Bridges

A bridge is a way of replacing missing teeth without having to wear a denture. A bridge is fixed solidly in your mouth and is cleaned while in position - as opposed to a denture, which is taken out for cleaning.

A simple bridge would mean that a missing tooth is replaced by attaching a new tooth to the teeth on each side, although there are many different ways of designing the bridge, using different teeth to hold it in place.

These teeth would be shaped so that they can support the bridge, and an impression (mould) is needed, to make a model of the exact shape of the teeth and gums. A week or two after the bridge is fitted, it feels and looks just like your natural teeth, with no plate covering the gum. Unlike a denture, a bridge takes up no more space in your mouth than your own teeth.

A bridge can be held in place by the two next-door teeth and made of a metal base which is completely covered by porcelain to match the other teeth exactly.

Another way of making a bridge is to fix it to the outer surface of the next-door teeth by special wings at the back of the teeth where they won't show. These bridges may make it possible to leave more of the supporting teeth untouched, but they are suitable only for use in certain circumstances.

Chrome-Cobalt Dentures

When you have a denture replacing some of your teeth, but fitting around some of your own teeth, this is called a partial denture. In its simplest form this is made out of plastic, with tooth-coloured denture teeth, and pink gum on a base which is either of the same pink gum colour, or of a clear plastic.

Because plastic is not terribly strong, it has to be quite thick to avoid it breaking too easily, and some people find this thickness hard to cope with in their mouth.

Chrome-Cobalt is a special kind of metal which stays shiny and clean, and doesn't corrode or rust. It can be made to a very precise and accurate shape, and it has the perfect combination of strength and a little flexibility, to make it ideal for us to use as the base for dentures. The denture can be made thinner and less bulky, and often much smaller too. This often means that your gum doesn't have to be covered, so there seems to be less denture in your mouth.

Most chrome-cobalt dentures have specially shaped arms called clasps which hold the denture and the remaining teeth without damaging them, which makes the denture tighter and more secure. Each denture is care¬fully designed for a specific patient so they are all very different.

The strength of chrome-cobalt makes it ideal for patients who tend to break or crack plastic dentures.

Fissure Sealants

Quite often the molar teeth (the large ones at the back of the mouth) have very deep grooves in the biting surface. The plaque that causes tooth decay gets trapped in these deep fissures (grooves), and this is where decay can first start.

Fissure sealant is a special plastic coating, which is painted into the grooves when the tooth first comes through. Once they are sealed, there is nowhere for the plaque to get caught.

Fissure sealing is a simple and painless procedure, needing no injections, or drilling. The teeth are first cleaned and dried, then painted with the sealant. This is then set hard by shining a special blue light onto the surface of the tooth.

Once the sealant is set, there are no more deep fissures (grooves) for plaque to get caught in, the tooth is perfectly smooth and easy to clean.

Your dentist will recommend which of your child's teeth would benefit from fissure sealants. This depends upon the shape of the teeth, and the surface pattern of grooves, as well as other things which your dentist bears in mind.

Mouthguards

Many hundreds of teeth are chipped, fractured or lost each year as a result of sports injuries. If you or your family plays any kind of contact sport, every game is a risk of damaging your teeth.

A mouthguard (or gumshield) will only protect your teeth if it fits really closely and if it has the correct thickness and design for your particular mouth and for the kind of sport you play. A loose-fitting gumshield can cause more damage than not wearing one at all, in fact it can be extremely dangerous if it could slip back towards your throat. To be really effective, a mouthguard must sit tightly and securely around your teeth and fit very accurately over your teeth and gums.

A do-it-yourself mouthguard rarely, if ever, fits accurately enough to offer you the kind of protection and security you need. It's worth having one made properly by your dentist, who takes an impression (mould) of your mouth to make sure that the mouthguard fits precisely to the exact shape of your teeth and gums. It is made of a soft vinyl (plastic) material, using special vacuum equipment to get the closest possible fit. They are available in a wide range of different colours.

Other leisure activities can be just as dangerous for your teeth. Most skateboarders or roller-skaters are sensible enough to wear elbow and knee protectors, but few spare a thought for their teeth.

Your teeth are precious - don't put them at risk.

Tooth-Coloured Fillings (White Fillings)

For many years now, the traditional silver filling (amalgam) has been the material used for all teeth except the front ones. While silver amalgam fillings are strong and long-lasting, they don't look good as they tarnish and darken with age, changing the colour of the whole tooth.

Although popularly known as white fillings, tooth-coloured filling are actually matched very closely to the natural colour of your own tooth. Modern tooth coloured fillings can be used for back teeth as well as front ones, and even heavily filled teeth can be transformed at one visit. They can be made out of composite resin materials, or alternatively ceramics. These can give excellent results and be virtually indistinguishable from a natural tooth, as well as being very hard wearing and long lasting.

You can eat on these fillings straight away because they 'set' completely before you leave us and they are mercury-free unlike the traditional amalgam fillings.

Tooth-coloured fillings are bonded to your natural tooth using special bonding agents. This means that often there is less drilling than with amalgam fillings and in some cases, for instance if you chip a tooth, you may not need to have any drilling at all.

Obviously there many things to consider when choosing the best material for any individual situation - your bite and the size of the filling are just two things that would affect the choice.

Veneers

There are many situations where your dentist is faced with front teeth which are spaced, chipped, discoloured, or badly shaped. In the past, the choice was between a fairly short-term solution, building the teeth up using filling materials, or to crown the teeth. This was more permanent, but needed more of the tooth to be removed.

Spaced teeth can be corrected with veneers, eliminating the spaces and producing a natural cosmetic result with the minimum of treatment in just a few weeks. Veneers are usually made of Porcelain. The teeth need very little preparation and it is often possible to do this without the need for an injection. A veneer can often be the perfect solution for a chipped front tooth.

Veneers are not suitable for every situation, but if you are unhappy with any aspect of your front teeth or your smile, ask us if veneers could help you.

The veneer is fixed to the tooth using a very strong tooth-coloured adhesive to ensure a perfect colour match, and the tooth can then be used straight away, just like any other tooth.

Teeth that have a damaged surface, or which are badly shaped, can often be masked in just the same way.

What You Can Do

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. The best times are before breakfast and last thing an night before you go to bed. It is best not to brush your teeth until at least 1 hour after eating, as eating and drinking temporally weakens the enamel on your teeth. It is especially important to brush your teeth before bed as the flow of saliva (the mouths own cleaning system) slows down at night, leaving the mouth more at risk of decay.
  • Use accessories such as floss/tape or interdental brushes as advised. These can help to remove deposits and food particles from between the teeth where the toothbrush may not reach.
  • Cut down on how often you have sugary snacks and drinks. Every time you eat or drink something sugary, your teeth are being attacked by acids for up to an hour. The sugar reacts with the bacteria in the plaque to produce harmful acids. It is important to keep sugary foods to mealtimes only to reduce the amount of time your mouth is at risk. Acidic foods and drinks can also be harmful, eroding the enamel and exposing the underlying dentine. This can make teeth sensitive and unsightly.
  • Avoid tobacco. Smoking or chewing tobacco can lead to tooth staining, gum disease, tooth loss and in more severe cases oral cancer. Smokers and tobacco chewers are more likely to produce bacterial plaque which leads to gum disease, the infected gums fail to heal due to lack of oxygen in the blood stream caused by smoking/tobacco use.
  • Regular visits to the dentist.