Focus on general dentistry: Part 2

In part 1 of this 2-part focus on general dentistry treatments, we looked at the diagnostic check-up and the various restorative treatments used to deal with cavities caused by decay.

General Dentistry in StockwellGeneral dentistry also deals with looking after teeth that have become infected. Infections often show up as terrible toothache and you might find yourself needing to make an emergency appointment with us here at SW9 Dental in Stockwell so that we can deal with your pain. After we have numbed you and taken a good look, the next step is usually either root canal therapy or extraction.

Root canal therapy

Root canal therapy is a way to save infected teeth. After administering a local anaesthetic, we clean out the infected pulp. This can take some time, especially if the tooth has 3 roots. Once the roots are clean, we fill them with filling material and then cover the tooth with a crown.

Extraction

Teeth that cannot be saved because they have been too badly infected, or damaged in an accident, or have been failing for some years, need to be extracted. Extraction takes place under local anaesthetic and will leave you with a gap. Once the site has healed, it is important to start thinking about how to replace the tooth. The longer the gap is left, the more the jawbone will shrink in that area and neighbouring teeth may also be destabilised.

Replacing lost teeth

General dentistry usually includes making partial or full dentures, or bridges, to replace lost teeth. Dentures are removable, whereas bridges are fixed to neighbouring healthy teeth.

Because general dentistry is all about restoring your dental health, we also offer other treatments that contribute to good oral health.

TMD

If you grind your teeth at night, or routinely clench your jaw, you may suffer from a disorder of the jaw joint called temporomandibular disorder. Left untreated, it can lead to crumbling teeth. Bite guards that are worn at night can be made to protect teeth.

You will call on general treatments throughout your life. And we will be there to make sure you get high quality service from experienced dentists every time you come to us for general dentistry.

Focus on general treatments: Part 1

General dentistry forms the backbone of dental care for most patients. Most pop in from time to time for a bit of cosmetic dentistry, or need to focus for a while on another area of dentistry, such as treatment for gum disease or getting replacement teeth, but generally speaking, every patient relies on a small range of treatments that come under the umbrella of generally dentistry.

General Dentistry in StockwellThis is the first of 2 articles looking at the various treatments that we consider to be general dentistry.

Finding out what’s wrong

The way we find out if you need treatment is through the check-up. You come to SW9 Dental in Stockwell twice a year and we use the check-up, including a range of diagnostic tools, to see if there is anything wrong. As well as looking carefully around your mouth, we may take digital x-rays or even scans. These allow us to look inside your teeth and jawbone to see what is going on. We can see decay and disease in the teeth as well as how the roots are lining up under the gumline. We can also see how dense and strong the jawbone is.

We also use impressions, either putty or digital, if we need to look at the alignment of the teeth.

From these diagnostics, we can put a treatment plan in place. We will give you a written plan, including a treatment schedule and pricing, and when you have agreed to this, we can go ahead with treatment.

General dentistry treatments

If you are treated for decay or some other problem relating to the structure of your teeth, we may need to restore it afterwards. Restorative treatments include: fillings, inlays and onlays and crowns. Fillings, either amalgam or composite resin, go into the cavities left by decay, once we have cleaned it out. If there is a large cavity, we may cover it with an inlay or onlay, which is a piece of porcelain made to cover the filled-in area. Crowns cover the entire tooth and can be used to strengthen teeth that are weak but still have healthy roots.

The one routine that will help your kids for life

Parenting is all about setting a good example. Generally speaking, young children don’t learn by being told, they learn by copying behaviour. Good or bad, if they see you do it, they will copy it.

That’s why it’s really important to follow a good dental hygiene routine yourself, as well as making sure that your kids do too.

Dental Hygiene in StockwellIf you are telling your kids to brush their teeth twice a day for 2 minutes, to use fluoride toothpaste and go the dentist twice a year for a check-up and a deep clean, then you’d better be doing this too.

If your kids catch you skimping on your own toothbrushing, then, even if you stand over them at the wash basin every night, your behaviour will have already sent them the message that toothbrushing doesn’t really matter.

But, if you practise ‘do as I do’ as well as ‘do as I say’, then your children will receive the message that dental hygiene is very important and you will help set up good habits that last a lifetime. And along with those habits, their teeth also stand a much better chance of lasting a lifetime.

Children’s tooth enamel

Part of the reason to be super diligent with toothbrushing for kids is that their tooth enamel is still soft. It will harden up over the years, but in the meantime, it is much more vulnerable to tooth decay. Children are still learning the brushing skills to remove decay-causing plaque and they also consume more sugary snacks and drinks, and sugar feeds the plaque bacteria that attack teeth.

One thing you can do to help reduce the amount of sugar in their mouths is make sure they drink some water after a sugary snack, especially something like raisins, which tend to stick to the teeth and so can be more harmful than some sweets.

Treatments to protect teeth

At SW9 Dental in Stockwell, we can treat your children’s teeth to harden up the enamel. We can also paint the back teeth with sealants to provide a barrier against decay.

Give us a call to find out more about how we can help your child’s dental hygiene.

The importance of dental hygiene

Why does your SW9 Dental dentist go on about dental hygiene so much? It’s because having a clean and healthy mouth not only prolongs the life of your teeth but also gives you more chance of having a healthy body.

Dental Hygiene in StockwellThe endgame for your teeth

You already know that the worst thing that can befall your teeth is that they either come out or have to be extracted. However, teeth don’t get to that point all at once, unless you have the misfortune to get them knocked out in an accident.

Tooth issues tend to run along 2 trajectories: gum disease and decay. Sometimes your teeth suffer from one, sometimes from the other. They can have both at the same time too. Decay and gum disease have the same cause, a build-up of bacteria.

There are several hundred strains of bacteria in your mouth. One in particular, Streptococcus mutans, loves eating sugar. If you eat or drink something sugary or starchy, it will devour the sugars in your saliva and proliferate like mad. This is why you feel like your teeth have gone all furry after a sugary snack, like candy floss or raisins.

Gum disease

These bacteria excrete acid after eating sugar and it attacks your gums, making them sore, swollen and prone to bleeding. They also start to pull away from your teeth, creating space underneath into which more bacteria can travel, and start to attack your tooth roots and jawbone.

Decay

The acid also corrodes tooth enamel, creating cavities for decay to sneak into. Untreated decay leads to abscesses and infections. If you get an abscess, you will almost certainly need root canal therapy, maybe even extraction.

Easy oral health

Fortunately, it is easy to take care of your teeth. You just need to brush your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. You need to floss to remove plaque and trapped food too.

You also need to visit SW9 Dental for a twice-yearly check-up so that we can deal with any problems in their very early stages. And don’t forget to get a deep clean form our hygienists too.

Fillings: a black and white story

Sometimes there’s no avoiding having fillings. They are a great way to save teeth that have been affected by decay. However, no one wants to be reminded for the rest of their lives that they had to have a filling. One way to avoid this is to have white fillings. They blend in with the rest of your tooth and so, when you smile or laugh, you don’t have to worry that everyone can see your dental history.

White Fillings in StockwellWhat’s in a filling

Let’s look at amalgam fillings. People like to call them silver fillings, but they are more dark grey or black than silver. They are made of silver tin and mercury, which together make a nice, soft putty-like material that the dentist can pack into the cavity left in your tooth when all the decay has been drilled out.

White fillings, on the other hand, are made of a mixture of plastic and glass. This also comes as a putty that the dentist puts into the cavity in layers, pausing between layers to cure or harden the resin with a UV light.

Bonding

Each layer of composite resin bonds with the tooth, becoming one with it. Amalgam does not bond with the tooth, and, however tightly packed in it is, there’s always the chance that bacteria can get in round the edges and cause more decay.

Sculpting

Amalgam is too soft to shape. The best we can do here at SW9 Dental in Stockwell is pack it in flat. With composite resin though, once the tooth has been filled, we can shape the resin to recreate the mounds and valleys that you need on the surface of your tooth to grind up your food.

So, with white fillings, not only are your teeth the right colour, they are also the right shape. Why would anyone think, if they looked into your mouth, that you had ever had a filling in any of your teeth?

White fillings last really well too. Next time you come in, do ask for more information if you are interested in getting old amalgam replaced with white fillings.

Fillings that show, fillings that don’t

Tooth decay can take out your teeth entirely, and dental decay hurts. It can also spread from one tooth to another. All very good reasons to get your teeth checked every 6 months, and, if necessary, to get fillings.

White Fillings in StockwellThere are 2 kinds of fillings: fillings that show and fillings that don’t. The first are amalgam, which is a soft mixture of silver tin and mercury. The second are made of composite resin, which is soft mixture of plastic and glass. Just about everything about them, apart from the fact that they both start out soft, is different.

Take a look and decide which ones you would like to have:

More tooth for your money

Dentists have to remove more healthy tooth material to put in amalgam fillings than they do for composite resin fillings. This means that the walls of tooth around the cavity are thinner with amalgam, and so the tooth is weaker and more likely to split at some point in the future.

Sneaking in round the edges

Amalgam can be packed tightly into a cavity, but it can’t bond with your tooth. This means that however tightly the cavity is filled with amalgam, there is still an infinitesimal gap around the edges of the filling through which bacteria can sneak and start causing decay under the filling. Composite resin fillings go in in layers that are each bonded with the tooth, leaving no gaps for bacteria to enter through.

The flat tooth society

Amalgam fillings lie flat inside the edges of the tooth. Composite resin fillings, on the other hand, can be sculpted and shaped once they are in. This means the dentist can give you back your chewing surfaces, and when people look at your teeth, they see the right shape there.

Durability

Both kinds of fillings now last a long time.

So, next time you have a filling, or need to get one replaced, ask your dentist here at SW9 Dental in Stockwell about white fillings. You don’t have to wait for old fillings to fail before you get new white ones if you don’t want to. We can replace them any time you like.

Incremental cosmetic dentistry

There are 2 ways you can go about getting cosmetic dentistry. You can have what’s known as a smile makeover and get your smile totally revamped with a combination of cosmetic dentistry treatments. Or, you can do it bit by bit, dealing with one issue first and then moving onto the next when you just can’t bear it any longer.

Cosmetic Dentistry in StockwellIf you are more inclined to go the incremental route, then it will be tempting to start with the most annoying thing first. Maybe it’s that front tooth with a chunk missing. You’ve had it built up several times since you lost it mucking around at school when you were only 9 years old, but every time the built-up bit gets discoloured and starts to fall apart and you’d like the problem solved once and for all.

When you get a smile makeover done, your dentist will take a good look at your teeth and suggest various treatments to bring your smile into a harmonious whole. You may need any or all of the following:

  • cosmetic braces
  • veneers or cosmetic bonding
  • teeth whitening
  • gum contouring
  • tooth reshaping
  • white fillings
  • dental implants
  • crowns
  • bridges

Your dentist will draw up a treatment plan and will put the treatments in a particular order. This is important as some treatments have to come before others.

If you are going to gradually work your way through incremental changes, it’s important to know which order to have your treatments in.

If you are going to have braces, get that done before you get your teeth whitened. The brackets can sometimes leave marks on your teeth and whitening will remove them.

If you are going to have any kind of tooth restoration done, you need to get your teeth whitened first. The restoration will be colour matched to your teeth, so if you get it matched to unwhitened teeth, you will have to forego whitening or get a new veneer, crown or bridge that matches your whitened teeth.

If you have been without teeth for some time, you may need to get cosmetic braces to put back teeth that have wandered into the gap.

It all takes planning, so make sure to discuss it with us.

Time for a smile revamp?

Smiles fade gradually over the years. Maybe you took a bit of a knock as a kid at school and knocked off a corner of a tooth. Maybe you’ve drunk a lot of coffee or red wine and your teeth are starting to look rather grey. Maybe those little twists are no longer so endearing.

Cosmetic Dentistry in StockwellWe use our teeth every day and so they suffer from wear. What was okay 10 years ago, now needs help. When you have spent more time looking at your smile and feeling disappointed than looking at it and feeling great, it’s time for a revamp.

Why not bring your smile into SW9 Dental in Stockwell and let us take a look at it? We have lots of great cosmetic dentistry treatments that we can use to get it back up to full beam again.

Get that lovely whiteness back

One thing that can really suffer over the years is the colour of your teeth. This is because your tooth enamel has tiny pores in it, like your skin, and traces of pigment can get trapped in them. We can use teeth whitening treatments to lift out those pigments. Once you have had it done, your teeth will never be so grey again, but we do recommend that you get your treatment topped up every few months as more pigments get trapped in your enamel.

Fix that damage

If your teeth have sustained a bit of damage, we can cover it over, using either veneers or cosmetic bonding. Veneers are tiny sheaths of porcelain, a bit like nail extensions, that we cement over the front of your teeth to give them a lovely new surface. Cosmetic bonding is another method that uses composite resin that comes as a paste. We sculpt it over your teeth and shape it before setting it hard with a UV light. Both these methods are great for hiding chips, cracks, worn edges, mild twists, gaps and discolouration that can’t be removed with whitening treatments. They are robust and durable, and can last for at least a decade if you look after them.

To find out what else we can do, why not come in for a consultation?

Say goodbye to ugly amalgam fillings

Most people collect their fillings when they are a child. This is because when we are young our tooth enamel is still quite soft and therefore more likely to be unable to act as a good barrier against the acids from plaque.

White Fillings in StockwellAlso, our toothbrushing skills are probably not totally up to scratch; after all, all skills take time to perfect. This combination of soft enamel and dodgy brushing is an open invitation to decay-causing bacteria. Plus, as kids, we are far more likely to chomp through sugary snacks and want to drink fizzy drinks and fruit juices, both of which are loaded with sugar, which mouth bacteria feed on.

What that means for you as an adult is that you probably have a collection of amalgam fillings that the world can see when you open wide for a yawn or a good laugh. Dark, glinting, amalgam fillings aren’t a pretty sight.

But you can change how your smile looks by getting your old amalgam fillings replaced with white fillings here at SW9 Dental in Stockwell.

White fillings are made of something called composite resin. This is a mixture of plastic and glass. When white fillings first came on the market, they weren’t as strong and long-lasting as amalgam, but all that has changed and they may now be stronger than their metal alternative.

White fillings also have other advantages:

Stronger teeth

We need to remove less healthy tooth material to put in a white filing, so you get a stronger tooth surrounding the filling.

Less chance of decay coming back

White fillings go in in layers that are bonded to the sides of the cavity. Each layer is hardened with a UV light before the next one goes in. Because they are bonded all the way down the sides of the filing, there is far less chance of decay bacteria sneaking in around the edges of the filling.

Sculptable

White fillings set harder than amalgam, giving dentists the opportunity to shape them. At last, we can give you back your chewing surfaces, which makes eating more effective and feels a lot better too.

Not just better looking

People still talk about white fillings as if they are a self-indulgence. It is true that when white fillings first became available, they were not as strong as amalgam. But these days, the composite resins used for white fillings are probably more durable than amalgam is. And it goes without saying that white fillings also look a whole lot better.

White Fillings in StockwellBut, strength is not the only reason why getting white fillings is a good idea. Let’s take a look at the benefits of this treatment.

What are white fillings

White fillings are an up-to-date way of dealing with cavities caused by dental decay. Dentists deal with tooth decay by removing the decayed part of the tooth, usually the soft inner dentin or pulp, and replacing the lost tooth material with a filler. In the past, it used to amalgam, which is a mixture of mercury and silver tin. It was great because it was malleable at room temperature, would not dissolve or rust in the mouth and would last for years. White fillings are made of composite resin, a mixture of plastic and glass. Instead of going in in one lump, white fillings go in in layers. Each layer is hardened, or cured, with the aid of a UV lamp.

Bonding with your tooth

White fillings actually bond with your teeth, so there is not even a miniscule gap between the tooth wall and the filling material, thereby ensuring that decay bacteria cannot sneak in around the edges of the filling to continue to decay the tooth underneath the filling.

Stronger filled teeth

The other great thing about white fillings is they do not need the dentist to remove as much healthy tooth material as amalgam does. This means there is more tooth ‘wall’ left around the filling and the tooth is stronger and therefore likely to last longer.

Chewing surfaces replaced

White fillings can be sculpted, so the dentist can build them up and then use a tool to shape them and restore lost chewing surfaces. Amalgam is packed flat inside the tooth and the chewing surfaces are lost.

To find out more about white fillings, why not ask about them next time you come in for a check-up?