Frequently Asked Questions

Question
What is gum disease?

Answer
"Gum disease" describes a range of conditions that affect the supporting tissues for the teeth. The supporting tissues comprise of both the surface tissues that can be seen in the mouth and also the deeper tissues of the bone, root surface and the ligament that connects the teeth to the bone.

Question
My gums bleed. Is that OK?

Answer
No. Bleeding gums are common but not OK. In a healthy state gums do not bleed. Bleeding is often an indication that the gums are inflamed. The inflammation is generally a response to the bacteria on the surface of the teeth. The surface inflammation is Gingivitis. The bleeding may also arise from Periodontitis or traumatic cleaning. Bleeding gums are sometimes associated with serious medical conditions.

A dental practitioner should check bleeding gums.

Question
How does the dentist treat a cracked tooth?

Answer
It depends on the direction and severity of the crack. If the crack is small enough, it may be removed by replacing the filling. Bonded white fillings and bonded amalgam fillings will hold the tooth together making it less likely to crack.

Sometimes the cracked part of the tooth fractures off during the removal of the filling and this can be replaced with a new filling.

Your dentist may first place an orthodontic band around the tooth to keep it together. If the pain settles, the band is replaced with a filling that covers the fractured portion of tooth (or the whole biting surface). Other options include the placement of gold or porcelain fillings or even a crown.

If the crack goes too far vertically, there is a possibility the tooth may need to be removed and replaced with an artificial one. (See bridgework, denture, and implant)

The nerve may sometimes be affected so badly that it dies. Root canal treatment will be required if the tooth is to be saved.

Question
What is a crown?

Answer
Dental crowns (also sometimes referred to as ‘dental caps’ or ‘tooth caps’) cover over and encase the tooth on which they are cemented. Dentists use crowns when rebuilding broken or decayed teeth, as a way to strengthen teeth and as a method to improve the cosmetic appearance of a tooth. Crowns are made in a dental laboratory by a dental technician who uses moulds of your teeth made by your dentist.

The type of crown your dentist recommends will depend on the tooth involved and sometimes on your preference. They include porcelain crowns, porcelain-bonded-to-metal crowns, which combine the appearance of tooth coloured material with the strength of metal, gold alloy crowns and acrylic crowns.

Question
My wisdom teeth are impacted. So what?

Answer
The common problems that can arise with impacted teeth are infections of the gum around the teeth, decay and resorption of adjacent functioning teeth, and gum disease around the molar teeth.

Rare complications are cysts and tumours that can grow around impacted teeth.

Some people feel that impacted wisdom teeth can contribute to crowding.

For those who play contact sport, most fractured jaws occur at the site of impacted teeth, as they can create a point of weakness. Most footballers who have broken their jaws have not had their wisdom teeth removed.

Infections are by far the most common problem, and although they can respond to antibiotics, the only real way to treat it is to remove the source of the problem. A small number of people who do not treat these infections seriously, especially people with other health problems, can have severe and even life threatening complications with wisdom tooth infections.

Question
Who can remove my wisdom teeth?

Answer
All dentists are trained in removal of teeth, however sometimes you may need to be referred to a specialist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon who can remove your wisdom teeth for you.

Question
What do I need to know about Teeth Whitening?

Answer
For facts about teeth whitening, visit the ADA's website containing quick facts, natural methods of whitening your teeth, and the potential dangers of undergoing the procedure at the hands of an untrained individual.

www.teethwhiteningfacts.com.au

Question
What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Answer
In today’s age of technology, your dentist has a range of options to help your teeth look great. Stained teeth, dark teeth, chipped teeth, crooked teeth and even teeth that are missing altogether can be repaired or replaced. Cosmetic or aesthetic dentistry is the broad heading under which many dental procedures that improve the appearance of teeth may be described.

Question
What is the best way to whiten the teeth?

Answer
There are many excellent ways to whiten the teeth and all have advantages and disadvantages. Since each case is different there is no one best way.

When staining is present on the surface, an ADA dentist can professionally clean the teeth, often producing a fresher, whiter appearance.

On the other hand when staining is actually in the tooth and below the surface, there are a number of ways to whiten the teeth. Sometimes simply replacing old, worn out fillings that are failing at the edges can produce better looking front teeth. Alternatively, when the enamel is heavily stained, crowns or facings may be the best option. ADA dentists have access to continuing education in the latest dental techniques and they can give advice as to the best choices for you.

Question
What is a mouthguard?

Answer
A mouthguard is a removable rubber or polyvinyl shield worn over your teeth, most commonly the upper teeth, to protect the teeth and jaws from traumatic injury during sporting activities.

Question
Are there different types of mouthguards?

Answer
There are two basic types of mouthguards available:

(1) The custom fitted mouthguard is available from your dentist. This mouthguard is constructed directly from a mould taken of your teeth in the dental surgery and fits tightly and comfortably over your teeth. This type of mouthguard is the type recommended by the dental profession and is the most effective in preventing injuries to the teeth and jaws.

(2) The "do it yourself" mouthguards, available at many pharmacies are usually poorly fitting and uncomfortable to wear. Dentists do not recommend these as they offer little protection to the teeth and patients are encouraged to obtain the custom-fitted guard as a bare minimum.

Question
What is orthodontics?

Answer
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that is concerned with the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities (malocclusion). It generally involves the use of such things as braces, removable appliances, functional appliances or headgear to move the teeth or jaws into an ideal relationship.

Question
What are ‘braces’?

Answer
Braces are the most efficient and accurate way of moving teeth. Brackets are adhered to each tooth with special dental adhesive and are usually made of stainless steel or a clear plastic material. These brackets act like a handle on the tooth so that it can be moved into its correct position using wires. The brackets remain on the teeth for the entire duration of treatment. Generally adjustments are made to the braces every four to six weeks.

During treatment, patients may need to wear such items as rubber bands. These provide important extra forces for the correction of the bite.

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