Lose count of your fillings

How many fillings have you had over the years? Not sure? How about if you count them? That’s easy to do if you had your cavities filled with amalgam, that dark silvery-grey filling material made of silver, tin and mercury.

It’s not so easy to do if you have white fillings in Essex, and if you can’t count how many fillings you’ve had because you can’t see them, then neither can anyone else. And that’s the point of white fillings, they are a far more discreet way to have cavities filled than amalgam.

White Fillings in EssexWhite fillings are made of a mixture of glass and plastic that is coloured to match the teeth. This mixture is called composite resin. Over the years, since white fillings first came on the market, they have got a lot stronger and more durable.

There are some good reasons, beyond aesthetics, to use white fillings instead of amalgam.

Teeth are stronger

When the dentist drills out decay for a filling, they take more healthy tooth material away for an amalgam filling than for a composite filling. This means that the tooth is stronger with white fillings because more of it is left behind. When it comes to back teeth, this is a real plus, as these teeth can really take a pounding when chewing is in full force.

Bonding

White filling material goes in in layers and each layer is cured (hardened) with a UV light, bonding it to the walls of the cavity. There are no micro-gaps for bacteria to sneak in and under the filling and get busy decaying the tooth. Amalgam, on the other hand, is packed in tightly but does not actually bond with the tooth. Bacteria can still get in and start decaying the tooth.

Sculpting new chewing surfaces

Amalgam is soft, and once it goes into the tooth, it lies flat. Back teeth that are filled with amalgam lose their chewing surfaces. The layers of white filling however, can be sculpted once they have been hardened and the teeth can have the bumps and valleys of their chewing surfaces recreated.

Ask for more info next time you come into Crofts Dental Practice in Essex.

Relax, you’re with an understanding dentist

Being scared of going to the dentist is a lot more common than you might think. And when we say scared, what we really mean is phobic. More or less everyone is a bit nervous about going to the dentist for anything more than a check-up or a scale and polish.

Nervous Patients in EssexHowever, as dental researchers come up with more and better ways to treat people and manage pain, there is less need to get jittery before a treatment. That’s easy to appreciate if you are one of the 87% of people who don’t suffer from dental phobia. But if you are one of the 13% of people who do, you are going to be suffering far more than just a few twinges of fear.

Dental phobia is extreme fear of visiting the dentist. It can cause sweating, panic attacks, and such levels of fear that often sufferers prefer to take their chances with gum disease and tooth decay than visit the dentist.

But, here at Crofts Dental Practice in Essex, we are doing our best to give nervous patients a new experience of visiting the dentist.

We run a special nervous patients’ clinic to aid people with their phobia. At our dental clinic, we are all well trained in working with worried patients. What does that mean? Let’s take a look.

Firstly, we are very happy to talk to you in a consultation before your treatment to allow you to go over your worries before you even get into dentist’s chair. We want to make sure you will be relaxed throughout your treatment. If you need to take breaks, we are happy to pause.

Waiting can increase anxiety levels so we make sure you don’t have to spend too long in the waiting room by running our appointments on time. We have lots of ways to distract you during treatment and you can bring a friend or family member along with you.

We also offer cognitive behavioural therapy to help you deal with your anxious thoughts, and we can also use sedation while you are being treated so that you can deeply relax.

Come and have a chat to find out how we can help you.

You don’t have to lose your quality of life

In the past, people used to dread losing their teeth because they knew that the replacements would never be as good as the real thing. Dentures may start off fitting well, but everyone knows that over time they will become loose and start to slide back and forth over the gums. Fixed bridgework offers more stability but at the expense of losing 2 perfectly good teeth to become buttresses for the bridge.

Dental Implants in EssexThankfully, all that has changed now and for most people, dental implants from us at Crofts Dental Practice in Essex have become their first choice for replacing teeth.

Anyone who had already had dental implants fitted will be able to tell you that the longish treatment journey is worth it. Once their dental implants are in, and have fused with their jawbone and the handmade porcelain crowns have been screwed into place, no one will ever know that these replacement teeth are not their own. They are never going to start wobbling around, and they don’t need to compromise any adjacent teeth to get fitted.

Dental implants are the only way to replace the whole tooth, root as well as crown, and teeth need their roots if they are going to function properly.

The treatment journey takes a bit of time because we have to allow 2-6 months for the titanium posts to fuse with the jawbone in a process known as osseointegration. During this time, you have to be pretty careful about what you eat. You will start off, for a week or so, on a liquid diet, and then move onto a soft food diet. You need to wait until your implants have fully integrated with your jawbone and your new crowns are on before you go for it with the super crunchy, chewy foods such as roast potatoes and rump steaks.

As for maintenance, it is so much less hassle than dentures. You are aiming to keep gum disease at bay. All you need to do is brush your teeth carefully for 2 minutes twice a day, plus floss daily. Back this routine up with regular deep cleans with the hygienist and you are set.

Yes, people do notice what colour your teeth are

People notice your smile. It’s a fact. Human beings have evolved to spot problems with each other’s teeth and mouth. It’s a self-protective device to stop us getting too close to other people who might be carrying disease.

And, although that’s unlikely to be the case these days, we still can’t but help notice each other’s dental imperfections and react accordingly. So, if your teeth are discoloured, then it will be very hard to hide.

Teeth Whitening in EssexWith that in mind, it can be very tempting to whiten your teeth with a kit from a pharmacy or off the internet, but no dentist is going to tell you that this is a good idea. Whitening gel contains hydrogen peroxide as its active ingredient. While this is a tried and tested product that has been in use as a whitener for centuries, if it is too strong, it can strip the enamel and cause damage that will need expensive restorative treatments.

Buy a take-home kit from us

When you buy a take-home kit from us at Crofts Dental Practice in Essex, you will be using a product that has been tried and tested and is safe. The kit also includes whitening trays that have been made by us specifically for you. This means that there will be maximum contact between the gel and your teeth. It also reduces the chances of gel spilling out into your mouth.

You wear the gel trays every day for a short period, and it will take roughly 2 weeks to whiten your teeth.

We need to check you before treatment

It’s always a good idea to let us take at look at your teeth before whitening. Firstly, it may be that your discolourations are not on the surface of your teeth, but are intrinsic to their structure. If this is the case, then whitening will not make any difference and you will need to have another treatment, such as veneers, to cover over the discolouration. Also, we need to make sure that you don’t have anything that could create problems, such as decay, worn teeth or leaky fillings.

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.

Invisalign

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