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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What are dental emergencies?

Dental emergencies include any acute dental problems that require immediate treatment to:

  • Alleviate severe pain
  • Treat a severe oral infection or abscess
  • Facial Swelling
  • Save a tooth
  • Stop continuous tissue bleeding
  • Repair damage to your teeth, gums and jaw caused by accident or injury

Regular toothaches are not considered a dental emergency. For advice on pain relief for toothaches, make a booking and consult with your dentist during your visit.

Why are my teeth sensitive when I drink or eat?

Tooth sensitivity occurs when hot or cold food and drinks penetrate through to your tooth’s nerves, and cause pain or discomfort. This can happen when enamel wear leaves thousands of micro-channels exposed in your teeth. Heat, cold or pressure can affect your tooth nerves without enamel protection. Toothpaste, with sensitivity protection, fills in the micro-channels and builds ongoing protection for your teeth. Your tooth root surfaces are more vulnerable to tooth sensitivity then other parts of your teeth. This is because tooth roots do not have enamel for protection. Do not ignore sensitive teeth.

You should go for a dental check-up to determine the cause. If sensitive teeth lead to less effective brushing and flossing habits, in order to avoid pain or discomfort, then you are at risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

What dental procedures can change the shape and size of my teeth?

You might want to change the shape of your teeth for a number of reasons, such as lengthening teeth, closing teeth gaps and repairing damaged teeth. The four main dental options for re-shaping your teeth include:

  • Re-contouring is a procedure that involves the use of a dental tool to carefully shave and sculpt away tooth material until the desired tooth shape is achieved.
  • Bonding uses a resin-based sealant to fill in gaps and grooves in your tooth, to create a hardened protective coat over your tooth surface.
  • Crowns tooth-shaped prosthetic placed over and bonded to a damaged tooth – after it has been treated and its surface prepared. It restores a damaged to its original form and function.
  • Porcelain veneers are custom-made wafer-thin shells that fit perfectly over the front of your teeth. They are tooth-coloured and are bonded directly onto your teeth.

A tooth’s length, shape and surface can be changed through this reductive technique. If you have small teeth, you may not be a suitable candidate for re-contouring.

Do whitening tooth pastes work? How?

Yes, they are effective on superficial surface stains. Whitening toothpastes contain polishing agents with stain removal properties that gently buff away tooth stains. They do not contain bleach. That said, whitening toothpastes can’t match the bleaching power of a dental in-chair tooth-whitening treatment.

In-chairs whitening can lighten teeth by three to eight shades. Whereas whitening toothpastes lighten by one shade. And for stains that are deep inside the tooth surface, whitening toothpaste is ineffective.

How do I know if I grind my teeth at night?

If you grind your teeth while you sleep, how do you know? It’s difficult to find out when you’re awake, but there are some symptoms such as a stiff jaw, teeth sensitivity and tired jaw muscles in the morning. Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can seriously damage your teeth while you sleep.

It can be easily treated with a night guard, which is an oral appliance similar to a mouthguard. Night guards prevent bruxism, as well as teeth clenching which is just as harmful. If you don’t receive treatment, constant grinding can crack and damage your teeth. You may have to get them repaired or replaced as a result.

What is drill-less dentistry?

Drill-less dentistry is basically a dental technique that uses an air abrasion instrument. It is also known as micro-abrasion. It works like a miniature sandblaster. Instead of sand, it propels a stream of micro-particles (usually silica and aluminium oxide) under high pressure, towards any part of your tooth surface.

The micro-particle stream can be aimed at any area of your tooth to prepare tooth surfaces, remove tooth decay, and minor tooth stains and discolouration. The procedure is completely self-contained so that you won’t breathe in any micro-particles.

Is it necessary to remove my wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth can cause dental problems such as impaction, over-crowded teeth, or over-erruption. This may cause damage to other teeth causing decay and pain . Wisdom tooth erruption commonly occurs between the ages of 18 to 25, If the eruption of your wisdom teeth does not cause any complications, then removal may not be necessary.

Your dentist can examine and assess your wisdom teeth to determine if extraction is necessary.

Are dental X-rays safe?

At Leeming Dental, our X-Ray is 95% to 97% lower than traditional X-Ray. The radiation levels you are exposed to during dental X-rays are extremely low – Lower than an airoplane flight! Modern X-ray films are higher speed so exposure times are far shorter than in previous decades. Better X-ray techniques reduce the need for repeat X-rays and further exposure to radiation.

Government regulations require X-ray machines to be checked and calibrated for accuracy and safety at regular intervals also.

Why are dental X-rays necessary?

They are necessary to enable a dentist to detect hidden problems inside or between your teeth, as well as below the gum line and existing dental restorations. X-rays provide a complete view of your teeth and gums. This allows your dentist to make an accurate diagnosis of any oral health issues that you may have before they become major problems.

When should I visit my dentist for a check-up?

At Leeming Dental, we tailor your dental care to your needs, your dentist will assess your needs and discuss the frequency for the best health outcomes for you. The main purposes of these visits are for a check-up and a professional dental clean. If you have healthy, problem-free teeth, then having a check-up once a year is fine. But if you have an ongoing oral condition, then consult your dentist for their recommendation. You might have to visit more often.

What are dental sealants (or bonding)?

Dental sealants are a hard resin-based protective coating that covers the surfaces of your teeth. They help to protect your teeth from tooth decay. Typically, dental sealant (in its liquid form) is painted into all the grooves and depressions of your molar teeth. Once it hardens under a curing light, it permanently bonds to your teeth to form a protective barrier over your tooth enamel.

Who usually receives dental sealants?

Children aged 6 to 14. In this age range, children are more cavity-prone as their permanent molars and premolars come through. Dental sealants are an ideal way to protect children’s teeth as they develop. Adults who don’t have any decay or fillings in their molar teeth can also benefit from the protection from decay that sealants offer.

Your dentist can check your dental sealants for signs of wear or chipping. Dental Sealants usually last many years before they need to be reapplied.

Are amalgam fillings still safe?

Yes, they always have been. The use of amalgam, as a dental filling material, has complied with current government health and safety regulations for over 100 years. The reason why amalgam fillings have courted controversy in recent years, is because amalgam contains mercury.

Mercury is toxic substance in the human body. However, when trace amounts of mercury are added to other metals, such as silver, copper, zinc and tin, then a highly stable alloy is formed.

What causes tooth stains and discolouration?

The leading causes of tooth stains and discolouration are coffee, tea, red wine, smoking and antibiotics. Not everyone is blessed with super white teeth. Your natural tooth colour may also be a few shades darker, but this is a normal occurrence. For people aged over 60, your teeth may darken in tone, due to changes in your bone condition and density.

I want to go to the dentist but I’m too scared. How can I overcome my anxiety?

If you are too scared to go to the dentist, you are not alone. Lots of people avoid going for dental check-ups out of fear. But your fear is compromising your oral and general health. It is a counter-productive emotion that prevents you from entrusting yourself (and your mouth) to a dentist.

A great first step would be to book an appointment with your chosen dentist to simply talk about your fear. Your dentist can discuss strategies to help reduce dental fear and anxiety. Some of these strategies include:

  • Taking sedatives to relax you
  • Medication to numb the treatment area
  • Use of non-invasive dental tools by your dentist, such as lasers instead of drills
  • Using mind/body relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing
  • Joining a dentophobia clinic or support group

What toothpaste is best for me?

For starters, choose toothpaste with fluoride. It has been proven to strengthen tooth enamel and help prevent tooth cavities. The fluoride in the toothpaste soaks into your tooth enamel as you brush your teeth. Toothpaste with fluoride can be problematic for young children if they swallow their toothpaste. Ingesting too much fluoride can result in tooth discolouration. Beyond fluoride-containing toothpastes, there is a wide range of specialised toothpastes available from your supermarket.

You can choose from toothpastes with liquid calcium, stain removal, tartar/plaque control, gum care, antibacterial protection, desensitizing and breath freshening properties. If you are in doubt as to which toothpaste is most suitable for you, just ask your dentist or hygienist at your next visit. They can specify the type of toothpaste that is the most effective safeguard for your oral health.

Your personal experience with different brands of toothpaste can help you to determine your choice also. If certain toothpaste ingredients cause irritation to your teeth, gums and mouth then try other toothpaste brands.

What will happen at my first dental appointment?

If you visit a new dentist for the first time, you will undergo a thorough dental examination and assessment for 60 minutes. Your new dentist will examine your teeth, gum tissue, salivary glands, oral cavity and tongue. If they suspect you have an oral condition that is not visible by eye or intra-oral camera, then they might discuss the use of dental X-rays. You will also be given preventive advice to help you maintain and care for your oral health.

If you require dental treatment, then your treatment options and costs will be discussed with you, and a treatment plan scheduled. It is important that you disclose any medical conditions, medications and allergies when you fill out the medical history form at your initial visit.

Why do I need regular dental check-ups?

Regular dental check-ups are important because early detection of tooth decay, oral cancer and other dental conditions is critical. Often you won’t experience symptoms of an oral condition, until it has become serious. However, your dentist can detect the earliest signs of disease and resolve your oral health issues with timely dental intervention.

How often should I brush and floss my teeth?

It is recommended that you brush your teeth twice daily, and floss once a day. Rinse your mouth with water after meals to wash away food residue trapped in your teeth also. But wait at least 30 minutes after a meal, before you brush your teeth.

During eating your tooth enamel can soften depending on the acidity of the food or drink you are consuming. Waiting 30 minutes allows your tooth enamel to reharden before you brush.

Are my teeth healthy?

Check out your teeth for a start. Do you have any discoloured, decayed, loose, chipped or cracked teeth? How about your gums – are they discoloured, swollen or bleeding? And are you experiencing bad breath, any pain or discomfort? If you have any of these symptoms, then you should have a dental check up, just to be sure. Your dentist can accurately identify any potential oral health issues that you may have.