Most health experts agree that the UK is facing a huge increase in the number of people with diabetes. Since 1996 the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has increased from 1.4 million to 2.9 million. By 2025 it is estimated that five million people will have diabetes.
So, many of you will be wondering why a dentist is quoting these staggering figures to you and why I am positioned to comment on them? What you perhaps don’t realise is that a majority of gum disease sufferers were found to be at high risk of developing diabetes in a recent report.
However, like the old adage ‘which came first the chicken or the egg’, it’s not entirely clear which way around the diabetes and gum disease link works. Researchers studied a representative sample of 9,000 people who didn’t have diabetes, although 817 of them went on to develop the disease. The researchers found that individuals with elevated levels of periodontal disease were nearly twice as likely to become diabetic within 20 years, even after adjusting for age, smoking, obesity and diet.
Diabetic patients with poor blood sugar level control are likely to have gum disease more frequently and also in a much more severe manner.
The importance of good oral hygiene cannot be overemphasised for patients with diabetes as gingivitis (the early stage of gum disease) can be treated and reversed. However if left untreated, periodontitis (the advanced stage) can occur which in turn may lead to bone loss.
Risks like impaired vision and limb loss are well known to diabetics, however gum disease is rapidly being referred to as the sixth major risk.
What can you do?
Diabetic patients need to pay much more attention to their oral health and ensure a visit to us every six months for a full dental health check and a thorough cleaning of your teeth with one of our hygienists. You should also inform us if you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes and ask for advice on keeping your mouth healthy.
This Sunday (6th) is Fresh Breath Day, which was launched a few years ago to appreciate the importance of oral hygiene.
Bad breath (or halitosis) is believed to be suffered by 1 in 4 people and yet it is highly preventable. One of the main reasons it goes untreated is because many people don’t realise they have it in the first place. Think about the number of times you’ve spoken to a friend or colleague and been overwhelmed by their breath yet said nothing. The scarier thought is that perhaps people have done the same thing to you at some stage in your life.
The easiest way to tell if you have bad breath is to lick the inside of your wrist and then let it dry for a few seconds, then take a sniff. Alternatively, you could smell your floss or tongue scraper after you use it.
So, what causes bad breath?
There are many contributory factors and some of the most obvious are food, tobacco, coffee and alcohol. It goes without saying that pungent meals like curries, or anything with a lot of onions or garlic will have an effect.
What may be less obvious or visible is the effects of poor oral health, which leads to bacteria in your mouth and namely between the teeth or on the gums and tongue. My colleague Rosemary spoke a few months back about some of the tools which hygienists recommend and one of those was a tongue scraper. Tongue scrapers, which are available in the practice, will remove food debris from the rough surface of the tongue and help lower bacteria and therefore the chances of bad breath.
Can it be treated in the practice?
In the vast majority of cases the simple answer is yes. There are a few exceptions of underlying medical issues like diabetes, tonsillitis or sinusitis which will require medical attention with your GP. For everyone else we will monitor your oral health closely and recommend a suitable number of hygiene appointments for a deep clean of your teeth and mouth whilst also recommending which products you should be frequently using. This will help to lower the bacteria in your mouth and in turn improve your breath.
What do I do next?
If you have concerns regarding bad breath then please make an appointment to see me as soon as possible where I will outline a treatment plan to help freshen your breath and restore your confidence.
Research carried out in the early 2000’s has suggested that people who have periodontal disease are twice as likely to also have coronary artery disease. Some of the research has suggested that the link between gum disease and heart disease is due to bacteria in the mouth which can cause bleeding gums, leaving a way for the bacteria to get into the blood stream.
The bacteria then produce protein which can cause platelets in the blood to stick together in the heart blood vessels, making clots more likely to form. These clots can reduce blood flow so the heart doesn’t get all the oxygen and nutrients which it needs. A heart attack could be caused if this blood flow is badly affected.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease (gingivitis), cavities, and missing teeth, were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.
What can you do?
If preventing gum disease may lower your risk of developing heart disease, isn’t it worth flossing and brushing regularly? You should also visit us every six months for a full dental health check and a thorough cleaning of your teeth. If you have any concerns about your dental health please speak to any member of the team at JL Dental Care.
Many of us love to drink red wine, coffee or tea but we equally love our white teeth. Unfortunately the two things don’t always go together! At JL Dental Care we have witnessed many patients who have been consuming strongly coloured liquids or foods (like curries or highly spiced meals) for years and notice their smile start to lose its brightness. In this article we will discuss why and how these types of food and drinks affect the teeth enamel and also provide you with a few handy tips to keep your teeth white!
Why Does Red Wine or Coffee Stain Your Teeth?
Our tooth enamel undergoes changes as the years pass, for example lines and cracks form on the tooth surface. When we eat or drink substances that contain acids, chromogens (foods with pigments) and tannins, these foods or drinks leave stains behind in these small crevices.
Tannins can be found in red wine, tea and coffee, as we know, but also in a whole list of other foods, such as grapes, pomegranates, berries, chocolate, and even things like rhubarb, squash, chickpeas and beans. This is not to say that we mustn’t eat these nutritious foods if we want our teeth to stay white, but if we can identify them we can take steps to prevent them doing their worst. Another thing to avoid is artificially brightly coloured food such as sweets, ice lollies and coloured soft drinks. Berries, cola, tomato and curry sauces can be very highly coloured too. The food dye in them is quite aggressive and easily transfers to your teeth.
Which is Worse for Your Teeth – Tea or Coffee?
It may surprise you that although our beloved morning coffee, which is high in chromogens and acid, is in fact not as bad as tea. Britain’s favourite beverage is slightly worse for the colour of our enamel with higher levels of tannins. Likewise, red wine contains lots of tannins and chromogens (as the ruby-red colour suggests) compared to white wine and is highly acidic.
How to Lessen the Staining on your Teeth
Some staining is unavoidable, unfortunately. We cannot all live on grapefruit, cauliflower, cheese or other colourless foods! The first step is to use an electric toothbrush when cleaning your teeth in the morning and evening. Regularly attending your dental hygiene appointment will give us the opportunity to remove some of the staining.
If you find that staining has become very noticeable and you do not feel comfortable about it, you might consider a tooth whitening treatment. These treatments are effective and safe when carried out under the supervision of an experienced dental practice such as JL Dental Care.
Our aim is to give the best care and help make you confident in your teeth and your smile.
If you would like to come in for a consultation for teeth whitening please call us on 020 8958 0136 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The purpose of these articles which my colleagues and I write (there are three hygienists at JL Dental Care) is not to preach about what you may be doing right or wrong. They are to help you make informed decisions with the goal of keeping your mouth and teeth healthy.
I appreciate that we speak often about the terrible effects of sugar on your teeth, and if you’re consciously taking steps to reduce your sugar intake it may feel like we are preaching to the converted. What may come as a surprise to many people is the amount of sugar you may be consuming without realising.
A great example is the recent ‘sugar tax’ announcement which will be introduced next year. Fizzy high sugar drinks are obviously going to have the levy, which is up to 24 pence per can or bottle. What we, as Hygienists, cannot understand is why drinks like fruit juices and smoothies are exempt.
You can find research carried out by The British Medical Journal by clicking here which states some of these drinks are even higher in sugar than the cola type ones included in the new tax.
The next time you decide to have a bottle of fruit juice, or give your children one, please look at the sugar content first. The recommended daily amount for children is less than 19g which equates to less than four spoonfuls.
It goes without saying that bottled water is always going to be the healthiest drink for any of us, however there is a range of ‘no sugar’ or ‘no added sugar’ drinks on the market if you prefer flavoured beverages.
Before you drink any ‘healthy’ fruit juice or smoothie please check the sugar content which is normally easily found on the traffic light system of food nutrition panels.
I couldn’t finish this article without pointing out that the best way to keep teeth protected is to brush well twice a day, and use floss or interdental brushes as needed. Also remember to regularly visit whichever of the hygienists you see at JL Dental Care.
Recent research has suggested that gum disease in patients carries a potentially higher risk of having a stroke than diabetes and has almost the same impact as high blood pressure in causing them.
Whilst obesity and smoking are commonly associated with raising the risk of suffering a stroke, many people don’t know the risks associated with poor oral health. According to the International Dental Health Foundation ‘only one in six people realise that people with gum disease may have an increased risk of stroke ‘.
Basically, bacterial infections can cause the body to be at higher risk of developing a blood clot which in turn is what causes the higher risk of developing a stroke.
What can you do?
If preventing gum disease may lower your risk of having a stroke, isn’t it worth flossing and brushing regularly? You should also visit either me, Leigh-Ann or Farrell (and your Hygienist) regularly for a full dental health check and a thorough cleaning of your teeth.
Your commitment to your dental health
At JL dental care we often say that having a healthy mouth and gums isn’t something we help you achieve alone. We must have a partnership with each of our patients where we work together to protect your smile. Our part of the commitment is advising and educating you on the techniques and tools which will help deliver this result. Your part of the commitment is actually carrying out our advice.
So what is the advice and what are the tools?
Gum disease (periodontitis) is the most common cause of tooth loss in the U.K. and happens when bacteria in the mouth forms plaque, the soft white sticky deposits on your teeth. When the gums become irritated and inflamed by this plaque they swell and cover the bacteria. This makes it difficult for you to remove the bacteria without visiting me or one of the other hygienists here at JL dental care.
The advice we give is to help prevent this plaque in the first instance. We advise you to brush, floss and rinse twice a day. Depending on the advice given by your hygienist there is also a range of tools we advise using which include:
In the practice, you have probably seen the small brushes which come in a variety of colours (the most popular brand being TePe). This reason these interdental brushes come in such a range of colours is that they are colour coded by size. The larger the spaces between your teeth, the larger the brush. The size will then help you to effectively clean between your teeth and remove harmful bacteria and food debris. Cleaning with an interdental brush prevents gum inflammation, cavities and bad breath.
This device will help to remove bacteria and food debris from your tongue and is particularly helpful in patients with halitosis (bad breath). Almost half of our oral bacteria live on and in the deep crevices of our tongue. The scraping action of a tongue scraper collects these toxic tongue coatings (which can range in colour from clear, white, yellow, or green) and removes them from the body.
An electric toothbrush
When someone asks us whether electric or manual toothbrush, we always say “whichever works best!” The choice is highly personal and whichever hygienist you see here at the practice will be able to work out the dental routine to best protect your dental health.
One of the questions I get asked frequently in the practice is “will it be very invasive to have a chipped, cracked or broken tooth repaired”. And in most instances, it won’t.
Many people have walked around for years with a damaged tooth which prevents them from smiling properly or which can dent their confidence. Perhaps you saw the press coverage sometime back when Keith Duffy (from Boyzone and Coronation Street) had his trademark chipped front tooth repaired. He said that the constant questions about it during the years when the band were at their height had left him too paranoid to smile properly and had prevented him going to acting auditions in the U.S.
Whilst the rest of us may not have that level of public scrutiny, a chipped tooth can hold us back at work or in social settings.
So what can we do?
Well unless the damage is severe and compromises the tooth, leading to an extraction (in which case we still have options to fill the gap) then we have a variety of treatment options.
If a piece of the tooth has chipped off we would normally carry out bonding, which is where we use composite to build up the tooth. Composite is the same material we use in natural coloured fillings.
If a large piece of the tooth is broken off then we may file away part of the remaining tooth and place a dental crown over it. This crown will look and feel like the tooth it is partially replacing. Dental crowns are also great at replacing a tooth which has been cracked.
Depending on where in the mouth your damage tooth is, we may also be able to place an onlay, which fits over the top of the biting surface of a tooth and is often referred to as a ‘partial crown’.
Suffice to say that I could wax lyrical about this topic for many more paragraphs; however, there’s no point getting too technical in a newsletter. The simple answer to “can we repair a chipped, broken or cracked tooth?” in most instances is yes. Make an appointment with me, Jonathan or Farrell who will assess the damage to your tooth and outline the best treatment option.
Wednesday 8th March was National No Smoking Day and we were very proud to support it.
National No Smoking Day was launched on Ash Wednesday 1983 and each year leads to many people quitting for not just the day, but forever. Even if you only stop for 24 hours your lungs will begin to clear out the mucus and debris caused by smoking. Click here to see a timeline of what happens when you quit.
If you would like to follow the activities of National No Smoking Day on Facebook please click here (Make sure you are logged in.)
It goes without saying we support all patient endeavours to quit as you will not only see an improvement in the health of your mouth, specifically the gums, but you will also lower your risk of mouth cancer.
For more information on smoking cessation and the benefits to your dental health please book an appointment by calling reception on 020 8958 0136.
If you were one of the people who took part in our recent Patient Satisfaction Survey we’d like to thank you for the resounding endorsement in the service we provide.
As you will see from the above image, over 98% of people who took part rated the confidence level in their dentist as Excellent or Above Average.
We are delighted with this and also some of the very kind statements made, a few of which we’ve outlined below:
“Excellent service and customer care”
“Very professional and their attention to details to every patient is remarkable”
“Always a great, comfortable, professional experience, with all options explained thoroughly”
“It is always a pleasure to see everyone. I had a huge fear of dentistry but Jonathan very calmly explained away all my worries”