Now, with life beginning to return to normal, leading cosmetic dentist Dr Hanna Kinsella emphasises the importance of booking in for your check up and explains how much the inside of your mouth can reveal about you!
Dr Hanna Kinsella says: ‘It’s wrong to assume that visiting a dentist is something you only do when you’ve got a toothache, however maintaining regular check-ups with your dentist is vital. Your dentist can tell a lot more about your health, and good and bad habits, than just the state of your teeth. A dental examination can reveal problems with bones, heart, digestion and help to identify health problems early in order to get treatment quickly.’
So what does your mouth REALLY reveal about you?
‘This is usually a telltale sign of drinking too much tea, coffee or red wine,’ explains Dr Kinsella. ‘This and smoking are the main things that result in stained and discoloured teeth. It tells me that the person needs to look at what they’re drinking and possibly make changes. Staining and discolouration can be treated with in-clinic or at-home teeth whitening treatments such as Icybear Dental or, in very severe cases, composite bonding or veneers can be used to cover up badly stained teeth.’
‘Chipped teeth can be a sign of a tooth cavity that has weakened the tooth,’ suggest Dr Kinsella. ‘Alternatively it can indicate that the patient is grinding their teeth and causing damage to them. Teeth grinding, or Bruxism, is something that is often brought about by stress and can happen during the night without a person even realising.’
‘There are concerns that there will be an increase in tooth decay post lockdown,’ explains Dr Kinsella. ‘Tooth decay is usually an indication that the patient is consuming too many sugary snacks and alcohol as this is what usually damages the tooth enamel and results in decay. Fluoride treatments help to repair the teeth in the first stage of decay, when the damage is only produced in the enamel of the tooth. This treatment only takes a few minutes. If the decay has penetrated deeper, then a filling may be required, or in severe cases a root canal filling or tooth extraction.’
Bad breath and bleeding
‘Bad breath and bleeding gums are classic signs of gum disease,’ explains Dr Kinsella. ‘Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth and is usually indicative of poor diet and lifestyle choices as well as not enough brushing. It is a very common condition where gums become swollen and sore. Most adults in the UK have a certain degree of gum disease which in the early stage is called gingivitis. If it’s not treated it can develop into periodontitis which affects the tissues that support teeth. And if that isn’t treated, your jaw may be damaged and spaces can appear between the gums and teeth causing the teeth to fall out.’
‘Mouth ulcers can be a sign of a whole range of issues, from a Vitamin B12 or iron deficiency, to hormonal changes such as in pregnancy, to stopping smoking, to stress, to a food intolerance or allergy, to biting the inside of your cheek,’ explains Dr Kinsella. ‘For this reason if you have a mouth ulcer that lasts longer than three weeks you should always see your GP or dentist in order to establish what’s causing it. In rare cases it can be a sign of something more sinister such as mouth cancer.’
Difficulty opening your mouth wide
‘This can be an indication that your wisdom teeth are coming through,’ suggests Dr Kinsella. ‘The wisdom teeth grow at the back of your gums and are the last teeth to come through. For most people they grow in their late teens or early twenties but for others it can be later. Most people have four. Wisdom teeth can sometimes emerge at an angle or get stuck due to lack of space . They don’t usually need to be removed unless they’re causing pain however sometimes if they are only partially submerged or impacted they can cause a build-up of bacteria which can lead to other complications so by missing routine appointments these issues may not have been picked up upon. Wisdom teeth removal is one of the most common surgical procedures carried out in the UK so there will inevitably be a backlog of this now.
‘Regular dentist appointments are vital for everyone to maintain good oral health and to look out for a whole range of oral problems from tooth decay to gum disease, right through to oral cancer,’ says Dr Kinsella. ‘So the fact that so many people have missed routine appointments will have a serious knock-on effect to the nation’s oral health.’