A look at how our teeth discolour over time and whether we can halt or slow down the process
It would not be unreasonable to think that, providing we look after our teeth well from childhood, there is no reason why our teeth should not stay white throughout our lives.
Unfortunately, it really isn’t this simple, and even if we clean our teeth well and avoid staining food and drinks, our teeth will still darken as we age.
In today’s blog, our Streatham dentists take a look at why teeth discolour, and what we can do to help slow down this process.
When we are young, our teeth tend to be whiter than when we are older. Even when children eat things, such as liquorice, which turns their teeth black, they will return to normal once brushed well. But even at this young age, if we neglect our teeth we can start the processes which discolour them faster than if we’d taken more care with our routine brushing and check-ups.
Predominantly, there are three reasons why our teeth get darker as we get older.
We will take a look at deeper surface staining in a minute, but it is fair to say that some food and drink products do stain teeth by sticking to the surface. The tar from cigarette smoke will also do this and leave the teeth looking yellow. Generally speaking, this type of staining can often be removed both by better brushing at home, along with a scale and polish procedure by the hygienist at the Confidental dentist in Streatham.
Deeper surface staining
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Our Streatham dentist discusses this frustrating condition
Teeth grinding, or ‘bruxism’, to give it its correct name, is relatively common. It is quite likely that we all do it at some time or another, usually when under a lot of stress. This does seem to be the driving factor for this tooth damaging habit, and therefore, for people who lead stressful lives, it can cause some serious long term damage to their teeth.
Unfortunately, as much teeth grinding takes place whilst we sleep, we can’t simply use self discipline to overcome it. The use of stress relieving techniques such as relaxation or meditation, as examples, may be useful in reducing your stress levels though.
Whilst most healthy teeth are probably strong enough to withstand short periods of bruxism; where it continues over a period of time, some damage is almost inevitable. A common sign of teeth grinding is that of worn down teeth or damaged enamel. This can lead to a number of problems, including the inability to chew food as well as you should, but also, in some cases, the dentin layer underneath the enamel will become exposed, causing sensitivity and increasing the risk of tooth decay.
Here at the Confidental Clinic in Streatham, we have also seen teeth that have broken, caused by bad cases of bruxism. Naturally, these will need restoration or replacement, especially if the patient is in pain. Ideally though, restorations are best carried out once the habit has been overcome in order to prevent damage to the restorations too.
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An oral health guide for parents of young (and not so young) children.
If you have children, you will probably be aware of how difficult it can be to get them to do something that, as adults, we do twice a day without much thought, and that is to clean their teeth.
As the enamel on children’s teeth is approximately half the thickness of those of adults, and the fact that many children will eat sweets at any given opportunity, it is especially important that children clean their teeth well twice a day.
In today’s blog, our Streatham children’s dentist looks at how to improve the way they look after their teeth and gums.
The most important basics of looking after children’s teeth is to make sure that they brush them twice every day. Electric toothbrushes are probably the best option for children as they are more efficient than a child’s random manual brushing as they are telling you their news and tales from school. Make sure that you use an age appropriate toothpaste too. Many children’s toothpastes have reduced fluoride levels which increases as they get older, so to make sure you get the maximum protection, be sure that they use one relevant to their own age.
We would also recommend that parents supervise their children’s brushing until they are of an age when you can trust them to do so dilgently themselves.
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Kids, don’t ‘spook’ your parents with an unhealthy sugar intake on October 31st.
Although relatively new in the UK as a major festival, Halloween has rapidly caught on, becoming especially popular with young children. Whilst some of this is the dressing up and being ‘scary’ aspect of it, there is little doubt that it is the ‘treat’ part of ‘trick or treat’ that children find most appealing.
As we approach the Halloween season, our Streatham children’s dentist at the Confidental Clinic offers some tips on how to keep your children’s teeth healthy at this time of year.
Don’t eat sweets continually
Whilst sugar consumption is bad for your teeth, it is especially so if there is a constant supply to the teeth and gums. Continually eating sweets causes the acids to build up and damage to occur. Make sure to have lengthy breaks between eating sweets to allow the saliva to wash away the sugars.
Opt for ‘quick’ sweets
The worst sweets for your teeth are those that remain in the mouth for a long time. Sweets that are sucked, or chewy sweets such as toffee are the worst for your teeth as they come into contact for longer periods of time. Try to opt for those that require little chewing and can be swallowed quickly.
Cut back in other areas
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Delaying or postponing check ups or treatments may lead to further problems.
We accept that there are times when a dental appointment may have to be cancelled at short notice. Having a heavy cold, or flu, for example, means that is almost impossible to check a person’s mouth, let alone perform a procedure.
Some personal situations too may mean that there is no other option. Where these situations apply, we request that you contact our Streatham dental practice and let us know, as soon as you possibly can.
Some appointments, however, are cancelled for more relatively minor reasons, and some, especially where the patient has anxiety over their dental visits, are never rescheduled at all.
Below, we offer five very good reasons why you should not cancel a dental appointment unless it is absolutely necessary.
Whilst anyone will want to see a dentist if they have severe toothache, some dental pain can subside a little and the patient can become used to this. This can lead to cancellations. Whatever the level of discomfort though, your teeth need to be examined, as discomfort, even relatively minor, is a sign that something is wrong.
Related to the above; if you choose to cancel an appointment at the Confidental Clinic in the hope that your problem will go away, you will almost certainly soon find out that it doesn’t. Pain may well increase and, whether this is the case or not, your tooth will deteriorate and may even need to be extracted when you finally see a dentist. Earlier intervention could have meant saving your natural tooth.
A close inspection
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Our experienced dentists offer comprehensive care for all.
Most people are fully aware of the need to visit their dentist at least twice a year. Some, such as diabetics, will also acknowledge that these appointments may need to be more regular due to their heightened risk of gum disease.
Unfortunately, not everybody is in a position to make these decisions and may need carers to do so for them.
At the Confidental Clinic in Streatham, we believe that dentistry should be available for all. We offer NHS dental care so that everyone has access to essential oral health care at an affordable price. We also ensure that our staff offer safe and compassionate care and receive training on safeguarding children and vulnerable adults and are also fully DBS checked.
Vulnerable adults and oral health
Whether through physical or mental health problems, or even for very elderly patients, maintaining a healthy mouth can be a challenge. In many cases, they will depend on their carers to ensure that their teeth are cleaned properly. This can be difficult to do and may even encounter some resistance, making the task even trickier. In addition to this, the diet of this group of people could well be less healthy than the population in general, meaning that dental problems are even more likely to arise.
Regular check ups
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Why our Streatham dentists perform this procedure to save an infected tooth.
Emergency dental appointments are usually made when there is either obvious damage to a tooth, such as a breakage, or where the patient is experiencing a painful toothache. In either case, prompt treatment is likely to be necessary, both to correct the problem and to relieve any pain that the patient might be feeling.
Where a toothache is present, many people assume that this is being caused by tooth decay, but may, in fact, be being caused by an infection in the root canal of the tooth. Where this is the case, a straightforward filling would not suffice, and, instead, the patient must undergo a root canal procedure.
Forget the myths
You will, no doubt, have heard how terrible and painful this procedure is. If so, please put that thought out of your mind. The reality is that it should cause no more discomfort than many other invasive dental procedures. Once we have x-rayed the tooth to make sure that no abscesses are present, and we have administered the local anaesthetic, the procedure should be able to go ahead with minimal discomfort.
Performing the procedure
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Not already seeing our Streatham dental hygienist? Here’s why you should consider it.
Thanks to better general understanding of oral health care, most people now know to brush their teeth regularly, and, slowly but surely, an increasing number now also floss between their teeth too.
This is excellent news, but there is a further step which can be taken which plays a significant role in keeping your mouth in excellent health.
At the Confidental Clinic in Streatham, we encourage our patients to see the dental hygienist on a regular basis. Today’s blog helps to explain why.
One of the most basic ways in which people benefit from hygienist visit is that it allows them the opportunity to discuss with a professional, better ways of looking after their oral health. Whilst most people brush their teeth, they may not do so as efficiently as they could. The dental hygienist at our Streatham practice can show you the correct way to do this and also offer advice on how to use dental floss correctly.
In addition to the above, dietary advice and how your general health may have an impact on your teeth and gums, may be discussed.
Scale and Polish
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A few simple changes to your daily habits can make the world of difference to your teeth.
At the Confidental Clinic in Streatham, we have both the skills and technology available to restore most cases of damaged or infected teeth. Even where teeth have deteriorated to a point where they can no longer be saved, we can advise patients about the options available to replace any that need to be extracted.
Alongside regular dental checks, we encourage our patients to look after their teeth at home, in order to prevent the need for procedures as far as possible. In line with this, below we have suggested a few things that you can do to help keep your teeth for a long time and as healthy as possible.
Brush your teeth correctly – Hopefully, you already brush your teeth regularly but are you doing so correctly? If your brush is over three months old, it will no longer be efficient enough to remove residual food deposits and bacteria from your teeth and gums. Make sure too that you use fluoride toothpaste and take the opportunity to check with our Streatham dental hygienist that you are using the correct brushing technique.
Floss – One of the simplest things you can do to boost your oral health is to use dental floss. This will remove food and bacteria from the otherwise hard to reach gaps between the teeth.
Reduce your sugar intake – It is no secret that sugar is one of the most harmful products for our teeth. Any reduction in intake is a good thing. Especially try to avoid sugary drinks and replace these with water or sugar-free drinks as much as you can.
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An effective method to restore chipped teeth, at the Confidental Clinic.
When a tooth breaks significantly, most people will contact their local dentist as soon as they can, to have it examined and restored, possibly using a dental filling or a crown. More minor damage though may be ignored, with the patient feeling that the damage is purely cosmetic and can wait until their next check up appointment.
Although minor chips may not cause any serious problems, this does depend on the type and extent of the damage. Whilst some chips may simply break off a piece of the surface enamel, it is also possible that it may have broken in such as way as to expose the dentin layer underneath. When this happens, decay or even a root canal infection can follow. It is, therefore, best to have the tooth checked as soon as you can.
As well as the potential risk of decay or root canal problems, even the smallest chip can create a sharp surface that can scratch or even lacerate the lips, cheeks or tongue. Aside from any discomfort this may cause, this could possibly also become infected, especially if you are a smoker, as then, healing times tend to be slower and infections more likely.
If the damage has been done to a hidden rear or side tooth, there are a number of options available to treat it. The method chosen will depend on the diagnosis by your regular Streatham dentist. This could include cosmetic bonding, a dental filling, or, for larger breakages, a dental crown.
The choice of method in this area will depend less on the cosmetic appearance of the restoration than the strength that it will provide for the damaged tooth.
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