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Caring for your Child’s Teeth

As a mum of twin daughters, I am very aware of the ongoing battle to keep a child’s teeth healthy. One of my biggest concerns is my children getting tooth decay. There is no excuse for me as I am educated in maintaining oral health. However, I am a mum and I have those constant tooth brushing battles too and the ‘I’m hungry’ comments when they arrive home from school.
Deciduous teeth, commonly referred to as ‘milk teeth’ are not permanent and will fall out naturally over time. However long they last, they should always be kept in good health. There is often the perception that they are replaceable. We often hear relief in a parent’s voice when they hear the decay is in a milk tooth.
The truth is, toothache can be excruciatingly painful and unfortunately, an increasing number of young children are being hospitalised to have teeth removed. This is largely unnecessary and with a bit of care, there is no reason why your child’s first teeth should give them any trouble.

We have followed advise from generations regarding caring for our teeth. When our grandparents were teaching our parents how to care for their teeth, they did not have the knowledge or information that we have available today. We learn how to care for our teeth from our parents and if they have not been educated in oral health, we have no hope in giving the correct information to our children.
It is not just to prevent decay and pain why parents should take good care of their children’s first teeth. These initial teeth play an important function in a child’s development. By the time the first teeth come through, a child should be eating some solid foods. Having poor quality, or painful teeth, is likely to limit their diet.
In addition to this, the loss of teeth can lead to speech impediments. When you speak, your tongue will touch your teeth several times, if these teeth are absent, your speech will be affected. This could cause potential longer-term development problems for your child.
Milk teeth preserve a space for adult teeth to erupt into when they are ready. If they have had to be extracted prematurely, there is a chance that the adult teeth will come through crooked, or, in some cases, may not come through at all, potentially causing infections and discomfort.
When your child is one year old, or when their first tooth comes through, whichever is sooner, you should begin bringing your child to see a dentist. This gets them used to their dentist and the environment.

If you are an anxious patient it may be best to book your child at a separate time to yourself, if you are anxious about your visit, your child will pick up on it.

Early monitoring of a child’s oral health will go a long way to ensuring that they have healthy teeth and gums. It is unlikely that any treatment will be needed at this time, but seeing a dentist so early in life will help to normalise the experience of a dental visit and we will begin to educate you on how to care for your child’s teeth.
Make sure that your children brush their teeth at home twice daily and supervise them whilst they do this until you are satisfied that they will do so correctly on their own (around the age of 10).
Limit sugary snacks to mealtimes only, saliva takes approximately 30 minutes to neutralise sugar in the mouth. If your child is snacking on sugary snacks regularly throughout the day, they will get tooth decay. Frequency is as important as quantity.
I use this analogy; if you were to give your child a box of chocolates and they had one every 30 minutes until the box was gone this would decay their teeth, they would be better to have that same box of chocolates but in one sitting, its still the same amount but only one exposure, it might make them sick and would be bad for their diet, but it would be better for the teeth than snacking throughout the day. If my children are hungry, I give them fresh fruit as a snack, fresh fruit contains sugar, but they are natural sugars rather than harmful artificial sugar. They love sweets and chocolate, but I limit these to mealtimes. Naturally, they can have a treat from time to time.
If your child has a drink by the bed at night, it should be water. Avoid giving your children sugary or fizzy drinks in general, my children have diet fizzy drinks but only occasionally as a treat with meals.
Do not give your child juice/milk in a bottle that they carry around with them all day, using a bottle like this causes decay in front teeth.
I hope the above tips help you, as a mum, I completely understand the pressures from the toothbrushing battles to the finding the balance between letting your child have a treat every now and then.
You can be assured that at Christchurch we will take good care of your child and help to educate you and your child in the importance of oral health.

Tooth Whitening – the ‘White’ way

I’ve been there, we’ve all been there, you want something and you want in now, but you can’t afford it so you choose the cheap option!

If you are short of time and money and want white teeth, there may be temptation to buy tooth whitening products online or take advantage of a tooth whitening offer from someone who isn’t a registered dentist.

When it comes to tooth whitening, its important that you know the facts.

Despite legislation stating that tooth whitening should only be carried out by a registered dentist, there are still many beauticians who have no training and use whitening products containing well over the legal amount of bleaching agent, these treatments can result in pain, swelling, blistering and third degree burns and can cause permanent tooth sensitivity.

By law, tooth whitening can only be carried out by a dental professional who is registered with the General Dental Council. The registrant will have undergone special training to carry out teeth whitening that is both safe and effective and in their scope of practice.
When done correctly by a registered dental professional who uses legal products and has the correct training, teeth whitening is a safe dental procedure that produces excellent cosmetic results.

There is a lack of awareness when it comes to tooth whitening providers. Non-registered providers often say they didn’t know they were breaking the law – either because they weren’t aware of the legislation, their whitening company assured them their products were legal, or because they believe they’re not liable if they get the patient to apply the product themselves.

Getting your teeth whitened with anyone who is not GDC-registered is dangerous. And when you consider the long-term cost to your smile, the cost of legal teeth whitening is worth the money.

If treated by a legal provider:

  • A dental examination will be carried out to ensure that you are a suitable candidate for tooth whitening. Whitening is not suitable for everyone. You need to have healthy teeth and gums.
  • Treatment must be carried out by a GDC-registered dentist who has undergone 5 years’ training, or who supervises a GDC-registered nurse, therapist or hygienist.
  • Whitening trays are custom made to you, in order to protect your gums.
  • Regulated, prescription-only whitening gel that contains up to 6% hydrogen peroxide (or the equivalent of 16% carbamide peroxide) must be used. This is both safe and effective – legal over-the-counter products only contain 0.1% and are unlikely to give you the results you are after.
  • Treatment is managed by your dentist so that in the unlikely event of any problems occurring, they are picked up before they become an issue. Some patients get temporary sensitivity during the whitening process and we, as dental professionals, can manage that using lower percentage tooth whitening gel or by recommending desensitising products.
  • You will receive ongoing aftercare, including advice on keeping your smile whiter for longer.

If you aren’t treated by a registered dental professional:

  • There will be no dental examination or medically informed decision on your suitability for treatment – it’s all at your own risk.
  • You will receive treatment from someone with insufficient training, who buys their products direct from a supplier without always knowing about what’s in them.
  • Illegal products that can contain up to 300 times the legal amount of hydrogen peroxide may be used, potentially causing damage to soft tissues and permanent tooth pain which may result in costly dental treatment being required.
  • Generic whitening trays or ‘mould your own’ trays can cause bleaching gel to leak onto gums and allow saliva to neutralise the effect of the gel on your teeth as well as causing chemical burning of the gums.
  • Results can be unpredictable ranging from uneven whitening and damaged enamel to swelling, burns and long-term pain.
  • There is no aftercare if the treatment goes wrong.
  • If you would like to book a tooth whitening consultation with one of our qualified dentists and have tooth whitening carried out safely and more importantly legally, please contact our reception team on [email protected].

Dental Anxiety – a barrier we can lift together

Anxiety in the dental practice is still a big issue for many, you may think you’re alone if you are an anxious client but truth is, many clients have a level of dental anxiety and many avoid going to the dentist due to their fear. However, avoiding a visit to the dentist can lead to potential problems being unchecked and they can have an impact beyond your oral health. Gum problems, for example, have been linked with diabetes and other medical conditions. The knowledge that oral health issues can have a wider impact on your health is probably not enough to reduce your anxiety but hopefully the ways in which we try to help our anxious clients can.

We want our clients to feel calm and at ease when they visit us. Our client journey through the practice is as important to us as it is to you. We are happy to make changes to put your anxieties at ease.

At Christchurch, we offer complimentary video appointments prior to your visit, so that you can meet a member of the team and get a feel for the practice, pre Covid-19 we were offering the opportunity to visit the practice for a chat over a coffee but we have had to adapt this (hopefully for the short term). After a meeting and us answering your questions and talking through your anxieties you will already begin to feel calmer about your visit to us. You don’t need to hide your anxiety. Make the practice aware that you are nervous and talk through any specific concerns. Perhaps you have had negative dental experiences in the past. The more we know the better placed we are to make sure your visit is comfortable.
We play calming music in the practice, but we can offer you various types of music to make you feel at ease. Small accommodations can make appointments far less of a challenge, our clinicians are accommodating and are also able to suggest remedies that can help put you at ease

We can be flexible with appointment times, an appointment at the start of the day may reduce anxiety as it won’t be dominating your day. Alternatively, you may want an appointment at the end of your working day so that you don’t feel rushed getting back to work. Make the appointment time work for you. It may also be worth booking an appointment as soon as possible to get it out of the way, rather than having a date in the future.

If you suffer from dental anxiety, then just booking in for an appointment and turning up is an achievement. If you have not been to see a dentist for many years, you will not be met with the feeling that you are being judged. If we are aware that you are having a first appointment in some time our team will try to make the experience a positive one. We want to look after you and ease your fears so that you can get back on track with your dental care. We all know about the pressures of day to day life, be it a busy work schedule, relocating and a new dental practice being at the bottom of your to do list or a fear of visiting the dentist. We have seen and heard it all, nothing you say will be new to us.

Any client with with anxiety and who might not have seen a dentist in years might believe their first visit will result in them requiring major treatment there and then. This will not be the case. The first appointment will be for an oral health assessment, a chance to check your teeth, gums and jaw and to form records, it is only after this visit during a zoom call with the dentist and treatment coordinator that we will then discuss the best treatment options for you so that you can make an informed decision about how you wish to proceed. We will move at your pace and be led by you. You can see this first appointment as a chance to get to know your dentist, putting you at ease to make future visits feel far more manageable.

The hardest appointment for anyone who has not been to the dentist in a while is the first one. After that, settle into a pattern, maintain regular check-ups and then you will always know that your oral health is being looked after and appointments will become routine rather than panic inducing.

When choosing your dentist, look at reviews, ask friends and colleagues, be open when asking their advice, admit you are nervous and see what they say regarding the manner of their dentist.

Christchurch isn’t a scary place, it is a modern, calm facility with passionate, skilled and friendly professionals who want your journey here to be the very best it can be.

Seizing that opportunity

I’m sure that I speak for all of us when I say that as we entered the year 2020 we didn’t quite expect the challenges that have been come with this year and they don’t seem likely to let up soon.

There is no denying that the pandemic we find ourselves living though is an utter disaster and if you have lost a loved one or suffered ill health through sheer fear or delay in medical treatment for a completely unrelated health reason then you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Being a glass half fully type there have been some positives come out of this, the family time that we wouldn’t have had, the slower paced life we found ourselves living through, the digital shift that in most cases appears to work more efficiently are to name but a few.

I also think the period of lockdown has helped us all to prioritise what is important in life and to realise how fragile life is, that we may not be able to afford to wait for what we want in life.

We planned to get a new car in May but that was put on hold due to lockdown and by the sheer volume of new patient enquiries it would appear that many put cosmetic dentistry such as Implants, tooth whitening and teeth straightening on hold. It may be a case that people had money saved by for holidays which due to the pandemic they have decided not to go ahead with and instead they are investing that spare cash on themselves because we won’t be able to hide behind our masks forever – or at least I hope not as I presently sit here at my desk typing away in mine. At the end of the day I find myself getting into the outside air and ripping my mask off like I have just completed a long surgery in Grey’s Anatomy!

Life is too short; we have all missed out enough so seize the opportunity because none of us want to feel like we have missed out.

If you are an existing or a new client and you want to seize the opportunity, then get in touch so that we can help you to achieve the smile you have been dreaming of. Our reception team will be happy to take those first steps with you 01473 250977, [email protected] and rest assured we have put strict COVID measures in place to make your visit as safe as possible.

It’s ok not to be ok

It’s not very often that I hear a piece of news that stops me in my tracks but on Saturday I read on social media about the sudden death of Caroline Flack and it did just that, I even had to check from another source that this tragic news was correct, and sadly – it was.

Caroline was young, beautiful and talented, she had achieved so much, outsiders would say she had the perfect life until just late, she had a story but it’s a story we’ve all heard about via the press. Nobody knows her real story other than her nearest and dearest.

Caroline’s death has affected the whole nation because her life shouldn’t have ended this way, I am mourning for someone that I don’t even know on a personal level, someone that I know very little about in reality, yes, I’ve seen her on social media, I’ve seen her in the press, but these are just snippets of a person, yet I’m deeply saddened by her death.

Caroline’s life had taken an unexpected turn of events, there is no doubt about that. We don’t have the evidence and we cannot judge nor can we change what sadly happened to Caroline, but we can change our approach so that history doesn’t repeat itself.

You never know what people are hiding behind their smile and Caroline was hiding a whole world of pain. The emotions that come with that pain can be very much up and down, how she was feeling at her darkest hour may have been very low compared to how she may have woken up feeling the next day.

Through tough times it seems things will never improve but they will, they may even get worse before they get better but sometimes you have to ride the waves to reach the shore and some of the toughest problems will get fixed eventually. It is sad when people feel there is no other way out than suicide and it breaks those around you who must live with the aftermath and the unanswered questions. I’m sure many of Caroline’s friends will be questioning their actions, could they have done more, could they have prevented it by being there more? We all know life takes over, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t thinking of our friends and plan to give them a call, but would their call have changed anything? The sad truth is, sometimes people don’t want to be helped, you can offer support, you can listen but if they won’t accept your help then you cannot force them. I always try to tell my friends going through a rough time to focus on the positives, because there are always positives, Caroline was beautiful, she had friends who cared and her boyfriend loved her, but her darkness inside overshadowed all of that, to the point that she felt taking her life was the only option.

I find it very sad that the death of Caroline means the world has become a little wiser on the importance of being kind, but it shouldn’t take a life to make us realise this. I have always tried to be a kind person because I have been at the receiving end of unkindness and I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel how that felt for me.

I plea for anyone feeling pain, feeling their lowest, feeling alone, that they seek help, this can be off a group like Samaritans, a friend or a healthcare provider and this includes us.

A dental practice wouldn’t spring to mind as a place that you can talk about your feelings, but we care. We would urge our clients to open up because we may be the only people you feel you can turn to. At each appointment we will ask you how your doing, and do you know what? It’s ok to not be ok.  We regularly see clients going through tough times who spill their hearts to us, we show empathy, we listen, and we don’t make judgement, we have even cried with our clients (we really have).

Please don’t ever feel alone, there is always someone to turn to, the pain that you are in now will improve, you just need to ride those waves and if you accept help, you won’t sink.

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