and gums is vital to your overall health. So, what can you do to improve your oral care regime?

Good oral health requires teamwork between you, your dentist and your hygienist. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes a time, as well as regularly using floss or interdental brushes.

By visiting your hygienist regularly (at least every three months) you can ensure you are using the best brushing techniques and products for your individual dental health needs. Your hygienist can also advise you on how your diet affects your dental health – cutting down not just on sugary foods but also on acidic food and drinks can decrease your chances of tooth erosion and plaque build-up.

Your dentist and hygienist can:

  • Professionally clean your teeth to remove all plaque and tartar, including hard to reach areas
  • Advise you on the best type of toothbrush and brushing techniques to use
  • Explain how sugary and acidic foods and drinks can damage your teeth and gums
  • Provide advice on special equipment, such as interdental brushes or mouthwashes
  • Identify and treat early signs of gum disease or tooth decay.

Keep your teeth healthy this Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner, and for many that means festive parties and family gatherings involving lots of indulgent treats and rich food. Everyone deserves to treat themselves now and again, and tasty snacks are fine if enjoyed in moderation. But while many people worry about putting on weight over the Christmas period, we urge you to remember your teeth, too – excess sugar consumption can increase your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. Here are some things you can do to look after your oral health this Christmas. . .

1 Everything in moderation

oral healthChristmas is a time of tasty treats and indulgent food. For your general and dental health, remember to enjoy everything in moderation. Be aware of the sugar content in not just foods, but drinks as well. Many popular alcoholic drinks have a high sugar content, which can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Too much alcohol also increases your risk of mouth cancer.

Fruit juice and fizzy drinks such as cola or lemonade also have a high sugar content, and should only be drunk at mealtimes. Drinking a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks will not only be better for your teeth, but will help prevent a hangover.

2 Include healthy snacks and treats in your buffet

If you are organising a buffet-style meal for a Christmas party, be sure to include some healthy options, including home-made dips, fresh vegetables, low-fat cheese, nuts and seeds.

3 Brush your teeth after every meal

The longer sugar remains on your teeth, the more damage it will cause. Keep a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste in your desk at work so you can brush your teeth after every meal – you should always brush them for at least two minutes, twice a day.

4 Visit your dentist or hygienist regularly

Your dentist or hygienist can remove any plaque that has built up on your teeth, particularly in hard to reach areas. If you feel like treating yourself this Christmas, why not talk to us about teeth whitening treatment, which can remove stains built up by tea, coffee, wine and smoking? It’s the perfect way to boost your smile in time for the festive party season.

Mouth Cancer Screening

Cases of mouth cancer are increasing. Currently, about 2,700 per year die from mouth or oral cancer in the UK, and worryingly there are a higher proportion of deaths per number of cases than of breast, cervical or skin cancer.

mouth cancer screeningA big factor in this is that many cases of mouth cancer are diagnosed at a late stage, making treatment more complex and more difficult. Dentists play a vital role in the early detection of mouth cancer, which is why at Forest Dental we carry out mouth cancer screening as a standard part of our routine dental check-ups.

As with any form of cancer, early diagnosis vastly increases your chances of beating the disease and making a full recovery. Mouth cancer screening is a simple, painless procedure that can save lives. It’s carried out here at the practice, and if anything suspicious is found we will refer you immediately to a hospital consultant for further investigation.

The first step is to take a detailed medical and dental health history, so that we can identify any particular risk factors, such as smoking. Your dentist will then carry out a thorough examination of the outside of your mouth, your head and neck by observation and by touch, followed by an examination of the inside of your mouth, including under your tongue and the inside of your cheeks.

Symptoms of mouth cancer include lumps on the tongue or inside the mouth (these may be painless), mouth ulcers that do not heal, and white or reddish patches inside your mouth. If you notice any of these symptoms, or anything else unusual, please come to see us as soon as possible – don’t wait for your regular dental check-up. In many cases these symptoms will be benign, but because early diagnosis is vital we urge you to have a check-up as soon as possible.