FAQs

If you have any questions relating to any of our dental services or treatments please don’t hesitate to call us on 3396 4094

Could my Amalgam (silver) fillings be making me sick?

There is concern that the mercury found in amalgam fillings affects the nervous system. Because the evidence is often inconclusive we prefer to use white composite fillings rather than amalgam. White composite fillings have advanced a lot in strength and have some advantages over amalgam as they bond to the tooth which preserves more of the tooth structure. They usually don’t last as long as amalgam restorations and tend to stain over time.

Whiter Teeth – What are the alternatives?

Some of the factors contributing to tooth discolouration include:

  • Antibiotic staining
  • Trauma to teeth
  • Nerve death
  • Aging
  • Exposure to staining substances, such as coffee, tea or tobacco

Before recommending tooth whitening for you, we need to diagnose the exact cause of your tooth discoloration. Some solutions we can discuss with you include:

  • Scale & polish to remove extrinsic or superficial stains
  • Whitening is great way of brightening your natural teeth with either ZOOM or home whitening
  • Porcelain veneers or composite bonding to cover the stained tooth
  • Crowns (or caps) are considered if the tooth will also benefit from a strengthening permanent restoration

READ MORE Whitening or Cosmetic

Why do I need X-rays?

Because tooth decay often starts between the back teeth or sometimes under existing restorations we have no way of visibly viewing those sites without an xray. It is best to know if there is any decay present before it advances to the extent of causing pain and resulting in more major and costly restorative work to repair.

Xrays also help us to determine the presence or degree of periodontal disease, abscesses or cysts and sometimes tumours. We use DIGITAL radiography to minimise radiation exposure to you and also use a lead apron for all our patients to give them extra protection. We generally take routine diagnostic xrays every 18 – 24 months unless otherwise indicated. Follow-up xrays are also required after Root Canal Treatment’s are completed to check on healing at the root end. We refer our patients for larger full mouth xrays for orthodontic, wisdom teeth or gum disease assessment.

Very Nervous or Anxious Patients?

We understand there are many patients who finding coming to the dentist very difficult usually due to negative experiences at an early age. We will do our utmost to make you feel at ease and aim to give you a positive experience when you visit us. For patients that are extremely anxious we can arrange I.V. Sedation, which is conducted in our surgery every four to six weeks by one of our dentists along with a qualified sedationist.

Happy gas or nitrous oxide is also available for apprehensive patients. The advantage of the happy gas is that it has no lasting effects, and patients are able to drive immediately after treatment.

READ MORE Pain Free

Should I have a professionally made mouthguard or one from the chemist?

“The injuries sustained whilst wearing over-the-counter mouthguards, suggested little or no protection. Over the counter mouthguards are promoted as providing some level of protection but the material used is too soft and distorts in the players mouth. The resulting poor fit and lack of resilience fails to provide adequate protection.” Dr B Dorney-Sports Dentistry NSW.

Mouthguards not only protect your teeth from damage that can result in expensive cosmetic dentistry along with jaw and joint problems – they also are important to protect from brain injury due to concussion.

Basically you want the best protection available, which is a professional custom fitted mouthguard.

Are all dental instruments sterilised after each use?

Dentists use an autoclave that is a steriliser which uses steam under pressure to achieve a rapid high heat sterilisation of instruments. Our steriliser’s print out validation reports for every load that we then check and keep as a record. Our instruments and handpieces are autoclavable. And we use many single use items to prevent cross-contamination. The general standard of infection control in all surgeries in Australia is excellent.

How do I know if I require root canal treatment?

A dentist will closely examine the tooth and take an x-ray to see what is happening under your gum. Vitality tests are conducted to see if the nerve has died, along with investigation of your specific signs and symptoms which will indicate if root canal treatment is required. An unhealthy tooth may present as:

  • Severe pain which keeps you up at night
  • Some difficulty achieving pain relief with pain killers
  • An abscess or swelling of the gum adjacent to the tooth
  • Bad taste from pus coming from the infection
  • Facial swelling
  • Pain to biting or chewing
  • Severe sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Pain which lingers
  • Progressive darkening of the tooth

An unhealthy tooth does not always present with any signs or symptoms which may be surprising. These teeth are normally picked up during routine dental examination with accompanying x-rays.

Read more about Root Canal Therapy

What are the symptoms of a cracked tooth?

Sometimes called ‘cracked tooth syndrome’ this condition occurs when there is a tooth fracture that is difficult to detect but causes the following symptoms:

  • Sharp sudden pain when chewing or after biting pressure is released
  • Sensitive to cold, hot or sweet exposure
  • Difficulty in isolating which tooth hurts either upper or lower

Cracked teeth can occur as a result of grinding, clenching, trauma, decay or heavily filled teeth – particularly older amalgam silver filled teeth.

If you think you may have a cracked tooth please book to see one of our dentists as early diagnosis improves the outcome for the tooth.

Can there be complications with the extractions of wisdom teeth?

With any surgical procedure you can experience swelling and bruising along with post operative discomfort and possibly infection. Not all wisdom teeth need to be surgically removed but for more difficult extractions you may also experience bleeding, sore lips, difficulty eating and opening the mouth. When the lower wisdom teeth are removed there can be a risk of nerve damage, which may cause numbness of the lip or tongue. Please discuss any risks of wisdom teeth surgery with our dentists during your consultation appointment. Although many cases of wisdom teeth removal can be managed here with IV sedation and local anaesthesia, we will refer to a specialist Oral Surgeon for very difficult cases for a general anaesthetic and hospitalisation.

Read more about Wisdom Teeth

What is an Oral Health Therapist and how are they different to a Dental Hygienist?

An Oral Health Therapist is both a Dental Hygienist and a Dental Therapist with qualifications achieved at university level. The University of Queensland offers a 3 year degree in Bachelor Applied Health Science (Oral Health) and more recently the Griffith University also offers a Bachelor of Oral Health degree.

Read more about our Therapists

What is Plaque?

Plaque is a sticky biofilm of bacteria that colonises daily on your teeth, especially along the gumline and between the teeth. When we eat food high in sugar or refined carbohydrates the plaque reacts with the sugar turning it into acid that dissolves the enamel of your teeth.

It is important to stir up the colony of plaque every morning and night with thorough toothbrushing and flossing between your teeth. If the plaque is not removed, it builds up causing decay through the acid attack and gum inflammation (gingivitis) which can lead to gum disease.

Hardened or calcified plaque is called Tartar or Calculus, which needs to be removed every six months by your dentist or oral health therapist to prevent permanent damage to your gums.

How does smoking contribute to gum disease?

Smokers are over five times more at risk that non-smokers of acquiring periodontal disease.

The connection between smoking and gum disease is caused by the suppression of the immune system of the body because of the toxins and chemicals in tobacco, which decreases its ability against infection. Smoking also slows down the healing procedure of the gum tissue because it restricts the growth of the blood vessels. The specific bacteria that cause more aggressive gum disease have found to be higher in a smoker’s mouth and there is often higher incidence of dark calculus formation under the gumline.

The best way to prevent or reverse smokers gum disease is to quit smoking. While gum health depends greatly on a person’s dental hygiene and routine dental checkups, prevention and effective treatment of gum disease should include a smoke-free lifestyle.

Read more about Periodontal Disease

Why do I still have bad breath even though I clean my teeth every day?

Your Dentist or Oral Health Therapist can help to improve your breath and help to maintain a healthy mouth by providing a thorough scale and clean along with checking for the cause of your bad breath (halitosis). Some causes are:

  • Bacterial overgrowth causing gingivitis or gum/periodontal disease
  • Retained bacterial biofilm on tongue
  • Drainage from sinus/throat or gastric reflux
  • Untreated decay
  • Reduced saliva flow
  • Medications
  • Smoking or diet

If I have periodontal/gum disease does it mean that my child will also develop it?

For those who are predisposed to gum disease due to hereditary reasons, it doesn’t mean that they are destined to develop the disease, as their parents may have.

However, it does mean that they should take precautions by having their gum health checked every 6 months at the dentist and by following a very thorough home routine of careful toothbrushing twice daily as well as regular flossing. The dentist or therapist should be told of the genetic predisposition so that they will be on the lookout for signs of early onset of gum disease.

Gum disease is primarily due to the type of bacteria in a person’s mouth and the way their immune system responds to the threat of the nastier bacteria responsible for this condition.

It has been found that there can be a contagious element to gum disease especially if you are predisposed – in other words it is possible to get the nastier bacteria found in gum disease from someone else.

Because gum disease can also be transmitted between spouses or between parent and child it is important that the whole family come regularly for dental checkups and cleans, along with preventative care at home.

Read more Preventative Care

What instruments do you use when scaling teeth and will it hurt?

We commonly use an ultrasonic scaler that sprays water and vibrates against the calculus/tartar to remove it from the tooth surface without force. We sometimes need to re-check some areas with a hand scaler before polishing your teeth. If you have sensitivity to cold or when having your teeth cleaned at the dentist please tell us so we can try to minimise discomfort.

It is wise to use sensitive toothpaste for a few days prior to your professional clean if you have recently experienced sensitivity.

To minimise the inflammation of the gums associated with the buildup of bacterial calculus it is important for you to have regular 6 monthly, thorough cleans with your dentist or oral health therapist and to follow a good routine at home of tooth brushing twice daily & flossing daily.

HEALTHY GUMS DO NOT BLEED EASILY – so if your gums bleed during your dental clean it generally means the bacterial biofilm or plaque has been resting against your gums and is in fact the cause of the bleeding. Your gums will heal quickly if you followup with a good home routine after your professional clean.

Read more about preventative care

What type of toothbrush should I use?

We recommend a small or medium size soft toothbrush to allow access to all the more difficult to areas of the mouth. Children need to use soft smaller brushes that are appropriate to their age so they fit easily into their hand. It is important to change your toothbrush every 3 months or sooner as it will become ineffective if worn.

Should my child be using an electric/power or manual toothbrush?

Manual (non-electric) tooth brushes are good for developing hand-eye coordination and teaching your child how to brush. Electric tooth brushes can be helpful for children with dexterity issues or to motivate them to have more interest in toothbrushing time, but should be used with caution and always under adult supervision

Read more Kids toothbrushing and diet tips

How many baby teeth will my child have? 

Your child should have 20 baby teeth by age 3. They will start to lose them between the ages of 6 and 12 and have their first adult molars erupt behind the baby molars around age 6. Most of us have 28 adult teeth (4 more if wisdom teeth fit), which need to last a lifetime.

Does it matter if baby teeth become decayed?

Healthy baby teeth are important for the following reasons:

  • To hold the space for the adult teeth to erupt correctly
  • Decayed teeth can mean pain and misery
  • If decay is left untreated an infection or abscess occurs, which can damage the underlying adult tooth or in severe infection cases may require hospitalisation
  • Even a young child will feel reluctant to smile if they know they have bad teeth
  • Decay can spread from baby teeth to adult teeth as the bacteria that causes the hole is actually contagious to other teeth

Read more in our Kids section – For Parents

Can the dentist protect my child’s adult teeth from decay?

If your child is seeing us regularly and following a good diet and routine of twice daily toothbrushing and daily flossing, they will have every chance of not developing any cavities in their adult teeth ever.

Read more in Kids Toothbrushing and diet tips

Also ask us about Fissure Sealants which protect against decay

A common site for decay in the adult molars is in the grooves or pits found on the biting (occlusal) surface. If your child’s molar teeth are plaque retentive or the grooves are deep or sticky we will recommend placing fissure sealants to give greater protection from decay.

Read more preventative dentistry

What age should my child come to the dentist and how often should they have a check-up?

  • It is recommended that you discuss your child’s teeth with your dentist early to find out the best dental routine suited to their age
  • From about age 3 years when all their baby molars have erupted, let them accompany you when you’re having your teeth checked
  • Most 3-4 year olds like having a ride in the dental chair
  • Children aged 4 years and older need to have their teeth checked every 6 months as decay develops quickly in baby teeth, which can lead to toothache if not found early
  • We also like to monitor the way your child’s bite is developing as some concerns associated with overcrowding can be corrected early to prevent more complex orthodontic treatment later