Kicking the White Stuff – One Dental Nurses efforts to go Sugar-Free (or at least begin thinking about it anyway!)

As I tucked into some moreish sweeties over Christmas I said to my husband “I’m sure they put something addictive in these things!” to which he replied “Like what?! Sugar?”

To some people its obvious – to others, we simply just don’t realise how addictive sugar is!

Sugar plays such a large role in our modern diets, and this has left some of us behaving like sugar “junkies” wondering where our next fix will some from (in my case, the closest bag of Haribos!).

But I wondered if I could break this addictive cycle, and if so, how difficult it would be to kick the cravings…… The health benefits of giving up sugar were made all too aware to me last year when my mum was diagnosed as “pre-diabetic” and had to attend a group which helped her look at her diet and lifestyle. We’ve KNOW that sugar can cause dental health problems as well as general health problems – so why can’t we just “give it up”?

Sugar addiction is no laughing matter, in fact research has shown it is as addictive as cocaine and cigarettes, and humans actually binge on sugar in the same way as hard drugs.

And our nation’s love of sugar comes at a high price too, as the NHS revealed that obesity is now costing the taxpayer £16 billion a year. And admissions to hospital for children aged 5-9 years in 2018 was up to nearly 26,000 patients! Staggering. There is no doubt we are in a “sugar crisis” and it looks as if it’s here to stay.

Cutting out or reducing sugar intake doesn’t come without some warnings though, it seems! It can have side-effects: headaches, sluggishness and even flu-like symptoms. But it’s got to be worth it, surely?!

So I have been seeking out some “top tips” for kicking the white stuff (sugar, in my case!), thank you to Sophie Gallagher of HuffPost UK for doing some research on my behalf (clearly I am not alone in this!)

1. Do It Slowly

Your tastebuds will adapt over time as you have less sugar in your diet, so don’t be surprised if things start to taste different. Nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed, told HuffPost UK: “My advice is to try and do it slowly, overtime, to allow your tastebuds to adapt to a lower sugar taste.”

For example, if you take two or three sugars in your coffee or tea, then try cutting this down by half a teaspoon at a time. Keep shaking a little off the spoon each time until you can fully cut it.

2. Try Making Food Swaps

Often it isn’t the sugar in chocolate and other sweet treats that are the real culprit, but hidden “dishonest” sugars in cereals, granolas, pasta sauces and other things that we might consider savoury, or even healthy.

Charlotte Stirling-Reed said: “Use food labels to help you decide which foods have lower sugar contents and opt for those varieties.”

3. Ditch Fizzy Drinks

If you drink fizzy drinks every day, these are the first issue you need to deal with when making your sugar changes. Try switching to water as your main drink, and having just one can of soda a day. Then move to one can every couple of days, and so on.

If you don’t like the flavour of water, try infused water – add fruits such as berries for a sweet kick but made up of natural, not artificial, sugars. But beware of acids on fruit causing acid erosion of teeth!

4. Ensure You Balance Your Blood Sugar

Nutritionist Penny Crowther said: “Cravings for sweet foods will be greatly reduced if blood sugar balance is maintained.”

You can balance your blood sugar in a number of ways:

– Eat slow release carbohydrates such as rye bread, spelt bread, brown rice and porridge oats.

– Always eat protein with carbohydrates, avoid eating carbs alone. These can be animal or plant based protein (lentils, tofu, nuts, beans).

– Eat three regular meals a day – constant grazing is not good for insulin levels.

– Always eat breakfast, even if this isn’t when you first wake up.

5. When You Are Baking, Halve The Sugar In The Recipe

“When following recipes halve the amount of sugar suggested. This works for most recipes except jam, ice cream and meringue,” said Penny Crowther.

This is an easy substitute to make as most recipes don’t really require as much sugar as they state, and it means you don’t have to give up baking your favourite sweet treats. Instead use vanilla, almonds or orange peel.

6. Choose Dark Chocolate

Rather than leaving things to chance and being prone to those 3 o’clock sugar slumps, keep dark chocolate on your desk to beat those cravings as soon as they hit.

Crowther said: “Choose dark chocolate as your sweet treat, which contains less sugar, no dairy or gluten and more antioxidants.”

7. Monitor Your Alcohol Intake

Although it can be tempting to reward yourself for keeping away from the sweet stuff, alcohol is one of the worst sources of sugars.

It is extremely high in sugar, especially liqueurs and cocktails (and makes you more likely to fall off the wagon the next day). Use soda water as your mixer instead of fizzy drinks.

Instead of setting unrealistic goals for yourself that you won’t want to maintain, keep drinking alcohol but substitute every other glass for a glass of sparkling water. Not only is it cheaper, but your head will thank you in the morning.

8. Remove Sugar From The Table

Marcela Fiuza, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, says: “Remove sugar from the table, such as brown and white sugar, syrup & honey.”

This will stop you being tempted to add more to food which likely already has hidden sugars in it.

9. Be Cautious of Sugar Substitutes

Crowther explained: “If you are going for sugar substitutes choose a pure stevia or xylitol and use sparingly.”

Xylitol has the advantage of being very low in calories and has a minimal impact on blood sugar levels, but because they aren’t absorbed into the body, it can cause gas and bloating.”

And remember that honey, although branded as “healthier alternatives” are still high in fructose (which can also damage your teeth).

10. Be Realistic

Charlotte Stirling-Reed reminds us to keep goals realistic. Depending on the extent of your sugar addiction, don’t anticipate that you’ll be sugar-free within 24 hours. This will only end in disappointment and relapse.

Take small steps to gradually remove it from your diet rather than going cold turkey.

So, now you find me, having added James Goolniks “Kick Sugar” book to my Amazon basket (James is a fabulous dentist based in London) gearing up to kick the white stuff for good… this space….








Conversations In The Chair ……Questions My Patients Ask .

A great privilege of my profession is the opportunity for conversation with those I care for . My relationship with my patients is a relationship of trust. Every last one is interesting to me and I love the opportunity for a wee bit of chat when we meet.

Of course, there are the general questions that patients ask about their dental health and about treatment. Often there may be a quirky surprise thrown in as well, and as time goes by our conversations expand and progress.

The basics may include

  1. How often should I visit Absolute Dental?  Dental Health varies from person to person however visiting once or twice a year is generally recommended . This allows any problems to be picked up early. It also importantly allows opportunity for Oral Cancer Screening. And assessment of gum health and treatment and support from our wonderful Hygienist/Therapists Rachel and Christina.

2. Why do I need X-rays? Taking a set of dental X-rays helps to examine and record your mouth’s hidden areas for issues that need comparing against changes that occur between appointments. Early cavities can be detected and treated and bone levels can be monitored. Adult patients usually require bitewing X-rays every couple of years but frequency is dictated by individual needs and lifestyle this should be regularly reviewed .

3. How do I prevent Tooth Decay , Gingivitis and other Dental Disease? The best way to ensure a healthy mouth is to follow a balanced diet and visit the Dentist and Hygienist regularly – whilst maintaining your oral care routine twice a day. Common conditions such as diabetes as well as medications and certain types of chemotherapy can affect Oral Health. Protect yourself against problems that can advance quickly by having a conversation with your Dentist or Hygienist

Once answered, in my treatment room we may cover many topics as patients ask me about anything from Sea Swimming and Cycling to Knitting and Laundry … no need to ask further. Come and visit for a conversation …..


October 2019 Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire

As a practice, we welcome your feedback throughout the year – we love to hear if there is anything we’ve done well, or if we could do better – and that is we always ask, if you’ve particularly liked something we’ve done here, please let us know via our Facebook or Google pages.

As a more structured way of finding out how we’re doing, every 6 months, we ask a random selection of patients, across both dentists and hygienists,  to complete a short written questionnaire.

We always like to share the results with you.

100% of patients surveyed felt their overall opinion of the customer service received at Absolute was “exceptional”

95% of patients rated us “exceptional” in the areas of Clinical Treatment; Understanding their concerns regarding their teeth and gums;  feeling listened to by their clinical team & being able to better understand the condition of their teeth and gums.

90% of patients felt the overall experience at Absolute is “exceptional”.

90% of patients feel it is “Very Easy” to make an appointment with us and 75% of patients feel they are “Always” seen on time for their appointments.

Comments received as a result of the survey:

“You are always there at the end of the phone to help. Thank you”

“Always a pleasure to receive the personal treatment on every visit I have made over many years”

“Always an excellent and friendly experience”

” I have always been, and still am 100% happy with all the care I receive at Absolute Dental – thank you so much. I would always recommend your practice”

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey – your feedback helps us improve the service we offer.


Mouth Cancer – Reducing Our Risk

November is Mouth Cancer Action Month – so lets start with the basics:

What is mouth cancer?

Most people have heard of cancer affecting parts of the body such as the lungs or breasts. However, cancer can appear in the mouth, where the disease can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks and throat.

Who can be affected by mouth cancer?

Anyone can be affected by mouth cancer, whether they have their own teeth or not. Mouth cancers are more common in people over 40, particularly men. However, research has shown that mouth cancer is becoming more common in younger patients and in women. There are more than 640,000 cases of mouth cancer diagnosed each year worldwide and it is the eleventh most common cancer. In the United States there are around 43,000 cases each year.

Do people die from mouth cancer?

Yes. More than 2,300 people in the UK die from mouth cancer every year. Many of these deaths could be prevented if the cancer was diagnosed early enough. As it is, people with mouth cancer are more likely to die than those having cervical cancer or melanoma skin cancer.

What can cause mouth cancer?

  • Most cases of mouth cancer are linked to tobacco and alcohol. Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking are the main forms of tobacco use in many parts of the world. However, the traditional habits in some cultures of chewing tobacco, betel quid, gutkha and paan are particularly dangerous.
  • Alcohol increases the risk of mouth cancer, and if tobacco and alcohol are taken together the risk is even greater.
  • Over-exposure to sunlight can also increase the risk of cancer of the lips.
  • Many recent reports have linked mouth cancer to the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer and affects the skin that lines the moist areas of the body. HPV can be spread through oral sex, and research now suggests that HPV could soon rival smoking and drinking as one of the main causes of mouth cancer. Practising safe sex and limiting the number of partners you have may help reduce your chances of getting HPV. Many people get HPV during their lives and for many this does not cause a problem.There are now HPV vaccines for both girls and boys. They were developed to fight cervical cancer, but it is likely that they will also help to reduce the rates of mouth cancer. These vaccines are given at age 12 to 13 before sexual activity starts.

What are the signs of mouth cancer?

Mouth cancer can appear in different forms and can affect all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips. Mouth cancer can appear as a painless mouth ulcer that does not heal normally. A white or red patch in the mouth can also develop into a cancer. Be aware of any unusual lumps in your mouth or jaw area and any persistent hoarseness. It is important to visit your dental team or doctor if these areas do not heal within three weeks. If you aren’t sure, go for a check-up anyway.

How can mouth cancer be detected early?

Mouth cancer can often be spotted in its early stages by your dental team during a thorough mouth examination. If mouth cancer is diagnosed early, then the chances of a cure are good. Many people with mouth cancer go to their dentist or doctor too late.

Is there anything I can do at home?

Be aware of what is going on in your mouth. Examine yourself regularly. Ulcers that do not heal within three weeks, any unusual red or white patches, lumps in your neck or jaw area, or persistent hoarseness are all reasons for asking your dental team or doctor to examine you. There is probably nothing seriously wrong but an early diagnosis could save your life.

What is involved in a full check-up of the mouth?

The inside of your mouth and your tongue will be examined with the help of a small mirror. The examination will also look at your neck and underneath your jaw. Dentists will carry out this examination as part of a routine dental check-up. Remember, your dental team can see parts of your mouth that you cannot see easily yourself.

What happens if my dentist finds a problem?

If they find something unusual they will refer you to a consultant at the hospital, who will carry out a thorough examination of your mouth and throat. A small sample of the cells may be gathered from the area (a biopsy), and these cells will be examined under the microscope to see what is wrong.

What happens next?

If the cells are cancerous, more tests will be carried out. These may include overall health checks, blood tests, x-rays or scans. These tests will decide what course of treatment is needed.

Can mouth cancer be cured?

If mouth cancer is spotted early, the chances of a complete cure are good, and the smaller the area or ulcer the better the chance of a cure. However, too many people come forward too late because they do not have regular mouth examinations.

How can I make sure that my mouth stays healthy?

  • Stop smoking, and cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink.
  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet with at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. This can also help protect against many other cancers.
  • Visit your dental team regularly, as often as they recommend.

My day in photos

Good morning! Another day starts at Absolute Dental…

First things first…a nice cup of tea and our daily morning meeting. Getting organised for the busy day ahead!

What would we do without our amazing front desk Team? Here is Di ready for action, looking after our patients and organising everything and everyone! (admittedly, we are really hard work…)

I am working with the beautiful Ruth today and help looking after her patients, schedule and equipment. A busy day full of treatments, dental health assessments and lovely patients.

The nurse’s happy place…the sterilisation room. This is where the nursing Team processes all the instruments we use.

We clean, disinfect…

…and sterilise everything …

…to ensure our patients are safe.

Lunch time and a well deserved cup of tea and a rest for the Team…

…apart for our clinicians who are having a learning lunch today. This is one of the many things the Team do to make sure that their knowledge and skills keep growing and are in tip top shape!

After a very busy afternoon, time to get the practice ready for the next day…

…and a little rest. Great work ladies!

Let’s do it aging tomorrow Team!

Mel x


Travel Tips for Teeth!

  • Hand luggage? Toothpaste tablets aren’t included in your liquid allowance. Also, they are plastic free & contain 1450ppm fluoride. Win win win!

  • Passport ✓
  • Boarding pass ✓
  • Travel insurance ✓….… Dental Insurance?? Not that we are wishing a dental problem on any of you on your holidays, however, our Absolute Dental memberships include insurance for external trauma as standard. Plus you can be seen at any Dental Practice, they don’t have to be part of the same scheme. Travel with peace of mind.
  • Slather on the sun cream & don’t forget to protect the thin skin on your lips. This SPF 50 lipscreen from Uvistat is great, they make an orange flavoured one for kids too.

  • Most important…pack your smile!

Hot Weather & Dental Health

We’ve been experiencing some very hot weather in recent weeks, but did you know this could have an effect on your dental health too?

The hot weather itself has little effect on your teeth. However, how you respond to the hot weather could affect your dental health. Drinking plenty of water is important so that you stay hydrated, since being dehydrated could lower saliva production and make your mouth dry. Saliva plays a vital role in preventing dental infections. As a natural defense mechanism, saliva helps prevent plaque and bacteria build up, which in turn prevents bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. Saliva also helps repair and remineralise weak tooth enamel.

Water is the best source for hydration. Fizzy drinks, fruit juice, beer, and other drinks may seem very refreshing, but they contain high amounts of sugar and acids that can weaken the enamel on your teeth. If you must consume sugary drinks or snacks, then rinse your mouth with water in-between drinks and snacks to wash away the harmful chemicals from your teeth and reduce the negative effects on your oral health. Diet carbonated drinks are no better; they also contain acids that can weaken your teeth. Pass this on to your friends, and especially those who are elderly or those with young children.

If you need further relief from the heat, then visit our cool air-conditioned practice for a visit with the hygienist! Call us on 01548852165 or email to book an appointment.

Fear tricks us into leading a boring life.

As we return from our Coasteering trip I reflect on the day and how the Absolute team managed the various challenges.

We are in a profession that sees more than its fair share of people who arrive feeling worried, scared, and anxious. It is our job to offer reassurance, time and a greater understanding to help them manage their thoughts which often are so overwhelming that they choose to live with dental pain or choose to not smile for fear they will offend someone.

We still see new patients who arrive to see us as a last resort having not had any dental care for many, many years due to their perception of what might happen or a bad experience many, many years ago. I am delighted to say that we nearly always manage to nurture them back to dental health and get a great amount of satisfaction when we hear they finally do not treat a visit to us with anxiety.

So at that moment when we are standing on a jagged cliff edge surrounded by water and the option of an undignified climb back down or a 30 foot jump in the sea and whatever lies below us, it is a good reminder of what fear can do to us. When you consider what life could be like if we conquered some of our fears would it be very different? We so often cannot actually articulate what we are fearful off and I am certain that all the team here return to Absolute with just a little more empathy with those patients we look after.

As a team we supported each other throughout the afternoon, much as we try to do for those we see on a clinical basis, but it was a good reminder that what one person can see as a huge challenge others can see as an adventure, and both feel they have achieved once they have completed. We were encouraged during our trip by Scott and Chris of Adventure South, who did a very good job of including humour, kindness and patience in their instructions to us.

There are, I now realise, two dates in the calendar Nothing to Fear Day May 27th and Face your Fears Day 8th October 2019 confirming that so many of us have fears of one sort or another.

“It’s okay to be afraid. Just don’t let it get the best of you. If you do, it will slowly creep inside you until you’re completely paralyzed. Fear has that effect, unless you bravely face it head-on. When you accept fear, it actually makes you stronger.”
― Kevin J. Donaldson

April 2019 Patient Feedback Survey Results

Every 6 months we ask our lovely patients to complete an anonymous patient survey to tell us how well they feel we are doing, or if there are any aspects of their care which we could improve. We are always pleased with our results, and this year was no exception! The survey measures how well Absolute Dental is performing in different areas by asking patients to rate various aspects of the service they receive.

In general, our patients feel between 90-100% “Very Confident” with most aspects of our service ranging from being dealt with quickly in an emergency (100%), the respect they feel as an individual (100%); feeling listened to by all members of the dental team (100%) and that our practice is designed for their comfort and safety (100%). 95% of patients surveyed felt “Quite Confident” that treatment options are explained carefully to them; that they understand what they must do to look after their dental health; that their confidentiality is preserved; that the practice is up to date on infection control measures and also that their dental team are clinically competent.

Great results, for a great team who work hard to make your visits to us as pleasant as possible.

When asked for further comments on what they liked/didn’t like about the practice, we received the following comments:

Locality; Very clean; Efficient; I feel in safe hands; Reassuring; the welcome I receive; the competence of the team; Friendly & efficient Staff; Approachable staff; Appointment reminders; Good advice; Helpful people; Attention to my gums; Kindness.

Thank you to all of you who took the time to participate this year.

Charcoal Toothpaste – Don’t Believe the Hype

Charcoal-based toothpastes, which claim to whiten teeth, are a “marketing gimmick” which could increase the risk of tooth decay and staining, says a review in the British Dental Journal.

The charcoal products, which are increasingly popular, often contain no fluoride to help protect the teeth. Fluoride has been proven to strengthen teeth and protect against tooth decay.

And there is no scientific evidence to back up the claims they make, the authors say.

In fact, excessive brushing with these toothpastes can do more harm than good, they add.

They advise people to go to their dentist for advice on tooth whitening and/or stain removal to ensure tooth health is maintained

And they say it is better to stick to using a regular fluoride-based toothpaste.

Dr Joseph Greenwall-Cohen, co-author of the study from the University of Manchester Dental School, said “more and more shops are selling charcoal-based toothpastes and powders”, including Superdrug, Boots and Tesco, after celebrities had started talking about using them.

But he said the claims they made had been found to be unproven by a 2017 US review of 50 products.

Some said they were “anti-bacterial” or “anti-fungal”, that they helped with “tooth whitening” and would “reduce tooth decay”.

The review said people were brushing regularly with the charcoal-based products in the hope that they would offer “a low cost, quick-fix, tooth-whitening option”.

But too much brushing could lead to tooth wear and more sensitive teeth and, with few of the products containing fluoride or making the ingredient inactive, any protection from tooth decay was limited, it said.

“When used too often in people with fillings, it can get into them and become difficult to get out,” Dr Greenwall-Cohen said.

“Charcoal particles can also get caught up in the gums and irritate them.”

He said charcoal toothpastes and powders were more abrasive than regular toothpastes, potentially posing a risk to the enamel and gums.

The charcoal contained in today’s toothpastes is usually a fine powder form of treated charcoal, the review says.

Charcoal can be made from materials including nutshells, coconut husks, bamboo and peat, and possibly wood and coal.

Prof Damien Walmsley, from the British Dental Association, said: “Charcoal-based toothpastes offer no silver bullets for anyone seeking a perfect smile, and come with real risks attached.

“So don’t believe the hype. Anyone concerned about staining or discoloured teeth that can’t be shifted by a change in diet, or improvements to their oral hygiene, should see their dentist.”