Swords Dentist

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What can the mouth tell us about your health?

What can the mouth tell us about your health?

Regular dental care is critical to the overall health of your gums and teeth. What you may not know is that we can also spot signs of non-dental medical issues in your mouth during an exam. Some of the diseases and conditions that show signs within your mouth include diabetes, infections, oral cancer, HIV, stress, poor nutrition, and osteoporosis.

Diabetes

A few of the signs that can indicate a diagnosis of diabetes include loose teeth, dry mouth, and receding, dry, and bleeding gums. Poor immunity and an inability to fight disease effectively also make it much more difficult for wounds and gum  infections to heal in diabetic patients. Bleeding gums don’t always mean that you have diabetes. This problem can also come from gingivitis and other gum diseases. However, these early warning signs might lead us to encourage you to visit your doctor for a blood sugar check.

Infections

If we see any troubling signs of infection in your mouth, we can prescribe some antibiotics to fight the problem.  Signs of infection include severe pain, swelling, redness around the affected area, a surface that feels hot to the touch, fevers, and drainage from the wound or tooth. Infection can spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs and heart, so it’s critical to treat it urgently.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is the sixth-most common type of cancer, with more than 30,000 new cases being reported each year. When you visit a dentist twice a year, we can look for signs of this disease. Most cases appear as red and white lesions on the floor of your mouth, palate, lip or the tongue. Risk factors that increase the chances of oral cancer include heavy alcohol use, smoking, and exposure to HPV (the human papillomavirus), which also causes cervical cancer. We perform an oral cancer screening at each check up.

HIV

Some oral conditions may indicate that a patient is suffering from HIV. In children, patients might have salivary gland swelling, which can result in a dry mouth. Children infected with HIV are often more prone to oral lesions and viruses. Adults with HIV might exhibit signs like oral warts, lesions, white, red, purple, or brown spots on the tongue or in the mouth, and other infections. According to some studies severe gum problems occur in up to 5 percent of HIV-positive adult patients.

These symptoms alone don’t necessarily mean that you have HIV, although a these signs might lead us to recommend seeing your doctor for a blood test. Anyone engaging in risky behaviours should be tested for HIV regularly.

Stress

When you are stressed, your body may respond in ways that affect your mouth. One of the most common physical manifestations of stress is grinding your teeth. You might grind them when you’re feeling stressed, or commonly it happens when you’re asleep.

Grinding your teeth can do serious damage, so we often make night guards to protect against this. It’s also worth considering ways to reduce your stress levels.

Poor Nutrition

Patients suffering from eating disorders or getting poor nutrition also show signs in their mouths. Most people who suffer from bulimia will do everything they can to hide it from others, but it’s hard to hide it from your dentist. We look for signs such as dry mouth, bleeding gums, and erosion on the insides of the front teeth. Stomach acid is erosive to the enamel that covers your teeth, so forced vomiting can wear away that protective enamel and cause increased sensitivity. Morning sickness during pregnancy or acid reflux can cause similar problems.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is especially common in post-menopausal women, although this weakening of the bones can happen to anyone. We look for signs like loose teeth or  receding gum line, which can indicate changes in the bone that supports your teeth. These signs, especially in a patient at higher risk for osteoporosis, will often lead us to refer you back to your doctor for a bone density test.

Keeping up with regular dental appointments has a number of advantages. We can watch for changes in your mouth, some of which can indicate more serious problems. Catching problems early enables you to have treatment earlier and leads to a more successful outcome.

www.swords-dental.ie

Implants

Implants

Durable, long-lasting and natural in their appearance, dental implants are the most modern method of replacing missing teeth.

The procedure involves fitting an implant which is usually made of titanium, into the bone of the jaw. It is important that we have enough bone in the area and that this bone is of good quality. If this is not the case, a procedure called bone augmentation can be used, to help build up the bone levels prior to the implant procedure.

We then allow time for the bone to heal and grow in around the implant. The implant can now hold a single false tooth called an implant crown in place. This is generally the best way of replacing a missing tooth. Implants can also be used to hold multiple false teeth (an implant bridge) or to fix a full denture in place. An implant supported denture has advantages over a standard denture in that it can greatly increase the biting force. Also it won’t cover the roof of the mouth in the way that a traditional denture would.

Procedure time will depend on how many implants you’re having. It’s possible to have several implants fitted in the same procedure.

Dental implants are usually fitted under local anaesthesia. If you’re feeling nervous about the procedure we can arrange for you to have some sedation. Both nitrous oxide and intravenous sedation options are available.

At Swords Dental our implants are fitted by our specialist oral surgeon Dr Eimear McHugh. If you’re interested in making an appointment to discuss implants or for an implant assessment give us a call on 018401001

www.swords-dental.ie

Dentistry while pregnant

Dentistry while pregnant:

I’d imagine, while pregnant, most mothers to be tend to fixate on the health of their babies. Its important to remember your own health too. Unfortunately, the changes in your hormone levels and immune system can leave you, and particularly your gums, open to problems. So I thought I’d go through some of these and suggest some tips to help:

Morning Sickness: If your struggling with regular morning sickness its likely that the enamel of your teeth is being worn down by acid and this may be causing sensitivity. Try to counteract the acidity by eating alkaline foods like cheese and drinking milk. Avoid brushing your teeth soon after vomiting as they will still be soft and this can make the problem worse. You can also try toothpastes such as Sensodyne pro-enamel to help.

Gum Problems: Most pregnant mothers will suffer from Pregnancy Gingivitis at some stage, especially the first trimester.This is indicated by red, inflamed and bleeding gums and may cause discomfort. Its important to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing well and attending the dentist or hygienist for a cleaning. Mouth washes such as Listerine can also help. Often to keep on top of these problems, you will need to spend more time on them than had been the case prior to your pregnancy.
Some studies have linked more extensive gum problems such as periodontal disease in the mother with premature and low birth weight babies, so keeping on top of your oral health will be of benefit for your baby too.

General Dentistry: It is safe to have dentistry done when your pregnant. We don’t tend to take x-rays but can do so with the help of a lead apron if necessary. We also tend to avoid prescribing antibiotics, if possible. Often more routine treatment, that isn’t urgent, can be postponed until after you’ve had your baby if you prefer.

Enjoy this exciting time!

www.swords-dental.ie

Oral signs of disease.

Oral signs of disease.

Regular dental care is critical to the overall health of your gums and teeth. What you may not know is that we can also spot signs of non-dental medical issues in your mouth during an exam. Some of the diseases and conditions that show signs within your mouth include diabetes, infections, oral cancer, HIV, stress, poor nutrition, and osteoporosis.

Diabetes

A few of the signs that can indicate a diagnosis of diabetes include loose teeth, dry mouth, and receding, dry, and bleeding gums. Poor immunity and an inability to fight disease effectively also make it much more difficult for wounds and gum  infections to heal in diabetic patients. Bleeding gums don’t always mean that you have diabetes. This problem can also come from gingivitis and other gum diseases. However, these early warning signs might lead us to encourage you to visit your doctor for a blood sugar check.

Infections

If we see any troubling signs of infection in your mouth, we can prescribe some antibiotics to fight the problem.  Signs of infection include severe pain, swelling, redness around the affected area, a surface that feels hot to the touch, fevers, and drainage from the wound or tooth. Infection can spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs and heart, so it’s critical to treat it urgently.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is the sixth-most common type of cancer, with more than 30,000 new cases being reported each year. When you visit a dentist twice a year, we can look for signs of this disease. Most cases appear as red and white lesions on the floor of your mouth, palate, lip or the tongue. Risk factors that increase the chances of oral cancer include heavy alcohol use, smoking, and exposure to HPV (the human papillomavirus), which also causes cervical cancer. We perform an oral cancer screening at each check up.

HIV

Some oral conditions may indicate that a patient is suffering from HIV. In children, patients might have salivary gland swelling, which can result in a dry mouth. Children infected with HIV are often more prone to oral lesions and viruses. Adults with HIV might exhibit signs like oral warts, lesions, white, red, purple, or brown spots on the tongue or in the mouth, and other infections. According to some studies severe gum problems occur in up to 5 percent of HIV-positive adult patients.

These symptoms alone don’t necessarily mean that you have HIV, although a these signs might lead us to recommend seeing your doctor for a blood test. Anyone engaging in risky behaviours should be tested for HIV regularly.

Stress

When you are stressed, your body may respond in ways that affect your mouth. One of the most common physical manifestations of stress is grinding your teeth. You might grind them when you’re feeling stressed, or commonly it happens when you’re asleep.

Grinding your teeth can do serious damage, so we often make night guards to protect against this. It’s also worth considering ways to reduce your stress levels.

Poor Nutrition

Patients suffering from eating disorders or getting poor nutrition also show signs in their mouths. Most people who suffer from bulimia will do everything they can to hide it from others, but it’s hard to hide it from your dentist. We look for signs such as dry mouth, bleeding gums, and erosion on the insides of the front teeth. Stomach acid is erosive to the enamel that covers your teeth, so forced vomiting can wear away that protective enamel and cause increased sensitivity. Morning sickness during pregnancy or acid reflux can cause similar problems.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is especially common in post-menopausal women, although this weakening of the bones can happen to anyone. We look for signs like loose teeth or  receding gum line, which can indicate changes in the bone that supports your teeth. These signs, especially in a patient at higher risk for osteoporosis, will often lead us to refer you back to your doctor for a bone density test.

Keeping up with regular dental appointments has a number of advantages. We can watch for changes in your mouth, some of which can indicate more serious problems. Catching problems early enables you to have treatment earlier and leads to a more successful outcome.

www.swords-dental.ie

Smoking and gum disease

Smoking and gum disease

It is said that quitting smoking is harder than giving up heroin- so the odds aren’t great. Heroin is also bad for the teeth but I’m going to focus on the smoking. I’m sure there are lots of smokers out there who are fed up of being told what to do by condescending dentist types. However…while most people know about the links between smoking and cancer, heart disease, emphysema etc. I find that a surprising number of patients don’t know about the catastrophic effects of smoking on the gums. Numerous times over the course of a year I’m forced to extract the lower front teeth and fit a denture for people in their twenties and thirties directly because of it. I find this profoundly depressing- largely because the teeth are perfect but the gums and bone which are the foundations for the teeth have collapsed.
Losing your front teeth is hugely psychologically damaging to anybody, particularly young people. I remember doing it once for an older lady who was a heavy smoker and losing a lot of her front teeth. The denture looked much better than what was there previously but she cried for twenty minutes afterwards when I told her they were gone.
The facts: Periodontal disease is the most common reason for people losing their teeth. Its a complicated process but after poor oral hygiene, smoking is the major preventable risk factor. It happens when bacteria in the mouth attack the gum and underlying jaw bone. Periodontal disease can be treated but if the patient is still smoking the success of the treatment is greatly reduced. At the age of sixty-five 41% of smokers have lost all their teeth. Smokers are seven times more likely to have it than non-smokers.
Smoking causes the blood vessels in the gum to constrict. This reduces the oxygen and nutrient supply to the area. It also reduces the numbers of white blood cells and antibodies which are needed to fight infection. The number of periodontal disease linked bacteria can be up to eleven times higher in smokers than in the mouths’ of non-smokers. This rapidly increases the rate at which it progresses and explains the decreased chances of successful treatment.
Other than the gums, smoking causes increased rates of: oral cancer, bad breath, mouth sores, loss of taste, tooth staining and wrinkling. Memorably one of my patients who smokes descibed her mouth as being “like a cat’s arse” because of the cigarettes. Oral cancer in particular is a nightmare scenario with only a 40% 5-year survival rate.
Giving up smoking is something that I often speak to patients about. I find that it generally takes five attempts or more to actually give up for good. Often patients who have given up say the same thing:
I had to mentally accept that I was going to give up, no matter what, before I was able to do it. The next thing they say is: I wish I’d done it sooner.
The HSE have a website that might be worth a look if anyone’s intersted: www.quit.ie

www.swords-dental.ie

Tel 01 8401001

Crowns

Crowns

A dental crown is a cap that is placed over a tooth to strengthen it and improve its appearance.
Crowns are generally made from a reinforced porcelain material. They help to restore a tooth’s shape, size and strength and cover the entire part of the tooth that lies above the gum line.
Crowns can also be used to cover teeth whose appearance we want to improve. We can use them to redesign the shape and improve the symmetry of the front teeth.

Crowns are generally made over two visits. At the first appointment the tooth is prepared. Firstly, we numb the tooth. Then we take some impressions: these are molds of the teeth that set over a couple of minutes. The tooth has to be shaped to create the correct base for placing a crown on. This drilling phase takes about fifteen minutes. After some more impressions we place a temporary crown on the tooth with a weak cement.

This temporary will be similar to the original tooth and stays in place for about ten days. It is important not to put excessive pulling forces on the tooth at this stage. In this interim period the tooth can be sensitive, however this should settle soon after the permanent crown is fitted.

The second visit is much quicker. Generally we numb the tooth again. The temporary crown is removed and we cement the permanent crown. The permanent crown will match the shade and shape of the surrounding teeth.

www.swords-dental.ie
Tel 01 8401001

First visit to the dentist

First visit to the dentist:

Opinions vary on the recommended age for a first visit to a dentist. At Swords Dental  we recommend parents bring their child along for their first visit before the age of three. Before this, I also encourage parents to bring their child along when having their own routine check-ups or with their older siblings. This helps to normalise the experience, so the child knows what to expect and lets me have a quick look to screen for any problems.

It is very important to see the child’s teeth before the adult teeth start to erupt around 6. If there is decay in the baby teeth before this age we need to consider any changes that should be made to reduce sugar in the diet. It is also worth planning to fissure seal the adult first molar teeth, to protect them,  if this is the case.

A first dental visit should fun. Tell the child that they will get a ride in the magic chair and that they will have their teeth counted. Bringing a favourite soft toy along can be very helpful. I often examine a teddy or dolls mouth first before I look at the child’s. Seeing what will happen beforehand can help the child prepare them for  what is involved. Sitting on a parent’s knee can also help relax a nervous child.

It is important to be as positive as you can in advance of the visit. There are several books about visiting the dentist that can also be helpful. We have copies of ‘Topsy and Tim Go to the Dentist’ in the waiting room. The first visit to the dentist episode of Peppa pig is also mentioned on a regular basis. Giving young children an idea of what’s to come helps to reduce any anxiety that they may have. We give young children stickers at the end of the appointment to reinforce that the appointment has been a positive experience.

I am happy to see most children once a year for a check-up unless there is a specific problem or issue that needs urgent attention.

www.swords-dental.ie

Tel 01 8401001

Toothpaste

Which toothpaste should you use?

The basic answer is that most of the popular toothpastes are very similar. Fluoride is the key ingredient, which strengthens the enamel and helps remineralise areas damaged by tooth decay. Avoid fluoride free toothpaste e.g Euthymol – the burning sensation does not make it more effective, its just the type of flavoring agent that’s used (the same can be said about most mouthwashes).

Colgate Total and Oral B Pro-expert are good general toothpastes which most dentists and hygienists recommend.

Sensitivity toothpastes e.g Sensodyne and Colgate Pro-Relief are good options if you have a sensitivity problem. This is often caused by areas of gum recession. Standard toothpaste options are better if you don’t suffer from sensitivity.

Care should be taken with whitening toothpastes, many are very abrasive and can cause damage longterm to the enamel coating covering your teeth. Dr Lyndsey McTavish recommends Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening or Kin Whitening Toothpaste for people looking to minimise stains.

Pronamel toothpaste is designed for use on teeth that are at risk from acid erosion (wearing away of the outer layer by acid in food and drinks).

Duraphat toothpaste can be used for patients with high rates of decay, it has a much increased fluoride content but is only available by prescription from a dentist.

For patients with Dry mouth (xerostomia) Again there are lots of brands but I find that Biotene, BioXtra and Curaprox enzycal toothpaste are great options.

Charlotte Quinn, our hygienist, recommends Colgate total for mild gum disease along with Kin products such as perio kin gel, Corsodyl products and some Curasept products. Please be aware that apart for the Colgate total the other products are not for long-term use and patients are all treated on an individual basis when recommending these products.

www.swords-dental.ie

Bad Breath

Bad Breath is a common condition that can cause much embarrassment. About 90% of the time the mouth is the source of this problem. The good news is that by taking a few simple steps, to improve oral health, it can often be resolved.

There are a number of possible risk factors that can contribute to bad breath.
Smoking: As well as inducing halitosis smoking can also stain the teeth, induce gum disease and is catastrophic for general health.
Dry Mouth: Saliva is important help clean the mouth and prevent bad breath. It can be caused as a side effect to many common medicines. It is important to clean the teeth before going to bed as salivary rates fall during the night.
Food: Certain foods such as garlic and onions can affect the breath.
Health Problems: Sometimes these can have an effect. Diabetes, , Sinus problems, Liver, Kidney or Gastric problems have all been shown to contribute to bad breath. If the more common causes have been excluded we often advise the parent to follow up with their GP to look into these areas.

It is important to start by improving the overall health of the mouth. This will include brushing twice a day (including the top part of the tongue) for two minutes with a fluoridated toothpaste and flossing on a daily basis. Regular trips to the dentist or Hygienist will help improve the health of the mouth. Dentures should be left out at night. Stop smoking: www.quit.ie have a range of support material to help with this.
Mouthwashes that contain Chlorhexidine e.g Corsodyl should help but be careful about using them on a longterm basis as they can stain the teeth.

If you have this problem and would like to make an appointment at Swords Dental  you can call us on 8401001.

www.swords-dental.ie

Flossing

Flossing

After tooth-brushing, flossing once a day is the next most important way of keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Brushing the teeth is great for cleaning the tooth surfaces but about 40% of the the bacteria that cause dental decay and gum problems are in the area where the teeth meet. Flossing is a great way of removing these bacteria (plaque). It is particularly good where the teeth are tight together as inter-dental brushes such as tepes won’t be able to get into these spaces.

How to do it:
Break off a piece about 18 inches long.
Wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand, and a small amount onto the middle finger of the other.
Gently slide the floss between the teeth and be careful not to let the floss snap between teeth, cutting the gum.
Make a C shape with the floss as you wrap it around the tooth. Then carefully pull the floss upward from the gum line to the top of the tooth.
As you move from one tooth to the next, unroll a fresh section of floss from the finger of one hand while rolling the used floss onto the finger of the other hand.Don’t forget to floss the back side of each tooth.As long as you use the correct technique the type of floss isn’t super important, but we recommend Satin Oral-B floss.

If you’re having problems with the gum or would like some more information on oral hygiene you might want to consider making an appointment with our hygienist, Charlotte Quinn.

To make an appointment give us a call on 018401001

www.swords-dental.ie