Now you see them, now you don’t

One of the best advances in dental equipment has been the introduction of a range of invisible braces over the last couple of decades.

Nearly everyone with wonky teeth wants to get them straightened, but the thought of having to wear embarrassing metal and wire contraptions on the teeth for several months, if not years, has put a lot of people off.

Invisible Braces in EssexNot any more, however. Now, a choice of invisible braces means that adults of all ages are getting in on the straightening act.

Here at Crofts Dental Practice in Essex, our patients can choose between 4 kinds of devices that cover the range of misalignment issues, from the very mild to the seriously complex. As an adult, even if your teeth are all over the place, there’s no reason for you to have to wear metal braces over your teeth.

Lingual braces

These hidden braces are great for complex alignment issues that other devices cannot handle. They use the reliable mechanics of bracket and wires but they go on the tongue side of the teeth instead of the outer-facing sides.

Made of gold alloy, the brackets are made specifically for each of your teeth, from detailed scans. They take about 3 weeks to make, but it’s worth the wait if you want your braces completely hidden and your super-wonky teeth sorted out.

Clear aligners

These look like mouth guards made of wafer thin, rigid, transparent plastic. They snap on over the teeth and inside each one there’s ridges and bumps that press on the teeth to move them. You wear a series of these Invisalign aligners, and you can take them out for eating and cleaning.

Inman Aligner

One removable device that uses opposing forces to gently reposition the front teeth. You take it out for eating and cleaning and it doubles as a retainer, so is very good value for money.

Six Month Smiles

Bracket and wire braces made with clear ceramic brackets and tooth-coloured wires to blend in with your teeth. These are fixed braces for moderately misaligned front teeth. They take 4-9 months to do their work.

Retainers

Everyone who gets their teeth straightened needs to finish their treatment by wearing a retainer.

Keeping on top of dental hygiene

Spring is starting to appear all around us now, and with it comes that burst of cleaning energy that transforms dark winter homes into bright summer homes. It’s hard to resist that urge to clean the windows and walls and get rid of any sense of hibernation that may still be lingering.

Dental Hygiene in EssexHere at Crofts Dental Practice in Essex, we get the urge to spring clean your teeth too, so why not come in for some dental hygiene and get your teeth ready for summer too.

Winter is a time of warm puddings, hot teas and coffees, red wine and chocolate, all of which can leave their mark on your teeth. If you run your tongue over them, can you feel the build-up of plaque and tartar?

Teeth cleaning at home

It’s not that you have not been cleaning your teeth properly. At least, it isn’t if you’ve been cleaning them twice a day for 2 minutes with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. And it certainly isn’t if you’ve also been flossing once a day and using interdental brushes to remove trapped food. It’s just that plaque never stops growing on the surfaces of your mouth and it can be hard to get out from some places, such as between the teeth and around the gum line.

Why we need to get rid of plaque

Plaque is the main cause of most dental issues. The bacteria that make up plaque give off acids that eat away at tooth enamel. These same acids also attack the gums, inflaming and irritating them, making them bleed. Then they get under the gum and start to corrode your tooth roots and jawbone. The end result of decay and gum disease, after not a little pain, is tooth loss. This is why getting rid of plaque is so important.

Deep cleans with the dental hygienist

Most people need to come in twice a year for a session with the hygienist, who has special tools to remove plaque and tartar. Depending on how bad the build-up is, you may need either one or two sessions to clear it. Then a quick polish and you are all set for spring.

Book a session now.

Looking in the mirror

What do you see when you smile at yourself in the mirror? Fabulous eyes? Lovely skin? How about those teeth? Or are you smiling with your lips firmly closed together?

If you are, then there is work to be done and at Crofts Dental Practice in Essex, we want to help you do it. We believe that your smile is one of your most important assets and we want to help you make the most of it.

Smile Makeovers in EssexFree consultations

If you are already one of our patients, did you know you can get a free smile makeover consultation with us?

Have you heard of smile makeovers? They are our way of helping you transform your smile by taking a really good look at what nature gave you in the way of teeth and how we can help nature make them look better.

Researchers have studied teeth and how they need to look to bring out the natural beauty of your smile. Teeth need to be in proportion with each other, and with your jaws and face for your smile to look its best.

They also need to be a good colour, well aligned and in good condition.

When you come to us for a consultation, we can take a look at all these factors and then write up a treatment plan that will enhance the natural beauty of your teeth.

What kind of treatments might you have?

If your teeth are a bit wonky, we will probably suggest that you start with cosmetic braces to straighten them up. If it’s only one or two teeth that are mildly misaligned, we might be able to disguise this with veneers.

Veneers are a great cosmetic treatment, covering over all sorts of imperfections on the front of the teeth, such as chips, cracks, worn edges and some staining. Most surface stains can be removed with teeth whitening, which is always a great way to enhance the teeth. It’s surprising how dull they get with all the foods and drinks we eat.

Less common treatments include gum contouring, which removes excess gum tissue, where it comes too far down over the teeth.

Come on in and find out what we can do for you.

Have you got healthy gums?

When you think about oral care, you probably think mostly about making sure to keep your teeth clean. You brush round them carefully to remove plaque. You floss between them to remove more plaque and trapped food.

But the mouth is more than just a set of teeth and it’s important to keep all of it in good condition. Your gums, in particular, play a vital role in the health of your teeth and if your gums are not in good shape, in the long run, your teeth won’t be either.

Healthy Gums in EssexIt’s easy to forget about the gums. They look like they don’t do much, those pink fleshy bits that your teeth protrude out of. But they deliver oxygen in the blood supply to the teeth and they help hold them in place and protect them from bacterial attack.

Gum disease

This is every bit as damaging to the teeth as decay. And, like decay, it starts off sneakily. Gum disease, in its first stage, doesn’t really hurt and you may not be able to see it either.

When gum disease starts, your gums start to become red and swollen, but it can be hard to see the redness. You may only realise something is wrong if you see blood when you brush your teeth. This is a sure sign of gum disease and it would be a good idea to call us at Crofts Dental Practice in Essex and get an appointment so we can take a look at your gums.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is caused by the acids given off by dental plaque. The acids irritate and inflame the gums. If it is not dealt with in its early stages, it gets worse.

Treating early stage gum disease is a matter of better brushing and flossing, and a good session or two with the hygienist.

Ignore it and your gums will start to recede, exposing your tooth roots, which then get attacked. This can lead to painful infections and eventually, even tooth loss. Late stage gum disease is much harder to treat, so, if you are seeing blood when you brush, call us now so that we can take a look.

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.