Save Your Smile!

Inman Aligner Smiling Couple

A natural looking smile is worth saving. Our Surbiton dentists offer some tips that can help.

In the USA, April is ‘Save Your Smile’ month. Whilst this doesn’t exist in the UK, we thought that it was a good idea anyway, and that we would share some advice based on that, with patients of the Confidental Clinic.

Much of the American campaign seems to revolve around wearing protective headgear when playing American football but we believe that the campaign should extend beyond that!

Face and mouth protection

Given the focus of the USA campaign, we probably shouldn’t ignore the real risks to our teeth when we take part in certain sports. Some, such as boxing or rugby, involve significant risk to the teeth and it makes common sense to wear a mouthguard during these activities. Most sports will contain an element of risk though, and whilst there may be less contact, there is still a real possibility of being hit in the mouth by a stray cricket, football or even hockey ball. Patients who take part in these, and similar, activities, may wish to consider some form of mouth protection too.

Maintaining healthy teeth

Some of us may require cosmetic dentistry to help us get to a stage where we are happy with our smile, whilst others may be born lucky and have a naturally attractive smile. Whichever is the case, once this has been attained, it doesn’t mean it will always remain that way, and we need to be conscious that if we don’t look after our teeth, what was once an attractive smile may eventually be anything but.

The most obvious thing to say here is that all patients need to maintain good oral care, both at home and with the assistance of our Surbiton family dentists. Consistent brushing and flossing should be an essential component of this, as should regular appointments, approximately every six months, with the hygienist.

When things go wrong

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The Lowdown On Charcoal Toothpaste

Our Surbiton dental team recommends taking care if you are considering this product.

If you look in the dental section of a supermarket, you may well be overwhelmed by the different types of toothpaste and flossing equipment currently on sale. Contrast this with how it would have been when our parents were the same age as us, and it is perhaps not surprising that choosing the best toothpaste for you can be somewhat confusing.

Add to this, the money that is spent on promoting some of the more ‘niche’ toothpastes, along with the endorsements by celebrities, and it is quite possible that we may end up buying a product that is not particularly effective, and may well even be harmful to our teeth.

Charcoal toothpaste

We have discussed before, about why we believe that teeth whitening toothpastes are not very effective. In the main, this is due to legal restrictions on the active ingredient that is allowed in these toothpastes. There is another type of toothpaste though, which often doesn’t contain this, but is still claimed to be successful in whitening your teeth, and that is charcoal toothpaste. In addition to its whitening properties, it is also claimed that it can reduce gum problems through effective removal of bacteria from the gum line.

Let us take a look at these two claims now.

Bacterial removal

It is true that charcoal is widely used to treat some stomach conditions and also, in treating certain drug overdoses. Charcoal is well known for absorbing toxins, which is why it can be effective in the cases just mentioned. It is this basis that the claim to remove bacteria from the gums is based upon.  At the Confidental Clinic, we can understand the logic of this argument but must emphasise that little or no detailed research has yet been done regarding this, and therefore these claims are just that, with no real factual evidence to currently back them up.

Teeth whitening

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Sugar – The Tasty Toxin?

Hygienist in Surbiton

Can we really kick our sugar habit, for better general and oral health?

The vast majority of us will eat sugar on a daily basis, most of us probably in larger quantities than is good for us. Even if we don’t add spoonfuls of sugar to our tea, coffee or morning cereal, sugar is everywhere, hidden in ready made products and often ‘disguised’ using names such as fructose and sucrose.

In today’s Confidental Clinic Surbiton blog, we take a look at how and why we consume too much sugar, the damage that it does to our teeth and overall health, and finally, some advice on how to kick the sugar habit.

Why do we eat too much sugar?

Sugary foods are almost always a popular choice with young children. For some, this taste carries on into our adult years, even if we don’t eat quite as much of it as we thought we might do, once we had the freedom to. It may be that some of its appeal is simply holding on to childhood memories, but it is also true that sugar is ‘hidden’ in many foods and drinks; even savoury ones in many cases, leading to us consuming it ‘accidentally’ in many instances.

The coffees that we buy from coffee shops can be very high in sugar too, sometimes exceeding NHS guidelines for daily consumption in just one drink. ‘Sports’ and high energy drinks are also high in sugar and seem to be gaining in popularity these days.

The reality is that sugar, to most of us, tastes great, so why is there a problem?

Our health

The rise in consumption of sugar has contributed, along with high fat foods, to an obesity epidemic. Over time, this is likely to lead to an increase in illnesses such as diabetes and heart problems, and, despite medical advances, it is quite possible that life expectancy will fall in the years to come unless this issue is addressed. As dentists, we see many of our Surbiton patients that need fillings or extractions due to an over consumption of sugar. Although a good cleaning and flossing regimen will help to minimise this, if you eat too much sugar, you will almost certainly eventually need dental treatment.

How to kick the sugar habit

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How To Avoid A Painful Dry Socket Following An Extraction


Tooth extraction aftercare advice from your Surbiton dentist.

Thanks to modern dentistry, there are now a wide range of treatments available that can be used to restore a damaged or decayed tooth, and ultimately, enable the patient to keep the natural tooth for many years to come. Sometimes though, this is not possible, or if it were, the prognosis is so poor that it is simply better to remove the tooth altogether.

Most of us will have teeth extracted with no problems. Occasionally though, a dry socket can follow the procedure. When it does, it can be quite painful and you will need to see the dentist. In today’s blog, we take a look at how and why you should try to avoid a painful dry socket.

Immediately following extraction

When a tooth is extracted, as you would expect, the area from which it has been removed starts to bleed, sometimes quite markedly. To simply leave it to bleed until it heals itself would be fairly unpleasant (and messy) for the patient, and so we take action to stop this flow as soon as the tooth has been taken out. Whilst, in a few more complex cases such as some wisdom teeth extractions, stitches may be required, this usually isn’t the case with relatively straightforward extractions and a gentler method is used to stem the blood flow. To do this, we place a piece of sterile gauze on the area. This is then kept in place for just a few minutes to allow a blood clot to form. It is this which starts the healing process of that area.

When we are happy that a clot has formed, you will be free to leave our Surbiton dental surgery. Just in case the clot does becomes dislodged, we will also provide some spare gauze for you  to repeat the process. If this problem continues though; whilst you can also use a clean handkerchief for this purpose, you should contact the Confidental Clinic to let us know and potentially allow us to take a look to make sure that there isn’t an underlying problem.

Why do blood clots become dislodged?

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How Bulimia Can Affect Your Oral Health

Confidental Clinic Outside

With eating disorders remaining a problem for many, we look at the impact that this illness can have on your teeth.

There is some debate as to whether social media is at least partially responsible for eating disorders, with teenagers especially, likely to compare the way they look with others.

There may also be groups online who actively promote problems like bulimia as a ‘healthy way of life’. Sadly, this is a battle that is likely to run for some time, but any family who has someone suffering from this will know how tragic the illness can be.

With Eating Disorders Awareness Week being from 25th February to the 3rd of March, we thought that now would be a good time to take a look at the potential oral health risks that this illness can cause.

What is bulimia?

It is worth reminding readers that bulimia is an illness that affects many people, although younger girls are one of the most severely affected groups. Often seeing themselves as overweight, even where they are quite the opposite, causes them to ‘binge eat’ before deliberately vomiting. As this often happens soon after eating, the body is unable to obtain the nutrition needed for good health. Long term bulimia can lead to serious general health issues and can even be fatal if not treated.

How does it affect your teeth?

Whilst the most important thing for any bulimia sufferer is to get help to overcome the illness, this can be a long road, and some of the problems that it creates happens over a period of time. This is also the case when it comes to the teeth of a bulimia sufferer.

There are two key ways in which this illness can affect the health of a patient’s teeth and gums.

Lack of nutrition

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Chipped Tooth Treatments

dental surgery

Even the smallest chip in a tooth should be examined by your dentist.

One of the most common types of damage caused to a tooth, other than  tooth decay, is a chipped tooth.

This can happen in a number of ways; from biting something harder than expected, grinding your teeth or even due to a fall or an accident. Sometimes, the chip may be quite large, but others may be quite small and seem almost irrelevant. Whatever the size though, you should always make an appointment to allow one of our Surbiton dental team to take a look at it.

Even a small chip in a tooth can have an effect on the health of your tooth, and mouth. Here are some possible solutions to correct it.

Leave the chip?

Sometimes, it may be better to do nothing when the chip is very tiny indeed. This is not a decision that the patient should take though, without consulting a dentist first. Even the smallest chip can cause problems by cutting or grazing the cheeks and tongue. Not only can this be sore, but may also lead to infections too. If the chip is causing no other problems, but has a sharp edge that causes this, your dentist may simply smooth off the sharp edge for you.

Composite bonding

If the chip in the enamel has not caused the underlying dentin layer to become exposed, an alternative to smoothing off any sharp edges, would be to use cosmetic bonding. This is a resin based material that can be shaped and used to restore the appearance of a chipped tooth, smoothing off any rough edges in the process. It is not as strong as enamel though and its use may be dependent on the strain that particular tooth edge may be subject to within the mouth.

White dental fillings

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What Good Oral Health Care For Children Really Means

Parents and children

Giving your youngsters a healthy start to life with a sensible oral care regimen.

Many of you will have seen in the media, reports that oral problems such as periodontitis are increasingly being linked to health issues such as strokes and heart diseases.

We may not be too concerned about this problems for our young children right now, but, like all parents, we want our kids to grow up happy and healthy, and starting out on the right foot is one of the best ways to help them to achieve this.

Local Surbiton parents who attend our practice will be aware that we firmly believe in preventative dental care from a young age. Ideally, we like to see a child around the time of their first birthday, but even if you have missed this date by a few years, it is better to start now than delay even further. Regular dental examinations at the Confidental Clinic are important for grown ups and children, but let’s not forget that good overall care begins at home.

First teeth

As your child’s first teeth start to come through, this often seems to coincide with their increasing demands for sugary foods. It can be hard to deny them, especially if we have a sweet tooth ourselves. Sometimes too, we may be so tired that we simply give in for a bit of quiet and ‘me time’. However tempting it may be though, keeping their sugar consumption to a sensible level plays an important role in keeping their young teeth healthy.

Here are  a few suggestions on how you might be able to achieve this:

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The Impact Of Stress On Your Teeth

Dr Minesh Patel of Confidental Surbiton

Surbiton dentist, Dr Minesh Patel explains how this increasingly common problem can impact your oral health.

Stress appears to be a symptom of living in the modern world. Whilst stress has probably always been around (where will the next meal come from? etc), there is little doubt that, with modern technologies and a busy life, it is perhaps not surprising that it is a problem that is on the increase.

Not all stress is bad. We can leverage on it to help achieve our aims and goals, but where it becomes overwhelming, we may no longer be able to control it and illness may follow. Stress has been associated with heart attacks and other serious condition, but it can also have a significant impact on the health of our teeth.

Comfort eating

When we are highly stressed, few of us will reach for a carrot stick to help us over it. Most of us, if we are honest, will reach for something that we find most comforting. This can often be something that is very high in sugar. Chocolate is a popular choice and is also believed by some to offer mood lifting qualities. Whether it does this or not, the sticky and sugary chocolate that becomes stuck to your teeth is certainly not going to do them any good.

Gum disease

Some researchers have found that when we are stressed, our body’s ability to produce immune cells to fight against bacteria are reduced. This means that we are less capable of fighting against the bacteria in our mouth that can contribute to gum disease. This reduction in our immunity means that gum disease is more likely, especially if the stress is due to an ongoing situation, rather than a one off event.

Another ‘stress factor’ that may increase the risk of gum disease is that some of us may turn to either, or both, cigarettes and alcohol. Whilst this may potentially relieve some of the stress, it is likely to lead to a dry mouth which is a major contributor to gum disease. These habits may also lead to other more serious issues, such as mouth cancers, if they continue.

TMJ and Bruxism

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2019 – A Year To Improve Your Smile?

Happy smiles

A New Year refresh with cosmetic dentistry in Surbiton.

As 2018 starts to come to a close and we prepare ourselves for Christmas meals and family togetherness, it can also be an opportunity not only to reflect on the past year, but also to think about the year ahead too.

Some of us will be looking to make radical changes in the new year, whilst others will be looking for small improvements in various areas of their life.

Sometimes it is the small things that can make a difference, so with this in mind, in our last blog of the year we take a look at some of the cosmetic procedures available at the Confidental Clinic in Surbiton, that can give your appearance a real lift.

Cosmetic bonding

For the small, but annoying tooth chips that we often get through wear and tear but which don’t really warrant a longer procedure, cosmetic bonding is an ideal solution. This can help to smooth out those small chips and can be applied and shaped without the need for any local anaesthetic. Bonding can also be used to reshape teeth and even close gaps in some cases.

Gum reshaping

Although this does require a small surgical procedure, this is a once only treatment that can permanently reshape your gums. This is ideal for those who have a ‘gummy smile’, where the gums grow further down the teeth than is normal. In most cases we are able to use a laser to perform this procedure which also helps to cauterise the wound as it removes excess gum tissue. A one off treatment that can dramatically improve a smile!

Damon braces

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A Seasonal Dental Quiz


A little fun for Confidental Clinic patients to see how good your memory is!

In June 2015, we published the very first dental blog on our website. Since then, hopefully, we have provided our local Surbiton patients with a wide range of information, helping them to become more aware of dental issues and how to prevent them.

In the spirit and tradition of the end of year quiz, we thought we would see if our patients could remember some key facts that have been mentioned several times whilst writing these blogs.

Questions follow, with answers towards the bottom of the page. How well will you do?

  1. Name 2 types of gum disease
  2. How often should you change your toothbrush?
  3. What is the leading cause of tooth loss in the UK?
  4. Are you actually asleep during dental sedation?
  5. Name the two available options if you have an infection in the root canals of your teeth
  6. How often should you see a dentist for a check up?
  7. Why do we examine your cheeks and tongue during your checkups?
  8. Can dentists diagnose mouth cancer?
  9. Should you brush your teeth immediately after eating?
  10. What are sometimes described as ‘false fingernails for the teeth’?
  11. What is ‘bruxism’?
  12. (Well, there are 12 days of Christmas!) Name the process where the bone and titanium implant fuse, following a dental implant placement?

We hope that you enjoyed our little quiz and that it acted as a refresher in your quest for the best oral health possible. We are always happy to cover any topic that you are interested in, within the dental realm, and you can contact us via our website if you have any questions you would like us to cover in our dental blog.

There will probably be one more blog before our Christmas break, but allow us to wish all of our patients a Merry Christmas from all the team at the Confidental Clinic in Surbiton.

(Please note that we will be closed during public holidays. If you do have a dental emergency during this time, please contact us in the usual way on 020 8399 1291 where further information about emergency dental care will be available).


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