I am afraid of going to the dentist ... What can I do?
One in four people dread a visit to the dentist, but there are ways to overcome your fear.
All our dentists have many years of experience dealing with patients who have a fear of the dentist. For many people just booking the appointment and coming to the practice can be a challenge.
We understand that this fear can be due to many different reasons, the fear of pain, a previous bad experience or the unknown.
Please let our team know at the time of booking if you worried about anything in particular. We can ensure the dentist is aware of this before you see them and book enough time to allow you to discuss your concerns. This can be anything from a previous experience you didn’t like, to just wanting to talk for now if you’re not ready to sit in the dentist’s chair.
We are happy to take things at your own pace; your first appointment only needs to be the dentist checking your teeth we will not do anything without explaining the process to you before hand and checking you are happy to go ahead. If you would like to bring a friend or relative to support you please do, there are spare seat in both the rooms so they can come and sit with you if you wish.
Some patients feel a personal stereo useful to listen to whilst waiting and whilst having treatment. We discuss with all our patients that they need a break or rest from treatment they can raise their hand and then treatment can be paused at the soonest possible stage.
Our practice has access to referral practices who can offer treatments with sedation should you feel this is your best option.
What causes cavities?
Your mouth is full of bacteria that form a film over the teeth called dental plaque.
When you consume food and drink high in carbohydrates – particularly sugary foods and drinks – the bacteria in plaque turn the carbohydrates into energy they need, producing acid at the same time.
If the plaque is allowed to build up, the acid can begin to break down (dissolve) the surface of your tooth, causing holes known as cavities.
Once cavities have formed in the enamel, the plaque and bacteria can reach the dentine (the softer, bone-like material underneath the enamel). As the dentine is softer than the enamel, the process of tooth decay speeds up.
Without treatment, bacteria will enter the pulp (the soft centre of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels). At this stage, your nerves will be exposed to bacteria, usually making your tooth painful.
The bacteria can cause a dental abscess in the pulp and the infection could spread into the bone, causing another type of abscess.
Are baby teeth really that important to my child?
Yes baby teeth do matter. Baby teeth can cause pain, infection and problems eating, sleeping and going to school if they are not cared for correctly. Children will keep some of their baby teeth until they are 12 or 13 so looking after them from the moment they arrive is important.
Baby teeth help maintain the correct spacing in the mouth and help the adult teeth grow in the correct position. Loosing baby teeth early may cause problems with the position of adult teeth.
Regular trips to the dentist starting from when their first tooth erupts helps children yet used to coming to dentist, ensure that parent have the most up to date advice on how to care for their child’s teeth and any small problems can be dealt with before they turn into pain.
How safe are dental X-rays?
Dental x-rays are a common diagnostic procedure that is considered extremely safe. A routine examination with two small x-rays exposes you to roughly the same amount of radiation you will experience during 30 minutes to an hour airplane journey.
What is gum disease (periodontal disease)?
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease. The inflammation is part of the bodies natural defence mechanisms and in your gums, occurs in response to a build-up of plaque (bacteria) on the teeth. In some patients, this natural inflammatory process is too severe or poorly controlled and the inflammation actually damages the supporting structures of the teeth, namely gum and supporting bone. Whilst we can control this process and stop the bone loss getting any worse, the bone loss is usually irreversible.
The single biggest risk factor for developing gum disease, after poor oral hygiene, is smoking. Smokers loose three times more teeth than non-smokers and they do not respond as well to treatment as non-smokers. There conditions such as poorly controlled diabetes, poor diet or stress can also play their parts. Stopping smoking is a very important part of controlling this disease and preventing tooth loss. Should you wish to quit smoking, the best people to speak to are your GP and medical practice Nurses. We are also happy to offer advice.
Periodontal disease can be treated successfully, however we cannot cure it. Similar to diabetes, there is no cure, but by stabilising the disease, we can prevent further damage and allow you to keep your teeth for a long time. This is normally with regular appointments with our dental hygienist.
How often should I see my dentist for a regular check-up?
After your each visit with us your dentist will recommend a date for your next appointment. Each patient is different and the intervals between your check-ups may vary depending on what the dentist has seen or done at your visit. The time to your next check-up could be as short as three months or as long as two years (or up to one year if you’re under 18).
Generally, the lower your risk of dental problems, the longer you can wait before your next check-up. So people with good oral health and have teeth that have not been treated will probably need to attend only once every 12 to 24 months, but those with a history of problems or have something the dentist would like keep an eye on will need check-ups more often.
When should I take my child for their first visit to the dentist?
NHS dental care for children is free.
Take your child to the dentist when their first milk teeth appear. This is so they become familiar with the environment and get to know the dentist. The dentist can help prevent decay and identify any oral health problems at an early stage. Just opening up the child’s mouth for the dentist to take a look at is useful practise for the future.
When you visit the dentist, be positive about it and make the trip fun. This will stop your child worrying about future visits.
Take your child for regular dental check-ups advised by the dentist.
We aim for each child to have a non eventful trip to the dentist. Being positive about the experience is key, telling children they are going to have a ride on a chair, the dentist will count their teeth and then they can collect their sticker is normally a good start. Be careful how you describe visiting the dentist telling children they need to be “brave” implies that there is something they to be worried about. Reading stories about visiting the dentist and playing a game and see if they can guess how many teeth they have are good ways to make the experience seem fun.
Children who have not seen the dentist from a young age may be unsure of sitting in the chair the first time they visit, this is OK, we are happy for them to sit on someone’s lap or even on the normal chair for a quick peek until they feel more comfortable. We recommend children who are unsure visit us more frequently even if there are no problems to allow them to become more comfortable when coming to see us.
What is a Dental Therapist?
Dental therapists are registered dental professionals who carry out certain items of dental treatment direct to patients or under prescription from a dentist. Rebecca is our dental therapist and she works at the practice on Tuesdays and some Fridays. As a dental therapist Rebecca can perform a variety of procedures, the most frequent procedures that are referred to her are:
- Applying topical fluoride and fissure sealants
- Fillings on both adult and milk (deciduous) teeth
- Removing milk (deciduous) teeth
- Placing pre formed crowns on milk (deciduous) teeth
- Taking impressions
- Performing pulpotomies on milk (deciduous) teeth
- Taking x-rays
- Oral health advice