Weakened Teeth – What Are Your Options?

Procedures that restore weakened teeth to a more functional state

Gum disease progressionWith good home and professional oral health care, most of our Surbiton patients will hopefully have healthy and strong teeth throughout their lives. Where teeth are not looked after so well though, the structure of the teeth may weaken, and even those that are treated, say with larger dental fillings, may not be as strong as they once were.

Healthy and strong teeth are important and can help us to live a more fulfilling life. Too many people have teeth that have weakened over time and this may lead to them being careful about what they eat.

Taking risks

If we have teeth that have become damaged, even if no decay etc has occurred, we run the risk of further harm if we continue to eat harder foods. Teeth that have weakened enamel may well crack or even break. For this reason, many people opt to avoid harder foods and instead, choose softer ones in order to protect their teeth.

This may not be a problem for some but we are sure that many people will have given up on their favourite foods, and mealtimes can then become something that we do simply to obtain the necessary nutrition but which lack the enjoyment factor. As anyone can see by the number of cookery programmes on TV, eating is one of the great pleasures in life and most would agree that denying ourselves that makes for a less fulfilling life.

Restoration options

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Comfort Eating – Risks To Our Teeth In The Colder, Wetter Months

Rain and winds can make us feel in need of a lift. Be careful this doesn’t affect your teeth!

Mixed group with good smilesEven if it is not raining when you read this, it is almost certain that you will have seen your fair share of rain this week.

The longer dark nights and cold weather can be a challenge for many of us, especially when they seem to have gone on for so long. At times like this, we may be tempted to look for things that will cheer us up and one of these is likely to be food.

Comfort eating is a well known phenomenon and many of us will have succumbed to this at various times in our life. Sometimes this might be after a bad day at work and may mean that we comfort eat just for one day.  This only really becomes a significant problem though when we do this regularly. Dark and cold days and nights are such times and we need to take care that we don’t succumb.

What do we mean by comfort eating?

This seems to be an instinctive thing and some say it is when we eat what we enjoy. This may be partially true, but even lovers of healthy foods, such as salads, are likely to turn to food like chocolate that is high in both sugar and fats. Whilst this may not be overly problematic as a one off; where we eat like this for a period of time, not only are we likely to start to gain weight, but our teeth will start to suffer too.

At the Confidental Clinic in Surbiton, we have seen the results of patients eating far too much sugar many times, and the result of doing this is not good. The sugars in these foods, consumed over a period of time, will almost certainly lead to tooth decay and also, quite possibly, gum disease.

We can, to some degree, slow down this process if we brush and floss our teeth well, but even then, over time, some sugars and “bad” bacteria will remain and damage the tooth enamel. When this happens tooth decay is usually not far behind.

We can of course, often restore a tooth damaged in this manner, perhaps using a dental filling, porcelain crown or other advanced technique. This is not always the case though, especially when damage is extensive and this may mean that the tooth has to be extracted.

Safe comfort foods

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Halloween Tips For Healthy Young Teeth

Minimising the risk to children’s teeth at this spooky time of year!

Parents and childrenHalloween is just around the corner, and whilst it might be a scary time for young children, the most frightening aspect for their parents is the amount of sweets that they are likely to get their hands on.

As children have little restraint when it comes to eating sweets, it is important that, whilst not spoiling their fun, we step in for their own sake.

You might think that you would be fighting a losing battle trying to stop them eating all of their trick or treat goodies, but with a bit of care and a little bit of ingenuity, there is actually quite a lot that our Surbiton parents can do to help protect their children’s teeth at this time of year.

Parental supervision

If you are completely unable to stop your children eating lots of sweets, and our following tips don’t help, the least that you should do is to make sure that they clean their teeth really well before they go to bed, and certainly don’t allow them to eat any sweets after they have cleaned them.

Use a timer to make sure that they do clean their teeth for the right amount of time, at least 2 minutes. Make sure also to supervise them when they clean their teeth and don’t be afraid to add extra time if they start to play or talk during those two minutes, a situation that is quite possible given the quantity of sugar they will probably have consumed!

Educate them

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Losing A Front Tooth

What are your options when a front tooth is missing?

Missing toothTooth decay is more common in the teeth at the rear of our mouth than the front for a number of reasons.

The rear teeth come under significant strain when breaking down and grinding food and they are also more difficult to reach when brushing and flossing.

In general, this brings a greater risk of cavities than for those teeth at the front of the mouth.

While decay can occur in the front teeth, perhaps their biggest threat is damage due to their prominent position. Relatively minor chips and cracks can appear either through biting something too hard or even from a fall or blow to the mouth. Whilst minor restorations carried out at the Confidental Clinic such as cosmetic bonding or tooth coloured fillings can take care of many of the more minor problems; where a significant blow occurs, the tooth could be lost altogether.

Missing a front tooth

Unlike a lost rear tooth, where we might be tempted just to leave a gap, although there are lots of good reasons why we don’t recommend this, very few of us will ignore a large gap in our visible ‘social six’ teeth that would be very noticeable to those around us. Because of this, we are left with something of a dilemma as to which of the methods available to replace it would be the most suitable for us.

There are pros and cons to all of these methods and our Surbiton patient’s preferences and individual circumstances will all play a part in determining the right one. Below, we take a look at the three main options available.


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The Most Common Places For Tooth Decay

Any part of the tooth can suffer from decay, but some areas are more vulnerable than others.

By far the most common dental problem we see at the Confidental Clinic is tooth decay. Many of us will remember this issue from our youth, when we probably ate too many sweets and suffered from a toothache that has long stuck in our memory!

If you are one of these people, you would most probably have had the tooth filled using an amalgam filling which is very visible, rather than the almost invisible white fillings that are often used now. Have you ever looked in your mouth though and thought about which part of the tooth that it is that was affected, and wondered why?

While all parts of the tooth can be affected by decay, some areas are more likely than others. In no particular order, we look at three of the most common areas below, and explain how you can reduce the risk of tooth decay generally.

Biting surface

On the side and rear teeth especially, there are small pits and fissures present on the flattish surfaces that grind and chew our teeth. These rougher surfaces make breaking down our food more efficient, but they also provide areas where residual sugars and bacteria can become trapped. This is an inevitable consequence of eating our food and can only be addressed with effective teeth cleaning.

Brushing of the teeth diligently is the best way to do this. We recommend that you use an electric toothbrush with a healthy set of bristles (no older than 3 months). Allow this to rotate on the flat surfaces of the teeth and you should be able to keep them clean relatively easily. Modern toothpaste is also much better than before and contains a variety of ingredients designed to counter decay and gum disease.

The rear teeth

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Don’t Let Work Suffer Due To Poor Oral Health

Regular check ups and diligent home care are essential, says Surbiton dentist, Minesh Patel.

Although there was a time when dental care was relatively basic and designed largely to keep as many teeth as possible, for as long as possible, that is no longer the case. Whilst we DO, obviously, still aim for that, it is just a part of the wider remit of the dentist.

We now not only fill and extract teeth, but also replace them when missing with realistic teeth replacements such as dental implants. We also offer a full range of care for general oral health issues such as gum disease along with cosmetic dental treatments to help your smile looks great too!

A recent study showed that younger people especially, expected more from their dental care than their parents did. Around two thirds of these also said that having poor oral health would affect their work. Although this was more prevalent amongst women (67%), it was possibly surprisingly high amongst men too (49%). Perhaps with attractive smiles being more common amongst males on reality shows such as Love Island, attitudes amongst men regarding nicer looking teeth, certainly seem to be changing.

How can it affect work?

Painful dental problems such as a bad toothache will inevitably affect your work, whatever job your do. The discomfort often means that it will be almost impossible to focus on your job. The consequences of this may depend on the type of job you do, with someone who fills in spreadsheets likely to have less serious consequences than say a heart surgeon. Even a relatively mild throbbing toothache will distract us though and you should not delay seeking treatment for it. Our Surbiton dentists will always try to see anyone with toothache as quickly as we possibly can. Just call us for an emergency dental appointment to be seen as soon as possible.

It isn’t just a toothache though. Other problems such as gum disease, and even more aesthetic problems like crooked teeth can have a negative impact on your work, especially if your job involves working face to face with others, whether the general public or those in business.

Gum disease

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Invisalign – Your Questions Answered

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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Mouthwash, Dental Floss, Or Both?

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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Have You Been Told That You Need To Have Dentures?

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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White Fillings – Better For Your Smile, Better For The Environment!

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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