The ideal form of dentistry is preventative. Regular visits to the dentist, as advised by your dental team, along with a good home care regime, are recommended to ensure good oral hygiene is maintained. These regular visits can also detect oral health problems long before the onset of symptoms of serious dental problems, which could require costly treatment.
During a check-up, our dentists will examine the whole mouth, including all of the structures inside and outside (e.g. your jaw joint), and will screen for mouth cancer. In some cases a simple cleaning may be carried out. Instruments, tests, clinical expertise and x-rays are used to help detect cavities and other tooth and jaw problems.
After an examination, you and your dentist can discuss the results and plan the best way to deal with any problems.
If a cavity is detected during a check-up, your dentist can provide a dental filling before it develops into a more serious problem. Dental fillings replace part of a tooth that has been lost because of decay, wear or accidental damage.
Your dentist will prepare the tooth for the filling; numbing the area, removing any decay, old fillings or weak areas of the tooth, shaping the hole so that the tooth holds the filling in place, then washing and drying the area by blowing water and air onto it. The filling is then placed into the tooth, and moulded into shape.
There are 2 types of fillings; silver (amalgam) fillings and white fillings. White fillings are more aesthetic as they can be matched in colour to the natural teeth. However they are not always suitable for every situation. Careful discussion with your dentist is vital in order to achieve the best result for your mouth.
Are there any risks from amalgam fillings?
Mercury in dental amalgam is not poisonous. Once it is combined with the other materials in the amalgam filling, its chemical nature changes so that it is harmless. Research into the safety of dental amalgam has been carried out for over 100 years. So far, no reputable controlled studies have found a connection between amalgam fillings and any medical problem.
Why should I consider white fillings?
Most people have fillings of one sort or another in their mouths. Nowadays fillings are not only functional, but can be natural looking as well. Many people don't want silver fillings that show when they laugh or smile because they are more conscious about the way they look.
Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays provide an alternative to fillings, replacing part of a tooth that has been lost because of decay, wear or accidental damage. They are stronger and can last longer than fillings, and are especially suitable for the chewing surfaces on back teeth and large repairs to front teeth.
An inlay sits in a hole in the tooth. An onlay sits on the tooth and builds up its shape. They can be made from tooth coloured porcelain, gold or composite.
The tooth is prepared in the same way as a filling. Once prepared, an impression is taken of the tooth using a soft mouldable material. This is then given to a dental technician to build a bespoke inlay/onlay to the exact size and shape required.
A temporary filling is applied on the tooth, whilst the inlay/onlay is being built. When they are ready, your dentist will glue the inlay/onlay into place and make small adjustments to ensure a comfortable bite is maintained.
There are, on average, over 4,400 new cases of mouth cancer diagnosed in the UK each year. This figure is still increasing. Whilst research has shown that mouth cancers are more common amongst people over 40, particularly men, it is also becoming more common in younger people and women. Anyone can be affected by mouth cancer, whether they have their own teeth or not. Smoking and heavy drinking increase the risks.
Mouth cancer can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks and throat. It can appear as a painless mouth ulcer that does not heal normally. Less often, a white or red patch in the mouth may develop into a cancer. It is important to visit your dentist if these areas do not heal within three weeks.
Mouth cancer can often be spotted in its early stages by your dentist during a thorough mouth examination. If mouth cancer is recognised early, then the chances of a cure are good.
Our dentists check for symptoms of mouth cancer in patients during each examination. They will examine a patients head and neck, looking for abnormalities or swelling, and will look carefully inside all areas of the mouth, including the lips and tongue.
If your dentist feels further examination is necessary, they will refer you to a specialist who will see you promptly to give a second opinion. However, not all suspicious areas turn out to be cancerous.
Do people die from mouth cancer?
Yes. Nearly 1,700 people in the UK die from mouth cancer every year. Many of these deaths could be prevented if the cancer was caught early enough. As it is, people with mouth cancer are more likely to die than those with cervical cancer or melanoma skin cancer.
Can mouth cancer be cured?
If mouth cancer is spotted early, the chances of a complete cure are good. The smaller the area or ulcer the better the chance of a cure. However, too many people come forward too late, because they do not visit their dentist for regular examinations.