FAQ

Oral Health

I brush my teeth constantly but still have bad breath. What can I do?

This is one of the most asked dental FAQ we hear…

Good daily brushing and flossing are definitely the first steps to eliminating bad breath. 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 odours are created.
It is best to brush your tongue daily or you may want to consider a tongue scraper. Both are extremely effective at removing this protective mucous layer from the back of the tongue

If bad breath persists, there are mouth rinse products available. A visit to the doctor may also be necessary to eliminate other causes.

How do I floss?

Hold the floss tightly between your thumb and forefinger with about 1 cm of floss between them, leaving no slack. Use gentle rocking motions to guide the floss between your teeth. Avoid jerking or snapping the floss into the gums. When the floss reaches the gum line, curve the floss into a C-shape against one tooth until you feel resistance. Hold the floss against the tooth and gently scrape the side of the tooth. Move the floss away from the gum. Repeat for the other side of the gap, alongside the other tooth. Ensure all teeth are flossed, working in a set pattern.

Gum Disease

Why do my gums bleed?

By brushing and flossing correctly every day you prevent plaque from developing around the teeth and gums. However, if there is a build-up of plaque or calculus (hardened plaque) in the fold or pocket where your tooth meets your gum, bacteria develop and if allowed to multiply, gingivitis develops. This can be recognised by red, swollen gums that will bleed easily. Bleeding gums should be taken seriously as if left untreated could lead to periodontal disease.

Regular dental visits will involve scaling and cleaning to remove the hardened plaque as well as soft tissue assessment and instruction on optimal oral hygiene. A program of prevention is vital for lifelong good oral health.

How do I prevent gum disease?

By correctly brushing and flossing your teeth and regular professional scale and cleaning you can reduce your risk of gum disease. However, factors such as stress, smoking, diabetes, pregnancy, genetics and poor health can affect gum health.

Regular Check-ups and X-rays

What happens if I don’t get my teeth cleaned regularly at the dentist?

Periodontal disease progresses as plaque and calculus are allowed to accumulate. The supporting tissues around the teeth (the gums, periodontal ligaments and bone) are lost. Pockets will form which trap even more plaque. Bad breath frequently occurs. Be mindful that once bone that supports teeth is lost, it will never regrow.

Why are X-rays necessary?

X-ray examinations are an important diagnostic tool providing the dentist with important information on the status of your teeth e.g.

  • the presence of decay and its precise location
  • the presence of abscesses
  • the condition of roots
  • any changes in the jaw bone structure
  • Other signs of disease that may not be detected by visual examination.

Early detection and treatment of dental problems can save time, finances, unnecessary discomfort, stress and complications.

Tooth Decay Vs. discolouration

I have 'chalky teeth' that decay easily. What can I do?

The principal cause for ‘chalky teeth’ is erosion from an acidic environment in the mouth. These acids are a result of bacteria growing on the plaque in the mouth. Acidic drinks (eg cola drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks, wine) acidic foods (eg citrus, salt and vinegar chips) and lack of saliva will cause the tooth enamel to soften and dissolve, thus commencing the cycle of tooth decay.

Your dentist will notice the pattern of erosion in your mouth during an dental examination and be able to advise on prevention and a treatment plan to save your teeth and prevent further deterioration.

What causes discolouration of teeth?

Discolouration of the tooth enamel can be caused by staining, aging or chemical damage to teeth. The more common causes are coffee, tea, red wine, significant amounts of cola soft drinks, cigarettes and some medications.

Genetics can also play a role in the colour of a person’s teeth – some people have a naturally brighter enamel than others. Disease and certain medications eg tetracyclines can also cause discolouration.

Children’s Dentistry

When should I bring my child to the dentist for the first time?

Tooth fairyThe first baby tooth will erupt at age between 6-9 months. It is recommended that your child attend for their first dental visit six months after the first (primary) teeth have erupted, commonly around 3 years of age. The dentist will carefully examine the development of their mouth and detect any problems such as tooth decay, prolonged thumb-sucking etc. Early examination and preventative care will protect your child’s teeth and assist to establish good oral hygiene and correct brushing and flossing techniques. Parents should assist the child to clean their teeth up to the age of 10 to 11 years old to ensure that it is done properly.

Why are Baby teeth important?

  • To enable normal development of the jaw and permanent teeth
  • To maintain space for permanent teeth
  • To assist in good speech development
  • To develop a positive self-image

Preventative Care

What are fissure seals?

Fissure seals are a plastic material used to coat the grooves or fissures on the top of teeth. It acts primarily to protect the teeth from decay as a barrier is formed to prevent plaque and bacteria from commencing the decay process.

Generally, it is applied on 6 and 12 year old molar teeth, depending on the decay risk of the child and their tooth anatomy.

The retention rate of fissure sealants is around 70-90 per cent.

How could an electric toothbrush be helpful?

An electric toothbrush is a device that uses electric power to move the brush head. The movement of the brush head is in an oscillating pattern that helps clean gently between the teeth and in the far corners of your mouth. It is a great experience to use the electric toothbrush. They are helpful for those who have some kind of difficulty in handling the regular toothbrush and often elderly people, or those with some kind of wrist injuries, can benefit greatly from the comfort and less effort involved in using an electric toothbrush.

Dental Implants

What are the advantages of a dental implant treatment?

Currently, dental implants are the closest method of having as natural a tooth as possible when a tooth is missing. The teeth on either side are not damaged or cut. Once the body has integrated with the titanium implant, it should be permanent.

Implants help solve some of the problems that people may have with traditional dentures and bridges which rest on the surface of the gums. When natural teeth are extracted, the bone which held them in place begins to shrink. This can cause dentures to become uncomfortable and ill-fitting. As implants provide points of firm attachment for dental prostheses, they can help solve problems posed by traditional dentures. Many people have reported that dental implants are more comfortable, convenient and attractive than the dentures they had previously worn.

Patients also report biting and chewing are often very similar to biting and chewing with normal teeth.

Find out more on our Dental Implants page

Tooth Whitening

Is tooth whitening safe?

There are two ways to get the teeth whitened; in office (chair) whitening and home tooth whitening. Both have been extensively studied and reported in dental literature and their effectiveness and safety has been well documented. The most common temporary side effects are mild tooth sensitivity and slight gum irritation. Whitening is not recommended in children younger than 15 years because the pulp chamber or nerve of the tooth is enlarged until this age. Pregnant and lactating women should also forgo teeth whitening. Cavities should be treated before undergoing any whitening procedure.

Visit our Teeth Whitening page.

Are whitening toothpastes effective?

Whitening toothpastes are helpful if they remain for a long time on the tooth surface. The concentration of the active ingredient in whitening toothpastes is much lower than in the home bleaching kits. When used as a normal tooth paste, it is quickly washed off the tooth surface by rinsing.

Amalgam Vs. composite fillings

Should I have amalgam fillings removed?

There has been much publicity regarding the safety of dental amalgam. The Australian Dental Association (ADA) policy remains, on the basis of the research available, that the use of dental amalgam produces no harmful effects.

Having said that, these days composite resin tooth coloured restorations are the modern material of choice due to their pleasing aesthetic appearance, in addition to their ability to bond to the layers of your teeth and favourable wear properties.

Environmental concerns now restrict the use of amalgams in Scandanavia. The Australian Dental Association takes a similar viewpoint to their counterparts in Germany and Austria by discouraging amalgam use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, in children and in individuals with existing kidney disease.

Braces

Can adults get braces?

Adults can be fitted with braces at any age. When constant pressure is placed on teeth, the surrounding bone remodels as one’s teeth move into the corrected position. Throughout life, one’s bone is constantly remodelling thus making braces an option at any age.

Read more on our orthodontics page.

Many adults like to use the new Invisalign clear aligners to position the teeth with the benefit of not being seen.

Injury

What do I do when my child’s tooth is broken, loose or missing due to an accident?

Generally, you should not try to replace a loose baby tooth, but you should always make an appointment with your dentist to have it checked. However, a loose, displaced, or knocked out adult tooth requires immediate attention from your dentist!

If the tooth is knocked out completely and you are able to access a dentist quickly, you must put the tooth in your cheek to keep it moist or keep it immersed in milk until you see the dentist for an immediate assessment. Don’t rinse the loose tooth in water. Teeth that have been displaced are easiest for your dentist to reposition very soon after the injury. If you are unable to access a dentist quickly, you must wash it with saliva or milk and put it into the socket yourself. You must get to a dentist as soon as possible – preferably within 30 minutes and before 2 hours. In the event of a loose permanent tooth you must visit the dentist as soon as possible. An x-ray will often be taken of the tooth to rule out the possibility that the root has been fractured. If the tooth is very loose, your dentist may need to splint the tooth to the neighbouring teeth to stabilise it while the injury heals.

Small chips broken from teeth do not normally require urgent treatment. Often your dentist will just need to smooth the rough edges, or if the chips are larger, repair them with some tooth coloured resin. Make sure you try to find all the broken bits as some pieces can be re-bonded to the tooth with excellent results.

A tooth that has more than a small piece fractured needs careful assessment. If the tooth is acutely sensitive to breathing air, this is usually a sign that the fracture is deep and needs urgent care. Once the fracture is covered by a protective layer, the sensitivity usually subsides.

Wisdom teeth

What do I do about my wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth usually do not push through the gums until people are between 17-25 years of age. Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to come through the gums and often there is insufficient space remaining in the jaw to accommodate them. The teeth would then become wedged in or ‘impacted’. Some impacted wisdom teeth remain buried and cause no trouble. Others may cause severe problems eg if there is infection around the gum, pressure or damage on the neighbouring tooth, if cysts develop, food getting trapped around the wisdom tooth.

The dentist may recommend that they be removed. This is a common procedure. If your wisdom teeth are likely to be difficult or complicated to remove, your dentist will refer you to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

Before getting to your dentist, you can start with rinsing the area with hot salty water (ie one teaspoon of salt in a glass of hot water). This needs to be done frequently (ie once an hour) to try to flush the food debris from around the tooth and provide some temporary relief.

Pain Free Dentistry and anxiety management

How can you help me when I am so scared of the dentist?

Dental anxiety or fear of the dentist and needles can be a major stumbling block for some people, preventing otherwise intelligent and rational people from seeking dental treatment.

Their fear of dentistry is so great that it prevents them from attending the dentist regularly for maintenance and professional cleaning. They will attend only when in severe discomfort, thus reinforcing their fear.

You can feel comfortable expressing your fears and concerns when visiting the dentist. Anxiety is diminished if you are given accurate information from a friendly, considerate dental team. We accept that anxious people need assistance and can carefully explain each procedure that is required. We have excellent information brochures and staff that can discuss all aspects of treatment to help reduce your anxiety and offer quality care. With new equipment and modern techniques, dental injections are quite pain free. People concerned about a local anaesthetic (injection) can have a strong topical numbing gel applied on the gum prior to any necessary injection. This will numb the gum significantly.

There are also different facilities available such as happy gas and IV sedation to ease the anxiety and lessen the pain during dental procedures.