To help our patients have a greater understanding of the cosmetic and restorative dental treatments available, we have included below a list of the most frequently asked questions we receive from our patients.
Q. What are wisdom teeth?
A. They're the last teeth to erupt in the back of your mouth. Usually, they erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. Occasionally though, they find their way our much later than that; some never erupt at all.
Thanks to evolution, we're evolving into the proud ownership of smaller jaws; unfortunately our teeth aren't quite keeping pace. Most of our jaws only have room for 28 teeth, but we may have 32.
Basically, this means that the last teeth to erupt, which are the wisdom teeth, have nowhere to go if there's not enough room remaining.
Q. What's the best way to prevent gum disease?
A. Conscientious removal of plaque by flossing, brushing and regular professional cleaning will minimise your risk of gum disease.
However, there are other factors that can affect the health of your gums, such as stress, diabetes, genetics, smoking, and pregnancy.
Q. What happens if I just ignore getting my teeth cleaned?
A. As the plaque and calculus accumulate, the periodontal disease continues. Supporting tissues around the teeth (gums, periodontal ligaments, bone) are lost.
Periodontal pockets form which trap additional plaque. Bad breath often accompanies this condition. Once the bone that supports the teeth is lost, it will not re-grow without surgical intervention.
Q. What is periodontal disease?
A. Periodontal disease is caused by the bacteria found in plaque. If plaque is not regularly removed, it calcifies into a rough, porous deposit called calculus, or tartar. By products from bacterial metabolism within the tartar irritate the gums, making them red, tender, swollen and more prone to bleed.
Eventually, the supporting periodontal structures begin to breakdown. The result of this slow process is tissue loss, bone loss and eventual tooth loss.
Q. What does periodontal treatment involve?
A. In the earlier states of gum disease (what we would term mild to moderate periodontitis), most treatment involves scaling and root planning. The procedure aims at removing plaque and calculus from the surface of the tooth adjacent to gum tissue.
The periodontal pockets around the tooth are cleansed and all affected root surfaces are decontaminated. In the majority of early gum disease cases, treatment entails improved home care techniques and scaling and root planning carried out by our dentists & hygienist.
More advanced cases may require surgical treatment.
Q. While biting hard food I broke one of my teeth. What should I do?
A. If you are not in any pain then call us as soon as possible and make an appointment, but try and keep the tooth as clean as possible and avoid biting hard on that tooth. If you have pain, then you will need to arrange an emergency appointment to see us.
Q. When a tooth is pushed out of position what should I do?
A. Attempt to reposition the tooth to its normal alignment using very light finger pressure, but do not force the tooth. Bite down to keep the tooth from moving. Your dentist may splint the tooth in place to the two healthy teeth next to the loose tooth.
Q. My tooth was knocked out, how soon should I see a dentist?
A. Immediately. Getting to a dentist within 30 minutes can make the difference between saving and losing a tooth. When a tooth is knocked out:
- Immediately call us for an emergency appointment.
- Handle the tooth by the crown, not the root. Touching the root (the part of the tooth below the gum) can damage cells necessary for bone reattachment.
- Gently rinse the tooth in milk to remove dirt. Do not scrub.
- Place the clean tooth in your mouth between the cheek and the gum to keep it moist. It is important not to let the tooth dry out.
- If it is not possible to store the tooth in the mouth of the injured person, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and immerse in milk.
Q. Why do I need X-Rays?
A. Radiographic or X-ray examinations provide us with an important diagnostic tool that shows the condition of your teeth, their roots, jaw placement and the overall composition of your facial bones.
X-Rays can help us to determine the presence or degree of periodontal disease, tooth decay, abscesses and many abnormal growths, such as cysts and tumours. X-rays can also show the exact location of impacted (crowded) teeth. They can pinpoint the location of cavities and other signs of disease that may not be possible to detect through visual examination.
Q. Should I be concerned about X-ray exposure if I have to have a number of X-Rays taken?
A. No. We are equipped with the very latest ultra-low dose digital imaging systems for the highest quality results with minimal exposure. In reality, even if you required a significant number of images you would receive considerably more radiation by taking an airline flight on holiday than you would from your dental x-rays.
Q. When should my child first see a dentist?
A. The ideal time for your child to meet the dentist is six months after their first (primary) teeth erupt.
This gives us a perfect opportunity to carefully examine the development of their mouth and catch problems such as baby bottle tooth decay, teething irritations and prolonged thumb-sucking early. Although in practical terms it is very difficult to carry out any treatment on a child of this age, it is actually beneficial for your child to get used to visiting us, so that in later years should treatment be necessary a visit to the dentist is not so much of an ordeal for your child.
Q. I brush my teeth constantly but still have bad breath. What can I do?
A. Brushing and flossing are definitely the first steps to eliminating bad breath, along with ensuring that you regularly see your hygienist for routine scaling & polishing(professional cleaning). Brushing and flossing remove bacteria responsible for creating odorous sulphur compounds and the food they feed on.
However, bacteria hide not only on and around the teeth but also on the tongue under a layer of mucous. Here they are free to create odours.
You might want to consider a tongue scraper or soft brush. They're very effective at removing the protective mucous layer from the back of the tongue.
Q. What is fluoride?
A. Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally present in varying amounts in many foods and some water supplies. It is also used in many consumer dental products. Fluoride strengthens teeth making it more resistant to decay. It is important to use fluoride containing toothpastes, and sometimes mouth rinses or gels to gain the added benefit of preventing sensitivity and tooth decay.
Q. Is smoking affecting my dental health?
A. Everyone is aware of how bad smoking is for the lungs, but many people forget about how much damage it does to your teeth. Smoking can cause serious long term damage to teeth and gums. The main concern for most smokers is the discolouration and staining of their teeth. Tobacco causes teeth to yellow and darken to a light brown colour.
Smoking will also cause bad breath, leave a bad taste in your mouth, and most importantly affect the blood-flow to the gums making you much more prone to gum disease. Smoking is also implicated with an increased risk of oral cancer.
Q. Why is it so important to maintain dental health?
A. Maintaining your teeth and gums as you age is an important step in sustaining your general health and well-being. Whilst exercising, eating the correct foods and regular health checks are important, looking after your teeth and gums is also essential. Good dental health will help you to lead a long, happy and healthy life.