Run your tongue over your teeth. How do they feel? Lovely and smooth like a mirror? Or a bit ridged and furry? If it’s been a while since you last had a hygienist clean and polish, it’s more likely to the latter.
Those ridges are not your teeth, they are a build-up of plaque and it’s likely that some of it has hardened into tartar, a chalky cement-like substance that can only be scraped away with special tools. If you look in the mirror, you might be able to see it on your teeth as yellowish stuff. It is mostly likely to be in the crevices between the teeth and also around the gumline. If you are a big tea or coffee drinker, or partial to red wine or smoking, the tartar could be stained brown or grey. Look at the tartar on other people’s teeth. Ew.
Get your plaque removed
At Amsel & Wilkins, we recommend a twice-yearly plaque removal session, called a hygienist clean and polish, to get rid of harmful plaque and bring out the beauty of your smile.
The reason we encourage people to get plaque removed is because it gives off acids that corrode the teeth, irritate and inflame the gums, cause bleeding and eventually can attack the tooth roots and bone, cause infections under the gum and lead to tooth loss.
That’s a pretty grim prospect. It’s called periodontitis, or advanced gum disease. The treatment for it can be pretty intense, requiring a local anaesthetic while the corroded roots and bone are planed flat. You may also need antibiotics for infected gums and you may even need gum grafts.
You can avoid all that by coming in twice a year to see our hygienists. Even if you have not been to us for a while, don’t be afraid to show them what’s in your mouth. They will remove any plaque and tartar before polishing up your teeth to create a shiny surface that plaque will find it hard to stick to for a while. They will also teach you great brushing techniques so that you can ward off the build-up of plaque at home.
As far as fashion statements go, silver fillings sound far more decorative than they actually are. For a start, they’re more a dark, shiny grey than silver, and they’re not made of silver, but of a mixture of materials called amalgam. Amalgam was the go-to method for filling cavities in the 20th century, but it has been slowly overtaken by white fillings.
When white fillings first came in about 30 years ago, they looked great but they weren’t very strong. People often had to get them replaced quite soon after placement, especially if they were on the back teeth where all that chewing takes place.
Over the years, however, researchers have come up with much more durable composite materials (a mixture of plastic and glass) to create white fillings that are in every way superior to amalgam. Here’s why:
White fillings are now stronger than amalgam, which also cracks and needs to be replaced about every decade.
Bonding not packing
Amalgam is a soft material that dentists pack tightly into cavities. It cannot bond with the teeth, so there is always an infinitesimal gap around the edge and, over time, it can provide an entry for decay-causing bacteria to sneak in and start eating away at healthy tooth material under the filling. Composite resin fillings are put in in layers and each layer is cured with a UV light, which bonds it to the inside of the tooth. There is no gap for bacteria to sneak in through.
A better chewing surface
Amalgam is soft and can only produce a flat surface. If you have amalgam fillings on your back teeth, you lose your chewing surface, making it that tiny bit harder to mash up your food for swallowing. White fillings are much harder and once they are in place, your dentist here at Amsel & Wilkins in Banbury can sculpt it to give you back your chewing surfaces.
Throw back your head and laugh for all you’re worth. White fillings won’t give your dental history away like amalgam does. White fillings are also great for cavities on the front teeth.