Hi I am Martin Southon, Canterbury dentist here at St Stephens Dental Practice.

I recently looked at a survey by the British Dental Health Foundation about mouth aesthetics and there were some surprising results!

Apparently 40% of us are worried about the appearance of our mouth at least once a day and that rose to 50% in the 18-29 age bracket. The survey showed on average we spend at least 24 hours a year looking at our mouths as we clean our teeth and considerably more if time for applying lipstick or shaving is included.

Worries related to our mouths centred on our teeth much more than the peripheries of our mouth, and more than half of us worry about the colour of our teeth and one in four dislike their over crowded, gappy or goofy appearance.

A lot of these worries can be easily solved with bleaching, bonding and with the use of veneers. If you or someone you know are having these worries then please refer them to the team at St Stephens and we can help and advise the best course of action. Often the percieved problem is quite easy and affordable to solve.

Come and see us for a consultation and you will be surprised how easily we can give you the confidence to smile with less damage to your wallet than you’d expect.



Many patients come to the surgery complaining of pain with their wisdom teeth. Here is some information on the cause and what you can do to treat wisdom tooth pain.

• Pain on opening mouth or chewing around the last molar
• Swelling
• Reddening of the gum surrounding the wisdom tooth
• Bad taste in mouth and foul smell

The technical term for pain in the gum surrounding the wisdom tooth is called pericoronitis. This occurs from bacteria causing inflammation around the erupting wisdom tooth.

wisdom Bacteria from trapped food proliferate under the flap of gum that is formed from the erupting wisdom tooth

What can be done to prevent or treat pericoronitis?

The simple solution is to remove the source of the inflammation which in this case is the trap food or bacteria. This can be done by the following methods:

• Single tufted tooth brush to clean deeply around the wisdom tooth

• Warm salt water rinses (small cup of warm water with two tea spoons of salt)

• Corsodyl mouth wash (be careful as this can stain your teeth brown)

Very occasionally an infection can develop. Antibiotics are only prescribed in severe cases where there is limited mouth opening or when the patient feel very unwell.

If you have any concerns about wisdom teeth then please do not hesitate to speak to one of the St Stephens dental team.

Giving you the confidence to smile


You wouldn’t perform surgery on yourself at home, so why try and remove your teeth or apply fillings yourself?
You may have read in the news recently about the rise of ‘DIY dentistry’ – people taking it upon themselves to treat their own teeth. There was also a discussion about DIY dentistry on the Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show on Monday 20th April which you can go to at this LINK. Doing it yourself is often to do with saving the perceived monetary cost of treatment from a professional dentist, but this decision almost undoubtedly comes with a much greater potential cost to the individual’s health.

In a survey carried out by the British Dental Health Foundation, a worrying one in five Britons said they would remove a decaying or diseased tooth themselves rather than visit a dentist. The decision to self-treat has been made increasingly popular with the availability and convenience of various DIY kits, including those which allow individuals to apply temporary fillings themselves. Manufactured by Dentek, over 250,000 of these kits alone are sold in the UK every year, and are normally found in easily accessible High Street shops like Poundland. There are now even DIY extraction kits!! But no mention of anaesthesia!!!

However, there are several serious risks involved with trying to carry out your own treatment. Dentists have to go through years of rigorous training and studying in order to be able to carry out even the most basic of procedures safely. Attempting to carry out your own ‘quick fix’ has an understandably substantial risk of causing infection or creating further serious problems.

Without knowing exactly what you’re doing, it’s easy to miss vital stages in any procedure you might attempt. When you have a filling at the dentist, for example, the tooth and surrounding area will be properly cleaned and prepared, with any plaque or decay removed so that bacteria cannot cause problems underneath the filling. At home, you would not have the knowledge, let alone the correct equipment, to be able to do this properly. It’s all too easy to make the problem worse, which in turn will only lead to more urgent, expensive, and perhaps even more prolonged treatment to fix your own efforts.

The press has recently reported some horrific DIY dentistry stories, including a woman who used a fork to pop an abscess in her mouth, and a man who plugged a cavity in his mouth with QuikSteel – a potentially toxic steel-reinforced putty used to fix car engines. Other cases involve removing teeth with spanners and even a toffee hammer (whatever that is!).On Youtube there are unbelievable videos of teeth being removed by tying to a golf ball which is then hit. And several cases of tying teeth to fireworks! It is amazing the lengths some people will go to avoid dentists who are usually trying to help people in the most painless manner!

There have been cases of people extracting the wrong tooth, thinking it was a different one that was causing the problem, or developing nasty infections in the empty socket. The most bizarre was the case of a person trying to improve the fit of their denture by relining or “retreading” it. They melted down carriers bags, poured the molten plastic into their plate and then inserted it in their mouth!! It saved them some money.. Not! but the months of agony did not offset that!

Withexaminations available from St Stephens Dental Practice from just £25.00 or so, and emergency or urgent appointments available, professional treatment from the outset is often not only much cheaper overall, but also much safer than attempting to fix a problem yourself. You’ll also have the reassuring peace of mind that you won’t suffer any unnecessary pain or prolonged discomfort if your DIY approach was to go wrong!

For more information about treatment options available at St Stephens Dental Practice, or to book an appointment with us, please call a member of our team on 01227 452668 or Email at
Remember the team at St Stephens Dental Practice will give you the confidence to smile.


Part Two of our two part guide on how to prevent tooth decay and cavities, to keep your teeth looking healthy, is all about how what we eat and drink can effect what happens to our teeth. Now we all know that too many sugary foods and drinks aren’t good for our teeth, but do you know how to help prevent tooth decay without giving up all of your treats?

Keep reading to discover some handy tips on how to help keep your teeth healthy without saying goodbye to sugar!


tooth The maximum number of times you should eat/drink sugar in a day is 4. So enjoy all the lovely sugary                       foods and drinks with a meal.

In between mealtimes, only drink or snack on sugar free foods and drinks.

Having a healthy, balanced diet, with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, will help to keep your immune                    system strong so you can fight diseases anywhere in your body, not just your mouth.

Some medicines contain sugar, so ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is a sugar-free version.




So what food and drink is good and bad for our teeth?

Bad for Teeth

  • Fizzy drinks and flavoured water
  • Chocolate, biscuits, sweets and crisps
  • Dried fruit and raisins
  • Fruit juice and flavoured
  • Hot chocolate, Tea/Coffee with sugar


Good for Teeth

  • Savoury sandwiches
  • Nuts
  • Plain water or milk
  • Cheese
  • Tea or coffee without sugar or with a sweetener


It is also important to look at the ingredients on the packaging of your food and drink so you know how much sugar is in each portion. Check the ingredients list for all the types of sugar:-

  • Glucose
  • Sucrose
  • Honey
  • Dextrose
  • Maltose
  • Fructose
  • Hydrolysed
  • Starch


If there is a traffic light system on the packaging, red or amber means it is bad for your teeth. In general, if there are more than 15g of sugar in 100g then it is high sugar and less then 5g in 100g is low.






The key to keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy is to prevent plaque from building up so, if your toothbrush is past its best, or you’re thinking of switching from a regular toothbrush to an electric one, we can help you choose the best brush for keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy. With so many shapes, sizes and styles available choosing the right toothbrush can seem confusing, do you go for electric or normal? Do you go for a soft, medium or hard bristle brush? So to help you out we have come up with some handy tips on what to look for when selecting the perfect brush for you.
1. Soft, Medium or Hard? Most dental professionals will agree that a soft-bristled brush is best for removing plaque and debris from your teeth, and a soft bristle brush will not cause irritation of your gums as a harder bristle brush could do. So we advise that you stick to a soft brush in less your dentist has advised you otherwise.
2. Small or Big? It’s also important to think about the size of the head of your brush. A big headed brush won’t allow you to get to those hard-to-reach places so we recommend that you use a small head which will allow you to get to give your whole mouth a better clean.
3. What type of handle? As for the type of handle, go for whatever suits you. Everyone holds objects differently and you need to be able to grip your brush comfortably. Most brushes whether manual or electric will have some form of non-slip grips on them to help with handling but remember that some electric toothbrushes can be rather large and heavy so before you buy just do a bit of research on-line where you can find out the specifications of all electric toothbrushes including their weight and size.
4. Manual or electric? This really is a personal choice although bear in mind that an electric toothbrush can do a better job of removing plaque and giving your teeth a better clean. An electric toothbrush is also a great idea for those who maybe find it difficult to brush their teeth through mobility issues and lack of dexterity.
5. How Often Should I Replace My Toothbrush? You should replace your toothbrush or head if you have an electric toothbrush, when it begins to show wear, or every three months, whichever comes first. It is also very important to change toothbrushes after you’ve had a cold, since the bristles can collect germs that can lead to re-infection.
If you have an questions or queries regarding your toothbrush or your dental routine then contact your dentist for more information.


Part one of our two part guide on how to prevent tooth decay and cavities to keep your teeth looking healthy, starts with a guide on how to keep your teeth clean. Now we know this may seem like an obvious and simple task but it’s one that is not always done correctly. The question is are you doing it right?…well keep on reading and find out!

The bacteria in your mouth (living in dental plaque) use the sugar in your food to rot your teeth. Children’s teeth are softer than Adult teeth which makes them more prone to tooth decay. Holes in anyone’s teeth are not a good thing and these will often lead to pain and abscesses. If you brush your teeth correctly and regularly you can destroy the bacteria and prevent any problems.

Your aim: Brush all teeth for 2 x Minutes, twice a day with the correct toothpaste.


Brush the inside, outside and tops of all teeth on the top and bottom.

Proper Brushing takes 2 minutes! Think you already do it for 2 minutes? Time   yourself it’s  longer than you think. 

Brush your teeth twice a day, once before you go to bed and again when you      wake up or at some point during the day.

After brushing spit our the excess toothpaste but DO NOT Rinse! This is a common mistake, but when you rinse you are removing all the goodness from the toothpaste.  



Toothpaste contains fluoride, which strengthens teeth and can even repair  early  tooth decay. Everyone in the family should be using an adult strength toothpaste.Your toothpaste should contain at least 0.27%  or 1,350 ppm fluoride. If you are unsure check the packaging of your toothpaste or consult your dentist.

Although Children should use an adult strength toothpaste they should not use as much as adults.

0-3 years old= a smear of toothpaste is advised.

3-6 years old= a pea sized amount of toothpaste (as seen in the picture ).

7+ years old= a full size adult amount of toothpaste.






A knife is an essential part of a chefs armoury and I would have thought if a chef was buying a new set of quality knives he might be a little excited. My drills are my equivalent of a chefs knives and I have just bought a new set and I am very excited in a dentist, gadget, geeky way. These new handpieces are made in Austria by a firm called W&H.

The drills spin at 650,000 rpm. They have ceramic bearings and need their own maintenance oiling device which is also a gadget freaks dream! These handpieces are air powered with no electrical supply but they have an LED light on their working head so it is like working with headlights on the drill head.


The really clever bit is a tiny device which sits on the airline just before the drill. This is an air powered dynamo which generates enough power to light the LED. It took 7 seven years of development to bring it to market.

This joins the other cutting edge equipment I use to look after and fix peoples teeth. We will give you the confidence to smile using 21st century equipment and techniques but with old fashioned values of courtesy and customer care.

To book an appointment please call us at St Stephens Dental Practice on 01227 452668 or go to

St Stephens Dental Practice where we will give you the confidence to smile.


Here at St Stephens Dental Surgery our goal is to make sure that every visit is enjoyable and that you leave feeling happy and relaxed. We understand that for some people, a trip to the dentist is not a nice thought and that’s why we put so much effort into ensuring that our surgery, treatment rooms and staff are all first class. At St Stephens Dental Surgery we like to think that you will love our surgery as much as we do and we have made sure that it has a relaxed an inviting atmosphere.

Whatever your age we want you to leave with a smile on your face, so we have things to keep the little ones amused and beautiful décor to create the perfect ambiance. We also pride ourselves on having all the latest technological dentistry equipment and all our staff are up to date and fully trained to deal with all your needs.

So if you are looking for a friendly, welcoming and professional dental surgery then St Stephens is the answer.


final acid pic

What is acid wear and what causes it?

Acid wear, also called acid erosion, is when acids dissolve the enamel (outer surface of the teeth). This makes the tooth soft and easily worn or chipped away. This leads to teeth looking smoother, shorter and more yellow and the tips of the teeth may appear see-through. Acid wear can also make the teeth become more sensitive to hot, cold and sweet things.
Once worn away the enamel cannot be replaced or grown back. The acids that cause erosion may come from foods you eat and drink. pH is a way of measuring how acidic something is. If the pH of food or drink is less than 5.5, it will dissolve your tooth enamel.
As well as foods and drinks, acids can also come from your stomach. If you vomit, or get acid reflux (heartburn) regularly, this can cause acid erosion. If you think this is happening to you, ask your doctor or dentist. People who drink a lot of alcohol are particularly susceptible to erosion as most alcoholic drinks are acidic. Excess alcohol consumption can also lead to vomiting.
How do I stop acid wear?
Changing your diet to reduce the amount of acidic food and drinks is important to stop further wear. Ideally, you need to cut out anything more acidic then pH 5.5 (to the left of the black line on the picture above). If you must drink something acidic, it is best to only drink it with a meal to help neutralise the acid, and/or drink using a straw. Drink it straight down without holding it in your mouth and after, use a mouthwash or rinse your mouth out with water but DO NOT brush your teeth for about 30 minutes. The acids cause the surface of the enamel to soften and if you brush during this period it is possible to physically brush the enamel away. Natural saliva will remineralise (harden) the enamel in about 30 minutes.
Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste (on the back of the packet, it should say that it contains more than 1450ppm or 0.312% of fluoride) will help to harden the enamel. Ask your dentist, who may recommend stronger toothpaste.
What treatment is available?
With acid erosion prevention is the key as there is not treatment that can help repair the enamel once is has been lost. However teeth affected by acid wear can be repaired with fillings and crowns. Unfortunately for very badly worn teeth extraction may be the only treatment available.
If you any questions regarding acid wear then do not hesitate to contact us at the surgery and we will answer all your questions.

St Stephens Dental Practice. Giving you the confidence to smile on 01227 452668 or at