Monthly Archives: April 2020

DIY Dentistry Disasters! Teeth Whitening…

Right now, DIY dentistry is on the rise. It’s very worrying for us dental professionals. Over the years, we’ve seen our share of disasters from super glued crowns to teeth that have disintegrated due to DIY tooth whitening. We are putting together a series of articles looking at the most common DIY dental treatments from DIY whitening to DIY extractions. This week we start with the most common DIY treatment – teeth whitening, and you’ll see why DIY dentistry is such a terrible idea.

DIY Teeth Whitening 

There are usually two ways we see people perform DIY teeth whitening 1) they use abrasive substances such as lemon juice and bicarb of soda and lemon juice or they use a whitening treatment bought online or from a beautician. Both of these can cause irreversible damage.

When it comes to tooth whitening, there are two important anatomical features to be aware of – the dentine and the enamel. The enamel is a thin surface structure, and the dentine is more yellow. Tooth enamel, while incredibly strong, can be worn down with acid. This is why if you place lemon and bicarb of soda on the teeth, it can be disastrous! The lemon (acid) weakens the enamel, and the bicarb of soda works as an abrasive. The damage this causes sadly is irreversible. 

The second most common DIY whitening is teeth whitening from a non-dentist, e.g. beautician or online. It is illegal for anyone other than a dental professional to provide teeth whitening in the UK as it is classed as a dental procedure and can cause serious problems. One of the most common side effects we see from this is severely burned gums. 

Why do I see before and afters of people with whiter looking teeth?

At best, these DIY treatments can dehydrate the teeth, which makes them appear whiter temporarily it can also lift some surface staining. At worst the procedure may be completely stripping the teeth. A tell-tale sign of this is teeth that are becoming more transparent and sensitive.

The long term effects of this type of treatment can require significant restoration, which can be time and costly. This may include:

  • root canal treatment
  • fillings
  • veneers or crowns
  • in some cases the removal of teeth

If you’re desperate for whiter teeth, than these are your best options:

  • Dental hygiene appointment – this can remove plaque and staining that causes discolouration
  • Professional dental whitening – a safe and effective option for lightening your teeth by several shades or more
  • Home care – using an electric toothbrush such as Philips Sonicare and avoiding stain-causing foods such as tea, coffee, and red wine can help your teeth to stay whiter.

When considering DIY dentistry, it’s crucial to remember two key things 1) unfortunately, teeth cannot repair themselves, any damage that occurs is likely to require professional dental treatment. 2) teeth aren’t just there for aesthetics they also play a vital role in helping you to eat, speak and support your face. The way your teeth look should ultimately come after these three essential roles. 

Find out more about our professional teeth whitening…

Floss like a boss…

More than a quarter of patients admitted to lying to their dentist about our flossing habits. A study from the British Dental Health Foundation also revealed that one in three Brits admitted that they have never flossed their teeth!

Our Leicester dentists recommend that you floss at least once daily. Flossing removes food and plaque from between the teeth – an area that your toothbrush cannot reach! Your teeth have five surfaces, and toothbrushing only cleans 3 of them.  

It is essential to clean between the teeth because plaque buildup can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Daily flossing is imperative if you want to keep your teeth for the rest of your life.

Most people find flossing simple and quick once they get the hang of it. However, it is crucial to ensure you are flossing correctly. 

Here is our step by step guide for correct flossing:

1) Start with about half a metre of floss or dental tape

2 Wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving about 3-4cm to work with.

3. Holding the floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently through the teeth, curve the floss around the base of each tooth making a C shape, making sure you go beneath the gum line. But never force the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue.

4. After each tooth roll the dirty floss on to the finger and move on to the next tooth using a clean section of floss. 

5. Continue to do this as you move from tooth to tooth until you have done all of the teeth. 

It is quite likely that your gums may bleed during the early stages of flossing. Do not let this put you off! Bleeding gums is a sign that you should most definitely be flossing. Any bleeding should resolve after 3-4 days.

If flossing is too tricky for you; for instance, you have a medical condition such as Parkinson’s or arthritis, there are alternatives.

Thankfully there are many alternatives to flossing nowadays. Floss sticks can be a great alternative to floss if your fingers are a little too big to fit inside your mouth or you find the floss a bit fiddly. It is a piece of floss attached to a plastic handle.

A popular alternative and one which our dentists at Smile Essential Dental Practice often recommend are Tepe brushes. These are a type of interdental cleaning brush. People often find them much easier to use. They come in a range of sizes, so it’s vital to get a recommendation from your dentist.

If you have any questions about cleaning or are unsure if you should floss or maybe use something else, then speak to your dentist at your next dental health check. We’re here to help.

5 tips for your cleanest teeth at home ever!

We all love that dental feeling of clean, that fresh breath feeling that we get after a good professional clean! Having a clean mouth doesn’t just feel good, but it’s also hugely beneficial to your overall health.

Right now, non-urgent dental treatment is not permitted; however, you can get a head start and get your best feeling of clean at home with some top tips from our Leicester dentists.

1) Clean between the teeth. Your teeth have five surfaces brushing cleans just three of them!  So your mouth can never truly feel clean when you are missing so much. You can clean in between your teeth by using dental floss or using interdental brushes such as Tepes. You may be surprised by how much food and plaque you discover. If you’re new to cleaning between your teeth or haven’t done so for a while, then don’t be too alarmed if there is some bleeding. The bleeding has been caused by inflammation from the gums being irritated by plaque or food debris. Much like a spot turns red and irritated. Once the cause has been removed, then the gums and bleeding will settle over the next 24-48 hours.

2) Change your toothbrush every two to three months or sooner if it becomes worn. An electric toothbrush is an excellent investment. The Philips Sonicare toothbrush is our favourite. The Sonicare electric toothbrush uses ultrasonic technology which offers a superior clean. As an added bonus it can also help with stain removal!

3) Take a look at your tongue! Your tongue can be a source of bad breath and may be coated in sticky plaque. The best way to remove this is with a metal tongue scraper every time you brush your teeth. But a toothbrush can also be used to help remove any buildup. Cleaning your tongue will help to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth and help it to feel much fresher.

4) Watch what you’re eating and drinking. Have you ever noticed that your mouth can feel horrible after eating certain foods? Sugary foods, in particular, can leave your mouth feeling gross. This doesn’t happen when eating or drinking something much healthier.

5) Quit smoking. Stopping smoking has never been more important! Smoking can cause staining, gum disease, tooth loss, and in more severe cases mouth cancer.

If you have any questions about cleaning your teeth at home feel free to reach out to us on our Facebook page

Wisdom tooth pain relief advice…

Once upon a time, having wisdom teeth was extremely useful. But, as we’ve evolved, our need for these extra pearlies has diminished. For most people, wisdom teeth come through and don’t cause any problems. But what about if they do become painful? We’ve written this helpful guide to help you avoid wisdom teeth problems and manage if they do cause pain.

Wisdom tooth pain

Sometimes there can be mild discomfort as wisdom teeth come through, but this is only temporary and will disappear once the tooth is fully in position. 

We often hear patients say that they have had some discomfort, then it went away then it came back. Wisdom teeth often come through in spurts – much like a growth spurt. Erupting a little more each time and often stopping for a few weeks or even several months. 

One of the most common causes of wisdom tooth pain isn’t actually from the tooth but from food and plaque getting trapped.

Because wisdom teeth are tucked away in the back of the mouth, you have to be extra thorough in your brushing as it’s easy to miss certain spots.

There can also be a lip of gum over part of the tooth which hasn’t disappeared yet. This allows food and plaque to get trapped and if left there can cause at best a bad taste and bad breath and at worse pain, swelling and limited mouth opening.

If your wisdom teeth start to become painful, then try this:

1) Don’t avoid cleaning the area even if painful. Clean gently and thoroughly to help remove the food and plaque particles. The best way to do this is by using a small-headed toothbrush and not opening too wide. When you only open halfway, you have more manoeuvre more easily then if you were to stretch open as wide as possible.

2) Warm salt mouthwashes. This traditional remedy often surprises people. However, it’s an effective way to help relief wisdom teeth pain. Use a small teaspoon of salt dissolved on some water as warm as you have a cup of tea and swill around the wisdom tooth area for up to a minute. You can repeat this three times a day until better.

3) Take suitable pain relief. If the pain becomes too much, then pain relief medications such as paracetamol can help. You must continue with steps 1 and 2 in addition to taking pain relief. A pharmacist or medical practitioner can advise you on the best pain relief to take for you.

When to seek emergency dental treatment:

  • If the pain doesn’t go away after a few days despite following the steps above.
  • The pain keeps on getting worse
  • You have a facial swelling 
  • Restricted mouth opening – you can only open a little bit.
  • You are concerned that something is wrong.

Will I need to have the wisdom teeth taken out?

If the wisdom tooth is likely to cause you pain or problems, then your dentist will discuss your options for having the tooth removed. But, if there is enough space for the tooth and they are unlikely to cause you ongoing problems, then it’s now advisable to leave the tooth there.