Frequently asked questions in dentistry

What does a consultation with the dentist consist of and how often should you see your dentist?

A consultation consists of the examination of your entire cavity including gums, oral hygiene and teeth. X-rays will only be taken should you be a new patient to the practice or if you have not had x-rays taken in the last year. It is advised to see your dentist once every six months unless they advise otherwise.

Why does the dentist take X-rays?

Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when the dentist examines the mouth. An X-ray examination may reveal:
•    small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
•    infections in the bone
•    periodontal (gum) disease
•    abscesses or cysts
•    developmental abnormalities
•    some types of tumours
Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money and often unnecessary discomfort. Dentist will evaluate your need for X-rays based on the conditions present in your mouth. Any additional questions or concerns should be discussed with your dentist.

How safe are x-rays? Why do you leave the room when taking x-rays on me?

Dentist will prescribe x-rays only when needed – client specific. Improved digital x-rays technology means up to 80% less radiation exposure vs old conventional manually chemically processing of x-rays. Dentists step out of the room to activate x-ray tubing and there is no residual radiation left in the room after.

Why is an oral hygiene important and how often should one see the oral hygienist?

The oral hygienist removes calculus and plaque (hard and soft deposits) from all surfaces of the teeth, they also teach patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies to maintain oral health. It is advised to see the hygienist once every six months unless they advise you otherwise.

What may cause bad breath?

•    Morning time – Saliva flow almost stops during sleep and its reduced cleansing action allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath.
•    Certain foods – Garlic, onions, etc. Foods containing odor-causing compounds enter the blood stream; they are transferred to the lungs, where they are exhaled.
•    Poor oral hygiene habits – Food particles remaining in the mouth promote bacterial growth.
•    Periodontal (gum) disease – Colonies of bacteria and food debris residing under inflamed gums.
•    Dental cavities and improperly fitted dental appliances – May also contribute to bad breath.
•    Dry mouth (Xerostomia) – May be caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous mouth breathing.
•    Dieting – Certain chemicals called ketones are released in the breath as the body burns fat.
•    Dehydration, hunger, and missed meals – Drinking water and chewing food increases saliva flow and washes bacteria away.
•    Certain medical conditions and illnesses – Diabetes, liver and kidney problems, chronic sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia are several conditions that may contribute to bad breath.

What can I do to prevent bad breath?

•    Practice good oral hygiene – Brush at least twice a day. Floss daily to remove food debris and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gumline. Brush or use a tongue scraper to clean the tongue and reach the back areas. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months. If you wear removable appliances, clean them thoroughly and place them back in your mouth.
•    See your dentist regularly – Get a check-up and cleaning at least twice a year. If you have or have had periodontal disease, your dentist will recommend more frequent visits.
•    Drink water frequently– Water will help keep your mouth moist and wash away bacteria.
•    Use mouthwash/rinses – Some over-the-counter products only provide a temporary solution to mask unpleasant mouth odour.  Ask your dentist about antiseptic rinses that not only alleviate bad breath, but also kill the germs that cause the problem.

In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If it is determined that your mouth is healthy, but bad breath is persistent, your dentist may refer you to your physician to determine the cause of the odour and an appropriate treatment plan.

What should I do about bleeding gums?

People often respond to bleeding gums with the wrong method of treatment. Usually, gums that bleed are a symptom of the onset of periodontal disease or gingivitis. But often, people stop brushing as frequently and effectively because it may be painful or it may cause the gums to bleed again. However, when gums are inflamed, brushing could help reduce the inflammation. More importantly, you should see your dentist to have a periodontal screening in order to determine the level of disease present and the best treatment course to pursue.
It is also worth noting that chronic dental pain and discomfort are obvious signs of a problem. Over-the-counter drugs may provide some temporary relief. These medications usually only mask the existence of a problem and should be taken on a temporary basis.
It is important to see your dentist as soon as possible if your gums begin to bleed.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting bone structure, which if left untreated, can cause permanent jaw bone destruction and possible tooth loss. Untreated periodontal disease has been linked to increased risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, low birth weight babies, pre-term delivery, respiratory disease, and prostate cancer. An advanced stage of periodontal disease exhibits inflamed gums pulling away from your bone and teeth. Other signs of periodontal disease include:
•    Bad breath
•    Red or swollen gums
•    Loose teeth or teeth that have moved
•    Sensitive teeth
•    Pus coming from around the teeth
•    Pain when chewing
•    Tender gums
•    Bleeding gums
Treatment of early periodontal disease can be easily treated. However, advanced stages may require surgery. Periodontal disease can be prevented and treated successfully by seeing your dentist and dental hygienist regularly and following recommended care plans.

At what age should I start bringing my child to the dentist?

It is never too early to get a child acquainted with their dental team. Most children have some teeth by age one and most of their teeth by age two. Decay can start within months of eruption and accidents can occur any time. It is recommended that children start coming to the dentist between age one and two for a chair ride and an oral exam.

Should I wait in the waiting room while my child is having their dental appointment?

Taking your child to the dentist can be one of the most difficult times as a parent. You may be prone to anxiety about dental treatment yourself, especially when you may have had a negative experience in the past. We aim to make your child’s dental visits as a positive, fun experience so they will look forward to returning and maintaining a healthy smile.
Despite your best intentions, often phrases like “it won’t hurt” or “they won’t use a needle” can subconsciously introduce dental fear to your child. Parents hovering over the dental chair trying to comfort their child often brings about unwarranted anxiety and tears in children who were initially very happy and confident to have their teeth checked.
In the lead up to your child’s dental appointment, try to keep it casual. Just mention it once or twice in the few days prior to the appointment. Try using phrases like “on Wednesday we’re going to the dentist, he’s going to count your teeth so we can see how many you have” and leave it at that.
We encourage you to accompany your child into the surgery on their initial visit with us to discuss any dental concerns you may have and so the oral hygienist can discuss your child’s oral health with you. However, for the following visits we try to instil independence and a sense of achievement in your child by acknowledging that they are “old enough to go to the dentist” on their own.
After the initial consultation, we ask that parents remain in the waiting room while their child is having their appointment so that the dentist / oral hygienist can develop a rapport with your child and undertake the planned treatment in an environment your child is comfortable in. Your child needs to trust our dental team to get everything done efficiently and with minimal fuss. The best way to do this is to lead by example! Just keep in mind that your children can often pick up if you’re anxious about their dental appointment so always bring them in with a smile!
If you need to discuss any anxiety issues regarding yourself of your child please phone the clinic in advance and our dental clinicians will be more than happy to settle your nerves over the phone!