“Autumn leaves don’t fall, they fly. They take their time and wander on this their only chance to soar.”

So the children are back in school, nights are pulling in and soon the swallows will have left us again – it’s Autumn in the United Kingdom. 

Autumn harvest

It’s been a challenging summer for us, the easing of restrictions and corresponding high numbers of covid have meant we have had to be especially rigorous with our infection control procedures.  We would like to thank everyone attending appointments for continuing to wear masks, it’s something that we still must do in a healthcare setting to protect the most vulnerable people we treat.  

As many of you will also know Nicola caught Covid in mid-July and her recovery has taken a long time. She is almost there now but it was a good 6-7 weeks. A big thank you to the team here who kept the place going whist we were both in isolation without missing a beat.  Also a heartfelt  thank you for the lovely messages and cards that we have received it was a real lift to to Nicola during her recovery.

 If you are interested there is some useful information that comes out of the ZOE study about Covid run by Professor Tim Spector  https://covid.joinzoe.com/ .  Tim Spector also wrote the book Spoonfed which is a rather harrowing discussion on what the food industry, powerful lobbying and government inactivity amongst other things has done to the food that we eat. It’s also got lots of great advice on what to eat to feed the bacteria in your gut, something that we have been championing here for a while it’s well worth a read.  https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/Spoon-Fed-by-T-D-Spector-author/9781787332294

Some great news on our recent recruitment! We’re delighted to introduce our new trainee dental nurse Ellie; you may have already met her but if not you will see Ellie when you come in for a healthy mouth visit with Saranya, and for some treatments with Nicola and Mei-An.

We are always asking for feedback from our patients to try to improve the service we offer.  There are numerous ways in which you can do this, you can email us write to us, tell us, or you can fill in one of the comment cards on the front desk.  This is how we received some lovey feedback recently from patients about  Saranya our fabulous hygienist who has been with us since March.  The comments selected below sum up lot of the feedback and we thought we share them with you here.

Saranya was so reassuring, informative thorough and had a lovely manner, thank you team!”

“It felt like a very thorough session with the hygienist, very clear advice, friendly and helpful”

“Lovely visit, very thorough, and I felt very well taken care of”

We’re all delighted with the way she has settled in and in the coming months will be extending her hours with us.  Thank you for the feedback that you give us it really helps us improve!

As many of you will know, being a sustainable dental practice is not something that we do to tick a marketing box, it’s part of who we are.  We have started to feel that we need to have some form of independent recognition for the work that we do, and to this end we have been working through the Green Impact Programme that is run in conjunction with the Centre for Sustainable Health Care.  It’s been really interesting as expected we are already doing lots of the things that they suggest, and in some cases, we have some ideas for them to incorporate into their programme, but we have also learnt some things and different ideas as well.  We will update you on our progress!

That’s all for the moment the best of health to you all,

everyone at the Natural Smile.

“Desent is the most risky part”

I am not sure about you but for us it seems like the first half of this year has passed in a dream. So much has happened in the last year and as things start to ease from the restrictions that we have all faced, I’m reminded of the study of mountain climbing accidents in the Austrian Alps. The study showed that 75% of accidents had happened on the way down. We think we have conquered the mountain and we relax, and perhaps our mind starts to wonder. As humans we’re good at dealing with the challenge that it right in front of us, the mountain, the emergency. It’s only when things start to calm down that the reality of what we have been through catches up with us.

So remember to take the time to process what we have been through, it’s unprecedented and may take a while to understand. As we get a taste of what we used to call ‘normal life’ don’t be surprised to find that now is the time when the enormity of the pandemic catches up with us. As the climbers in the Austrian alps found, it’s normal to fall off after you have dealt with the worst the mountain has to offer. With this in mind we re-evaluate our priorities, reset our direction, and take cautious steps forward!


Dr Ben Atkins Filming with Nicola

We have been really busy filming recently. Nicola has been involved in an exciting project with the president of the Oral Health Society, talking positively about the benefits of dentistry. It’s part of a large industry wide initiative and we’re delighted to be one of the very few invited to participate and talk about our approach to dentistry, the materials we use, and the way in which we use them. You can see sneak peek here: The Natural Smile & Dr Ben Atkins

We’ve also started work on a series of video instructions and information so that you can have thepleasure of us telling you how to brush your teeth in the comfort of your own home! We’re only infirst stages but look out in future updates!

A note of caution on ‘direct to consumer’ teeth whitening and teeth straightening’ offers

It was only a matter of time before this type of treatment was offered, where you take your own impressions and then send them off to a remote dentist. We think it will also be just a matter oftime before we start to see serious problems that will arise directly from this treatment.

As you might have gathered, we’re not fans because we believe that these types of treatments should always be undertaken by skilled professionals, and most importantly as part of a treatment plan that has been specifically tailored to your own personal needs. If you arethinking of aligners to straighten your teeth, or whitening why don’t you have a chat with us and we can talk you though the pros and cons, for your own personal situation. Nicola is also undertaking a more advanced aligner course at the moment, and we will soon be adding this tothe range of treatments we have available to keep you healthy.

You can read what the dental regulator has to say about direct to consumer dentistry here:

That is it for this update and we hope that you enjoy coming safely down the mountain!
Everyone at the Natural Smile dental practice.

Introducing the HUMBLE Tooth Brush…



Here at the Natural Smile we are really excited and delighted to now stock the Humble Toothbrush!

Not only will you be drawn in by the beautiful coloured bristles and different design of this bamboo toothbrush – But once you read how this little brush is moving mountains one grain of dirt at a time you’ll be rushing in to buy one.

. . Biodegradable Handle: The Handle is made out of 100% biodegradable bamboo which naturally provides a non-slip surface and feels great against the tongue and check as you brush.  They have hand carved the bamboo to give it an ergonomic grip and a sleek, timeless design. It’s amazingly sustainable too; Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth and being naturally antibacterial means that there is no need to use fertilizers or pesticides during its cultivation. . . If you think of how many people there are on the planet, each with a plastic toothbrush you can only imagine the mountains of plastic waste that are being made by something so small. . . .


Soft bristles, BPA-free!

The Humble brush has a soft (adult) and ultra-soft (kids) bristles that have been verified to be free from the toxin BPA (bisphenol A). The bristles are made out of nylon, a durable material that degrades over time and can be processed through regular waste channels.







Compostable packaging

It’s not just the handle that’s compostable; the Humble Brush is the full package when it comes to awareness of the environment. The brush is packed in a transparent, biodegradable, wrapper made completely out of plants and the box is made out of 100% recycled materials.






Normal lifespan

The Humble Brush has no disadvantages to conventional toothbrushes. The ecological bamboo brush will last you just as long as any mass produced plastic toothbrush. . .





Humble through and through

Humble Brush is not only humble to the environment but also to people in need! For every sold Humble Brush, they donate a toothbrush to people in need of oral care

The product itself and the company’s values are right up there with what we believe in. It’s beautifully refreshing to know that by buying a Humble Brush you too are contributing to a better environment and someone in need a new company with a big heart.


Rugby World Cup – The Importance Of Mouthguards

With the 18th Rugby World Cup season underway everyone is talking about who’s favourite to win. Alongside all the talk and hype it’s predicted that there will be an upsurge in participation especially amongst children which could lead to serious dental health issues.

It’s for this reason that the British Dental Health Foundation issued a reminder urging everyone taking up the sport to make sure they wear a mouthguard as this is an essential piece of safety in what is a very rough sport. Not wearing a mouth guard can result in injuries to lips, cheeks, tongue and jaw but most importantly to us at the Natural Smile; teeth being cracked or knocked out which could lead to horrendous pain and a lifetime of extensive and possibly expensive treatment.

Dr Nigel Carter the Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation commented that: “The Rugby World Cup is a fantastic occasion for Britain and also a fantastic arena for us to spread our safety message. When you see your team run out on that pitch, every single one of them will be wearing a mouth guard, they would think it crazy not to. Mouthguards for children, therefore, should not be optional; they should be one of the first things in the kit bag. Rugby by its very nature is very physical and accidents happen, sporting injuries are a leading cause of adults losing teeth. Wearing a mouth guard is a simple and cheap way of ensuring kids safety”.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) regulations have acknowledged the importance of mouthguards and have made them compulsory for all players above school level who are involved in rugby. If these players have to wear them then there really is no excuse for it not to be compulsory for school children. Why stop there; if we think of other games such as cricket, hockey, football, American football and boxing – any sport really which can cause broken and damaged teeth should make their players wear mouthguards. You wouldn’t let your child ride a bicycle on the main road without a helmet would you?

You can buy a regular mouth guard from a variety of places, but here at the Natural Smile we will provide you with a custom-made mouth guard which will be  molded to your own mouth and costs a mere £65. We have a variety of colours for you to choose from to make it more fun – you will agree that this is a relatively small amount of money if you consider not wearing one could lead to a lifetime of dental work!

When wearing a custom-made mouthguard it fits to your mouth exactly and not only protects your teeth and gums but can also prevent damage to the jaw, neck and even brain – preventing against concussions.

Dr Carter continues by saying: “We must take cues from other nations. New Zealand rugby saw a 43 per cent reduction in dental injuries after referees were given powers to ensure that all domestic rugby players of all ages must wear mouthguards.”

“We all take our teeth for granted. Often, it is only when we are faced with the reality of losing one, or several, that we realise just how important they are.

“Getting a child to wear a mouthguard shouldn’t prove difficult either, just point at their favourite player and they will be wearing one, as role models rugby players are great advocates for mouthguards. You can also get them in children’s favourite team colours too, so they can support their team with pride when they next run on to the pitch.”

So if you are playing rugby or your son/daughter is, there’s really no reason to call us and get a custom made mouthguard made!

Surgery two is open for business!

Well, it’s been about 9 years in the making but we finally have our second surgery open and working, and it’s gone from the finalised design back in 2005:

To this, (where the picture is looking right through where the new surgery is now)

To this, where the stud-work is up: and plaster is on: (not sure what that bath is doing there?)

To our beautiful new treatment room, where we are happily treating patients!

It’s been a long hard road and when the fitting took place during the middle of April we had a few issues to overcome, like in all projects but we are all delighted with the final outcome and hope that you will be too!

Suffer the little children..

Latest survey on our children’s dental health makes for depressing reading..

The latest large scale children’s dental health survey’s report into the dental health of children in England Wales and Northern Ireland were released last week and despite some modest improvements in some areas of children’s oral health the overwhelming picture is still pretty bleak. These results pertain to 2013 with the previous data being gathered in 2003, so they are a little behind but it’s extremely disappointing to see that around 33% of 12-year-olds and 46% of 15-year-olds have tooth decay.

The survey is data collection only it does not suggest any reasons or suggest any remedies to the problems, but it is widely believed that the amount of added sugar taken through diet is a significant factor.

There are lots ways in which to combat tooth decay in children and in adults for that matter, and some of those advocating them give powerful and persuasive arguments,  Steven Hancocks writing in the British dental journal argues strongly the case for fluoride in the water supply consistently, and I can understand that perspective, (more on our view on fluoride later) but ultimately for me I think that the danger of this approach alone is that it can remove the responsibility of the individual.  No one is born with tooth decay, and I think the way to change these depressing numbers of tooth decay in our children has to be firstly through education.  In the long term it is only in this way that the real goal of individuals managing their own oral health will be achieved, after all even if we conquered our recent addiction to sugar, there will always be some other threat to our oral health and only through good education is an individual equipped with the necessary skills to deal with whatever the ‘new sugar ‘is.

But I guess that even the most optimistic side of me can’t believe that this will be enough by itself, indeed this isn’t just a problem for us in the UK,  a recent health study showed the number one reason why children visited a hospital in New Zealand in 2014 was to get their teeth removed under general anaesthetic. Whilst I think that ultimately education is the best long term solution I think we may also need the additional help provided by water fluoridisation.

For more information on the survey please have a look here. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2015/03March/Pages/are-half-of-childrens-teeth-rotten.aspx

To have a look at the case for water fluoridisation mentioned above  have a look here http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v218/n5/full/sj.bdj.2015.149.html

And to read more depressing news on the state of children’s teeth in New Zealand have a read here http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/67402054/rise-in-bad-baby-teeth-concerns-dentists

Residents Parking the latest..

Just a quick update on the residents parking scheme,

you can see the original comments on the residents parking along with the maps of the areas by clicking here

So far it seems from the feedback we have had that the new system is working without too many problems.  Staff and patients seem to have been able to park reasonably well. We have had one indecent that I am aware of where a parking ticket has been issued, and its worth flagging it up, parking out the front of the surgery is only allowed between the hours of 10 and 4:30 pm, its an automatic ticket if you park outside of these Times.  The free car parks around the back of the surgery are still to this day free, although they have been experiencing quite heavy usage.  I am awaiting more information from the council on the long term future of the car parks but for the moment it seems that they will remain free.

The Parking meter has been removed from the road behind the surgery, (Charles Place) and I would think that that would be reasonable grounds for  not being able to pay for the ticket, although the usual caveats apply, to this statement in that I have no evidence that then council will accept lack of payment machine as a valid reason not to get a ticket!   The most disappointing aspect to the whole saga is that I see no evidence that this process has reduced congestion on the roads  around us, or in general in Bristol. As always any feedback on the residents parking scheme will be greatly received and I will ensure that it gets channelled back to the council.

There will be further Residents parking updates as we go along!

The Cactus toothpaste – Natural Dental Products at the Natural Smile

Are we really selling cactus toothpaste?  Not quite but the the team here at the Natural Smile are really excited about the range of new  oral hygiene products that we are now selling because they contain all sorts of natural products, including Aloe Vera, which looks like a cacti (but is actually a member of the Lilly family, but the ‘Lilly toothpaste’ just doesn’t sound the same!!).

The new members of the range are a toothpaste, a mouthwash and a lip balm and they contain extracts from natural products, such as (among other things)  tea tree oil, xylitol,  Aloe Vera.  Aloe Vera has been used for a long time as an anti inflammatory agent, so in this case could help sooth gums, xylitol is a plaque inhibitor, which is beneficial in a toothpaste and tea tree oil has been used as an antimicrobial and anti inflammatory agent.

But as good as it is to have these great natural products in the new range, it is just as exciting to not have one ingredient in the new range, that is Soduim Lauryl Sulphate or SLS as its known.

SLS is a surfactant and lathering agent, and there is some evidence to show that it is an irritant to skin, can cause a recurrence of mouth ulcers and possibly reduce the effect of the fluoride in the toothpaste.

Our new range uses a different lathering agent, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate which despite sounding the same, is a completely different compound.  It does not have a sulphate group instead it has the amino acid ‘sarcosinic acid’ (also known as sarcosine – a derivative of glycine metabolism) found naturally in the body, this results in a far milder ingredient that is not known to cause any irritation.

So why not come in and try the Alodent range of toothpastes, mouth washes and lip balms! Not a cacti  in sight!

Why brushing your teeth straight after meals isn’t always the best idea.

Mostly brushing you teeth after eating is a good idea, the reasoning being that the quicker you remove the food and the sugar from your mouth the less chance that it can cause problems. However there are some circumstances where this isn’t a good idea, specifically after eating or drinking foods with a high acid content, such as fruit juice, lemons, vinegar, wine and soft drinks.

The acid in this type of food has the effect of softening the enamel of the teeth.  If you then go and brush your teeth you stand a much higher chance of damaging the enamel.  Exposure to acidic foods or drinks is one of the main reasons that enamel wears away or erodes. This process, known as tooth erosion, leaves the dentine exposed and your teeth much more sensitive.

Since drinking a glass of fruit juice in the morning with breakfast or a glass of wine in the evening  is a common thing, this would be a key time to watch for this type of problem.  There are some specific things you can do to help to minimise the impact of the acid on your enamel.

  • Rinse your mouth out with water after eating or drinking the acid containing food or drink.
  • Use a straw to drink which has the impact of delivering the juice to the back of the mouth and bypassing some of the teeth. (you may not be able to pull this off whist drinking wine!)
  • Leave at least 30 minutes before you brush your teeth after eating something acid, this give the saliva the chance to neutralise the acids and also re mineralise the enamel.
  • Don’t use a hard bristle brush and don’t brush aggressively, you can further soften your bristis of your brush by running it under hot water.
  • Be careful with the use of electric tooth brushes, consult your dentist or hygienists to determine the right amount of electric tooth brush use.
  • Other things can also damage the enamel of your teeth, such as grinding, and this can be difficult for the individual to spot as you can do it at night, or not even be aware of it, regular checkups can help spot signs of grinding, and your dentist can then help you overcome it.

Bob Is the practice manager at the Natural Smile Dental practice.www.thenaturalsmile.co.uk you can also  pick up more tips on the Natural Smile’ facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/thenaturalsmile

Greening Up The Roots – The Journey to a Green Dentist

From December 100% of the electricity that we use at the Natural Smile will be from renewable sources, and it feels really good to know that every service that we offer , every email that we send is now being powered by the wind,water and the sun.

My next challenge is to try to decrease our reliance on natural gas, and I’m pleased to see that green gas is becoming a more realistic alternative. It works by getting microbes to break down the organic material from leftover food processes, using waste potato peelings from a chip factory for example. The by product of this is a gas that can be used in place of the natural gas we are using at the moment, what remains of the food waste is a great fertiliser.

I should add of course that there are lots of things that we are already doing to try to minimise our impact on the environment.

We only use LED lighting in the practice which cuts the energy consumption, we use only recycled paper and where possible use vegetable based inks.

We have cut our car journeys to and from the practice, almost by 50% recently, and have enjoyed taking the train to the recent dental shows.  Our computer upgrade last year switched out large power hungry pcs for small solid state minimal power alternatives, our hardware team believe that all of them take about as much power as just one of the old ones!

All of the paints that we used and still use are low VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), all of the wood we use is FSC certified.

A few years ago we undertook an exercise to see how many of the chemicals that we use in the practice we can replace with natural products, first out the door were the industrial dental industry standard cleaners and disinfectants that we used, replaced with excellent non harmful alternatives, by the time we finished the exercise the most harmful item that we had in the surgery was the Ecover dishwasher tablets!

Each one of these areas (and the many other initiatives that we are undertaking, not mentioned here) are worthy of their own piece and when I get the time I might just give them the time they deserve!

The Big challenge once I have gotten to grips with the Eco-gas, is minimising the carbon footprint of the dental equipment that we use.  This one is tricky because there isn’t much appetite in the dental industry for this type of thinking most of it tends to be determined by cost, but I aim to change that, even if only in a small way!

Bob Is the practice manager at the Natural Smile Dental practice.www.thenaturalsmile.co.uk you can also  pick up more tips on the Natural Smile’ facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/thenaturalsmile