Healthy teeth need healthy gums

Your teeth are set into the jawbone, where they are held in place by fleshy ligaments. The bone is covered with flesh known as the gums and this comes down over the teeth, offering protection over the site where bone meets tooth.

Healthy Gums in SuttonGums are a bit like the seal you find around places that get wet. Around your shower head, for example. If you don’t take care of the seals around things, bacteria can get in underneath and start to pull the seal out of place. It’s the same with gums, only when the gums start to pull away, it’s your teeth and jawbone that are affected.

That’s why, when you think about your oral hygiene, you need to have healthy gums as well as healthy teeth. Here at Benhill Dental Practice in Sutton, you will find that our dentists and hygienists are just as interested in the health of your gums as they are in that of your teeth.

Check-ups and healthy gums

When you come for a check-up at Benhill Dental Practice, the dentist won’t only be looking at your teeth for decay. They will also be on the lookout for gum disease.

The early signs of gum disease are red, inflamed gums that bleed easily. If we see signs of gingivitis, we will talk to you about your oral health routine and what you can do to improve it.

If the dentist sees signs of the gums pulling away from the sockets, then you are already in a more advanced state of gum disease. When the gums are pulling away from the sockets, it means that plaque and bacteria can get underneath and start attacking your tooth roots (which have no enamel over them) and the bone surrounding your teeth. This later stage of gum disease is known as periodontitis. Treatment for this is more invasive. We may have to plane away any infected or corroded areas under your gums. We may have to sew your gums back in place to tighten them up around your teeth.

If you want to know more about ways to have healthy gums, please ask either the dentist or the hygienist next time you come in.

We can help you be less scared of the dentist

If you think you are weird to be scared of the dentist at your age, you will be relieved to know that you are not alone. In fact, about 13% of the world’s population suffers from dental phobia. Phobia is more than being a bit nervous that you might have to have a filling. It’s the extreme end of nervousness, with trembling and sweats and even full-blown panic attacks.

Nervous Patients in SuttonIf 13% of people worldwide suffer from feelings that extreme, you are totally entitled to be scared. In the dental world, we like to lump the spectrum of fear of the dentist into one umbrella term of nervous patients. We recognise that you exist in great numbers and that your fears are to be taken seriously. It’s not just in your mind, it’s in your body too.

The trouble is that when you are scared of the dentist, it can be all too easy to put off your check-up appointments. Finding excuses not to go is simple and before you know it, it’s been 6, 9, 12 months, maybe even years since your last check-up.

The trouble with avoiding check-ups is that problems that would have been quick and easy to fix become more serious and require more invasive treatment. That tiny filling turns into root canal therapy. Plaque become tartar becomes gum disease becomes root planing and gum grafts.

It’s important to realise that dentistry has come on in leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades and we now have much gentler techniques and lots of local anaesthetic, so you never have to feel a thing when we treat you.

Dental clinics are also much nicer environments to be in. Benhill Dental Practice in Sutton is designed to make you feel welcome and relaxed. The staff too have been trained to help you feel at home as soon as you step in through the door.

We will take time to listen to your fears and work out strategies to deal with them. We also have sedation if you think you are not going to be able to go through treatment without feeling very anxious.

Come on back to the dentist and feel great about your smile again.

Cover ups for your teeth

When teeth get damaged in one way or another, it’s great to know that there are various treatments that can be used to make them look great again.

One of the most popular treatments for making teeth look good again is veneers. Here at Benhill Dental Practice in Sutton, we find veneers to be incredibly versatile and able to deal with all sorts of problems.

Veneers in SuttonWhat are veneers?

Veneers are tiny sheaths of composite porcelain that are sized, shaped and coloured to blend in with your own teeth. They are fixed onto the fronts of the teeth to cover over imperfections and damage and can be used to mask a variety of issues.

Lots of people’s teeth get damaged as they go through life. It’s pretty common to pick up a chip or two playing sports or mucking about at school. Some people damage their teeth doing silly things like using them to open bottles.

Teeth can also sometimes get badly stained with the kind of intrinsic discolouration that normal whitening treatments can’t fix. Tetracycline is an antibiotic that discolours teeth, for example. Veneers can be used to cover over this kind of discolouration.

Sometimes one or two of the teeth are not the right size. Veneers can be placed over them to make them look the same as the other teeth.

Sometimes one or two teeth may not be quite in alignment with the rest of the teeth and instead of having braces, a veneer can be placed over them to make them look in line.

The treatment process

It only takes a couple of appointments to get veneers fitted. We start by taking impressions of your teeth and working out what colour the veneer needs to be. This goes off to a technician to make. When we fit the veneers, we need to remove the outer layer of enamel so that the veneers will lie flush with the rest of the teeth, and also to give the adhesive something to bond to. Then we put the veneers on and you are good to go.

If you take good care of your veneers, they can last for at least 10 years.

A different kind of smile upgrade

The trouble with fillings is that we get most of our tooth decay when we are kids. This is because we have not yet mastered the art of toothbrushing and getting into all those corners round the back teeth. It’s also because we haven’t mastered the discipline to stand at the bathroom sink for 2 minutes twice a day.

White Fillings in SuttonGoodness knows, it’s hard enough as an adult, let alone as a 6-year-old in a world of far more exciting things to do.

So, it’s not unusual to need a filling almost every time we go to the dentist, especially if we can’t resist a sugary snack, and which child can?

This means that by the time we are adults, most of us have quite a collection of dark, glinting amalgam fillings in our mouths, and every time we laugh or yawn, there they are, for everyone to see.

Do you really want everyone to know how many fillings you’ve got? You don’t have to, if you get white fillings instead.

Replace amalgam fillings

One way people upgrade their smile is to have all their old amalgam fillings removed and replaced with white fillings. At Benhill Dental Practice in Sutton, we do this with a great deal of care, so that you don’t accidentally swallow any of the old fillings. Amalgam contains mercury, which is toxic, so we are very careful to remove every last bit before we refill the cavity with white fillings made of composite resin.

This is mixture of glass and plastic. White fillings have got stronger and stronger in the decades since they first became available and are now as strong, if not stronger than amalgam.

They also have the advantage of being able to be sculpted. This means that when you have a white filling put in, we can shape it so that you get the chewing surface of your tooth back. This is not possible with amalgam, which lies flat within the walls of the tooth.

We can replace all your fillings in a few appointments, or we can do them one at a time as each amalgam filling wears out.

Come in and have a chat about it.

Versatile teeth whitening treatments

As you go about your daily business, it’s worth looking at other people’s smiles and getting an idea of what are the accepted norms for smiles these days. You will notice that amongst people under the age of about 40, it’s very important to have straight, well proportioned, white teeth. People are spending more on their smiles than ever before, and the most popular treatment of all is teeth whitening.

Teeth Whitening in SuttonHere at Benhill Dental Practice in Sutton, we see more and more people coming in for teeth whitening treatment. It’s a great way of giving your smile a lift without having to go through lengthy and costly treatments. So, if you know you need to have a great smile for an upcoming event, you may well choose to get your teeth whitened, and there are 2 ways in which you can do this with us at Benhill Dental Practice.

How does teeth whitening work?

The treatment aims to gently lift out traces of pigments from various foods and drinks, such as coffee, red wine and dark chocolate. These get trapped in the pore of your tooth enamel and brushing can’t dislodge them, neither can a good clean with the hygienist.

Teeth whitening gel contains hydrogen peroxide, a tried and trusted whitener and disinfectant that has been around for a couple of hundred years. It comes in different strengths, depending on what it’s being used for.

We also use it in different strengths at the dental practice.

Power whitening

We use a stronger concentration of hydrogen peroxide for whitening treatments that we can oversee in the clinic. Power whitening gel is painted onto your teeth and takes about an hour to whiten your teeth by several shades.

At-home whitening

Using bespoke gel trays and a weaker gel, you whiten your teeth at home over a couple of weeks. You put the gel in the bespoke trays and wear them every day for a short period.

Both methods have their advantages. One is quick and can be done in your lunch hour. The second gives you trays that you can use every time you need to top up your treatment.

H is for hygiene

Are you a good dental patient? Do you come in every 6 months for a check-up and a session with the hygienist, and, as you leave, book yourself in for more of the same in another 6 months’ time? Or are you a bit more slapdash? Do you put off making appointments, forget to turn up, cancel a few days before, and somehow not come to see us twice a year, but more like once a year, or maybe even every 2 years?

Dental Hygiene in SuttonThere’s a reason why dentists want their patients to come in every 6 months for check-ups. This is how long the early stages of decay and gum disease take to develop, and we can still spot them and deal with them before they become more serious.

If you are good about check-ups and cleanings, you will know how much we, at Benhill Dental Practice in Sutton, go on about dental hygiene. Dental hygiene is the foundation of all good dental care.

You only get one set of adult teeth, and if you’d like to live until you are 80, these teeth are going to have to last you more than 70 years. That’s a very long time.

Natural teeth are very good at chewing things into a paste that can be well digested. Some of the replacement teeth on offer are not so good. So, as your dentist, we would far rather you practised good dental hygiene and hung onto your natural teeth than go down the route of replacement teeth.

How to practise good dental hygiene

It’s pretty simple. You need to brush your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day using a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. One way to make sure you do the full 2 minutes is to use an electric toothbrush with a timer on it. It vibrates at 4 30-second intervals, so you can work round your mouth very thoroughly.

Don’t forget to back up your tooth brushing with a daily flossing session to remove plaque from between your teeth and under the edges of the gums. If you are older, you may also need interdental brushes to remove trapped food from between your teeth, especially at the back.

And now a tax on vaping too

Many people have managed their nicotine and smoke addiction by moving from now super-expensive tobacco to cheaper vaping syrups. But at the end of October budget, the chancellor, Phillip Hammond, decided to tax vaping as well.

Smoking Cessation in SuttonMaybe that’s a good thing. Vaping was once thought to be pretty harmless, but research shows that it causes a nasty condition called popcorn lung. Also vape syrups are full of sugar, just as most tobaccos are. Sugar is now not classed as just empty calories, but the driver behind the nation’s diabetes crisis. So, even if you are super careful about not eating sugar, if you smoke or vape, you are still getting a pretty substantial sugar hit every time you indulge.

Smoking is really bad for your teeth and mouth, and vaping, with all that sugar, isn’t exactly great either. If you want to hang onto your teeth, and avoid gum disease and other nasties such as oral cancer, then maybe now is the time to stop the whole nicotine merry-go-round and get some help with smoking cessation from us at Benhill Dental Practice in Sutton.

If you’d like to know more about what smoking does to your mouth, we’d be more than happy to tell you. We can also support you with giving up smoking.

Smoking and mouth cancer

Let’s be clear, smoking is the main cause of mouth cancer. And if you drink alcohol when you smoke, you are even more likely to get mouth cancer. Mouth cancer is caused by changes in the cells in the mouth, which then start grow out of control. Carcinogens get into the cells when you smoke, and get in even more easily when they have been dissolved into alcohol if you are smoking and drinking.

You are likely to develop mouth cancer in your 50s and 60s and early 70s. Tumours can grow on any soft tissue in your mouth, and also in your head and neck. Mouth cancer screenings can check for tumours in just a few minutes. Treated early, mouth cancer is easily dealt with, either with surgery or other therapies.

Don’t let your phobia ruin your teeth

The trouble with being scared of the dentist is that you don’t go to the dentist. If you suffer from dental phobia in Sutton, you are not alone. It is estimated that about 13% of people worldwide have a proper phobia of going to the dentist. This isn’t just being a bit nervous about what might happen at the dentist, but having full blown extreme anxiety, with sweats and trembling.

Dental Phobia in SuttonDental phobia is so bad for some sufferers that they just can’t face going to the dentist. Even if they make it as far as getting an appointment, they probably won’t turn up for it. And repeatedly being unable to actually get yourself across the threshold of the practice, can lead to a terrible shame about yourself building up. Along with that shame goes the increased likelihood of decay and gum disease. Cavities don’t get seen to, and they get worse. Untreated gum disease can lead to bad breath, and wobbly teeth. The conditions inside your mouth can deteriorate to the point that you can’t face showing it to the dentist for fear of what they might say. When you do finally come along, maybe because the pain you’ve been suffering for months has finally become unbearable, you have teeth extracted that could have just had a tiny filling a few months back. You have to go for intense gum treatment when, last year, a scale and polish with the hygienist would be sorted you out. Now you need replacement teeth and months of 0% finance to cover the costs of treatment.

If you suffer from dental phobia, don’t let this happen to you. Come to us at Benhill Dental Practice, where we know all about dental phobia and can treat you in a compassionate, non-judgemental manner. We won’t just stick you in the chair and let you get on with it, we will want to know all about what makes you scared and what we can do to make you less frightened, whether it be frequent breaks with signals agreed beforehand, and/or sedation. We will find a way to make treatment easier for you.

Get rid of the glint

What is your reaction when someone you know throws back their head to laugh and you see rows of grey fillings in their mouth? Perhaps you think ‘Blimey, they ate a lot of sweets when they were a kid’. Maybe you feel quite glad you don’t have to kiss them. Maybe you think about your own grey metal fillings and wonder if they are so obvious too.

Silver to White Fillings in SuttonThat’s the trouble with amalgam fillings. They give the game away. Every sweet, every night you didn’t brush your teeth as a kid is emblazoned on your molars, maybe even your front teeth too, for everyone to see for all eternity. Or are they? Have you ever thought about going from silver to white fillings in Sutton?

Here at Benhill Dental Practice, we can change your old amalgam fillings for tooth-coloured composite resin fillings, and they will be just as good, if not better.

Durable

It is true that when white fillings came on the market a couple of decades ago, they weren’t as strong as amalgam fillings, but those days are gone and now white fillings are just as durable as silver ones.

Bonded

As well as that, white fillings bond with your tooth. Amalgam, on the other hand, is packed into the cavity as tightly as possible, but there is still a tiny gap around the edge into which decay-causing bacteria can sneak, especially as the filling ages.

Stronger teeth

We don’t have to remove as much healthy tooth material when we put in white fillings. This means that more of your tooth structure is intact, making it stronger.

Sculptable

White fillings are put in in layers and then cured hard with a UV light. Once the layers have been built up, we can use tools to sculpt them and give you back your chewing surfaces. We can’t do this with silver fillings, which lie flat within the tooth.

We can either replace your amalgam fillings in a safe procedure, all in one go, or we can do them one at a time as the old fillings age and crack.

Ask us about white fillings next time you come in for a check-up.

White teeth can be yours

Have you noticed how nearly everyone has wonderful white teeth in Sutton these days? How can that be? Are they just lucky or have they been coming to us at Benhill Dental Practice for a bit of help? We think it’s probably the latter.

There are 3 ways you can get white teeth. You can have teeth whitening, veneers or composite bonding, or you can have white fillings.

White Teeth in SuttonTeeth whitening

Modern foods and drinks can stain teeth. If you are a big coffee, tea, red wine or berry fan, or if you smoke, then each of these things will be leave tiny traces of their pigments on your teeth and those traces sink down into the pores of the tooth enamel and become impossible to get out with normal brushing and even with a scale and polish from the hygienist. But teeth whitening treatments can remove these surface stains.

We offer 2 methods of teeth whitening here. You can have power whitening, which takes an hour or so in the dentist’s chair to get teeth several shades lighter. You can also have a take-home kit, with bespoke gel trays. This is a gentler method and takes a couple of weeks to get whiter teeth.

Veneers and composite bonding

Sometimes we can’t whiten your teeth because the stains are not intrinsic to the tooth. Instead we can cover them over with porcelain veneers or composite bonding.

White fillings

Amalgam fillings show up dark glinty grey when you laugh and talk. They are a dead giveaway of previous dental decay and don’t look great. We can replace them, either all at once, or when the old amalgam wears out, using composite, a mixture of plastic and glass that is coloured to match your teeth. Composite fillings blend in with your teeth, and have other benefits too. They require the removal of less healthy tooth material and form a proper seal with the tooth. Composite fillings can be sculpted to give you a proper chewing surface.

Why not come in and find out more about how we can help you get the white teeth that everyone else seems to have.