FAQ

Problems:

Bleeding gums can be a sign of gum disease. You should have your teeth professionally cleaned and your dentist will check for periodontal disease (advanced/damaging gum disease) to assess if further treatment may be needed. If gum bleeding occurs frequently for you it may be a sign that your oral hygiene is not good enough or that you are especially genetically susceptible to gum disease. Either way your dentist will advise what to do.

Bad breath can be caused by a variety of factors. Gum disease and tooth decay are common causes. Any infection can cause halitosis (bad breath). Bad breath can also be unrelated to your mouth and come from your throat stomach or sinus. Certain foods (garlic, onion, coffee) can be a trigger. This can be beyond the actual food as it can trigger stomach problems. Smoking causes bad breath due to the actual smoking itself, combined with a drier mouth and a change in the normal oral bacteria in your mouth.

Tension headaches can be caused by bruxism, such as tooth grinding or clenching. This can be caused by stress, poor sleep or other factors. It can damage your teeth, so a night splint is recommended to protect the teeth, muscles and your jaw joint. Headaches can be caused by many other problems, so if you are getting frequent headaches it is important to investigate it with your doctor and dentist.

Tooth sensitivity can be caused by many factors including gum disease, decay and gum recession. For all of these, the main reason is exposed dentine, the tooth substance under the enamel. Enamel can be damaged from brushing teeth too hard and from dietary or stomach acids. Sensitivity should be investigated to find the cause in your case and your dentist will come up with a plan to help to ease it. In some cases, this may be as simple as changing your toothpaste.

Mouth ulcers can occur for no reason in unfortunate frequent sufferers. For most however they are caused by stress or trauma (sharp foods or slight knocks). They can also occur due to being low in Iron or Vitamin B12. Common ulcers heal in 10-14 days, so if it lasts longer, you should seek advice. As for everything, seek advice sooner if you are concerned.

Most people need to get their wisdom teeth removed at some stage as they frequently cause problems due to coming through at strange angles (impaction) or difficulty cleaning causing decay or gum infections (pericoronitis). Not all should be removed however, as there are risks associated with any procedure. As part of your regular check ups, your dentist will check your wisdom teeth in your mouth and/or on an OPG panoramic x-ray.

Treatments:

Teeth whitening can cause sensitivity but when done safely there should be no long-term damage. To minimise sensitivity, doing it slower helps. Instead of in chair whitening, at home whitening may hlep reduce discomfort. There are slow release and low dose formulas available, which may be more suitable for those with existing sensitivity

X-rays allow your dentists to check areas of the tooth that cannot be checked visually. For most patients taking ‘bite-wing’ x-rays every two years helps to detect decay between the teeth before any pain arises.

For the average person, we recommend every six months however those patients who are highly susceptible to gum diseases should have their teeth cleaned every three months. Your dentist will advise you what category you fall into.

Modern dental treatment with the use of anaesthetics should not cause you any pain. If you do feel any discomfort during a dental procedure, you should let your dentist know straight away. If you are going to have a complex treatment, your dentist may recommend sedation.

Children:

The sooner they have a first dental visit, the better, as it creates good habits for life and reduces anxiety about a dentist visit. Any time after your child turns 2 years old is ideal and they should certainlhy come in before their first adult teeth come through at approximately 6 years old.

Many children’s TV shows now feature doctor and dentist visit that can help them in understanding what it is all about. One technique is to have a ‘practice run’ at home by lying on the bed using a torch and ‘counting their teeth’. It is important to not introduce anxiety by saying things such as ‘there is no need to be scared’ as children have no fear of a dentist unless it is instilled in them. Instead in can be a fun visit where they get a ride in a magic chair with a reward at the end. Prior to your child’s first visit, it is good for them to see either you or a sibling have their visit first. This should not be done if the person they are watching has anxiety issues.

For all children under 6 years old you should be present as there may be separation anxiety. After this age, it may be beneficial for them to undergo the examination without you being in the room, as they may tend to react more when you are in the room. However, this is a matter entirely for you and you should discuss this with your dentist.

Instilling good habits from a young age is the best form of prevention. This should include brushing twice daily and avoidance of sugary foods and drinks, sticking to main meals, avoiding using food as rewards. We recommend avoiding fruit juices and stick to mild and water. Remember when young they can only eat and drink what you give them. If they are not introduced to sugary foods and drinks, they will not know they exist! It is crucial when as a baby, if they are bottle-feeding, the bottle is not left with but taken as soon as they are finished. Constantly having milk in the mouth can cause tooth decay in babies, who have a weak immune system

The evidence on this question is mixed however there does not seem to be any strong evidence of long-term damage provided the dummy is stopped being used well before they get their adult teeth. There is some evidence to support that speech development may be delayed with the use of a dummy

Home Care:


If you are cleaning well with a manual toothbrush then an electric toothbrush will not clean any better. However, most people miss some areas when manually cleaning, so an electric brush is useful in these situations. Ultimately, it is all about technique.

Yes. Flossing at least once a day leads to a significant reduction in plaque build-up and gum disease. For the back teeth, up to half of the tooth surface is missed by brushing alone. Dental flossing between the teeth is the key to maintaining your smile.

Brushing should occur at least twice a day. Some people prefer to brush after every meal however, you should wait at least 30 minutes after eating or drinking anything acidic (e.g. fruit juice). The most important time to brush is prior to going to bed due to the lower saliva flow during your sleep.

Mouthwash is useful as an adjunct to brushing and flossing but it is the physical cleaning that is most effective. Mouthwash can reduce gingivitis.

The most important ingredient in toothpaste is fluoride which is in most commercial toothpastes. However, if you have a specific problem your dentist may recommend a certain toothpaste for you (e.g. sensitive toothpaste for sensitive teeth)

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