Responding to patient queries about this popular orthodontic system.
Most people probably still think of dental braces as being of the metal ‘train track’ variety that used to be so common many years ago. Whilst these are still available, as are similar systems using tooth coloured plastic for more discreet wearing, there are also entirely new systems such as Invisalign, that replace the old-style braces with transparent plastic trays.
Understandably, many patients of the Confidental Clinic in Surbiton, are sometimes a little confused about how this system works and may also have other questions surrounding the treatment. Below we take a look at and answer some of the more commonly asked questions which we hope you will find useful.
Do I need a consultation?
This might seem obvious, but we have seen similar products offered online without the need to see a dentist. We will cover the concerns we see with this in a future blog. Needless to say though, you should always have a consultation before embarking on this type of treatment to help ensure a successful outcome. Failure to do so could well lead to potentially serious problems going forwards.
How long will I have to wear the trays for?
This is impossible to say until we have examined your teeth. Usually, for people requiring the type of orthodontic correction that Invisalign is commonly used for, it would be a year and possibly a little more. However there are some cases of smaller corrections requiring less treatment time.
What do they feel and look like?
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Can we get away with just using mouthwash and not dental floss?
While the vast majority of people in the UK will brush their teeth twice a day, every day; for most, that is probably the extent of their daily dental care routine. Although brushing is essential for healthy teeth, this type of cleaning alone fails to effectively remove food and bacteria in the spaces in between the teeth.
At the Confidental Clinic in Surbiton, and at most other dentists in the UK, patients will be recommended to use dental floss to achieve this. Figures currently show, however, that only around one in five patients actually do floss regularly, leading to a greater risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
When you first try to floss between your teeth, it can feel quite clumsy and difficult and this may be one of the main reasons that the first pack of floss that you use is rarely finished and ends up in the waste bin. Those that are aware that cleaning between the teeth is important may instead, turn to the ‘easy option’ of using a mouthwash. But is this OK?
The benefits of using a mouthwash
It is easy to see the appeal of using mouthwash. It is very easy to do and leaves the mouth feeling fresh and clean, but how useful is it really?
Many mouthwashes are antibacterial and in that sense, they may be useful, at least to some degree, in reducing the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth. Some mouthwashes also contain fluoride which helps to strengthen the teeth. You should always check the safety warnings on mouthwash though as many will not be suitable for younger children who can suffer from tooth damage if too much fluoride is used.
Using mouthwash may also help in preventing other mouth infections such as as sores etc by improving the general health of the oral cavity.
The negatives of using a mouthwash
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If so, it is worth considering dental implants as an alternative before going ahead.
If you have lost a tooth or had it extracted, your dentist is likely to suggest that you replace it with an artificial one, especially if it is a front or visible tooth.
The standard way to do this is to use dentures, and many dentists offer this, or a bridge, for this purpose. There is another option though which is worth serious consideration before you make your final decision.
Dental implants replace not only the visible crown part of the tooth, but also the root. This offers many benefits as we shall see later. If your dentist offers implants, you may wish to discuss it with them. As many don’t though, you may need to be referred to a dental practice that does offer them, such as the Confidental Clinic in Surbiton.
There is a good reason why many dentists don’t offer this particular treatment. The training required means extra years of study, on top of the regular dental training. It is a sophisticated and complex procedure and it is important that those who carry it out are suitably qualified.
If your dentist doesn’t offer dental implants, they may happily refer you to a practice that does. In the unlikely event that they try to avoid this, you may wish to consider if they are offering you the best options that you can have, and you may wish to consider registering elsewhere.
Implants or dentures?
There are many good things to say about dentures. After all, they have been around for a very long time and are still widely used; indeed we offer a good selection at our Surbiton practice. Dentures can often be fitted without the need for dental surgery and are one of the more affordable options; so for some people, dentures will serve their purpose quite nicely. Others though, find their occasional instability and the special cleaning to be more of a problem. For these patients, a one time procedure that gives a strong and long lasting replacement tooth is certainly worth considering.
What are dental implants?
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An holistic approach to the world of dental fillings.
Anybody over a certain age may still believe that the only available option for a dental filling is to use the dark coloured amalgam material that has been used for a very long time.
This is still widely used and with good reason. It is a strong and durable material that enables patients to eat and chew normally following the filling.
They are not without their drawbacks though, and at the Confidental Clinic in Surbiton, we believe that the time has come for patients to consider a more aesthetic and more environmentally friendly alternative in the form of white fillings.
Why change from amalgam?
There are two main reasons why some patients do switch from amalgam. The first of these is due to concerns they have about the use of mercury in them. This toxic substance can be very harmful, but study after study has shown it to be safe in this form. Whilst it is now believed that vapours are released as the amalgam wears down, this is in such a small quantity as to make no difference when it comes to our health. UK legislation says that amalgam continues to be safe for most people; however some choose to change regardless.
The other reason why people change is the fact that amalgam is made from metal compounds and is therefore very dark in colour. This makes them very visible, even on the back teeth. With improved modern aesthetic alternatives now available, it is straightforward to keep your teeth not only strong following a filling, but natural looking too.
Natural looking teeth
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This widely used tooth replacement method benefits from diligent care.
It is widely acknowledged that, as people now generally live longer, there will be a higher proportion of older people in our society as time goes by.
As many of our older Surbiton patients will already be aware, the longer you live, the more likely you are to lose several of your teeth, and even perhaps, all of them.
This isn’t inevitable of course, and good home maintenance and professional care from a dentist at the Confidental Clinic will certainly give you a fighting chance of avoiding this.
Whilst some older patients do opt for dental implants to replace their missing teeth, and with good reason to do so, many patients still continue to choose to have dentures. There are a number of reasons for this, with one common one being that no invasive treatment is necessary. Another reason is initial cost.
Which dentures to use
There are a number of types of dentures now available, and we are able to provide most of these at our Surbiton practice. These are all high quality cosmetic dentures and we will discuss the various options with you during your appointment. The options range from the standard acrylic type to those, such as Valplast, that are designed to be flexible when being worn, typically offering a greater degree of comfort for the patient.
How to look after them
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Surbiton dentist Sana Luqmani explains more about gaps between the front teeth.
You may have noticed a slight trend for some catwalk models and celebrities to have a gap between their upper front teeth. To some people, this adds to the attractiveness, and it is a natural occurrence rather than a cosmetic adjustment. As far as we are aware, at the moment, nobody is offering to actually create this gap, but many of those who already have it seem to be quite happy with the way that it makes them look.
It is not for us to say whether a diastema adds to a person’s aesthetic qualities, but it is the role of our Confidental Clinic team to point out where instances such as this can have an effect on your oral health in general.
What is a diastema?
Whilst a diastema can be a gap between any teeth, the term is predominantly used when the gap occurs between the two upper front teeth. It can occur for a number of reasons, but some of these are genetic and connected to facial shape.
They can also occur, or become more prevalent, when poor oral health is a factor. Weakened bone structure caused by periodontal diseases may cause the gap to widen, perhaps to a point where even the most avid fan of this look would not be happy!
They can also develop early on in life, often exaggerated through thrusting our tongue against the teeth when we are young. Thumb sucking too can have the effect of pulling the front teeth forward a little, helping to create this gap.
Is it a problem?
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Principal Dentist Dr Jignesh Patel looks at this increasingly popular habit.
Whether the smell of cigarette smoke or the sweet shop aroma given off by plumes of vapour from people who ‘vape’ is worse, is open to debate. There is no doubt though that more and more people are taking up this habit.
Whilst some may be doing this as their first ‘smoking’ habit, the majority probably come to it in order to replace the more traditional cigarette, often in the hope of avoiding the health issues associated with them.
By and large, the move from tobacco products to vaping is considered a positive thing as far as both general and oral health goes. There is plenty of evidence linking smoking tobacco products with a number of serious oral health issues, including periodontitis and mouth cancer. If vaping is the only way in which our Surbiton patients can manage to stop smoking, then vaping is probably a step in the right direction. As long term vaping effects are not yet fully understood though, we would encourage patients to try other ways to stop completely first.
Is vaping harmful?
As mentioned above, there may be long term health issues caused by vaping. Sometimes, the evidence only comes to light after many years. Traditional tobacco cigarettes were actually once promoted by some doctors as a means of relaxation and were once considered to be perfectly safe, but of course we now know the real truth!
Although we don’t yet know whether vaping is entirely safe or not, there seems to be little doubt that it will prove to be less harmful than cigarettes. There are, however, a number of oral health issues that patients of the Confidental Clinic may wish to consider before taking it it up, even as a substitute for traditional tobacco products.
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Surbiton dentist, Dr Minesh Patel provides some useful tips for older patients.
Ideally, almost from the word ‘go’, you will have avoided eating or drinking anything that damages your teeth, as well as diligently cleaning your teeth twice a day. In addition to this, you will never have missed a dental appointment at all. Does this apply to you? Likely not, and a large number of us have probably neglected our oral care at least to some degree at some stage.
Few of us are ‘saints’, and unless you are a rare exception, there may be some concerns about the condition of your teeth as you approach and pass middle age, and head towards the later years of your life.
This shouldn’t mean that all is lost though. With some useful advice that we offer below, and perhaps some occasional restorative work carried out at the Confidental Clinic Surbiton, there is no good reason why you shouldn’t have strong and healthy teeth later on in life.
This doesn’t mean that you have to follow a restricted diet at all, but to eat a good selection of foods that are largely tooth friendly. Try to keep foods that are high in sugars and starches to a sensible level and make sure to consume mineral rich foods, such as dairy products, that will help to keep your tooth enamel strong and healthy.
Brush and floss
Brushing your teeth is the cornerstone of good oral health care. Around 80% of us though, never, or rarely, use dental floss. This can be a little tricky to get the hang of, but will pay dividends when you have mastered it. Flossing removes plaque and food pieces from between the teeth and just under the gum line. It is a practise that is worth persevering with. Our dental hygienist is always happy to show you how to do this during a consultation, so don’t be afraid to ask! This is a great simple addition that will help to prevent both decay and gum disease.
The dentist is your friend
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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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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.
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.
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.
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