Personal knowledge and awareness of what we can do to ensure good ongoing dental health starts with a sound knowledge of personal dental health behaviour and in knowing for what and when we must call on the support of a dental health professional.
Here are some frequently asked questions to help you understand your teeth and what it takes to look after them. Explore these questions and answers and should you need some further information or advice not covered then contact us, or ask us at your next appointment!
What is calculus/tartar
Calculus, also known as tartar, is a hard build-up found above and below the gum lines of teeth. It is formed when minerals from your saliva incorporate into soft plaque on the teeth thus calcifying it. If left this calculus can cause gum disease.
Why should I floss
Flossing helps to clean between the teeth where your toothbrush doesn't reach. This prevents cavities forming between the teeth and also helps to stop calculus from forming and causing gum disease.
What is gum disease
Gum disease can be classified under gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums causing bleeding and puffiness or swelling of the gums. If left untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. Periodontitis is classified as inflammation and destruction of the gums and the surrounding tissues including the ligaments and bone surrounding the teeth. Gum disease is treated by your your dental professional through thorough cleaning and scaling of the teeth and gingival pockets. They also provide you with education on oral care at home.
What is tooth decay and how does it happen
Tooth decay or dental caries is where there has been a loss of mineral from your tooth resulting in a cavity. Bacteria in your mouth produce acid which causes minerals to be lost. Minerals are constantly being lost and regained into the tooth but the cavity forms only when the mineral loss is greater than the mineral gain. You can help remineralise your teeth by using a fluoride toothpaste and also stop mineral loss by flossing daily to remove plaque and keep the mouth clean. Diet is also important. Limiting the amount of snacks you have through the day means the bacteria in your mouth have less to feed on and so produce less acid. White fillings can be placed if you have a cavity.
Why are my teeth sensitive to cold
Sensitivity to cold could be caused by;
- A cavity in the tooth/teeth
- Areas where roots of teeth are no longer covered by the gums (recession)
- Generally sensitive teeth
If you are experiencing cold sensitivity, seek advice from your dental professional who will advise you on the cause and solutions.
Why are my teeth sensitive to heat
Unlike cold sensitivity, sensitivity to heat is generally caused by only one thing. It is caused by infection in the nerve which can either be caused by;
- deep decay in the tooth
- a cracked tooth
- a previous filling which was very deep and the nerve has not been able to recover
If you are experiencing heat sensitivity, seek advice from your dental professional who will advise you on the cause and solutions. Call us here
What causes staining or tooth discolouration
Staining or discolouration can be caused by a number of factors including;
- Coloured foods
- Teeth that have had a root canal treatment
- Certain mouthwashes
- Certain bacteria
- Amalgam/silver fillings
- Swimming in chlorinated pools
What does smoking do to my teeth and gums
Smoking is a leading risk factor for developing gum disease. Nicotine is toxic to cells within the gums which means they are unable to repair. Smoking also causes a lack of blood flow to the tissues in the mouth meaning they do not receive the nutrients they ought to aid in cell repair.
Smoking also leads to cavities in the teeth by causing the mouth to become very dry and also increasing amounts of plaque and calculus.
Is whitening or bleaching bad for my teeth or gums
No. Bleaching or whitening teeth does not cause any loss in tooth minerals or have any other negative effects to the teeth or gums. In some cases people will experience sensitivity when whitening teeth but this is just caused by movement of fluid through the teeth and can be accommodated for.
How much will it cost
The cost of your dental treatment will be advised at the time of your appointment or an approximation given when making an appointment. We are always open and honest about what treatment you require and the costs involved and aim to give you the best price possible.
How often should I visit the Dentist or Hygienist
We will advise you of how often you should be visiting your Dentist and Dental Hygienist at the time of your appointment, however, generally we recommend visiting Your dentist annually and your Hygienist annually but 6 months apart. For example you may see your Dentist in January and your Hygienist in June.
Will it hurt
We aim to make treatment completely pain free. All our dental professionals have your best interests in mind and your comfort is our top priority no matter the treatment.
I'm pregnant - should I still visit the Dentist
Yes, seeing your Dentist and Hygienist during pregnancy is very important. During pregnancy your hormone levels are raised causing an exaggerated reaction to any plaque or calculus on the teeth. For this reason it is important to have a scale and polish or cleaning done by your Hygienist.
Can I pay off my dental bill
Yes, we understand dental costs can be unplanned for and will sort out a payment arrangement to suit. Please speak to your health professional and receptionist regarding payment options prior to treatment.
Should I replace my old silver mercury amalgam fillings
The option of replacing silver mercury amalgam with white fillings is available to you if you wish. Please discuss this with your dental professional and see if it is right for you.
Amalgam fillings have been proven by the FDA to be not harmful to the body but it is your choice as to whether you would like them replaced.
Are dental x-rays safe
Yes, dental x-rays are safe. Your standard radiographs are well under the recommended dose of radiation and are very beneficial to accurately diagnosing dental problems and establishing whether or not fillings or other dental treatment is needed.
If you have any queries regarding dental radiographs please speak to your health professional. Always advise us if you are pregnant or undergoing radiotherapy.
What are fissure sealants
Fissure sealants are thin plastic coatings which are placed over the fissures or grooves on the biting surfaces of your teeth.
They help to prevent tooth cavities by stopping plaque and bacteria from adhering in these grooves and fissures.
Is fluoride safe
Fluoride in minimal doses is extremely safe. The amount of fluoride in our water supply plus the amount in our toothpaste and any other oral hygiene aids is not enough to cause any adverse effects.
Fluoride exposure is an important part in maintaining dental health as fluoride when present in the mouth helps to remineralise teeth where they have been weakened.
What toothpaste should I use
There are many varieties of toothpaste on the market most of which are satisfactory. Generally we recommend any toothpaste with fluoride in it. Please ask your dental professional which toothpaste is right for you.
What toothbrush should I use
If you prefer manual toothbrushes, always buy a soft or very soft bristled brush with a small head. Do not buy a medium or hard bristled brush as these damage the teeth and gums.
If you prefer electric toothbrushes, Oral-B brand toothbrushes are always a good way to go. Alternatively, Panasonic now also provide great sonic toothbrushes. Please ask your dental professional for more information on toothbrushes and toothbrushing techniques.