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Can dentistry cure your headache? Possibly, if it’s caused by bruxism…

Friday, July 27th, 2018

CAN DENTISTRY CURE YOUR HEADACHE?What is a headache?

According to Wikipedia:

Headache is the symptom of pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It occurs in migraines (sharp, or throbbing pains), tension-type headaches, and cluster headaches. … Treatment of a headache depends on the underlying cause, but commonly involves pain medication.

There have been many articles written on the various causes of headaches, including Many articles on how to treat those headaches… but did you know that a dental malocclusion and bruxism can also create throbbing and pounding headaches?

Headaches when eyes moving

This is a very common symptom of headaches, there is a huge range of causes for these symptoms but generally dental problems are not the cause of headaches when moving eyes.

Bruxism – Grinding teeth in sleep

So, let’s look at how dental problems can cause headaches. One of the biggest ones is bruxism.

What causes bruxism?

Bruxism has two primary causes:

  • Clinical/physical
  • Habitual

Clinical/physical causes of bruxism can often be due to the way the teeth meet, known as a malocclusion. Various treatments such as re-equilibration (selective grinding) by the dentist of parts of the tooth which interfere with one another can help enormously, as can orthodontics to move teeth to new positions so that they meet without these interferences. As well as headaches, bruxism can also lead to significant tooth wear.

Habitual bruxism can also develop as a result of the dental malocclusion but it will be significantly exacerbated by external factors such as stress.

The treatment of dental related  headaches

Both types of bruxism can be treated with orthodontics and also night splints.

Orthodontics can help to move teeth in to positions where they don’t interfere with each other in normal use. Sometimes your back teeth cusps may knock against each other when your teeth slide from side to side, the muscles around your jaw, face, head and neck will compensate for this so you may not even notice. It’s this compensation that can cause the headaches.

Orthodontics can move teeth to positions where this doesn’t happen and night splints can help to reset those muscles at night, therefore helping them relax. Night splints are a smooth clear plastic night guard, similar to a sports protection guard, that are worn on the lower teeth usually. They are thin and comfortable to wear and simply stop the teeth from meeting – because the teeth can’t meet the muscles ‘forget’ to compensate and relax over night.

If you have headaches and believe it may be caused by your teeth then speak to your dentist who will be able to advice on the best course of action.

8 Tips to Relax at the Dentist

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

blog title

It is estimated that around 5% of the population have some form of clinically significant phobia, however when we look at dentistry it is estimated that between 9% and 15% of people avoid seeing the dentist because of some fear or anxiety (1). That equates to millions of people missing out on an opportunity to keep their dental health in excellent condition and smile with confidence.

To help go some way to overcoming those fears we’ve written, 8 tips to relaxing at the dentist:

  1. Talk to your dentist beforehand
  2. Book an introductory meeting
  3. Agree a stop signal
  4. Come early in the morning
  5. Bring a friend
  6. State educated and engaged about your treatment
  7. Stay sober
  8. Consider Sedation

Let’s look at each in turn:

Talk to your dentist beforehand

It might sound simple, but a dentist is trained to understand how patients feel when they visit. If your dentist knows that you are anxious or afraid then they can modify their treatment to help suit you. Your dentist can offer more frequent rests and check-in more often with you to make sure you are okay. They can also possibly modify the treatment to be quicker and have fewer appointments, so it’s always worth letting your dentist know and being honest about any anxiety.

Book an introductory meeting

Most dental practices will allow you to pop into visit them at any time, if you speak to one of the team members you may even be able to have a visit to the practice beforehand. This can help to allay your fears and concerns and get to know the surroundings in which you will be seen. This is of course entirely your choice, some people prefer to spend the least amount of time at the dentist as possible, and this is equally okay.

Agree a stop signal

Whenever you begin a treatment agree a stop signal with your dentist. Shouting out with your mouth full of dental equipment can often be difficult, agreeing that you will raise your left hand, for example, if there is a problem can be a good way to stay in control. Many people find that when they feel more in control that their anxiety and fears can reduce.

Come early in the morning

Rather than wait to the end of the day it’s often best to come to the dentist earlier in the morning if you are anxious. This means you don’t spend the whole day worrying and being concerned and can just get up, come to the dentist and then get on with your day. Again, if you talk to your dentist beforehand and explain that you would like an early appointment then they may be able to be more accommodating.

Bring a friend

Bringing a friend can be a good distraction from the dentist, but decide what you are going to talk about beforehand. There’s nothing worse than sitting in the patient waiting room with your friend staring blankly into space! Taking a little bit of time before your appointment to think about what you will discuss can be a great way to fill the time, think about holidays, celebrations or perhaps discuss happy memories with your friend.

Stay educated and engaged about your treatment

Sometimes the temptation can be to withdraw from treatment and not understand what’s going on. However if you stay engaged with your dentist and your treatment, within reason, it can help you feel as though you are more in control. Fear of the dentist often comes from a lack of control over the process and being engaged with your treatment means you can give your feedback and feel more confident.

Stay sober

The temptation may be to have a stiff drink before you come to the dentist but this can often have the opposite effect. Alcohol may make you feel even more anxious or afraid than you were before and in extreme could make you behave irrationally, there is certainly a link between alcohol and your dental fear as found in a 2014 study (2)… Not to mention needing to go to the toilet more often if you had a drink!

Consider Sedation

One way that can really help with dental anxiety and even phobia is to consider dental sedation. Dental sedation comes in a couple of forms allowing you to relax and drift off into your own world whilst treatment commences. If you have intravenous sedation you will need to come with a trusted friend who will need to stay with you for a few hours afterwards to ensure you are okay.

Summary to overcome dental anxiety

Communication is the real key, talking keeps you engage with treatment which means you are more in control and communicating accurately how you feel with your dentist will mean your dentist can modify the treatment and/or appointment times to suit you and feel more comfortable. As the old advert says… It’s good to talk, and it really is!

(1) https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/dental-visits/what-is-dental-anxiety-and-phobia

(2) https://bmcoralhealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6831-14-86

Questions to ask when finding a new dentist

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Questions to ask a new dentist

If you’d ever tried to find a new dentist it can be quite a mine field. Patients at our dental practice in Oxford often ask questions so we thought it would be good to summarise some of those questions in an article to help you find the best dentist in your local area.

If you’re looking for a new dentist you will most likely be either because you are dissatisfied with your current dentist or have a particular dental issue which you need to resolve in a short period of time, either of those situations can be quite stressful, hence writing this article.

Are you taking all new patients.

It seems quite obvious to ask this question, the reality is that most dental practices will be taking on new patients but not all will be able to take on new NHS patients. NHS contracts have a specific number UDAs (units of dental activity) this needs to be carefully managed by the NHS dentist to ensure they have enough UDAs to go round all patients that need them. Private dentists on the other hand are usually limited in the number of patients they can see purely by the hours in the day and the length of time they wish to spend with each new patient.

What if I am anxious of the dentist.

Most people admit to having some kind of anxiety about going to the dentist. If this extends beyond this into a fear of phobia it’s always worth mentioning this to the dentist beforehand.

Many dental practices will have special protocols to help deal with anxious nervous patients, some dentists also offer dental sedation which can help you drift off into your own world during treatment.

Always mention any fear or anxiety about going to the dentist to the receptionist when you initially call, they can then put your mind at rest and modified their procedures if need be to help you relax.

 

do you have any areas of special interest?

Some dentists, whilst being fully trained in general dental procedures will undertake further training in more specialised areas of dentistry. Some dentists take a Masters level degree in one of the specialist areas, these specialist areas are regulated by the General Dental Council in the UK.

Not all dentists decide to take this Masters level education but do however attend many ongoing and high quality training courses, in particular areas such as cosmetic dentistry or dental implants. If you have a particular concern which you would like addressed by your dentist it’s worth asking them if they have a special interest in or specialism in that particular area.

What patient reviews do you have.

Ask for dentist reviews

Knowing that you are seeing a dentist that has happy patients will always be helpful at setting your mind at rest. If the dentist doesn’t clearly display their reviews and testimonials on their website don’t be afraid to ask. Any good dental practice will keep a record of these testimonials and have them freely available whenever you wish.

can I pay by credit card.

If you have a particular means by which she would like to pay always remember to ask before treatment. Credit cards and debit cards are taken by most dental practices now but it’s good to ask just to be sure.

do you have a membership scheme.

It might sound odd being a member of a dental practice, it’s hardly like being a member of a local gym! However, membership of a dental practice will often give you travel insurance, discounted rates for treatment and access to emergency dentistry which is not available to non-members. Membership at a dental practice can begin from approximately £12 per month.

Do you have a payment plan available?

Payment plans can be extremely useful for expensive treatments. Some dental implant and orthodontic or restorative treatments can run into many thousands of pounds so having a payment plan facility can make things more affordable on a monthly basis. Many dentists offer either payment plans or finance.

Will I have all recommendations in writing before going ahead?

This is an extremely important question to ask. No one wants to be taken by surprise with treatments they weren’t expecting or costs they hadn’t budgeted for. Your dentist should always give you a written treatment plan of exactly what is required prior to beginning treatment. The treatment plan should include the treatment specific to you, exactly what will happen and all costs involved.

What is your cancellation policy?

Unfortunately it is sometimes necessary to cancel appointments at the last minute. Being aware in advance of what your dentist cancellation policy is can save heartache and upset. Most dental practices will have a 24-hour cancellation policy, after this time many practices will charge if appointments are cancelled without very good cause.

We hope you have found this article useful in discovering what questions to ask when looking for a new dentist. Do let us know of any other questions you can think of…

I am dropping a note to say thanks for all the work you have done for me, I am aware that I am not the easiest of patients. Your patience and explanations whilst work is underway was very much appreciated. The bridge work is really outstanding, here’s hoping I need nothing more than routine checks for some time.
- Mr R G
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