Oral Cancer and how to prevent it

Oral cancer, also called mouth cancer, is on the increase. It also has a high proportion of deaths per number of cases in the UK, far higher than other cancers such as cervical, breast or skin cancer. This is due in part to late diagnosis. The latest figures for the UK show about 2,700 deaths from oral cancer per year.

Oral-cancerAs with any type of cancer, early diagnosis vastly improves a patient’s chances of making a good recovery. But because many people don’t notice the symptoms until they become more severe, it is often diagnosed late. Because of this and because dentists are perfectly placed to spot the early signs and symptoms, at SW9 Dental we undertake oral cancer screening as a standard part of your general dental check-up. If you notice anything unusual between dental check-ups, we urge you to come and see us as soon as possible. Remember: early diagnosis saves lives.

What are the symptoms of oral cancer?

Oral cancer can develop anywhere in the mouth, including on the tongue, lips, gums and throat. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Ulcers that don’t heal
  • Red or white patches in the mouth or in the throat
  • A lump (which may or may not be painful)
  • Persistent mouth pain
  • Pain/difficulty swallowing food or drink
  • Swollen lymph glands in the neck
  • Problems with speech, or other changes to your voice
  • Areas of numbness in the mouth
  • Bleeding in the mouth
  • Teeth that become loose for no obvious reason
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you notice any of these symptoms, or anything else strange, please get in touch with us straight away.

Oral cancer screening is a short, simple process carried out here at the practice. We will carefully examine your mouth inside and outside, and will use a handheld scanning device to examine any lesions or lumps. If we do find anything suspicious we will immediately refer you to a hospital consultant for further investigation and treatment as necessary.

Risk factors for oral cancer include smoking, chewing tobacco and excess alcohol consumption. We can provide you with help to stop smoking, please talk to any member of our team if you would like this support.

8 TMJ problems and how you can prevent them

Temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ or TMD, is a far more common problem than many people realise. The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw to the base of the skull. Problems with your bite – how your jaws meet together – can cause discomfort and pain in this joint and the associated muscles. Conditions such as migraines and headaches, facial pain, neck, shoulder and backache can all be caused by TMJ disorder, although the majority of people might not think that their dentist can help them with these issues.

jaw-problemA common symptom of TMJ disorder is clenching your teeth during the day and grinding them at night – also known as bruxism. This can lead to your teeth becoming worn, and if this happens in conjunction with migraines, shoulder pain and the like then it may be worth turning to your dentist for help.

Common symptoms of TMJ disorder

  • Bruxism – grinding or clenching your teeth

  • Clicking or popping noises when you chew

  • Difficulty opening your mouth wide

  • Pain in the muscles around the jaw

  • Pain in front of the ear, spreading to the temple, cheek or ear itself

  • Headache or migraine

  • Back-, neck- or shoulderache

  • Pain or buzzing in the ear

  • Disturbed sleep

The first thing your dentist will do is to try to establish the cause of your TMJ disorder and associated discomfort. The condition has a wide range of causes, including stress, injury, changes to your bite (poorly fitted dentures or dental crowns, for example), and as part of a wider medical condition such as fibromyalgia. Sometimes, the condition has no obvious cause.

Treatment will depend on the cause. One of the most common treatments is to wear a mouthguard at night. These hard plastic guards are similar to sports mouthguards and prevent the surfaces of your teeth from grinding together while you sleep. Your mouthguard will be made to fit your teeth exactly for maximum comfort.

Want to stay young and beautiful?

As we age, unwanted lines and wrinkles can start to appear on our faces. These are caused by the stresses and strains of everyday life, a lot of exposure to the sun and by dietary factors. The end result can be that we look far older than we feel.

Facial aesthetics treatments help to address these issues by replacing lost hyaluronic acid in the skin (in the case of dermal fillers) and by preventing the contraction of muscles that cause lines and wrinkles (in the case of Botox). A major benefit of having these treatments from a dentist trained in facial aesthetics is that dentists already have expert knowledge of facial anatomy, and can provide this delicate treatment in a safe and precise manner.

dermal-fillersAt SW9 Dental we offer treatment with Botox (botulinum toxin type A) and dermal fillers. The best treatment for you will depend on your individual wants and needs, and will be discussed at your initial facial aesthetics consultation.

Here’s the lowdown on how these treatments work. . .

Botulinum toxin

Botulinum toxin is used to treat:

  • Frown lines (between the eyebrows)
  • Smoker’s lines (around the mouth)
  • Crows’ feet
  • Forehead lines

Treatment with botulinum toxin is fast and painless, typically lasting a maximum of ten minutes. The botulinum is carefully injected and relaxes the tiny facial muscles by blocking nerve impulses to them, resulting in smoother looking skin. Results take between four and seven days to fully develop, and will last for at least three months.

Dermal fillers

Dermal fillers are used:

  • To treat lines, wrinkles and folds on the lower face
  • For lip enhancement
  • To shape facial, neck and hand contours

Local anaesthetic is applied first before the filler is carefully injected. Treatment only takes a few minutes and results will be seen immediately. Depending on which area is treated, results will last between six and 12 months.

Six months to straight teeth?

Do concerns about the alignment of your teeth cause you to hide your smile away? Are straighter teeth top of your smile wish list? But does the thought of having to wear traditional metal braces put you off seeking treatment? There is another solution. Cfast braces are part of a recent development known as invisible orthodontics. They are popular for adults who need cosmetic orthodontic correction and work far more quickly than traditional braces.

clear-alignersCfast braces use clear brackets and tooth-coloured wires made of nickel titanium to quickly move your teeth into a more desirable position. Treatment with Cfast is predictable and faster than with clear aligners, and because of the colouring these braces are also highly discreet.

These braces work so quickly because they focus on the “social six” teeth – the top and bottom front teeth that show when you smile. They are minimally invasive and correct problems with alignment in these teeth, as well as levelling and rounding out the arches for a more aesthetically pleasing smile.

Cfast still operate on standard orthodontic principles, but because they focus only on the front teeth the forces used are gentler, making treatments more comfortable as well as far quicker than with traditional braces. In turn, the shortened treatment times also make Cfast more affordable than other adult orthodontic options.

It’s no surprise that Cfast braces are rapidly growing in popularity with adults who want to cosmetically correct their smiles. While these braces are not suitable for patients who need major orthodontic correction, they can be used to treat a wide range of mild to moderate alignment issues. To find out if Cfast are the best option in your case, please contact a member of our reception team today to book an orthodontic consultation.

Want straight teeth with invisible braces?

Many adults dream of having straighter teeth, but the thought of having to wear traditional “train-track” style braces, comprising metal wires and brackets, for a considerable period of time puts them off seeking treatment.

invisible bracesIn recent years there have been huge advances in the field of orthodontics. Several revolutionary new systems have been developed which eschew metal in favour of clear plastic or tooth-coloured ceramic components, meaning they are practically invisible to the untrained eye. These products are known as “invisible orthodontics” and more and more adults are opting to straighten their teeth this way, without having to worry about how metal brackets and wires will affect their personal or professional lives. One of the most popular invisible orthodontics solutions is Invisalign.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a series of clear aligners that gently move your teeth into a new position. These aligners are made to fit your teeth perfectly and as well as being clear are removable, meaning you can take them out to clean, to brush your teeth and to eat and drink, so they don’t interfere with your lifestyle. You need to change your aligner every two weeks or so, as your teeth move.

What does treatment involve?

The Invisalign system can be used to correct a wide range of mild to moderate orthodontic problems. The first step is to book a consultation, and if Invisalign is suitable in your case impressions will be taken of your teeth, along with photographs and x-rays as necessary. This information will be fed into the computer so you will be able to see what results to expect before starting treatment.

A series of clear aligners will be made up to fit your teeth exactly. You need to wear each one for about two weeks as your teeth move, and will need a retainer at the end of treatment.

White fillings to replace silver fillings

Once, all fillings were made of metal amalgam. Whilst this is undoubtedly a strong and durable substance, with fillings lasting for many years, it is also very obvious in the mouth because of the fillings’ grey or metallic colouring. Particularly if you have fillings near the front of your mouth, a flash of metal every time you smile may make you want to hide your teeth away.

white fillingsWhite fillings have been around for many years and for a long time were not considered as strong as metal amalgam fillings. However, techniques and materials have improved greatly and white fillings are now almost as strong and durable as their metal counterparts.

If you have old metal amalgam fillings, particularly near the front of your mouth, you may be interested in replacing metal fillings with white ones. This is a safe and simple procedure and can help to restore confidence in your smile.

White fillings should more accurately be called “tooth-coloured” fillings, because the composite material they are made of will be closely matched to the natural colour of your teeth. This means that the fillings will blend in perfectly with your tooth and nobody will know they are there.

Your dentist will carefully remove your old metal amalgam fillings, along with any additional decay, and will prepare your tooth for a composite white filling. They will carefully choose a shade of composite that matches your natural teeth.

The composite material is very strong and will be able to withstand the biting and chewing forces of your mouth, with the additional benefit of looking entirely natural. The result will be a smile that you are keen to show off, without a single glint of metal in sight.

How to prevent bad breath (halitosis)

Bad breath: it’s a subject nobody likes to talk about. However, it’s also a common problem that most people will experience at some point in life. There are many causes of bad breath and the key to preventing or treating it is finding the underlying cause.

fresh breathSometimes, in cases of temporary bad breath, the cause is dietary – garlic, for example, is a well-known culprit. At other times an underlying medical condition such as sinusitis, diabetes or the common cold can lead to bad breath, and treating the condition should solve the breath problem.

However, one of the most common causes of bad breath is poor dental hygiene.

If you don’t regularly brush and floss your teeth, bacteria and particles of food may build up. This can lead to an unpleasant smell and a nasty taste in your mouth. Bad breath is also one of the common symptoms of gum disease, which is caused by inadequate dental hygiene.

An important step in combatting bad breath is keeping regular appointments with a dental hygienist. Most people know that hygienists professionally clean teeth, using special pastes and tools in a procedure known as a scale and polish. This of course is vitally important as even those with a good home brushing regime may have areas that are difficult to clean properly.

Another key role played by the hygienist is advising patients on how to develop an effective home-care regime of their own. This may involve types of brush to use, special equipment such as interdental brushes, and medicated mouthwashes. Your hygienist can also provide you with dietary advice, including the importance of cutting down on sugary or acidic foods and how they can affect your teeth.

To book a dental hygiene appointment, get in touch with one of our reception team today, and wave goodbye to bad breath forever.

The secret to Teeth whitening, enlighten and home kit

When asked what they would like to change about their smile, whiter teeth is at the top of many people’s wish list. Teeth are easily stained by foods and drinks, habits such as smoking and by certain medications and mouthwashes. As we get older, our teeth also often lose some of their natural sheen.

the secret to teeth whiteningTeeth whitening treatment is a safe and predictable way to get the sparkle back in your smile. If you’re looking for teeth whitening products, the most important thing to remember is that it should only be carried out under a dentist’s supervision. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Dentists know teeth better than anyone else. Teeth whitening is suitable for most people, but there are certain circumstances where it should not be carried out, for example if you are suffering from gum disease or decay. Dentists will only perform teeth whitening on healthy teeth, and can treat such problems as decay first, making sure your smile is healthy as well as beautiful.
  2. Dentists only use safe, effective products. There is a plethora of teeth whitening products available online and from beauty parlours. However, many of these are not safe or effective. In the best scenario, they won’t work and you’ll have wasted time and money. In the worst scenario they can permanently damage your teeth and gums.
  3. Treatment is monitored at all times. In the unlikely event that you experience anything unusual, your dentist is on-hand to check treatment is progressing properly, and recommend different options if necessary.

At SW9 dental we offer two types of teeth whitening: in-practice teeth whitening and home whitening.

In-practice whitening involves a single, hour-long visit to the practice during which you sit back and relax while your dentist applies a strong concentration of whitening gel to your teeth.

Home whitening involves being fitted with custom-made whitening trays, which you place gel in and wear at home overnight for approximately two weeks.

Whichever option you choose, the result will be a beautiful, healthy, bright smile that you’ll want to show off.

Want that celebrity smile?

Do you dream of a Hollywood smile? The perfect smile can light up a room and can seriously improve your self-esteem. The good news is, thanks to advances in cosmetic dentistry, your dream smile need not take months of work or cost you the Earth. At SW9 dental our experienced cosmetic dentists can help you get a smile celebrities would be proud of, in just a few visits to our dental practice. Here are some of the celebrity smile makeover options we offer:

Porcelain veneers

porcelain veneersDental veneers are very thin pieces of porcelain that fit over the front surfaces of your teeth – much like a false fingernail. They can cover permanent stains and disguise minor misalignment, small chips and cracks. Strong dental adhesive is used to hold them firmly in place. This is a minimally invasive procedure that requires just a couple of visits to the practice. Your veneers will be made to closely match the natural shade of your teeth, so they will look highly realistic. A single veneer can cover one discoloured or chipped tooth, while a full set of veneers can give your entire smile a makeover.


Lumineers are an ultra-thin type of veneer, about the same thickness as a contact lens. They require no preparation of your teeth, unlike standard veneers, are long-lasting and produce a highly realistic result.

Teeth whitening

Teeth whitening treatment uses special whitening gel to remove stains from your teeth and give your smile added sparkle. At SW9 Dental we offer two options for teeth whitening: in-practice whitening using the Enlighten system, which takes just one hour, and at-home whitening, which involves the use of teeth whitening trays and gel at home for approximately two weeks.