Bradley and Partners
St Peters House, 2 St Peters Lane,
Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2BP

Gum Disease And Tooth Loss

Ignoring early signs of gum disease could result in losing teeth

gum problemsIt has long been instilled in us by our parents that it is important that we brush our teeth. This is good basic advice and although taking good care of our teeth is a little more sophisticated than that, it is a great start.

It is only more recently though that good gum health has been widely recognised as equally important and it is a message that we hope parents will take on board when supervising their children whilst they clean their teeth.

The fact is that whilst brushing our teeth is important to stop tooth decay and the often painful toothache that sometimes goes with it, gum disease is equally serious. We will look at some possible symptoms shortly but it is worth noting that symptoms can be minor or barely noticeable at all in some cases, which is why it is important that you see our Canterbury dental hygienist to make sure that your gums stay in good health.

What causes gum disease?

Gum disease is largely caused by potentially harmful bacteria in our mouth getting out of control. In a healthy mouth, we flush much of this away with saliva, but sometimes our mouths are dry; often in older people and those who smoke or drink alcohol. This creates a problem in that it allows the number of bacteria to grow rapidly. These then attack the soft tissue of the gums and we may notice some of the symptoms starting to appear.

As the problem advances, some of the bacteria combine with minerals in our saliva which then form a hard ‘crust’ on the teeth and around the gum line. This is known as tartar or calculus and forms a rough surface which then attracts yet more bacteria. Before too long, the problem starts to get out of control.

The two main stages of gum disease

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Oral Cancer – Helping Our Canterbury Patients Stay Safe

Mouth cancer can be life changing or even fatal. But there are things that you can do to help avoid it….

Dentist with x-rayAt the Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic, we believe in whole mouth health. This means that not only do we help you to keep your teeth healthy, but also the soft tissues of the mouth too. Whilst the focus is often on gum health, with gum disease being a serious problem that can result in lost teeth, there is a very real threat to all of the soft tissues in the mouth and that is oral, or mouth, cancer.

In the UK each year, it is estimated that there will be around eight thousand new cases of mouth cancer diagnosed each year; a number that appears to be on the increase with around 50% more cases than ten years ago. In addition to these figures, just over 2,500 people are likely to die from it on a yearly basis. Whilst treatment can be effective, especially when detected early, it can also leave the patient with life changing facial disfigurements and problems such as difficulty with speech, or with swallowing their food.

This all sounds very gloomy and, of course, should be taken seriously, but there are certain things that both patients and dentists of our Canterbury dental clinic can do to minimise the risk of suffering from this awful disease.

Lifestyle risks

Three of the biggest factors that contribute to a heightened  risk of oral cancer are largely within our own control. Improving our oral health is likely to mean changes to our current lifestyles; changes that might be difficult for some, but will ultimately be worth it for improved health.

Smoking – This is one of the biggest risks not just for oral, but other types of cancer too. Thankfully, less people smoke these days and you will no longer be the odd one out if you don’t smoke. That doesn’t mean that it has died out though and there are still thought to be in the region of seven million smokers in the UK. Unfortunately, some of these will be younger people who may not fully realise the risks that they are taking. This is especially so as they may also be at a higher risk of oral cancer due to other factors.

Alcohol consumption – The odd glass of wine or pint of beer is unlikely to do any significant harm, but readers of our blogs will know that drinking alcohol often causes a dry mouth and a subsequent increased risk of gum disease. Because of a lack of saliva, bacteria that affect the gums and other soft tissue are allowed to thrive instead of being washed away.

Whilst many teenagers are looking to a healthier lifestyle than their parents and grandparents, there are still a significant number who drink to excess, probably too often for their own good. Especially when combined with smoking, this heightens the risk of poor oral health.

HPV (Human Papillomavirus) – Whilst oral cancer once used to be linked almost entirely to smoking and alcohol, HPV is now thought to be responsible for around one in every four cases of mouth cancer and every three of throat cancer. Unfortunately it is perhaps not that widely talked about as it is largely transmitted through oral sex. This may explain why it is now the major cause of oral cancer in younger patients who may well be more sexually active and with a number of different partners.

HPV will not give you cancer directly, but causes changes to occur in the cells that it infects which may then lead to them becoming cancerous. To minimise your risk if you are sexually active, you may need to consider reducing your number of partners and practice safe sex. There are also vaccines available, so please ask your GP for advice.

What you can do

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Bruxism – Damaging To Teeth And Difficult To Control

Grinding our teeth whilst we sleep can cause long term damage

tooth painThere are a number of things that can cause harm to our teeth and gums. Some of these, such as eating too much sugar, can be controlled with a little bit of willpower. Others, like bruxism, are not so easily controlled yet can cause a large amount of damage in just a short period of time depending on the severity.

In today’s Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic blog, we will discuss the nature of teeth grinding and how we can help you here in Canterbury.

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is simply the grinding of teeth. Whilst this can occur when we are awake, if we are sufficiently stressed or angry, it mostly occurs whilst we are asleep. This makes it very difficult to keep under control. There are a number of theories as to why this happens but most believe that it is due to stress and that the grinding of teeth is a subconscious outlet for our anxiety. We may not even realise that we do this and some of the damage may occur over a long period of time. This is not always the case though.

What damage can it do?

The most significant damage that bruxism can cause is the breaking of teeth. This usually only happens if the teeth are already weak and/or the grinding is particularly aggressive. Teeth have been known to fracture and break when it is this severe. More common though is the gradual wearing down of the enamel. This still causes problems though with tooth sensitivity and vulnerability to tooth decay being particular problems. In addition to this, worn teeth are also more prone to breaking than healthy ones.

Another issue that many teeth grinders suffer from are TMJ problems. The TMJ (or temporomandibular joint to give it its correct name) is essentially the hinge that allows us to open and close our mouths. Usually this happens more or less in an up and down motion but when we grind our teeth, this joint is placed under a lot of undue stress, moving it into positions that it was not meant for. Over time, this can lead to not only a painful jaw, but also headaches and other facial pains.

Can it be prevented?

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Seven Benefits Of Dental Implants

Why an ever increasing number of people are turning to this excellent tooth replacement technique

Diagram of a dental implantThere are essentially four options available for anyone who loses a tooth, or a number of teeth. These are leaving the gap as it is, having dentures, having a bridge fitted or having a dental implant placed. We don’t recommend the first option as leaving a gap in the teeth, however unnoticeable it is, is not a good idea and can lead to issues such as misaligned teeth over a period of time.

Both dentures and bridges have been around for a long while and both fulfill the role of replacing a missing tooth to some degree. Neither are without their drawbacks though, with dentures sometimes being uncomfortable and potentially unstable for some wearers, whilst a bridge can require healthy teeth to be prepared so that the bridge can be attached.

At Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic, we believe that, in most cases, dental implants offer the best option for our patients. They do require some minor dental surgery, followed by a longer healing time, but overall this relatively modern treatment provides perhaps the best long term solution for replacing missing teeth.

Let us take a look then at some of the most significant benefits of having dental implants to replace missing teeth.

Longevity

Although implant placement is a fairly lengthy procedure compared to most dental treatments, it also provides a long lasting solution to the problem. Unlike many teeth restorations which may need replacing after a few years, dental implants can last for twenty years or more once they have become successfully integrated with the jaw bone. This will depend largely on how well you look after them but fortunately this is quite straightforward to do and requires no fiddly cleaning, unlike dentures for example. We will look more at the cleaning of implants a little later.

Strength and stability

Whilst dentures and bridges offer a certain level of strength, they come nowhere near to the strength of teeth implants. This means that, once fully integrated, you can use your dental implant exactly as you would a healthy natural tooth. This strength is also related to the stability of the tooth. Whilst dentures can sometimes move around in the mouth a little, the implant replaces the root of the missing tooth and provides an extremely secure anchor for the crown to be attached.

Comfort

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Enhance Your Smile With Dental Veneers!

Boosting smile aesthetics with this popular treatment in Canterbury

Dental hygiene check upA smile can really lift our day and a great looking smile even more so. It is said that the first thing that most of us notice about other people is their smile, and we tend to be drawn towards those that do, rather than people who smile less. There can be many different reasons, of course, why some people smile more than others. Our health, money and relationship worries can make smiling more or less likely for periods of our life.

Another key reason why some people smile less than others is that they are embarrassed about their teeth. Even subconsciously, if our teeth are crooked or discoloured, we are likely to be more self conscious about them and probably smile less than we normally would.

Thankfully, with the range of cosmetic dental treatments available at Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic, there are a number of ways in which we can help you to improve your smile. In today’s blog, we are going to take a look at one of these popular options in the form of dental veneers.

Origin of dental veneers

Teeth veneers were one of the first procedures to be used to improve the appearance of teeth. This happened during the Hollywood era when filmmakers discovered a problem when shooting close up scenes as many of the actors, as people did at that time, smoked quite heavily. This inevitably led to their teeth becoming heavily stained. This certainly wasn’t ideal when zooming in for a close up romantic shot!

To resolve this problem, California dentist Charles Pincus came up with the idea of dental veneers. Unlike modern ones, these were temporary and simply stuck onto the surface of the teeth for filming purposes only. It is thought that this is where the term  ‘Hollywood Smile’ originates from. Over time, clinical research has enabled veneers to be used more widely and also improved both their appearance and durability.

Modern dental veneers

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Managing Fear Of The Dentist

Some tips and advice for our Canterbury patients on how to make dental visits less stressful

Nervous dental patientWhen we write our blogs, we know that some of them might only appeal to a relatively small number of you at any given time. For example, only a small percentage of you may be looking at ways to replace a missing tooth at that particular time. One topic that we do know will be of interest to a large number of you though, is dental anxiety.

Dental phobia is very common and probably almost as common as a fear of flying. There can be varying degrees of it though and most patients probably feel at least a tinge of apprehension when they come for an appointment. This level of anxiety is rarely enough to make them cancel their appointment however, and they will be able to receive the necessary care and attention.

Like at all dental practices, some patients of Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic will suffer from quite extensive levels of anxiety and this can lead them to avoid appointments, especially when they know that a treatment is going to take place. As we know, delaying treatment will only make the situation worse, with more extensive treatment almost certainly needed later on.

In today’s blog then, we are going to offer some hopefully useful tips which, whilst not probably completely eliminating all anxiety, should do so enough for you to receive your treatment in a reasonably relaxed manner.

Find your dentist

We know that different people will ‘click’ with certain dentists and not so much with others. We have many highly qualified and friendly dentists within our Canterbury practice and we are happy to help you to find the right one for you. For example, some patients are relaxed by a dentist who has a ‘chatty’ manner with their patients whilst others would rather they say as little as possible and get on with it. Neither approach is bad but it affects different people in different ways.

Bring something to help distract you

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Wishing You Had Straighter Teeth? – Invisalign Could Provide The Ideal Solution

Are too many people deterred from having their teeth straightened because they don’t want to wear braces?

Invisalign bracesAre you one of those people who looks in the mirror at your teeth and feels frustrated because they look good apart from them being uneven? If so, you are far from alone.

Whilst an increasing number of people are happy to have treatments such as teeth whitening which take a short period of time to work, some are put off the idea of having their teeth straightened due to the length of time they might have to wear braces.

Although there are some fast acting orthodontics, such as Cfast, that can provide solutions to minor problems in just a few months, many crooked teeth problems will require the patient to wear braces for a year or more. Understandably, this does put some people off.

Should you have your teeth straightened?

It might be tempting not to bother having your teeth straightened and to leave them as they are, even if they are crooked. The obvious disadvantage of this is the effect it has on your appearance, and crooked teeth can really spoil what might otherwise be an attractive smile. Fewer people seem to recognise the more practical problems of crooked teeth though. They are much harder to keep clean, and teeth that are very tight against each other or which overlap can lead to food and bacteria getting trapped in areas that are very difficult to keep clean. This may well lead to tooth decay and gum disease problems.

There is also the issue of incorrect alignment which can lead to uneven wearing of the teeth, leading to sensitive and even damaged teeth.

‘Braces’ have changed

At Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic, we provide a range of teeth straightening systems for Canterbury dental patients that can straighten all types of tooth misalignment. Where more than a cosmetic improvement is needed, we generally use Invisalign orthodontics. Not only is this an excellent and reliable system, but offers many benefits for the wearer for the duration of the treatment. Unlike traditional dental braces that are made from wires and brackets and which have to remain in the mouth for the year or so of wearing them, Invisalign orthodontics are removable by the patient. This isn’t their only advantage either.

Discreet teeth straightening

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Beware Of Potentially Dangerous Teeth Whitening Products

Highlighted by the BBC today, there are still many harmful cosmetic dental materials available online

tooth painSome of our Canterbury patients may have noticed an article on the BBC website today regarding potentially dangerous teeth whitening products being sold online.

This follows an investigation by ‘Which’ magazine who found that the worst of these contained quantities of the active ingredient which whitens the teeth and which is a form of bleach, to be 300 times above the recommended amount.

We will look at the issues around these treatments shortly but this is probably an opportune moment to appeal to our patients to remember that your teeth are not a solid block of material and shouldn’t be treated, for example, like a fingernail. Teeth are very complex and as those who have had a painful tooth will know, also have very sensitive nerves within them too!

Teeth whitening agents

The active ingredient in these products and also in teeth whitening toothpastes and the treatments that we use at Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic, is called hydrogen peroxide. It is a form of bleach that is safe to use by those who are professionally trained to do so; i.e. dentists. Whilst it is in teeth whitening toothpastes, it is there only in very small quantities and typically would not exceed 0.1%. As you can see, this is a small quantity which ensures that the toothpaste is safe to use. Unfortunately, it also means that anyone hoping to have bright white teeth from its use are likely to be somewhat disappointed.

The amount allowed is higher for specialised home teeth whitening kits that can be bought from chemists. Whilst small children are sometimes known to eat toothpaste, it is assumed that the kits will be less easily available to them in the home and therefore a higher amount of bleaching agent is allowed. This can range from a starting point of 0.1% up to 6%. This is also the maximum level that suitably trained cosmetic dentists can use.

Home or professional teeth whitening?

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Remote Dentistry – The Future, Or A Risk To Our Teeth?

Will a time come when you don’t have to visit your local dentist?

Dentist with x-rayGoing to the dentist for a regular checkup has become routine for most of us, or at least had until the start of the pandemic. Gradually, as dental practices return to normal, this will start to happen once again. Those of you who use social media a lot though may have noticed what seems to be an ever increasing number of dental treatments that are offered with some degree of remoteness.

As we become more accustomed to technology and given that most of us would like to save time where possible, could this be the future of dentistry, or is this something that might be more problematic for our Canterbury patients?

At Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic, we value the face to face meetings with our patients. Not only does this allow us to physically examine your teeth and gums, but also helps us to put you at ease. With nervous patients, for example, they might be reluctant to tell us of a problem as they want to avoid treatment. Detecting these problems though and talking them through any procedures can really put them at ease and help them to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

Let’s take a look then, at some of the types of ‘remote dentistry’ that you may have heard about.

Initial virtual consultations

During lockdown, some dental practices have used video communications to hold consultations with their patients.  Whilst few would probably want this as an alternative to physical visits, they have certainly been useful during this last year or so. The question is whether these are likely to continue once things return completely to normal. In our opinion, there may be a use for this type of remote care. It could potentially save time for both patient and dentist where an initial consultation could be held remotely. Although in most cases, this may well also require a follow up visit to the dentist, it could remain useful for initial consultations, and especially cosmetic ones.

We feel then, that the use of this technology will almost certainly have a role to play but will not completely replace the traditional visit to your dentist.

Remote treatment

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Time For A Smile Makeover?

Not sure how to bring out the best in your smile? Let our Canterbury dental team help!

Patient after cosmetic dentistryAlthough we may not be entirely out of the woods yet, there is little doubt that there is more optimism in the air than at this time last year. Some of you will, no doubt, have had your first post lockdown pint or taken part in some other activity.

The more pleasant and sunnier days have probably also helped to lift our spirits as well.

It is usually around this time of the year when people start to look at ways to renew their life with new clothes, healthy eating and other things that make us feel good about ourselves. With restrictions in place for local dental practices for the last year or so, we know that many of you also can’t wait to do something about making your teeth look nicer again as well.

Some of you may have managed to save some money during the pandemic as you couldn’t take holidays or go to restaurants etc. You might wish to consider spending some of this on a smile makeover at Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic.

What is a smile makeover?

A smile makeover is often not a single treatment but can be made up of a combination of treatments depending on the patient’s needs. Most of us probably have an idea of how we’d like our teeth improved; often something as straightforward as having them whitened; but for the best results, you should arrange an appointment with one of our cosmetic dental team so that we can assess and discuss your needs with you. In addition to working out a treatment plan to suit your budget and requirements, we will also check your teeth and gums for any problems that might be present. You wouldn’t, for example, fit dental veneers to a tooth that had a cavity. Gum health too will be checked and treated so that you have a healthy mouth before any cosmetic dental treatment can start.

Treatment options

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