Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Your Queries, Our Answers: Find Answers to Common Dental Questions

What causes my teeth to discolour and can I have them whitened?

There are many possible causes of teeth discolouration that can range from certain medications to trauma, to your age or even what you eat. In most instances your teeth can be whitened, using a professional bleaching system. This is a very effective whitening treatment and it is not cost prohibitive.

What is involved in having my teeth whitened?

At this practice, we recommend and only offer professional take-home whitening. The reason for this is that we believe ‘in office’ bleaching is really only a kick-start to the take-home kit since you will still have to use it as well. Further to that the ‘in office’ bleaching can be extremely expensive. The take-home procedure involves booking you in for an appointment and taking some impressions of your mouth. These are then poured up into models and trays are made that are unique to your mouth. We bring you back for a second appointment to have the trays fitted and explain the procedure. You will be required to wear the trays with the bleaching product in them for 30 minutes a day until you have achieved the desired result. For some people, this can be only a few days while others may choose to bleach for up to 2 weeks. The trays are quite comfortable and cause no problem for people to sleep with them in. The beauty of this system is that if over time you feel that your teeth have begun to discolour again, you can simply wear the trays again for a night or two to ‘freshen up’ your smile. Professional teeth whitening/bleaching can be done in-chair or at-home

Do whitening toothpastes really work?

Over-the-counter whitening toothpaste will not significantly whiten your teeth. The percentage of actual bleach in them is considerably lower than any product your dentist will give you. Therefore, it could take years if ever to achieve noticeably whiter teeth using the current range of toothpastes on the market.

How do I know what toothpaste to buy? With so many varieties i.e. tartar control, whitening, baking soda, desensitizing etc., I don’t know what’s best for me.

The type of toothpaste you use should be based on the condition of your teeth and gums. Your dentist is the best person to advise if you really need to use a particular toothpaste. However, it is the frequency of brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist that plays a much greater role in improving oral health over which brand of toothpaste you are using.

I’ve heard that you aren’t supposed to have your teeth cleaned while pregnant. Is this true?

No, that is not true. In fact, hormonal changes during pregnancy can make the gums more susceptible to irritation and inflammation. Often the gums will become quite sore and swollen. You may even notice they bleed often when you are brushing. You should have your teeth professionally cleaned at least twice during pregnancy. It is recommended that X-rays be avoided during pregnancy.

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

We recommend that children should start coming to the dentist from the time they are about 2. Usually, we just get them to come in with Mum or Dad when they are having their regular checkups and give them a ride in the chair. Depending on how receptive the children are at that age we may give their teeth a polish. The reason we start them so early is so that when the time comes for them to actually come and have treatment of any kind (even just a clean), it has already become normal for them and the surroundings are familiar. It also helps to take away any fear of dental surgery because they are not coming in with pain and the experience is just a bit of fun. This way the word dentist is not associated with any bad experience for them and will hopefully help to set them up for a life of good oral hygiene habits.

I use mouthwash and it actually hurts my gums when gargling. Is this normal?

Yes, some people do experience discomfort when using mouthwash at full strength. We suggest you dilute the mouthwash with water by 50 percent (half mouthwash, half water). That should solve the problem. Further to that we do not recommend that you use mouthwash on a daily basis. Mouthwash is designed to rid your mouth of bacteria, however, some bacteria are good and required to maintain good oral health. Perhaps try using mouthwash only a couple of times each week. It may be advisable that you see your dentist to evaluate your teeth and gums.

I’m quite a chain smoker and I am having an extraction. My dentist warned me not to smoke for at least 24 hours after the procedure, but I know I will. Is it really that bad? Will a few cigarettes cause problems?

Yes, smoking after dental extractions can increase the rate of complications. Some of the complications that can occur from smoking after oral surgery include increased bleeding and an increased likelihood of a painful infection of the extraction socket (dry socket). If you absolutely must smoke and know that you cannot stop for 24 hours, the only suggestion would be to take very light drags of the cigarette and direct the smoke away from the areas where the teeth have been removed. However, it is best to stop smoking for at least 24 hours after the procedure.

What are veneers?

Veneers are a thin ‘shell’ of porcelain. They are cemented to the front surface of your tooth – much like a false fingernail would be, only permanently. The tooth requires minimal mechanical preparation and so very little tooth structure is removed. Veneers are excellent for:

  • Changing the shape of teeth
  • Changing the colour of teeth
  • Closing gaps
  • Creating the ‘Hollywood’ Smile

Veneers can also be formed out of a material called Composite Resin. This type of veneer is less expensive and also provides a great result. They are not considered ‘permanent’, and unlike their porcelain counterpart, will discolour over time and lose their lustre. They may however be a more reasonable option if you have budgetary constraints.

I knocked my front tooth years ago and I have noticed now it is starting to go black. Why would this happen and what can I do to make it white again?

Sometimes a knock to a tooth will cause the tooth to ‘bleed’ into the tubules that teeth are made up of. The discolouration is from the bleeding. This can also be the case with teeth that have been root filled. In this instance, the tooth may have a number of options open to it. It may be a good candidate for internal bleaching. A procedure where a small hole (access cavity) is drilled into the back of the tooth and an extremely strong bleaching product is placed. Usually, we will leave the bleach in place for a week and bring you back and check the results. If further bleaching is required a new solution of the bleach will again be placed and so on till we are happy with the result… The access cavity is then refilled. If the tooth has been root filled the access cavity we drill will be where the root filling has been sealed. If the tooth has not been root-filled it is not possible to have internal bleaching but may benefit from having in-chair bleaching done on the external surface of that tooth. Other options that are possible are to have the tooth veneered or in cases where there may be a large loss of tooth structure, a crown may be suggested.

What is an abscess and how did I get one?

An abscess is basically an infection that forms at the root of the tooth. It can be caused in a number of ways; however, the most common cause is decay left unattended. When a tooth has decay that is not treated, the decay can ‘eat into’ the nerve area. Bacteria are then able to get into the nerve and damage it irreparably. The by-product of the bacteria eating the nerve is the abscess – the short description is a bag of pus growing at the tip of your root. Sounds disgusting doesn’t it? Believe me, it is!! Continually left untreated a dental abscess can cause a huge amount of pain and facial swelling. The only treatment available to save a tooth that has an abscess is to have root canal therapy. If root canal therapy is not suitable for this tooth or you decide you do not want to have this done the only other alternative is to have an extraction. If you find yourself with a throbbing ache in a tooth, seek dental care immediately!! Most dental abscesses can be avoided by maintaining good oral health and having regular checkups with your dentist. Have a great day and Keep Smiling. A SMILE costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give it!!