Dental Questions

How often should I go to the dentist?

If you go every six months any problems present will be detected while they are still minor and easily corrected. Above all else, prevention is key.

Dental Examinations and Preventative Dentistry

My dentist said I need to replace my old fillings, why?

These will probably be silver mercury amalgam (grey/black fillings). While they once served very well over time they break down at the junction between the filling and the tooth allowing bacteria to get in and cause new decay. 

What is Rubber Dam?

For some procedures it is helpful and sometimes essential to isolate the tooth or teeth being worked on. To do this we use a rubber sheet with a hole or holes in it to isolate teeth. The teeth come through the holes and enable work to be done on those teeth. There are many advantages to using a rubber dam. It stops saliva contamination in the work area and keeps the fluids we use from being ingested by the patient. Some procedures that rubber dam is useful for is placing composite (cosmetic) white restorations in back teeth, removal of amalgam and when we want to keep an area dry for a long procedure. Where rubber dam is essential is for vital bleaching of teeth, amalgam removal and endodontics. If you are having a root treatment (endodontics) your dentist must always use a rubber dam for the following reasons:
• To stop the root canal system becoming infected with saliva.
• To stop irrigation fluids getting into the mouth.
• For the prevention of small files falling down the throat and being inhaled. 

Do I have to have x-rays each time I get a check up?

No, but bite wing x-rays should be taken every two years to detect early new decays, bone height and over time successive radiographs can be used for comparison. An OPG x-ray should be taken every five years to give an overall picture of the mouth and surrounding structures. For that reason, it’s a good idea to follow these guidelines.

Dental x-rays, what lies beneath the surface.

Can’t I just get my teeth cleaned without an examination?

People feel that because they have no pain they have no problems. Experience tells us otherwise.  Usually by the time a patient experiences pain the problem is of a serious nature and quite costly to repair, for example, root canal therapy.

How often should I change my toothbrush?

You should aim to change your toothbrush every three months. Always change it if you have been sick, or have had dental work.Always use an ultra soft toothbrush as this decreases the likelihood of abrasion to teeth and gingival recession (receding gums) from occurring. Our new favourite toothbrush is the  Swiss Made Colgate Ultra Soft, Ultra Compact Head.

A complimentary Colgate ultra soft toothbrush is given at every hygiene appointment.

I brush my teeth well do I need to use dental floss?

Your toothbrush can only reach the outside, inside and biting surfaces of your teeth. It cannot reach between the teeth and that is why we need to floss as well. By not flossing plaque will build up between the teeth leading to bleeding gums (gingivitis), bad breath (halitosis), decay between the teeth, build up of tartar (subgingival calculus) and bone destruction (periodontal disease).

Gingivitis & Periodontal Disease

Are sports drinks and fizzy drinks bad for your teeth?

Most fizzy drinks have a high sugar content as do most sports drinks. While sugar is used as a quick source of energy, it is also the basic food of the bacteria that cause dental caries. It is better to get the energy by eating fruit rather than obtaining it from soft drinks and candy bars. Small amounts of sugar are however an integral part of a balanced diet.

Melbourne has some of the highest quality drinking water in the world.  For hydration purposes, water should be your drink of choice. There is no need to purchase bottled water, tap water is just fine. It’s the best thirst quencher for your overall health.

How useful is a mouthguard in protecting against sports injuries?

Prevention is better than cure.  Nobody wants chipped, broken or dislodged teeth, resulting in pain and frequent trips to the dentist to repair the damage from sports injuries. Over the counter mouthguards do afford protection but are bulky, uncomfortable, tend to cause gagging; you will never see a serious sports person with one.

Only a custom made mouthguard fitted by a dentist will be contoured to fit your teeth exactly encouraging you to wear it, which in turn means that most sports injuries will be avoided or much less severe. Like brushing and flossing you should view a mouthguard as an essential part of preventive dentistry. Custom mouthguards are manufactured to suit the type of activity undertaken by you.

Single laminate for low-impact sports like basketball, soccer and little league sports. specifically for children aged 5 – 8.

Double laminate for medium impact sports such as football and rugby ages 13+.

Professional range for high impact sports such as boxing, kickboxing, taekwondo, ages 13+.

Mouthguards can be made in your football team’s colours or other favourite colour combinations. What better way to encourage children, both young and old, to wear them!

Play it safe, wear a mouthguard

What is a fissure sealant?

Fissure Sealants

Preventative fissure sealants are tooth coloured resin sealants applied to the tops of healthy teeth to prevent decay. Decay can form in pits and deep grooves in the teeth that are too small to clean with a tooth brush. Usually no drilling or injections are required for this simple procedure which takes place after your teeth have been given a scale and clean by your dentist.

How long do they last?

As with everything else in your mouth fissure sealants will be checked and maintained by your dentist each time you visit for a periodic examination and a scale and clean.

Do they work?

If they are done correctly fissure sealants are certainly worth having because they stop sticky foods from accumulating in the deep fissures of the tooth enamel, therefore preventing the decay process from starting. However they do not replace the need for practicing dental hygiene at home, they are another step towards optimal dental health. Prevention is better than cure.

For all fissure sealant enquiries please call (03) 9662 1505

Will I end up with dentures like my grand-parents?

A large proportion of Seniors nowadays do not have dentures. This is partly due to advances in implant surgery as well as other advances in dentistry that can save teeth that could not be saved a few generations ago. Of course scrupulous dental hygiene as well as regular six monthly check-ups guard against tooth loss. Today most people can look forward to retaining healthy teeth for life. It’s advisable to speak to your dentist and together plan the best treatment options to achieve and maintain your dental health.

Why is a scale and clean important before tooth whitening?

A scale and clean is necessary before tooth whitening because it removes calculus, plaque and surface stains. Whitening gel is more effective when applied to a clean tooth surface and not on to a layer of plaque.

Why are baby teeth important?

Many people do not realise the importance of baby teeth. Whilst these teeth fall out to allow the permanent adult teeth to erupt, they are still important for future oral health and development. Baby teeth guide the growth of facial bones and ensure the permanent adult teeth come through in the correct position and alignment. They are also important for speech development, and although these teeth fall out naturally, premature childhood tooth loss will have a significant impact on the alignment of adult teeth and speech development. It is for these reasons that your child’s baby teeth should be cared for properly

How can I keep my child’s teeth healthy?

Proper brushing, flossing and a healthy diet are critical in maintaining not only baby teeth but adult teeth as well. Many parents feel their child is capable enough of performing these tasks themselves, but help from a parent or carer is critical until the child has developed the manual dexterity to perform these tasks properly themselves.

When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?

As a general rule, the first of your child’s teeth should erupt around the age of 6 months. From the age of 6 months – 17 months (inclusive) you should clean your child’s teeth without toothpaste. You can either clean their teeth using a small age appropriate toothbrush or with a damp flannel. Prior to the eruption of their teeth, your child’s gums can also be cleaned using a damp flannel.

What sort of toothpaste should my child use, and when can they start using adult toothpaste?

The Guidelines for Fluoride Use in Australia recommend that:

• From the age that teeth first erupt to 17 months: teeth should be cleaned without toothpaste.
• 18 months -5 years (inclusive): a child specific toothpaste should be used (i.e., Colgate My First Toothpaste) as it contains a low amount of fluoride (0.4 – 0.55 mg/g fluoride). Only a small pea size amount of pea size toothpaste should be used.
• 6+ years: a standard “adult” toothpaste (i.e., Colgate Total) may be used.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is what is commonly known as Teeth Grinding. Most people aren’t aware that they grind, clench or gnash their teeth until it is either pointed out to them or they find themselves with chipped teeth or unexplained jaw pain. Stress can be a major factor when it comes to Bruxism and taking some time out for yourself to relax may help. It’s always best to look at the underlying problem that is causing your symptoms. If your Bruxism is causing you discomfort, sensitivity, and pain then you may need to think about a custom made splint.

For more information regarding Bruxism click on the following link: Teeth Grinding

Do I need a fluoride tray treatment after having my teeth cleaned?

No. Nowadays we are exposed to fluoride from a variety of sources,  therefore the need for this type of application has decreased. If you are at high risk of dental decay or do not have access to fluoride toothpaste or a fluoridated water supply, fluoride application may be considered, but not necessarily via trays.

Is Dental Treatment subject to G.S.T.?

Mostly the answer is no! Health has been exempt from GST. What is important here is that treatment is required for the health and functioning of your dentition. If a crown or porcelain veneer is required to restore a tooth to normal function and appearance then GST is not applicable. If however you want a crown or veneer to enhance the appearance of your tooth, then that is purely cosmetic in nature and is subject to GST at the rate of 10%. My personal view is that all dentistry must strive to achieve the best form, function and cosmetic appearance possible.

Disclaimer: Information given here is a brief guide only and may not be applicable to every situation. Information is based on current knowledge at the time of posting and will be amended as more accurate or more up to date information comes to hand. Comments of a non dental nature are true as best as we can ascertain, but you are advised to seek confirmation yourself from an appropriately qualified professional.

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