This advanced form of gum disease can have devastating consequences for your teeth.
Having healthy teeth is important, but sometimes, we may pay less attention than we should to our gums. To some degree, this is understandable as our teeth are the most visible aspect of our mouth, and everyone wants to have a beautiful smile. If we neglect to keep our gums healthy though, any care we have taken of our teeth may well be in vain.
There are two main forms of gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis. The former is a relatively mild form that can sometimes even be reversed simply through better cleaning. A scale and polish at our Purley dental clinic is also an excellent way to manage this stage of gum disease.
If early stage gingival problems are not dealt with, a much more serious condition, known as periodontitis, can occur.
What is periodontitis?
Periodontal disease is similar to that of gingivitis but is much more aggressive and has long term consequences. Whilst gingivitis affects our gums, often causing symptoms such as soreness, bleeding, and halitosis; periodontitis also has similar symptoms, albeit usually much more severe. Where the two really differ though is the reach of periodontal disease. When this happens, it is not only the gums that are affected, but also the roots of our teeth, along with the surrounding bone structure.
If periodontitis is present, there is every likelihood that you will start to lose bone mass in the area surrounding the tooth roots. This will eventually lead to teeth becoming loose, or even falling out.
Prevention and treatment
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A look at some of the most common reasons for dental anxiety.
Dental phobia is probably one of the main reasons that some people suffer problems with their teeth and gums. Whilst a poor diet and irregular cleaning are also major contributors, the reality is that if you see your dentist on a regular basis for checkups, not only will your own knowledge of how to look after your teeth improve, but also any damage to your teeth can be addressed quickly.
Despite this, it remains a fact that many patients avoid seeing a dentist due to their anxieties about what will happen both at the checkup and during treatment. In today’s blog, our Purley dentists look at some of the most common reasons for dental anxieties and try to allay your fears by explaining the reality of what actually happens.
Given the invasive nature of some treatments, it may seem strange that one of the top dental phobias is actually the needle that is used to administer the local anaesthetic. As ‘knockout’ gas can no longer be used within a dental practice, this is the only sure way to minimise any discomfort that would be felt during essential treatment. Without it, even smallest dental fillings would be a challenge for many patients.
What few patients realise is that any discomfort that comes from the injection itself does not really occur when the needle enters the gum. What you feel, which may seem a little unpleasant, is when the anaesthetic enters the bloodstream. Our Confidental Clinic dentists are aware that this part of the treatment process can feel uncomfortable and will administer the anaesthetic as gently as possible to minimise discomfort.
The dental drill
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A closer look at this teeth cleaning process from your Purley dental hygienist
Many of us probably think that we clean our teeth well at home, and that, combined with our regularly six month check ups with the dentist, should be sufficient to keep our teeth healthy. There is no doubt that this is a good start, but it isn’t quite enough.
The reality is that there will always be small areas of our teeth that are very difficult to reach with a toothbrush, and sometimes also with floss. When these areas are not cleaned properly, bacteria will collect and gum disease is a real possibility.
Scale and polish
At the Confidental Clinic, we encourage all of our patients to see our dental hygienist on a similar basis to the dentist; i.e. approximately every six months. This allows your teeth and gums to be cleaned at regular intervals, ensuring that they have every chance of staying healthy.
There are a number of benefits to having your teeth cleaned professionally on a regular basis as follows:
Gum disease prevention
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Keeping the root canals of your teeth healthy and infection free.
The word ‘endodontic’ means ‘inside the tooth’, from the ancient Greek. Although some patients may think that a tooth is a solid block of material, it is much more sophisticated than that.
It comprises of three key parts; the enamel on the exterior, the softer dentin layer beneath it, and finally, the root canals of the teeth where nerves and blood vessels are stored. When infections reach this inner part of the tooth, we are likely to be very aware of it, with a severe toothache a distinct possibility.
You may ask how you can protect the inner part of the teeth as it isn’t accessible with a brush or other implement. The truth is that the only effective way to prevent a root canal infection is to keep the enamel exterior in good health.
The enamel on the outside of our teeth is very strong, but can still be damaged if we don’t take care of it correctly. Weakened and damaged enamel can allow bacteria into the more vulnerable parts of our teeth, often resulting in infection.
Enamel can be damaged in a number of ways:
- Tooth decay
- Damage through teeth grinding
- Enamel erosion
- Chipped teeth
- Broken teeth
- Exposure of the tooth root caused by gum recession
Once the enamel has become compromised and bacteria enters the dentin layer; unless detected and treated, perhaps with a filling, root canal infection is probably not very far away.
Prevention and treatment
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A look at Zygomatic dental implants, now available at the Confidental Clinic
We have discussed the applications of dental implants, in our blogs, a number of times. In our opinion, these are the best long term solution for missing teeth for most of our Purley patients. In order to be successfully placed though, they do require a certain amount of bone to be present into which they can be inserted.
Where an individual dental implant is required and there is insufficient bone in which to place it, there are two main procedures available which can restore sufficient bone and allow the implant procedure to go ahead. They are a bone graft and a sinus lift and we will discuss these in a future blog.
There is also a third option for those who are using dental implants, for example, to support bridgework. These are called Zygomatic implants and they differ from a regular implant in a number of ways.
Like the regular version, the Zygomatic implant is also made from titanium which is important as the osseointegration (bone bonding) process still needs to take place. The Zygomatic implant however, is longer than a regular one. The reason for this is that it is usually used on the upper jaw and is placed into the cheekbone. Because this is a densely boned part of the face, lack of bone elsewhere should not be a problem. Once placed, the Zygomatic implant can be used to help hold a dental bridge securely in place.
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Providing a more comfortable experience for our Purley patients.
Having ‘the needle’ is an experience that most dental patients have had. Now more widely used since the ending of general anaesthetics for performing extractions, they are essential in enabling us to carry out a wide range of procedures, both general and cosmetic.
Although many patients dislike having them, there is no doubt at all that, without them, it would not be possible to undertake most procedures without causing at least some pain.
Why does the injection hurt?
Some patients believe that having an anaesthetic injection hurts because their gums are very sensitive to pain, but this is not actually the main cause. Although few patients actually realise it, the moment that the needle enters the gum is generally not the main issue; it is as the anaesthetic enters the bloodstream that discomfort is mostly felt. There are two main types of local anaesthetic; those which numb an area of the mouth, called a ‘block injection’ and a more localised one which is called an ‘infiltration injection’. The latter could be used where a small local filling was needed, for example.
What is in a local anaesthetic?
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Our Purley dentists take a look at the short term and long term implications of having implants.
If you are a denture wearer, you may have discovered that, after a while, it starts to become tiresome having to remove them every night for cleaning. There can be a danger that some people will simply not bother, figuring that the denture can’t decay anyway. Although this is true, neglecting to clean them will result in a buildup of bacteria that may lead to gum disease.
For anyone thinking of switching from dentures to dental implants, or for those looking for ways of replacing a lost tooth, we look at some of the implications of having an implant placed at the Confidental Clinic.
Short term implications
As you would expect with a surgical procedure, it is necessary to make sure that all the necessary conditions are in place before it proceeds. This requires an initial discussion, followed by preparatory investigation to ensure that there is sufficient bone to place the implant into. Finally, there is the procedure itself. Although some patients are concerned about potential discomfort, most find the procedure to be no more uncomfortable than other procedures. Naturally, a local anaesthetic will be given, and sedation options are available if you wish to consider this to make the treatment less stressful.
Once your implant has been placed, there is a period of around three months where special care needs to be taken. You will need to be aware that liquid and very soft foods are all that should be eaten initially to avoid damaging the implant. Providing that you do this and look after them as instructed by your Purley implant dentist, you will be ready for the final stage where the crown is attached and your replacement tooth complete.
Long term implications
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Do you turn to the Internet if you have a toothache, and is this a good idea?
If we are honest, most of us would probably admit to searching the internet when we are ill. Whilst this can sometimes help to put our mind at rest, it can also make us believe that we are suffering from something far worse than we actually are. Even dental problems are frequently searched for and whilst this is not a problem in itself, the remedies, or lack of, sometimes are!
Whilst few patients would attempt to fill their own teeth, whitening procedures and even orthodontics are known to have DIY solutions which almost always do not work, or worse still, create further problems.
DIY cosmetic dentistry
Before we look at more general reasons why you should see one of our Purley dentists if you suspect you have a problem, rather than simply search for it; it is worth looking at the two cosmetic procedures we mentioned above.
Teeth whitening is a precise science and the teeth whitening treatments offered at the Confidental Clinic provide a safe and successful way to have nicer looking teeth without doing them any harm. Some popular DIY solutions often include lemon juice. This will have little effect in improving the colour of your teeth, and will also strip some of the enamel away, leaving them exposed to other problems. Orthodontic solutions using rubber bands are also available on the internet. We hope that we don’t need to tell our adult patients how ill advised that is! Generally though, this advice is aimed at young teenagers so it is worth making sure that your own children do not attempt this.
General dental advice
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If your teeth feel uncomfortable when you eat hot or cold foods, you may need treatment.
Whilst some of us will have thinner enamel on our teeth than others, due to genetics; if you notice a sudden change when you eat or drink hot or cold foods, feeling discomfort when you didn’t before, there may be a problem.
Even where the discomfort is manageable, if this is happening to you, you should have your teeth checked by one of our Purley dentists to see if there are any underlying problems. Sensitivity often occurs when the enamel is damaged in some way, exposing the underlying dentin layer.
One of the main causes of tooth sensitivity is due to erosion of the protective enamel. This is usually a gradual process and can happen in a number of ways; for example, one of the most common causes is the exposure of the enamel to an acidic environment. One of the worst culprits for this is increasingly thought to be high sugar, acidic fizzy drinks. Children especially should be discouraged from drinking these too often, but adults too should exercise restraint. Even natural fruit drinks, which are generally thought to be healthy, can still be very acidic and should also be limited.
Although we always encourage patients to clean their teeth thoroughly, applying too much pressure when doing so, for long periods of time, is another common cause of tooth erosion. There is no need to press too hard when doing this. Many electric toothbrushes now have pressure sensors which cut out when you do this and can be a useful investment if you don’t already have one.
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Just a little extra effort could really give your teeth and gums a boost.
It is probably fair to say that most people don’t have seeing the dentist at the top of their list of fun things to do. There is always a risk that they will find a tooth that needs filling, or worse.
Despite this though, a number of patients probably pay far less attention to their teeth than they ought to if they want to minimise the amount of dental treatment that they receive.
At the Confidental Clinic in Purley, we believe in preventative dental care and are always happy to offer advice to any patient who wishes to know how to take better care of their teeth. Whilst some of this advice will be specific to individual patients, the following is some good advice that is hopefully useful to everyone.
Brushing your teeth
Failure to do this will almost certainly lead to decay and other problems. You can optimise your brushing though by making sure that your brush is reasonably new (no older than three months) and that you use a good quality toothpaste. There is no need to ‘scrub’ your teeth hard and you may well damage the enamel if you do.
Far too few of us use dental floss. This is a shame as it is a simple thing that can really make a difference. Pieces of food and bacteria collect in placed between the teeth that a toothbrush will struggle to reach. It is no surprise therefore, that a lot of decay starts in these areas. If you are unsure how to use dental floss, ask us how and we’ll be pleased to advise.
Cut down the sugar
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