Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have any questions about dental issues or the services we can help you with? Then make sure that you have a look at our Frequently Asked Questions below, or get in touch with us for more information.
There are a wide range of toothbrushes available today and it can sometimes be confusing choosing which is best for you and your family. A soft toothbrush is always recommended as it reduces the abrasion of your teeth and recession of gums associated with over brushing. There is also the option of electric toothbrushes. These can be much easier to use for many people, particularly for those with limited movement of their hands. For children, electric toothbrushes can also be very motivating – try playing your favourite song while brushing your teeth to encourage you to brush for at least 2 minutes every morning and every night.
Remember, replace your manual toothbrush or your electric toothbrush head every 3 months or when the bristles appear frayed.
For more tips on brushing, please check out the video below...
(Video is courtesy of the Australian Dental Association)
Again, there are many toothpastes available on the market and the type of toothpaste really depends on how old the child or adult is and whether they are able to effectively spit or rinse their mouth after brushing.
Toothpaste is not recommended for children under the age of 18 months. After 18 months of age, specially designed low fluoride toothpastes can be used. Read the directions on the toothpaste packet for age suitability.
Teenagers and adults can use the same types of normal strength fluoride toothpastes and in some cases, your dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist may recommend a high strength fluoride toothpaste if you are at greater risk of getting dental decay.
Just remember to store all toothpaste out of reach of children as some children love the taste and will eat toothpaste if given the chance. This can cause dental fluorosis, white spotting in the developing teeth, or can be toxic if consumed in large amounts by low body weight children.
Flossing between each of your teeth should be a daily part of your oral hygiene routine. It is very important to floss daily to remove the harmful germs which build up between your teeth that cannot be reached by your toothbrush. If you find flossing tricky or uncomfortable, ask your dentist, therapist or hygienist in your next appointment for a lesson in how to floss!
There are also some great alternatives to flossing such as using a flossing fork or interproximal brushes. Flossing forks are a great introduction to flossing for children and interproximal brushes are very good for use with adults. Flossing forks and interproximal brushes can be easily purchased in supermarkets or pharmacies in the same sections you find your toothbrushes and floss.
Flossing daily or using one of the other alternatives to flossing between each of your teeth every day will help prevent gingivitis and tooth decay.
For more tips on flossing, please check out the video below...
(Video is courtesy of the Australian Dental Association)
Even before your baby grows their first primary or ‘baby’ tooth it is recommended that you wipe your baby’s mouth with a moistened cloth daily. Once your baby has their first primary or ‘baby’ teeth it is important to start using a specially designed baby’s or toddler’s toothbrush to gently massage the teeth and gums at night after the last feed in the evening. Up until 18 months of age, it is recommended to use water only when massaging the gums and teeth. At 18 months you can start to introduce specially designed low-fluoride toothpastes and only a smear is recommended as many children will not be able to spit out or rinse properly. To find the correct toothbrush and toothpaste simply read the directions on the packets carefully. There are plenty of age-appropriate toothbrushes and toothpastes available with cute designs and tasty flavours!! Just remember to store the toothpaste out of reach of your children as some children love the taste and will eat toothpaste if given the chance. This can cause dental fluorosis, white spotting in the developing teeth, or can be toxic if the whole tube is consumed at once.
Plaque disclosing solution can be a fun way to help your child see the plaque on their teeth. It also allows you and your child to readily assess whether all the plaque has been removed from every tooth surface. Plaque is often very difficult to see as it blends in with the colour of teeth and the food dye in these disclosing solutions turns plaque a different colour, usually pink, purple or red. Disclosing solutions are easily purchased from your dental practice. Ask about them next time you or your children have a hygiene appointment.
Diet plays an important role in the health of children’s and adult’s teeth. Learning good eating habits from an early age will help children develop strong and healthy adult teeth. However, it is never too late to improve your diet!
Enjoy a wide range of healthy nutritious foods and drinks that are high in calcium, low in sugar and acid. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrain cereals, lean meat, unsweetened dairy products and normal tap water.
Try eating 3 meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and limit snacking to 2 times a day. And also try drinking only tap water between meals. This reduces the frequency of acid attacks and reduces the risk of dental decay. Also watch out for hidden sugars and acids in foods and drinks, especially those marketed as ‘diet’, ‘organic’ and ‘all natural’.
The things we recommend you really avoid are snacking on sugary foods such as lollies and chocolates, fruit bars and muesli bars, dried fruits, biscuits, starchy, sticky foods and drinking sugary or sweetened drinks outside of meal times.
While it is unrealistic to cut out all decay-causing foods it is very important to keep all these tips in mind as dental decay is still very common but completely preventable! We would love to see everyone grow up and maintain their teeth decay free for their ‘hole’ life!
The 5: 2 Rule
Tips on oral hygiene and diet can be summarised easily into the 5:2 rule!
Limit meals to 5 times a day, drink only plain water in between meals and brush with a fluoride toothpaste 2 times a day.
Watch the Protecting Tiny Teeth Video at www.protectingtinyteeth.com.au today!
Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that scientists have observed strengthening and protecting teeth against decay. Not all regions have the same amount of naturally occurring fluoride in their water supply so most towns and cities in Australia modify the fluoride levels in the water supply to achieve recommended levels. Drinking fluoridated water has been widely studied and is recommended and endorsed by many well recognised Australian and international associations such as the World Health Organisation, National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Dental Association, Australian Medical Association, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Australian Academy of Science, Public Health Association of Australia, Alzheimer’s Australia, Arthritis Australia, Australian Cancer Council, Osteoporosis Australia, Diabetes Australia, Kidney Health Australia and all Australian state and territory Departments of Health.
It is very important to note that bottled water does not usually contain the levels of fluoride recommended to prevent tooth decay. Some water filters remove fluoride from your tap water and tank water may not contain the levels of fluoride recommended to prevent tooth decay. Talk to your dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist about your fluoride needs, especially if you are unable to drink tap water. There is always the option of preventive ‘topical’ application of fluoride.
Custom fitted mouthguards made by your dentist should be worn when playing and training for many sports. These sports include football, hockey, soccer, netball, basketball, waterpolo, skateboarding and skiing.
Just like having the correct sports equipment, everyone should wear a custom-fitted mouthguard for these sports. Wearing a mouthguard helps absorb and spread the forces that damage or knock out teeth, break jaws and cut lips while you are training or playing. It is becoming much more common that schools, sporting teams and sporting clubs enforce their use.
There is a difference between custom fitted mouthguards made by your dentist and ‘boil and bite’ mouthguards bought in pharmacies. Feel free to discuss this with your dentist at your next visit.
What to do if a tooth is damaged or knocked out?
If a tooth is cracked or chipped or knocked out, try to find the fragments and place them in a small amount of plain milk, or plastic wrap if milk is unavailable and take them to the dentist with you. Make an appointment as soon as possible – front office staff are trained to prioritise these emergencies.
The following are some very helpful tips depending on whether it is a primary or ‘baby’ tooth that is knocked out or a secondary or ‘adult’ tooth and the best way to handle a tooth. If there is any doubt about whether the tooth that is knocked out is a primary or secondary, treat it as a secondary or ‘adult’ tooth as the risk of permanent damage to an adult tooth far outweighs the damage that is caused by replanting a baby tooth.
What to do if a Primary or ‘baby’ tooth is knocked out:
- Do not replant the baby tooth as it may affect the permanent tooth developing above the bleeding socket.
- To control bleeding apply pressure to the injured area with a clean cloth and a cold compress or ice pack will help reduce swelling and pain.
- See a dentist as soon as possible so they can check if there are any pieces of tooth remaining, place any stitches if required and check for any fractured bones.
- Your child may also need to see their GP for a tetanus shot after their dental appointment.
What to do if a Secondary or ‘adult’ tooth is knocked out:
- Locate the tooth and handle it gently trying to avoid touching the root surface and rinsing with water very quickly (maximum 2 seconds) if required.
- Try to gently place the tooth back in the socket as soon as possible (within 5-10 minutes), making sure it is facing the right way. If it is difficult to place back into the socket, keep the tooth moist by placing it in a small amount of milk or sealing it in plastic wrap.
- To control bleeding apply pressure to the injured area with a clean cloth and a cold compress or ice pack will help reduce swelling and pain. If you were able to replant the tooth ask the patient to hold the tooth in place by biting gently into a soft cloth.
- See a dentist as soon as possible, ideally within 30 minutes to prevent permanent damage to the tooth.
- The patient may also need to see their GP for a tetanus shot after their dental appointment.
If the child or adult loses consciousness at any point, your local emergency department is more suitable in this situation, and a dental appointment can be made after this.
Amalgam fillings, also known as silver coloured fillings, have been used for over 100 years in Australia and internationally as a dental restorative material. Amalgam fillings are not only strong, durable and cost-effective, but are also safe to use in your body. If you have any concerns about the use of amalgam fillings in your mouth please discuss this with your dentist at your next appointment. For detailed information regarding amalgam fillings please refer to the Australian Dental Association website at www.ada.org.au.
It is already well understood by most patients that smoking cigarettes, pipes and cigars is a harmful habit and is not recommended by health practitioners. There is no safe level of smoking and you can talk to your dentist about different ways of quitting smoking.
Smoking can also have a detrimental effect on the health of your mouth. This includes smoking causing unsightly staining and halitosis (‘bad breath’) and increasing the risk and rate of progression of tooth decay and gum diseases. Smoking can also cause changes in the mouth and throat tissues that can be precancerous or lead to cancer. These will sometimes appear as white patches or non-healing lesions and may not necessarily be painful. Your dentist will check for these conditions each time you attend for an examination and if you are worried about something, make an appointment soon either with your dentist or GP for an examination.
When you are planning on falling pregnant it is advised to have a dental examination and dental radiographs prior to pregnancy. Your examinations and hygiene appointments can be safely continued during your pregnancy and are advised because many pregnant women find their gums bleed more easily (pregnancy gingivitis). Radiographs should always be taken prior to pregnancy where possible rather than during pregnancy. Pregnant women may also require a recommendation on fluoride mouth rinse or tooth crème such as ToothMousse if nausea and vomiting are causing erosion of enamel. Any surgery required is recommended before you fall pregnant to avoid the risk of radiographs, anaesthesia and surgery during pregnancy.
If you are pregnant at your next dental appointment, ensure you advise your dentist. You may find scheduling your appointment during your second trimester is helpful because morning sickness has usually subsided by that stage. If restorative treatment is required, the middle trimester is recommended.
Many patients seek orthodontic treatment to improve the appearance and function of their teeth. Both children and adults can be suitable orthodontic patients. There are many different options available to patients including braces, INVISALIGN and appliances. Talk to your dentist about a referral to a local orthodontist for a consultation if you are interested in this type of treatment.
Bisphosphonate medications are commonly used in the treatment of osteoporosis, Paget’s disease of the bone and cancers involving bone. The use of bisphosphonate medications is associated with osteonecrosis of the jaw bone (‘bone death’). If your doctor is planning on prescribing you this medication it is advised you book an appointment for a full dental examination prior to commencing the bisphosphonate treatment. Any extractions, implant placement or oral surgery should be completed before bisphosphonate treatment is commenced.
If you are already taking bisphosphonates and do require extractions, implants or oral surgery it is important to discuss this with your dentist before commencing treatment.
Bruxism is the excessive clenching and grinding of teeth that can lead to wear and cracking of your teeth and jaw joint and muscle pain. It can be caused by a combination of factors including stress, sleeping disorders and/or variations to normal anatomy of teeth and jaws. Not all patients who brux their teeth are aware of this habit as they do it at night and are relatively symptom-free. Some patients experience tension headaches and jaw pain. It is recommended that patients with a long-term night time bruxing habit that is causing permanent damage to their teeth or those with debilitating tension headaches and jaw pain wear an occlusal splint or night guard.
Dental erosion is the loss of tooth enamel and dentine from acid dissolution. This is becoming more common in children, teenagers and adults and is related to lifestyle, diet, reflux and/or medication. Dental erosion can vary in severity, from mild enamel erosion to complete loss of tooth structure above the gumline. This can affect a patient’s smile and bite. It can be a costly and time-consuming process to reconstruct what has been lost.
Prevention is always preferable and these are some easy steps to prevent erosion:
- Limit the consumption of acidic foods and drinks, drink plenty of tap water, and eat foods high in calcium.
- Brush your teeth twice a day using a normal strength fluoride toothpaste and if recommended by your dentist, use fluoride mouthwashes or tooth crèmes such as ToothMousse.
- Chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva production.
- Drink plenty of sugar-free fluids to prevent dehydration, preferably plain tap water frequently between meals.
- Wear a splint if you are grinding your teeth.
- Talk to your GP regarding your reflux.
- Talk to your GP or prescribing doctor regarding medication associated dry mouth. In some cases an alternative treatment or medication is available but this is not always possible.
If you already have erosion, talk to your dentist about different options for restoring your teeth to their original size. This may involve composite fillings, veneers, root canal therapies and crowns and bridges.
Oral cancer is often a devastating diagnosis for patients, however, it is an important topic to discuss because early detection can help save lives.
Your dentist will check for suspicious lesions each time you have an examination but here are some helpful tips on how you can keep your mouth as healthy as possible:
- Don’t smoke.
- Don’t drink more than 2 standard alcoholic drinks per day.
- Avoid getting sunburnt by wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen to skin and lips.
- Eat a healthy diet including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants.
- Take a look inside your mouth on a regular basis for any unusual sores or lesions.
- Make an appointment soon if you have a non-healing sore or lesion.
- Have regular dental examinations.
- Talk to your GP about a HPV vaccination to protect against oral cancers caused by the HPV virus.
Remember more than 25% of oral cancer sufferers have never smoked and early detection saves lives.
Tooth whitening is a very popular treatment in modern dentistry. There are many different types of tooth whitening products available to patients, however it is important to consult with your dentist regarding these before you commence any whitening treatment. Not everyone’s teeth are suitable for whitening and there are also side effects that we would like to discuss before commencing treatment.
Before using any chemical whitening treatment, try the natural whitening methods first! We recommend,
- Brushing your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes using a normal strength fluoride toothpaste.
- Flossing or using other interproximal aids daily. At night after brushing is convenient for most patients.
These two simple steps will help maintain a healthy bright smile!
Professional cleans performed by your dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist will remove surface (extrinsic) staining every 6 months. Things to avoid to help prevent the build-up of staining include herbal and black teas, coffee, red wine, chocolate and highly coloured foods such as curries. Smoking causes stains and you can discuss with your dentist or GP different ways to help you quit smoking.
If you have already tried all the natural whitening methods and would still like your teeth a lighter colour your dentist will check whether your teeth are suitable to bleach and explain what you can expect after bleaching your teeth. It is important to remember you should have sufficient enamel thickness, healthy decay free teeth and limited exposed root surface and cold sensitivity to be a suitable patient for bleaching. If you have fillings, crowns or veneers on or adjacent to the tooth surfaces you would like bleached, they will not be affected by the bleaching gel and you may choose not to proceed with bleaching to avoid having ‘multicoloured teeth’.
Chemical bleaching is not recommended for people under the age of 18 years.