My gums bleed sometimes, is this a problem?

So many of us have seen the adverts on TV which talk about bleeding gums whilst brushing and flossing,  but is it really a problem if your gums bleed? In this blog post our Stourbridge dentist takes a walk through the dental health issues related to bleeding gums whilst brushing.

What are the causes of bleeding gums?

Gum disease or gingivitis

The most common cause of bleeding gums is gingivitis, this is the first stage of gum disease  and is really simple to treat if caught early. The acid excreting bacteria which live in your mouth congregate where your cleaning is not quite so efficient, usually in between the teeth. As the bacteria congregate this plaque can irritate and infect the gums. When the gums become irritated they become swollen, tender, red and can bleed whilst brushing. Gingivitis responds well  to a change in cleaning habits and a good visit to the hygienist or dentist.


Sometimes medications can have the side-effect of bleeding gums, these include:

  • Phenytoin, a seizure medication.
  • Cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant drug often used to prevent transplant rejection.
  • Blood pressure medications called calcium channel blockers, which include nifedipine, verapamil, diltiazem, and amlodipine.

Cleaning Technique/Routine

If you are used to using a floss or interdental brush in between your teeth and forget for a few days then you might find that your gums bleed slightly when you reintroduce this interdental cleaning. This shows how quickly the gums can become inflamed if cleaning is not consistent. If you change your technique, for example switching from flossing to interdental brushing then you may also find that the gums are slightly sensitive at the beginning.  You will normally find that the gums settle down after about a week of changing your routine.

Implements Used

We’ve use the word ‘implements’ here deliberately. All manner of household items  such as credit cards and safety pins get used to clean between your teeth. We highly recommend you don’t do this, primarily because of the risk of cross infection… Who knows where those credit cards or safety pins have been!


Smokers are at a much higher risk of gum disease than in non-smokers as the toxins in the cigarettes inhibit your body’s ability to fight disease and infection in your mouth.


During pregnancy some women find that their gums swell and have more of a tendency to bleed, this is due to hormonal changes which alter the body’s response to the bacteria that cause gum disease. So long as a healthy oral hygiene routine is maintained during the pregnancy the gums should return to their prepregnancy state afterwards.

What to do if your gums bleed

The answers to this really lie in addressing the causes which we have described above. Principally this involves:

  1. Making sure you clean adequately in between your teeth, for 2 min twice per day to ensure  that the plaque buildup is at a minimum.
  2. Being aware of the medication you are on (but never stopping without the advice of your doctor).
  3. Addressing your cleaning technique/routine and ensuring that you clean regularly.
  4. Using only  dental floss or interdental brushes  to clean in between your teeth, never be tempted to use a pin, for example!
  5. Maintaining a healthy diet. A healthy diet plays an important part  in enabling your body to fight infection and disease. A high sugar diet will also increase the amount of bacteria in your mouth which increases the likelihood of dental disease and bleeding.
  6. Visit your dentist regularly. Your dentist is able to detect the early signs of gum disease much better than you are at home. If your dentist spots the early warning signs then you can be referred to hygienist for more intensive cleaning and assistance.

Can you catch gum disease?

The quick answer to this is yes. For example, a kiss can exchange up to 80,000,000 bacteria, some good and some harmful. If your own immune system is suppressed for any reason then the concentration of bad bacteria may just tip the balance over the edge in your mouth, leading to gum disease.

It’s important to note however that gum disease is not infectious, in the same way  as many other diseases are. it’s much more complex than that.

The same is true for sharing drinks or utensils such as straws or  forks. Always maintain a healthy cleaning routine to ensure that the bad bacteria  stays well away from your mouth!

Vitamin deficiency causing gums to bleed

Whilst this is rare in the United Kingdom, vitamin C deficiency, otherwise known as scurvy can cause gums to bleed.

My gums bleed when I’m at the dentist, why is this?

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When you visit your dentist they will usually probe around all surfaces of the tooth. This is to check the space between your gum and tooth, they will be looking for the depth that the probe can go and scoring this. If this is monitored between dental appointments  then the score can be monitored to see whether it goes up or down, this is then a good indicator as to  whether your oral health is improving or getting worse.

During this probing process, if your gums are inflamed then bleeding may occur. You may find that your gums bleed during this probing when they don’t normally during brushing, this is another reason why you should visit your dentist regularly to ensure that your gums are not inflamed.

If you are concerned about any of the issues raised in this blog post please contact your Stourbridge dentist to make an appointment.

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Research discovers that regrowing teeth is possible!

Are you one of the many people that would really rather not go to the dentist to have dental fillings? Well if dental cavities aren’t you, 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 has decay and how could this new drug help?

Dental caries steps

Should 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 dental 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.

Consuming sugar can increase your chances of tooth decay

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.

Teeth cleaning to prevent Dental cavitiesLikewise, 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.
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 Stourbridge, West Midlands 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.

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Top Tips to Beat Your Dental Anxiety

Tips to beat your dental anxiety

Tips to beat your dental anxiety

Not everyone enjoys a trip to the dentist,, in fact to be honest most people don’t. However if that slight anxiety begins to be overwhelming and control you then it can begin to impact your dental health. Dr Phil McDermott writes these blog posts to help you if you feel anxious, scared, nervous or afraid of the dentist.

Learning and unlearning

We often find that overcoming dental fear is about realising that you have a choice.

Think about it now, you weren’t born with a fear of the dentist, babies are a blank canvass and have no such irrational fears. However, as we get older we have certain experiences that shape our views, so think about it now… what experience led you to believe you were afraid of the dentist?

When you come to see us we will ask you what was the trigger that taught you this behaviour, this will then help us to help you overcome this irrational fear.

The problem is that we have these experiences once and they then shape our thought patterns by teaching us new behaviours i.e. to fear the dentist, this is a key point to understand, your fear is a learnt behaviour – and if it can be learnt, a new way of thinking can also be learnt.

It’s good to talk

Good to talkWe’d like you to write down one thing that would be the worst thing we could do as dentist. Why do we want to know this? Well, the reason is simple, we want to know what NOT to do.

As a dentist this is often a simple thing for us to avoid, and therefore represents a really simple and easy way to start to help you overcome your fear or dental phobia.

For example, if even walking in through the door is a problem we can overcome this by talking on the phone, then chatting to you in our patient lounge (no dental ‘stuff’ in sight). Once we’ve got this far we can discuss simple next steps in helping you, all working to help you overcome your fear at your own pace.

The real key in overcoming your fear is to talk to us and open up communication, most people’s fears are based on outdated ways of doing things that are easily avoided, so armed with your ‘worst thing we could do as a dentist’ list we can make real progress in working out the best strategy for you.

Controlling that nagging voice we all have!

Do you hear voices in our head?

If you are thinking ‘No I don’t have voices’ then THAT’S the voice we are talking about, the one that just said ‘I don’t have any voices’!

We all have voices in our head that talk to us telling us things… ‘you’re no good’ ‘ you’re fat’ ‘ you’re scared of the dentist’… now you know the voice we mean, don’t you.

A key strategy on overcoming fear and relaxing at the dentist is to learn to control these voices, so try this exercise now… it may seem odd, but try it as it will work brilliantly for you.

1) Say in your mind something mean about yourself.

Not anything too mean, but something that is important to you and has meaning for you, something like “You are a failure’, “You’ll never be any good at anything’… you know, the kind of thing we were told as kids and we keep with us as adults.

2) Now take that voice and remove it from your head and imagine it on your shoulder, allow it to keep saying those mean things.

Notice how it seems to have less power now that it is out of your head and on your shoulder

3) Now hold you arm out straight in front of you, put your thumb up vertically, and imagine your voice coming from the tip of your thumb.

As you do this now, notice that even though the words are the same, the power of the voice is weaker.

4) Now give that voice on the tip of your thumb a comedic voice, something really funny and stupid. Allow it to say the same mean things, but allow that voice to say them from the tip of your thumb and in a comedic and funny voice.

Notice this time how the power is completely gone from that voice. Notice how YOU have controlled that voice to take away it’s power.

Now you have realised that YOU are in control of the nagging voice in your head, each time it mentions fear, then place it at the end of your thumb, give it a comedic funny voice and the power of that negative thought has gone.

Top Tips to Beat Your Dental Anxiety

  1. Book an appointment in the morning, this will ensure you can relax for the rest of the day as your appointment will be over.
  2. For regular appointments, make sure you have a good breakfast. This will set you up for the day and ensure your energy levels remain high.
  3. Lay off the alcohol! Not only does it dehydrate you but it can also make you worry.
  4. Bring a friend. Decide before hand on what you are going to talk about, make it subjects that relax you and keep you calm. Perhaps discuss a recent holiday, or where you are going next time.
  5. Practice your ‘inner voice’ control techniques. Put the negative voice at the tip of your thumb and give it a comedic funny sound.
  6. Bring your list of “The worst thing we can do” we can then discuss this with you to ensure it really doesn’t happen
  7. Talk openly to us. We will NOT judge you or tell you off for not coming to see us… honestly
  8. Agree a stop signal with us, this will ensure that (like your inner voice technique) YOU are in control

Relaxing with sedation dentistry

If you feel anxious or stressed about a certain procedure or appointment, you’re not alone. Many patients experience dental anxiety or fear of pain (which is quite understandable), and can sometimes let this anxiety keep them from getting the dental treatment they need. Dr. McDermott and his team want every patient to feel at home here in our office. We will do everything in our power to make you as comfortable as possible during your visit. At Redhill Dental Clinic, we are proud to offer sedation dentistry options to all of our patients before any procedure.


Sedation dentistry refers to an optional treatment that patients can have administered before any procedure. This will put you in a relaxed state throughout your entire procedure and make your dental appointment even easier and more stress-free. Patients who choose sedation dentistry are awake enough to answer questions, but experience reduced sensitivity and feel completely at ease. At our practice, we offer oral conscious sedation treatment options.

Experience True Comfort With Oral Conscious Sedation

woman sleep on grassOral conscious sedation is a type of sedation dentistry that utilizes an easy-to-swallow pill or tablet. When you choose oral conscious sedation, your dentist will give you a pill to take about thirty minutes prior to visiting our office. Once the effects of the sedation have settled, your dentist will begin your procedure. Patients who choose oral conscious sedation will be awake enough to answer questions, but will need to arrange for a ride to and from the dentist office.

If you have any questions about sedation dentistry, you can call us at our office. We would be happy to answer any questions or to arrange a consultation with your dentist.

Request a Consultation Today

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How much does a dental implant cost?

With costs seemingly rising here in the UK more patients are tempted to look overseas to replace missing teeth with dental implants, but what is the cost of doing this and what is the true cost of a dental implant here in Stourbridge? To answer this rather intricate question our Stourbridge dentist has written a blog post detailing how the cost of a dental implant is made up and what you could save, or not save, by going abroad.

A single dental implantWhat is involved in the cost of a dental implant?

The cost of a dental implant is made up of the following components:

  1. Your dental surgeon’s time to prepare the diagnostics, analysis and preparation work prior to the implant.
  2. Training courses for the team to ensure they know exactly how the dental implants work.
  3. The dental implant itself, this is a precision made piece of engineering manufactured to tolerances of a fraction of a millimetre.
  4. The crown which goes on top of the dental implant made by a highly skilled dental technician.
  5. The follow-up and after-care provided by the dentist to ensure that the dental implant integrates into the bone and heals properly.
  6. Continuing care to ensure your implant lasts as long as possible, preferably a lifetime!

Every single dental implant restoration is made to order, exclusively for you and will not fit anybody else. You will also be wearing the dental implant 24 hours a day and even using it whilst you sleep as many people grind their teeth at night. This means it is worth spending money on a quality treatment to ensure your dental implant lasts a lifetime.

How much does a dental implant cost?

This is a difficult question to answer, it depends on how many you need and exactly what your own situation is, however, a typical dental implant works out normally from £2000.

Going abroad for dental implants.

Replacing missing teeth with dental implantsMany patients consider the possibility of travelling abroad to have their implants. Let’s look at this in more detail and ask some more questions about this rather intricate subject.

Of course dentists in Stourbridge want you to stay in the West Midlands to have your dental implants , but we also realise that patients wish to save as much money as possible and so could look to going overseas. The NHS choices website has some good information on going abroad for dental implants and quote:

“You may not get all the information or reassurance you would normally get from your dentist at home” – Damien Walmsley, professor of restorative dentistry at the University of Birmingham.

Here is a list of questions that the General Dental Council recommend you consider before going abroad.

1. Who will be carrying out my treatment and what qualifications do they have?

One of the most important aspects with any type of invasive dental treatment is the amount of trust you have in your surgeon. Not only must they be a nice person and you should like them but you need to be sure they have adequate qualifications. Here in the UK the General Dental Council have a specialist register for dentists that have undergone a Masters level degree and joined the specialist register for periodontics which will qualify them to place dental implants.

For this reason in our opinion the best person who should place your implant is a periodontist (gum specialist) with experience. Before having dental implants in the UK we recommend that you check the register to find a local dentist, preferably working with a periodontist… If you’re going abroad do they offer the same high level of trust and assurance? Periodontists do gum surgery and understand gums very well. They will get the best gum contour around your implant and this will get you the best aesthetics result so that the gum around your implant looks good and as a result make your implant look very natural.

2. Do you have any references or testimonials from previous patients?

This is something we recommend you ask for no matter which treatment you are having, but because of the complex nature of dental implants this is even more important. A long list of patient testimonials shows that your dentist is trustworthy and has a happy list of people willing to recommend them..

3. Are you regulated by professional body and do you have to be registered with them?

Here in the UK it is compulsory for every dentist to register with the GDC. We also have to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), this ensures your standard of care meets defined standards, especially with cross infection control and your ability to feedback to the dentist any concerns. If you’re travelling overseas to have dental implants does your dentist have to register with a professional body? Who is going to hold them accountable for the treatment? And most importantly, if they are registered with a professional body is that registration compulsory?

4. What happens if I am unhappy with the results? Who pays for the extra flights, hotels and remedial work?

Unfortunately, whilst there is a very exacting science to dental implants, there is also a great deal of art. This is particularly applicable with the dental crown which will fit on top of the implant, this is the part of the procedure which you will see every single day, so you need to ensure that it totally matches your surrounding teeth and fulfils the cosmetic requirements exactly. This is a very skilful and highly creative part of the process which, unfortunately, does not always go right first time.

If this happens to you, how will you be able to travel back to the dental practice to have the crown matched to your surrounding teeth? Sometimes a few appointments are required in order to get an exact match, if your dentist is overseas or a long way away then this can become rather problematic. This is why patients like to use us, we are based in Stourbridge and have good transport links to the whole West Midlands area.


5. Do you have complaints system in place? And can I see a copy of it?

Part of compliance with the CQC, which is compulsory in the UK, is to have a robust complaints procedure. This ensures that you have the means to complain to your dentist if things don’t go right, they then have an obligation to follow-up this complaint. The CQC audit these complaints in the UK and ensure that the procedures are strictly adhered to. If you travel abroad for your dental implants will you get the same level of compliance? Who is going to monitor any complaints? Who will ensure that any complaints are followed up? Here is our full audit with the CQC.

We hope this report has been useful in allowing you to decide on the cost of dental implants and so you can see that the cost of staying in the UK, when everything is considered, is often the best option..

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