Chelmsford dentist, Dr Harminder Sehmi, explains why this common disease can have a negative impact on your teeth and gums
There are now somewhere in the region of 4 million people in the UK who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Some of these will be controlling it through a stricter dietary regime, whilst others will require medication to prevent it from becoming more serious and harmful to their health.
Diabetes can have a major impact on your teeth and gums as well, and in today’s blog, we are going to take a look at its potential effect and the role, if you are diagnosed, that you can play to help yourself maintain a healthy mouth.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a long lasting illness that affects the way that our bodies convert the food that we eat into the energy that we need. As we eat, most of the food is turned into sugar which enters into our bloodstream. As sugar levels rise, this triggers the pancreas to release insulin which then allows the sugar to be released for use as energy. In those who are diabetic, there is either insufficient insulin or it is not released as it should be. This then causes too much sugar to remain in the bloodstream which, over time, can lead to serious health conditions including heart and kidney disease and can also result in gradual sight loss as well.
How does diabetes affect teeth and gums?
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your oral health can suffer as a result and you will need to be more vigilant about your overall oral care regimen. As your blood sugar levels rise, there is likely also to be higher sugar levels in your saliva. As we well know, any form of sugar is harmful to teeth and as saliva is largely ever present, this means that your teeth and gums will be in contact with it for very long periods of time.
Diabetes sufferers are also more prone to having a dry mouth. As you will know from other Blue Sky Dental blogs that we have written about gum disease, this is a major problem and one which enables the bacteria in your mouth to thrive and grow in numbers. This can lead initially to gingivitis, and more seriously, periodontitis which may, if not treated and kept under control, ultimately lead to tooth loss.
What you can do to help keep your mouth healthy
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Cosmetic teeth whitening options for our Chelmsford patients
There is little doubt that one of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments that we provide is teeth whitening. There are many reasons for this which we will come to later, but one factor is that tooth discolouration is both common and often, also relatively straightforward to improve.
There are two types of tooth discolouration. That of surface staining, often caused by things that we eat or drink, such as red wine, and internal discolouration which is caused by the ageing process, darkening the dentin layer in our teeth which can then make our teeth appear a yellow colour.
Many of you will also have seen a growing number of advertisements both on TV and online, offering ways to whiten your teeth. Some of these, such as toothpastes, are likely to be of limited benefit whilst others often may not have the safeguards in place that you would get if you had a teeth whitening treatment at Blue Sky Dental.
We will start with this one as it is the type of staining that you are most likely to notice if you are relatively young. This type of staining is usually caused by our diet and lifestyle habits. Whilst red wine is well known for staining teeth, the reality is that all wine can do this. The reason for this is not just the colour of the wine but the acidity levels in them which can damage the enamel on our teeth in a way that creates a rough surface. This, in turn, makes it much easier for other staining items to find their way into the tiny pits and crevices on the surface of our teeth.
Other habits such as smoking are also likely to affect the appearance of our teeth. Not only is it extremely dangerous for your health, including the health of your mouth, but the tar may well leave your teeth looking a dark shade of yellow, and even, in some cases, brown.
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Some oral discomfort might feel relatively minor, but you should always have it checked by your dentist
Most of us probably sail along in our daily lives, giving little thought to our teeth and gums other than the daily brushing, and hopefully, flossing too. That is, until we suddenly feel pain. It can sometimes come as a surprise that something so small as a tooth can cause so much pain but a bad toothache can be very painful indeed and can cause us a lot of distress until it has been treated.
Not all dental pain is that severe though. It can be very mild in some cases but this doesn’t mean that you should ignore it, perhaps using painkillers to mask the pain. Below, we will take a look at what might be causing some types of dental pain and why you should see a Blue Sky dentist as soon as possible to have it examined.
Sharp sudden pain
If you experience a sudden, and often sharp, pain when you do something such as biting on food, it may well be that you have a tooth that has fractured or cracked badly. When not being used, you may not notice it, but the pressure applied when biting can cause the crack to move, causing this sudden and often painful discomfort.
Persistent dull pain
This is a very common symptom of the classic toothache which is caused by tooth decay. Unlike the above, you may not experience any sudden and sharp discomfort but you are unlikely to get any respite from this type of pain. It doesn’t go away when you sleep either and anyone with this may well experience a lack of sleep because of it too.
Extreme throbbing pain
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Our Chelmsford dentists can straighten your teeth in a discreet and convenient manner
It probably feels as though your life has been on hold for the last year or so, with the various restrictions and lack of opportunities to socialise and be entertained. Slowly though, we now seem to be coming towards the end of what has been a tough time for many of us. We know that dental issues may have been a concern for some too, and all of us at Blue Sky Dental are doing our best to see as many patients as we can, prioritising those most in need.
As we slowly start to return to normal, some of you will be thinking about things you want to achieve in the future. Some of these may be short term, such as having our first drink in a pub for quite some time. Others might be looking at longer term goals including those which will improve how we look and feel. These might include some cosmetic teeth treatments.
Although some dental treatments are almost instant, such as the popular teeth whitening procedures, those wishing to improve their appearance by having their teeth straightened may require orthodontic treatment that could last for a year or more.
The ‘problem’ with braces
Most of us will probably know someone who wore braces when they were younger. As children, we may have been less than kind to those with a mouthful of metal wires and swore that we would never wear them. The issue though is that orthodontic treatment is the main way to have attractive straight teeth. Cosmetic dentistry now provides a way of doing this which is both discrete and practical.
One of the most popular teeth straightening systems that we use at our Chelmsford cosmetic practice is Invisalign. This system avoids the use of metal and other generally visible materials and uses a system of transparent trays that fit securely over the teeth. It is especially suitable for cases where a number of teeth need adjusting or where there is significant crookedness of the teeth. For more minor cases, such as a small overlap of the front teeth, it may be possible to use a faster acting method. The first job of our dentists, is to determine the best orthodontic system to use for your own situation.
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Endodontic treatment in Chelmsford can help to save an infected tooth root
The field of endodontics is one of the specialised treatments that we are able to provide at Blue Sky Dental. The word comes from a combination of two ancient Greek words meaning ‘inside’ and ‘tooth’.
From this, you might correctly deduce that this means dealing with problems that arise within the tooth, rather than just tooth decay. Although decay can be a factor in this; something we will discuss shortly, endodontics is predominantly concerned with infections within the root canals of the tooth.
Despite the misguided and unfortunate reputation this treatment has sometimes had, it offers an excellent chance to save a tooth that has become infected in this way and which would otherwise have to be extracted. The treatment does not deserve its fearsome reputation either and we will discuss that in a moment.
How do root canals become infected?
Infections of the root canal usually start with damage to the protective enamel exterior of the tooth. This is a strong material, but when it becomes cracked, chipped or decay sets in, it allows bacteria to enter and whilst this mostly leads to tooth decay, the infection can continue until it reaches the root canals, especially if early intervention is not carried out. As the bacteria reach the root canals, it can infect the soft pulp material stored there. This includes the tiny blood vessels and nerves which means that significant levels of pain are quite possible.
Once infected, the only alternative to tooth extraction is to treat it with a root canal procedure. You may occasionally be given antibiotics, for instance, where a procedure isn’t immediately possible for medical reasons. This will not ‘cure’ the problem though but can keep it under control until the root canal treatment can take place.
What happens during a root canal procedure?
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Oral cancers can kill, but with care they are largely avoidable
Have you noticed that when you come to our Chelmsford dental practice for a check up, we don’t only examine your teeth but also take a look at the tongue and cheeks as well?
If you have and wondered why, it is because part of our front line role is in the detection of potential oral cancer symptoms.
These can vary and we are not cancer specialists and so can not diagnose whether this is the cause or not. Because we are in an excellent position to check your mouth regularly though, we are able to spot any unusual signs at an early stage.
If we see something that we can’t explain, such as lesions or lumps, we will refer you to your GP. Patients should not be overly concerned if we do this as it is purely a precautionary measure. In many cases, the symptom will have been caused by something fairly innocuous but if it does prove to be cancerous, the sooner treatment can start, the better.
What causes oral cancer?
There are a number of things which can contribute to mouth cancer but the main ones are the HPV virus which is usually sexually transmitted, and smoking. You can read a news report on the HPV link at Huffington Post.
The most common cause of oral cancer is still smoking, and by stopping this addictive habit, patients of Blue Sky Dental can expect to have a healthier mouth. Quitting smoking might sound easier said than done, but millions of people have stopped smoking over the last few years, spurred on by health and financial concerns, plus of course, the fact that you are now unable to smoke in places where it used to be most common, such as pubs.
Some people will be able to stop smoking with relative ease, but others are likely to find it more difficult due to the addictive nature of nicotine. It is worth seeking out a local support group that you can turn to when temptation arises. It might be hard, but ex smokers will tell you that it really is worth it.
How dangerous is mouth cancer?
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If you have sensitive, decayed, damaged or severely discoloured teeth, our Chelmsford dentists can help!
A dental practice is not just a place to visit when you have a painful tooth. It should be somewhere that you visit on a regular basis so that your oral health can be monitored on an ongoing basis.
By doing this, many problems can be detected and treated whilst still at an early stage. If you haven’t maintained your visits, it is quite possible that you will have a number of problems that will eventually need to be addressed.
It is never too late to start though, and, at Blue Sky Dental, we have a range of treatments to help you.
Alongside the need for any minor fillings and a general professional clean of the teeth and gums, there may well be some more complex problems that will require treatment. If you haven’t been to see a dentist for some time, there is a reasonable chance that it was one of these problems that caused you to seek out help when the discomfort was no longer manageable.
Today, we will take a look at a couple of popular restorative treatments that we offer at our Chelmsford dental practice. These are tooth crowns and porcelain veneers.
A crown is widely used when a tooth has been damaged or where decay is too significant for a regular filling. They are also used as the final part of a root canal treatment. They offer two major benefits over fillings; they offer a greater level of strength and they also look entirely natural, not only in colour but also in shape.
Crowns are produced at a dental laboratory from impressions that we take of your teeth once we have prepared them to a shape suitable for a crown to be fitted. The preparation of the tooth is the only invasive part of the treatment and the newly prepared crown is attached using a clinical adhesive. As a crown can take a week or so to be produced, you will be fitted with a temporary crown to protect the tooth until your new one arrives back at our practice.
Crowns are both strong and long lasting. The adhesive may gradually lose some strength though after many years and there is a small chance that your crown may become detached. If this happens, you should never attempt to ‘glue’ it back on yourself and should contact us so that we can do this correctly.
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Specialist periodontist, Navidah Chaudhary, reminds patients to take care of their gums
Whilst Covid restrictions have added quite a lot of complications for most business, please rest assured that we are doing all that we can to ensure that our Chelmsford patients have access to essential dental care. Hopefully, as the number of vaccinations given increases, we may soon be able to return to something like normality. In the meantime though, it is important that patients take on additional responsibility for looking after their oral health to the best of their ability.
One thing that should not be forgotten at any time, and especially in the current situation, is that your gum health is just as important as looking after your actual teeth. Indeed, failure to do so could even eventually lead to the loss of some of your teeth.
How healthy are your gums?
How do you know whether your gums are healthy or not? This is a good question but one that is relatively straightforward to answer.
In most cases, healthy gums shouldn’t be noticeable. That is to say that there should be no discomfort caused by them, they should also be a healthy pink colour which indicates that blood is flowing to them well enough. They should also be firm to the touch, with no associated discomfort when you touch them.
On the other hand, there are a number of possible signs which may indicate that all is not well with your gums and that you need to take action to restore their health. These include:
- Tenderness or soreness of the gums
- Inflammation of the gums
- Bleeding when you brush your teeth
- Receding gums
- Redness of the gums
- Wobbly or loose teeth
Not all, or even any of these may necessarily be present, even when you do have gum disease and you should always have them checked by the hygienist at Blue Sky Dental clinic on a regular basis. If any of these symptoms do appear though, you should make an appointment as soon as you can rather than wait for your scheduled one unless it is imminent.
Managing gum disease
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Losing a number of teeth doesn’t mean that dentures are the only solution for our Chelmsford patients
In a perfect world, we would all have strong and healthy teeth. This would be achieved through excellent home cleaning, regular professional dental supervision and just a little bit of luck in avoiding accidents. For most of us though, this isn’t the reality.
Some of us will only arrive at the conclusion that we should have looked after our teeth better when we were younger, a little too late.
Few of us will avoid accidents altogether and some of these may, unfortunately, result in tooth loss. This applies especially if we play certain sports such as football or rugby.
Although some people may reach middle to older age with their teeth more or less fully intact, this will not be the case for everyone and a number of us are likely to have lost at least one or two teeth, and possibly even more.
When we lose a tooth, or a number of teeth, the first thought is often to turn to dentures. These are still one of the most common methods of replacing missing teeth and can provide a suitable solution for some. They can be problematic for some wearers though and whilst they now look more natural than was once the case, there are a number of relatively common issues that some wearers find. These include:
- Discomfort – One of the most common sources of discomfort when wearing dentures is that they can rub against the gums. This friction, especially if regular, can cause soreness and make wearing them uncomfortable, especially when eating. As losing a tooth or teeth will lead to bone loss in this area, this creates subtle changes in the shape of the jaw and this can cause your dentures to fit less well and move around, creating friction.
- Embarrassment – As dentures move around, they can become quite noticeable, and may even fall out altogether during a conversation. Although this is relatively rare, movement of your dentures can create some speech difficulties when you are speaking.
- Limiting – One thing that some wearers find is that they start to be more careful about what they eat, especially when they are dining out with others. They may well turn down the steak that they really want because it is more difficult to chew and opt for something that their dentures will handle more easily.
What are the alternatives?
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As community stress levels increase, incidents of teeth grinding could also rise
As if the rapidly rising number of Covid-19 cases and deaths wasn’t enough to cause us stress, anyone watching the news last night must have wondered what is happening in the world as thousands of Trump supporters stormed Washington. Many of us will have probably been glued to our TVs for much of the night and are highly unlikely to have gone to bed in a relaxed manner.
Even in our own lives. There can be many things that cause us stress, and for some, the current lockdown situation will not be helping matters. Unfortunately, our Blue Sky Dental team can’t put the world to rights and fix the problems, but we can offer advice and help for one of the possible consequences in this increase in stress, namely Bruxism, or teeth grinding.
Bruxism largely occurs whilst we sleep and is therefore quite difficult to control. It is generally thought to be related to stress, so, in the current climate, it is probably not surprising that we are expecting to see an increase in the number of patients who are suffering from some of the consequences of this.
In today’s blog, we will take a look at some of the problems that may be associated with this and offer a few suggestions that might help in its prevention, or at least, reduction.
Effects of teeth grinding
Although we have come across a few fairly extreme cases of teeth that have shattered due to highly aggressive grinding; for most people the main problem is gradual wearing away of the enamel on our teeth. This, in itself, will weaken the teeth and does make them more likely to break. More common though are problems that present themselves more gradually.
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