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Tooth decay (dental caries) results from a bacterial infection of your teeth.
Your mouth is full of millions of tiny bacteria. When you consume food and drink that are high in carbohydrates (typically sugary or starchy foods or drinks), the bacteria breaks the carbohydrates down into acid.
The acid then combines with the bacteria, the saliva in your mouth, and small particles of food to produce a sticky film known as plaque. Over time the plaque begins to break down the surface of your tooth. Left untreated, the plaque can completely destroy the outside of the tooth, exposing the nerves inside. Once this happens you will experience toothache.
How common is tooth decay?
Tooth decay is one of the most widespread health problems in the UK. More than half of adults in the UK have one or more decayed or unsound teeth. Tooth decay is also a problem for children. It is estimated that between 52% and 77% children aged 8 to 15 have some obvious tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
Prevention is better than cure
As well as being one of the most widespread health conditions, tooth decay is also one of the most easily preventable ones. Limiting your consumption of sugar, starchy foods and sugary drinks, as well as brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, should prevent tooth decay.
There are a number of techniques that can help repair damaged teeth such as dental fillings and crowns. In more advanced cases of tooth decay, the tooth may need to be removed.
Gingivitis (often referred to as gum disease) causes your gums to become red, inflamed and swollen. It can cause your gums to bleed when you brush your teeth.
Gingivitis is normally caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky substance that consists of bacteria, and is usually removed when you brush your teeth.
If plaque is left to build up, the bacteria release toxins that can irritate your gums, making them painful.
Who gets gingivitis?
Most people have a mild case of gingivitis during their lifetime. It is important to look after your teeth and gums, and to treat any case of gingivitis. A mild case of gingivitis can usually be treated through developing a good oral hygiene routine, including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily.
If it is not treated, gingivitis can develop into other forms of gum disease that cause more serious complications.
Periodontitis is another form of gum disease that affects your gums, and often follows a case of gingivitis. It can make your teeth feel loose and, in some cases, fall out.
Toothache is a result of pain in the area of the face and jaw, usually caused when a nerve in the root of the tooth becomes irritated. However, other problems such as infection, decay, or the loss of a tooth, can also cause toothache.
Toothache occurs when the pulp inside your tooth gets inflamed. This is often caused by dental decay. Dental decay is when bacteria in your mouth break down the enamel of a tooth. Holes (cavities) in the tooth often develop, exposing the nerves underneath.
Root canal treatment is a dental procedure designed to treat infection or decay that has occurred at the centre of the tooth.
A tooth is made up of three parts:
The enamel, which is the hard outer coating of a tooth,
The dentine, a softer material that supports the enamel, and
The pulp, which is soft tissue at the centre of the tooth.
If bacteria infect the pulp of the tooth, it will begin to die, which could results in the loss of the tooth. There is also the risk that the infection could spread down into the root canal, which may lead to the development of a pain dental abscess (a pus-filled swelling). It is possible that the infection may also spread to your gums (gingivitis) or the tissue and bones that surround and support your teeth (periodontitis).
Root canal treatment is designed to stop the spread of infection and to prevent the deterioration of the toothâ€™s function. The damaged pulp is removed from the tooth and the root canal is then cleaned out of all bacteria. After the bacteria has been removed, the root canal and pulp are filled in using an artificial substance, before being sealed.
Root canal treatment is commonly perceived as being a painful procedure. In fact, in the hands of a properly trained dentist, root canal treatment is relatively painless, and it should be no more unpleasant than having a filling carried out.
Bad breath, sometimes known as halitosis, is a common problem. In most cases, it is caused by a build up of bacteria in the mouth as a result of plaque, food debris or gum disease.
It is difficult to know just how common the problem of bad breath is, but it has been estimated that it affects up to 50% of us at some point during our lives. Bad breath often occurs after eating strongly flavoured foods, such as onions and garlic. Smoking and drinking a lot of alcohol can also cause your breath to smell unpleasant. However, good dental hygiene can usually prevent bad breath.
Receding gums may be caused by gum disease, imbalanced occlusion (the way the teeth fit together when you bite down), or trauma.
Accumulation of plaque at the gum line and poor oral hygiene can lead to receding gums. When occlusion (the way teeth come together) is imbalanced, excessive forces placed on the teeth cause trauma to the bone and gums. Gum recession exposes the roots, causing the teeth to become sensitive to hot, cold, sweet, and salty substances. Excessive pressure resulting from grinding or clenching teeth may cause the gums to recede.
Receding gums may occur when teeth are crooked or fillings and crowns are placed without properly balancing the bite. In both of these cases, the teeth do not come together properly, and increased forces are placed on certain parts of the teeth. Initially, the gums and bone adjust to excessive forces. However, if the forces continue, bone destruction may result.
Treatment of Receding Gums
Fillings and crowns that do not meet properly should be corrected and grinding and clenching the teeth should be stopped.
Once the gums have receded, the teeth may become sensitive. The dentist may prescribe an agent to desensitize the teeth. Most of these agents are in solution form and are applied to the sensitive area with a cotton swab.
Certain toothpastes may provide some relief. If the teeth continue to be sensitive, composite resins or other types of fillings, such as amalgam or gold, may be placed in the tooth.
A dental abscess is when pus forms in the teeth or gums as a result of a bacterial infection. Bacteria are found in plaque (a byproduct of food, saliva and bacteria in the mouth), which damages the teeth and gums. The bacteria can eventually infect and spread within the soft tissues inside a tooth or gums, forming an abscess.
Without dental treatment, a dental abscess will continue to get worse, and may eventually lead to the destruction of the surrounding bone. Your GP will be able to prescribe treatment that is appropriate for your symptoms, but the only long-term solution for a dental abscess may involve treatment from your dentist.
Mouth ulcers are painful, clearly defined, round or oval sores that form in the mouth.
There are three main types of mouth ulcer, which are outlined below:
Minor ulcers are the most common type of ulcer. They are small (2-8mm in diameter) and usually heal naturally within 10-14 days.
Major ulcers are larger and deeper than minor ulcers, and usually have a raised or irregular border. A major ulcer is usually 1cm or more in diameter. This type of ulcer will heal more slowly, over a period of several weeks.
Herpetiform ulcers form as multiple, pinhead-sized sores. The number of ulcers can range from 5 to 100. These tiny ulcers often fuse together to form larger, irregular shaped sores, which are extremely painful.
A mouth ulcer is a very common condition, and most people will have at least one in their lifetime.
Oral cancer is cancer that develops inside the mouth, usually on the surface of the tongue, the lips or the gums. In rare cases, it can also develop in the salivary glands, or in the tonsils.
How common is oral cancer?
Approximately 2,700 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed every year in England and Wales. The condition is more common in men than in women, and most cases develop in people who are 40 years of age, or over.
Symptoms of oral cancer include a persistent lump or sore on the lip or in the mouth, pain in the neck and/or a lump in the neck. Oral cancer can have many causes, but the majority of cases are caused by tobacco, including smoking cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco, and excessive alcohol consumption. Both tobacco and alcohol can damage the tissue inside the mouth, triggering cell changes that can lead to cancer.
Oral cancer can be cured if it is detected early enough using a combination of radiotherapy and surgery. However, many people only realise that they have oral cancer once it has progressed to an advanced state, making it more difficult to treat.
The best way to prevent oral cancer is to avoid smoking or chewing tobacco, to drink alcohol in moderation, and to eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Leukoplakia is a condition that causes the growth of thick, white patches (known as plaques) to develop on:
the bottom of the mouth,
the inside of the cheek, and
occasionally on the tongue.
The causes of leukoplakia are unknown but the use of tobacco, particularly chewing tobacco, is known to put you at risk. Heavy alcohol consumption may also cause it.
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth at each end of the upper and lower gums at the very back on the mouth. They usually erupt through the gums during your late teens or early adulthood. There are normally up to four wisdom teeth. Often, there is not enough room in the mouth for the wisdom teeth to grow in a straight line, so they emerge at an angle to fill the available space. Wisdom teeth that grow through in this way are known as â€˜impactedâ€™.
A baby's first teeth (known as milk or deciduous teeth) usually develop while the child is growing in the womb. These teeth then start to emerge through the gums when a child is six to nine months old. This is known as teething.
Babies start to develop their teeth when they are growing in the womb. These first teeth (also known as milk teeth or deciduous teeth) start to emerge through the gums at around six months. This process is known as teething.
Most children will have their full set of first teeth by the time they are two-and-a-half to three years of age. A full set of first teeth contains 20 teeth in total.
As your child gets older, their permanent adult teeth will start to appear. Adults can have up to 32 permanent teeth.
Permanent teeth develop in the jaw. They press on the roots of the first teeth and dissolve them so that the first tooth falls out and the adult tooth can come through. This process normally begins at around 6-7 years of age.
Most children will have the majority of their permanent teeth by the time they are 13 years old. However, after this time, some people find that their wisdom teeth emerge in the back of their mouth. This usually happens between 18-25 years of age.
If a permanent tooth is damaged or has to be removed, it will never grow back. This is why it is very important that your child is taught how to take care of their teeth.
It is important to be aware that all children develop at different rates. Therefore, don't worry if your child doesn't develop adult teeth at the age you expect them to.
However, see the dentist if you are concerned in any way about the development or your child's teeth or about their general oral health.
Caring for your child's teeth
It's important that you help care for your child's teeth right from the start. As soon as your baby's teeth begin to emerge, they can be affected by tooth decay, so start cleaning their teeth as soon as they appear.
Getting your child into a good oral health routine at a young age will help ensure that they continue to have good oral health when they are older.
Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by the frequent and long-term exposure of a child's teeth to liquids containing sugars. Milk, formula, fruit juice, sodas, and other sweetened drinks are examples of common liquids that are culprits of this type of decay. It is advised to never allow children to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, juice or other sweetened liquids.
Giving an infant a sugary drink at nap or night time is harmful because during sleep, the flow of saliva decreases, allowing the sugary liquids to linger on the child's teeth for an extended period of time. If left untreated, pain and infection can result.
Orthodontics is a special discipline of dentistry concerned with aligning the teeth and jaws to improve one's smile and oral health. An ideal time for placement of braces is between 10 and 14 years of age, while the head and mouth are still growing and teeth are more accessible to straightening.
The use of fluoride in the UK
In the UK, the Department of Health and The British Dental Association (BDA) recommend that fluoride should be added to tap water because of its proven oral health benefits, particularly in promoting the development of healthy teeth in children, and significantly reducing the incidence of tooth decay
The dentist can apply topical fluorides during dental visits. These gels are more concentrated than the self-applied fluorides, so they are not needed as frequently. Some adults can benefit from these applications. Fluoride gels can help to reduce root decay, particularly in people with dry mouth. Children can also be given mouthwashes, drops and tablets, but you should ask for the advice of your dentist before using these treatments
If you are prone to dental decay, the dentist may advise the use of fluoride supplements in addition to fluoride toothpaste for extra protection. However, it is very important that fluoride supplements are only taken on the advice and instruction of your dentist.
White fillings allow us to restore decayed or broken parts of the teeth to a natural looking finish, with the use of a coloured plastic mixture which is blended to create a colour almost identical to the natural tooth. It is also used to reshape disfigured teeth.
tooth whitening is successful in at least 90 percent of patients, though
it may not be an option for everyone. Consider tooth whitening if
your teeth are darkened from age, coffee, tea or smoking. Teeth darkened
with the colour of yellow, brown or orange respond better to lightening.
First, the dentist will determine whether you are a candidate for tooth whitening and what type of tooth whitening system would provide the best results. The dentist or hygienist will make impressions of your teeth to fabricate a mouth guard appliance for you. The mouth guard is custom made for your mouth and is lightweight so that it can be worn comfortably while you are awake or sleeping. The mouth guard is so thin that you should even be able to talk and work while wearing your mouth guard. Along with the mouth guard, you'll receive the tooth whitening materials. You'll be given instructions on how to wear the mouth guard.
denture is an appliance which is worn to replace lost or missing teeth
to enable you to enjoy a healthy diet and smile with confidence. A
complete or full denture is one which replaces all of the natural
teeth in either the upper or lower jaws. A partial denture fills in
the spaces created by lost or missing teeth and is attached to your
natural teeth with metal clasps or devices called precision attachments.
The base of a denture is called a plate and can be made of either acrylic (plastic) or metal. The teeth are normally made of acrylic and can be made to match your natural teeth. This is especially important in the case of partial dentures.
The denture process takes about one month and five appointments: the initial diagnosis is made; an impression and a wax bite are made to determine vertical dimensions and proper jaw position; a "try-in" is placed to assure proper colour, shape and fit; and the patient's final denture is placed, following any minor adjustments.
See www.impressdental.co.uk for further information
A crown is a restoration that covers, or "caps," a tooth
to restore it to its normal shape and size, strengthening and improving
the appearance of a tooth. Crowns are necessary when a tooth is generally
broken down and fillings won't solve the problem.
To prepare the tooth for a crown, it is reduced so the crown can fit over it. An impression of teeth and gums is made and sent to the lab for the crown fabrication. A temporary crown is fitted over the tooth until the permanent crown is made. On the next visit, the dentist removes the temporary crown and cements the permanent crown onto the tooth.
The crown will be made to match your other teeth exactly. The shade of the neighbouring teeth will be recorded, to make sure that the colour looks natural and matches the surrounding teeth
See www.impressdental.co.uk for further information
A Smile Creates Confidence
You may choose to create a whiter smile by combining tooth whitening with your new veneers. Investing in your smile makes sense in today's world we want and need to look our best at all times.
Veneers create the perfect smile
Veneers are custom-made tooth coloured porcelain or a resin based material designed to cover the front portion of your tooth similar to a false fingernail. They look extremely lifelike with the modern materials available today. Your dentist may suggest veneers if you have:
Spaces between front teeth
Cracked or chipped teeth
Slightly crooked or poorly shaped teeth
Permanently stained teeth
A bright, healthy smile says so much
You need not live with a smile that is less than perfect. With advances in cosmetic dentistry, you can have a perfect smile in just a few weeks. Cosmetic dentistry provides new choices that will improve your dental health and help retain a youthful , natural looking smile. So, whether your teeth are misshapen, badly, stained or out of alignment, a veneer may be the perfect solution for you.
Smile!... It shows
Veneers require more than one appointment. The tooth is carefully prepared and contoured and an impression of the prepared tooth is taken to create your veneer.
The venner is custom-made by a highly-skilled dental technician in a laboratory using the shades and shapes decided by you and your dentist. A return visit is required to bond your veneer to the front of your tooth. Once completed, your veneers will fell like your own teeth - only better looking!
teeth often cause no problems. They are described as impacted when
there is not enough space for them at the back of the mouth. Impacted
wisdom teeth can cause pain, swelling, infection or damage to the
teeth next to them. If the gum around the wisdom tooth is swollen
the jaw may become stiff and sore.
Partially erupted wisdom teeth are breeding grounds for bacteria and germs and may lead to infection. Antibiotics only sooth infected wisdom teeth for a short time.
A bridge is a dental appliance that replaces one or more natural missing
teeth, thereby "bridging" the space between two teeth.
You will see a schematic of a cross section through a fixed bridge and the teeth that it sits on (called abutments). As you can see, the abutment teeth are prepared by "shaving" them down so that they are smaller and their sides are slightly tapered and reasonably parallel to each other. This makes it possible to create a casting which will fit over the prepared abutment teeth. Usually the casting is a metal substructure which will eventually be covered with tooth-coloured porcelain.
If you are missing any teeth and are committed to maintaining good oral hygiene practices, you may be a good candidate for a bridge. A bridge is the most natural choice to fill the space in your mouth left by missing teeth. If left unfilled, this space can cause the surrounding teeth to drift out of position and can cause teeth and gums to become more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease that can cause further tooth loss.
See www.impressdental.co.uk for further information