What Happens To Your Teeth When You Are Ill?

Chelmsford dentist, Bhavin Bhuva, explains some of the problems that can arise

Dr Bhavin Bhuva at Blue Sky DentalIn normal times, the majority of us will take fairly good care of our teeth. We will brush them both morning and night in an attempt to avoid tooth decay and the often accompanying toothache. This is a good start, although there is usually room for improvement; the addition of regular flossing being a good case in point for many folk.

What happens when we are ill though, and our normal routines are disrupted as we feel too ill to look after ourselves as we should? Even as we start to get better, we may find that we are still very tired as our bodies slowly recover and it could be some time before we return to our normal tooth friendly routine.

With the talk of a ‘second wave’ of the coronavirus and the fact that winter colds and flus are probably not as far away as some of us might wish, Blue Sky Dental have decided to take a look at the possible damage that our teeth can suffer during illness, so that our patients are forearmed with the relevant knowledge.

Dehydration

When we have a heavy cold or flu, we often sweat a lot and also sneezing is common as our bodies try to fight the virus. Although this is unpleasant, it does serve a purpose. Especially if we feel ill though, we may be reluctant to move from bed or the sofa to get a drink to rehydrate ourselves. Unfortunately, this will result in a dry mouth which, as we have noted before, provides a perfect breeding ground for the potentially harmful bacteria in our mouths. This could lead to both gum disease and tooth decay if allowed to continue.

Do try to have some water nearby so that you can have a drink without having to leave your sick bed. Although soft drinks may be tempting to give us some energy, these are best avoided due to their sugar content.

Vomiting

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Your Morning Tooth Care Regime – Getting It Right

Starting the day right helps to improve tooth and gum health

Woman brushing teethWhen our alarm clock goes off in the morning, making sure that we look after our teeth well is possibly the last thing on our mind, especially if we’ve hit the snooze button and are running late for work. This can be a stressful and hurried time of the day if we don’t leave enough time but it is also an important time for our teeth and gums.

There are a number of actions that we take, or don’t take, at this time of the day that can make a big difference to how healthy our mouth is.

Our Blue Sky Dental team offers a few insights into how a few small changes to our morning habits can have a positive impact on our oral health.

Start the day with water

This is a very simple thing that we can do to get the day off to a good start. Try to have a glass of water at your bedside and drink it when you first wake up. Many of us don’t drink enough water and doing this is a helpful start. Whilst your other morning liquid intake may consist of a pot of tea, it is worth considering that tea can be mildly diuretic and whilst initially refreshing, can also contribute to dehydration (and contribute to stained teeth!)

A word of caution here; some people encourage the addition of fresh lemon juice to the water. Whilst this offers some additional taste, it could lead to tooth damage as lemon juice is relatively acidic and potentially harmful to the enamel.

Teeth cleaning

You may think that because you haven’t eaten anything overnight, cleaning your teeth in the morning is an ‘optional extra’. This is far from the case though as bacterial deposits will have collected on your teeth and in the gum pockets whilst you slept. These bacteria are significant potential contributors to both tooth decay and gum disease and therefore, your morning brushing of the teeth is very important.

Should you brush before or after you have breakfast? There are a range of opinions on this but we feel that if you allow yourself plenty of time so that you can eat first and leave a little time for the enamel to harden afterwards, before brushing your teeth, that is probably ideal. You can then leave for work with clean teeth and gums. On the other hand, if you are a ‘rusher’ in the morning, it is probably better to brush before you eat to make sure that it is done and not forgotten because you are in too much of a hurry.

There is generally no need for our Chelmsford patients to floss in the morning as long as you do so before you go to bed, although if you wish to do so, it may be beneficial.

Your breakfast

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Could This Be Your Chance To Have Teeth Implants At Blue Sky Dental?

Has lockdown resulted in an unexpected opportunity?

Single dental implantAs we have mentioned in a number of our previous blogs, lockdown has been hard for a lot of people. It will have had negative effects which, for some, will unfortunately include financial problems.

For those who have managed to keep working during this time though, there have been fewer opportunities to spend our money, with shops, pubs and restaurants all closed. Many of you may have also had your holidays cancelled and may have decided to wait until next year before rebooking.

If you are in this situation, you might find yourself better off financially than you had expected to be. If you have been thinking about replacing the gap in your teeth, or a denture, with a dental implant, now might be a good time to contact our Chelmsford dental suite to discuss this.

Why not just have dentures?

A common response when a patient loses a tooth is to presume that if they want to replace the missing tooth, dentures are the option that most people choose. Whilst this was certainly once the case, although they are still widely used, many of you are now looking at the alternatives. It is true that modern dentures are much more natural looking and practical than older style ones. Some also offer a degree of flexibility of movement in the mouth which allows them to move as you talk and eat.

Dentures are certainly the most affordable option initially, and, in most cases, will not require any dental surgery. For many people though, they do not offer a level of comfort and ease of use that they would like. Even with the best dentures in the world, it is possible that they will move in the mouth, probably just at the time when you don’t want them to. Dentures are not ‘rooted’ in the mouth and simply ‘sit’ on top of the gums. Even with denture adhesive, their stability is not guaranteed, and eating, and sometimes even speaking, can lead to problems with their stability.

It is worth noting that, in addition to a ‘fiddly’ cleaning regime if you have dentures, they often require maintenance or even replacement and, although the initial outlay might be the cheapest option, this is not necessarily the case over the longer term.

Why dental implants?

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Should You Ignore Minor Discomfort In Your Teeth Or Gums?

Don’t let a ‘head in the sand’ approach to dental problems damage your oral health!

DentistAs we slowly come out of lockdown, everyday events will hopefully start to return to something more ‘normal’; accompanied by a few adjustments to acknowledge that the virus hasn’t gone away entirely.

One of the ‘easings’ is that our Chelmsford dental clinic is now open again for patient visits. There have been adjustments made to minimise any risk of infection and we hope that our patients feel at ease about visiting us again.

Initially, we will be treating those most in need but that doesn’t mean that we have forgotten about those of you looking forward to resuming or starting new treatments.

Niggly toothaches

It is likely that there will have been some of you who have had what you might consider to be minor problems with your teeth during lockdown. By this we mean those slight niggles and aches that don’t really feel that bad and can sometimes be ignored, or masked using an everyday painkiller. Whilst managing these symptoms at home was necessary whilst dental practices were closed, continuing this is far from a good idea.

At Blue Sky Dental we believe in early intervention where a problem exists. Dental problems virtually never go away of their own accord and if you have been in discomfort, however minor, you really need to see a dentist to have the problematic tooth checked out. There could be a number of reasons for your discomfort, with tooth decay probably being the most common; although gum disease is also a possibility.  If you choose not to have this checked, and treated where necessary, the problem will almost certainly become a lot worse as time goes by.

Early intervention

Assuming that your problem is related to tooth decay, it is usually a straightforward one to resolve. This is usually done using a filling, including our very discreet white fillings. If decay is detected early on, it will often involve the removal of a smaller amount of the tooth than if you wait until the problem is more advanced. So please always ask us to check any problems that you might be having as soon as you can.

Ignoring minor discomfort

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Get Your Oral Health Back On Track At Blue Sky Dental!

Restorative treatments available to our Chelmsford patients

Woman at the dentistAs we finally start to enter the post lockdown period where dentists, amongst other businesses, are allowed to open again, many of you will be looking to catch up on some of the things that were part of your normal life before lockdown such as haircuts, clothes shopping and also, of course, getting your teeth checked.

As we gradually open Blue Sky Dental, we will be attempting to see all of you who have already had problems with your teeth. We will do our best to see the most urgent cases first, before working our way through the backlog as quickly as possible.

It is very likely that some of you will need to have treatment, however minor. An extended period away from having your teeth checked, along with the other stresses and strains that we have mentioned in recent blogs, are likely to have had a detrimental effect on your oral health.

In today’s blog, we will take a look at some of the most likely dental issues that may have arisen during lockdown, and the treatments available to restore them.

Tooth decay

As it is likely to have been longer than usual since you last saw a dentist, any small cavity that has formed in your teeth will probably have become larger than would normally have been the case. This is unfortunate but hopefully the tooth can still be restored with a regular filling. For those of you who prefer your smile to look as natural as possible, we also offer white tooth fillings that can be made to match the colour of your teeth.

Where the cavity is too large or where the tooth has broken away, it may be necessary to have a crown fitted to restore the tooth so that it not only looks natural but is strong enough for your normal daily use.

Temporary filling replacements

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Don’t Let Anxiety Prevent Your Return To The Dentist

Some helpful advice for nervous Chelmsford patients

nervousFor some, it might seem like a lifetime ago that we went into lockdown. It has been a difficult time for us all, and especially for those local dental patients who have suffered from problems whilst we have been closed.

Although serious cases may have been referred to urgent dental care units, there are probably some of you who have had to tolerate a persistent toothache for some time and have been unable to receive treatment for it, managing any discomfort by taking painkillers.

Following changes in government guidelines, we are now able to re-open on June 8th. We are still evaluating the guidance and hope to be able to advise shortly what procedures we are, and aren’t, able to carry out when we first open. Naturally, we will do all that we can to help those patients who are suffering first of all, before moving on to more routine care.

There is one category of patient that we wish to address in today’s blog though, and that is those who may have had their appointment cancelled due to the Covid-19 situation and whose anxiety may deter them from making a new one.

Dental anxiety and Covid-19

Dental anxiety is relatively common and operates at different levels. Many people likely feel at least a twinge of anxiety about seeing a dentist, but most will still attend and receive essential care. There are those though who are much more nervous and may find excuses and reasons not to go.

It is this latter group that we are particularly concerned about. A patient who already struggles with anxiety may find that this has increased with all the additional stresses of the last few months. Some of these will have previously struggled with their anxiety but still succeeded in attending our Chelmsford practice. However, others may have been ‘tipped over the edge’ by the lockdown and feel that they are now unable to keep a new appointment.

Talk to us

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The Adverse Effects Of Snacking On Your Teeth

Chelmsford dentist, Bhavin Buva, discusses oral health problems arising from this increasingly common habit.

Dental examinationThere was a time, not so long ago, when most of us would eat three regular meals a day, usually sitting around the table with our family. There might occasionally be small treats in between, but by and large this was our routine eating habit for many years.

Nothing stays the same though and the rise of readily available and easily cooked ready meals and snacks means that many of us now eat at different times to the rest of our family, with some even preferring to avoid ‘mealtimes’ and instead, tending to snack throughout the day.

A recent study by the Oral Health Foundation has revealed that the tendency to snack has increased by 38% since the nation went into lockdown due to the Covid-19 situation. There are obviously general health implications here, but also implications for our oral health as we will discuss now.

Types of food

Although it is possible to live largely on convenience meals and live reasonably healthily if we make the right choices, many of us probably don’t. We probably tend to go for the familiar rather than try out healthier options. Unfortunately even many savoury ready meals are high in sugar content, whether for preservation or taste purposes. An occasional ready meal will make little difference in the greater scheme of things but with these making up a significant part of the diet of much of the population, the increased amount of sugar consumed is likely to see a rise in cases of tooth decay and gum disease, including amongst our Blue Sky Dental patients.

It isn’t just the main meals that give cause for concern as much snacking is also taking place between meals. Perhaps, during lockdown, this is largely caused by stress or just simple boredom. Things may return to normal when this is all over but snacking can be a habit that can linger. Doing this for any length of time is likely to cause dental problems, especially as so many snacks tend to be on the sugary side.

It isn’t just the fact that these foods contain high levels of sugar that is the problem though. The regularity with which we eat them is an issue in its own right.

Acid buildup

All foods will cause some degree of harm to our teeth and gums if they are not kept clean. Brushing and flossing are an essential part of this but our mouths are continually managing the amount of bacteria, sugars and acids present by washing them away with saliva.

This is something that happens all of the time, but when we snack, rather than leaving significant gaps between our meals, there is simply insufficient time available for the saliva to do its job effectively before we eat again. This means that our teeth and gums are coming into regular and almost constant contact with harmful substances.

Even with more tooth friendly foods, this can cause a problem over time; with typical snack foods such as sweets, crisps and biscuits, the amount of sugar consumed is significant. Problems like tooth decay, sensitivity and even gum disease can soon follow.

Can you snack in a tooth friendly manner?

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Stress Resulting From Coronavirus Concerns

The impact of stress on our teeth and our overall oral health

nervousHow are you coping with the ‘lockdown’? Perhaps it hasn’t made a huge difference to your lifestyle if you were already working from home, or perhaps you miss the daily office banter with your work colleagues and your friends and are feeling lonely and isolated.

That said, there are likely to be few people who the current situation will not affect in some way or another. Whilst some people might find that staying at home has brought benefits, the reality for others may be very different altogether.

The general daily challenges of staying at home, whether alone or with the children can be hard enough. Combine this with the daily news of deaths and tragedies and it isn’t too surprising that many people are reported to be feeling significantly more stressed than usual.

Stress and your oral health

In today’s Blue Sky Dental blog, we are going to take a look at the impact that stress can have on our teeth and gums and offer some suggestions that our Chelmsford patients might find useful to help reduce it.

Bruxism

One of the most significant impacts that stress can have on our teeth is when we grind them together. Although this can happen when we are really angry and ‘gnash’ our teeth together, it is more likely to occur whilst we sleep, perhaps as a form of outlet for our stress. The fact that it happens when we are asleep makes it much more difficult to control of course and only reducing our general stress levels is likely to ease this problem.

Ongoing bruxism can cause a number of problems for our teeth and the most dramatic of these is when teeth break or shatter under the sheer force. This is perhaps more likely to happen with teeth that are already weakened or compromised and breakages of this nature are relatively rare.

More commonly, tooth grinding will cause enamel to wear down. As the enamel protects the inner part of our teeth, when this has been compromised decay is more likely, as is significant tooth sensitivity when we eat or drink hot or cold foods and drinks.

Over consumption of non tooth friendly foods

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Coronavirus Lockdown – Now And Looking Ahead

Keeping teeth healthy now and in future

Woman brushing teethWe now know what many of us have expected for a little while; that the current ‘lockdown’ situation is to be extended for at least another 3 weeks. What happens after that will depend on trends and the general direction of the virus. It does still mean though that your Chelmsford dental practice remains closed until further notice and only urgent emergency dental advice can be given out by most UK dentists at this time.

We encourage patients, in this difficult time, to make sure that they look after their teeth as well as they can. A lost filling or a minor toothache can’t easily be treated at present, but if it occurs, it will make things even more difficult than they already are.

In today’s blog, we offer some suggestions for keeping your teeth healthy as well as taking a look towards the future when we are able to open again. Currently, we do not know when that might be, but rest assured, we will keep you advised as the situation changes.

Some basic oral healthcare tips

Regular brushing should be carried out. If your routine has changed because you are no longer going to work or college, try to find a new regular time slot for your morning brushing so that you don’t let it slip. Brush well, for 2 minutes using a fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to angle the brush so that it reaches beneath the gum line and clears away food debris and bacteria. Also please make sure your bristles aren’t worn as well and if they are, change the brush or head.

Add flossing to your routine if you don’t already do this. It is a great way to remove food and bacteria that a toothbrush finds difficult to reach. There are many instructional videos available online so use this time wisely and try to improve the way that you care for your teeth and gums.

Avoid eating too much sugar. We might be tempted to eat more chocolate, sweets and cake if we are feeling anxious about staying in all of the time. Sugar is known to cause tooth decay though and avoiding a toothache at this time, as far as possible, is very wise.

Coming out of the lockdown restrictions

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Children’s Oral Health Care When Off School

This extended break could lead to younger children falling out of their usual routine.

Children showing great teethDuring the current Coronavirus/Covid-19  situation, many of us will have our children at home for longer than we originally anticipated.

Although there is a possibility that schools may go back before the summer holidays begin, this seems increasingly unlikely.

It can be difficult for parents to keep their children entertained at home and sometimes we have to get creative, and the same applies when it comes to encouraging them to continue to look after their teeth when they are out of their usual routine.

Blue Sky Dental believes that it is important that our Chelmsford patients take time and care to make sure that their children look after their teeth well during this difficult time. Below we offer a few simple suggestions to help you to help them keep their teeth and gums healthy.

Don’t overindulge their sweet tooth

Nearly all kids enjoy eating sweets. This is likely to be even more the case when they are bored of sitting around, unable to play with their friends. Although it is important that we look after our children’s mental well being at this time, perhaps allowing more leeway than usual, it is still important that we don’t allow them to over indulge.

By all means, let them have occassional treats, but do take care to restrict the amount of sugary foods that they eat. You might think that you are helping them to get through the boredom, but sugar has no sympathy and will cause tooth decay at this time, as at any other.

If they are getting bored, try to come up with some creative ideas, based on what you know they like, whether that be mermaids or dragons. Colouring competitions or ‘dress up’ can be fun, and you can join in too. Perhaps use sweets as a reward for these activities rather than allow them to dip into the sweet jar as they wish.

Make sure they clean their teeth

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