April 7, 2011
As the popularity of teeth whitening continues to grow, dentists are concerned about the dangers of DIY whitening kits available for sale on the internet. Whiter, brighter teeth have an instant anti-ageing effect and give a ‘smile confidence’ that everyone loves. But in the pursuit of a Hollywood smile, consumers are risking the health of their teeth as cheap kits containing poor quality goods and strong chemicals can cause serious damage to enamel and gums.
Whitening kits often include a whitening gel which will contain ingredients such as Carbamide Peroxide or Hydrogen Peroxide plus mouth trays which are filled with the gel and fit over the teeth. Alternatively you can buy strips which mould around the teeth and are impregnated with a bleaching agent.
Worryingly, some websites claim their systems deliver results ‘within minutes’ when typically home kits should be used over a series of nights or even weeks. Others claim to be more effective than professional treatments or that their system is the same as ones used by dentists. “Comparing at-home kits to professional treatment is a worrying trend that I feel is very misleading for the public. Laser whitening and clinic treatments must be carried out by experienced dentists and we’ve seen the consequences of DIY treatments that have gone wrong.” States Dr Kaman from the Implant and Aesthetic Center in Budapest.
Russell Fraser from Scotland found out the real cost of using a DIY treatment when he tried an at-home kit. He’d had his teeth professionally whitened the year before and wanted to top up the effect without spending the same money and so bought a kit online. He thought the company seemed trustworthy as he was asked to send in an impression of his teeth to create personalised mouth trays. He followed the instructions supplied but by the morning his teeth were throbbing so badly he was on the verge of going to A&E. Within weeks he noticed brown marks on the teeth and that they seemed to have shrunk – in reality his teeth were literally crumbling away. The effects were like an acid attack on the teeth and the enamel was so badly damaged that he needed a full smile makeover with veneers to remedy the situation. Luckily Russell found Smile Savers Hungary and he was able to afford the treatment needed by travelling to their clinic in Budapest. In the end Russell needed 21 fillings, four root canal treatments and 18 crowns to repair the damage. In the UK the treatment would have cost around £28, 000.00 but in Hungary he paid £8, 500.00.
Dodgy DIY kits can contain chemicals like Chlorine Dioxide which is a bleach not recommended for teeth whitening. If the bleaching gel is too strong or left on for too long the tooth enamel will be breached and cavities weakened meaning the bleach can go straight to the nerves, bone and tissue at the root of the tooth causing damage and considerable pain. Badly fitting mouth trays mean the gel can leak causing stomach upsets and gum damage. If gums are damaged they become susceptible to disease which in turn causes oral and general health issues.
Dr Kaman adds: “Before you undertake any teeth whitening the health of your teeth and gums must be assessed, it’s not a treatment everyone can have. There are so many risks associated with DIY treatments it’s just not worth doing, it’s better to shop around and find a reputable clinic that you can trust to do the treatment and then maintain the whiteness by brushing with a good quality tooth brightening toothpaste.”
There are definitely some things that are left to the professionals and Russell Fraser agrees: “To anyone who’s tempted by a tooth whitening kit, I would say, don’t risk it – go to a dentist.”
March 22, 2011
It seems that in celeb-land, the accessory of the moment isn’t a Hermes Birkin, but rather a baby bump, as more famous faces announce their pregnancies. The latest to join the pregnant pack is Mel B, like her fellow Spice Girls Victoria Beckham and Emma Bunton, she’ll be giving birth later this year. Kelly Brook, Holly Willoughby, Natalie Portman and rock chick Pink (to name but a few) are all blooming with health, but pregnancy can bring oral health problems that are not to be ignored
Many pregnant women notice that their gums bleed more in pregnancy and in fact they are more susceptible to gum disease during this time. Pregnancy hormones can make gums swell and feel more tender. High levels of progesterone make the gums more sensitive to the bacteria in plaque making it easier for gum disease to become established. Similarly, anyone who already suffers from gum disease may find it progresses faster once they are pregnant.
Gum disease has been linked to foetal wellbeing, so it’s not just mum’s health at stake, making oral health a priority for the nine months and beyond. It takes time for the hormones to settle to normal levels after the birth so the extra precautions shouldn’t end in the hospital
Gum disease is the most common cause of teeth loss and is easily prevented by a good dental hygiene routine. Tell tale signs include bleeding gum, but the health consequences are more far reaching than tooth loss. Gum disease has been linked to heart health and Alzheimer’s disease so your pregnancy is a good time to establish the best oral health routine possible. You need to be gentle with those swollen gums, but don’t ignore the warning signs. Here are our top five steps for good oral health for those nine months and beyond:
- If you are planning on becoming pregnant get ‘gum fit’ first, visit your hygienist and make sure your gums are as healthy as possible before conceiving
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss at least once a day is essential for healthy gums
- Avoid snacking in between meals and remember that sweets and sugary drinks will cause tooth decay. Pregnancy can make you crave sugar, particularly in the early months, so if you can’t control your snacking, brush your teeth or chew gum afterwards
- Have regular dental checks and make sure you see a hygienist who can help you prevent gum disease. During your pregnancy you should see your hygienist more frequently, especially if you’re worried about bleeding gums
February 14, 2011
It may have been a wet and windy night but that did nothing to diminish the glamour of this year’s BAFTA Awards. And although some of Hollywood’s most glamorous stars were out in force it was a night for the Brits to shine.
It was smiles all round from man of the moment Colin Firth along with Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter. Heavily pregnant Natalie Portman didn’t make an appearance but no doubt she was thrilled with her award for Leading Actress.
The British contingent weren’t to be left behind their American counterparts in the glamour stakes, and all were showing off perfect teeth. The ‘Smile Makeover’ or ‘Hollywood Smile’ may have started in America but here in the UK more and more people are fixing their crooked teeth, citing confidence as the main reason for the change. Psychologically, smiling is linked to self confidence which in turn is crucial to leading a successful and fulfilling life. Ask any BAFTA winning actor and they’ll agree.
A big grin (as opposed to a fake smile which often hides the teeth) ignites a great mood in you and in others. It’s true that smiling is contagious and it is also reputed to help boost the immune system, relieve stress, release mood enhancing endorphins and make you more attractive to the opposite sex.
Getting a celebrity smile will normally involve having veneers fitted over crocked or chipped teeth, crowns or dental implants to replace worn or missing teeth and whitening to brighten the whole smile. Bear in mind that this kind of treatment isn’t available on the NHS in the UK, so savvy Brits look overseas to places like Hungary for their smile makeover treatment. You can often have the initial consultation in London where the latest technology will show you what you can expect your teeth to look like after the treatment.
Top clinics in Budapest will charge about one third of the UK price, and cheap flights and hotels mean it’s affordable to return for more than one treatment if required. Company’s like Smile Savers Hungary will help you set up all the aspects of the trip and will even organise drivers to take you from the hotel to the clinic and the airport, making the whole trip stress free. They’ve handpicked the best hotels in town and the customer services team are always on hand to help with any questions. In fact the service is so good you’ll probably feel like a pampered movie star!
January 16, 2011
Losing a few pounds tops the New Year resolutions list for a lot people every year and experts agree the best way to change your figure is through sensible eating and an appropriate exercise programme. Yo yo dieting, extreme eating plans and over exercising is just as bad for your health as being overweight and it’s an area where doctors and dentists agree. “A healthy diet is as good for your teeth as it is for your waistline and faddy weight loss plans or diet pills have hidden dangers.” Explains Dr Kaman from the Implant and Aesthetic Center in Budapest.
The dangers of dieting can have long term consequences for oral health, as a variety of vitamins and minerals are important for healthy teeth and gums. Vitamins C, A and D along with calcium, magnesium and phosphorous are all essential for a healthy smile. Dieting, particularly without the advice of your doctor can lead to you making some dangerous changes to the levels of these vital vitamins and minerals.
For example cutting out diary foods which are often mistakenly perceived to be high in fat means teeth and bones could be kept short of calcium. Calcium isn’ just vital for healthy teeth, it also maintains good bone structure, and remember your jaw, the foundation of a healthy smile is made from bone. Vitamins A and D are also good for teeth and gums. These vitamins are fat soluble and can be depleted when people follow fat-free diets. Vitamin D is essential for good calcium absorption whilst vitamin A is an antioxidant that helps prevent decay and maintain healthy gums. Meanwhile Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron and aids the body’s healing process.
Denying the body of vital nutrients isn’t the only diet danger. Diet pills can wreak havoc with your body’s metabolism and doctors list heart problems, allergies and addiction as common side effects. Often once you’ve stopped taking the pills the weight can pile back on, leading the user to even more drastic measures. Dentists are also concerned about diet pills as a common side effect is a dry mouth and lack of saliva. Saliva plays an important role in the mouth’s defence against acid attack and if the saliva flow is modified in any way it leaves teeth vulnerable to decay.
Dentists and doctors agree that the healthiest diet for both maintaining the right weight and caring for your teeth is one that is low in sugar, processed foods and starchy carbs. Increasing the amount of vegetables, whole grains and fresh fruit is key to success. Foods that need to be chewed properly before being swallowed like apples are good for teeth as they encourage saliva flow. Swap sugar laden fizzy drinks or juice for water and snack on carrots with humous, nuts or plain yogurt. Load up on fresh veg which is filling and full of antioxidants and limit sticky foods like dried fruit.
“A general rule to follow is that if foods are close to their natural state then they’ll be good for your weight and your teeth.” States Dr Kaman. By sticking to a healthy diet you’ll see results and that’s the way to make your New Year resolutions a reality this year.
December 17, 2010
Let’s face it, Christmas time is not for feint hearted foodies, for most of us the festive season is a time for overindulgence, particularly of sweet treats and rich puddings. But beware the high sugar content of many Yule tide goodies and constant grazing either of which are good for teeth. Here’s our top ten Christmas dental demons!
- Chocolate advent calendars are a daily temptation that means teeth are under constant bombardment from sugar. The sugar combines with bacteria in the mouth and forms an acid which slowly but surely eats into the enamel which protects our teeth. To minimise damage, eat your advent chocolate straight after a meal and then chew some gum to neutralise the acid.
- Mince pies are full of sticky, sweet fruit and sugar topped pastry – just the thing to get trapped in teeth and prolong the acid attack on your enamel.
- Christmas pudding’s traditionally should have a sixpence hidden inside, so beware if you’re biting down on a mouthful of pud. No one wants to make an emergency trip to the dentist to replace a filling or mend a chipped tooth. Christmas teeth disasters are not limited to the pudding treasure either, slipping on the ice or falling whilst you hang up the lights are common accidents which might leave you singing “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!”
- Fizzy and fruity drinks are the worst culprits for causing plaque and decay, particularly if you are sipping them over a long period of time. Sipping from a straw is reputed to help, but we say the best thing is to avoid these sugary drinks altogether and stick to sugar-free mixers or water.
- Mulled wine and port are traditional Christmas drinks, and whilst they will certainly get the party going they will also stain teeth making you look older and your teeth uncared for. If you’re a fan of red wine keep stains to a minimum by using a non abrasive whitening toothpaste
- Savoury snacks and canapés may seem innocent enough, but remember carbohydrates like pastry and bread bases all turn to sugar and thence to acid once in the mouth. Healthier party foods include vegetable crudités and dips. But ideally, avoid snacking, remember every time you eat your teeth are under attack from plaque forming bacteria.
- Candy Canes on the Christmas tree are another tempting festive treat. Pure sugar, these sweeties are best left on the tree – both your teeth and your hips will thank you for it come January.
- Trifle, like most puds, is laden with sugar. From the jelly layer to sweetened cream and custard to the booze soaked sweet biscuits, Trifle is trouble for teeth!
- Nuts are another favourite tradition and shelling nuts around the fire is the perfect accompaniment to the Christmas day movie. Beware of shards of shell though which can hurt your gums or dislodge fillings. Check over your shelled nut carefully to avoid any nasty surprises
- Bumper boxes of chocolates and toffees are all too tempting and usually there are plenty left once January has arrived. We tend to over buy at Christmas leaving us with too many sweeties to finish up. So the sugar laden days of Christmas go on…. And on…..Avoid the tempting multi-buys in the supermarket and remember to pay extra attention to brushing and flossing over Christmas!
December 10, 2010
Football fans might still be reeling from the disappointment of missing out on hosting the World Cup but for some the whole tournament is a letdown. Football legend Sir Alex Ferguson recently commented: “Have you seen the last six World Cups? It’s like going to the dentist.”
Presumably, Sir Alex isn’t a fan of check-ups, and he’s not alone as one in four Brits feel anxious about visiting the dentist. So we thought we’d dig a little deeper and look at the top reasons cited by dental phobics for avoiding the chair.
“I don’t need to go!”
Many people assume that if their teeth don’t hurt they don’t need to visit the dentist. Wrong! Annual check-ups stop potential issues getting serious and your dentist can check that your brushing and flossing routine is doing the job it needs to. Dentists check to see how older filings are holding up, the health of your gums and if you have any plaque build up. Regular appointments mean that small problems can be dealt with easily before they become more of a health issue.
A regular check up won’t hurt and dentists are trained to be gentle and observant. Of course there is a little poking and prodding to be done, and if you are worried about pain speak to your dentist when you meet him or her and they’ll be sensitive to your fears. The best way to avoid dental pain is to stop problems such as cavities or gum disease forming by…yes, that’s right….regular check-ups!
“It’s too expensive!”
Check-up appointments are available on the NHS, although if you are not registered with a dentist it can be hard to find a clinic with space to take on new patients. If you need more extensive treatments or would like cosmetic treatments it pays to look overseas where you can find excellent dentists charging less money that their UK private counterparts. Check out Hungary, which many consider to be the ‘dental capital’ of Europe.
“I’m too embarrassed!”
If you’ve not been for a while, and you know your teeth could be in trouble you might feel ashamed or embarrassed about going. “There’s no need to feel embarrassed about visiting the dentist, we’re trained to deal with all kinds of scenarios and the chances are we will have seen worse. Never feel ashamed, dentists are not here to judge you, we only want to help give you a healthy smile and help improve your dental health.” States Dr Attila Kaman.
“I’m too busy!”
Being time poor is an excuse over used by most people today whose busy working lives often get in the way of their personal health and happiness. Some of us feel uncomfortable asking for time off for personal appointments and don’t prioritise the dentist. A dental check-up only takes about 20 minutes and if you book in advance you’ll be able to secure an appointment at the beginning or end of the day. It’s worth remembering that heart health and Alzheimer’s have been linked to gum disease, so think of it as investing the time in your overall health, not just your teeth.