1. What can I do if I'm scared about dental treatment?
The best way to overcome your fear is to discuss your concerns with your dentist. Experiences as a child may become distorted by time and reinforced by outdated media presentation of stereotypes. Much has changed, thanks to technology and education, and dentists are skilled professionals in dealing with patients who are apprehensive about seeking treatment. This will obviously be a team approach between you and your dentist and his/her staff. Communication is the key. You must feel comfortable expressing your fears and concerns and have a sense that you are being listened to. There are various forms of anaesthesia and relaxation that can be used effectively to change your negative thought.
2. What is a filling?
A filling is a material (amalgam, GIC, porcelain, metal) that is used to restore functional and lasting structure to a tooth that has been disfigured by, for example decay or accidental breakage.
3. How do I know if I need a filling?
You may not know if you need fillings in your teeth. Many small to medium holes in teeth are asymptomatic, giving no pain. In fact, decay can sometimes eat out two-thirds of the tooth from the inside and you would have no idea it is happening. Dental radiographs (X-rays), which are taken on a regular basis as part of your check-up, may show early decay that has not yet given any symptoms. You may be able to see a change in the colour on some of your teeth which may indicate early decay. If your teeth are sensitive to hot, cold, or sweet food and drink, you may need fillings. All persistently sensitive teeth should be checked by your dentist. Toothache that lasts for more than a few minutes at a time should be investigated by your dentist. Teeth that cause severe pain may require fillings, or in some cases will require more extensive treatment such as root canal treatment.
4. How long does it take?
It depends on the type of bone, and where the implant is placed into your jaw. It can range from a few months to over 9 months. Generally, implants in the front lower jaw need around 4 months; the back upper jaw needs around 9 months and elsewhere in the mouth around 6 months. These times may need to be lengthened if bone needs to be grown or grafting has taken place.
5. How long do fillings last?
The position, shape, material, and functioning pressure, all influence how long dental fillings will last. Larger fillings that bear a heavy functional load tend to break down more quickly than smaller fillings that bear little force. This is why it is impossible and meaningless to try to state categorically how long fillings should last. However, when placing a filling, the dentist may have an idea of the expectation of the life of the filling. For example, a very small filling in the groove of a tooth away from biting pressure could be there for decades whereas a very large one in the mouth of a person who grinds their teeth may be lucky to last a few years and really should have a crown. In a check-up your dentist is constantly monitoring the state of your fillings, looking for signs of weakness, cracking, decay or discolouration.
6. Can fillings be repaired rather than replaced?
Some fillings can be repaired when they fracture, or the tooth around them fractures, but only if there is no tooth decay present.
7. Can all teeth with holes or fractures be filled?
Most teeth with small to moderate decay or fractures are easily restored to function with fillings. Where decay is extensive or fractures are large, more complex treatment may be required. Some teeth can be so badly broken down or fractured that they are unable to be saved.
8. What are dental sealants, who should get them, and how long do they last?
Sealants are a thin, plastic coating that is painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth -- usually the back teeth (the premolars, and molars) -- to prevent tooth decay. The painted on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and groves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.
Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the dental sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.
Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for many years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wear at regular dental check-ups.
9. What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form. A tooth's nerve is not vitally important to a tooth's health and function after the tooth has emerged through the gums. Its only function is sensory -- to provide the sensation of hot or cold. The presence or absence of a nerve will not affect the day-to-day functioning of the tooth.
10. What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are a set of four teeth that erupt into the back four corners of the mouth, behind the 12 year old molars. This usually occurs between the ages of 17 to 21.
11. Can there be problems with extraction of wisdom teeth?
Yes, as with any surgery, post operative pain, swelling, bruising and infection can occur. Other consequences of wisdom tooth removal may include, difficulty in opening the mouth, sore lips, and bleeding. There is a small risk with the extraction of lower wisdom teeth, of nerve damage that may cause numbness of the lip or tongue. Discuss the above risks and consequences of wisdom teeth surgery with your dentist and/or Oral and Maxilofacial Surgeon before having your wisdom teeth out.
12. What is impaction?
Your dentist may advise you your wisdom teeth (or third molars) are impacted and that they need to be removed. What this means is that your wisdom teeth will not grow or erupt into a position that allows them to be functional teeth. Impaction may be due to soft tissues (i.e. gums), or hard tissues such as other teeth or bone. Teeth that become impacted are generally more likely to cause problems.
13. What are Dentures?
A denture is an appliance that replaces teeth. You remove it to clean it and it may be replacing all the teeth (full denture) or some of them (partial denture).
14. What steps are involved in getting a denture?
Before any denture treatment is undertaken, it is recommended that you have a thorough dental check-up. If you are having full dentures, it will involve an examination of the mouth and an assessment of the health of the gums. If you are having a partial denture, this check-up will include a full examination of your teeth, gums and other soft tissues of your mouth. At this check-up radiographs may be taken to ensure the teeth are healthy, and strong enough to help support a denture. Remember, the only oral practitioner who has the training and is legally able to undertake such a thorough check-up is your local dentist. You then have impressions, bite records, trial wax insertions and then the final insertion and instructions.
15. Why does my denture need to be relined?
The rapid shrinkage of bone following extractions means the denture will soon need to have the fitting surface relined once that shrinkage has slowed down enough. After a reline, patients report a much better fit. This relining maybe done between three and six months after an immediate denture has been fitted. Your dentist will advise you when an immediate denture is ready to be relined. Relining involves an additional fee, but this is going to be cheaper than a new set of dentures and it is often very much appreciated. All dentures lose their fit through natural changes in your mouth. Chewing gum, biting your nails or grinding your teeth can accelerate this. You should see your dentist yearly for a denture check, when refitting or relining may be necessary. For example, many patients report that their full dentures are loose after a period of rapid weight loss.
16. What is a crown?
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 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.
17. What is a bridge?
A bridge is an appliance permanently fixed in the mouth to replace missing teeth. It uses remaining teeth to support the new artificial tooth or teeth. A conventional fixed bridge consists of crowns that are fixed to the teeth on either side of the missing teeth and false teeth are rigidly attached to these crowns. An enamel bonded bridge uses a metal or porcelain framework., to which the artificial teeth are attached, then resin bonded to supporting teeth.
18. What is the difference between a denture and a crown or bridge?
Removable dentures are those dentures (plates) the wearer can remove and replace at will. These types of dentures can replace one tooth, all your natural teeth, or any number of missing teeth in between. A crown or a bridge is fixed or cemented in place and cannot be removed.
19. What is fluorosis?
Dental fluorosis is seen as small white flecks in the surface enamel of teeth. In minor cases it is usually not visible to patients but in more advanced cases it appears as large white patches or occasional pits in the tooth surface. After some years, stains may penetrate the white patches and they can appear brown. Receiving excess doses of fluoride during the formation of teeth causes fluorosis. This can occur by eating or swallowing excessive amounts of toothpaste or exceeding the dose when taking fluoride tablets. It can also occur where there is excess fluoride in natural water supplies or a combination of all three. In extreme or severe cases of fluorosis the teeth are unsightly and may need treatment to improve their appearance. Water fluoridation alone does not cause fluorosis but it can happen in combination with other sources of fluoride.
20. What is a dental implant?
A dental implant can be thought of as an artificial tooth root that is submerged into the jawbone. When dental work such as a crown, fixed bridge or a full set of dentures is added, one or more missing teeth can be replaced. A dental implant is fabricated from a very strong, biocompatible material placed in a simple procedure that, generally, is as convenient as a tooth extraction. After an initial healing period, during which the implant is buried in bone and left undisturbed under gum tissue, it is uncovered and connected to a small metal post that secures and supports the artificial tooth. The implant material is extremely biocompatible. The bone grows to the implant and bonds to it. This makes the implant very strong. The process is called 'osseointegration'.
21. How long will an implant last?
This is impossible to predict. Though research has demonstrated a long life once the implants have been integrated with bone, each patient is different, and longevity may be affected by overall health, nutrition, oral hygiene and tobacco usage. Individual anatomy, the design and construction of the prosthesis and oral habit s may also have an influence.
22. What are the advantages of the implant treatment?
The adjacent teeth are not damaged or cut in any way. It helps to prevent bone loss. Implants are also used to stabilise loose dentures or even replace them with fixed bridges.
23. Are there any limitations of implant?
Discuss this with your dentist, as there are a few medical reasons preventing the use of implants. Sufficient bone to accept the implant is the major limiting factor. This can be assessed radiographically (x-rays), and bone can even be augmented where it is deficient.
24. What is gum disease?
"Gum disease" describes a range of conditions that affect the supporting tissues for the teeth. The supporting tissues comprise 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. The cause of gum disease are multifactorial, suffice to say that in the great majority of cases, the disease is entirely preventable if precise steps are taken to control the formation of plaque, and the invasion of bacteria.
25. What can you do?
Visit your DB Dental dentist, who will examine your gums as part of a normal dental check-up. X-rays are often needed to help diagnose periodontal problems. Good dental hygiene is one of the most important factors in preventing gum disease. Your dentist will show you proper brushing and flossing techniques that will help ensure healthy teeth and gums. You may need to be referred to a Periodontist who is a specialist in treating gum disease. Treatment involves careful, deep cleaning of the teeth to remove the cause of the problem. This can be done with local anaesthetic.
26. My gums bleed. Is that OK?
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.
27. What Is Tartar?
Even if you take great care of your teeth at home, you still have bacteria in your mouth. They mix with proteins and food by-products to form a sticky film called dental plaque. This gunk coats your teeth (even hard-to-clean areas like your back teeth), gets under your gum line, and sticks to fillings or other dental work. Once tartar has formed, only a dental professional will be able to remove it from your teeth. So, visit your dentist every 6 months to remove any plaque and tartar that might have formed and to prevent further problems.
28. How Does Tartar Affect Teeth and Gums?
Tartar can make it harder to brush and floss. This can lead to cavities and tooth decay.
Any tartar that forms above your gum line could be bad for you. That's because the bacteria in it can irritate and damage your gums. Over time, this might lead to progressive gum disease.
The mildest form of gum disease is called gingivitis. It can usually be stopped and reversed if you brush, floss, and get regular cleanings from your dentist.
29. What causes periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria. Bacteria form a 'plaque' which is a sticky, colourless film that forms on your teeth, particularly around the gum line. Other bacteria thrive deep in the gap between the gum and the tooth (the 'pocket'). Some people are much more at risk of developing periodontal disease — smoking is one of the major risk factors. Other conditions such as diabetes, stress, pregnancy and various medications can all be contributing factors.
30. What are some of the warning signs of periodontal disease?
- Bleeding gums when you brush your teeth.
- Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth.
- Receding gums.
- Sensitive teeth or gums.
- Loose teeth or teeth that have moved
31. What is Cosmetic Dentistry?
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.
32. I'm interested in changing the shape of my teeth. What options are available?
Several different options are available to change the shape of teeth, make teeth look longer, close spaces between teeth or repair chipped or cracked teeth. Among the options are bonding, crowns, veneers, and recontouring.
Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-coloured resin material (a durable plastic material) is applied to the tooth surface and hardened with a special light, which ultimately "bonds" the material to the tooth.
Dental crowns are tooth-shaped "caps" that are placed over teeth. The crowns, when cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line.
Veneers (also sometimes called porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates) are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials that are designed to cover the front surface of teeth. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth.
Recontouring or reshaping of the teeth (also called odontoplasty, enameloplasty, stripping, or slenderizing) is a procedure in which small amounts of tooth enamel are removed to change a tooth's length, shape or surface.
33. How do whitening toothpastes work and how effective are they?
All toothpastes help remove surface stains through the action of mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal. Whitening toothpastes can help remove surface stains only and do not contain bleach; over-the-counter and professional whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide (a bleaching substance) that helps remove stains on the tooth surface as well as stains deep in the tooth. None of the home use whitening toothpastes can come even close to producing the bleaching effect you get from your dentist's office through chair-side bleaching or power bleaching. Whitening toothpastes can lighten your tooth's colour by about one shade. In contrast, light-activated whitening conducted in your dentist's office can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.
34. What is home bleaching?
Home bleaching involves wearing very thin, transparent plastic trays moulded to your teeth, which are used to hold a bleaching agent in contact with the tooth surface. They are normally worn for approximately ten days. The active agent in the bleach is usually carbamide peroxide. This is a chemical that quickly breaks down to hydrogen peroxide, which is the chemical that lightens the teeth.
35. Is home bleaching safe?
Yes. Hydrogen peroxide (the whitening agent) is actually produced in the body in small amounts and the effects have been studied for many years. DB Dental's dentists know that the whitening process should not be abused, because bleaching teeth well beyond the recommended level can lead to damage of the enamel. When bleaching is carried out according to your dentist's instructions, it appears to be a safe, simple procedure. The only minor complications are rare cases of slight gum irritation and heightened cold sensitivity in the enamel. It would also be wise to check first with your dentist to see if all your teeth will be likely to bleach evenly. Bleaching will be unlikely to alter the staining effects of certain types of antibiotic drugs (e.g. tetracycline) that may have been used during childhood.
36. How long does the bleaching last?
This may vary depending upon the circumstances, however teeth can still become dirty and they will continue to age in a normal way with the passage of time. You should keep the trays and obtain new bleach stocks from your DB Dental dentist to repeat the whitening periodically (usually once a year). The trays will continue to fit your mouth for many years in most cases.
37. How effective is home bleaching in whitening the teeth?
Home bleaching does not make the teeth as white as chalk. If it did the teeth would not look natural. Usually the whitening is subtle, but a real difference can usually be noticed between, for instance, upper teeth that have been bleached and lowers that have not. Home bleaching seems to be slightly more effective for younger rather than older people.
38. Is an Electric or Regular Toothbrush Better?
It makes no difference as long as you brush twice a day, and replaces it as soon as the bristles begin to fray, generally every 3 or 4 months. A worn toothbrush won't do a good job of cleaning your teeth. Use toothpaste with fluoride.
39.Is Flossing Really That Important?
Flossing is just as important as brushing. It helps remove plaque from places your toothbrush can't reach, like between your teeth. This is key, because plaque that isn't removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into tartar and cause gum disease or tooth decay.
40. I'm Brushing, Flossing, and Still Getting Cavities. Why?
If you take good care of your teeth but still get cavities, you may not be doing it right. Go over your techniques with your dentist. Discuss your diet. Sports drinks, diet colas, and exercise bars can contain acid and sugar, which lead to tooth decay. Some people have high acid content in their saliva. Your dentist can tell you more.
41. How safe are dental X-rays?
Exposure to all sources of radiation -- including the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home, and dental X-rays -- can damage the body's tissues and cells and lead to the development of cancer. Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of X-rays is extremely small.
Advances in dentistry over the years have lead to the low radiation levels emitted by dental X-rays. Some of the improvements are new digital X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being X-rayed, higher speed X-ray films that require shorter exposure time compared with older film speeds to get the same results, and the use of film holders that keep the film in place in the mouth (which prevents the film from slipping and the need for repeat X-rays and additional radiation exposure). Also, the use of lead-lined, full-body aprons protects the body from stray radiation (though this is almost nonexistent with the modern dental X-ray machines.) In addition, federal law requires that X-ray machines be checked for accuracy and safety every two years, with some states requiring more frequent checks