What are crowns?

The crown of a tooth is that part which is visible in the mouth. An artificial crown is used to protect and restore a broken, weakened or heavily filled tooth. They are also used to improve the appearance of very severely discoloured teeth.

Crowns are made of many different materials including metals and ceramics or a combination.

What will my dentist do?

  • The dentist will reduce and shape the tooth so that, when the artificial crown is fitted, it will be the same size and shape as a normal tooth.
  • Preparation time will depend on how damaged the tooth is and whether it needs to be built up first.
  • If the tooth has died or there isn’t enough left to support the crown it may have to be root-filled first; this is sometimes called removing the nerve. If a lot of tooth is missing the crown maybe held in place by a peg or post in the root canal.
  • Your dentist will use a soft mouldable material to make an exact impression of what remains of the tooth that is to be crowned and the adjacent teeth.
  • A dental technician uses the impressions to make the crown.
  • A temporary crown made of plastic or metal is usually put over the tooth until the permanent crown is made. You can chew on a temporary crown but it won’t be as strong as the finished one.
  • When the crown is fitted, your dentist may need to make small adjustments to make sure you can bite comfortably. The crown is tried on and then cemented into place.
  • The nerves / pulp of crowned teeth can sometimes go on to die, requiring a root filling or, in the worst case, an extraction.
  • Maintaining good oral hygiene is important to prevent decay around the margins of the crown.

What are the benefits?

  • The crown is strong and can look and feel exactly like a natural tooth. The colour and shape can be matched to your own teeth.
  • Depending on the strength of the tooth underneath, a crown can last for many years if you look after your mouth and teeth and the crown is not accidentally damaged.
  • Crowns can also improve your appearance.
  • Crowns are often necessary to protect weakened, root-filled teeth.

Speak to your local Clear Dental Practice to learn more about crowns.


What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral that is very effective in protecting teeth against decay.

How does fluoride work?

Tooth decay begins with dental plaque, a soft, sticky substance that builds up on your teeth. Plaque is mostly made up of bacteria, which feed on sugar from food and drink, producing acids as a waste product. The acid attacks the teeth by dissolving the minerals in the tooth structure. If this happens too often, tooth decay results.

Minerals in saliva can mend the teeth. If fluoride is present in the mouth, it helps teeth to repair themselves.

And if fluoride is consumed in appropriate amounts by young children, it helps to make growing teeth more resistant to decay.

Fluoride in toothpaste

Most people get fluoride from toothpaste. Packs tell you how much the toothpaste contains in parts per million (ppm). Adults should use toothpaste containing 1350-1500ppm, unless advised otherwise by a dentist.

For children, consuming too much fluoride can produce unattractive marks on their teeth. To prevent this, you should help children up to the age of seven to clean their teeth. Make sure they do not eat the toothpaste and only use the correct amount:

  • Children aged under 3 should only use a smear of toothpaste, which should contain no less than 1000ppm of fluoride.
  • Children aged 3-6 years should use a small pea-sized blob of toothpaste, containing 1350-1500ppm of fluoride.

Children may also have fluoride applied as varnish painted on by their dentist.

For patients with a lot of decay, dentists may recommend extra fluoride, either as tablets, drops or varnish, and for patients over 10 years of age, toothpastes with 2800ppm fluoride may be prescribed. For patients over 16 with high decay rates 5000ppm toothpaste may be prescribed.

Speak to your local Clear Dental Practice to learn more about fluoride.

Wisdom Teeth

What are they?

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to appear, at the back of the mouth, from the late teens onwards. Most people have four wisdom teeth, but it is not unusual to have fewer – or even more.

Because they are the last teeth to form, there sometimes isn’t room for them. They come through at an angle, pressing against the teeth in front or the bone behind.

What will my dentist do?

Watching how your teeth and jaws grow is part of your regular dental care. Do tell your dentist if you think they might be a problem.

  • X-ray pictures can show where the wisdom teeth are in the jaw and how much room there is for them to come through, as well as showing if they are causing any damage to the teeth in front.
  • The X-rays will also show how simple or difficult it may be to take a wisdom tooth out.

As wisdom teeth are coming through, the surrounding gum sometimes becomes inflamed and sore. This is called pericoronitis. It may settle down or come and go over a period. It is usually better to remove a wisdom tooth if you have repeated bouts of pericoronitis.

If you need to have a wisdom tooth removed, you should be able to fit it in with work or other commitments.

Sometimes, you may be referred to a specialist to have a problem wisdom tooth removed in hospital.

Most wisdom teeth are removed under a local anaesthetic but depending on how difficult the tooth is to remove, sedation (something that makes you drowsy) or general anaesthetic (only given in hospitals) may be considered.

Depending on your job you may need to take two or three days off work to recover from your wisdom tooth operation. If you have had a general anaesthetic then you will need some time off work to recover from the effects of the anaesthetic.

Sometimes, nerves can be damaged when lower wisdom teeth are removed. This leads to numbness in part of the tongue or in some teeth and part of the lower lip and chin – but this is usually temporary.

What are the benefits of removing wisdom teeth which are causing problems?

  • If you have your wisdom teeth removed, there will be no more pain and infection.
  • It will usually make it easier for you to keep your mouth clean.

Normally there is no need to have wisdom teeth removed unless they are causing you problems.

To read more about what to do after a tooth extraction, click here.

Speak to your local Clear Dental Practice to learn more about wisdom teeth.

What to do after an extraction

You need to look after yourself carefully after you have had a tooth taken out, as with any operation, to speed up healing and prevent infection. This advice is to help you know what to expect and do, as your mouth recovers.

General Advice:

  • For the first 24 hours, don’t drink alcohol, eat hot food or disturb the clot, which will have formed in the space left by the tooth, because this may cause the socket to start bleeding again. Don’t smoke either, and avoid strenuous exercise for the rest of the day.
  • Don’t rinse your mouth for six hours after extraction.
  • After six hours, rinse gently with warm salty water to keep the socket clean and continue to do this for up to a week after meals and before bed. Use half a teaspoonful of salt in a glass or comfortable warm water.
  • Brush your teeth normally with toothpaste to keep the whole mouth clean but take care in the region where the tooth was extracted.
  • If you feel small pieces of bone working their way out of the socket, don’t worry – this is normal.
  • Some swelling or discomfort in the first few days is also normal.
  • Take painkillers if you need the. Ask your dentist for advice if you are not sure of what sort to take.

If the bleeding doesn’t stop:

  • Your dentist may have given you a small supply of gauze in case this happens. If not, clean cotton handkerchiefs will do, but not tissue papers. It is the effect of pressure from the gauze or handkerchief that prevents bleeding, this is why a tissue will not work.
  • Roll some small firm pads about on centimetre by three centimetres – a size that will fit over a socket.
  • Keep sitting up and gently clear away any clots of blood around the socket with the gauze of handkerchief.
  • Place a pad across the socket from the tongue side to the cheek and bite firmly on it for 10-15mins.
  • Take off the pad and heck whether the bleeding has stopped. If it hasn’t, use a fresh pad. If the socket is still bleeding, contact your dentist.

Occasionally after extraction of a tooth, the blood clot in the socket can break down, leaving a painful empty hole in the gum. This is called ‘dry socket’. If the socket becomes painful a few days after the extraction, this is usually the reason. If this happens, you should go back to your dentist to have the wound cleaned and packed with a dressing.; This will relieve the pain and reduce the risk of infection.

If you follow these instructions, your mouth should heal normally without becoming infected. But if anything in your mouth worries you, phone the practice for advice.