The ultimate dentist ‘how-to’ guide

With more and more people turning to Google to discover ‘how to’, we thought it would be a good idea to create the ultimate dentist how to guide, answering some of those common questions that people ask every day.

The information written here is provided by our Devon dentist and should be used as guidance only, only by visiting your dentist can you get a tailored treatment plan  designed for you and your teeth.

How to find an out of hours dentist

Most dental practices will offer some form of out of hours service. You may find that private practices offer this only to practice members, usually by way of a direct contact mobile phone with their dentist. NHS dentists will often work to provide emergency cover for each other’s patients. More information about NHS out of hours services are here.

The best way to find and out of hours dentist is to search for a dentist near you, then call that dentist and listen to the answerphone message, this will give information about how to reach the emergency dental health service in your local area.

How to register with the dentist

Registration with a dentist is actually very simple, a quick phone call or completion of an online form will begin the process. Registration involves attending for an initial consultation where your dental health will be assessed plus a completion of a medical history questionnaire. Following the initial consultation any necessary treatment plan will be created, or you will be booked in  for your next dental health check in approximately 6 months.

Most modern dental practices will also offer some form of recall system, they will remind you in adequate time that you have your appointment, this makes the reminder system simple and easy.

How to get rid of a tooth abscess without going to the dentist

How to get rid of the tooth abscessUnfortunately, if you have an abscess you will not be able to get rid of this without a dentist. An abscess is where an infection has caused  puss to build up in the gum or bone around the tooth. The pressure this puss causes can cause extreme pain and the only way to relieve the pain is to have this puss removed. Any damage to the tooth, bone or gum  will then need to be repaired and the infection treated.

If you think you have a tooth abscess you should visit your dentist immediately as this would be classed as a dental emergency. You cannot get rid of a tooth abscess without going to the dentist.

More information about tooth abscesses can be found here.

How often should you go to the dentist

Ideally you should visit the dentist and hygienist every six months. The dentist will perform a dental health check including a muscle, gland, joint, tooth, gum and oral cancer assessment. The hygienist  will look at your oral hygiene, give you advice on what you could do better to prevent problems occurring and clean your teeth professionally.

Attending the dentist frequently will help you to keep your teeth and gums in good condition which ultimately will save time, pain and money in the long run.

How to complain about a dentist

If you feel you need to complain about a dentist the first port of call is to talk to the dentist directly. Dentists should have a formal complaints procedure which is freely available upon request.  Local resolution to any complaint is always the best way forwards as your local dentist  is best placed to resolve any issues you have. The  General Dental Council (GDC) is the governing body which regulates the dental profession in the UK on the half of patients, any complaints which cannot be resolved locally can be escalated to the GDC.

How to cure gum disease without a dentist

The best way to cure gum disease without a dentist is to prevent the gum diseases from happening in the first place. Regular attendance to have your dental health assessed and any minor problems treated at an early stage  will help prevent gum disease from happening in the first place. Minor gum disease will normally sort itself out without a dentist if you manage to clean your teeth properly.

The problem arises however if the bacteria have been allowed to build up to such an extent that they cannot be removed at home. To this extent it is always advisable to see a dentist if you think you have gum disease, only a dentist will have the equipment to be able to clean deep enough under your gum margin to clean these areas adequately.

How long does dentist numbing last

Most local anaesthetic injections will begin to wear off after approximately 2-3 hours. The surrounding area in your lips and tongue may have some numbness for up to 5 hours. It takes some time for the blood to carry away the local anaesthetic and begin to metabolise and break it down.

How to remove tartar from teeth without a dentist

You can remove small deposits of tartar each day by ensuring you have a good dental health care routine. Tarter is an accumulation of bacteria, these bacteria form a biofilm layer  over your teeth daily, this is a normal occurrence.  Cleaning your teeth twice per day for 2 minutes each time, using dental floss and mouthwash in between brushing will ensure that this biofilm layer does not build up into a hard tartar (plaque) layer. Once the biofilm has built to this hard tartar it is much more difficult to remove it at home and you stand more chance of damaging the soft tissue if you try to pick at it with an implement.

How long do you stay registered with the dentist

A dentist will consider you are registered at the practice so long as you continue to attend your regular appointments. If you do not attend the practice for a period of 2 years then most dental practices will consider that your registration has lapsed. A good dental practice will contact you regularly to ensure you attend appointments.

How to treat dry sockets without going to the dentist

How to treat a dry socket without going to the dentistA dry sockets occurs  when a clot fails to form after a tooth has been extracted. The best way to treat a dry sockets without a dentist is to think about what you can do to help the clot to form, things such as:

  • Not smoking.
  • Not drinking carbonated drinks.
  • Using a straw to drink to prevent the water washing over the socket.

Taking over-the-counter pain medication and using a cold compress in the form of a soft icepack on the side of your face for approximately 15 min at a time can also help. Gentle mouth washing with salt water to remove food debris can also help, but be careful not to rinse so vigourously that you dislodge any clot that has formed.

What other ‘how to’ questions do you have about visiting the dentist? We love to hear them in the comments




How to relax at the dentist

ID-100104452Scared of going to the dentist?

Being scared of the dentist is incredibly common with approximately 13-24% of people feeling anxious or scared each time they visit their dentist. For a smaller number of people this anxiety goes further and becomes a disabling phobia, this can lead to poor oral hygiene if regular visits to the dentist aren’t kept up-to-date.

In this blog post our Barnstaple dentist, Dr Donna Hill takes a look at some of the more common problems and suggests ways to relax at the dentist.

What is dental anxiety?

The first thing to say that some level of anxiety about going to the dentist is extremely common, after all, not many people actually enjoy visiting!

So it’s important to understand that a small level of anxiety is quite normal. Your dentist will expect this and be quite prepared to help and put you at ease and rest at every stage of your journey.

Dental anxiety can, in some small examples, turn into something more serious which is a phobia. A dental phobia becomes a debilitating condition where the person is completely unable to go to the dentist at all.

Dental anxiety medication

Most dentists are quite happy to help you with any dental anxiety by prescribing medication, this is often in the form of a mild sedative which can help you relax prior to the treatment. Oral sedation given in this way can help you stay calm during your visit to the dentist.

Can you be put to sleep at the dentist?

Some people find that oral sedation and the dental anxiety medication are not quite enough and require a deeper level of relaxation. Dental sedation helps you drift off into a quiet world of your own, often called ‘Twilight’ or ‘Sleep’ dentistry.

What is sedation at the dentist?

Dental Sedation normally comes in 2 forms, RA and IV

RA Sedation Explained

RA Sedation, often called Happy Gas, or Happy Air is a mix of nitrous oxide and oxygen which is adjusted to suit you. Different people need a different mix of these gases to achieve a feeling of being warm, cosy and far-away. We use a small soft sterile nosepiece for you to breathe through.

RA sedation allows you to return to work or home afterwards.

How quickly will you recover from RA Sedation?

Very quickly. After treatment you will usually be recovered within 2-3 minutes and can return to the waiting room. You will usually be able to leave the practice within 10 minutes. We do advise against driving for 30-60 minutes but you can return to your usual activities such as home, work or school.

How safe is RA sedation?

Very safe. We use it for children and adults from 5 to 95 so long as they are able to understand how it works and how they will feel. Since you are able to speak to the dentist, if at any time you feel the happy air mixture is a bit too strong, we can quickly turn it down and within a few seconds you will feel very relaxed again.

IV Sedation Explained

IV sedation needs a small injection in the back of the hand or in the crook (front) of your elbow. If you hate the needle bit, it is possible to use the happy air first to relax you and reduce sensations and then the injection is quickly over without you minding a bit. Many people find this a great way to do it.

I.V. sedation does require you to be driven home by a reliable adult who does need to stay with you afterwards.

With IV sedation ONLY, you need a reliable adult to drive you home and stay with you, often over night. You cannot drive, cook, operate machinery or be responsible for children.

Overcoming dental anxiety- How to relax at the dentist

Often this involves overcoming your fears one small step at a time.

When you first start thinking you need to come to the dentist, or that you need some form of treatment it can often seem like a huge mountain to climb. But we want to assure you that the journey of 1000 steps always starts with a first step. And it’s just like the joke:

Q: “How do you eat an elephant?”

A: “One piece at a time”

Taking things in small steps in bite-size chunks breaks the whole process down  and make things easier.

Harvard University asked a group of people how they overcame their dental anxiety…You may find some of these useful.

“I listen with a headset to laugh-aloud funny books or podcasts when I am in the waiting room and in the dental chair. I try not to get to the appointment too early, as sitting in the waiting room can increase my anxiety. And while waiting, I practice relaxation breathing.” — Suzanne

“I bring my iPod and play nice soothing music, or a book on MP3.” — Heather


“Have the dentist explain everything before doing it. Make the patient become the assistant, such as asking him or her to ‘hand me this or that,’ etc. Make sure there is a nice scent in the treatment room, and listen to catchy, familiar, calming music–something with a subliminal connection — a song everyone knows the words to. It would be nice if the dentist put something fascinating to look at on the ceiling.” — Nancy


“My dentist has televisions situated on the ceiling of his office so that when he leans his patients back in the chair, they are able to watch television. This serves as a decent distraction from the fact that you are in the dentist office and has manged to alleviate tensions associated with dental visits for my whole family.” — Blaine


The final point to mention is that whenever you visit our dental practice in North Devon you will always be kept in full control of the entire process.

We will agree a stop signal with you, this means you can halt the treatment at any point to take a breather or a rest, this keeps you in full and complete control.

All treatments will be explained in full prior to going ahead, if you so desire, this gives you an opportunity to discuss your concerns before any treatment commences. For any patients who are truly phobic of the dentist please ask us about dental sedation.

dental hygiene

Image Credit:

Is there a future for silver fillings?

The European Parliament has agreed that the use of dental amalgam for fillings is going to be phased out by 2030. This phasing out is part of the European Union  Mercury pollutant legislation in the 2013 United Nations Minamata Convention, although where we will stand after Brexit is anyone’s guess!

What is dental amalgam used for?

Dental amalgam is used when there is dental decay in your tooth, the decay is removed by the dentist and then the hole is often replaced with the dental amalgam (Many other techniques to get the same outcome exist). Amalgam is a mixture of mercury (50%), silver, copper, tin and zinc. Due to the Mercury and silver the amalgam appears silvery in colour.

Why have the Europeans decided to phase out amalgam?

Mercury is harmful to both the environment and humans. It is poisonous to the nervous system  and gets into the system mainly by inhaling vapours.  These vapours are absorbed into the body via the lungs and can easily move through the bloodstream to the brain. However, when elemental mercury is eaten or swallowed there is very little that is absorbed into the body.

What is the alternative to dental amalgam?

If dental amalgam is to be phased out following  ratification by the European Council than one needs to consider what the alternatives are.fillings

White fillings

These fall into a few different categories:

  • Dental bonding
  • Dental inlays
Dental bonding


Bonding involves your dentist using a specially light cured resin to replace the missing tooth structure after the dental decay has been removed, it is used very similarly to dental amalgam.

Advantages: Quick, simple and painless

Disadvantages: Stains more easily, wears more than amalgam

Dental inlays

These are often made by a highly skilled dental technician and will usually be made out of a dental ceramic material.

Advantages: restorations last an extremely long time

Disadvantages: more than one injection required as the restoration will take approximately 2 weeks to make

Is dental amalgam safe?

The British Dental Association says that:

The European Parliament agreed on 14 March 2017 to the final version of its Regulation on Mercury. The Regulation is the EU’s instrument to ratify the Minamata Treaty of 2013

They go on to say:

.. amalgam remains one of a range of safe and effective filling materials that are available to dentists to provide the most appropriate treatment for the needs of each individual patient.

The EU’s Scientific Committee has recommended that, from 1 July 2018  :

“To reduce the use of mercury-added products in line with the intentions of the Minamata Convention (reduction of mercury in the environment) and under the above mentioned precautions, it can be recommended that for the first treatment for primary teeth in children and in pregnant patients, alternative materials to amalgam should be the first choice.”

The British Dental Association stress that the EU regulation on Mercury is an environmental regulation, not a health regulation as the EU can’t make laws that directly change the way health systems in member states are arranged.

The best way to cut down on the amount of dental amalgam used is to increase the preventative measures that many practices and patients take as standard, this includes dental health advice and information, brushing your teeth twice per day for 2 minutes each time using a fluoride toothpaste and cleaning in between your teeth each day with an interdental floss or brush.

Patients can play their own part in the reduction of amalgam use by looking after their dental health and ensuring they have a good dental health routine, whilst working in conjunction with the dentist to treat any dental health problems which may arise.

If you are concerned about any of the issue is raised in this blog post, please contact our Devon dentist in Barnstaple  who will be pleased to help.

Is it finally possible to regrow teeth?

regrow-teethAre you one of the many people that would really rather not go to the dentist to have dental fillings? Well, a new scientific breakthrough by King’s College London may be just what you were looking for.

The researchers have found that The Alzheimer’s treatment drug Tideglusib can enhance your tooth’s ability  to rebuild  naturally the dentine which is lost when acids dissolve the tooth structure causing cavities.

“The simplicity of our approach makes it ideal as a clinical dental product for the natural treatment of large cavities, by providing both pulp protection and restoring dentine.

“In addition, using a drug that has already been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease provides a real opportunity to get this dental treatment quickly into clinics.”

said Professor Paul Sharpe.

So what happens when the tooth is damaged and how could this new drug help?

dental-caries-stepsShould the bacteria in your mouth buildup then the amount of acid which attacks teeth after eating will also build up as it is excreted by this bacteria as they digest sugar. Once the acid has removed the hard outer layer of the tooth (enamel) it will then begin to remove the softer inner surface of your tooth (dentine).

However,  your tooth will naturally fight this process.  Underneath the dentine are the nerves and blood supply to the tooth  (pulp), your tooth will naturally  create a layer of secondary dentine which is harder than the regular dentine but not as hard as enamel.

This process can only continue for so long and only repair relatively small holes in the tooth.

What the researchers found is that when a biodegradable sponge was soaked in the Tideglusib, the natural repair process of the tooth was enhanced and larger cavities could be covered over. The scientists called this a

“complete, natural repair.”

During the process the biodegradable sponge was absorbed  and the dentine formed  around it.

At the moment the trial has only been completed on mice but if it could be modified to work for humans it could reduce the need to have fillings at the dentist!

Other ways to reduce the need for fillings.

Of course, none of this would be necessary if we didn’t have cavities in the first place!

Cavities form when bacteria builds up naturally in our mouth, as the bacteria digests sugar in our diet they excrete acid and it is this acid which attacks the outer surface of our teeth.

This is a natural process and your saliva is designed to be alkaline and counteract the acid from the bacteria. This is why chewing sugarfree gum after the meal can redress the acidic balance in your mouth and neutralise the acid from the bacteria.

However, two factors affect this natural process:

  1. A diet which is high in sugar
  2. Not adequately cleaning teeth to remove the bacteria

With a diet that is very rich in sugar the natural neutralisation of this acid by the saliva  cannot work at such a high level, this means that acid remains in contact with your teeth causing the cavities.

Likewise, if the bacteria are not adequately removed by brushing and flossing then again the neutralising effect from the saliva can’t keep up with the acid production.

Interstitial cleaning brushes
Interstitial cleaning brushes

Being aware of one’s diet and keeping sugar to a minimum plus cleaning your teeth twice per day with a fluoride toothpaste and then using interstitial brushes or floss to clean in between your teeth will radically reduce the likelihood of developing tooth decay and cavities.

For further advice and information please contact our dental practice in Barnstaple, North Devon and book an appointment with our dental hygienist who can give you advice and information about looking after your dental health plus a tailored treatment plan  should one be required.

Report Shows That 42% of Children Have Not Had a Dental Checkup in the Last Year

NHS Digital (the new name for the Health and Social Care Information Centre) recently uncovered some alarming statistics regarding children’s dental health In the UK.

That equates to almost 5,000,000 children not being seen by an NHS dentist in 2015/16. Guidelines state that children should visit the dentist regularly, at least every year.

The NHS Digital report showed that:

  • 917,346 tooth extractions were performed on children..
  • Extractions were most common in South Tyneside  with one for every six children and adults.
  • The Blackpool and Medway region was next with one’s extraction for every seven people.
  • The lowest in the country was Richmond-upon-Thames with one extraction on the NHS in every 39 people.

Professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the faculty of dental surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, said of the new data:

“There is nothing to smile about in these woeful statistics.

“With the average five-year-old now eating their own weight in sugar each year, it is alarming that 42.1% of children failed to visit an NHS dentist at all in the last year.

“It is appalling that in the 21st century, tooth decay remains the most common reason why children aged five to nine are admitted to hospital. In some cases, these children undergo multiple tooth extractions under general anaesthetic – despite the fact that tooth decay is almost entirely preventable.

“We are failing to address this issue of improving children’s access to an NHS dentist and we urge ministers to act.”

Looking at things a little more locally, the NHS Oral Health Strategy 2012 – 2015 (Devon and Torbay) states:

Oral health is an integral part of general health and wellbeing. Good oral health enables individuals to communicate effectively, to eat and enjoy a variety of foods, and is important in overall quality of life, self-esteem and social confidence

We all know that children learn their behaviours from adults, so it’s vitally important to ensure you look after your own teeth and oral health, for yourself and your children.

The effects of poor dental hygiene on your body.

Oral health affects your whole body

As can be seen from the image here there is a significant link  between your oral health and your overall body health.

Diabetes. 95% of adults in America with diabetes also have periodontal disease and a third have advanced periodontal disease that has led to tooth loss.

Erectile dysfunction. Periodontal bacteria can travel through the bloodstream, inflaming blood vessels and blocking blood flow. Men with periodontal disease are seven times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than men with good dental hygiene!

Heart disease. A study in the Netherlands of more than 60,000 patients showed that people with periodontal disease are twice as likely to develop heart disease. The researchers in the study found that 4% of patients with peritonitis had  atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, compared to 2% without periodontitis. Even after taking other risk factors for cardiovascular disease into account such as diabetes, smoking and high blood pressure those with periodontal disease was still 59% more likely to have a history  of heart problems.

How to brush your children’s teeth and stay dentally fit

How to brush children's teeth

  1. Divide the mouth into six sections (Upper left back teeth, upper front teeth, upper right back teeth, lower left back teeth, lower front teeth, lower right back teeth) and take 20 seconds to brush each.
  2. Within each section brush the inner,  outer and biting surfaces of each tooth.
  3. Use a fluoride toothpaste.
  4. Supervise brushing up until the age of seven  years old.
  5. Brush twice a day.

If you follow this guide you will stand a much lower chance of developing tooth decay and cavities which can lead onto periodontal disease if left untreated.


Dental Cavities and Fillings, What You Need to Know

Decay and cavitiesIn this blog post our Barnstaple dentist takes a detailed look at dental cavities and fillings.

What is a dental cavity?

tooth decayA dental cavity forms when the outer surface of your teeth are attacked by acid excreting bacteria. The bacteria excrete acid as they digest sugar in your diet. The cavities can become larger as more bacteria sit in the cavity, excreting more and more acid.

In the beginning small cavities may have zero pain as they are in the outer surface of the tooth, but as they deepen and get closer to the nerve your teeth may become more sensitive or even painful whilst eating or drinking, particularly hot or cold food/drink.

This deteriorating process is known as a dental decay.

What is a dental filling?

A filling is simply filling up this cavity with a suitable material, your dentist will remove any decay and then fill the cavity back up to the original contour of the tooth.

What do they fill cavities with?

The exact material used to fill a cavity depends upon various factors:

  • The size of the cavity
  • The location of the cavity (in between the teeth, on the biting surface, on the front of the teeth etc.)
  • The philosophy of the dental practice, some practices prefer not to use mercury containing amalgam.
  • Affordability

What is a filling made of?

Depending on the criteria listed above there are a variety of filling materials which can be used.


This is a malleable metal alloy containing mercury. It has been shown to be extremely durable as a dental filling material and lasts many years. It does not however look particularly attractive.


Gold is virtually inert and is very well tolerated by the body. It’s highly polished surface also very closely matches the surface of dental enamel when viewed microscopically. This means it does not wear the opposing teeth and can be considered a highly biocompatible material.

Many people like the look of gold, it does not however look particularly natural and some people prefer to have a more natural looking filling.


Dental porcelain is made by combining various minerals with quartz, effectively making dental granite, an extremely hard and durable material! The porcelain is naturally tooth coloured and can be made highly aesthetic to blend in with the surrounding teeth. A porcelain filling will be made by a dental technician; this adds time to the procedure which means a porcelain filling often takes two weeks to complete.

Dental bonding.

Your dentist can also use a tooth coloured composite material to pack into the cavity once the diseased area has been removed. This has the advantage of being highly aesthetic and also highly convenient as it can be placed in one appointment. Dental bonding does however tend to discolour over time so may need to be replaced more often.

The cavity filling procedure

The procedure for having a cavity filled depends upon the material being used, generally the procedure will be similar to the following:

  1. Either your dentist or you notice the cavity and decide to take action.
  2. A discussion is had as to the best material to use clinically, there may be a few options which can be discussed that have different prices.
  3. A decision about the material is made, based on this decision the dentist will prepare the cavity accordingly. Some materials require specific shaped cavities in which to fit and so your dentist will prepare the cavity in the correct way.
  4. If you are having a direct dental bonding them the composite material will be placed directly, if not your dentist will take an impression of the prepared cavity, place a temporary filling and send this impression off to the dental laboratory to have the new restoration manufactured.
  5. If you had a dental bonding composite filling then step 4 would have been your last stage, if a dental laboratory is manufacturing your filling then this will be returned approximately 2 weeks later and you will visit the dentist to have this fitted.
  6. A review of this filling will take place at your six monthly check-up at the dentist.

Tooth cavity fillings at home

There are cavity filling kits available in various pharmacies and online. They may seem like a cheap and convenient option however they should never be used as a permanent solution.

Home kits may well fill the cavity however the chances are you will be filling over bacteria which will continue to cause dental decay underneath. This means you may not notice this decay until it has reached the nerve of your tooth, by which time more expensive dental procedures may be required.

If you need to use a tooth cavity filling at home, consider this an emergency repair and always make an appointment to visit your dentist within the next week or so.

Preventing dental cavities

It is always better to prevent problems arising in the first place rather than try to cure them once they do. The best way to prevent dental cavities is to:

  • clean your teeth twice per day for 2 min using a fluoride releasing toothpaste.
  • Clean in between your teeth with an interdental brush or floss.
  • Use a fluoride mouthwash after meals but NOT after brushing.
  • Visit your dentist regularly as they will be able to detect the tiniest cavities in places that you cannot see.

By doing everything you can to prevent cavities forming and then visiting your dentist regularly so that if there is any decay it can be dealt with quickly and simply, you can keep the cost of dentistry down and ensure you remain fit and healthy for life.

Our North Devon based dentist is here to help you stay dentally fit for life, keeping dental decay and cavities to the absolute minimum.

Are Sports Drinks Destroying Your Teeth and a Risk to Your Health?

sports-drinksSome recent research from the University of Cardiff showed that of the 160 children that responded to their survey 89.4% of them stated that they drank sports drinks with half of them drinking them at least twice a week. These drinks are intended to improve performance and keep athletes hydrated and are not intended to be drank as recreational drinks, especially by young people.

Drinking these drinks has been marketed as being fashionable, trendy and often healthy which has led to a surge in popularity amongst the younger members of our population.

The main reasons for consuming these drinks was attributed to the nice taste (90% of respondents) With 80.4% of respondents purchasing the drinks from local shops. 77.9% of boys came to drink sports drinks during physical activity whilst only 48.6% of girls claimed the same thing however, more girls claim to drink socially, 51.4% compared to 48.5% for boys.

Alarmingly, a study reported in the says that 55% of the sports drinks consumed at home rather than during any exercise at all!

The problem is not the sports drinks themselves, the problem is the fact that these drinks are formulated for enhanced exercise performance. The sugar in sports drinks is there to give fast absorption of carbohydrate so that the muscles can run at peak performance. Yet if these drinks are consumed with out the physical exercise then the body is not using the sugar in this way.

Lucozade sport, for example Contains 27 g of sugar or 7 teaspoons worth in a 750 mL bottle. The world health organisation recommends people consume a maximum of 50 g of added sugar per day, meaning one bottle of Lucozade sport is more than 50% of your daily recommended intake.

Obesity expert Dr Donal O’Shea says:

“If you’re a gold medal Olympian who’s burning 6,000 calories a day and can’t eat enough to replace that, maybe a sports drink is okay, but for everyone else they have no benefit,”

The government’s recent launch of their Change4Life campaign of the Sugar Smart app goes a long way to helping children understand how much sugar is contained in various drinks, because this is an app, children find it more interactive and a useful way to scan their favourite drinks to see how much sugar is included.

What are the risks to your dental health of too much sugar?

We’ve written in other blog posts about the effects of too much sugar with regards to diabetes and obesity but there are also risks to your dental health.

Dental decay is caused by the acid excreting from the bacteria in your mouth, these bacteria feed prolifically on the sugar in your diet, the more sugar you have, the more they feed on the more acid they excrete.

In the most part your saliva neutralises this acid but it can only work to a certain degree, too much acid and it attacks your teeth and causes dental decay.

One of the biggest problems is that these bacteria lurk in between your teeth which is notoriously difficult to clean, this is why using an interdental brush or floss is absolutely vital for maintaining your dental health.

Ways to reduce sugar intake

Tt is fairly easy to limit the amount of added sugar that you put on food, more difficult is being aware of the sugar that you don’t know you are eating. It’s important to doublecheck  things like sauces, dressings, cereals plus  prepackaged food like soup and ready meals.

Fizzy drinks contain a huge amount of sugar, a 500 mL bottle of cola contains the equivalent of 17 cubes of sugar. Even  when you drink fruit juice you are still consuming a large amount of additional sugar.

Here are a few additional tips to reduce sugar intake:

  • Consider sweeteners in moderation instead of adding sugar.
  • Remove the temptation of adding sugar by not putting  it on the table in the first place. Remember, syrup and honey also contain sugar, so keep these safely in the cupboard also.
  • Enhance your food with spices instead of sugar, things like ginger, cinnamon or nutmeg can add interesting flavours without adding sugar.
  • Purchase sugarfree drinks or get into the habit of drinking water, perhaps with a slice of lemon or lime to give it a fresh taste.
  • When baking reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe by up to 1/2, often you won’t notice any difference.
  • If you purchase tinned fruit, make sure it is in water or natural juices rather than in syrup.
  • If you like sugary cereal, rather than add sugar, experiment with different fruits such as bananas, cherries, strawberries or dried fruits such as apricots, raisins or cranberries.

dental hygiene

Are you mouth cancer aware?

Mouth cancer is a very common yet also very treatable form of mouth cancer.

Could you be at risk? What can you do to lower the risk factors? How can you spot the early warning signs of mouth cancer? We answer all of this and more in our most recent blog post, but first, here are some oral cancer statistics.


The following are some statistics of oral cancer taken from Cancer Research UK (1).

  • 91%  are preventable cases of oral cancer, UK
  • 2119 Deaths from oral cancer, 2012, UK
  • 6767 New cases of oral cancer, 2011, UK

About mouth cancer

  1. Mouth cancer is a disease which can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks and throat
  2. There are more than 6,700 new cases of mouth cancer diagnosed in the UK each year
  3. Anyone can be affected by mouth cancer, but it is more common in people over 40, particularly men
  4. Mouth cancer is becoming more common in younger patients and in women
  5. The number of new cases of mouth cancer is on the increase

What causes mouth cancer?

  • Smoking causes around 75% of all mouth cancer cases
  • Drinking alcohol to excess can increase mouth cancer risks by four times
  • Those who smoke and drink to excess are up to 30 times more likely to develop the disease
  • An unhealthy diet has also been linked to mouth cancer
  • Over-exposure to sunlight can also increase the risk of cancer of the lips
  • The Human Papillomavirus, transmitted via oral sex, is increasingly being linked to mouth cancer in younger people

What you can look out for…

  • Mouth cancer can strike in a number of places, including the lips, tongue, gums and cheek
  • Given early detection is so crucial with mouth cancer, it is important that everyone knows the signs and symptoms. These include: Ulcers which do not heal three weeks, Red and white patches in the mouth, Unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth
  • If any of these are noticed, it is essential that you tell your dentist or doctor immediately

Early detection is vital

  • Mouth cancer can often be spotted in its early stages by your dentist during a thorough mouth examination
  • Please do talk about the examination with your dental professional – they will be more than happy to talk through exactly what they are doing, where they are looking, and what they are searching for
  • If mouth cancer is recognised early, then the chances of a cure are good
  • Many people with mouth cancer go to their dentist or doctor too late
  • It is important to visit your dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist regularly, as often as they recommend

How you can make sure that your mouth stays healthy?

  • Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend
  • Look out for any changes in your mouth, and report any red or white patches, unusual lumps and swellings, or ulcers that have not cleared up within three weeks
  • When exposed to the sun, be sure to use protective sun cream
  • A good diet, rich in vitamins A, C and E, provides protection against the development of mouth cancer
  • Cut down on your smoking and drinking

Are you mouthaware?


Young, old, smokers and non-smokers, more than 6,700 people will be diagnosed with mouth cancer this year in the UK.  Without early detection half will not survive


Self-examination is a simple, potentially life-saving process.  Look out for ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth, and unusual lumps or swellings


Know the risk factors and regularly visit your dentist to ensure you are checked for signs of mouth cancer

What action can you take now?

To help you self examine for mouth cancer at home we’ve written a free guide which is downloadable below.

Free guide available for immediate download…

“7 Point Self Examination Guide for Oral Cancer”

A special guide by Drs Donna & Rodney Hill

One of the most important things with mouth cancer is early detection, so in this guide we will talk about how you can examine yourself at home, the risk factors for oral cancer and how you can lower them.

Our guide is exclusively available by e-mail so please enter your details below for immediate access.


Cancer Research UK, , Accessed October 2015.


Ways to replace missing teeth

missing teethIt is unfortunately quite common for people to have missing teeth, many times nothing is done and people live quite happily with the gap, in this blog post we will look at some of the reasons why you may want to replace missing teeth and if you so choose, what are your best options?

We’ve written in a previous blog post that when you have a missing tooth the opposing teeth can begin to drift and the adjacent teeth can begin to tip, this is probably the biggest reason to replace missing teeth, in order to protect your surrounding teeth and bite.

Options to replace missing teeth.

You basically have three options to replace your missing teeth.

  • Dentures
  • Dental bridges
  • Dental implants

let’s look at each of these in turn.

Dental bridges

dental bridgeA dental bridge essentially uses the teeth either side of the gap as a support to replace the missing tooth in the middle. One of the biggest disadvantages is that there is often a requirement to remove healthy tooth structure on either side of the gap in order to accept this new support. The support is called an abutment in technical terms and often takes the form of a new crown.

The tooth which is replaced (called a Pontic in technical terms) is then attached to the abutments either side. You will generally find that to replace a single missing tooth that both teeth, on either side of the gap, are involved in this bridging process. This means that there will be a three tooth bridge required in order to replace a single missing tooth.

The biggest disadvantage in this process is that possibly healthy teeth on either side of the gap may need to have healthy tooth tissue removed.


claspModern dentures can be highly asthetic so that no one would know that you are wearing them, the gum and acrylic teeth can be made to look highly lifelike and natural, mimicking a natural smile almost exactly. One of the biggest disadvantages of dentures is the fact that they are removable. Many people dislike the idea of removing their teeth at night.

Small dentures can be made to replace a couple of missing teeth, in this case a clasp will be used around the teeth either side to hold the denture in place. These clasps can we made in one of three different materials:

  • Gold. A more expensive option but an excellent material to use in the oral environment as it is inert and has good pliability.
  • Stainless steel. A cheaper alternative and with the similar properties to Gold
  • Acetyl resin. These are tooth coloured clasps, they often very expensive to make as the manufacturing process is relatively long and complex, they do however provide an extremely aesthetic option to retained dentures.

Dental implants.

implant_schemaA dental implant is often your dentist’s preferred option. When a dental implant is placed it will support the surrounding bone, this prevents the bone collapsing into the gap where the tooth was removed (remember to read our previous blog post on the subject). This means that bone is retained rather than lost after the extraction. It then but also means that the adjacent teeth do not have to be touched in order to take the abutment, as is common with dental bridges.

This means that dental implants can often be the best biological, functional and aesthetic way to replace missing teeth.

One disadvantage with dental implants is the immediate cost, there is the cost of providing the implant itself (this is a precision made dental appliance made to tolerances of thousandths of a millimetre), a dental implant surgeon to place the implant itself and then the final dental crown which is fitted on top of the dental implant.

However, an extremely important point to bear in mind is that the dental implant will typically last longer than any of the other restorations. As your teeth and gums change shape you will be required to have a new denture overtime, with a dental bridge, the gum underneath the pontic (the new tooth) can change shape as it is not supported, as this happensgaps appear underneath this pontic meaning it needs to be replaced.

Because dental bridges need three teeth to replace one single missing tooth, this can also be more expensive than you might imagine.

For this reason dental implants are often considered the best option for you.

How do I know which option is best for me?

This is a great question…

Minimum fuss.

If you want to have the simplest replacement of a missing tooth with the minimum number of appointments then a denture may be the best option. You do however have to consider the disadvantag that it is removable and will need replacing overtime.

Next on this list would be a dental bridge. You will need a couple of appointments at the dentist but once the bridge is fitted you can forget about it, apart from cleaning regularly of course, although again you do need to remember that it may need replacing a few years down the line.

Minimum cost.

Dentures would be the minimum cost way to replace missing teeth, apart from doing nothing at all. When it comes to dental implants and dental bridges it can often be a very close call. In the short term a dental bridge may be slightly cheaper but in the long-term, taking into account that a bridge may need to be replaced sooner than a dental implant, an implant can be the longest serving option.

It’s also worth thinking about what your budget could be when you first go to the dentist. Remember, many dental practices offer payment plans, often at 0% so you will not always be expected to pay the full amount upfront. Please ensure you discuss this with your dentist if you think a payment plan could work for you.

Trinity Dental Centre around local dental practice in Barnstaple, North Devon offering the local people dental health advice and treatments to help replace missing teeth as well as stay dentally fit and healthy for life.

Request your appointment online today.


How Can the New Sugar Smart App Help You?

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It seems that, each day, many of us are eating too much sugar.

You may be surprised to discover the amount of sugar you are eating and how quickly the added sugar that many of us consume can build up during the day.

The government are now advising that parents take action by installing a new app onto their smart phone which is able to read the barcodes on many food products giving them a visual representation of the amount of sugar a product contains.

The “sugar smart app”, from Public Health England (PHE), functions by checking bar code scans and revealing total sugar content of the food in either cubes or grams. Authorities hope it can help combat tooth cavities, weight problems and type 2 diabetes and encourage families to select more healthy options with their daily diet.


Approximately 46,500 children and young people under 19 were admitted to hospital for a primary diagnosis of dental caries in 2013–14 according to The state of children’s oral health in England report by the Faculty of Dental Surgery – that’s more children than were admitted for tonsillitis.


As a nation, if we are going to reduce these hospital admissions for young people we need to get dental disease in our kids under control.

tooth decayDental cavities arise when the bacteria in your mouth secrete acid. This acid secretion happens as they digest the sugar in your diet. This acid attacks the hard enamel of your teeth and can continue to penetrate deep into the tooth structure.

If this acid attack is left unchecked then the tooth can become seriously infected.

The only way to stop the dental cavity from continuing to grow is to visit the dentist, have the caries removed and then the hole filled. Advice on a good oral health routine can then be given as well as dietary advice.

It is this acid attack which can be limited if we control the amount of sugar that we have in our diets.

There are however other reasons to limit the amount of sugar.



Chris Askew, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, said:

“Diets that are high in sugar are fuelling the rise in obesity, and in turn the dramatic rise in Type 2 diabetes, a serious health condition that can lead to devastating complications such as blindness, amputations and stroke. This is unlike Type 1 diabetes which cannot be prevented and is not caused by being obese. With the average child consuming three times the recommended daily amount of sugar, the need for action has never been more urgent. The new Sugar Smart app will help parents to understand and take control of their children’s sugar intake.”

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PHE states that young people are eating 3X more sugar than is recommended in their new Change4Life marketing campaign. Their research indicates that normally children aged 4 to 10 years of age are consuming 22kg of added sugar annually. That equates to about 5,500 sugar cubes which is more that the average 5-year old weighs!

It’s all as simple as 3 easy steps:

  1. Get The App
  2. Start Scanning
  3. Reveal The Sugar


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  • Download the application through the Apple Store or Google Play.
  • Based on how old you are, your everyday sugar allowance will differ. The application informs you on the maximum you should eat.
  • Select the product that has a barcode.
  • Open the application.
  • Permit the application the use of the digital camera on your phone- a box will appear requesting permission.
  • Line the barcode track up with the red-colored line and wait for a beep. If it’s doesn’t work, you may be trying to scan too close up, so move the camera further away.
  • The application will let you know just how much sugar there is in the product – however the application does not have every food item available yet as it is still in it’s development stage.
  • After that you can share the end result together with your connections on Facebook, Twitter, Google & other social media sites.
  • Clicking the menu button gives you more about sugar content in meals, a scanning history and let’s you go to the app’s website.

If you have children we can highly recommend that they download the app and begins scanning food, this can be a fun way to educate your case about the amount of sugar in food.


Trinity Dental Centre is a private dentist in North Devon offering free dental health advice via their blog and social media streams.