What does a dental hygienist do and do I really need to go?

We get asked this question all the time at our dental practice in Harrow, Middlesex, people often wonder if a dental hygienist is just an excuse to get a little more money out of people… Some people wonder why the dentist can’t do the same job as the hygienist and have everything done in one appointment.

In this blog post we explain why the hygienist is so important and crucially, why the hygienist can save you money by helping you stay dentally fit and healthy.

What is dental plaque, tartar and calculus?

Formation of dental cavitiesDental plaque is a soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth every day. This film contains millions of bacteria and as these bacteria feed on the sugar in your diet they excrete acid and it is this acid which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Tarter or calculus is when this soft, sticky film hardens, typically this is in between your teeth in difficult to reach areas where it is not removed each day. When it hardens into calculus this is where bacteria can lurk and excrete more acid directly onto your teeth.

If this calculus remains in place for too long the gums can become inflamed, read and puffy. The acid can also eat away the hard outer enamel layer of your teeth, if this progresses then the teeth can begin to rot from inside!

What is the difference between a dentist and a dental hygienist?

A dental hygienist is uniquely trained to look after your dental health only. They have in-depth training to understand how and why your teeth and gums can become unhealthy, they are able to spot the early warning signs of gum disease, help you change habits which may be exacerbating the onset of gum disease and work with you to treat any gum disease.

Your dentist on the other hand, as well as doing all this will be treating any decay, helping to restore broken down teeth, replace missing teeth, straighten crooked teeth plus have a deeper understanding of the anatomy around your head, face and neck enabling them to spot the early warning signs of oral cancer as well as biting problems which can lead to headaches and neck pain.

In an allocated appointment time your dentist will be hard pushed to do the role of the hygienist as well, doubling the appointment time to give the dentist time would increase the cost to you, so seeing a hygienist not only ensures you see someone uniquely trained to help you with your dental health but also keeps costs down as the dentist is not doing it themselves.

A typical routine dental health check appointment with your dentist will last around 30 min, a typical routine dental hygiene appointment will also last about 30 min. It is quite usual to have a visit to the dentist and then the hygienist consecutively every six months. Many practices offer dental membership plans to help spread the cost of these appointments over an extended period throughout the year.

What is a scale and polish?

This is the common term used to describe removing calculus (scale) from your teeth and then polishing them to make it more difficult for the calculus to adhere again. A scale and Polish is however an oversimplification of what is actually done. Your hygienist will check the dental health of each individual tooth and surrounding gum area, they will assess your cleaning and diet habits to work out why calculus has built up in particular areas, they will then give you advice on how you can reduce this in future. Once the calculus has been removed the teeth will be polished and cleaned and flossed in between.

How often should you go to the dentist and hygienist?

If you haven’t been to the dentist or hygienist for some considerable time you may find that more frequent appointments are required in order to get your teeth and gums to a healthy state. Sometimes a monthly appointment at the hygienist are required for 3-4 months in order to do this. Once your dental health is in a satisfactory condition routine appointments at the dentist and hygienist are then recommended every 6 months.

What tools do dentists and hygienists use to clean teeth?

Plaque on teethMost dentists invest heavily in technology and equipment to ensure you receive the very best treatment. A clever piece of technology that many dentists use is an ultrasonic scaler. This uses ultrasound waves which are conducted through to the calculus on your teeth at the end of probe connected to an ultrasound device. The high frequency ultrasound dislodges the calculus from your teeth in a comfortable, painless and rapid fashion. Using this device means your hygienist can clean your teeth faster than using a hand-held instrument alone.

As well as the ultrasound device your hygienist will also use various hand tools to clean in the difficult to reach areas in between your teeth. Right at the back of your mouth, in between the last molars can often be very tricky to reach with a toothbrush meaning calculus buildup readily in these areas. Cleaning in these areas and removing the calculus can be quite tricky sometimes, especially if teeth are very crooked.

How to remove calculus from your teeth?

Unfortunately the only way to remove calculus from your teeth safely is to visit your dentist and hygienist. Trying to pick away at home can result in damaging your delicate gums. If you visit your hygienist they can give you oral health advice as to the best way to keep your teeth as clean as possible and prevent the buildup of calculus in the first place.

Visiting the dentist and hygienist is an important thing to do if you wish to keep your mouth (and whole-body) as healthy as possible as well as keeping your overall dental costs as low by being dentally fit.




What are my options for straight teeth quickly?

With such busy and hectic lives we know how things can often be overlooked, perhaps you are getting married and have just realised you’re not happy with your smile? Perhaps you have a big birthday or other celebration coming up and have suddenly realised you need to look good for the photos?

Depending upon how long you have got there are a few options available to get fast results, let’s take a look.

Quick correction of mildly crooked teeth

If you have just a single tooth which is mildly rotated or twisted or perhaps even a couple of front teeth then this can often be corrected with dental bonding. Dental bonding is where your dentist as a small amount of tooth coloured composite material to the visible part of your tooth, this material can be built up to make your teeth look straight.

Dental bonding to correct mild crooked teeth

How quickly can I have straight teeth with dental bonding?

The process is done with you sitting in the dental chair and can take anywhere from 45 min up to a few hours, depending upon the number of teeth you want straight. For fast results, dental bonding certainly beats every other form of straight teeth treatment but it is only suitable for correcting very mildly crooked teeth.

Quick correction of moderately crooked teeth

If you have moderately crooked teeth, in other words, a few teeth which are quite crooked or many crooked teeth then dental bonding is a possibility as are veneers and orthodontics.

Dental veneers work on the same principle as bonding, they cover the surface of your tooth, leaving your natural tooth where it is and simply building out areas of your tooth to make it look straight. Dental veneers are more permanent than dental bonding and will last longer. A big advantage with dental veneers is that you are able to have instant straight white teeth as the veneers can be made any colour and as white as you like.

Moderately crooked teeth can also be straightened quickly using Invisalign Go.  This is a clear removable brace which moves teeth rapidly compared to other orthodontic systems. The Inman aligner is also a system able to straighten moderately crooked teeth rapidly. The Inman aligner works by simultaneously pushing and pulling teeth on different parts using a revolutionary new spring system.

How quickly can I have straight teeth with Inman aligner?

Typical treatment times are between 12 and 16 weeks, assuming you only have moderately crooked front teeth.

How quickly can I have straight teeth with Invisalign Go?

Typical treatment times range from approximately 4 to 7 months, assuming you only want the front teeth straightened.

How quickly can I have straight teeth with dental veneers?

From start to finish we recommend allowing at least four weeks. This will give you time to have a consultation with the dentist, have some initial diagnostics done to work out the final shape of your teeth and then have the teeth prepared by the dentist and veneers made by the technician.

Quick correction of severely crooked teeth

Severely crooked teeth will almost certainly require extended treatment with orthodontics. Whilst bonding and veneers are excellent at straightening rotated teeth, if the body of the tooth is not in the correct position then orthodontics will most likely be the best option. There are orthodontic systems to give fast results however these generally only work on the top or bottom front teeth. If you need other teeth to be moved as well then more complex orthodontics maybe your best option.

Orthodontic systems such as Invisalign and Six Month Smiles are ideal options to straighten more severely crooked teeth.

How quickly can I have straight teeth with Invisalign?

Typical treatments with Invisalign take between 12 and 24 months, depending upon the severity of your crooked teeth.


There’s no one size fits all solution to having straight teeth quickly, it depends upon your clinical situation and budget, the best way to find out which technique is best for you is to visit your dentist for an initial consultation.



Why is orthodontics so expensive?

The costs of having straight teeth are often considered to be quite expensive, with treatments often coming in at more than £1000. So why is this? In this post we take a detailed look at teeth straightening procedures, discuss what some of the more affordable options might be an find out what makes orthodontics so expensive.

What makes up the cost of orthodontic braces?

The typical cost of orthodontics is made up as follows:

  1. The planning stages prior to beginning treatment.
  2. The orthodontic system/brace itself.
  3. Multiple appointments during the teeth moving process,  typically lasting between six months and two years.
  4. The time of the dentist, their team and possibly specialist involvement.

We will now take a look at each of these in a little more detail.

The planning stages

The planning stages are especially important to get right, we must work out together the final look of your smile and relationship of your teeth to one another before we begin treatment. This is where you are given the opportunity to let your dentist know exactly how you want your new smile to look. For Invisalign there is also what is known as a Clincheck©, This is where your current smile is digitised and sent off to Invisalign  directly, they will then create a digital and animated view of your teeth moving. This gives you the ability to see exactly what you will look like at the end of treatment… A very valuable stage in the orthodontic process.

The planning stages of orthodontics may consist of 2-3 appointments, depending upon the complexity of your case.

Here is an example of a Clincheck© in action.

The orthodontic/braces system

Once the planning stages have been undertaken and the orthodontic system chosen your dentist can then move onto have the system manufactured. As with all the systems offered here, including Invisalign, Inman aligner and Six Month Smiles they are all manufactured by highly dedicated and skilled team of technicians, in some cases using the most up-to-date CADCAM technology to manufacture your braces.

Investment in CADCAM technology which allows you to have invisible braces produced rapidly comes at a high cost and so these systems are quite expensive to have manufactured.

Appointments throughout your treatment

With any of the orthodontic systems you will need to have regular appointments throughout the process, this ensures that your teeth are moving in the correct way and that there are no unforeseen problems. As with any dental appointment there will be costs to the dentist of having the team available and paying for the surgical equipment.

The time of the dentist and the team

Taking into account the planning stages and appointments throughout treatment is just one of the factors in the time involved. In addition to this there is the initial training for each orthodontic system which the dentist and the team must go through. This involves many hours away from the dental surgery and paying for this extended and postgraduate education.

How much do orthodontic braces cost?

The final cost of your orthodontic treatment will depend upon your own individual clinical situation, as a rough guide orthodontics at our practice start at £2200 and go through to £3300 dependent upon the complexity of your case. We may also be able to offer extended payment plans and finance.

Easy & Quick Straight Teeth

More more people are realising the benefits of having straighter teeth, not only to the way they look but also making teeth easier to clean and therefore keep healthy. With modern lifestyles it’s becoming increasingly common to want to have orthodontic braces  as quick as possible,  without having to wait months or even years for the result.

As an Invisalign approved provider we are proud to introduce you to Invisalign Go, the fast braces system for rapid results in Harrow.

Am I suitable for Invisalign Go?

Quick results can be achieved with this system because we are only attempting to move the anterior (front teeth).  It is typically these teeth in the aesthetic zone of your smile which have the largest cosmetic impact on the way you look. By just focusing on these teeth, which have smaller roots and therefore move quicker,  we can achieve straighter teeth quicker than many other systems.

So are you looking to straighten your front teeth only? Then you may be a candidate for Invisalign Go.

How quick is quick?

The average treatment time is 7 months, this means your individual treatment could be slightly less or possibly slightly more. If you wish to straighten both the top teeth and the bottom teeth this can be done at the same time and need not necessarily lengthen the treatment time from having one single arch only treated.

How will I know if these braces will work?

The beauty of using Invisalign is its ability to track and plan  your progress.  You will typically have  review appointment every 8 weeks and you will be changing  your fast aligners every 2 weeks.  It’s also possible for us to take digital photographs of your teeth and compare them against the digitally produced treatment plan which is done right at the beginning. The digital  treatment plan before you start treatment will work out where your teeth should be at any stage throughout the process, we can then use ongoing digital photography to compare progress against the plan.  Revolutionary!

What does Invisalign look like when being worn?

Almost invisible braces
Compare Invisalign to conventional braces

Because Invisalign Go uses clear aligners they are almost imperceptible and virtually invisible.

Take a look at the image here, if you look extremely closely you can just about see the edge of the Invisalign braces around the gum margin of the teeth in the image at the front. Invisalign really is virtually imperceptible in normal everyday living.

This means you can wear your clear aligners all day long with no one else knowing, a huge move forwards in orthodontic technology.

How do I get started with Invisalign Go?

The simplest way to get started is to request an appointment for a review, your dentist can then take a look at your overall dental health to ensure you are suitable  for this type of rapid brace, digital photographs may be taken as well is impressions which can then be used to create your digital plan treatment.

Treatment can then begin in a matter of weeks… Why not book your appointment today

Why do my teeth look yellow?


This is a question we get asked lots at our dental practice here in Harrow, so we thought we would take some time to take a look at the common reasons why your teeth may not be quite as white as you’d like to be… Some of those reasons are obvious but others aren’t!

What are you eating?

red white
Image credit: Master-isolated-images FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It sounds quite obvious but there are many foods which have any impact on the colour of your teeth. Some foods stain your teeth directly whilst others contribute to dental decay by being rich in sugar.

Foods which contain high amounts of sugar feeds the acid excreting bacteria which live in your mouth, the more sugar there is in your food the more this bacteria is able to feed and excrete the bacteria which then attacks your teeth causing dental decay. Teeth can then become dark either through the dental decay or by the bacteria forming solid deposits, known as plaque, which then become stained by the strong colours in some foods.

Some food on the other hand is naturally dark staining such as dark berries, tea and red wine. These may stain your teeth on their own but the staining is compounded if you have plaque on your teeth caused by a combination of poor oral hygiene and sugar in your diet.

Of course, so many of us like to eat foods like this, so if we want our teeth to be bright and white then we just have to get on top of our dental healthcare!

Are you brushing as well as you could?

Even if your diet isn’t too rich in sugar and you avoid the food with strong colours then your teeth could still be yellow then it would likely that your oral health care routine isn’t as good as it should be.

Quantity of bacteria in your mouth
Image credit: wellordie.com/health

Your mouth contains so many bacteria, more than the population of the world in fact, so it’s really important that you keep on top of this and remove as much bacteria and food as you can after each meal.

When brushing your teeth we recommend using a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste twice per day for 2 min each time. We also recommend flossing daily to ensure your teeth clean in between and then using a fluoride mouthwash in between meals (never after brushing as the mouthwash has less fluoride in than toothpaste).

Are you scrubbing rather than brushing?

anatomy of a toothYes, it’s possible to clean your teeth too much! If you scrub your teeth too much then the gum can recede as it will often become irritated due to the excessive brushing. As the gum recedes it may expose the softer dentine part of your tooth which is lower down towards the root. This part of the tooth is softer than the enamel (a part which you usually see) and is therefore more susceptible to both dental decay and staining.

When you brush, go easy and don’t scrub, if you visit a dental hygienist regularly they will be able to tell you if it looks as though you may be pressing too hard when you clean your teeth. It may also be worth considering an electric toothbrush, many of these have pressure sensors and light up red if you are pressing too hard, a really useful aid if you find this is a problem for you.

Your teeth just are naturally yellower!

Some people’s teeth are just not naturally as white as other peoples. Over the years celebrities have had so much teeth whitening that the commonly accepted shade for teeth is now considerably whiter than it was a few years ago.

Dental manufacturers have had to create new whiter and brighter colours for their materials to match this new trend, what was considered an average tooth colour 10 years ago would now be considered yellow.

Shade guide
Whiter shades have been created by the dental manufacturers to cope with the cosmetic demand of white teeth

Perhaps you are taking medication which makes your teeth look yellow?

The first thing to say is that you should never stop taking any medication that has been prescribed to you without first consulting your doctor. It has however been reported that some medications may affect the colour of your teeth, most often this happens if the medication is taken during childhood whilst the teeth are still forming, rather than extrinsic staining of the teeth at a later date in adulthood.

Some medicated mouthwashes can also stain teeth, so please ensure that you read the label of any medicated mouthwash that you may have been prescribed.

Rest assured though, if your teeth have been stained through using a medicated mouthwash this can easily be removed by your dentist or hygienist.

Do you smoke?

Well, you knew this would probably come up at some point! Smoking darkens teeth because it changes the delicate PH balance in your mouth, it also dries your mouth out which leads to an excessive buildup of bacteria. This bacteria not only has a rather noticeable smell, but also can contribute to increased rates of dental decay.

Plaque on teeth

The smoke itself also has many of these colouring components which, particularly when coupled with poor oral hygiene, can stain the teeth quite noticeably.

As a sidenote, if you have any damage to the gum in your mouth then smoking also slows down the healing process, just another reason to begin the quitting process.

You are older than you were yesterday!

It’s just a fact that as we age various things happened to our body! Gravity takes over and alas, our teeth can appear yellower. The reason for this isn’t because your teeth are actually going yellow, it’s because that as we get older the outer surface of the tooth (enamel) wears away, as the enamel wears away with age the yellower underlying dentine becomes more exposed. As that dentine nears the surface it has the effect of making the teeth look yellower.

This is often more prominent on the lower teeth towards the biting incisal edge. It can be noticed that there is significant yellowing or staining right on that chip area, this is known as secondary dentine and is a common concern with people in, shall we say, more senior years!

And the good news is…

The good news is that most of these problems can be quickly and simply resolved. If you give up smoking, look at your diet and ensure your oral health care routine follows the suggested procedure then you can have a big impact on the colour of your teeth. Your dentist can also whiten your teeth in a couple of ways.

If your teeth just have surface staining perhaps from smoking or food stains then this can be removed with an air abrasion technique. This blasts very small particles at the end at your teeth which very gently remove the surface stain. If however the enamel of your tooth is intrinsically not as white as you would like them teeth whitening could also be the perfect option for you.

What ever you decide, your friendly dentist in Harrow is here to help, please contact us today to book your appointment and begin your journey to brighter, whiter teeth.


How to Look After Children’s Teeth Properly

tooth and mirror

Most parents want to look after their children’s teeth in the best way possible but often find the advice given confusing or difficult to follow. In this blog post we set out to explain in simple terms  the easiest way to look after children’s teeth, prevent future problems and keep visits to the dentist to the absolute minimum.

1. Brush using the right kit, in the right way at the right time

Using the right kit

Children have smaller mouths than adults, clearly and so need to have a smaller toothbrush. If you try to clean a child’s mouth with an adult’s brush you will find that you will be missing parts of their teeth, particularly right around the back teeth. Use a child’s toothbrush with a pea sized amount of Children’s toothpaste. Children’s toothpaste has a reduced amount of fluoride compared to adults toothpaste, this ensures that your child does not receive too much fluoride.

Brushing in the right way

Brush your children’s teeth twice per day. Up until the age of 7 we recommend brushing your children’s teeth for them and then supervising after this age. When you brush clean for 30 seconds in each quadrant, top left, top right, bottom left and bottom right ensuring that you clean the biting surface, tongue side and cheek side of your Children’s teeth.

Brushing for the right amount of time

The whole process should take 2 min and this should be done twice per day.

2. Maintain a healthy diet

ID-10044145Ambro.Maintaining a healthy diet is important for overall body health  as well as dental health, but the two are linked. The simplest piece of advice, and probably the most important, is to watch the amount of sugar that your child has in their diet. It’s not just the added sugar (such as on cereal in the morning)  it’s the hidden sugar in so many  food items particularly fizzy drinks and processed food. A good way to monitor this is to use the governments sugar smart app which we have blogged about in the past.

Sugar is so damaging because it feeds the acid excreting bacteria which cause dental decay. Limiting the amount of sugar your child eats will have a dramatic effect on tooth decay.

3. Visit your dentist

We would say that, wouldn’t we! But it’s true, your dentist is able to detect the early warning signs of gum disease and dental decay before you will notice it at home. They can advise on your  child’s oral health care routine and let you know if there are areas that you are missing whilst you are cleaning. It’s extremely important to ensure  that your child’s over all dental health remains in good condition throughout their lives, and this starts from an early age.

Many people mistakenly believe that because children lose their teeth that they don’t need to worry about looking after them…… they will get a new set after all. This is  a misconception, the habits that we form at an early age will continue into later life. If your children don’t have a good oral health care routine with their baby teeth, why would they change that routine and habit when they lose their baby teeth? The reality is that they won’t and those same bad habits will continue through to the adult teeth…  Which don’t get naturally replaced.

For further advice and information  please request an appointment with our dental hygienist at our practice in Harrow, we’ll be happy  to answer any questions and give you advice on your own dental health care routine.

Images courtesy of  freedigitalphotos.net

Study claims that 100,000 patients per year are heading straight to A&E with dental emergencies

According to a new study by the BritishDental Association at Newcastle University has found that far more patients are attending accident and emergency with their dental emergencies than official government statistics state.

People visiting A&E for dental problems in the UK

The official government statistics claimed at around 14,500 patients with dental problems attend their accident and emergency department  (statistics from 2014/15). However, the British Dental Association’s research indicates that due to systematic under-reporting the figure is far more likely to be closer to 135,000 patients per year.

Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, chairman of general dental practice at the BDA, said:

“Ministers keep underestimating how much their indifference to dentistry has knock-on effects across the health service. GPs and A&E medics are having to pick up the pieces, while the government’s only strategy is to ask our patients to pay more in to plug the funding gap.

“We are seeing patients who need our care pushed towards medical colleagues who aren’t equipped to treat them. As long as government keeps slashing budgets and ramping up charges, we will keep seeing more of the same.”

There are many reasons why NHS dentistry is struggling to cope with the demands of dental emergencies  and it’s not our intention to get involved with the politics of why that may be. The reality is that many dental practices may find it extremely difficult to cope with the bureaucracy and funding within the NHS, and so to provide their patients with the treatments of choice opt to work in the private sector only.

So is Private dentistry an expensive alternative?

The perception is often that private dentistry is a very expensive alternative however it is possible to see a private dentist, with all  of the  benefits that brings from as little as 56p per day, that’s less than the average mobile phone contract and less than a cup of coffee per day!

There are two ways to enjoy private dentistry for these low fees, let’s look at each in more detail.

1. Keep Your Mouth Healthy

It sounds obvious, but the more you do at home to keep your mouth clean, your teeth bright and your gums healthy then the lower your dental costs will be. According to research by the American Dental Association in 2013:

  • 56.8% of women brush their teeth twice a day
  • 49% of men brush their teeth twice a day
  • 50.5% of Americans floss daily

With only around half the population brushing their teeth according to the recommended amount  of twice per day it’s no wonder that dental health suffers!

2. Saving For Your Dental Treatment

If you took 56p per day and saved this in a bank account then by the end of the year you would have £206. This is enough for two comprehensive dental examinations without private dentist, including x-rays PLUS two appointments with the dental hygienist. This equates to £17.16 per month which is less than most people pay on a mobile phone contract, so the question has to be asked which is more important,  looking after your health  or paying for a mobile phone?

The cost of dental treatment

Blue Court Dental Centre is a local dental practice in the heart of Harrow offering private dental care to the local people. Please contact us today to make an appointment and explore your options from as little as £17.16 per month.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obesity expert Dr Donal O’Shea says:

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

Credit: PHE

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bluecourt Dental Centre in Harrow, Middlesex can advise you on the best cleaning techniques and oral health advice in order to keep your teeth fresh and bright for life. They can also provide dietary advice and encouragement to children to drink healthy drinks rather than sports drinks designed for athletes.

Dry mouth? Here’s what you need to know…

It is very normal for people to occasionally have a dry mouth, this can be caused by dehydration or anxiety. If you have a persistently dry mouth then it may have an underlying cause which needs further investigation, your dentist may be able to help.

What are the causes of a dry mouth.

A dry mouth is caused by under active salivary glands which are not producing enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. This could either be because you don’t have enough water in your system and you are dehydrated or due to a medical reason causing the glands not to work as they should.

A few of the causes of dry mouth are:

  1. Medication. Some antidepressants and antihistamines can cause your mouth to dry out, if you are taking either of these medications take a quick look at the instructions and see if a side-effect is a dry mouth. Never stop taking prescribed medicines until you have spoken to your doctor about any potential side-effect.
  2. A common cold. If you have a cold and your nose is blocked it can cause you to breathe excessively through your mouth, this can dehydrate your mouth, particularly whilst you are asleep.
  3. Medical conditions. There are a couple of medical conditions including diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome which cause dry mouth.

What problems can dry mouth cause?

Dry lips are very often associated with a dry mouth, as is halitosis. The saliva in your mouth keeps bacteria at bay, without the saliva the bacteria multiply and cause the bad breath.

Tooth decay and gum disease are also associated with a dry mouth. If they are not bathed in the saliva then the bacteria which secrete the acid are not neutralised, the acid can then become stronger and cause decay in your teeth faster than normal.

ID-10040609nixxphotography.How to treat a dry mouth

Before you know exactly how to treat a dry mouth you need to understand what is causing it. If you believe you are fully hydrated then medical assistance may be required, either from your doctor or dentist.

Some things you could try include:

  1. Staying hydrated by drinking as much water as you need per day.
  2. Stopping smoking.
  3. Limiting the amount of caffeine you drink as this can dehydrate you.
  4. Chewing gum to stimulate the flow of saliva, make sure this gum is sugarfree to avoid tooth decay.
  5. Visit a pharmacy and ask for some over-the-counter saliva substitute.
  6. Try to breathe through your nose rather than your mouth.
  7. Use a room humidifier at night if you think you may be mouth breathing.

Preventing tooth decay due to a dry mouth

One of the big problems of a dry mouth is maintaining good oral hygiene to prevent tooth decay. It is extremely important to regularly visit your hygienist and dentist if you have a dry mouth to ensure that your teeth and gums remain healthy.

Gum disease can progress painlessly on the whole and only a dental health professional will be able to tell in the early stages if you have either gingivitis or periodontitis.

The general rule of thumb for good teeth cleaning is:

  1. Start brushing your molars and then moved forwards towards the front of your mouth.
  2. Brush from your gums towards the chewing surface and use little strokes to get your teeth clean.
  3. Make sure to clean all your teeth. Hold your toothbrush up and down to get behind them.
  4. Remember to brush your tongue.

Do all of this twice per day and use a fluoride mouthwash in between meals as a top up. Avoid using mouthwash after you brush as toothpaste has a higher percentage of fluoride than mouthwash, if you use a mouthwash immediately after brushing then you reduce the amount of teeth strengthening fluoride around your teeth.

For advice on dental health and dry mouth please give Blue Court Dental a call or request an appointment online.

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