KATOOMBA DENTALFrequent Questions

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How can I keep my teeth as healthy as possible?

There are simple steps that each of us can take to greatly decrease the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems. These steps include:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Clean between your teeth once a day using interdental brushes/floss
  • Watch your diet – avoid sugar where possible and limit snacks between meals
  • Visit your dentist regularly so that any problems will be picked up and dealt with early

Is there a ‘best’ way to clean my teeth?

Brush first thing in the morning before eating and drinking and then again last thing at night. Spit but don’t rinse after brushing.

A quality electric toothbrush gets the best results (ask for a rechargeable power toothbrush).

Oral B and Sonicare are reliable makes that have a range of brushes depending on your budget.

  • Work around your mouth in an orderly way ensuring that you clean all the faces of your teeth to avoid missing any areas.
  • Hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the teeth paying special attention to the area where the gums and teeth meet.
  • Spend 30 seconds on the inside of the top jaw and 30 seconds on the outside. Repeat for the bottom jaw taking 2 minutes in all.

Do I need to use interdental brushes/dental floss as well as brushing?

Interdental aids are the most effective way of removing debris from between your teeth. Areas that can’t be reached by brushing alone. You may need a selection of different sizes depending on the spaces between each tooth.

Your dentist or hygienist will be happy to demonstrate the correct techniques for using a toothbrush and interdental aids in order for you to get the best results.

What about my children’s teeth?

As soon as your baby’s teeth appear you should start brushing them twice a day. Use a child’s toothbrush, suitable for your child’s age, with a smear of low-dose fluoride toothpaste.

Spit, but don’t rinse away the paste.

Your child will need help brushing upto the age of 10 years. It is important that daily brushing becomes part of your child’s daily routine. In this way the occurence of any dental disease will be minimised.

When should they start visiting the dentist?

Start taking your child to the dentist from about one years old and continue as often as your dentist recommends (between every 3 to 12 months).

Familiarising your child to the sounds, sights and smells of the dental practice will help them feel relaxed and prepare them for future visits.

How are teeth affected by what children eat or drink?

  • Try to cut down on how often you give your child sugary food or drink.
  • Each time they eat sugar the bacteria in the mouth reacts by producing acid which attacks the enamel of the teeth and causes decay.
  • This  effect lasts for up to an hour after eating.
  • Sugary, fizzy drinks have a particularly detrimental effect on the teeth.
  • Cheese is a great way to finish off a meal as it neutralises the acid levels in the mouth which attack/soften the enamel.
What is the best way of whitening my teeth?

Whiter teeth can make you look younger and improve the look of both your teeth and your smile.

Can I do it myself?

Using whitening toothpaste is unlikely to make much difference as it cannot lighten the teeth and can only remove some surface staining.

Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits generally do not produce good results and may cause damage to gums if not used correctly.

Which method is best?

The best way is to have your teeth professionally whitened by a dentist who will check that your teeth are suitable for whitening (not all teeth are) and who will advise you as to which method will produce the best results for your teeth.

My teeth are chipped and cracked, What can be done?

Dental technology has improved greatly in the last few years. As well as maintaining healthy teeth and helping to prevent future problems, dentists can now replace missing teeth and repair teeth that are damaged, crooked or unsightly by a variety of methods.


These are thin slices of procelain that are made to fill over the front surface of your tooth to transform your teeth to the colour and shape that you prefer. Usually impressions have to be made of your teeth and the veneers are then custom-designed and made in a laboratory. The whole treatment normally takes around two weeks to complete.

Composite veneers

A ‘composite’ veneer is a tooth-coloured material that is used to build up the surface of the tooth to restore any damage and to resculpt the shape of the tooth where necessary. This type of veneer can normally be completed at the surgery in just one visit.

One of my teeth is broken, will I need to have it taken out?

A broken tooth can often be repaired by covering the tooth with a cap or crown to restore its appearance as well as its strength and function.

Crowns can be made out of various materials but commonly are either all-porcelain or a mixture of porcelain and metal depending on the reason for the crown and whether it is a front or back tooth.

Crowns can either be made in a laboratory which usually takes about 2 weeks, or made while you wait at the practice providing the dentist has the appropriate technology to achieve this.

What can I do about a missing tooth?

A missing tooth should be replaced to prevent the teeth next to the space moving and leaning into the gap. This affects the way that your teeth bite together and can lead to further damage.

There are several options to replace a missing tooth.

Dental Implant

A dental implant is an artificial replacement for the root portion of your natural tooth and is anchored into a pre-drilled socket in your jaw-bone to support a crown, bridge or secure a denture firmly in place. Implants are made from titanium, a material that is well tolerated by bone and integrates easily with bone tissue.

Dental Bridge

Dental bridges are false teeth, which are anchored to neighbouring teeth in order to replace one or more missing teeth. The false tooth is known as a pontic and is fused in between two crowns that serve as anchors by attaching to the teeth on each side of the false tooth, thereby bridging them together.

If the teeth on either side of the gap are healthy, it may be possible to attach the bridge without crowning these teeth. Instead, the artificial tooth will be cemented to the back of the flanking teeth using ‘wings’. This type of bridge requires less tooth removal and is generally known as a ‘Maryland’ bridge.


A denture is an artificial tooth attached to an acrylic plate. An impression of your mouth will be taken and sent to the laboratory  where the tooth will be matched to your other teeth.. Although this is quick and easy to do, some people are unable to tolerate dentures or may find difficulty  keeping them in the mouth.

I think I have bad breath. How can I cure this?

Bad breath can be caused by many things. The obvious examples are eating strong-smelling foods such as garlic and curry or smoking cigars or cigarettes.  Cutting out these things will resolve the problem or alternatively a mouthwash may help to mask the smell.

Certain medicines or medical conditions can also affect the breath and your doctor should be able to advise you.

Maintaining good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice a day  and flossing to get rid of food particles trapped between the teeth will help a lot.

However, gum disease or decaying teeth are very often the cause of bad breath and a mouth wash will not solve this problem. A dentist will be able to identify the cause of the bad breath and advise you on a course of treatment to remedy the situation.

I don’t like the look of my black fillings. What do you suggest I do?

For many years fillings have been made from a silvery-grey material called amalgam. Although it is very strong and long-lasting, it can look unattractive, especially in teeth that are prominent in your smile. Also some people are concerned about the health risks as dental amalgam does contain mercury, although views differ on its effect.

An amalgam filling can be replaced by a composite filling which is matched exactly to the colour of your tooth and often it is not possible to see where the tooth starts and the filling ends.

Where a tooth is heavily filled it can either be replaced by a composite filling, a porcelain inlay or a crown.

In all cases, the aesthetic look of the teeth is much improved and this treatment can be combined with teeth whitening in order to change the colour or your whole smile.

I often wake up with a headache. Could this be attributed to my teeth?

Dental Occlusion

This is another name for the way your teeth meet when your jaws bite together. Many people have an imperfect occlusion but are not aware of this because they adjust to the situation. Other people may only have problems in times of increased stress and tension and yet others may find themselves with  frequent unexplained pains or tenderness, especially on waking.

Headaches or pains on waking

When your teeth don’t fit together properly, you can have problems not only in the teeth themselves, but also in your jaw joint or the muscles that move your jaw. If your jaw is in the wrong position, the muscles that move the jaw have to move a lot harder and can get tired. This leads to muscle spasms which cause headaches or migraine, especially first thing in the morning. You may also get pain behind your eyes, pains in your neck and shoulders and even back pain.


If your dentist suspects that your problems are due to an incorrect bite, he may help to improve the problem by supplying a plastic appliance called a nightguard that fits over your upper or lower teeth. This has to be custom-made to ensure a correct fit and is worn at night to prevent further damage being caused when you are asleep.

Your teeth may need to be carefully adjusted to improve the bite. In some cases this can be achieved by using tooth-coloured composite material to build up the surfaces of the tooth. In more extreme cases you may need orthodontic treatment to realign your teeth into  a better position.

My dentist says I need root canal treatment. What does this mean?

Why is root canal treatment necessary?

This is a procedure used when there is recurrent toothache or infection in order to try and save a tooth from extraction. Extraction of a tooth, especially a back one,  can cause major disruption to your bite and weaken the adjacent teeth unless it is replaced soon with a denture, bridge or implant.

When you have an infection, your body sends white blood cells and antibodies to the infected area to kill the bacteria. The tissue becomes red and swells. When you have an infection in your tooth, there is no room in the canal space for extra antibodies or white blood cells. When the tissue attempts to swell, it chokes itself and dies and then it becomes a perpetual source of infection, spilling into the bone tissue around the end of the tooth.


The diseased pulp is removed from the canals which are then cleaned out with antiseptic.

The location and shape of the canals can vary quite a bit. Different types of teeth also have different numbers of canals which can greatly affect the time taken for the procedure to be carried out.

Once the canals have been cleaned, the roots are filled and a filling or a crown placed on the tooth. In most cases a crown will be required as this will restore the tooth’s strength and prevent it from cracking.

There is around a 10% chance that a tooth that has received this treatment will still eventually be lost  but the majority of root-filled teeth will last for many more years.

My dentist say I need a filling but I can’t see a hole. What is going on?

Tooth decay does not always show up as an obvious hole. Sometimes there is a very small brown mark in the centre of a glassy patch on a tooth. The dentist may only be able to see this after drying the tooth and shining a bright light on it. The brown mark is a tiny opening and the glassy patch indicates that decay has spread under the surface. Sometimes the decay is even more hidden.

If you are unsure about anything then please ask your dentist. They are there to help you and answer your questions.

Can an adult tooth be pushed back in after being knocked out?

If it is the whole tooth then gently push it back into the socket. Fold a clean handkerchief into a pad and use this to bite on to keep the tooth in place. Contact your dentist immediately.

If the tooth is dirty, do not scrub it first. Rinse it carefully in milk or cold water before putting it back into the socket. If you can’t push it back in then put it in some milk or saliva and contact your dentist immediately.

People playing rugby or other contact sports should wear mouthguards for protection. It’s a good idea to ask your dentist about getting one made professionally.

Anymore questions?

If you have any further questions that you think may be of interest to others, please let us know and we will be pleased to try and answer them for the benefit of all.

Dental technology has improved greatly in the last few years. As well as maintaining healthy teeth and helping to prevent future problems, dentists can now replace missing teeth and repair teeth that are damaged, crooked or unsightly by a variety of methods.

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