To Floss or Not To Floss? – That is The Question

As a dental nurse, I get to hear lots of responses to the following question from Dentists and Hygienists to patient; ‘So what are you using to clean in between your teeth?’

Responses tend to fall in to two categories; those patients who know exactly what interdental aids they are using, and those who admit to using nothing yet say they know that they really should be. So why are Dentists and Hygienists asking patients this question? There are several reasons:

  • Tooth brushing alone can’t reach into all the tight spaces between your teeth and under the gum line. By using floss or interdental aids you’ll be able to remove more plaque (tooth brushing alone means you are missing 35% of your tooth surfaces…..yuk).
  • Plaque is a soft, sticky substance that develops when food debris is left behind.  You can remove it yourself at home with tooth brushing, floss and interdental aids. It’s what makes our teeth feel “furry” when we run our tongue over them.

  • By using floss and interdental aids you will prevent the formation of calculus. Calculus is hardened plaque. Calculus can only be removed by a visit to the Dental Hygienist.  However, once calculus has formed it will make it harder to toothbrush and floss effectively, in turn harbouring harmful bacteria which can cause cavities and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).

Prevention is better than the cure!

Dentists and Dental Hygienists care passionately about your oral health and ensuring your mouth is as healthy as possible. At your appointments, whilst it may feel like a telling off, your dentist or hygienist just wants the best for you. By implementing flossing and interdental aids into your daily routine you can be assured that you will be doing your best to prevent conditions such as gingivitis, cavities and preventing harmful bacteria that has been shown to impact on other diseases of the body such as diabetes and heart disease.

Attending your regular maintenance appointments at Absolute Dental you can be assured that your Dentist and Hygienist will assist you to ensure that you have all the tools and skills to make sure your mouth is as healthy as possible. Then it’s up to you to implement this into your daily routine; think 3 R’s;

  • Reminder – when you pick up the toothbrush, this is your reminder to clean interdentally.
  • Routine – floss and use any interdental aids before tooth brushing.
  • Reward – you know that you’re doing your best to maintain your oral health and preventing any other conditions arising.


Oral piercings and oral risk – what they don’t tell you at the piercing parlour

Whether you think they’re a striking way to express yourself, or a barbarous body modification, there’s no denying the popularity of oral piercings is on the rise, especially amongst young people. Often when individuals chose to undergo an oral piercing, their first thought is about the aesthetic effect of the jewellery, and not the risks an oral piercing poses. Unfortunately, this means sometimes the piercing ends up infected, or even permanently damaging teeth. Oral piercings can pose a serious threat to both teeth and oral hygiene, and this is not information that is common knowledge. In fact, at least 50 percent of people with lip piercings experience injury to gums or teeth.

Primarily, oral piercings are made of metal, and therefore can cause inconvenience in dental treatment and examinations, especially regarding the taking of x-rays. This metal can also cause abrasion, wearing, chipping and sometimes even breakages in the teeth, which is not easily rectifiable. This can also lead to an increase in tooth sensitivity, which can be extremely painful and prevent individuals from enjoying their food. Our mouths are always moving, and this means the piercing is moving too, rubbing against many different surfaces in the mouth. The constant rubbing action of lip or tongue piercings against the gums can lead to gum recession, where the gums shrink back to protect against the relentless rubbing, which leaves tooth surface exposed to potential acid erosion, which can lead to sensitivity, decay and even tooth loss! Not to mention, poor oral hygiene concerning a tongue piercing can give you awful bad breath, not pleasant for anybody!

Now, this is not to say that good oral health means no oral piercings for you! Oral piercings can be made safe by regular visits to the dentist to check how the jewellery is affecting your mouth, and to monitor any damage. To avoid the risk of infection, oral piercings should be cleaned properly every day, taken out as often as you can, and worn only when wanted (there’s no need for you to sleep with piercings in!) As always, when considering an oral piercing, the first person you should take advice from is your dentist!

Where does The Tooth Fairy come from?

No one is really sure where the legend of the tooth fairy came from…

Some say that Viking warriors used to pay children for their teeth, to take the teeth into battle as good luck charms. If this is to be believed then maybe Hollywood didn’t go too far wrong with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a Tooth Fairy!

In the Middle Ages, it was believed that witches could gain control over you if they had a piece of you – hair, clothing, or teeth – with which to work their magic. Therefore, parents used to bury their children’s teeth in the garden so the witches could not find them.

Luckily nowadays things are a little lighter and we have a lovely fairy, male or female the jury is still out but what we do know is they definitely wear a pink tutu and collect children’s teeth from under their pillows. In exchange for these teeth they traditionally leave a gold coin, although there have been rumours of paper money being left, we put this down to inflation in some areas, but don’t panic parent’s gold coins are still most widely used.

We also know that the Tooth Fairy only pays the full price for a healthy tooth, less or nothing for a tooth with cavities and for lost teeth you can leave a note explain where the tooth was lost.

So still the moral of our story is clean those teeth twice daily with a pea sized amount of Fluoride toothpaste to keep them nice and healthy and Tooth Fairy worthy.

Stressed out teeth!

Whilst factors such as diet and our oral cleaning habits are key to having healthy teeth and gums; other, sometimes inescapable factors, can also have an impact.
Modern life
An increasing number of us live a more stressful lifestyle than our ancestors: work, family, financial responsibilities etc.. This type of stress can have a negative impact on our teeth.

Poor diet
One area which stress can affect is our diet. When all is calm and tranquil, we may stick to our ‘quinoa and yoghurt’ lifestyles, but, when stress strikes, how many of us think about healthy eating? So ready made meals and snacks seem to be the easiest options. Unfortunately, this means an increase in sugar in our diet which, if we do not clean our teeth properly, may lead to eventual enamel erosion and decay of our teeth. Compromised enamel means that tooth decay and other problems are more likely to occur.

Another way that stress often manifests itself is when we grind our teeth together; this is known as bruxism. Although we may feel that we don’t do this, it is likely that when we sleep we are grinding our teeth together, especially if we have something troublesome on our minds.

Not only is this likely to lead to a poor night’s sleep, but regular grinding is known to wear down the teeth, possibly causing a poor and uneven bite, and, in extreme cases, teeth have even been known to break. Grinding is a common cause of dental pain for many people.  In cases where this leads to the breakage of a tooth, the broken tooth can sometimes be restored with a filling or a crown, and worn enamel potentially restored, it is obviously far preferable to avoid this happening in the first place.

If you are aware of clenching or grinding, this can often be the first step on the way to trying to overcome this. Our dentists often recommend to try a mouthguard, it is a soft plastic mould which fits over your teeth and protects during the night. Ask your dentist for more details at your next dental health assessment.
Dental care
Whilst we are not really able to offer any direct help about stress (although your doctor may be able to), what we can do, apart from restore already damaged teeth, is to help you ensure that your teeth are strong and healthy in the first place. This will hopefully help to resist wear and tear. If you are concerned about your teeth, or are aware that you grind them and haven’t had them checked recently, contact the Absolute Team today.

5 things I wish I’d known before becoming a dental nurse….

1- I wish I had been born with 3 hands instead of 2.

2 – Dental floss can be used for many more things than people think for example, replacing shoe laces, cutting food and making a fishing net.

3 – That teeth are the first thing you notice when meeting someone new.

4 – My definition of “busy” would change

5 – How desperate I would become when I have a 5 minute gap and there’s cake in the staff room……

And I LOVE it!


What does Mouthwash actually do?

If you, like me, have ever found yourself in the supermarket dazzled by a psychedelic technicolor kaleidoscopic array mouthwash bottles, have you ever stopped to wonder whether you actually need it? And do they really work? Many mouthwashes claim to combat common oral health problems like bad breath, cavities and acid erosion, but can a twice daily swill of what, let’s be honest for a moment here, feels like a mouth full of bright blue/pink/green acid burning away the surface of your tongue and cheeks, really do everything it claims to do?

Interestingly, the answer is both yes and no. Did you know that most of the chemicals in mouthwash only begin to actively work after 60 seconds of gargling – meaning most people lose out on these benefits because they just swish and spit.

Mouthwash only works as a booster in an already good oral health care regime, meaning you’re wasting your time with it unless your properly brushing and flossing twice daily. That being said, the active ingredients in many mouthwashes do work, provided the above is considered. But there are as many mouthwashes as there are oral health problems, so ensuring you have the right product for you is essential, and just picking the best tasting/least expensive/prettiest bottled mouthwash is not going to cut it.

Some mouthwashes work best used at different times to tooth-brushing; some mouthwashes are recommended for short term use only; some contain more fluoride than others and some are not recommended by professionals at all!

As always, the best person to ask is your dentist, they will be able to suggest a particular mouthwash suited to your oral health needs. Every body, and by extension, every mouth, is idiosyncratic, meaning totally unique to you, so if you need a mouthwash, ask the expert. That way you’ll be able to face the mouthwash aisle knowing exactly which product you’ll be leaving with – one that will work for you.


E Cigarettes; Long term dental issues?

New legislation has just been passed regarding e liquids and e- Cigarettes with the aim to make them safer for those using the products. These items are now registered with the Medicines and Healthcare agency.

There are now an estimated 2.9 million Brits using e-cigarettes regularly. Whilst “vaping” (as it is called) is almost certainly better than smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products, there is no information as to what vaping is doing to oral health.

Quitting smoking is of course beneficial to patients, and we are all aware of the oral health problems caused by smoking;
Mouth Cancer
Gum Disease
Tooth Loss
Bad Breath

However E -Cigarettes do contain nicotine and this is incredibly addictive. Overall, that in itself it is a very unhealthy situation & the combustion creates a lot of the carcinogens that are present in cigarette smoke.

E -Cigarettes still expose the user to a large dose of nicotine which is recognised as a significant risk factor for the development and progression of periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease has also been proven to be closely linked to other serious health issues including heart disease, diabetes, strokes and dementia.

So the jury is still out. E-cigarettes can help people to quit smoking but we do not know the full long term impact and therefore recommend our patients only use them for a short period of time.

At every Dental Health Assessment at Absolute, your dentist will carry out a mouth cancer check, and if they have any concerns, they will highlight this to you and refer you to a colleague who can assess you further. We look at the whole mouth, not just your teeth and gums.


Oral health-related quality of life improved with orthodontics

New research has found that orthodontic treatment improves oral health-related quality of llife, with the most improvement being in emotional and social wellbeing.

The paper, co-authorised by Professor Phillip Benson, is based on a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies using patient reported outcomes before and after orthodontic treatment. The findings are highly significant for the orthodontic specialty, because until now, there has been little evidence that orthodontic treatment improves oral health-related quality of life.

” We are constantly being told by our patients that they are pleased they had their teeth straightened and that they are no longer embarressed to smile or to be photographed” said Professor Benson

Combined data from 4 studies were used to measure what people thought of their teeth, and how their dental appearance affects their life before, during and after treatment.

The data showed that the improvements were measurable in all areas of emotional and social wellbeing.

Here at Absolute, we’ve had fantastic results with our short term orthodontic treatments, and here are what some of our patients have had to say:

“The results are phenomenal and I am so pleased. I’ve had so many compliments and my daughters tell me I have such a pretty smile – the best compliment of all!”

” I would thoroughly recommend the Six Month Smile treatment. The care and attention from Rhod and the team has been perfect throughout”

“I’ve had my braces on for only 2 months and I did not expect to see such quick results!”

Here are some “before and after” pictures of some of Rhods patients who have had their orthodontic treatment with us:

If you would like to know if orthodontics is suitable for you, call us today on 01548 852165 and book a complimentary consultation.


The Reluctant Spouse

As a child of The 70’s, dentists held a special place in my mind, usually at the very back of it. Anyone reading this that had dental work as a child during the 70’s will understand what I mean, little or no pain relief, being held down whilst the dentist did his best to do his work, crowded and stuffy waiting rooms and the dreaded “rubber mask”……… If I close my eyes I can still smell the rubber.

So when I reached my teens I simply stopped going to the dentist, if I brushed my teeth twice a day there would be no problems and no need to see the dentist. Simple. I happily went along for the next 20 years, my teeth getting progressively worse but I thought I could manage it. Then it happened, one toffee too many and my tooth broke. After neglecting my teeth for all those years, I was down to eating on one side only by this stage anyway, and the newly broken tooth was on my “good” side. I had no choice, and the pain was too much:

I had to go…….to THE DENTIST….

I received a personal recommendation to Absolute Dental (from my wife, who had for many years been gentle nudging me to take some action), and driven on by the pain from my broken tooth, made an initial appointment. The first thing that struck me when I arrived was how much it had changed. I walked through the door, I smelt flowers and scented candles (not that “dentist smell” that I remembered so vividly!), I was greeted by attentive staff who knew who I was, why I was there and who I’d be seeing. The waiting area was light, spacious and relaxing. I was offered a cup of coffee! It was like a whole new world! My dentist, Mr. John talked to me (he didn’t “tell me off” for my years of neglect, as I worried he would), he explained what he needed to do, why he’d be doing it, and most importantly to me – what I should do if I needed him to stop. After some gentle reassurance, I felt like I had some control over the situation, and I began to relax. Mr Johns assistant was overseeing everything in a calm and efficient manner; no rush, no panic we’ll go at your pace.

As you can imagine, there was more than this one sorry tooth that needed some attention, but everything was explained to me, and the treatment carried out in stages that I could manage.

Absolute Dental now help me to maintain my new and improved healthy mouth; regular check ups, dental hygienist treatment and spreading the cost with a monthly membership have restored my faith in a profession I was once happy to turn my back on. Although the smell of the rubber mask is still there, the anxiety is not and for that I thank you.

NC – Kingsbridge

HRT and Gum Disease

Replacement Therapy (HRT) has been credited with helping women manage a range of menopause-related issues, including hot flushes, heart health and bone density, and now new research suggests HRT could be used to reduce gum disease and prevent tooth loss.

The study of women between the ages of 50 and 87, discovered rates of gum disease were significantly lower in those receiving HRT, with many seeing a 44% improvement in gum health.

The menopause which occurs in the late 40s and early 50s, leaves women at higher risk of several health issues, including gum disease, due to a decrease in oestrogen levels.

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss and evidence suggests that more than a quarter of post-menopausal women are likely to suffer from tooth loss within five years.

An estimated one million British women currently take HRT, however many more could be suffering from menopausal symptoms in silence.

Consequently the Oral Health Foundation , is encouraging woman to be more aware of their oral health during this time and are offering advice about, how to cope with such changes to the mouth.

Several significant changes occur in the body during the menopause and many have resulting symptoms which can have a substantial impact on a woman’s day-to-day life, so much so that oral health can at times feel like the least of their worries.
Falling oestrogen levels throughout menopause can cause numerous health issues, such as loss of bone density, leading to osteoporosis. At the same time, changes in oral health also are common . Teeth and gums become more susceptible to disease, resulting in heightened risk of inflammation and bleeding of gums possibly progressing to pain loosening and loss of teeth.

In addition to gum disease and tooth loss, women undergoing menopause can also be at heightened risk of other oral health conditions such as dry mouth, Burning Mouth Syndrome and weakness in the jawbone .

While HRT could offer women an opportunity to alleviate some painful symptoms, it is extremely important to continue maintaining a good oral health and hygiene routine during menopause.

“Brushing our teeth twice last thing at night and at one other time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste and reducing the amount of sugary foods and drinks we consume could make a significant difference in keeping any major problems at bay. Cleaning in between our teeth on a daily basis with interdental brushes or floss can also be of great benefit.

“Maintaining good oral hygiene throughout our lives is the best way to prevent the development of many oral health problems. It is important that we do not overlook the health of our mouth and remember, if you are in pain or discomfort please visit a dental professional. A visit to a dental hygienist or dental therapist could really help you and provide you with great advice too.”

Anybody wishing to find out more about their oral health may call us here at Absolute Dental. We are always happy to help!