FAQ

Dental Frequently Asked Questions


How often should I visit my dentist?

You should visit your dentist at least once a year, more often if you have difficulties.

How Often Should I Go to the Dentist for a Teeth Cleaning?

If you have good oral hygiene habits and a healthy mouth, your dentist and dental hygienist will probably suggest professional teeth cleaning at least twice a year. Many dental insurance policies will cover two cleanings per year, but few people take full advantage of their benefits.

I visited a new dentist today who asked me a lot of questions about my general health. Was this really necessary?

At your first (and subsequent) visit(s) to a dentist, a thorough medical history is routinely taken. The history will include asking you questions about your general health, previous illnesses and how they may affect your dental appointments.

The dentist will also ask you about any medication you are taking and will ask about any allergies you might have.

These are all precautionary measures designed to ensure that treatment can be carried out safely and efficiently while you visit your dentist.

I think I may be pregnant. Does my dentist need to know this?

If you think there is a chance you might be pregnant, it is always wise to inform your dentist before you begin treatment. Being pregnant will not prevent you from having dental treatment carried out, but most dentists prefer to defer any elective procedures (procedures that are not absolutely necessary) until after the pregnancy is over. This is particularly the case during the first and third trimesters. The taking of dental x-rays is also best avoided, if possible, during pregnancy, but experts agree that x-rays may be taken, where necessary, in the case of an emergency.

Why do my gums bleed every time I brush my teeth?

The most common reason why gums bleed is due to the teeth and gums not being cleaned thoroughly enough. If you leave bacteria-containing dental plaque sitting on the teeth beside the gums, the bacteria infect the gums themselves.

Is tooth whitening a safe procedure?

Tooth whitening is a procedure that should be carried out by a dentist only. There are many reasons for this. Hydrogen peroxide is a substance that should be handled with care and this should only be done by a qualified dentist. Any staining on your teeth may be due to an underlying dental condition and your dentist may diagnose this.

I think I have broken a piece of a filling in my tooth - what should I do?

Unfortunately sometimes fillings for whatever reason may fall out or become chipped or broken.
There are many reasons for this including biting down suddenly on something hard such as a hard boiled sweet. Symptoms can vary from none at all to sensitivity to hot and cold or tenderness on chewing. A lost filling will always feel much bigger to the tongue.

It is important to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. However if you cannot immediately access a dentist here are some helpful tips .
If you are having sensitivity try avoiding eating or drinking in that area, similarly if it is painful on biting.
The use of toothpaste can help with the sensitivity by rubbing some fluoride toothpaste on the tooth in question.
As a temporary measure until you visit your dentist you may try and get some oil of cloves or a temporary filling kit from your pharmacy. However it is important that you attend your dentist as soon as possible to get the tooth restored to normal function.
Finally the use of over-the-counter painkillers from a chemist if is constantly painful are also helpful until you contact the dentist.

Don’t place any pain-killing tablets on the site of the tooth or its gum as this can cause burns to the gum.

My dentist told me my tooth needs Root Canal Treatment. What does this mean?

Root canal therapy is where the nerve in the tooth has died and has to be removed. When the nerve dies, as it decays, bacteria multiply and cause an infection. This leads to pain and an abscess if left untreated.

The procedure is actually totally painless, and can be quite a relief if you’ve been in pain beforehand! The dentist uses small precision files to clean out the space in the middle of the tooth that contains the nerve. This space is then filled with a rubbery material, sealing it. This procedure allows a tooth to be kept that would otherwise have to be extracted.

My dentist told me my tooth needs a 'crown'. What exactly is a crown?

A crown is like a jacket or cap that fits over a prepared tooth. It has the same shape as the original tooth. If a tooth is badly broken down, a crown is often the only option. By fully enclosing the tooth it is strong, and where indicated it can have an excellent appearance, looking just like a real tooth. It can be made of a metal alloy, of porcelain, or a combination of both. To allow the crown to fit, the tooth must be prepared first. This involves trimming the tooth down a little. Crowns are fixed in place with cement.

While biting something hard, my crown came out - what should I do?

Crowns are special caps that are custom made to fit your tooth. They are normally placed on teeth that are broken down or had been decayed and may already have had a root canal treatment. 

Sometimes the crown may come loose or even fall off. This can possibly happen if there is a problem underneath the crown such as decay or if the tooth has been traumatized.  

It is important to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. If you cannot get to the dentist immediately here are some tips:

  • It is a good idea to hold onto to the crown whether it’s a temporary or permanent crown. 
  • If the tooth is sensitive the use of a fluoride toothpaste will help by rubbing some toothpaste onto the tooth. 
  • As a temporary measure until you visit your dentist you can also place some temporary filling material over the tooth to help the sensitivity. 

Don’t place pain killing tablets on the site of the tooth or its gum as it can cause burns to the gum. If the tooth is painful to bite on the use over-the-counter painkillers may help until you see your dentist.

I have a gap near the side of my mouth and the dentist mentioned the option of a bridge. What is a bridge?

A classical dental bridge (now called a “fixed partial denture”) is like two crowns, with a false tooth between them.

The whole bridge is cemented in place, thus the missing tooth is replaced by the replica tooth between the two crowns. Bridges can be much more complicated than this and different types exist.
Sometimes, the bridge is glued to the backs of the teeth each side of the space, instead of putting a crown over the whole tooth. This is known as a ‘Maryland Bridge’.

What is a dental implant?

Dental implants are a comparatively recent development. An implant is basically titanium or zirconium screw, upon a false tooth is supported, which ‘screws’ directly into the jaw bone. Implants are used as anchors for fixed false teeth (like a crown or bridge as described above) or to provide support for a removable denture.

Implants are very successful, but they are not suitable for everybody. You must have enough bone to place the implant into for example. Implants are quite expensive, but where they can be used, they are often the ideal solution to replacing missing teeth.

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