What happens at the dental hygienist?

what happens at the dental hygienist

So often we hear people ask about hygienist, wondering if it’s really necessary to visit so often, what happens when they do or what would happen if they don’t. We thought it would be a good idea to summarise everything in a single blog post.

What does the dentist/hygienist do at a teeth cleaning?

A tooth cleaning appointment  is far more then just cleaning your teeth, your dentist or hygienist will also be looking at:

  1. Where plaque or stain has gathered on your teeth, and this can give an indication of your tooth brushing and cleaning habits.
  2. Early warning signs of oral cancer.
  3. Problems with the way the teeth wear which could indicate problems with the muscles of your head, face and neck.
  4. Early warning signs of gum disease and other dental diseases.

Practically what will happen at the hygiene appointment is as follows:

  • Each tooth will be assessed for its cleanliness, this is typically mark on the scale BPE (Basic periodontal examination), This rates quadrants in your mouth (upper left, right, lower left, lower right) on a scale from 0-4. Zero is the best and 4 is the worst.
  • This BPE chart will then be compared to your previous appointment to see how you are progressing.
  • An ultrasonic scaling will then be undertaken to remove hardened plaque around each tooth.
  • In between the teeth and instrument will then be used to scrape away excess plaque.
  • This scraping may need to continue below the gum level if the plaque buildup is particularly bad.
  • The space and cleaning ability will then be checked between each tooth with dental floss.
  • Each tooth will then be polished to ensure the minimum amount of plaque adheres to it.
  • You will then be given any further oral health advice to prevent further buildup of plaque and tartar.

How long should a typical dental cleaning to take?

A typical dental hygiene/dental cleaning appointment will take approximately 40 min if it is done properly and the above protocol is adhered to. It simply isn’t possible to do a full dental hygiene treatment in 10 min!

How painful is dental cleaning?

Scaling and polishing can sometimes be a little uncomfortable, particularly as it moves down towards the gum margin. It is quite normal for a small amount of bleeding to occur during the treatment however most people describe this as uncomfortable rather than painful.

If your hygienist is removing plaque below the gum line then this could be more painful, you will then be given a local anaesthetic to ensure it is completely pain-free.

Does repeated scaling damage our teeth?

Your teeth are extremely hard, in fact the dental enamel is the hardest substance in human body. Repeated scaling would only damage your teeth if it was done every day, typically you would only see a dental hygienist for professional cleaning twice per year meaning that dental scaling when it’s done by professionals does not damage your teeth.

Can visits to dental hygienists damage gums?

Visits to the dental hygienist would not damage or gums because they will be working to extremely high standards following extensive training. A hygienist will also be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) who monitor and regulate the dental health profession. You may find that after a routine hygiene appointment that your gums are more sensitive and have bled during the treatment, this is quite normal and they will heal very quickly.

If your teeth be regularly during cleaning then this is an indicator that you should see a hygienist.

However, if you prod around with an instrument in your own mouth during brushing and flossing and cause your teeth to be then this could damage your gums.

Is it necessary to have a hygienist for your teeth?

We believe that yes, it is necessary to have a hygienist for your teeth. Even if you have any exemplary dental care plan at home and look after your teeth and gums exceptionally well, you will find that small amounts of tartar will build up between your teeth. This is where bacteria lurk and where dental decay and disease can begin, only a hygienist will be able to remove this for you.

Why is is teeth cleaning so painful?

Cleaning your teeth at home should not be painful, if it is the we recommend visiting your dental surgery to see a member of the dental team as soon as possible. Professional teeth cleaning can be uncomfortable if there is tartar on your teeth below the gum line. Unfortunately this tartar has to be physically removed and the removal process can be uncomfortable. If you find that the teeth cleaning really is extremely painful then let your hygienist know as they may then be able to give you an anaesthetic.

How did people maintain dental hygiene prior to toothpaste?

Prior to having toothpaste people would have maintained their oral hygiene using a wide range of natural ingredients and techniques. Their diet would also have been such that they needed to chew more fibrous food, this would have helped to keep the teeth clean. However, prior to toothpaste the incidence of tooth decay was much higher. You should make sure that your toothpaste contains fluoride, the fluoride helps with the mineralisation of the enamel of your teeth, keeping it hard and able to resist the acid attack from our modern (and rather high sugar content) diet.

Is mouthwash really necessary for good dental hygiene?

It’s a good idea to use mouthwash after every meal. Mouthwash can help to dislodge food stuck in between your teeth, it also contains a low amount of fluoride which means that your teeth will get a small fluoride update throughout the day.

However, we do not recommend using mouthwash directly after cleaning your teeth. Mouthwash typically has less fluoride than toothpaste, so if you use mouthwash after brushing then you will reduce the amount of fluoride in contact with your teeth and therefore your teeth could be more prone to decay.


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7 Ways to Manage Your Dental Fear

Ways to manage our dental anxiety

Ways to manage our dental anxiety

Dental fear and phobia can range from mild anxiety (which many people experience) through to a full-blown phobia where even the mention of visiting a dentist can create a reaction.

The trigger for this fear can be widespread, often stemming from childhood or early years and previous experience at the dentist, for some it may be the smell, others the drill, others the needle, some people find a perceived loss of control difficult and for some just the thought of someone touching inside of their mouth is enough to trigger the anxiety.

The first thing we need to say is that dentists are trained to help patients overcome their fears, dentists want to help you maintain a healthy mouth, keep your teeth for life and it is for this reason that we’ve written our 7 top ways to manage your fear.

1. Book an appointment in the morning

This is a very simple yet very effective technique, it will ensure you can relax for the rest of the day as your appointment will be over. It also didn’t give you time to build up the dental anxiety throughout the day I will help you feel less anxious.

2. Make sure you have a good breakfast.

This is only for regular appointments, but a good and healthy breakfast will set you up for the day and ensure that your energy levels remain high. With good quality nutrients in your body your resources remain higher you will be better able to cope with your dental visit.

3. Reduce your alcohol content

Alcohol has three negative effects on you:

  • Alcohol may seem to improve your mood in the short-term but in the longer term it increases symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Alcohol dehydrates you. This can leave you more prone to blackouts and anxiety leading to more of a bad experience at the dentist.
  • Visiting the dentist after taking alcohol means you will be less able to communicate with your dentist and less able to take advantage of any other relaxation techniques.

4. Bring a friend

Bringing a friend to your dental treatment can really help, it’s often mentioned that people feel uncomfortable or nervous in the waiting room, bringing a friend with you and deciding beforehand what you will talk about means you are far more likely to be able to relax with your friend taking your mind off things.

5. Be clear about what it is that you are anxious about

If you are clear about why you are avoiding the dentist it can really help, is it a fear of pain? Is it fear of the dental procedures? Is it the needle? You may find it easier to write these things down and bring them with you, you can then hand this list to your dentist, letting them know you are an anxious patient. Your dentist will then have a clear list of things to either avoid or help you overcome.

6. Talk openly to your dentist.

Dental phobia will always be exacerbated with little or no communication. Be honest with us, we will not judge you take you off for not coming in to see us. Your dentist is here to prevent tooth decay and gum disease and look after your dental care. We absolutely understand that the world is full of nervous patients and we’re here to help.

7. Agree a stop signal.

Agreeing a stop signal can really help, it can be simply raising your hand. Let the dentist know that if you raise your hand you would like them immediately to stop and give you a breather. You could even agree that, if it’s convenient, you could be sat up if you raise your hand. Just sitting up for a minute, taking slow breath can really help you to relax.

Other ways to help dental phobia

There are a variety of medical ways to help with dental phobia as well, gas and air is a common option however we prefer to use oral conscious sedation at our practice in Stourbridge. We have found that this simple to take a pill which is taken about half an hour before your appointment can really help you relax. If you decide on this option you would need to ensure that you have a travel companion with you and that you don’t drive after taking the tablets for a few hours.

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Adult orthodontics – answers to common questions

Adult orthodontic and dental health

Adult orthodontic and dental health

With more more people now requesting adult orthodontics we thought it worthwhile putting together a list of some of the most common questions that people ask. We are going to split this article into two sections:

  1. Adult braces and questions about oral health.
  2. General questions about adult braces.

Adult braces and questions about oral health

Is it safe to get braces while having cavities?

Before you begin any form of orthodontic brace treatment you will be required to have an oral health assessment. If you have fixed braces these are typically more difficult to clean than natural teeth so it’s important that your oral health care regime is good prior to having braces fitted.

Because braces can harbour harmful bacteria your teeth can be more prone to cavities, this is especially true if you have cavities before getting braces.

It is pointless having straight teeth if all of them rot due to dental decay and cavities, your dentist will therefore want to ensure that you are cavity free and dentally fit before you begin your orthodontic treatment. Your dentist may choose to use dental sealants prior to providing braces in order to ensure your teeth remain healthy throughout the process.

Can braces cause a tooth to die?

It is highly unlikely that orthodontics will call the tooth to die, there are however side-effects of orthodontics which can involve tooth resorption. In exceptionally extreme circumstances this could theoretically cause a tooth to die. Research conducted In the Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics in 2015 found that 2.9% of orthodontic cases (out of a sample of 959 teeth) presented severe route resorption.

In reality many patients will never know that this has happened and orthodontics proceeds a symptomatically on this front.

What happens if you don’t brush teeth while you have braces?

Regardless of whether you are wearing braces are not, if you don’t brush your teeth you dramatically increase your risk of developing tooth decay. If you have fixed braces then these have more places for the bacteria to lurk, consequently your oral hygiene needs to be better at preventing tooth decay. If you have removable braces, such as Invisalign then these can act in holding bacteria and the food that they feed off against your teeth for long periods of time.

It really is essential that you brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste and have good oral hygiene , particularly if you are wearing braces.

Why do teeth become yellow after wearing braces?

There is no clinical reason why teeth themselves become yellow after wearing braces, however there may be a couple of causes which can easily be rectified.

Small amounts of adhesive left on the tooth. If you have had fixed orthodontics and your specialist orthodontist has left small amounts of adhesive on the tooth after removing fixed braces then this adhesive, if left untreated can yellow. All that is required is to visit the hygienist and have this adhesive removed, your teeth will then be restored to then lovely white colour.

The etch used on your teeth leaves it rough. When you have fixed braces to have your teeth straightened then the orthodontist needs to etch your tooth (rough the surface) in order for the brackets to stick. When the brackets are removed this rough surface needs to be polished, if it isn’t it can pick up staying and look yellow. To remedy this all the dentist needs to do is to polish the teeth and your tooth colour will be restored.

Do I have to brush immediately after eating with braces?

After you eat or drink we recommend you wait 20 min for the tooth enamel to recover from the effects of the bacteria producing acid. If you have fixed braces you should then give your teeth clean ensuring you clean in between the brackets and arch wires using a small brush. If you have removable orthodontics we recommend giving your appliance a quick clean, as well as your teeth, before placing your brace back in again.

General questions about adult braces

Besides getting straight teeth, why do people get braces?

Braces can be used for a whole host of reasons other than straightening crooked teeth, for example:

  • Modifying the position of the jaw to reduce the effects of snoring and/or sleep apnoea.
  • Attempting to move teeth into a better position to enable a higher level of oral hygiene to prevent cavities.
  • Moving teeth into a better functional position to prevent/reduce headaches and jaw joint problems.
  • Realigning particularly buck teeth which stick out so much that they become dry. This can help to prevent the teeth drying out and cracking and keep them healthy for life.

Is there a cheaper alternative to getting braces?

Generally speaking it depends on your clinical situation. If you have a couple of teeth which are out of line then perhaps dental bonding could work to give the illusion of straightening. Dental veneers can also have the same effect. Bonding only takes an hour or so at the dentist so this can often be the cheapest option for very minor teeth straightening corrections.

Why am I suffering tooth gaps after orthodontic braces?

The first question to ask would be, are you wearing a retainer? Unfortunately your teeth will have a tendency to want to return to their previous positions, the way to prevent this is to wear a retainer for at least one year after your orthodontic treatment ends. Some orthodontists will fit a permanent retainer on the inside of your teeth to maintain the new tooth position. Some retainers are made from a clear plastic which you wear for 12 hours per day at night.

How effective is orthodontics in grown ups?

Orthodontics on grown-ups (adults is extremely effective). Orthodontics only used to be done on children because it was only children that would put up with wearing the metal or train track braces. However, nowadays with cosmetic braces such as tooth coloured brackets, clear braces or lingual braces (orthodontics on the inside of your teeth) adults are becoming more accepting of having orthodontic treatments.

The only time when child orthodontics is more effective than adult orthodontics is if the orthodontic treatment necessitates changing the shape of the jaw. If this type of orthognathic orthodontics is required then it can only be done as the child grows and their jaw develops, clearly this has already happened in an adult so we cannot utilise this growing and developing process.


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10 Answers to Common Questions about Wisdom Teeth

10 answers to common questions about wisdom teeth

10 answers to common questions about wisdom teeth

Is it safe to get the wisdom tooth removed?

Wisdom tooth removal is only complex when it is a surgical procedure. If wisdom teeth have not yet fully erupted and are buried under the gums at the back of the mouth then this is usually performed surgically by a specialist dentist or oral surgeon. If a wisdom tooth has erupted normally and is in line with no other complications then removing the wisdom tooth is as safe as removing any other tooth in your mouth.

How to treat a gum infection near my wisdom tooth?

The gum infection near wisdom tooth should be treated the same as any other form of gum infection, and that is to identify the cause. Gum infections go through a series of stages starting off with mild reddening and information of the gums through to bleeding. The infection can then progress to periodontal disease, a more serious form of gum disease where the information encompasses the whole tooth.

The treatment of any form of gum infection at home can be very difficult, the first thing to do would be to look at your oral health care routine to ensure your cleaning your teeth adequately. If the gum infection is at an early stage then cleaning more effectively to remove plaque buildup can help to treat the gum infection. If the infection has moved onto a more serious stage then it may be more difficult to treat at home, this is because the daily plaque has not been removed and has built up into tartar. This tartar adheres to the tooth causing the inflammation around the gum. Only dental professionals will be able to remove this built up layer and treat the gum infection.

How to tell if I have dislodged a wisdom tooth blood clot?

If you have dislodged a wisdom tooth blood clot then you will either see the clot in your mouth and/or the socket will begin to bleed again. If the socket begins to bleed again simply apply a piece of sterile gauze over the area and gently bite down on it, some people like to use an old teabag (the tanic acid in tea has been shown to help to reduce blood flow). If you see the clot in your mouth yet there is no additional bleeding AND this is in the first week after the extraction then you ought to contact your dentist as you may be at risk of developing a dry socket.

A dry socket occurs when the protective blood clot either does not form, is absorbed too early or is dislodged leaving the bone, tissue and nerve endings exposed. This can be extremely painful although thankfully is also extremely rare, occurring in only 5% of people.

Very often a dry socket will become apparent a couple of days after the surgical extraction and symptoms can include extreme pain covering the whole side of your face which is often accompanied by an odour in the mouth.

If you think you may have a dry socket then you should contact your dentist within 24 hours.

What happens if you have a decaying wisdom tooth?

If a wisdom tooth decays it is like any other tooth in your mouth, eventually the decay will eat down to the nerve and become extremely painful. This can result in tooth loss as well as other extremely uncomfortable problems such as access. This is when a fluid filled area built up extreme pressure around the outside of your tooth as a result of an infection.

What is the after care of wisdom teeth removal?

The general guidance after having the wisdom tooth removed is to:

  • Avoid rinsing or spitting forcibly for at least 24 hours to avoid dislodging any clot.
  • After this time you can rinse gently with warm water that has had half a teaspoon of salt dissolved into a tumbler.
  • Take any prescribed painkillers at the intervals given to you by your dentist. Any general pain or discomfort should easily be kept under control with these.
  • Use an ice bag immediately after the procedure to help keep the swelling down.
  • Do not smoke as this can inhibit your body’s natural healing process.
  • Keep your head slightly elevated when you lay down, this can help to control any slight bleeding.
  • Continue your regular oral health care routine on your other teeth, but do not rinse with mouthwash for at least 24 hours.

What is the medical term for wisdom teeth removal?

When you have any impacted wisdom tooth removed it is considered minor oral surgery ( MOS), tooth extraction is known scientifically as EXODONTIA.

Can I keep slightly impacted wisdom teeth?

Deciding if you want to remove wisdom teeth can be quite difficult. The problem with an impacted wisdom tooth is the way it affects the tooth in front. Impacted wisdom teeth usually lay flat in the mouth facing forwards, the have a tendency to drift towards the front of the mouth and can push each tooth. The result is that your teeth can move over time becoming more and more crowded and crooked, this can then affect the way your teeth bite together.

Sometimes the wisdom teeth partially erupt. If that partial eruption is in a vertical manner, in other words in the correct place then it should cause no problem at all. If however the tooth is partially erupted and impacted then it can be very difficult to clean around the tooth and a permanent tooth pocket may sue, this can then lead to further problems.

When can I drink out a straw after a wisdom tooth extraction?

drinking out of a straw has a tendency to squirt the liquid directly onto the tooth socket. This can dislodge any plot causing a dry socket as previously discussed. You should avoid drinking through a straw for at least 24 hours after your extraction.

Can wisdom teeth become loose?

Disease and decay are what cause teeth to become loose. More specifically teeth become loose if there is gingivitis and periodontitis around said tooth. Wisdom teeth are not immune to this and can also become loose if they are not looked after properly.

Can you get dry socket with stitches? How can it be prevented?

It is still possible to get a dry socket with stitches although it is less as the stitches close the wound making it less likely for the clot to dislodge. However Sometimes the body can still absorbed plot to quickly and dry socket can form underneath. If you notice any of the symptoms of a dry socket including extreme pain or a particularly bad odour then you should visit your dentist immediately.

To prevent a dry socket you should keep yourself well hydrated but be careful not to rinse the water around in your mouth too much. If you smoke you should also stop smoking as this can exacerbate dry socket formation. You should also avoid raising your heartbeat too much immediately after an extraction, this raised heart rate and blood pressure can also dislodge clots. If you engage in any contact sports which involve disruption to your mouth you should also avoid these immediately after having a tooth extracted.



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Thinking of Travelling Abroad for Dental Implants?

Travelling abroad for dental implants?

Travelling abroad for dental implants?

With the attractive price that is often promoted by overseas dental practices it’s no wonder many people are tempted to travel abroad for dental implants and other forms of treatment. However, before you commit to this it’s important that you are fully aware of what to expect and what risks may be involved. The General Dental Council have put together a series of guidelines for people thinking of travelling abroad for their dental treatments.

Some of the questions you may want to ask are:

  • Who will be carrying out my treatment and what qualifications do they have?
  • Will the dental team speak English? If not, will you provide a translator on the day of the procedure?
  • Do you have any references or testimonials from previous patients?
  • How many times have you carried out the procedure I am having? What are the rates of success, complication,
    readmission and infection?
  • Are you regulated by a professional body and do you have to be registered with them?
  • Is the work guaranteed for a certain period of time?
  • What aftercare do you provide?
  • What happens if I am unhappy with the results? Who pays for the extra flights, hotel and remedial work?
  • If there are complications and I need further treatment, is this included in the initial cost?
  • Do you have insurance to cover this procedure?
  • Do you have a complaints system in place? Can I see a copy of it?
  • Who can I contact for advice after the treatment?

Travelling abroad for dental implants can be relatively risky compared with seeing a dentist in the UK. Dental implants often require a lengthy stage of preplanning and post placement care, this can become very difficult if you have to travel abroad to see the dentist each time.

Whilst implants have a very high success rate they can occasionally be problems, again, this is much easier to remedy if the implants are placed in the United Kingdom.

How much are dental implants abroad

We’ve looked at the prices of dental implants abroad from a few different countries including the most popular ones Spain, Poland, India & Turkey. Implants seem to be around £500 per implant, when compared to the cost of dental implant in the UK this can often seen extremely cheap.

We would however suggest you exercise extreme caution, one of the factors which affect the cost of the implant is the dental implant components themselves. There are well known and established dental implant component manufacturers such as Straumann, NobelBiocare and ITI to name just a few. The amount of research and historical product development that has gone into these implants is extensive and this comes with a cost.

Dental implants are manufactured to extreme tolerances of fractions of a millimetre, whilst it is possible to mimic the recognised brands above, it’s not possible to do this making them cheaper and maintaining the quality.

Many dental implant systems abroad use unrecognised or copy implant systems, this can mean that when you come back to UK if there is any problem that the dentist in the UK may not be able to help at all with any form of treatment on the dental implant.

If these copy system companies have also gone out of business then it can make replacing the implant or indeed general maintenance virtually impossible.

Our advice is always to stick with recognised implant companies and ensure you have certificates to prove that the dental implant components used are genuine.

Is it safe to have dental implants abroad

One of the ways you may be able to judge this is to compare dental treatments abroad with those undertaken in the UK, particularly the regulatory framework in UK. UK dentists must comply with and/or are regulated by:

  1. Decontamination in primary care dental practices (HTM 0105) – This is a health technical memorandum and audit tool to help with decontaminating reusable instruments in primary care dental practices.
  2. The Care Quality Commission – The independent regulator of health and social care in England.
    1. Treating people with respect and involving them in their care.
    2. Providing care, treatment and support the needs people needs.
    3. Caring for people safely and protecting them from harm.
    4. Staffing.
    5. Quality and suitability of management.
  3. The General Dental Council – The GDC regulates dental professionals in the UK, maintaining standards for the benefit of patients. The GDC will investigate any complaints made to them about dental professionals in the UK.

This all means that your safety in the UK has a considerable amount of backing, support and regulation… You are strongly advised to check the same is true from any dental treatment you choose to have abroad.



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Posted in Replacing Missing Teeth

Did you know there could be a link between headaches and the position of your teeth?

It is estimated that 14.7% of the worlds population suffer with headaches of some form. Of course they can be caused by a variety of causes but did you know that the position of your teeth could be one of those causes?

Your teeth are in fine balance with one another, amazingly they don’t always meet together when you eat, it’s when you are not eating that problems can occur.

Your jaw is a very finely balanced hinge which is attached to your skull with a complex array of muscles. Some muscles are dedicated to opening your mouth and others are dedicated to closing it again. Your jaw joint, known as your temporomandibular joint is extremely complex and permits movement in all planes, not just opening and closing like a crocodile!


Your teeth begin the guiding movement of your jaw, when your teeth are fully clenched together they will be interlocked. In order to move your jaw from side to side your muscles need to open to prevent the teeth from interlocking, as they do this the jaw can move from side to side and the angle that it moves from side to side will be dictated by the way the teeth interlock and the angles of that interlocking.

The Dental cosmos (1914) (14581513959)

What can often happen is that the teeth are not actually in exactly the right place, known as a malocclusion. Your jaw joint will be most relaxed when it is in its most retruded or backwards/posterior position, in this most posterior position your muscles should ideally be relaxed, however this is often not the case.

  • When your teeth are fully interlocked this is what is known as centric occlusion.
  • When your jaw is a fully retruded posterior position this is what is known as centric relation.

Ideally centric occlusion and centric relation should happen at the same time but if they don’t and the muscles around the head, face and neck are pulling on the jaw because the teeth are not in the correct position then this can translate into headaches. The following image shows where all of the muscles connect, notice how high up on the head the superficial temporal and temporal muscles go.


If these muscles don’t relax then they can easily cause you to have headaches.

Constant headaches

Constant headaches can be exacerbated by the tension in the muscles caused by the malocclusion of your teeth. We are not saying that all constant headaches are caused by dental malocclusion but it would be worth talking to your dentist to see if they are in conjunction with looking at other forms of headache treatment.

Grinding teeth headache

Teeth grinding headaches can also be a result of this. Because your muscles may not be fully relaxed as the teeth are not in the correct position then they may have a tendency to grind your teeth at night. Wearing a custom made night guard can help enormously with night-time teeth grinding. These custom night guards will be made by your dental practice. They work by sitting over the lower teeth and preventing the top teeth from locking into them. Because they can’t lock the muscles relax, this relaxation prevents the grinding and subsequent headaches.

Treating a malocclusion and headaches

As well is using custom night guard is your dentist may also be able to selectively grind your teeth enabling them to move smoothly without putting pressure on the muscles. This is a highly skilled task and is known as dental equilibration. The following video gives a little insight into how this is done.

Orthodontics to move teeth into a better position or restorative treatments such as dental overlays can also help solve dental malocclusion.

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What’s the point of a dental hygienist?

It’s quite common for patients to be concerned that visiting the dental hygienist is not necessary, you may wonder if the hygienist is simply a ruse to get you to spend more money at the dentist. The purpose of this blog post is to explain what the hygienist does and to help you understand what you can do at home to make their job easier and save you money.

What does a dental hygienist do?

The simplest way to do this is to look at the General Dental Council Scope of Practice which explains exactly what each of the dental professions is trained, competent in and indemnified for. A dental hygienist can:

  • Carry out a clinical examination.
  • Complete a periodontal examination including charting and indexing.
  • Diagnose and treatment plan hygiene related therapies.
  • Prescribe, take, process and interpret x-rays (radiographs).
  • Give appropriate dental health advice.
  • Provide preventative oral care to patients and liaise with dentists over the treatment of caries, periodontal disease and tooth wear.
  • Undertake cleaning both above the gum and under the gum.
  • Use antimicrobial therapies to manage plaque and related diseases.
  • Applied topical treatments and fissure sealants.
  • Provide advice on how to stop smoking.
  • Give dental block analgesia injections.
  • Assist with the care of dental implants and treatment of peri-implant tissues.
  • Identify anatomical features and recognise abnormalities including interpretation of common pathology.
  • Carry out an oral cancer screening.

Your dental hygienist therefore has a key role each time you visit the dentist, they are there to help keep you dentally fit and healthy and because it is not your dentist taking on these duties a dental hygienist can actually save you money as well.

As part of a dental hygiene visit they will not only look at your existing hygiene and carry out any treatments required, your dental hygienist will also give you advice. To help with this, we’ve written our own dental healthcare advice checklist for you to follow each day.

How to brush your teeth

Clean your teeth properly

  • Wait for at least 20 min after eating before brushing your teeth. This gives your teeth time to recover from the acid attack of eating.
  • Brush your teeth holding the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle.
  • Brush for 2 min at least twice per day.
  • Use a pea sized amount of fluoride containing toothpaste, reduce the size for children and infants.
  • Floss or clean your teeth with interdental brushes at least once per day.
  • Use a good quality mouthwash in between meals but NEVER just after brushing. (Mouthwash contains less fluoride than toothpaste, if you rinse your mouth out with mouthwash after brushing then you actually reduce the amount of fluoride in contact with your teeth)

Your dental hygienist questions answered

How to remove plaque

It is unfortunately not possible to remove plaque or tartar safely at home, you stand a high risk of damaging your delicate gum tissues if you try. Tarter (which is hardened plaque) should only be removed by your dental hygienist or dentist, they have special sterile instruments to do this and are trained to delicately remove this hard substance and not damage your gums.

How to remove stains from teeth

Depending on how stained your teeth are there are three primary ways to remove stains:

  1. Professional cleaning. Your dental hygienist will use a special cleaning paste and rotating brush to clean the surface of your teeth, this can often remove mild stains.
  2. Micro-abrasion. This is where an extremely fine sand is gently blasted against your teeth, this micro-abrasion removes more stubborn surface stains.
  3. Teeth whitening. Once all of the surface stains have been removed by either cleaning or micro-abrasion you can then whiten your teeth to remove the intrinsic yellow staining which may have happened over the years.

Teeth whitening toothpastes may also have a mild effect at home.

Can you use baking soda to clean your teeth?

It is not generally recommended to clean your teeth with baking soda. Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) is abrasive if used repeatedly, this abrasion can damage the outer enamel surface of your teeth leaving it more prone to acid attack and erosion.

Should you floss before or after brushing?

It generally doesn’t matter whether you floss before or after brushing, the key is that you do floss and clean in difficult to reach areas in between your teeth. These are areas in between your teeth  where the bacteria lurk in the hardened tartar. Cleaning in between your teeth with floss or an interdental brush can help to prevent the plaque hardening into this tartar.

It also doesn’t matter whether you floss your teeth in the morning or the evening, it really is up to you.


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Your options for quick straight teeth

As more people become focused and conscious about their smile it seems is becoming increasingly popular to look for options to have Straight teeth as fast as possible.

In this blog post our Stourbridge dentist takes a look at your orthodontic options for fast and rapid braces, with treatments often being only 16 weeks long.

To make things easy, we’ll start with the quickest way to have straight teeth, the Inman aligner.

Inman aligner

Typical treatment time approximately 16 weeks.

The Inman aligner is a removable orthodontic appliance with a revolutionary spring mechanism designed to push and pull on the same tooth at the same time. Pushing and pulling in able faster rotation of the tooth, meaning the Inman aligner can often straighten teeth in approximately 16 weeks.

You will need to wear your aligner at least 20 hours per day to see the fastest teeth straightening result, any less and treatment time will inevitably be increased.

You can remove your aligner for eating and cleaning but other than that, you should wear your orthodontic appliance all of the time.

Because the aligner is designed to move teeth rapidly it can typically only be used to move the front six teeth and is not standard practice to try to move back teeth. Back teeth have larger root systems And therefore cannot move as rapidly as front teeth.

Visit the official Inman aligner website.

Six month smiles

Typical treatment time approximately 6 months.

The six month smiles system is a fixed orthodontic system utilising tooth coloured brackets and wires. Six month smiles uses a different type) to conventional fixed braces with a triangular design meaning it can move the route and tooth crown at the same time.

Because this orthodontic system is fixed you will not be able to remove your braces. Six month smiles is capable of moving teeth great distances than the Inman aligner which is why treatments typically take longer than the Inman aligner removable appliance.

Visit the official six month smiles website.

Clear smile aligners

Typical treatment time approximately 18 months.

Clear smile aligners are a removable orthodontic system providing you with a series of clear plastic aligners. These clear plastic aligners move your teeth a small amount each time in the desired direction, approximately every two weeks you will swap your aligner for a new one which will put pressure on your teeth move them a little bit further. Repeating this process over and over means you can move teeth simply and easily.

One of the biggest advantages of clear smile aligners is the fact they are virtually imperceptible. The Inman aligner, whilst not particularly obtrusive can still be seen, six month smiles uses fixed brackets which can also be noticed when you look close… The clear smile aligners, even on close inspection are virtually invisible.

As with other removable orthodontic systems you should be wearing your clear smile aligners for at least 20 hours per day, only removing them to eat and clean your teeth and appliance.

Visit the official clear smile aligners website.

General teeth straightening questions.

Does straightening teeth fast hurt?

Teeth straightening can sometimes be uncomfortable when you first have your new appliance. Each time use swap and aligner with clear smile aligners or have your six-month smiles or Inman aligner adjusted you will notice the immediate pressure but it puts on your teeth. This pressure is required in order to move your teeth and can sometimes be uncomfortable.

Will fast teeth straightening make my teeth sensitive?

Because the teeth are being moved they can become more sensitive than normal. You may find that immediately after adjustment of your appliance that your teeth feel more sensitive than normal, this will normally settle down after approximately 3 days.

If I have my teeth straightened will they go back to what they were like before?

After any orthodontic treatment you will be provided with a retainer. This retainer will keep your teeth in their final position. You should typically wear a retainer for 12 hours per day after you have had orthodontic treatment. Standard retainers are made from a clear plastic, very much like the clear line aligners. This makes your retainers virtually invisible and comfortable to wear.

I would like straighter teeth, what should I do?

If you would like straighter teeth and live in the Stourbridge area we offer a consultation designed to help you discover which orthodontic treatment could be right you, please click here to book now.



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Posted in Straightening crooked teeth

What’s the best teeth whitening kit?

As with many things in dentistry are lots of searches online, people looking for the best type of teeth whitening for them.  The reality is that it depends on what your criteria are as to which will be the best teeth whitening treatment for you. In this article we go through the various teeth whitening kits available a look at the pros and cons of each.

A review of the different types of teeth whitening kit

before we go into the individual types of teeth whitening kit it’s useful to understand a small amount about how teeth whitening works, you can then use this information to make your own decision about which teeth whitening kit is the best.

The teeth whitening process works using an active ingredient, usually either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. This active ingredient releases oxygen into the tooth structure, the oxygen breaks down the bonds which hold the stains together, as the bonds break down the staining breaks down and consequently a white tooth colour is achieved. This process carries on throughout the tooth meaning your whole tooth goes whiter.

Typically the active ingredient is 6% released hydrogen peroxide, any product containing or releasing more than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide can only be sold by a dentist.

Whitening strips

Teeth whitening strips are a popular option, most of them contain adequate hydrogen peroxide in order to whiten teeth. One of the big concerns is that hydrogen peroxide could potentially come into contact with your delicate gum area. They can also be a little fiddly to use every single day.

Teeth whitening pens

Teeth whitening pens typically have approximately 3.5% hydrogen peroxide, The same problem as whitening strips is apparent, you need to keep the hydrogen peroxide away from your delicate gum area. Another problem with Teeth whitening pens is that in order to work the active ingredient needs to be in contact with your teeth for a few hours each time in order to begin to make a noticeable difference. If you simply paint your teeth with a teeth whitening pen then your lips will wash off the active ingredient almost immediately.

Whitening toothpaste

Teeth whitening toothpastes usually contain approximately 0.1% hydrogen peroxide, the main way that teeth whitening toothpastes work is to be slightly more abrasive so that they can remove surface stains on your teeth a little bit more effectively than regular toothpastes.

Teeth whitening at home

Teeth whitening trayHome teeth whitening is one of the most effective ways to whiten teeth, because it will be prescribed by your dentist they can use up to 6% hydrogen peroxide, significantly higher than in other forms of teeth whitening. With home teeth whitening the teeth whitening gel will be held against your teeth for a couple of hours each day using a whitening tray. This whitening tray will be custom-made for you ensuring that the gel does not leak out and touch your delicate gum area.

Teeth whitening at the dentist

Having your teeth white and in the dentist’s chair can also be an extremely effective way to have a brighter smile. Many systems use laser teeth whitening to conveniently break down the bonds which hold the stains together, thereby whitening teeth very quickly, often in a single hour.

You may also find that some dentists use laser teeth whitening to give an immediate brighter smile and then have home teeth whitening as a top up afterwards, this can often be one of the most effective and quickest ways to whiten teeth.


With all of the options for whiter teeth it can sometimes be rather confusing to know which one is best, we always recommend visiting your dentist to have a discussion about the different types of teeth whitening treatment, request an appointment today.

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Posted in Cosmetic dentistry

Dental Crowns vs Veneers

A common question people often ask is “Should I have dental crowns or dental veneers?”, so , let’s take a walk through your options and discover which is best!

We will start by taking a look at what each of these restorative options are.

What are dental veneers

What are dental veneers

Dental veneers are an extremely thin covering, generally made from high-strength dental great porcelain, they usually only cover the viewable front surface and tip of your tooth. They literally veneer teeth!


cover (something) with a decorative layer.

What are dental crowns

A dental crownDental crowns can be equally as thin as dental veneers (sometimes 0.5 mm) but they cover the full circumference of your tooth, rather than just the outer viewable surface of your tooth.

Dental veneers pros and cons

Dental veneers can be extremely versatile, lower cost, highly aesthetic and beautiful, transform the look of your smile but they can sometimes be more fragile and likely to fracture.

Dental crowns pros and cons

Dental crowns can also be extremely versatile, highly aesthetic and beautiful and transform your smile whilst also being more durable but because they cover the full circumference of your tooth they can the more destructive to your natural underlying tooth structure, they may also cost a little more than veneers.

The uses of dental crowns versus veneers

Dental crowns can be used for:

  • Covering extremely dark or non-vital teeth
  • Changing the shape of your teeth
  • Rebuilding the bite on your back teeth to change the way your teeth meet
  • Making large changes to the angulation and rotation of your teeth
  • Rebuilding large areas of decay and restoring the tooth to its former shape

Dental veneers can be used for:

  • Covering extremely dark and non-vital teeth
  • Changing the shape of your teeth
  • Making small changes to the rotation and/or ambulation of your teeth

Types of dental crowns

Dental crowns are usually made from a few different materials:

  1. Gold. This was once the preferred option as gold is such a nice metal for technicians to work with and is relatively inert. It is however rarely used today.
  2. Porcelain fused to metal. This is where a metal casting is made to fit directly over the prepared tooth, on top of this metal casting porcelain is fused which is the part you see. These are sometimes used today but are becoming less often.
  3. All porcelain. With the advent of high-strength porcelain these are now becoming more prescribed than ever, zirconia is the preferred choice of material as it is naturally occurring, extremely strong and translucent like natural teeth.

Types of dental veneers

Dental veneers will usually be made from one of two different materials:

  1. All porcelain, similar to dental crowns.
  2. Composite resin. This type of veneer is often called an ‘immediate veneer‘ or ‘instant veneer‘ this is where the resin is applied directly to your tooth by the dentist in the chair and cured with a high-strength light.

How long do dental crowns last?

Dental crowns have an average life expectancy between 5 and 15 years. There are instances however when dental crowns have last considerably longer than this, up to a lifetime! It is worth noting however that it is not usually the crown which files, it is normally the tooth underneath which requires treatment necessitating removal and remaking of the crown.

How long do dental veneers last?

On average dental veneers last approximately 10 years. They are however far more susceptible to damage and fracture than dental crowns. The most common reason for replacing a dental veneer is a dark line appearing around the gum margin as the gums recede as we get older, this then means that the underlying tooth shows through which can then be darker.



As you can see, it’s not a straight decision about which to have, dental veneers or crowns… It’s more about taking a clinical view over which type of restoration is best for you, you may find that a combination of crowns and veneers are used on different teeth to restore your smile.

We hope with this has given you a good insight into the type of restoration you would like, dental veneers or crowns? Do you have any further questions? Please feel free to ask them in the Ask Dr Dermott section of this website.



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Posted in Restorative dentistry


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Please use this form to contact Dr. McDermott about your questions with cosmetic treatments or possible concerns you have about your teeth and options you may have with them.
Redhill Dental Clinic
14 Redhill
West Midlands
Phone: 01384 372015
Primary Email: info@redhilldental.co.uk
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