What are your options when a front tooth is missing?
Tooth 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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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.
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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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.
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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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