Take a good look at your fillings

Have you ever had a good look at your fillings? Next time you come in for a check-up and the dentist turns on the camera, ask for a close up of your fillings. Can you see how with amalgam, you have a flat, grey area? Your tooth has not only lost its colour, it has also lost its shape.

Amalgam Fillings in BelfastIf you have lots of fillings, not having those mounds and valleys means that you have lost a little of bit of your ability to grind up your food. So, not only do your teeth bear the scars of past decay, they don’t work so well either.

Getting amalgam fillings replaced with white composite resin fillings is easy at Sandown Dental & Implant Clinic in Belfast. We can replace them all in a series of appointments, or you can have them replaced one by one as the amalgam filings wear out.

White fillings are different in a number of ways from amalgam. Both start off as paste that we pack into the cavity. However, with white fillings, we pack the cavity in layers and each layer is hardened with a UV light before we put in the next.

Because we can harden the composite resin, which is resin with glass or ceramic in it, we can also shape it to give you back your chewing surfaces. Amalgam can’t be shaped.

Also, white fillings can be bonded to the tooth, which means that decay-causing bacteria can’t get in round the edges of the filling and decay the tooth material beneath it. Amalgam can be tightly packed into the cavity, but it doesn’t bond to the tooth. Look at an old amalgam filling and you can see the ring round the edge of it where there’s a tiny gap.

If you are worried about the toxic effects of mercury getting into your system when we remove amalgam fillings, please don’t be. We isolate the tooth with a piece of flat rubber, called rubber dam,  around it, to catch any pieces of mercury and stop you swallowing or inhaling them.

If you’d like to know more, please call us, or ask about white fillings at your next check-up.

Close up on amalgam fillings

Have you ever taken a really good long look at your amalgam fillings? If you do, you will notice that they lie flat within your teeth and that you can see a dark ring around the edge of them.

Ask yourself what this means. The fact that amalgam lies flat means that you have lost some of your chewing surface and that it is that bit harder to grind up your food.

Teeth Whitening in BelfastThe dark ring means that there is a tiny, tiny gap between the filling and the tooth it is meant to be protecting against decay.

Amalgam fillings are a cheaper option than white fillings. Here at Sandown Dental & Implant Clinic in Belfast, white fillings cost around £30 more, so it’s tempting to get your teeth filled with this silver glinty material, but do they do such a great job? Let’s break it down.

Here are a few reasons to upgrade to white fillings next time you need to either have a new filling or get an old one replaced:

Chewing surfaces

White fillings are made of a mixture of plastic and glass, known as composite resin. With the aid of a UV light, we cure it and then, once it has gone hard, we can shape it. This means that when we have packed your cavity, we can recreate the chewing surfaces of your teeth. It not only looks more realistic, it gives you back all your chewing capability too.


White fillings bond to the edge of the cavity. There is no gap around the edge that can pull away over time and let decay-causing bacteria in underneath.

More tooth for your money

This is a big plus. We don’t have to remove as much healthy tooth material when we fit white fillings as we do with amalgam. This means your tooth has stronger walls around the cavity and will stand up better to the powerful forces created by chewing and biting.


White fillings are stronger than ever today, so your fillings are more resilient.

Do ask for more information next time you come in and visit us.

Six months to a straighter smile

What are you doing for the next 6 months? Got any plans? How about using the time to finally get your teeth straightened?

You thought you’d have to set aside at least a year for such an undertaking? Not necessarily. In fact, if you are an adult, chances are the teeth you think are so terribly out of alignment are what we dentists would class as mild to moderate misalignments. And chances are also that these teeth are among the 6-8 teeth at the front of your mouth. These are the ones that we call the ‘social 6’, which means they are the teeth that people get to see the most of in social interactions.

Six Month Smiles in BelfastThe good news about these teeth is that they are the biting teeth and, as such, they only have one root. The teeth at the sides and back of your mouth, the ones you use for chewing, have 3 roots each. They need a lot more force to get them to shift in your jaw than the one-rooted social six at the front.

Because these teeth only have one root, they don’t need so much force as the old-fashioned metal braces have to move them. Instead, Six Month Smiles braces at Sandown Dental & Implant Clinic in Belfast use gentle forces and this means the brackets can be smaller and the wires finer. These smaller braces also blend in more with your teeth. The brackets are made of clear ceramic and the fine wires are tooth-coloured.

As with all bracket and wire braces, you will have to be very diligent about cleaning around the braces after every meal, using floss to clean behind the brackets to make sure you have removed every trace of food.

But your straightening could be complete by the autumn, or maybe winter, and then all you have to do is wear a retainer until your teeth have settled into their new positions.

Come in and find out more we offer a free consultation and there’s no obligation to proceed.

Ambitions for the next few months?

Don’t you hate it when someone asks you what your goals are for the next few months? When they do, do you think about your career? Buying a new car? Maybe doing up the house?

Well, you know what you can get done by the end of the year, no trouble? You could get your teeth straightened.

Six Month Smiles in BelfastYes, it is entirely possible to get some mild to moderate misalignment issues corrected within a year, especially if you come to us at Sandown Dental & Implant Clinic in Belfast for Six Month Smiles.

What is Six Month Smiles?

This is a way of getting your teeth realigned that doesn’t take very much time at all. Six Month Smiles is a brace system that has been designed for people who have mild to moderate alignment issues on their front 6-8 teeth.

These teeth are known as the ‘social six’ because they are the ones that are most on view when we talk and smile. If they are wonky, everyone will know about it.

The good news is that they are also the teeth that are the easiest to move. This is because these teeth, which are the biting teeth rather than the chewing teeth, only have one root each. The chewing teeth at the sides and back of the mouth have 3 roots and require more force to shift them.

The front teeth, however, can be moved with much gentler forces, which means that the braces can be smaller.

Six Month Smiles have smaller brackets that are made of transparent ceramic to blend in with the teeth. They also only have one wire, which is finer and tooth-coloured. Aesthetically, Six Months Smiles are a lot more pleasing than traditional metal braces.

Six Month Smiles braces take 4-9 months to do their work, so you can easily get treatment done and dusted by the end of 2019. You will need to wear a retainer for a certain amount of time afterwards. This holds the teeth in place while your newly made bone and the fibres in your tooth sockets settle down around your newly placed teeth.

For that Hollywood smile

Ever wondered why it’s called a Hollywood smile? Well, it’s because veneers were invented by a dentist in Hollywood so that actors could change their appearance for each character.

The original veneers, which were invented in the 1920s, weren’t very good. They didn’t stay in for very long; a few minutes for a scene and out they’d come. But the idea of being able to change how your teeth looked by covering them over was born.

Veneers in BelfastIt wasn’t until the 1950s, and the advent of great dental cements, that veneers as a dental treatment, really took off…in Hollywood. Getting veneers was expensive and so only the famous and the very rich could afford them. Over the decades, veneers have become much thinner and now they are almost wafer-like, albeit very robust.

Veneers are also much more available, although fitting them takes skill. They’ve got to look like they belong to you, after all. That means being able to do a colour match and work out the shape and size the veneers need to be to improve your look whilst still looking like these are the teeth you were born with.

People use veneers to cover over imperfections such as chips and cracks, worn edges, bad staining that whiteners won’t remove, and to make small teeth seem larger, and to make slightly twisted teeth seem straight.

Getting veneers only takes a couple of appointments. During the first appointment with us at Sandown Dental & Implant Clinic in Belfast, we take impressions of your teeth as they are now, and use these to make your veneers. We also do a colour match to make sure that the veneers will blend in with the current colour of your teeth. All that information goes off to a very good laboratory where your veneers are made.

In the next appointment, we prepare your teeth by removing a very thin layer of enamel. This gives a rough surface for the dental adhesive to bond to. It also gives space so that the veneers will lie flush with your adjacent teeth.

We fit your veneers and you are good to go. It’s that simple.

Get happy with your teeth

If you aren’t happy with your smile, you know it’s easy to do something about it. Cosmetic dentistry doesn’t have to be a palaver of braces for months on end. You can make dramatic difference by just altering the look of one or two teeth.

Veneers in BelfastHere at Sandown Dental & Implant Clinic in Belfast, we see time and again how just one or two veneers can hugely improve someone’s smile. And it only takes 2 appointments to do so.

What are veneers?

Veneers are tiny sheaths made of dental porcelain that can come in many shades of ‘tooth’. They are fixed onto the fronts of teeth to change how they look. Veneers are robust and can last for 10 years or more if they are well looked after.

What imperfections can veneers change?

Veneers are dentistry’s great disguisers. Here at Sandown Dental, we use them to cover over a wide variety of problems. If you have damaged a tooth in an accident, so that it is cracked or chipped, veneers can help.

If your teeth are too small with gaps between them, we can fit veneers to make your teeth look larger and closer fitting. If you have staining that whitening cannot remove, veneers can give you new colour. If your teeth are slightly out of alignment, perhaps your 2 front lower teeth are slightly back, veneers can make them appear aligned.

The possibilities are almost endless.

A word about whitening and veneers

If you are thinking that you might one day want to get your teeth whitened, it is important to do so before you have veneers fitted. Unlike tooth enamel, dental porcelain does not respond to whitening gel. So, get your teeth whitened and then have the veneers matched to your new lighter teeth.

Caring for your veneers

Veneers don’t take any special care. You can brush and floss as normal, but please be careful not to do anything crazy, like open bottles with them; they could break.

If you would like to find out more about veneers, come in for a consultation. We can discuss options with you and explain the treatment process in more detail.

Scared of dental implants? There’s no need to be

Even though modern dentistry has leapt forward in terms of techniques, treatments and pain management, certain treatments still have an undeservedly fearsome reputation.

Take dental implants, for example. People get put off having them because they think they won’t be able to go through with the implant surgery.

Dental Implants in BelfastAnd yet, if you need to get your teeth replaced, this is the only treatment that will give you back the full functionality of your mouth, and keep your jaw in good condition, all without compromising any of your remaining natural teeth.

It’s the pain

We know. We’ve heard the stories of the terrible pain, but really there isn’t much, if any at all. Yes, we do have to carefully create new sockets in your jawbone. However, there really is no need for anything more than a local anaesthetic because there aren’t as many nerves in the jawbone as there are in the teeth. Fewer nerves means much less pain. And a local anaesthetic is ample to numb it.

What about the fear?

We know we can reassure you as much as we like, but we can’t always take away your anxiety, especially if you are one of the 13% of the population who have a dental phobia. This is a very real, full-scale fear, sweats and all. People with dental phobia sometimes can’t get in themselves into Sandown Dental in Belfast for a check-up, let alone dental implants.

That’s why we have dentists specifically trained to help anxious patients relax, and also why we are very happy to offer you either oral or intravenous sedation. This will help you to relax so deeply that, especially with intravenous sedation, you may even sleep your way through the entire procedure.

And when it’s over the effects will soon wear off and although your mouth will be somewhat sore for the next few days, over-the-counter painkillers will be enough to dull the pain.

As your gums and bone heal around the implants, the pain will disappear and, before too long, you will be able to enjoy foods that you may not have been able to eat for years.

Find out if you can have dental implants

Dental implants are the only way you can have replacement teeth that work as well as your natural teeth. They give you back the ability to eat whatever you want because they are replace the roots of your teeth as well as the crowns. When you have dental implants, you can eat whatever you like, and you never have to worry about your replacement teeth going all wobbly and slidey on you just when you need them to behave.

Dental Implants in BelfastSecured into your jawbone

Dental implants get their amazing stability by being anchored firmly into your jawbone. These little root replacements are made of titanium, a metal that the body accepts as one of its own, growing new bone tissue and blood vessels over it to fuse with it. Once this process known as osseointegration is complete, your dental implants will happily allow you to chew through steaks, nuts, roast potatoes, and even bite into crunchy apples.

What you need to have

The main prerequisite for having dental implants with Sandown Dental in Belfast is a jawbone that is strong and dense enough to take them. However, if you have been without teeth for a long time, are a smoker, or have diabetes, your jawbone may no longer be in such good shape.

Before any dentist can draw up a treatment plan, they need to find out what shape your jawbone is in.

A free jawbone check

Lots of dentists charge for having x-rays to check on the condition of the jawbone, but here at Sandown Dental, we don’t. You can come in and see our implant surgeon Dr Patrick Rea, find out all about dental implants and have x-rays to see how your strong your jawbone is, and it won’t cost you a penny.

If your jawbone is in good shape, Dr Rea will also draw up a treatment schedule. If it’s not looking so good, he can discuss ways to strengthen it or work round it. This could mean having a bone graft or sinus lift, or extra-long implants to anchor into your cheekbone. The first step is to find out. Why not book a consultation today?

Replace amalgam fillings with white ones

Thinking about a different kind of Christmas present to give that won’t take up yet more room in a house already crammed with stuff? How about treating your partner to a new smile by getting their ugly old amalgam fillings replaced with white fillings?

Amalgam Fillings in BelfastOut with the old

Fillings wear out after a decade or so of being chewed on every day. And when they start to crack, decay-causing bacteria can get in. Many people who need to get their amalgam fillings replaced are choosing to have white fillings instead. But, you don’t have to wait until your fillings are disintegrating to have them replaced. At Sandown Dental & Implant Clinic in Belfast, we regularly replaced amalgam fillings for people who no longer want their smiles to be marred by flashes of dark metal on their back teeth. They feel so much better about their teeth and find they laugh a lot more now that no one can see the evidence of too many sweet things in their childhood diet.

It’s not just about looks

Having white fillings offers more benefits than just looking good. White fillings have been around for a few decades now and in that time, researchers have made the composite material used much stronger. You can now expect white fillings to perform as well, if not better, than amalgam fillings.

Bonding, not packing

Amalgam fillings are a mixture of silver tin and mercury. Mercury, a liquid metal, is used to make the filling material soft and easy to pack into the cavity. Dentists can pack it in tight, but there will always be a tiny gap round the edges where bacteria can get in. White composite is put in in layers and each one is cured with a UV light that bonds it to your tooth. There is no micro-gap around the edge of your filling to tempt bacteria to come exploring.

Stronger teeth

We don’t have to remove as much healthy tooth material when we use white filling material. With more natural tooth around the walls of the filing, your tooth is stronger and will last longer.

Amalgam fillings: they’re not a good look

If you were like any other kid under the age of say 12, chances are you weren’t all that interested in standing by the bathroom sink carefully brushing your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes. Chances are also that you were fond of sugary snacks and drinks, and that your teeth suffered as a result.

Amalgam Fillings in BelfastTooth decay is common in children because their tooth enamel has not yet hardened properly, they haven’t yet developed ace toothbrushing skills and they are eating a lot of sugar. No wonder that by the time most of us reach adulthood we bear the scars of our youth in our mouths, with most of molars filled with amalgam.

The trouble with amalgam fillings is that they are unmissable. Open your mouth to laugh heartily at your friends’ jokes and you will treat them to a full update on your dental history. It’s not exactly ugly, but it’s not attractive either.

White fillings are great: here’s why

You will find as you get older that your amalgam fillings start to wear out and will need replacing. You can wait until then to get them replaced with white fillings, or you can get it done now. You can have the whole lot done at once, or one at a time, as and when you can afford it.


Modern white composite resin, which is a mixture of glass and plastic, is now stronger than ever. This means that any fillings you have done will last really well.


White fillings actually bond with your teeth, unlike amalgam, which is simply packed into the cavity as tightly as possible. With bonded fillings, there is no chance that bacteria can sneak in and cause decay under them.


The other big plus with white fillings here at Sandown Dental & Implant Clinic in Belfast is that we can sculpt them. We put the fillings in in layers that we then harden with a UV light. Once filled, we can use our tools to recreate the chewing surface of your tooth. Amalgam fillings lie flat within the tooth, so you don’t get as good a chew from them.