Happy Birthday National Smile Month!

The UKs largest oral health campaign is back to celebrate its 40th birthday and we’d like to say happy birthday!

With the aim to educate, promote and support good oral hygiene throughout the UK, Oral Health Foundation’s annual campaign, National Smile Month, aims to raise awareness of important oral health issues and to give special attention to three messages, recognised by all oral health practitioners as the cornerstones of good dental hygiene:

1. Brush your teeth last thing at night and at least on one other occasion a day with fluoride toothpaste
2. Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks
3. Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend

Let’s start with the first message about brushing your teeth with fluoride. We will be concentrating on this in this blog, and will follow up the remaining messages in subsequent blogs.

We hear you ask, isn’t that just obvious, Sherlock?

While many of us would say that brushing your teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste is a fairly obvious message to be promoting, it might surprise you to know that according to facts and figures collected by the Oral Health Foundation, one in four adults don’t brush twice a day, one in ten have admitted they regularly forget to brush their teeth and one in five of us think fluoride is a marketing gimmick.

So, what is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral found in drinking water and many foods. Some drinking water has additional fluoride added to it by water suppliers, for additional health benefits – water fluoridisation has been proved to bring tooth decay down by 40-60%. So it most certainly is not a marketing gimmick! The fluoride supply in your water can vary from area to area, which is why dentists recommend you top up your fluoride intake by using fluoride toothpaste.

So, how important is it to brush your teeth with fluoride?

In a word, very! When you eat food, containing starch and sugars, the plaque on your teeth produces acid, which attacks the enamel on your teeth. After repeated acid attacks the enamel on your teeth can break done, causing a cavity. Brushing regularly with fluoride helps wash away the acid, protecting the enamel on your teeth. It also stops the build up of plaque, which if unchecked can lead to gum disease.

And what is gum disease?

Not brushing allows plaque to build up on your teeth, which, over time, hardens into something called tartar, or calculus. This tartar deposits near the gum line and causes the gums to become inflamed and irritated. The gums will start to pull away from the teeth, leaving the gaps open to infection. If left untreated gum disease can destroy the bone supporting your teeth causing them to weaken and eventually fall out.

How can you find out more about National Smile Month?

If you are interested in taking part in National Smile Month or finding out more then you can visit their website. You can even order a Smiley! Don’t forget to take a picture and tweet it to us @westcliffdentist.

If you would like to speak to one of our dentists about how to improve your oral health then please get in touch.

How does Inman Aligner work to straighten your teeth?

Continuing our look at the various options available to traditional orthodontics, we will be exploring what is considered by many to be the missing link between cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics.

The Inman Aligner moves your front teeth in a safe and quick fashion giving you a beautiful smile for a much more affordable price than traditional braces.

How does the Inman Aligner work?

The Inman Aligner is a removable retainer with a built-in spring system that goes on either side of your front teeth. This spring controls two alignment bows, which gently resist each other and steer your teeth into their new position.

How is the Inman Aligner different to traditional braces?

Where traditional orthodontics work on the positioning of your bite, the Inman Aligner works on moving and straightening your front teeth, reducing protrusions and aligning crowded upper and lower teeth. This makes the process much more simple and straightforward.

How long does treatment with Inman Aligner take?

Where braces can take anywhere from 2 – 3 years for a complete course, the Inman Aligner gives you noticeable results within 18 weeks. Of course, it depends on severity, but most cases take 6 – 18 weeks to reach completion.

How is Inman Aligner different to Six Month Smiles™?

The Inman Aligner is a removable retainer application making it different from the Six Month Smiles™ procedure that we explored in your previous blog as Six Month Smiles involves a fixed brace application.

How many hours a day should I wear my Inman Aligner retainer?

The exact number of hours of wear required will vary from case to case but our dentists recommend wearing the retainer for around 16 – 20 hours a day to give you that perfect smile.

How much does Inman Aligner cost?

Cost wise the Inman Aligner is one of the cheapest alternatives to traditional orthodontics available in dentistry. The reason for this is the short treatment time and the fact that one appliance is enough to complete treatment whereas braces require regular checkups to tighten and realign wiring. To find out exact cost, book a consultation with us.

How can I get an Inman Aligner?

The process at Westcliff Dental Practice for Inman Aligner is outlined here:

1. Our dentists will book you in for an initial consultation and advise you on whether you are suitable for the Inman Aligner and the results you can expect.
2. We will take an impression of your teeth which will be used to manufacture a custom made Inman Aligner for your case.
3. We will call you in for an initial fitting and our dentists will advise you on how long you should wear your aligner everyday and how often you should come in for checkups so that they can keep an eye on how your case is progressing.
4. Once your course is complete our dentists will advise you on the retention choices available to prevent relapse and keep your teeth straight and healthy.

You can find out more about Inman Aligner and invisible braces on our website.

If your are interested in this treatment or would like more information, then get in touch with our helpful team by calling us or by using our online booking form.

Your perfect smile, six months away

If you’re looking to improve your smile but dread the idea of a mouth full of metal for the next couple of years, Six Month Smiles™ may be just what you’re looking for.

A revolutionary technique in orthodontics, Six Month Smiles™ has completely changed the way our patients achieve a beautiful smile.

While still involving braces, the Six Month Smiles™ technique has improved them to make them more suitable for patients looking for cosmetic treatment. The Lucid-Lok™ brackets used in the treatment are clear and the wires are tooth-coloured, making them next to invisible.

The braces concentrate on moving just the teeth that show when you smile, making the process much quicker. The average treatment time falls within a window of 4 – 9 months.

Your dentist will use Six Month Smiles Patient Tray Kits™ to apply your braces. These trays will be tailor made to suit your teeth, making your appointments quick and stress-free. Since the position of your bite is not being worked on, the force used by the braces is lighter and teeth are seldom extracted, making the risks involved even lower then traditional orthodontics.

Most adults over the age of 18 interested in cosmetic treatment and not looking to reposition their bite are eligible for Six Month Smiles.

It is cheaper than alternative cosmetic treatments like veneers and aligner therapy and because of the short treatment time, can even be cheaper then traditional braces.

You can find out more information about Six Month Smiles and see pictures of the transformation people have achieved on our website.

If you are interested in improving your smile in the next six months or would like more information then get in touch with our helpful team by calling us or by using our online booking form.

Caring for your dental implants

Taking good care of your new dental implants is the next stage in the process of regaining your perfect smile.

Your new dental implants are just like your natural teeth. If they are taken care of properly and if the bone they are attached to is strong, you can expect them to last for many years.

After your new crown has been successfully attached to your implant, our dentists will give you home care recommendations based on your individual treatment case and answer any questions you might have.

Here we answer some of the frequent questions patients ask.

Can I use my regular toothbrush for my new implant?

Our dentists recommend using a soft toothbrush to protect the surface of your crown and your remaining natural teeth. Manual or electric are both fine so long as you brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and avoid baking soda, stain removers and smokers toothpaste as they may damage the crown.

Will I still get food stuck around my new implant?

Your new implant is made to look just like your natural teeth. This means that like your natural teeth, it will get food stuck in hard to reach places which, if not cleaned properly, will damage it. Our dentists recommend flossing daily to ensure food stuck in hard to reach areas is removed.

Can I floss around my new implant?

Yes, we recommend flossing daily to ensure a healthy and long life for your new dental implant. Use unwaxed tape or implant specific floss to protect the tissue surrounding the implant. If your prefer an oral irrigator or a water flosser, these are also very effective in combating plaque build-up and removing food stuck in hard to reach places.

If I had gum disease with my natural teeth can I get it with my implants?

Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque on your teeth that, when left untreated, causes the gums to become swollen and start bleeding. If not taken care of, your new implants are just as susceptible to gum disease as your natural teeth. If you brush and floss daily and have them checked by our dental team on a regular basis, they should be fine.

Smoking can also affect the health of your implants. Let your dentist know if you are a regular smoker and they will be happy to discuses advanced care options for you.

If your are interested in getting a new set of implants or have any questions regarding taking care of your new implants please get in touch with our team by calling us or using our online booking form.

You can find our series of blog posts on dental implants here.

Dental Implant Procedure – A step by step guide

Following on from our earlier blog, Dental Implant vs Dental Bridge, in this post we’re looking at the process for replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant. The process follows five simple stages, although there may be a few different steps in each stage.

Dental Implant Process

Stage 1 – Missing tooth assessment

If you have a missing tooth, our dentist will carry out a thorough assessment and discuss all available options with you. At your first visit, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions regarding the dental implant procedure as well as the estimated cost of the treatment. At Westcliff, we provide you with a service that includes as many appointments required for the treatment to be carried and a free one-year follow-up.

Stage 2 – Inserting implant into jawbone

Once you are happy to proceed and after the planning stage is completed, the implant placement takes place at our practice in Westcliff-On-Sea in Essex. Your dentist will surgically insert the implant into your jawbone through an opening. We only use the Straumann® Implant system, which is considered an industry leader in this technology, guaranteeing increased accuracy and safety.

Stage 3 – Recovery
Once the implant is in place your dentist will advise you of your recovery time before the next stage of the implant procedure. This can be anywhere from 3 – 6 months, giving enough time for the bone to grow around your new implant and secure it firmly in place. Temporary replacement of missing teeth will be provided.

Stage 4 – Making the crown
Once your implant is secure and has stabilised with your jawbone, your dentist will take another impression of your tooth and based on the initial impression, an artificial tooth/teeth will be produced especially for you. All the necessary steps are taken at this stage to ensure the restored tooth blends in with your other teeth.

Stage 5 – Inserting new crown
The final step is the insertion of your new crown. It is attached to the dental implant that was fixed into your jawbone and you are ready to go. We always recall patients for a review post implant and tooth placement and recommend a yearly follow up.

You can watch a short video highlighting the dental implant process on our website.

If you are considering getting a new dental implant or would like to discuss your case please get in touch with our helpful team by calling us or using our online booking form.

Dental Implant vs Bridge – What is the best treatment for my missing tooth?

Missing a tooth or multiple teeth is never a good experience. It can change the way your smile appears, make you feel conscious and cause anxiety about the amount of dental work required to fix the problem.

With developments in dentistry, many options have opened up for those with missing teeth, the most popular being bridges and dental implants. But many are left confused as to what the best option for them is, as well as the differences between the two treatments.

Here are some of the key points to note when choosing the right one for you.

What is a dental bridge?

A bridge is essentially a false tooth that is fixed into place by attaching it to the adjacent teeth. This is done by removing the enamel of the adjoining teeth and adding a crown which it then connected to the false tooth. The end result is a bridge of teeth to hold the false one in place.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a screw that is placed in the jaw so that a single bridge or crown can be fixed to it. The jaw bone attaches itself to the screw, holding it in place firmly and therefore does not need to impact on the adjacent teeth.

Which treatment is better for me?

Our dentists will always talk you through all the different options to help you decide which treatment is more suited to you. But we have compiled a list of advantages and disadvantages of each treatment to help you on your way:

Advantages of a dental bridge:
• Cost effective
• Treatment doesn’t take long
• Reliable
• No surgery required
• Quick healing time

Disadvantages of a dental bridge:
• Impacts the adjacent teeth as enamel has to be removed
• Risk of tooth decay and gum disease
• May require root canal if nerves are too close to tooth
• If adjacent teeth are crowns, these may have to be replaced
• Do not last as long as implants

Advantages of dental implant:
• Implants are long lasting
• Reliable and less likely to develop gum disease
• Implants do not decay
• Adjacent teeth are not impacted

Disadvantages of a dental implant:
• Can be costly
• Not a quick solution as time is needed to prepare implants
• Minor surgery is required
• Longer healing time due to nature of the treatment

How can I find out more?

Our website has information on dental implants and dental bridges so you can make an informed decision about the best treatment for you.

Our dentists are always on hand to help you and answer any questions. Make an appointment with us through our website and we’d be happy to help!

Top Tips! How to take care of sensitive teeth in the winter

One of the most common complaints by patients with sensitive teeth is just how much more sensitive they are in the winter months. The combination of cold air and hot drinks can cause symptoms to become worse and the discomfort can really affect day to day life.

With the blistery cold weather really settled in, we have some tips on how to keep teeth sensitivity at bay this winter.


1. Brush with a sensitive toothpaste

Desensitising toothpastes can work by blocking the pores where sensitivity can occur. There are a number of toothpastes on the market for those with sensitive teeth and brushing with them twice a day can relieve your symptoms significantly. Even rubbing some of the toothpaste on sensitive areas throughout the day can help your sensitivity.

2. Avoid hot or cold foods and drinks
With the cold air outside hitting our teeth, any extreme change in temperature can trigger teeth sensitivity. Avoid really hot or cold food and drinks and use lukewarm water when brushing.

3. Avoid all acidic drinks
One of the main causes of sensitive teeth is the breakdown or softening of tooth enamel. Acidic drinks are a culprit, so avoid these at all costs to ensure your tooth enamel is not affected further.

4. Brush with a softer toothbrush
Brushing aggressively is one of the main reasons why teeth can become sensitive in the first place, so using a soft bristled brush can help you to be gentler on your teeth and gums. An electric toothbrush is also a good option.

5. Use a mouthguard for teeth grinding
Many people grind their teeth at night without evening knowing. The friction caused by grinding can make your teeth sensitivity worse so speak to us about getting a mouthguard to stop grinding at night.

If you suffer from sensitive teeth and want to speak to us about any of the above or to get a mouthguard, our team will be more than happy to help you. Book an appointment with us today.

Mouth cancer self exam – how regular checks can save lives

mouth_cancer_soft_tissue_exam

As Mouth Cancer Action Month continues, we’re encouraging patients to carry out regular self-examinations for mouth cancer at home, as you would for cancers such as breast or testicular.

The sad facts are that mouth cancer has risen by over a third in the last decade and is now one of the top ten cancers in men. In the last year alone, over 6767 people in the UK were diagnosed with mouth cancer and sadly over 1800 people lose their life to mouth cancer each year. But early detection can save lives. It is estimated that chances of survival based on early diagnosis are 90% compared to 50% for late diagnosis.

As we outlined in our last blog, the risk factors related to mouth cancer can be related to genetics, age and even gender, but most are lifestyle related. The best way to reduce your risk is to avoid the causes, such as smoking, chewing tobacco and drinking alcohol in excess. Alongside this, regular self-examinations can prepare you to seek help early if you notice any of the symptoms.

We would like to emphasise how important it is that any symptoms you may notice are brought to our attention as early as possible. To help you with this, we have outlined the steps you should carry out at least once a month at home at least to spot the early signs of mouth.

1. Head and Neck
Look in a mirror and check for symmetry on both sides of your face and your neck. If you notice changes on one side, check for bumps, lumps and swelling on the side that looks different.

2. Neck
Using your fingers, feel along your neck checking for tenderness and lumps. Press gently to check for any swelling or lumps.

3. Tongue
Look at the surface of your tongue. Look for patches of swelling and a different colour or texture to the rest of your tongue. Use your fingers to feel the sides and the underside of your tongue, again checking for lumps or differences in texture. Ulcers that are not healing can also be a cause for concern.

4. Cheek
Using your fingers, feel the inside of your cheeks looking for swelling, tenderness and ulcers. Using a mirror, look at the inside of your cheek and check for any red, white or dark patches and tenderness.

5. Roof of your mouth
Both the roof of your mouth and the floor of your mouth are areas where early symptoms can be spotted. Run your fingers along the roof of your mouth checking for lumps, ulcers and swelling. Tilt your head back and use a mirror to look for any dark, red or white patches.

6. Floor of your mouth
Look in the mirror at the floor of your mouth for any changes in colour from what is normal. Use your fingers and your tongue to feel across the floor of your mouth for any swelling, lumps or ulcers.

7. Lips
Finally, examine the inside of both your lower and upper lip. Pull down your lower lip to look for lumps, ulcers and changes in colour. Use your thumb to feel for any changes in texture, lumps, swelling and sores. Do this for your upper lip too.

By following this basic routine on a regular basis, you can spot the early signs of mouth cancer and increase your chances of early diagnosis. It is very important to remember that this is a basic guide and if you do find something different, you should contact us for a thorough mouth screening. Our staff are always on hand to give advice and address any concerns you might have.

Remember, if in doubt, get checked out!

You can find out more about mouth cancer on the Mouth Cancer Action Month website.

It’s Mouth Cancer Action time!

Mouth Cancer Action MonthNovember is Mouth Cancer Action Month ladies and gentleman!

Mouth Cancer in the UK has grown by a third over the last decade and is one of the few cancers that is expected to grow over the next few years. Awareness and action around it couldn’t be more vital.

The aim of the Mouth Cancer Action Month campaign is to improve education around Mouth Cancer by raising awareness of the causes and symptoms so you can take action to reduce your risk, as well see the dentist for early diagnosis. Just like other cancers, such as breast or testicular, it is important to check for symptoms regularly so you can see a doctor as soon as possible, should you need to.

We here at Westcliff Dental Practice could not stress the importance of this initiative more and plan to lend our full support to it. We’re encouraging everyone to book in for a screening with us this month!

What causes Mouth Cancer?

As with other cancers, your individual risk can be determined by a number of things, such as genetics, age and even gender. However, evidence has shown 91% of mouth cancer diagnoses are linked to lifestyle, with the following being the main causes:

Smoking and consumption of other tobacco products. Tar and chemicals from these products infects the saliva in the mouth, damaging cells and can turn them cancerous. Heavy smokers are at higher risk but this can also affect those who smoke occasionally, especially if they have other risk factors already.
An excessive intake of alcohol is the second biggest cause of mouth cancer in the UK. This doesn’t mean a glass of wine once in a while will hurt but the NHS recommends 3-4 units of alcohol a day for men and 2-3 units for women. They also recommend avoiding alcohol for 48 hours after heavy drinking sessions.
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is another major cause of mouth cancer. While most sexually active people will get HPV at some time in their lives, 90% of HPV infections go away by themselves within two years. However, sometimes HPV infections can persist and cause abnormal tissue growth and other changes in cells causing cancer.
Poor diet is another primary cause of mouth cancer, one that turns up in nearly half of all cases. Low vitamins and minerals, such as iron and folic acid intake, can lead to a break down in the oral mucosa and make the cells in the mouth cancerous.

What are the symptoms of mouth cancer?

Recognising the symptoms of mouth cancer is the best way of diagnosing and treating it. The most common symptoms are:

Red or white patches in the mouth or throat
A lump in the mouth
Ulcers that do not heal

Although the following do not always indicate mouth cancer, these can also be symptoms to look out for:

A persistent pain in the mouth
Pain or difficulty when swallowing
Bleeding or numbness in the mouth
Difficulty moving your jaw
Unexplained weight loss

Can my dentist check my symptoms?

Absolutely. Dentists are able to check for mouth cancer as well as provide you with information on how to reduce your risk from it. As some symptoms can be caused by minor infections and other less serious conditions, it is very important that our dentists be consulted if you experience any or all of them for more than three weeks. We also recommend having regular mouth cancer screenings and dental check-ups as our dentists are best placed to catch signs that haven’t been noticed by you.

How do I book a mouth cancer screening?

You can book a mouth cancer screening by calling us or using our online booking form. We are also happy to answer any questions or concerns you have by email.

How can I raise awareness about mouth cancer?

You can help support Mouth Cancer Action Month by visiting their website, Facebook and Twitter pages and taking action! Do remember to tag us on Twitter and Facebook!

Heard of #doitforyourselfie? Here’s more about Denplan and finance options at Westcliff Dental Practice

Have you been waiting for the selfie fad to die out because you hate how your teeth look in them? Think again. According to a YouGov survey 5.6 million selfies are taken on an average day by adults in the UK. They’re not going anywhere. But don’t worry, you won’t have to duck and dive forever. We offer a variety of payment options to help you get closer to that perfect smile.

Denplan

One of our most popular finance options is Denplan. Launched at the practice in 2012, Denplan allows you to spread the cost of your dental care over the year. You can set up a monthly payment plan that can covers routine care, such as check-ups, x-rays and hygiene visits, and restorative dental treatments, like crowns, bridges or fillings. We will undertake an initial assessment of your oral health and the monthly amount you pay will be determined by how much treatment you need.

We offer Denplan Essentials and Denplan Care at our practice, both of which include dental injury and emergency cover. Mouth cancer cover is also available and you will have access to Denplan’s 24 hour emergency helpline.

Medenta

To help our patients take advantage of all our treatments, we offer an alternate payment option through Medenta. This includes a range of instalment plans, some at 0% interest finance, to help you get the treatment you would like in the most affordable way possible. Through Medenta, we offer all treatments, including cosmetic treatments, such as teeth whitening, porcelain veneers and invisible braces.

Which finance plan is best for me?

The plan most suitable for you depends on your oral health needs. We believe preventative dentistry to be the key to healthy teeth. Regular check-ups allow us to catch anything that needs attention before it can get a strong foothold, and regular hygiene visits are recommended to maintain gum health. This is where Denplan is better suited as it allows you to budget efficiently for regular visits by offering two dental plans depending on your needs.

Your monthly cost will be calculated using the level of care you need and an alternate plan catering towards children is also available to help insure their teeth grow strong and healthy. Family discounts are also available through Denplan so if you have children, this plan may be more suited to you. Denplan is best for those who require preventative and restorative treatments.

If you require one off treatments, such as cosmetic treatments, Medenta finance is the option for you. You can pay for your treatment in monthly amounts that are affordable for you. We can advise you on how to manage this and with the 0% plans, you’ll be paying for the original treatment price without interest.

How do I find out more?

To get the ball rolling, we advise you to make an appointment with one of our helpful dentists. They will give you an initial assessment and then advice you on which plan is suitable for you.

You can find out more about our payment plans on our website.

Through Denplan and Medenta, Westcliff offers everyone an affordable way to join in the selfies!

#doitforyourselfie

Share your selfie with Denplan using the hashtag #doitforyourselfie to win prizes! Don’t forget to tag us too @westcliffdental!