In this section we provide answers to frequently asked questions from many of our patients. If you cannot find an answer to your question please contact us and we will be happy to help.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I see the dentist?
Every 6 months, even if nothing is wrong. Things can change without you noticing, such as your oral hygiene habits, diet habits or possibly internal factors such as dry mouth or reflux. Most health funds allow for 2 yearly check-ups and recommend it. The health funds have figured out that people who have regular visits have less complex dental problems meaning you save money and time.
Regular visits allow us to detect problems early and treat using less invasive and time consuming procedures. See “Our Services” on “Checkup and Clean”.
What should I bring on the first visit?
The dentist will require your full medical history including allergies, past surgeries, all medications and previous treatment; it is interesting how many of these things can affect your teeth or dental treatment. The information is also important to ensure your safety but allow us to pick up on other conditions or help you prevent them. We treat this information with the utmost confidentiality. Jokes are welcome, the staff loves them. On subsequent appointments, remember if there are any changes to the above please mention them to the dentist.
When should I bring my children to see a dentist?
At 12 months or when their first tooth erupts. See “Our Services” section on “Children’s Services” for more information.
Are root canals painful? My friend’s dad says they are really painful.
Root canal procedures are generally quite comfortable, my patients often fall asleep in the chair and I have to wake them up. What is important is good anaesthesia and you don’t let the problem go on for too long. If it’s quite swollen or has been causing pain for a long time, we often prescribe antibiotics to reduce the infection and pain so the anaesthetic can get to the site of the infection. The antibiotics will often eliminate the pain, but is only a stop measure for a period of time and if left untreated can come back in a more severe form.
Should I see the dentist if I’m pregnant?
Pregnant mothers often notice increased bleeding during pregnancy. This is due to the increased hormone levels which hinder the body’s normal responses to plaque and bacteria. We recommend that you continue to see the dentist during pregnancy and maintain excellent oral hygiene by brushing daily and flossing as well. The second trimester is usually the best time for any treatment, but if you are in pain don’t wait. Dental x-ray and procedures are considered safe but we will try to limit it to what you are comfortable with. However, as you will have a medical plan in any planned pregnancy we hope you have a dental plan as well, meaning regular check-ups before, during and after pregnancy!
How can I pay?
We accept Cash, EFTPOS and Credit Card payments. We ask that all bills are settled on the day as we do not hold accounts.
Does Medicare cover my dental treatment?
Unfortunately Medicare does not provide cover for dental treatment, however there is a “Child Dental Benefits Schedule” which is explained in “Our Services”.
What is decay and why do I get a toothache?
Decay is caused by acid producing bacteria in your mouth and appears in various colours from white, yellow to black. The bacteria feed on food debris especially simple sugars and produce acid as a by-product. Hence a diet rich in sugar puts your teeth at increased risk as will poor oral hygiene. You are also at increased risk if your salivary function is affected, as saliva contains buffers and minerals which counteract the acid produced by bacteria. People on multiple drugs, have dry mouth syndrome, diabetes mellitus and other conditions may have decreased saliva function.
The acid basically eats away at the teeth allowing the bacteria to burrow deeper into the tooth. It can cause pain at any point but often can become quite severe once the decay front reaches the pulp. The pulp is the centre of the tooth which contains the nerves and blood vessels which keeps the tooth alive.
What should I do when my child has had dental trauma?
If your child has bumped their teeth whether you see any damage or not, take them to the dentist. We can then check with x-rays to determine a baseline for any future complications. Things to look for include a pimple like swelling in the gum at the base of the affected tooth, colour change in the tooth from white to pink or black or complaints of continued pain in the following weeks after initial examination.
If the child has chipped the tooth, try and bring the chip to the dentist for re-cementation. If the tooth has moved out of position, or popped out, DO NOT try to reposition or replant the tooth. Take any whole tooth or fragments to the dentist and store it in MILK, commercial tooth saving solutions or saline (which can be made by mixing 1.5 teaspoons of salt with 4 cups of water), however milk is easier and quicker if available. DO NOT rinse with water even if it has dirt on it. You may need to check your child’s tetanus vaccine status.
I have a severe toothache and my face is swollen, what should I do?
Call us straight away!
Why do I need a crown after root canal?
Root canal teeth are often quite compromised, they are weak and prone to cracking. Hence based on studies dentist recommend crowning most root canal teeth to reduce the risk of tooth breakage but more importantly reduce the risk of re-infection.
Bleaching, does it damage my teeth?
Bleaching causes only transient sensitivity and no long term lasting effects. See “Our Services” – “Bleaching or Tooth Whitening”.
Are dental x-rays safe?
Dental x-ray imaging is considered very safe and with the advent of digital x-ray imaging the dosage has decreased by 80-90% compared to what was already considered low. Digital imaging dosage is roughly 1-2 hours background equivalent radiation time (BERT) i.e. the amount of equivalent radiation dosage from normal daily life. A flight from Sydney to Europe is about 15 days BERT, or a CAT scan is about 1 year BERT. Studies linking them to cancer have been proven to be incorrect and poorly done basing conclusions on unreliable data.
Please refer to: http://www.arpansa.gov.au/radiationprotection/basics/xrays.cfm
How often should I get dental x-rays done?
It is recommended that intra-oral x-rays be done every 2 years if there are no problems detected on initial examination. They are more frequent in patients with disease. The dosages are so low that even if you took 100 intra-oral films in a life time that is equivalent to 4 days BERT, far less than most holiday flights you take.
However, we follow the ALARA principle, “as low as reasonably achievable”. We only take what is necessary and follow the gold standards of patient care.
Why do we need x-rays?
X-rays allow us to see through the teeth and jaw bones to pick up things that would often be impossible or very difficult to see clinically. We can use them to see tooth decay, bone loss and other pathology associated with the mouth and jaw bones.
Why do dentists take x-rays and why do they walk out of the room when they take it?
X-rays are an important diagnostic tool which help the dentist to see areas of the teeth and bone that cannot be seen visually. It allows us to pick up decay, bone disease, infections, impacted teeth and other pathology including cancers and tumours. Although the radiation dosage is quite low, dentists see multiple patients a day and if they had to sit there for each patient the dosage would eventually add up over a long time.
Are amalgams/silver dental fillings safe?
Many patients are concerned about the mercury content in amalgam fillings. The reality is amalgams are a completely safe material to use and has been approved by the World Health Organisation, Australian Dental Association and Therapeutic Goods Administration (Australia) to name a few. In fact, the National Council Against Health Fraud (USA health agency) states, “[It] believes that amalgam fillings are safe, that anti-amalgam activities endanger public welfare, and that so-called “mercury-free dentistry” is substandard practice.” We routinely use white fillings, and on some rare occasions after discussion and your permission we may use amalgam fillings.
Is fluoride in water and toothpaste safe?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring element but is added to our toothpaste and drinking water. When fluoride enters the tooth, it makes it more resistant to decay. It can also plug up microscopic holes created by acid producing bacteria restoring the tooth’s strength.
Fluoride in a dental setting or in toothpaste and water is considered safe and beneficial; it is recognised by multiple Australian and international organisations. The CDC (USA Centre for Disease Control) recognises fluoride as one of the top 10 great public health achievements from 1900-1999. Also refer to: http://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/advocating-for-the-public/fluoride-and-fluoridation for more information.
Why does the dentist insist on trying to save my teeth, even though it’s cheaper to extract them?
The cost of saving a tooth can often be inhibitory for people and we respect that, but we will always offer you what we think is best. Saving a tooth where possible not only maintains function but if you think of it as a bookshelf, where there are two rows of books stacked on top of each other like teeth. If you pull out one book, then the other books tend to fall in place of the newly created gap. This also happens to teeth, and if this happens it can put your bite out making future treatment complicated but also puts your remaining teeth at risk.
If you decide to remove the tooth or we cannot save it, we have to consider replacing the tooth/teeth with either a denture, implant or bridge to prevent the bookshelf effect from happening.
I’m about to get medical treatment (e.g. heart valve replacement, bisphosphonate therapy -for osteoporosis, hip and joint replacement, diabetes mellitus, warfarin or aspirin treatment -and other blood thinners), should I see a dentist?
Yes to all! Often with such treatment it complicates dental treatment once you are under medical treatment. You may require antibiotics at each dental visit or specialist care, hence it is important to discuss with your doctor if you need to get your teeth cared for before the medical treatment. Once we understand your situation we try, with your cooperation to get your dental health back on track. After that it is critically important to have regular dental visits and good home practices to prevent problems which would require major dental intervention.