Dental hygiene and oral health

The newest thinking on skin health suggests that washing with soap every day is not so good, as it depletes the beneficial bacteria that provide protection. This is good news for your skin, but so far it does not copy across to your mouth. There, you need to remove bacteria, not ignore them.

Dental Hygiene in BelfastWe have hundreds of different strains of bacteria in our mouths, and most are harmless. Some also play an important role; others go a bit mad on the sugars and starches that we eat. Take Streptococcus mutans, for example, this is the critter that is the root cause of tooth decay and gum disease.

Strep mutans bacteria just love sugars and starches and when they feast, they proliferate. You can feel them building up in sticky layers on your teeth. What goes in must come out, as they say, so Strep mutans excretes acids, right onto your teeth and gums. It’s like bathing your teeth in lemon juice day in, day out. There are bound to be consequences.

No wonder if you don’t clean your teeth, your tooth enamel gets corroded and your gums get sore and inflamed and can start to bleed.

You can’t get rid of oral bacteria altogether but, if you practise a good dental hygiene routine, you can keep levels of this corrosive bacteria at bay.

This means you need to brush your teeth twice a day. Once when you get up and again when you go to bed. Use a soft-bristled brush and some fluoride toothpaste, which strengthens your tooth enamel. The aim is to brush gently so that you do not wear your tooth enamel away.

You also need to floss once a day. There is a trick to flossing and you can get the dental hygienist here at Sandown Dental & Implant Clinic in Belfast to show you how to do it. You need to get under the edge of the gums between the teeth to remove any plaque that is building up there.

You need to see the hygienist twice a year for a scale and polish to remove any build-up of plaque and tartar.

If you do all that, your dental hygiene will be in great shape.

Too much gum? Not enough tooth?

Gummy smile. The name says it all. This is a condition whereby when you smile, far too much gum tissue is on show. There are two ways to look at a gummy smile. With one kind of gummy smile, there is just too much of the gum showing when you bare your teeth to flash a big bright smile. With the second kind, it seems that your teeth are strangely short compared to other people’s. Two problems, one name: gummy smile.

Gummy Smiles in BelfastFortunately, at Sandown Dental in Belfast, we can treat your gummy smile very easily.

Too much gum

If your teeth seem the right size but there’s way too much gum on show when you smile, it could be that the muscles that pull the lips back are just a bit too good at their job. They pull the lips back way too far and expose too much of the gum.

Another reason could be that your jaw is bulging through the gum, making it protrude. If jaw development is the issue, you may also have a bite problem, with jaws that don’t fit together properly. If this is the cause, you may need to have orthodontic treatment.

Not enough tooth

If your teeth seem to be too short, it could well be that your gums have grown down over the crowns, covering up a good part of them. Too short teeth are easily treated by removing the excess gum tissue to expose more of the tooth. This treatment can be carried out under local anaesthetic.  We can reshape the gum line, giving you graceful, harmonious arches at the top of your teeth. This can improve your smile and with it, your self-confidence.

Don’t live with lost confidence

If your gummy smile is depriving you of self-confidence then please don’t put up with this condition. We can help you solve it and get your self-confidence back.

Too much gum on show?

When you’re brushing your teeth and gazing at your smile in the mirror, do you wonder why your teeth seem to be short compared to other people’s? Have you ever considered that it may not be that your teeth are too short, but that your gums are too long?

Gummy Smiles in BelfastIn the dental profession, we call this fairly common condition gummy smiles. We’re technical like that. A gummy smile just means that when you smile, there is more gum on show than is normal.

Sometimes, although not always, this is because your gums have grown down too far over your teeth. Underneath the gum, there is more tooth that could be on show. This is generally a problem that affects the front teeth more than the pre-molars and molars.

At Sandown Dental in Belfast, we can rectify this problem for you and give you that great sparkling smile, with a treatment called gum contouring.

Gum contouring is a simple procedure that can easily be carried out under local anaesthetic. One of our dentists will make sure your gums are numb and will then remove the excess gum tissue.

As well as removing excess tissue, we can reshape the gums so that they frame your teeth with a regular pink curve.

It won’t take long to heal from gum contouring and then you will have a fabulous new smile to show off.

Smile makeovers and gum contouring

Gum contouring is a great treatment to have alongside other treatments that improve the look of the teeth.

If you are thinking about having a smile makeover package, it’s worth making sure you are happy with the shape of your gums.

We can include this treatment along others such as cosmetic braces or veneers, or tooth whitening.

If you’d like to find out more about gum contouring and check whether you do indeed have a gummy smile, then why not talk to one of our dentists next time you come in for a check-up?

Brushing and flossing, and scaling and polishing

You can never entirely get rid of the bacteria that live in your mouth, nor would you want to. The human body is designed to be more than just one big organism. Instead we are like a planet of billions of microbes that live on our skin, in our orifices and all the way through our digestive system.

Dental Hygiene in BelfastWe need them to be healthy, it’s just that some of them, such as the ones that form plaque on our teeth, can get a bit out of hand and cause problems. Keeping plaque at bay is a never-ending task.

The make-up of plaque differs from person to person, but one thing’s for sure, one particular strain of bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, is present in every mouth. This type of bacteria is responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.

It lives on sugars and starches and it just loves the modern Western diet with all its sugary snacks and drinks and its complex carbohydrates. These all start to be broken down in the mouth by our saliva as we chew. Strep mutans feeds on sugars and gives off acids, plus, if it is given a feast it proliferates. That’s why, after a sugary snack you can feel a kind of fur developing on the surfaces of your teeth. And the more plaque there is, the more acid is being exuded onto the surfaces of your teeth and onto your gums.

This is why it is important to have a good dental hygiene routine. Brushing removes sticky plaque from the surfaces of the teeth. Flossing removes it from between the teeth and under the edges of the gums. These 2 actions also remove any trapped food too.

Along with your twice daily cleaning sessions, you also need to have regular appointments with the hygienist here at Sandown Dental & Implant Clinic. This is so that we can remove any plaque that you have missed and that has hardened into tartar. There is always some you can’t get at and if you leave it once it’s hardened, you will have a permanent layer of plaque giving off acids that will corrode your teeth and attack your gums.

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.