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Dr Shabnam Zai

5 top tips for kids healthy teeth

mother maintains healthy teeth for her child girl
mother maintains healthy teeth for her child girl

Top Tips For Kids’ Healthy Teeth

Here are 5 tops tips from dentist Dr. Shabnam Zai

Dr. Shabnam Zai is a member of the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry and recommends these easy tips to help keep your kids’ teeth healthy.

(1) Start Early

It is never too early to teach kids good habits to ensure they have healthy, pain-free teeth.

(2) Brush Together

Be a great role model and brush with your kids.

(3) Fluoride Is Your Friend

Check the box and make sure it has the right amount of fluoride.

What flavour does your child like best?

Let them decide.

(4) Tooth friendly snacks and lunchboxes

Avoid anything containing sugar.

Great sugar swap ideas can be found on the Change 4 Life website.

(5) What are you drinking?

If you would like them to have fresh juice (as one of their five a day) it should be measured, 150mls and had with their meal to reduce the acid damage and cavity potential.

Kids should only drink milk and water.

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How to maintain a healthy smile in Lockdown

Maintaining a healthy smile

How To Maintain A Healthy Smile In Lockdown

It is super tempting to overindulge over this time. We have more time at home, within walking distance to a fridge 24 hours a day.

Not to mention being surrounded by delicious baked treats lovingly made by the kids.

Here are some easy tips to help you maintain a healthy and pain free smile during lockdown.

Sugar Treats

Hide them!

If they are on the kitchen table, you are more likely to be tempted to snack on them.

Baking is a great way of passing time in lockdown, but remember the quantity you are baking.

Once you have made it someone has to eat it all!

Try halving the recipe, so you still enjoy gorgeous home baking without having too many leftovers to snack on.

Currently your teeth are more susceptible to permanent damage not only by the choice of food you are consuming but also the frequency at which you eat it.

When you do have them, do so with a meal as this will damage your teeth less.

Moderate Alcohol

Alcoholic drinks are full of sugar and very acidic and if sipped over a long period of time, say over a sunny weekend BBQ, they erode and wear your enamel away.

If the enamel thins, your teeth become sensitive, weak and look more yellow with time.

Drinking alcohol with food, such as cheese, hummus and breads – this will help neutralise the acid in your mouth.

Sipping water after alcohol will hydrate you and rinse and dilute any acid in the mouth.

Try and have alcohol free days, this is not only good from your smile but your overall health.

Feeling Peckish?

50% of the sugars we consume come from our snacks and drinks, so by being mindful of what we snack on significantly reduces the risk of rotting teeth, diabetes and obesity.

I personally do not believe in ‘snacks’, they are not satisfying, and you often end up eating or grazing more over the day.

I prefer having mini meals, leftovers from dinner are great, a small bowl of pasta or rice.

So is the humble cheese on toast, beans on toast.

Crackers with cheese, bread sticks with hummus.

If you are craving something sweet, have it with one of the suggestions above.

Fruits are not great snacks for teeth.

The snack should have <5% sugar (<5g per 100g) and be satisfying.

Including a vegetable, or some protein if possible, to make it more nutritious and satisfying.

The Best Drink In The World!

I have never been able to drink five glasses a day, let alone 2 litres!

I am in awe of anyone who can! Saying that water is the best thing to have between meals.

Our brain often confuse thirst with hunger.

Next time you are craving a sugary snack have a glass of water.

Sipping water through the day keeps our energy levels high, aids digestion, our mouths clean and even improves our mood.

Definitely a good thing in lockdown!

The Basics

It sounds simple but most people do not do it.

The evidence is strong, the facts common knowledge but lack of routine, being tired or sheer laziness are the usual suspects for not complying.

Here is a challenge, pick one of the things below and get the rest of the family to do it too.

Just one from the list below. It’s as easy as that!

  • Brush for 2minutes 2 x day (using a timer is mandatory!) with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Spit but do not rinse after brushing
  • Clean between your teeth once a day, with floss or an interdental brush
  • Only drink water between meals
  • Make snacks between meals sugar free

Have A Dental Problem?

Don’t despair!

Call your dentist!

If you have not been to the dentist in a while, don’t worry. Just call the last dentist you remember visiting.

As we have access to our patients x-rays and medical records, we can give better advice and if required we are able to remotely prescribe antibiotics or painkillers directly to your local pharmacy for you to collect.

We can provide lots of advice and help to our registered patients over the phone and online.

While dental practices are currently not allowed to see patients face to face, they are still there for you, just like GP’s we are working in a different way.

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What type of brace works the fastest?

Invisalign, the best braces
Invisalign, the best braces

What type of brace works the fastest?

When it comes to finding the best orthodontic solution, the two things people usually look at, are the price and speed of the process.

Braces seem to be the most common solution for straightening your teeth, but picking the right type for you can be quite difficult.

For quite some time, ceramic braces seemed to be the most popular option, as they were pretty much invisible to the eye, but they turned out to be less time-effective than metal braces.

While the speed of the process is highly determined by the type of issue you are dealing with, most experts seem to agree that the clear aligners are the quickest way to straighten your teeth.

The most known type of clear aligners is Invisalign, who gained a lot of popularity recently, both because they speed up the process, and because they are pretty much invisible.

However, there are plenty of other options that can work for you, based on the type of dental issues you are facing.


Praised in the world of orthodontics, the Invisalign braces are becoming extremely popular nowadays, as they bring out many benefits to patients.

To put it simply, the Invisalign braces are transparent plastic trays that are attached to the teeth and slowly moves them into the desired place.

The patient receives a set of trays that they need to change every two weeks until they reach the final result.

The average adult patient is expected to finish treatment in about 1 year, but some of them even manage to do so in as little as three months, which makes them one of the fastest-working braces on the market.

But Invisalign does not only come with the benefit of being a fast solution for misaligned teeth.

One of the reasons why patients choose this option is that they are almost invisible and people won’t notice if someone is wearing them.

The trays can be removed for eating or brushing teeth, which makes it a much more convenient solution.

Invisalign braces are significantly more expensive than traditional braces, but the benefits they bring make them be worth the money and great value.

Self-Ligating Braces

Similar to traditional braces, but much more time-effective, self-ligating braces seem to be more and more popular.

Treatment is expected to be finished around 6 months earlier than in the case of traditional braces and the patient is required to pay fewer visits to the orthodontist.

They also cause less discomfort than traditional braces and are much easier to clean.

Self-ligating braces don’t require elastics or rubber bands, as they use special brackets that help the archwire move and directs teeth into the ideal place.

When the patient visits the orthodontist, the doctor simply adjusts the brackets, which causes much less discomfort and saves time.

They are also much easier to maintain clean, as they do not have ties where food could get stuck in.

Traditional Braces

Traditional braces have evolved quite a bit since they first hit the market and are still the most popular solution for people who want a perfect smile.

In this form of treatment, each bracket is glued onto the teeth to help align it.

They are the most affordable type of treatment and they come in many forms.

Ceramic braces are a more aesthetically pleasing solution, as they are made out of a ceramic material that is close to the colour of the patient’s teeth, to make them less visible.

They are more suited for people who are more conscious about their appearance and fear that metal braces may alter their looks.

But despite their aesthetic, ceramic braces are easier to break and are much more expensive than metallic braces.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are another form of treatment that is preferred by people who want a more concealed solution.

They are attached to the back of the teeth and can not be seen from the outside of the mouth.

They are almost invisible and can only be seen once the patient opens their mouth.

They are far less noticeable than traditional fixed braces.

Lingual braces are not suitable for all cases and can take longer than other types of braces although is a preferred fixed option, as they do not depend on the compliance of the wearer and are very discreet.

Some find them more difficult to clean, as they are being placed in an area that the patient is not used to cleaning thoroughly, although a hygienist can help teach you how to maintain them properly.

They are not hidden behind the wires and brackets and you can see your smile unfold during treatment.

Most patients see improvements in the first few weeks.

One of the best things about having the bracket on the inside is that you can see your teeth.

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What happens in the first week of Invisalign?

Getting started with Invisalign Braces
Getting started with Invisalign Braces

What happens in the first week of Invisalign?

Invisalign is an excellent alternative to braces if you want to improve your smile and not worry about wires and brackets, but what exactly should you expect in the first week?

Most patients get used to their Invisalign braces quite quickly and there’s definitely less hassle compared to traditional braces, but still, there are a few things you should be aware of.

Will I feel pain in the first week of Invisalign?

Every patient is unique and may experience Invisalign aligners differently but, in general, you won’t feel more than slight discomfort in the first seven days.

Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign gently pushes your teeth in the desired direction, which makes them more comfortable.

If it hurts just a little bit, don’t worry – it won’t get any worse.

If the discomfort prevents you from doing your daily activities, regular doses of over-the-counter pain relievers such as Ibuprofen can help.

Changes in speech

As your mouth adjusts to your new Invisalign braces, you might experience some subtle speech problems in the first days or develop a lisp.

Words with many S and TH sounds will be the most challenging, but for most people, the lisp goes away after a couple of days.

At first, your mouth will perceive the aligners as a foreign body, so the change will feel more obvious for you than for those around you.

Invisalign braces are almost impossible to notice, even up close, so if you feel self-conscious about your lisp, your friends and workmates might not be able to tell what’s different.

Apart from the change in speech, you might also experience excessive saliva production in the first 24 hours.

This is completely normal and will go away as soon as your body gets used to the aligners.

Eating and drinking

One of the best parts about Invisalign braces is that you can remove them while eating, so there will be no discomfort there.

You can enjoy your meals as usual, without any restrictions.

As for drinking, it will feel a bit odd at first, but you’ll quickly get used to it.

The only thing you can safely consume with the aligners in your mouth is cold water, for all other drinks, it must be removed.

Inserting and removing your braces

For Invisalign treatment to be effective, you need to wear your aligners as much as possible, ideally between 20 and 22 hours per day.

You can, however, remove them to eat, brush, and floss your teeth. Removing your Invisalign braces and putting them back on will feel a bit awkward at first, but after the first week, it will feel like second nature.

Your dentist can give you detailed instructions on how to remove, insert, and clean your Invisalign attachments correctly.

Even if Invisalign braces can be a tiny bit uncomfortable at first, you’ll get used to them by the end of the first week and realise why so many people prefer them over traditional braces.

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What can you give a 5-year-old for a toothache?

What can you give a 5-year old for toothache?

As adults, we’re able to identify the location of a toothache quite quickly, seek pain relief and go about our usual activities until the next dentist appointment.

For a 5-year-old, however, a toothache can be an ordeal that causes them to be moody and irritable.

It can cause them to cry incessantly and even miss school, so the faster you ease their discomfort, the better.

These simple remedies can make a toothache go away or become more manageable until you can see an oral health professional:

Keep the area clean

What area, precisely?

A toothache can be very confusing for a child because they often can’t explain where the pain is coming from and where it’s radiating, so ask them to point to where it hurts.

Have a look around that area for signs of cavities and gum inflammation, but don’t neglect the tongue and inside of the cheek either to rule out an accidental bite.

Food scraps can make the pain worse, so try to keep the area clean by gently brushing their teeth with a soft brush.

Even if your child is independent and has learned to brush their teeth, it’s safer you do it yourself because they might accidentally hurt themselves or avoid the painful area.

Rinsing with salt water can also help with pain relief.

Give them cuddles and reassure them

A toothache can be a scary experience for your child because unlike bumps, bruises, and other pains, this one is intense and goes on and on.

They will be looking at you for help and reassurance, so be there for them.

Don’t be impatient and don’t dismiss them if they complain or start crying.

Hug them, tell them they’re brave, reassure them and distract them by reading them a story, watching cartoons together, playing with their favourite toys or doing other activities that they enjoy.

The way your child reacts to the pain depends on your approach, so if you panic, they’ll panic too.

Over the counter pain relief

If the toothache doesn’t get better after cleaning the area and rinsing with salt water, you can give your child an appropriate dose of over-the-counter pain relief medication such as Nurofen and Calpol.

Please check with your medical GP or a pharmacist in advance to make sure the dosage is safe or if you’re not sure which medicine is right for your child.

Give them softer foods

Hard foods such as popcorn, nuts, crunchy cereal and apples can put more pressure on the affected area and make the pain worse so put those away and encourage your child to eat softer foods instead.

Avocado, yoghurt, mashed potatoes, rice, bananas, and soups are great alternatives that can soothe pain or at least not make it any worse.

Avoid things that trigger the pain

Hot and cold can trigger pain.

Hard foods aren’t the only ones that make a toothache worse.

Whichever makes the pain worse should be avoided too because they can increase sensitivity and cause sharp pain.

If you’re giving your child soup, make sure it’s warm, not hot.

Obviously, sugar is a big no-no, so don’t be tempted to give your child a sweet treat when they ask for it.

See a dentist

Even if your child’s toothache goes away on its own, you should still make an appointment with your family dentist to check if they have a cavity or another oral health issue.

If the pain doesn’t go away or it gets worse, take your child to the dentist as soon as possible, because you may be dealing with a broken tooth or an infected cavity.

In case intense pain is accompanied by a fever, difficulty swallowing or difficulty breathing, call your doctor or emergency services right away because that could indicate a more serious problem.


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Dental First Aid

Dental First Aid

This past year, we’ve seen an increasing number of children come to the practice with trauma to their front adult teeth.

Simple dental first aid can save a tooth and prevent the need for more complex and invasive treatment.

I would like to share a few simple tips so that you’re prepared if you ever have to deal with someone who has knocked out their adult front tooth.

For children in particular, between the ages of 7 and 10, it’s more likely that they will knock out an entire tooth rather than chip or fracture the tooth.  This is because roots do not full develop until at least 9 or 10 years.

Click here to download our free dental trauma guide.

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Can I switch from braces to Invisalign

Can I switch from braces to Invisalign
Can I switch from braces to Invisalign

Can I switch from braces to Invisalign?

Everyone wants a beautiful smile, and that means having healthy and straight teeth.

Whether your teeth were misplaced, crowded, or they simply met abnormally, resorting to orthodontic treatment with braces might have been necessary in your case.

Despite the advantages of traditional orthodontics, you’ve probably discovered that wearing braces comes with a few drawbacks, such as being highly visible, requiring an extensive hygiene routine, and implying certain diet restrictions.

Well, if you were wondering if you could switch from braces to Invisalign midway?

The answer:

The short answer would be: yes, in most cases.

Essentially, both traditional braces and Invisalign are known to provide the same results, so in the majority of situations, there isn’t any actual harm in doing the switch.

However, in some cases, for best results, traditional braces should accomplish certain movements, before you are actually able to continue your orthodontic treatment with Invisalign.

Invisalign might not suit issues such as bridgework, that’s why before making the decision to switch, you should consult your dentist.

Thanks to its practically-invisible design, Invisalign doesn’t trigger the same cosmetic issues as traditional braces. Any diet restrictions you’ve had until now will be eliminated – you can eat anything you want.

As for oral hygiene, a normal routine is required, involving perhaps a bit more brushing and flossing than usual. Invisalign does, in fact, make an orthodontic treatment a more pleasant experience.

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Pinner Dentist First Birthday

Pinner Dentists
Pinner Dentists

First Year in Business

The co-founders of award-winning Pinner dentists reflect on the success of their first year in business.

Since launching in July 2018, they’ve won the prestigious Private Dentistry Awards, are fast establishing themselves as the premier dental practice in Pinner and are growing from strength to strength.

They’ve attracted the amazing Dr. Telmo Iceta to join the West House Dental team.

And in February 2019, West House Dental launched their Facial Aesthetics offering with Dr. Milvia Di Gioia at the helm.

Dr Shabnam added, “it’s been an incredible year, we started from scratch and we’re so proud of what West House Dental has achieved”.

For media enquiries related to this story, please contact

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Can Bonding Fix Crooked Teeth?

Can bonding fix crooked teeth?

Yes, dental bonding can be successfully used to repair crooked teeth and, in many cases, it can be a better alternative to braces.

Millions of people of all ages struggle with crooked teeth.

In fact, one survey¹ shows that 81% of people think that their smile looks unattractive in photographs, which is why they avoid having their picture taken and even avoid smiling in public altogether.

Having crooked teeth may not sound like a serious dental concern, but it can take a huge blow on your confidence.

Although many patients assume that you can only fix crooked teeth with braces, modern dentistry offers you more than this option.

Bonding, one of the most popular solutions for repairing chipped teeth, can also be successful in your case.

What is dental bonding?

Dental bonding is a procedure involving the application of a composite resin material in a tooth cavity or around a damaged tooth.

Although it is commonly used to repair chipped or cracked teeth, dental bonding can also be successful in patients with crooked teeth.

Why choose bonding to fix crooked teeth?

Bonding is a versatile procedure that can solve many dental issues.

For patients with crooked teeth, the benefits of dental bonding include:

  • Quick results. Dental bonding can be applied with only one visit to the dentist. The typical dental bonding procedure takes as little as 30 minutes and requires no anaesthesia.
  • Minimally invasive. Placing a dental bond doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort and you will get used to the bond in as little as 48 hours.
  • Natural results. The bonding composite can be made to blend in with the exact shade of your natural teeth, so that no one will be able to tell the difference.
  • Affordable. Dental bonding is one of the most affordable in-clinic procedures and it has a high success rate.
  • Durable. With proper care and maintenance, dental bonding can last for up to 10 years. In case of chipping or discolouration, the bond can be easily repaired or replaced.

For example, if you have severely crooked teeth, cavities, active gum disease, or you’ve had extreme restorations done, your doctor may recommend another treatment.

Dental bonding is an effective procedure, but there are some cases when it isn’t recommended.


  1. Bupa research carried out with OnePoll surveying 2,000 people (May 2015) on their dental habits and attitudes to brushing their teeth.
Woman having had Teeth Whitening treatment in Pinner

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My Top 5 Brushing Tips

My tooth brushing tips

5 Tips For Brushing Teeth

When it comes to brushing your teeth, I’m sure you’ve already had lots of advice.

If you’re looking for some practical tips from a dentist on how to properly brush your teeth, that you can start using today, then you’ll love this infographic.

It’s a simple checklist that will help you maintain the health of your mouth and smile.

Tooth brushing tips

Here’s my take on the tooth brushing tips from this infographic:

1. Brush your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes at a time

I agree with most dentists that brushing teeth twice a day for at least two minutes is essential for your oral health.

I recommend tooth brushing just before bed and then one other time during the day.

It has been proven that cleaning your teeth properly twice a day can help reduce tooth decay by up to 50%.

2. Don’t brush your teeth after consuming acidic foods and drink

Using a toothbrush immediately after eating or drinking something acidic can wear away the enamel on your tooth.

Once lost, enamel cannot be repaired.

Which foods are acidic?

Grapefruits, oranges, lemons, limes and similar fruits are healthy but acidic with low pH levels.

Wines, beer and fizzy drinks are very acidic as well.

I recommend waiting at least 1 hour after you’ve consumed acidic food before brushing your teeth.

Examples of highly acidic foods and drinks.

3. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride

Fluoride occurs naturally in drinking water sources. Fluoride has been shown to make teeth stronger and help prevent cavities.

There are a few fluoride free toothpastes available on the market. These are available for various reasons.

But unless you’ve been told to use non-fluoride based toothpaste by a doctor or dentist, I strongly recommend only using toothpaste that contains fluoride.

How much fluoride should I use?

Fluoride is measured in parts per million (ppm). You can tell how much fluoride your toothpaste contains by checking the back of the packaging.

Using the correct amount of fluoride is essential to your oral health.

The diagram below explains the right amount of fluoride & toothpaste to use depending on your age group.

How much Fluoride and Toothpaste to use
Amount of fluoride and toothpaste to use for your age
  • For children under 3 years, use a smear of toothpaste that contains at least 1,000 ppm Fluoride.
  • Children between 3 and 6 should use a pea size amount of toothpaste that contains between 1,000 to 1,450 ppm Fluoride.
  • For adults and children older than 7 years use a full head of toothpaste that contains 1,450 ppm Fluoride.

Stronger fluoride toothpastes are available by prescription only, for patients that are high risk. Examples of patients that are high risk include orthodontic patients, the elderly and those suffering from Xerostomia (dry mouth).

How much fluoride should my toothpaste contain?

Fluoride is measured in parts per million (ppm). You can tell how much fluoride your toothpaste contains by checking the back of the packaging.

Using the correct amount of fluoride is essential to your oral health.

The diagram below explains the right amount of fluoride & toothpaste to use depending on your age group.

Amount of toothpaste to use
Amount of fluoride and toothpaste to use for your age

Under 3 years

For children under 3 years, use a smear of toothpaste that contains at least 1,000 ppm Fluoride.

3 to 6 years

For children between 3 years and 6 years, use a pea size amount of toothpaste that contains between 1,000 ppm to 1,450 ppm Fluoride.

7+ years

For children older than 7 years and adults use a full head of toothpaste that contains 1,450 ppm Fluoride.

Stronger fluoride toothpastes are available by prescription only, for patients that are high risk. Examples of patients that are high risk include orthodontic patients, the elderly and those suffering from Xerostomia (dry mouth).

4. Don’t rinse your mouth after brushing

Fluoride is the single most important ingredient in toothpaste and helps protect your teeth from damage and decay.

Rinsing your mouth with water or even mouthwash removes the fluoride you’ve just brushed onto your teeth.

Study’s have shown, people that don’t rinse their mouth with water after brushing have fewer cavities than those that do rinse their mouth with water.

5. Use an electric toothbrush

Knowing how to brush effectively with a manual toothbrush is a skill we should all have.

However, I still strongly recommended electric toothbrushes.

Electric toothbrushes have additional features such as:

  • Small heads to help access awkward molars and wisdom teeth
  • Two minute timers to ensure you’re brushing long enough
  • Pressure sensors to prevent you brushing too hard and damaging your gums. Brushing too hard causes gums to recede exposing the roots of your teeth, which can lead to other problems.
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