How ‘Realistic’ Are Dental Implants?

Image of a dental implant

Purley dentist, Dr Tushar Patel, looks at this procedure from the perspective of a patient.

As we have discussed in previous blogs, dental implants offer the most secure, strong and stable of all current tooth replacement methods. Whilst they might be more expensive initially, over time they represent good value for money for patients who are looking for a long term resolution to missing teeth.

One question that we do get asked quite a lot at our Purley dentists clinic is how realistic do dental implants both look and feel?

What is an implant?

Although this is a basic question, it is important that patients understand that a dental implant is, technically speaking, just the titanium screw-like implement that is placed into the jaw. This is the part which, in effect, replicates the lost tooth root and allows us to build an effective and strong replacement tooth.

When patients talk about a dental implant procedure, they are usually referring to the completed restoration which includes the addition of an abutment and a crown to replace the visible part of the tooth. Used together, these three components offer patients a first class tooth replacement.

What do they look like?

People often have teeth replaced in order to eat more easily. It is not the only reason though, and, where a tooth has been lost in a very visible position, such as the front of the mouth, it is quite natural that they will also want any replacement tooth to look as natural as possible.

To this end, some people will opt to have dentures. Modern dentures are greatly improved on their predecessors, especially where appearance is concerned. Many patients are very happy with these initially, but, as time passes, the sometimes inconvenience of dentures becomes more apparent and they may decide to look at alternatives.

Another option is a dental bridge which also look natural, at least initially. As they age though, they can start to look a little jaded and may stand out from the rest of your teeth. A bridge also relies on the integrity of the supporting teeth, and when these fail, so can the bridge. This is especially the case where the patient has not kept them as clean as they should.

On appearance alone, dental implants win hands down. There is an initial period whilst the titanium root integrates with the bone, where you will still have a gap between the teeth. But in the typical twenty year plus lifespan of an implant though, this is insignificant, and once completed, your new ‘dental implant tooth’ will be indistinguishable from your natural teeth.

Making it look natural

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Can Teeth Whitening Products Hurt Your Teeth?

whitened teeth on a lady

Some people report discomfort or sensitivity after attempting to whiten their teeth. Is this normal?

There is only one good reason to have your teeth whitened, and that is to make them look more attractive. There are no physical benefits to your teeth from this procedure, but it will make them look nicer, and, some argue, help to improve your confidence too.

Because of its non invasive method, this increasingly popular cosmetic dental treatment is widely deemed to be safe, providing that it is done correctly. Why then do some people complain of discomfort for a short period afterwards?

Eliminating the obvious

Before we look at any discomfort that might be felt following a teeth whitening procedure, it is worth pointing out that not everybody takes the professional route in an attempt to have whiter teeth. There are a wide number of DIY ‘remedies’ on Youtube and other similar outlets that we would most certainly not recommend. Whilst a tooth whitening procedure does use a form of bleach, this should not be confused with household bleach, and using that, and similar ingredients, will almost certainly result in very sensitive teeth, and perhaps worse.

Another possible cause of discomfort is when patients use a home whitening kit that has been bought from a chemist. Although the quantity of bleach used in these is less than can be used within the professional dental environment, there can be a problem with the trays that the bleach is put into. As these kits are mass produced, the trays are largely of the ‘one size fits all’ variety. This means that the risk of leakage is greater than where the trays are made specifically for the patient. If the bleaching agents leaks onto the gums and other soft tissues of the mouth, it can cause irritation and discomfort.

Professional teeth whitening

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What’s Your Risk Of Oral Cancer? (and help with stopping smoking….)

Local dentist

With mouth cancer on the rise, it is worth taking a look at how high your risk is.

There are a number of factors which can increase the risk of oral cancer, but poor oral care and smoking are two of the main ones. If you don’t look after your teeth and gums and are a smoker, your chances of suffering from this disease are very real.

Early treatment is more likely to be effective than if the issue was detected at a more advanced stage, but even then, this disease can cause long term problems with speech and swallowing, as well as some potential disfigurement.

Hopefully, our Purley patients understand the importance of good home oral care, along with the need to see a dentist every six months for an examination. Doing so enables us to keep an eye on your general oral health and spot any problems relatively early on. In addition to this though, there are certain habits that some of us have which may increase our risks of poor oral health, and, potentially, mouth cancer.

Drinking and smoking

For years, drinking and smoking were both seen as acceptable things to do socially. With the smoking ban, this is no longer the case, although thousands of people have not yet given up. Even the cost of a packet of cigarettes has not deterred some, with illegal cigarettes sometimes being bought at a cheaper price which may well be even more carcinogenic than legitimate ones.

Whilst alcohol consumption is still very popular in the UK, and especially as part of a social life, it is interesting to see that many younger people are now turning away from alcohol, with pubs no longer being the centre for socialising that they once were. Over time, if this trend continues, we may see a reversal in the trend of oral cancers being on the increase.

Whilst moderate consumption of alcohol within guidelines should perhaps do little harm, both heavy or regular drinking, and any amount of smoking is certainly going to be detrimental to good oral health and increase the risk of cancer.

How to stop smoking

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Never Share A Toothbrush (and Other Top Dental Tips!)

Smiling couple with great teeth

Today’s blog takes a look at some common mistakes that we make when looking after our teeth

Anyone who has visited the dentist and hygienist at our Purley practice will know the general ‘rules’ about how to look after their teeth well.

Diligent brushing and flossing, along with hygienist and dentist visits and a tooth friendly diet should give you a very good chance of maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Although these are certainly the building blocks of good oral health, there are also a number of what might be considered more ‘minor’ factors which, especially when combined, can also make a significant contribution to keeping your teeth in good health.

Your toothpaste

There are a bewildering range of toothpastes now available, and this blog is not the right place to discuss each type in detail. For the purpose of today’s blog, it is sufficient to say that whatever toothpaste you use, you should make sure that it contains fluoride. Fluoride helps to strengthen the tooth enamel and helps to protect it against decay.

To maximise this protection, we need to look not only at improving how we brush, but also what to do after we have brushed. Many of us probably brush well and then spit, before finally rinsing our mouths out with water. The truth is that this final rinse removes a lot of the fluoride from your tooth surface. Try not to spit afterwards for a while and allow the toothpaste to remain on your teeth instead.

Mind when you brush

There can be a temptation to brush our teeth immediately after we have eaten. Although this may seem to be a natural thing to do, it is actually a mistake to do so. After we have eaten, or have drunk a sugary drink etc, the enamel on our teeth softens slightly before gradually remineralising. During this period, which lasts for approximately an hour or so, the enamel on our teeth is softer and brushing during this time is likely to be harmful to the enamel.

Instead of brushing straight away; after you have eaten, allow around an hour or so before doing so.

Don’t brush too hard

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Can You Get Cavities In Your Front Teeth?

Some people seem to believe that only the rear teeth can decay – not true!

We are all familiar with those very visible dark fillings that we see at the rear of the mouth when other people laugh out loud.

Can you remember the last time that you saw those fillings on anyone’s front teeth though? Does that mean that they don’t exist or that fillings can’t be applied to the front teeth? Unfortunately, it does not.

The reality is that all teeth are covered in enamel but when this is damaged we can suffer from cavities, wherever the teeth are located in our mouth. So, why don’t we see many dark fillings on the front teeth? There could be a number of reasons.

The role of the front teeth

Although it doesn’t exclude the teeth from decay etc, the fact is that our front teeth come into less contact with the food that we eat than our rear teeth. Generally, we bite off the food with our front teeth and this then passes to the rear teeth where it is ground up before being swallowed. Both the grinding action and the length of time that the food comes into contact with the teeth means that these teeth are more likely to become damaged and covered in the sugars and food deposits that can lead to harm to our teeth.

This doesn’t mean that front teeth can’t decay though, and some of our habits, such as drinking high sugar drinks, can cause damage, often in the form of enamel erosion. This can be treated at the Confidental Clinic in Purley using a variety of techniques to restore your teeth to good health, should this happen.

Easier to clean

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Too Busy To Visit The Dentist?

dental surgery

Short term thinking can lead to painful problems later on.

According to a new report recently out, 14% of working people in the UK feel that they are too busy to see a dentist.

This is quite a shocking statistic and one which seems to confirm the belief of many dentists that some people don’t consider their oral health to be that important. These may well be the same people who don’t consider that they have a problem with their teeth until they are in severe pain with a toothache. As dental professionals though, we know that there is a lot that can go wrong before that toothache strikes.

The team at the Confidental Clinic in Purley put a high emphasis on preventative oral health care. We feel that, barring accidents, generally speaking there are no real reasons why anyone should not have a strong and healthy set of teeth. Although some of this is down to how the patient cares for them at home, professional observation is also necessary.

Regular check ups

A key part of your preventative oral care plan should include a visit to your dentist every six months for a check up. This may be more frequent if you suffer from certain medical conditions that make oral health problems more likely. Your dental check is a way of seeing how well you are caring for your teeth, and to spot any problems before they develop too far and require more significant treatment.

We also advise our Purley patients to have a scale and polish, carried out by our hygienist every six months or so. This is an effective and inexpensive way of keeping both teeth and gums in good health, and helping to prevent gum disease.

Just a little filling

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A Rise In Vaping = A Reduction In Oral Health Issues?

Some food for thought for our Purley patients who still smoke tobacco products.

A report out recently, discovered that the number of people who use vaping products is on the rise in the UK.

The biggest increase in this number comes from middle aged people, with around 20% in their mid forties to mid fifties using a vaping device last year. The largest group though, is still the 18-24 year olds, of whom around 30% ‘vape’.

Although there have been concerns expressed about the safety of this practise, and also perhaps, about the sweet sickly smell from some of them, it seems that vaping is here to stay, for the time being at least. Unless further research throws up some unexpected results, this would appear to be good news for those interested in promoting better oral health for smokers.

Why do people vape?

There seems to be two main reasons why people are turning to vaping instead of smoking more traditional cigarettes. One of these is that it is seen, by some, to be fashionable. For many though, it is a chance for them to kick the smoking habit more easily and effectively. These reasons may have a mixed effect on these vaper’s oral health.

Fashion vapers

For anyone who sees vaping as a fashionable thing to do, and who hasn’t smoked previously, this may not be a good thing. Although, at the Confidental Clinic, we would prefer people to vape rather than smoke, there is a real risk that ‘first timers’ may eventually be tempted to smoke ‘the real thing’.

There is an argument that vaping could be a gateway to smoking tobacco products. To this end, our advice would be, if you don’t smoke already, it is probably best not to vape as this could lead you to tobacco products, and there is also a risk that harmful effects may be discovered in the longer term.

Changing from cigarettes

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Phasing Your Dental Treatment

patient with dental fear

Choosing between immediate and phased treatment plans for general and cosmetic dentistry.

If you have neglected your dental health for a long period of time, or if you are really unhappy with the appearance of your teeth, there is every possibility that you may require quite extensive and lengthy treatment. This may be restorative or cosmetic in nature, or even a combination of the two.

Either way, this could mean that several different treatments might be needed to restore your mouth to good health, or to how you wish your teeth to look.

An extensive treatment plan can seem quite daunting to some patients for many understandable reasons. In today’s blog, our Purley dental team examines the argument for a phased treatment plan and why this might be beneficial.

Cost

Modern dental treatments can be quite costly due to the time, resources and materials involved. Whilst most patients can afford to pay for the odd filling or crown, when it comes to a combination of treatments for significant restorations, the cost can soon add up. To assist, we have a number of payment plans available at the Confidental Clinic which can help patients spread the costs. Where a large number of treatments are needed though, spreading the treatments over a longer period of time may help to spread the cost even further.

Anxiety

Anxiety about dental treatment is quite common. The level varies from patient to patient but can be a major factor in the decision about whether to go ahead with treatment that is classed as non essential, especially if you have already received other previous treatments recently.

Anxiety is a good reason to phase your treatment.  Priority is usually given to essential treatments such as fillings, dental hygienist cleans etc, that are designed to restore your oral health. Starting with these allows the patient to gradually build up their confidence, ready for more extensive treatments. Allowing some time to pass between each treatment can help patients complete a full course of treatment. For longer procedures such as dental implant placements, IV sedation is also available.

Physical effects

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Teaching Young Children Good Oral Health Habits

Purley hygienist Suzanne Hogan offers some advice to parents to help encourage toddlers to look after their teeth.

Parenting can be challenging at the best of times. Being on constant guard to the many dangers that surround young children, even in their own home, can be tiring to say the least.

By the time that they finally go to bed, we are often glad of a bit of peace and quiet. In our haste for this though, it is important to make sure that they don’t skip what should be their final ‘task’ of the day; giving their teeth a good quality brushing.

In today’s Confidental Clinic blog, we offer a few tips that parents might find useful to encourage their children to do this whilst they are still at a very young age. Not all may work for your child, but hopefully some will, or at least provide inspiration for your own unique methods.

The brushing challenge

Every child is different, but a resistance to brushing their teeth is often one of the first things that young children challenge us on. From their perspective, it makes sense. They don’t understand the importance of a healthy mouth and, in most cases, will not yet have experienced the searing pain of a bad toothache. When they are tired, and perhaps a little ‘cranky’, the last thing that they want to do is to brush their teeth.

At this age, you will need to supervise them anyway, but instead of simply watching them whilst they brush their teeth, it will probably help to encourage them if you brush your teeth at the same time. This need only be a relatively cursory brushing as you will need to brush your teeth before you go to bed too, and too much brushing may cause enamel erosion. Children nearly always copy what their parents do, both good and bad, so make sure that this is one good habit that they do copy.

Brushing in the bath

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Keeping Your Teeth In Good Condition This Christmas

Local dentist

A few end of year words of guidance to prevent tooth damage during the festive indulgences.

Even if we are still busy at work, most of us will probably be mentally winding down ready for the festive holidays. Christmas dinners, parties with friends and relatives can be great fun, but it is a time when it is also easy to neglect our teeth a little. This could mean that a trip to the dentist is needed early in the new year, or worse still, an emergency dental appointment is required.

It doesn’t have to be this way, and, without spoiling the fun of Christmas, just a little care can go a long way to protecting your teeth. The Confidental Clinic dental team offer some useful advice below.

Keep up with your regular care

The first thing to say is that, however much fun you are having, it is important that you don’t relax your home cleaning regimen. We know that, at the end of a long day, and perhaps with quite a bit of alcohol consumed, it can be tempting to go to bed without brushing your teeth. With all the extra sugars that are likely to have been consumed throughout the day, this is asking for trouble. Make sure you brush your teeth well before you go to bed at night.

Mind the alcohol intake

Alcohol consumption rises at Christmas, and with it, accidents that can cause tooth damage. A fall or collision could result in a broken tooth, or even having one or more knocked out. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to a reasonable level and perhaps alternate your drinks with water or other soft drinks as well.

Put down that cigar

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