Ow! What can you do about sensitive teeth?

Even though our teeth feel like they are inert pieces of rock cut to bite and chew, inside each of them are quite a few nerves, and they don’t hold back in letting us know when they are being activated. Toothache can take over your whole head, but there are other forms of transient pain that, in the moment, will get all your attention.

You might get a sudden pain when you bite into something cold like an ice cream, or sip an extra hot cup of tea.

Sensitive Teeth in EssexHere at Crofts Dental Practice in Essex, we refer to these pains as having sensitive teeth. There can be several causes of sensitive teeth and it’s important to find out which one is behind your transient pains so that something can be done about them.

Loss of tooth enamel

When your tooth enamel is being eroded, the nerves beneath it in the layer of softer dentin and in the soft pulp are that much nearer the surface of your tooth, and therefore more likely to be affected by extremes in temperature from sudden cold and hot substances.

Enamel can be eroded by a high sugar diet feeding plaque that gives off acids that cause erosion. It can also be eroded by brushing with too hard a brush, and also by some eating disorders.

Receding gums

When your gums start to recede, as can happen as we age or through gum disease, the tooth root under the gum can become exposed. The root has no protective enamel on it and is therefore much more sensitive.

Damaged teeth

You may have cracked a tooth or damaged the enamel in some other way, exposing a nerve.

Teeth whitening

Whitening the teeth can open the pores in your tooth enamel and this can lead to sensitivity. There are toothpastes to remineralise the enamel and make it less prone to sensation.

Whether yours is a fleeting pain or one that can go on for hours, it’s important to get it checked out. It may be symptomatic of something more serious that we can catch early and treat easily.

Are root canals really all that painful?

When it comes to dental treatments, there are a few that seem to strike fear into the hearts of patients, and one with a reputation for pain is the root canal. Just the words can make grown men faint and yet there really is no need for fear, because this minor bit of dental surgery can help you hang onto your teeth for many years, instead of losing them to infection.

Root Canals in EssexPulp fact

The tooth is made up of 3 layers. On the outside is the hard, protective layer called enamel. This stops bad things getting in and also acts as a chewing or biting surface.

Inside that is a softer, more yellow layer called dentin, and inside that is the soft pulp of the tooth. It is made up of connective tissue, nerves and blood vessels. The pulp is inside the crown of the tooth and also goes down to the tip of the roots. Your front teeth have one root, but your back teeth have 3.

The pulp makes dentin, should any need to be replaced and also brings nutrients to the tooth in the blood vessels. The nerves are there to give feeling and let you know about any pain.

Infected pulp

A severe infection of the pulp is known as pulpitis, and it can happen if decay gets into the tooth, often following an injury. It hurts a lot.

If you get a tooth infection that goes into the pulp, it’s not good news. You have 2 options: you can either have the tooth extracted or you can have a root canal.

What is a root canal?

Root canals allow you to hang onto your tooth. We clean out all the pulp, including right down into the roots. Once it is all cleared out, we fill the roots and the crown, and then to make the whole tooth strong and to protect it from further infection, we put a crown made of dental porcelain over the top of it.

At Crofts Dental Practice in Essex, root canals are performed under local anaesthetic, so there is no pain during the procedure.

Get the teeth that work like real teeth

If you need to replace your teeth then you probably want teeth that act like natural teeth. Natural teeth have roots that are held in place by a strong network of fibres in a socket in the jawbone. This gives them such stability that they withstand chewing forces of up to 97kg or 200lbs. If you have ever bitten your tongue or your cheek, you will have a good idea of how much force goes into a chew.

Dental Implants in EsssexAll about stability

Dentistry has come a long way in the past few decades, and dental implants in Essex are the replacement teeth that best mimic those that Nature gave us. They are the only method of replacing teeth that replaces the root of the tooth and not just the crown. Dentures have crowns but rely on suction to the gums for their stability (which only gives about 25% of the chewing power we need for the really good chewy nutritious foods like fresh veggies). Fixed bridgework gives a better chew, but to get it you have to sacrifice the 2 healthy teeth on either side of your gap, which have to be ground down to be used as buttress crowns to support the bridge, and can never be teeth in their own right again.

All about longevity

At Crofts Dental Practice, we love the fact that once we have fitted a patient with dental implants, we can be confident that they will not have to have the replacement teeth replaced. Dental implants integrate with the jawbone, and, as long as you take good care of them, you can expect them to last for at least 15 years. Lots of people have them for decades in fact, although the porcelain crowns may need to be replaced. Compare this with dentures and bridgework which have to be replaced every few years. It’s worth bearing this in mind when you are doing cost comparisons.

All about maintenance

As long as you brush and floss your implants twice a day to remove plaque and have regular hygienist sessions too, there’s no reason not to hang onto your implants for as long as possible.

Having trouble keeping your breath fresh?

Fresh breath is not a thing any of us would want to be without. We have all suffered from bad breath, or halitosis, as some time or another. Usually we all need to freshen our breath just after we wake up, and this is why we are often keen to brush our teeth not long after we have jumped out of bed.

We all want to have fresh breath, which is why the breath freshener industry is worth billions of pounds every year. But apart from popping mints into our mouths and keeping a secret breath spray about our person, what else can we do to make sure fresh breath? In Essex, at Crofts Dental Practice, here are some tips.

Fresh Breath in EssexClean, clean, clean

You can’t have fresh breath if you don’t have a good oral hygiene habit. The aim of this is to remove the bacteria that cause gum disease and bad breath.

You need to brush twice a day for 2 minutes with a good fluoride toothpaste. Most electric toothbrushes have a timer on them these days so you know when you have done your required 2 minutes. You also need to clean your tongue; scrapers are pretty cheap and widely available. Also, don’t forget to floss once a day to remove trapped food and plaque.

Also, see the hygienist twice a year for a deep clean. You can’t get at all the plaque yourself so you need to see the hygienist to help remove stubborn tartar.

Tonsil stones

Did you know that you can get tonsil stones? These are made of hardened bacteria and mucus, and they smell bad. You can use a water flosser to get rid of debris before it hardens into a stone, or you can gently remove stones with a dampened cotton wool swab. You can prevent tonsil stones by gargling with warm salt water.

Are you drinking enough water?

If you don’t drink enough water, or suffer from a dry mouth, then this can easily lead to bad breath. You need a good supply of saliva to clean away debris and bacteria from your mouth. Make sure you are drinking enough water to keep a steady supply of saliva available.

Preventive dentistry: it’s all about teamwork

Even though dentistry has come a long way in the last couple of decades with regard to pain management and treatments being less invasive, most people still harbour some nervousness when they come for a check-up and a good proportion of patients get very anxious indeed. So much so that they don’t even make appointments for check-ups, let alone make it through the door.

Preventive Dentistry in EssexAnd yet, if you take the time to clean your teeth well twice a day and have your check-ups, you stand a very good chance of not having to have any treatments, not even a tiny filling.

And we’d rather you didn’t have to but that you work with us to prevent the bad stuff from happening in your teeth and mouth.

Your part in preventive dentistry in Essex

If you clean and floss and show up for check-ups and cleanings with the hygienist, then we can do our part which is to deal with any problems that show up, in their early stages.

Preventive dentistry for children

Toothbrushing is a skill and it can take a good few years to master it. That’s a challenge when you are a kid, especially when part of the skill is just standing there, brushing away, for 2 minutes, twice a day even. Not many adults have the discipline for that, so imagine what a challenge that is for a 6-year-old. Children also consume more sugary snacks and drinks than adults, so it’s no wonder that the incidence of tooth decay is higher among youngsters than grown-ups.

We have a couple of treatments that can help make children’s teeth less susceptible to tooth decay. We can paint a coating on to their teeth that will act as a barrier to prevent decay causing bacteria from plaque getting to tooth enamel in those hard-to-reach fissures on the back teeth. We can also use a fluoride treatment that helps mineralise the enamel, making it harder and less prone to decay.

Both adults and children need to visit the hygienist to remove any build-up of plaque. Twice a year is good. Some people may need to come more often.

Smile without thinking first

Being able to smile spontaneously is a wonderful gift and if you have never felt able to do so because you have misaligned teeth, then you do not know what you are missing. Being self-conscious about your smile can be a terrible burden. Yes, you may have gotten used to having to remember to put a hand over your mouth every time you laugh, or to smiling with your lips closed, but when you no longer have to remember not to show your teeth when you smile, it is like taking off a pair of tight boots that you have been wearing all your life.

Orthodontics in EssexHere at Crofts Dental Practice, we have a range of discreet orthodontic devices to straighten teeth for adults who would rather not look like a Goonie when they are getting their teeth realigned.

The Inman Aligner

This works on the very front teeth. It sandwiches them between aligner bows that are spring-loaded. Depending on what your teeth look like to start with, getting them straight could take as little as 6 weeks, or as long as 18 weeks, which is still not much time in terms of teeth straightening. The Inman Aligner is taken out for eating and cleaning, and it also doubles up as a retainer, making this a very affordable option.

Six Month Smiles

Fixed bracket and wire braces that realign the front 6-8 teeth, which are the ones most on view when you talk and laugh. The great thing about these braces are that the brackets are smaller than you might think and made of clear ceramic. The wire is coated with a tooth-coloured material, so the whole lot blend in with the teeth. The front teeth are easier to move than the back ones, so treatment can take as little 4 months, but takes 6 on average.

Lingual braces

For more complex alignment issues, we recommend lingual bracket and wire braces that go on the tongue side of the teeth, where they can’t be seen at all.


Removable clear plastic aligners that look like very thin mouth guards, these are removable for eating.

Those teeth you need to replace..

…how are you thinking about doing it? These days, there are up to 3 options to hand and you may wonder whether the latest is the one to go for, or whether you should stick with the tried and trusted.

In the end though, it is all technology. You have to ask yourself whether what the replacement teeth do – bite, chew, talk, smile – is important enough in your life to get the latest technology, which is dental implants.

Dental Implants in EssexWhat are dental implants?

Dental implants are the latest generation of tooth replacement, but they are not all that new anymore. In fact, dental implants have been around for more than 30 years.

They are small, tapered posts or screws that are put into channels carefully made in the jawbone to replace tooth roots. Once in place, the titanium implants trigger the bone to create new tissue all over them and the two fuse together. It’s not quite a tooth in a socket but it’s the nearest dental research has come to it, and this way of replacing lost teeth gives people back the full functionality of their teeth, and protects the health of their jawbone.

What is full functionality?

This means that the teeth work just as well as your natural teeth did. Once they have integrated with the bone, dental implants can withstand the chewing pressures of an adult male. This means that you can eat whatever you like again instead of having to live on a soft food diet.

What’s so important about the jawbone?

The jawbone needs to feel the impact of teeth meeting each other to know that it is still in use and so renew its bone cells. Without the tremor of impact coming down through the roots, the bone starts to resorb, shrinking in size and density pretty quickly to eventually give you that pointy-chinned, tiny jaw that we associate with the elderly.

With dental implants, your jaw remains strong and able to support the structure of your face.

Come into Crofts Dental Practice and find out how dental implants in Essex can help you replace lost teeth.

Your teeth can go on for longer

Dentistry in the 21st century is all about helping you to hang onto your teeth for life. For most of us that means our adult teeth are going to see at least 50 years of service.

We use our teeth every day and over time they do start to wear out. Plus there are certain things that can happen to them that could finish them off altogether, but we can extend their life with crowns. Here at Crofts Dental Practice in Essex, dental crowns are a versatile treatment that is used in several different ways.

Dental Crowns in EssexWhat is a crown?

A crown is a porcelain cover for your tooth. It fits down over the entire tooth, covering it completely right down to the gum. Crowns are custom-made to blend in with your other teeth, and no one but you will know they are not your natural teeth.


If you get an infection inside your tooth, it will probably show up first as incredible pain and an abscess under the gum. The way we treat an infected tooth is to clean out the infected pulp, which is the softest part of the inner tooth, right down into the root. We then fill the root and cover it with a crown so that you can continue to use it to eat with.

Crowns to cover up ugly fillings

If your tooth is mostly filling, the filling material can show through the enamel and make your tooth an unattractive colour. When a tooth gets to this stage, it may not be very strong either. We can cover the tooth over so that it looks good again and also to extend its chewing life.

Crowns for buttresses

If you have lost a tooth or two, we may recommend that you replace them with a bridge. This is one or more teeth suspended on a metal framework and anchored at either end by a healthy tooth covered in a crown. The healthy teeth have to be ground down to receive the crowns.

Dental porcelain does not respond to whitening so if you also want your teeth whitened, get that done first and then get the crown to match your whiter teeth.

The importance of children’s dentistry

Thinking that you don’t need to worry about your children’s teeth until their adult ones come through? Then think again. Read these government statistics on decay in children’s teeth to find out why:

  • 25% of children aged 5 have tooth decay, often in three or four teeth;
  • Almost 8,000 children aged six and under have had to have teeth extracted in hospital;
  • In 2012-13, tooth decay was the most common reason for children going into hospital;
  • In 2014-15, 63,000 children aged up to 19 went into hospital for tooth extractions.

Children's Dentistry in EssexWhile the decay issue is worse in the North, in 2015, 20% of five-year-olds in the South East had tooth decay.

Not even going into how much money this costs the NHS, let’s look at what tooth decay means for your children.

Teeth problems for life

Decay doesn’t sit still, it moves through the tooth and it can jump from tooth to tooth too. It can jump sideways to neighbouring teeth, but it can also get into the adult teeth that are sitting behind decaying milk teeth, waiting to come through. Not taking children’s dentistry seriously can give children dental problems for life.

Teach them how to brush

Children get more decay than adults because there is a lot more sugar in their diets: snacks, juices (acid and sugar is a sure-fire decay-causing combination) and sweets. They also have not yet mastered the skills and habits to make them diligent brushers. Brushing the back teeth well is hard to master, as is standing still at a sink for two minutes twice a day. Boring! Even for adults.

The hygienist at Crofts Dental Practice in Essex can make tooth brushing education fun.

Treatments to keep teeth safe

We can help protect your children’s teeth against decay with fluoride treatments to mineralise the teeth. We can also paint fissure sealants onto the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to provide a barrier against the acids that cause decay.

What you can do

Start bringing your children in to see us as young as possible and teach them that visiting the dentist is a positive experience, to help them create lifelong good habits for their teeth.

Beyond the mortification

Although dentures are so much more realistic looking than they used to be, denture wearers are often very self-conscious about them. They limit what you can eat in many cases, with foods getting under the plate, which has to then be washed, and they don’t have anything like the chewing power of natural teeth.

Dentures in EssexAll that can be coped with, as can having to soak them overnight in a pot. But, when they start to misbehave, sliding around in the mouth, lifting up when you yawn, coming right out if you suddenly sneeze, then it’s no longer simply a bit embarrassing, it can be absolutely mortifying. Dental adhesives are meant to hold loose dentures in place, but it can be messy fiddling around with glue, and it doesn’t always last long. The trouble is that without something in the jawbone to stimulate cell renewal, the bones shrink away and so do the gums. This is why you can end up having to have your denture relined so often.

But what can you do? Well, you can get loose dentures stabilised with dental implants. At Crofts Dental Practice in Essex, loose dentures can be such a drain on our patients, and we all love the transformation in their enjoyment of life when they decided to get their dentures stabilised with dental implants.

We insert 2–4 dental implants into your jawbone and attach special fittings to them that your dentures go onto.

We can even customise your current dentures to have the right fittings to be attached to the implants, so there is no need to invest in new ones, unless you want to.

You still use your dentures in the same way, taking them out to clean them and to rest your gums at night, but during the day, you will be amazed at how much better they perform. Once again, you will be able to eat foods that may have been off the menu for years, and you will be able to chat and laugh without one part of you always on alert for the wobble. What a relief!