Dr Mark O'Donnell B.D.S
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The high cost of cut-price dentistry
Chronic ulcers, cysts, infections, bleeding gums, cracked crowns and loose implants – just some of the hair-raising problems being reported by patients who have received cheap dental treatment abroad.
"I've seen people with pus running down the inside of their faces," says Anne O'Donoghue, periodontist (gum specialist) and lecturer in dentistry at Trinity College Dublin.
"They literally have pus running down inside their nose because of infections in the sinus.
"We see a lot of patients with chronic ulcers caused by ill-fitting crowns, implants or veneers," says O'Donoghue, a dentist for 30 years.
Increasingly, she says, she's dealing with patients who have travelled abroad for dental treatment and are now reporting everything from infections and swelling to bleeding gums, bad breath, chipping or cracking crowns and implants falling out.
Large numbers of Irish people are opting for cosmetic dental treatments overseas, and they're travelling to clinics in countries like Spain, Portugal, Turkey and throughout Eastern Europe, which are offering savings of up to 70 per cent on prices in Dublin.
Prices for dental treatment are higher here, acknowledges the Irish Dentists' Association, but it says that's partly because of the overall cost of living, but also because of recession-era cutbacks in state aid such as changes in tax reliefs and PRSI allowances and the restriction of medical card dental care to patients.
Many patients are happy with the low-priced dental treatment they receive abroad, but others can pay dearly for their decision to go outside Ireland.
According to a survey carried out by the Irish Dentists' Association, some 6,000 patients a year are presenting to Irish dentists seeking remedial treatment following dental work carried out in foreign clinics.
Over time, they may experience problems as a result of poor materials or workmanship, because work is carried out on top of existing infections or because complex procedures are shoe-horned into too little time.
Part of the problem is that people are so anxious to get a low price that they're not carrying out thorough checks on the clinic they choose and are failing to make informed decisions about their treatment, believes Davor Mekterovic MD, of Dental Hungary, which has been operating in Ireland since 2005.
"It amazes me that people just go with price rather than finding out who is doing the work – they put more effort into researching and buying a new car than they do into who is doing their teeth," he says.
Via Irish Independent Health & Living.
When should I start taking my child to the dentist?
A trip to the dentist or an outing to the park? For children the choice is obvious. But for many parents, a visit to the dentist is not high on their to-do list. A recent survey by Mintel of nearly 500 parents of children under 12 years old found that nearly half did not regularly take their children to the dentist. Only one in five thought their children needed to see a dentist once they had developed baby teeth, and only 63% of mothers and 50% of fathers ensured their children brush their teeth every day. No wonder that 30% of children in the UK have had tooth decay by the age of five. So how often do you need to take your child to the dentist?
Children need to see a dentist once they have milk teeth. The dentist will then suggest follow-ups – usually between three months and a year. If you wait until your child is about to go to school you should expect your dentist to look askance – NHS guidelines say that, at the very least, children should have at least one visit to the dentist before the age of two.
This is not only for children to get used to the whole dental-surgery experience but also because preventive treatments for decay are now available, such as painting teeth with fluoride varnish to strengthen enamel. Dentists can also give advice on brushing and diet.
Children should start brushing with soft-bristle brushes using fluoride toothpaste (1,000 parts per million to start with – check the packet) as soon as they have milk teeth. Parents must do it for the first few years (sitting your child on your lap and brushing from behind is good for toddlers) and should then supervise until the age of seven.
Brushing should be done for two minutes in the morning and evening and children should be shown how to brush (a circular action that starts and finishes in the same place on each tooth) by looking in the mirror, and be taught to spit rather than rinse as this retains the benefits of fluoride. As important as brushing is, sugary drinks are also to be avoided. Dilute fruit juice and limit fizzy drinks with artificial sweeteners as they are both acidic and destroy enamel. Using a straw diverts drinks to the back of the mouth and may protect teeth. Eating any foods that contain sugar, not just sweets, will also cause tooth decay so try to get your children into healthy eating habits.
Via The Guardian
No more fillings as scientists reveal new tooth decay treatment
Scientists have developed a new pain-free filling that allows cavities to be repaired without drilling or injections.
The tooth-rebuilding technique developed at King's College London does away with fillings and instead encourages teeth to repair themselves.
Tooth decay is normally removed by drilling, after which the cavity is filled with a material such as amalgam or composite resin.
The new treatment, called Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER), accelerates the natural movement of calcium and phosphate minerals into the damaged tooth.
A two-step process first prepares the damaged area of enamel, then uses a tiny electric current to push minerals into the repair site. It could be available within three years.
Professor Nigel Pitts, from King's College London's Dental Institute, said: "The way we treat teeth today is not ideal. When we repair a tooth by putting in a filling, that tooth enters a cycle of drilling and refilling as, ultimately, each 'repair' fails.
"Not only is our device kinder to the patient and better for their teeth, but it's expected to be at least as cost-effective as current dental treatments. Along with fighting tooth decay, our device can also be used to whiten teeth."
A spinout company, Reminova, has been set up to commercialise the research. Based in Perth, Scotland, it is in the process of seeking private investment to develop EAER.
The company is the first to emerge from the King's College London Dental Innovation and Translation Centre, which was set up in January to take novel technologies and turn them into new products and practices.
King's College is a participant in MedCity, a project launched by the London mayor, Boris Johnson, to promote entrepreneurship in the London-Oxford-Cambridge life sciences "golden triangle".
The chairman of MedCity, Kit Malthouse, said: "It's brilliant to see the really creative research taking place at King's making its way out of the lab so quickly and being turned into a new device that has the potential to make a real difference to the dental health and patient experience of people with tooth decay."
Via The Guardian