Your gums are like cushions for your teeth: they surround the teeth in the jaws and help to support them. Looking after your gums is just as important as looking after your teeth. Red and swollen gums that bleed when you brush them could be a sign of gum disease, also known as gingivitis.
When gingivitis is left untreated it can develop further into a type of infection known as periodontitis, which affects the entire area surrounding the tooth. A result of this could be losing your tooth so it’s vital to avoid.
To keep your mouth in tip-top shape we recommend you come in for regular hygiene appointments and dental check-ups.
Do you feel a shooting pain in your teeth when eating or drinking something hot? Does the thought of biting into ice cream or a cold hard apple make you wince? Sensitive teeth can be a burden for many people and can be caused by several things. It is always important to seek advice from a dental professional so the source of the problem can be identified and treated.
One cause of sensitivity is dental erosion, which is the loss of tooth enamel. Enamel is the hard outer coating of a tooth, which protects the sensitive dentine underneath. If the enamel is worn away or eroded, this dentine is exposed which can lead to pain and sensitivity, which can be worsened with extreme temperatures.
Erosion can be caused by your diet (frequent consumption of high sugar or high acid food or drink), tooth brushing habits (brushing too hard), tooth grinding, certain medical conditions and eating disorders. For top tips on protecting your enamel and for effective treatment of tooth sensitivity come to the practice for a check-up, where we can create an individualised care plan for you.
At Harrow Lane we encourage all parents to register their children at the practice from an early age. NHS dental care for children under the age of 16 is free, and we also accept private child patients for certain treatments that are not available on the NHS.
Establishing a regular, thorough teeth-cleaning regime from an early age is vital, and will help your child maintain a healthy mouth for life. We recommend that children should start visiting us as soon as their teeth start to come through, usually from the age of six months.
Bringing your child along as soon as they have teeth will help desensitise them to visiting the dental surgery and will get them used to sitting in the chair, opening their mouth for the dentist, and to having a dental check-up. We also offer joint appointments for siblings so that brothers and sisters can be seen at the same time.
We focus on preventative dentistry and can show youngsters how to brush their teeth properly to help maintain good dental health. We will give them a general dental check-up to check for signs of decay and can provide fissure sealants, fluoride varnish, fillings and root canal treatment as necessary.
For minor orthodontic correction, we offer treatment with Six Month Smiles, clear, discreet braces that focus primarily on the teeth that show when you smile. Other orthodontic work is carried out by referral.
Tips for children’s teeth
- Brush your baby’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as their first tooth develops.
- Children under 3 years old should use a smear of toothpaste, those aged 3-7 should use a pea-sized amount.
- Supervise young children when they brush their teeth, and get the dentist or hygienist to show them how to do it properly.
- Make tooth brushing and visiting the dentist fun, positive activities.
- Ensure your children don’t have too many sugary treats, and make water the drink of choice between meals.
As well as regular visits to the dentist, it’s important to keep up regular trips to the hygienist. Hygienists are key to preventing and treating gum disease, first by professionally cleaning your teeth with a scale and polish, and secondly by providing you with home cleaning advice and tips on diet.
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the UK. It is caused by the build-up of plaque on your teeth. If it is not removed by brushing properly, plaque will harden to form tartar, which you will need to visit the hygienist to remove.
There are two forms of gum disease; gingivitis, and the more serious form, periodontitis. Early signs of gingivitis are blood on your toothbrush or in your rinsing water when you brush your teeth. Your gums may also bleed when biting certain hard foods, such as apples. You may also notice soreness and swelling of your gums, as well as bad breath.
Left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, which affects the tissues surrounding the teeth. The bone surrounding your teeth gradually deteriorates, causing teeth to become loose and eventually fall out. That’s why screening for gum disease is so important. Our hygienist can spot the early signs of gum disease and provide you with treatment and advice so it doesn’t develop into a more serious problem.
Our hygienist will also provide you with a bespoke home tooth cleaning plan, including advice on brushing, flossing and using interdental brushes to ensure your mouth is clean and healthy. She can also provide dietary advice and help with stopping habits such as smoking that are detrimental to your teeth.
For patients with a lot of decay, she can apply fluoride, and for children can also apply fissure sealant to the permanent back teeth soon after they come through, helping to prevent decay.
Bad breath is a very common problem and there are many different causes. Some people find that they have bad breath all the time and there may be an underlying medical cause for that, such as throat, nose or lung infections and sinusitis, bronchitis or diabetes.
You can also suffer from bad breath if you have poor dental hygiene. Without regular brushing and flossing, bacteria and bits of food can get trapped in between your teeth, which release an unpleasant odour after some time. Another cause of bad breath is smoking. Bad breath is also caused or made worse by strong foods like garlic, onions and coffee.
Bad breath can be prevented by following a daily oral hygiene regime and cutting down on sugary foods and drinks. Regular trips to the hygienist will also ensure your plaque levels are kept under control.
As well as the well-known negative effects of smoking on your general health, the habit can also cause a range of dental health problems. Smoking is one of the key causes of mouth cancer, which can affect any of your mouth’s soft tissues, including tongue, lips and cheeks. The habit can also contribute to gum disease and can lead to shrinking or receding gums.
Other effects of smoking on your dental health include:
- Brown stains on your teeth
- Bad breath
- Altered sense of taste and smell
- Sores in the mouth
- Bone loss
Smokers also often have more of a build-up of tartar on their teeth, which lead to decay and eventually to tooth loss.
We know that giving up smoking is tough, but the effects on your general and dental health cannot be underestimated. If you feel like you are ready to give up smoking, we can provide you with smoking cessation advice and support from our hygienist, Anne Tolefe. We will of course also treat any dental problems your smoking may have caused. As dentists we are well-placed to identify problems caused by smoking, and we can also diagnose, advise and refer patients to smoking cessation services.
Smoking cessation services are available on the NHS, so you may be referred to your GP or to a specialist smoking cessation clinic. There you may be prescribed nicotine-replacement products such as:
Smoking cessation services are available on the NHS, and you may be referred to your GP or a specialist stop smoking clinic. There you may be offered a range of products to help ease the nicotine cravings most smokers experience when they try to give up. They may also give you advice on how to handle these cravings. Products prescribed may include:
- Nicotine patches
- Chewing gum
- Nose or mouth spray
- Prescription drugs that counteract nicotine cravings
Even if you don’t feel ready to stop smoking yet, smoking cessation services can also help you cut down with a view to giving up in the future. Please contact the practice to book a smoking cessation advice appointment with Anne.
At Harrow Lane Dental Practice we carry out mouth cancer screening as standard for all patients as part of their general dental check-up. As is the case with any form of cancer, early detection is essential in increasing the success of treatment. Mouth cancer, also called oral cancer, is a malignant growth which can occur in any part of the mouth, including the tongue, lips and throat.
The current mortality rate for mouth cancer is just over 50%, which is largely because this form of cancer is often detected late. Mouth cancers have a higher proportion of deaths per number of cases than breast cancer, cervical cancer or skin melanoma, and are responsible for about 1,700 deaths per year in the UK. That’s why it is so important to spot the signs early, as this significantly improves survival rates. Your dentist is the best-placed person to spot early signs of mouth cancer.
Screening for mouth cancer is a simple, painless procedure carried out during your standard dental check-up. Your dentist will analyse your dental history and take into account habits such as smoking, which can raise the risk of developing mouth cancer. They will then thoroughly examine both the inside and outside of your mouth.
Outside your mouth we’ll check your lips, head and neck, while inside your mouth we’ll check the inside of your lips, your cheeks, tongue, gums and throat for any abnormal lumps, growths or ulcers that are slow to heal.
Should we find anything suspicious, we’ll refer you straight away to a hospital consultant for further investigation. Similarly, if you notice any abnormal lumps or anything else unusual between your regular dental check-ups, please contact us immediately for an appointment.