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Archive for the ‘Oral Hygiene’ Category

Swollen Gums Around a Tooth; Causes and Remedies

Thursday, June 20th, 2019

 

One fine morning, while brushing your teeth, you observe that you have a swollen gum area around a tooth. No doubt this may be a worrying situation for you. However, there is no need to worry, as gum swelling is not as uncommon as it may seem to you. Here is everything you need to know about the causes and treatment of gum swelling.

What Causes Gum Swelling?

Swelling of the gums can take place due to a variety of reasons:

  • Poor Oral Hygiene – when you don’t brush or floss regularly, food particles tend to adhere to the surface of the teeth, which ultimately converts into plaque deposits. Over time, this plaque hardens and becomes calculus/tartar. Both the plaque and tartar are ideal places for the growth and replication of harmful bacteria. Ultimately, these bacteria lead to the inflammation and swelling of the gums.
  • Dental Abscess – an abscess is a collection of pus around a tooth. One of the most common symptoms of an abscess, apart from pain, redness, and fever, include swelling and inflammation of the gums, they may also bleed. The swelling arises due to the collection of pus around the tooth crown or root.
  • Trauma – swelling of the gums can also appear in case they become injured during contact sports, or when a sharp object gets stuck between the tooth and the gum.
  • Hormonal Changes – changes in hormonal levels during pregnancy, menopause or hormonal therapy can also result in the swelling of gums. Interestingly, the swelling can occur around a single gum or the gums around all the teeth.

swollen gums

In addition to this, some of the risk factors associated with gum swelling include:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Certain medications

Gum swelling can also be an early warning sign of gum disease which can progress painlessly on the whole. If left untreated full-blown gum disease could develop.

What are the ways to cure swollen gums?

The most common reason behind swelling of gums is poor oral hygiene. In most cases, gum problems will go away as soon as you start taking care of your oral health through brushing and flossing.

Gum swelling is generally a symptom of an underlying medical or dental problem. Therefore, treatment involves removal of the underlying cause. Your dentist or doctor will identify the underlying problem and then provide appropriate treatment. If required, your doctor may change your medication if it is causing gum swelling. Similarly, antibiotic treatment may also be required if the gums have become swollen due to an underlying abscess in a tooth.

Swelling of gums not only indicate an underlying dental problem but it also negatively affects your smile and facial esthetics. If you or anyone among your loved ones is suffering from gum swelling or inflammation, you should visit your dentist or healthcare physician without any delay. Failure to seek treatment can result in severe complications, which may even prove to be life-threatening. Hence, time is of the essence when it comes to treating gum problems.

How to Prevent Gum Swelling?

This is where we really start to talk about prevention rather than cure. The best way to prevent gum swelling in the 1st place is to ensure you have a good oral health care regime. This should include:

  • cleaning your teeth for 2 min twice per day with the fluoride containing toothpaste
  • don’t spit the toothpaste out afterwards but keep it in your mouth if possible
  • wait for 20 min after eating before cleaning your teeth to give them time to recover from the immediate acid attack
  • brushing in between your teeth at least once per day with either floss or an inter dental brush
  • rinsing after each meal with the fluoride containing mouthwash. Never rinse directly after brushing as this washes away some of the helpful fluoride in the toothpaste.

A balanced diet with lots of vitamin containing fruit and vegetables can also help prevent gum swelling and gum disease. Keeping sugar levels low will also have a dramatic effect on the amount of plaque which builds up on your teeth and therefore the amount of gum swelling which occurs.

What is tooth decay?

Friday, December 21st, 2018

What is tooth decay

Tooth decay can cause a wide range of problems so we thought we would summarise some common questions and answers in one of our popular blog posts.

Do teeth with cavities affect the surrounding teeth?

In and of themselves cavities do not affect the surrounding teeth however they may be an indication that your oral health is not quite as good as it could be, this certainly does affect the surrounding teeth. If the level of bacteria which are causing the cavity are high then it stands to reason that these bacteria could also be high on the surrounding teeth and cause similar cavities.

Why can a dry mouth cause cavities?

A dry mouth can cause cavities because the saliva is slightly alkaline and neutralises the acid excreted by the bacteria as they digest the sugar in your food. If you don’t have as much saliva as you should have then your mouth can remain higher in acidity and the acid attack on your teeth can then take hold. Smoking is one of the most common causes of dry mouth and this is why smokers tend to have more dental cavities than non-smokers.

What is the difference between root canal and teeth fillings?

From what you would see on the outside there can be little noticeable difference between the root canal and the filling however root canal fills deep down inside the inner nerve chamber of the tooth. A filling just fills the crown of the tooth.

How to treat a rotting teeth smell?

The only real way to treat rotting to smell is to treat the rot and get rid of the decay. You may find that chewing sugar-free mint gum or rinsing regularly with a mint mouthwash can temporarily abate the smell but it certainly won’t get rid of it. Only treating the underlying cause of the smell will be able to cure it completely.

How does toothpaste prevent tooth decay?

Toothpaste prevents tooth decay because it contains fluoride. Tooth decay happens because your teeth lose some of the minerals which keep them strong, this is called demineralisation. As this demineralisation happens small cavities conform into which the bacteria can hide, they then excrete their acid as they digest the sugar in your diet and the cavities get bigger. Fluoride helps to accelerate the growth of enamel crystals and also helps to initiate demineralisation of the tooth. This leaves the tooth less prone to the acid attack.

What is the purpose of dental floss and flossing?

Many people forget this most important part of their oral health routine. Brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste is only a part of good oral health to prevent dental care is and protect your teeth and gums. Throughout the day a sticky surface layer called plaque build up on your teeth, this is made up of all of the bacteria in your mouth. If you don’t remove plaque then that bacteria are held against your teeth consistently. The plaque can also harden into what is known as tartar, this can then become very difficult to remove.

Because your teeth have large contact areas between them it’s very difficult to clean these areas with a regular toothbrush, your teeth are more than just the chewing surfaces, this is why dental floss or interdental brush is extremely important, to clean these difficult to reach areas to prevent cavities.

What are the stages of tooth decay?

The stages of dental decayIn the early stages of tooth decay you will get white spots on the surface of the teeth due to the demineralisation, these demineralised areas becomes softer and enamel caries (decay) begins. The tooth enamel if the extremely hard outer layer of your tooth, once the decay has gone through this it is then into the dentine caries. Because the dentine is much softer the decay can then progress rapidly.

The final stage is that the inner pulp of the tooth becomes infected, possibly leading to an abscess.

It is so important to treat the early warning signs of dental caries prior to its progression through to an abscess.

Can one reverse tooth decay or a cavity?

At the very earliest stages when white spots are indicating demineralisation this can be reversed with topical application of fluoride. This can help re-mineralise and strengthen the tooth. However, once the caries has taken hold into the enamel the only way to stop it is to have it completely removed and a filling placed to replace the missing enamel.

Which foods and drinks containing sugar cause tooth decay?

Sugary snacks that you eat or drink daily are some of the biggest culprits and causes of tooth decay. Bearing in mind that scientific nutrition experts recommend that no more than 5% of your daily calories should come from added sugar representing about 7 teaspoons, take a look at what these popular drinks contain!

The amount of sugar in drinks

With so much sugar in drinks, even things which we would consider healthy, like orange juice it’s important to monitor the amount of sugar you consume.

Processed foods, particularly things like ready meals also contain large amounts of sugar, so it’s really important that you are not just counting sugar as any added sugar the add to things like tea, coffee and cereal in the morning. Make sure you look at the packaging and take a look at the amount of sugar that all of your food contains.

Why are my teeth sensitive?

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

tooth sensitivityTooth sensitivity causes, home solutions and dental treatments

Teeth become sensitive when the nerve of your tooth becomes too close to the outside world. Surrounding the delicate nerves and blood vessels in your tooth is a layer of softer dentine covered with a hard outer layer called the enamel. If anything happens to the enamel dentine which means your nerve becomes more exposed then sensitivity is the result. You will normally find tooth become sensitive when you drink hot drinks, have acidic food and drinks or have something particularly cold like ice cream. Typical reasons this might happen are:

  • Cavities – Cavities occur when your teeth are affected by tooth decay as they become attacked by their acid excreting bacteria, the enamel gets eaten away leaving the softer dentine. If the cavity is left untreated the dentine will also begin to rot. As this process continues the delicate nerve has more of the hot and cold sensations transmitted to it.
  • Cracked teeth – Depending on how big the crack goes this can allow hot or cold liquids to penetrate deeper into the tooth and affect the underlying nerve.
  • Gum recession – The hard outer protective enamel portion of your tooth only extends down to your gum line. Below the gum line is the softer dentine and root of the tooth. Age, poor oral hygiene and over brushing can result in gums receding, as this happens they expose more of the root which is soft and transmits more hot and cold sensations to the underlying nerve.
  • Erosion – Exposed dentine can be quite sensitive. Consuming excessive amounts of acidic food including sugary drinks can erode the outer portion of the tooth leaving the sensitive nerve more likely to feel the hot and cold sensations of everyday eating and drinking. More information about tooth erosion.

Dentine hypersensitivity can also be a cause of general tooth sensitivity. This is not an acute issue as above but is more of a chronic problem whereby the tooth feels far more than it should during normal use.

What are the causes of sudden tooth sensitivity

Sudden tooth sensitivity can happen when the inner part of the tooth suddenly becomes exposed to the oral environment. Typically this will be through some form of trauma, very often a crack. It could also be that decay or recession has suddenly got to the point where your nerve notices the hot and cold. If you have no evidence of a crack in the tooth or indeed no trauma then we recommend you visit an emergency dentist if you have sudden tooth sensitivity.

What can you do about sensitive teeth?

If the sensitivity is caused by cavities, cracked teeth, gum recession or erosion then you will need to visit a dentist. A dentist can then apply some dental bonding over the area which is causing the sensitivity. Sometimes the dentist will use fluoride gels to facilitate this process. The cavities can also be treated.

If the sensitivity is general sensitivity without a specific cause as highlighted above then there are a range of sensitive toothpastes available. These toothpastes work by blocking some of the microbe tubes in the surface of the teeth which transmit the feeling down to the nerve.

Is it normal to have pain after a tooth filling

If the tooth has had a filling then it is quite normal for it to have some sensitivity afterwards. Teeth are alive and will notice that they have been worked on, this will naturally tends to make them more sensitive for a while. This sensitivity caused by the treatment itself should subside after a day. If sensitivity after a tooth filling continues for longer than this then you should visit your dentist just in case there is some problem with the filling or other problem with the tooth.

Ways to prevent tooth sensitivity

Preventing tooth sensitivity can be a challenge as it depends on the reason for your tooth becoming sensitive. You could use a sensitive fluoride toothpaste when brushing your teeth, this type of desensitising toothpaste can really help. If you grind your teeth you may like to consider wearing a bite appliance at night to prevent this.

Making sure you brush and floss your teeth to prevent gum disease is also an excellent way to prevent to sensitivity. Ensure you include every tooth surface when you brush, remembering that the largest tooth surfaces which often get missed where the teeth touch each other, you will probably need dental floss or an interdental brush in order to reach these areas.

The habits that cause dental problems

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

Everyone wants to do all they can to keep their teeth fit and healthy for life, with healthy teeth we look good, can eat what we want and ultimately healthy teeth cost us less at the dentist. There are however a series of habits which can cause a range of dental problems, this blog post is dedicated to those habits and helping you understand some of the problems that these habits can cause.

Smoking

Yes, you guessed it were going to ask you to give up smoking! Without mentioning the risk of oral cancer, smoking fundamentally changes the fine balance of pH level in your mouth. Your mouth should ideally be at a neutral pH 7, this balance is kept because the bacteria which naturally reside in your mouth excrete acid as they digest their food, this acid naturally reduces the pH level and your saliva counterbalances this by being alkaline. If you smoke,  your mouth will be dry and the saliva cannot neutralise the acid, this means your teeth are bathed in a more acidic environment which can be more prone to tooth decay.

Smoking after tooth extraction

As well as altering the fine balance of acid and alkaline in your mouth smoking also tends to prevent healing. A research paper By a Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon [1] on this subject states that,

Tobacco affects postoperative wound healing following surgical and nonsurgical tooth extractions, routine maxillofacial surgeries, implants, and periodontal therapies. In an experimental study, bone regeneration after distraction osteogenesis was found to be negatively affected by smoking. Thus, tobacco, a peripheral vasoconstrictor, along with its products like nicotine increases platelet adhesiveness, raises the risk of microvascular occlusion, and causes tissue ischemia

The research showed that because tobacco restricts blood vessels the healing process is not as effective as it is in non-smokers.

Thumbsucking

Thumbsucking can act like an orthodontic appliance. Whilst your teeth are generally stable in your mouth it doesn’t take much pressure to move them, if this pressure is continuous. Prolonged thumbsucking can put pressure on the inside of your teeth pushing outwards.

The effects of thumbsucking

Thumbsucking pushes the top teeth forwards creating a ‘buck teeth’ look, clinically called an anterior open bite. If this has happened from a very young age it can be extremely difficult to correct as the thumb pushes on the palate of the mouth and actually moves the bone as well as the teeth. It may not always be possible to simply push the teeth back to where they were before if the underlying bone structure has also been moved. The thumb sucking habit should ideally be broken as early in your child’s development as possible to prevent this bone movement.

The British Orthodontic Society have written a useful information sheet on thumbsucking. You can download this information sheet here.

Thumbsucking treatment

Thumbsucking appliance

Image source: https://dentagama.com/news/thumb-sucking-appliances

There are various thumb sucking treatment appliances available. Thumb sucking appliances such as these prevent the child creating a seal with their thumb, this means the sucking action has no force behind it and therefore the pressure cannot be put on the teeth and bone.

Brushing teeth excessively

Brushing your teeth twice a day is recommended by virtually every dentist, when this is coupled with  cleaning in between your teeth with either floss or an interdental brush and regular fluoride mouthwash in between brushing you stand the highest chance of maintaining excellent oral hygiene… However, you can go too far.

Your gums are resilient however I can only stand so much brushing. If you over brush your gums can begin to recede, this can give you the effect of looking ‘long in the tooth’. If you continue to brush the same area too much then as the gum pulls away it can reveal the softer dentine/root part of your tooth (usually hidden underneath the gum). Because this is softer it is more susceptible to damage from excessive brushing.

The following image clearly shows the gum which has receded from the teeth, you can see the darker (and softer) roots becoming exposed.

Gum recession

Image source: http://www.gumrecession.com/thinfragile.html

Brushing teeth excessively can wear away the enamel on the outer surface of your tooth, once this has been done and the softer denting has been exposed the wear will increase.

The effects of excessive toothbrushing

Image source: http://www.smileartsny.com/main-reasons-gum-recession/

How to brush your teeth

If you are experiencing either of that this use above we highly recommend purchasing an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor. Many Modern electric toothbrushes have pressure sensors which let you know if you are pressing too hard, this can be one of the easiest ways to prevent excessive toothbrushing, especially as these toothbrushes have a timer.

When you brush your teeth, always keep the toothbrush at a 45° angle to your teeth, this is the optimum angle to keep your teeth clean.

 

Teeth grinding (bruxism)

Teeth grinding, otherwise known as bruxism is a common way to damage your teeth. Grinding teeth in your sleep is extremely common. The causes can be many, including stress & bite problems. Grinding teeth not only affects your teeth but can also lead to headaches as the muscles which power your jaw become tired and overworked.

Wearing a night mouthguard can help prevent teeth grinding, these work because your teeth cannot fit together, the mouthguard provides a smooth surface so your teeth slide over one another and it becomes impossible to grind. This means you will wake up in the morning and your muscles around your jaw, neck and head will have relaxed. This can have a significant effect not only on very affects of tooth grinding but on any associated headaches.

Using teeth as tools

Yes, some people use their teeth to open beer bottles, and guess what, the teeth break! Your teeth are designed to eat, please don’t use them for anything else.

Drinking too much sugar

This is the final one in our list, drinking too much sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria love sugar and when they digestive they excrete acid and this acid attacks your teeth causing dental decay. The secret to having healthy teeth is to combine an excellent oral health care routine with a suitably matched diet. The sugar comes from many sources, not just added refined sugar, so it’s good to be aware of your complete sugar intake throughout the day.

 

[1]  Tobacco smoking and surgical healing of oral tissues: a review. Balaji SM1 2008 Oct-Dec;19(4):344-8.

Tooth wear and abrasion, what can you do about it?

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Have you found that as you have got older your teeth have begun to wear? You might have noticed that the teeth look squarer at the edges, have yellow stains in them and generally look worn down? So what causes this and what can you do about it?

In this blog our Oxford dentist walks you through the tooth wear index, what to do if you have wear and abrasion to prevent it getting worse and what your dentist can do to restore your teeth.

What is tooth wear caused by?

The wearing down of teeth is caused by one of three phenomenon namely abrasion, erosion and attrition.

Tooth wear by abrasion

This is where a tooth wears by some action other than the teeth rubbing together or by chewing. The most typical type of abrasion is abrasion from pressing too hard whilst brushing your teeth with a toothbrush. Other forms of abrasion can be caused by wearing lip or tongue piercings or chewing things like toothpicks and pens for excessive periods of time.

Tooth abrasion from a toothbrush is usually most apparent on the cheek side (buccal surface) of the tooth as this is where many people put too much pressure, the abrasion is very often down towards the gum margin where the enamel is thinner.

Tooth wear by erosion

This is where tooth structure is lost via chemical contact. This can chemicals which are ingested such as highly acidic drinks like fizzy drinks or excessive consumption of fruit juice. Tooth wear by erosion can also be caused by naturally occurring bodily acids which come into contact with the teeth, this is typically from reflux disease or various eating disorders.

Tooth wear by attrition

This is the most common cause of tooth wear and can be attributed to the teeth grinding together either during chewing (mastication) or teeth grinding (bruxism). Teeth will naturally where as we age but this wear rate can be increased if the teeth do not bite together properly.

Measuring tooth wear classification using the tooth wear index

Your dentist can measure tooth wear using this index as originally described by Smith and Knight, this can be useful if you feel that your teeth are wearing over an extended period, your dentist can use this index to monitor the wear of individual teeth. The index is as follows:

  • 0 – No loss of enamel surface characteristics and no change of contour.
  • 1 – loss of enamel characteristics and some minimal loss of contour.
  • 2- enamel loss which is just exposing the denting and less than 1/3 of the surface. Defect areas less than 1 mm.
  • 3 – enamel loss just exposing the dentine which is more than 1/3 of the surface. Defect areas 1-2 mm.
  • 4 – complete enamel loss or pulp exposure. Defect more than 2mm.

You may begin to notice sensitivity in your teeth when your tooth wear index reaches level 2.

Tooth Wear Management

The first place to start with managing tooth wear is to speak your dentist. They can assess the amount of wear using the index above and advise as to the cause, abrasion, erosion or attrition.

Tooth abrasion management

Advice and guidance on how to brush your teeth can be provided by the dental hygienist. They will be able to assess the location of the abrasion and work out what is causing it, very often it’s caused by pressing the toothbrush in difficult to reach areas.

Many electric toothbrushes also have a pressure sensor which let you know if you are pressing too hard, this can be very useful adjunct in controlling tooth abrasion.

Once you have the cause of the abrasion established and eliminated your dentist can then look to replace missing tooth structure. In minimal cases this will often be done using dental bonding, in more severe cases dental veneers dental crowns may be required.

Tooth erosion management

If the erosion is caused by external assets being ingested then the dental hygienist will be able to give you dietary advice on the amounts of these acidic drinks you should be drinking. If the erosion is caused by medical condition their medical advice will need to be sought.

Tooth attrition management

Your dentist will be able to assess the way your teeth move together, how they work as a unit and how your jaw functions. This is known as your ‘occlusion’ and your dentist will be able to spot malocclusions and recommend the best treatment. Sometimes this is rebuilding back teeth using dental bonding, ceramic overlays or dental crowns. It may also involve orthodontics to move teeth to a better position.

Before and after tooth wear treatment

After treatment, notice how the upper teeth have been rebuilt on the incisal edge ( this is the tip of the tooth on the opposite side of the gum). A more natural rounded shape has been achieved using dental crowns.

Why You Should Stop What You’re Doing and Book a Hygiene Session!

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Dental hygienists are experts in the field of freshness and treatments that keep oral diseases at bay. If you suffer from gum disease or have a high risk of developing the condition, your dentist might advise you to see the hygienist. However, you don’t need to be suffering to benefit from hygiene treatment. Whether you’re battling with bad breath, are prone to plaque or simply want to treat your mouth to a fresh, clean feeling, why not book yourself in for an intensive cleaning experience?

What can a hygiene session do for me?

Dental hygiene sessions can make a massive difference to your oral health, especially if you’re at risk of dental disease. Cleaning treatments remove stubborn plaque, tartar and bacteria that your toothbrush can’t get, as well as giving your mouth that clean, fresh feeling.

Our amazing hygienists also offer preventative treatments and can offer advice about oral hygiene at home, healthy eating for your teeth and giving up smoking. We aim to promote good oral health and help you enjoy a beautiful, healthy smile.

Oral hygiene and gum disease

Dentists and hygienists work together to effectively treat and manage gum disease. Regular hygiene sessions are an essential way to tackle plaque and prevent gum disease from developing or getting worse.

How can I find out more?

To find out more about dental hygiene and the services we offer, contact reception today.

Battling Bleeding Gums?

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

If you noticed a cut bleeding on your arm, you’d probably do something to stop it immediately. However, many people ignore bleeding gums and this is why gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in British adults. The reality is that gum disease is preventable, and all you have to do is spend a few minutes each day giving your teeth and gums a bit of TLC to battle bleeding gums and prevent early tooth loss.

About gum disease

Gum disease is a very common oral disease, which is usually caused by plaque. Plaque is a sticky film made when food debris combines with saliva and bacteria. Plaque irritates the gums and when you eat, the acids released by bacteria also erode the enamel, increasing the risk of sensitivity and decay.

Thankfully, there is an easy way to prevent plaque from forming and this involves devoting just five minutes of your day to your teeth and gums. Brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing once a day helps to remove bacteria and food deposits from the mouth before plaque can develop, as well as ensuring your teeth look sparkly and clean.

Spotting the signs of gum disease

The most noticeable symptom of gum disease is bleeding when you brush, but you may also notice that your gums feel swollen and sore and they may also look redder.

If you notice the warning signs of gum disease, contact us so that you can see your dentist as quickly as possible.

Often, it will turn out to be nothing, but if you do have gum disease, seeing a dentist early ensures that it can be treated as early as possible. Gingivitis, the mild form of gum disease, is much easier to treat than periodontal disease, the advanced form of gum disease.

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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