What’s in a dental checkup?

I was reminded this week of the what a brilliant tool the humble dental checkup is…(assuming it is carried out with some thoroughness and enthusiasm)..
Often I think patients wonder why we do it?
dental hygiene appointments

And listening to the dentist counting teeth with the nurse repeating the numbers and tapping away on a keyboard, it must feel like a bit of waste of time for some….and it would be if all we did was look.

(Guess what – if all we do is look, it only takes 3 minutes….and in my opinion we may as well just take a photograph and send the patient home).

Looking for change

But the value of a decent dental check up is often about looking back and – probably more importantly – looking forwards. A good dentist will look in the mouth and compare the current situation to the last check up – looking for change. Change can be good (eg less plaque, better brushing, flossing etc) or change can be bad (fillings wearing out, crowns cracking etc). Often though the real value is in crystal gazing.

We all wish we could predict the future – well in dentistry it’s actually not that hard. Careful examination and an up to date dental examination history will give strong clues as to how long our teeth and our dentistry will last.

The positives for the patient are that

  • they can focus their resources on dealing with issues that need immediate attention (ensuring they stay out of pain and continue to be able to eat a normal diet and smile at people)
  • they can plan ahead for problems ‘on the horizon’ ie 6, 12, 24 months and even 5 or 10 years ahead.

A good dentist can give you realistic predictions about the longevity of your teeth and dentistry for years ahead.

Long range forecasting ultimately brings peace of mind.

So what?

Well I think in the end it’s all about being mentally prepared. When issues have been predicted well in advance and then happen, people feel ok with it. It’s not a shock, some patients may even have been quietly building their rainy day fund in expectation…

Knowing is better, and less expensive, than not knowing. And that’s why we developed our dental plan

So even the worst problems have been dealt with in advance and managed correctly it is that preparedness which brings peace of mind.

 

Dentistry is about connecting with people

A wise old dentist once told me ‘dentistry is 85% communication and 15% manual dexterity’ (I’d like to think some of that 15% includes a level of artistry as well!)

What my dad meant was that without a high level of communication – in his opinion – good dentistry can’t happen.

What do we mean

  • make the patient feel at home – on the first visit!
  • explain all the options and their pros and cons
  • talk about fear and pain upfront and how to minimise both
  • be honest about the fees
  • take time to explain all the issues that can and do occur for a given treatment
  • discuss honestly how long the treatment will last and the necessary maintenance

The more we know about a new situation, the less frightened we are by our ‘imagining’ about what may occur. If the patient feels able to approach the dentist and the team at any time with any concern, or question, no matter what it is,  then it often happens that 90% of the previous nervousness, phobia or plain fear disappears.

Communicating gets the right results

With the right level of understanding, there need be no second thoughts or surprises, and we are given the proper permission to carry through with our high level dentistry. Building a level of confidence that the results will always match the expectations agreed between dentist and patient, means that patients feel right about things the whole way through

  • they know the dentistry looks good and will last
  • they are happy and comfortable and devoid of fear
  • they get to know how passionate we are about our work!

In the end. It’s all about connecting with people for me too. And that’s what gets me to work every day. That’s what inspires me.

That’s why I do it.

How do you find a busy dentist?

We have just posted a description of the kind (of) dentist that we are seeking to join us at the Winning Smiles dental practice.

The dentist vacancy has been created by a steady increase in patient numbers over the last couple of years. And the only way we can continue being able to serve more people whilst still giving patients the time they deserve, is to find some help. We’re nothing if not logical around here.

So if anyone reading this knows someone special in the field of dentistry, if you would be kind enough to point this job out to them, then we would be very grateful. We feel we should ask because we know that special people are always busy and aren’t always looking for a new role at exactly the time the perfect opportunity comes up!

We’ll update you on our search when we have some news.

The Winning Smiles Team.

The top three reasons why I like Damon System braces, by Almarie Odendaal

Almarie Odendaal is the new orthodontist at Winning Smiles and is an expert in fitting braces using the new Damon System.

Almarie Odendaal, new Winning Smiles Orthodontist

Almarie Odendaal, new Winning Smiles Orthodontist

Here are the top three reasons why Almarie thinks Damon braces are a great treatment to choose if you need a full brace:

1. Damon braces typically provide excellent results in a shorter treatment time than conventional braces, and patients have to make less appointments.

2. Using the Damon System means that it’s very rare that a patient will need to have any teeth extracted, and they won’t have to wear any headgear during treatment.

3. Patients are a lot more comfortable during treatment.

Damon braces use a new passive slide mechanism to maintain the shape of the archwires within the bracket.
This allows the wires to move freely and reduces friction and binding, so your teeth can move quickly and comfortably. Other types of braces use elastic ties or active clips that bind archwires in place, this results in friction, making treatment slower and less comfortable. Elastics ties also attract a lot of plaque and so Damon System braces are also a lot easier to keep clean.

Almarie Odendaal, joined our team in June. Almarie qualified as a dentist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1993. She is a member of the British Orthodontic Society, the Faculty of General Dental Practice and the British Dental Association.

You can book a consultation with her by dropping us a note via the form on the web site, or call us on 08000 90 10 60.  Consultations are currently FREE!

Why quality dentistry will save you in the long run

Can you spot the grotty ‘white’ filling in the middle of the picture? Believe it or not this filling was not done at the turn of the century but completed a couple of years ago!

bad-filling

If you look at the tooth to the left of the one with the grotty ‘white’ filling you may be surprised to know that 15 mins previous to this photo it looked exactly like the grotty one. We are replacing this chap’s ugly white fillings with nice shiny new ones that look their age (ie well into the 21st century)…

People often ask if we enjoy dentistry. But who wouldn’t like being able to take out that grotty old filling and replace it with a nice shiny new one. We can get this invisible effect using our beautiful italian white filling materials, and a little bit of technique to go with it!!

Ok here’s the rub:

Grotty white filling in the middle of the picture
Estimated cost £20
Estimated time involved 5 mins
No guarantees
Replace every 2 years?

Shiny new Italian composite filling on the left
Time involved 15 mins
Cost £70
Cost of filling material: at least double that of the cheap stuff
5 year guarantee.

Quality dentistry costs less over time and makes you feel good.

Perfect smile not required

Someone came to the surgery the other day, and this happens a fair bit, they apologised for their teeth.

It reminded me that I should put ‘something on the website’ about this, as we’re really not here to judge anyone and people should not feel the need to be embarrassed (even if it is human nature).

You see, its only when people really need us that we get to make the most difference.

And if its not too selfish of us, we’d be delighted to see you.

Dental Patients being charged twice?

Time to read exactly 2mins and 16 seconds

I heard on the radio today, (BBC dentist article) that ‘some NHS dentists’ are playing the system and charging patients twice for the same treatment.

It is a highly emotional subject for many, and it pains me that the some parts of our media take advantage and sensationalise aspects of this very difficult subject. A number of news reports have even neglected to point out that this situation is only relevant if you are an NHS patient.

This particular version originated with the Tory party, so I can only assume there are political points to be scored with the release of this latest ‘report’…

I do feel the need to stick up for the vast majority of dentists, because I know many who still work within the NHS system, and without exception they are honest hard working professionals providing the best service they can, within, what has to be said is a very narrow framework afforded by their NHS contracts (managed by the local Primary Care Trusts).

I know those of you who know me will have heard this before, but I think that the problems of providing government regulated (tax funded) ‘dentistry for all’ are once again shown up in sharp relief.

The main points as I see them are threefold

  1. Dentistry is now not only about stemming pain, it is about the long term benefits of the work carried out. In our opinion, it is better to spend more time and money on something that lasts longer. There is a whole other conversation about how the work looks (aesthetic or cosmetic) and self esteem, but in this context we should also see it from the society’s point of view (government).
  2. Where does the line get drawn between stemming pain, and providing long lasting quality work? The vast majority of us pay taxes. How much should we spend on medical ‘non-essentials’ that don’t save lives – of which dentistry is one.
  3. The above issues mean that the government is forced to ‘ring-fence’ nhs dentistry to prevent dental costs spiralling out of control at the expense of those essential bits of medicine which save lives….

‘Ring-fencing’
in this instance means capping fees (forcing dentists to use cheap materials and work faster than they should) and limiting what treatments can be used and when (ie only ‘low cost’ treatments approved). The results are disgruntled dentists, disgruntled patients and a subject which recurs every time the media has a ‘slow news’ day!

Now I’m just waiting for the obvious response to this email which is, ‘Fine, you think you can do any better?

What’s your solution, Einstein!?’

A subject for another day 😉 (soon)

Why we don’t take teeth out unless we have to (orthodontics)

Crooked teeth need space!

If you were lucky enough to grow up with a perfect set of straight teeth it means that they had just the right amount of space in your mouth, right from the start. We’re not all so fortunate these days though.

Our ancestors usually had bigger mouths than we have, and so crooked teeth were much less common than they are today, perhaps we’ll debate ‘why that is’ another time.

For the moment, lets keep it simple and look at 3 ways of getting more space for those teeth.

  • Take some teeth out, the traditional way for the past 80 years or so. Not so very long ago in the UK it was the norm, probably 80 to 85% of the time. In very crowded mouths it’s still necessary. BUT, If there is less crowding, then taking teeth out could give you too much space, which then causes its own problems, see below. Most people hate the idea in any case, especially for their children. So do we.
  • Widen the jaws. Used to be popular 80 plus years ago but fell completely out of favour. Now, with the swing of the orthodontic pendulum, its slowly coming back and we now use it frequently. Narrow jaws are very common and the method can work well for them – the extra width also looks attractive, reducing those dark corners of the mouth when you smile.
  • Make some teeth slimmer. “Slenderising” by filing between selected teeth. In mild to moderate crowding, especially when combined with jaw widening, it’s a very useful technique and really does make non-extraction a reality for many more people.

Remember, there is no going back if you extract teeth when you don’t need to.

Too much space could mean that

  • The arch can become smaller and too narrow, for a less attractive appearance.
  • Loss of lip support
  • Exacerbation of jaw joint/muscle problems.
  • Excess space can be difficult to keep closed and can tend to open up again, which is obviously going to affect the appearance.

The point of this isn’t to worry anyone, but we try to make sure people have all the information they need to make decisions during our consultations, and we believe extractions should be a last resort instead of routine.

Hopefully posting information in a forum like this is useful for our prospective patients! Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Saturday Emergency Dental clinic launches

The real 4th Emergency Service?

This Saturday June 5th sees the inaugural opening of our Saturday emergency dental clinic. And we’re excited about the idea.

For a while now I have been wondering what a private dental emergency service would look like and maybe more importantly who would run it? After all if no dental professionals in Essex are willing to work weekends then the whole idea is a loser…

To my surprise the answer found me….I was discussing with Linda (one of our senior nurses at winning smiles) how I had this great idea to provide a quality dental emergency service at weekends but doubted that I would find anyone to work with us on it, and she said “I would prefer Saturdays to Fridays, and what’s more I know dental people just like me!”

So it was born.

May I introduce you to the Winning Smiles crack emergency dental team:

Dr Damien Reilly BDS

Damien is a dentist with a very special interest: he is also a trained sedationist and has a wealth of experience working with nervous patients, providing high quality, painless dentistry. He teaches both at the London Hospital and at Guys. Perhaps of equal importance is his chairside manner – calm, considerate and professional -he always puts his patients at ease. Don’t take my word for it, ask the nurses!

Linda Girling

Linda has been a dental-nurse for more years than she cares to remember. She is specially trained in Orthodontic nursing and has worked much of her life in Hospital dentistry providing Emergency and Special care. Linda and Damien have worked together for a while now and their approach to patient communication comes from the same place: empathy, enthusiasm and expertise.

Wendy Bartlett

Wendy is the Emergency Dental Team Appointment Coordinator. Her role is to ensure that the whole operation runs smoothly. Wendy knows all about this because she has managed a busy NHS emergency clinic for years. Wendy is efficient and experienced but above all approachable. She is the lady on the end of the phone when patients call in and ensures that they get the appointment and care that they need.

How it works

Winning Smiles support local artists

One thing about dentistry, it is one of the few jobs that merges a theoretical scientific background with an artistic eye

I enjoy the art world and get out to galleries and shows when time permits! Many of you will be familiar with our ‘pondering man’ sculpture: that handsome young man, stripped to the waist who welcomes allcomers through the front door!

We always wanted to help local Essex and London based artists and show their art at the surgery, and we have finally got off the ground with it!

Our first art on show is by a young man called George Winks, now living in London but originally from South Africa. You can get a flavour for his art linked here on his website but look out for his paintings next time you come to the practice.

All the art you see from George, and future artists, at Winning Smiles can be taken home, for a fee, whilst 100% of payments for paintings will be passed onto the artist!