Frequently Ask Questions
1) How often should I get a dental check up?
A dental check-up should be done on average every 6 months. The reason for this is that cavities can grow from an initial "demineralization" to a full blown cavity within approximately 6 months. In this manner, we can prevent problems getting to point that drilling of the teeth is required.
2) How often should I brush my teeth?
You should brush your teeth twice a day. The reason for this is that within 24 hours, an initial demineralisation of the enamel can occur. The fluoride in toothpaste can remineralise the teeth. Without twice daily plaque removal, the risk of gingivitis can significantly increase. Chronic gingivitis can lead to a condition called periodontal disease which results in the loss of bone support around your teeth. This can result in the long-term loss of your teeth.
3) How often should I floss my teeth?
You should floss once a day. The reason for this is that plaque builds up between the teeth in a lesser amount than on the other tooth surfaces so once-a-day flossing is adequate. Flossing is really important because this is the most neglected aspect of oral health care.
4) How often should I change my toothbrush?
You should change your toothbrush every 2 months on average. Once the bristles start getting frayed, they become ineffective at the job that they were designed to do.
5) What stiffness toothbrush should I use?
You should use a soft bristled toothbrush. Plaque is generally easy to remove in its early stage. Once plaque is mineralised and becomes "calculus" or “tartar”, using a stiffer bristled toothbrush won’t remove the calculus or tartar. Only a professional clean can remove the mineralised calculus or tartar.
6) Sometimes, I get concerned that I will be told I need treatment that I don’t need. How can I be sure I won’t be misled?
Whenever in doubt about a dentist’s diagnosis or treatment plan, get a second opinion. We have other dentists that work in our dental group that you can ask for a consultation with, just to be sure that you are getting the most accurate diagnosis and best treatment plan for your mouth.
7) How long does it take to get an appointment?
We can usually find you an appointment within 48 hours if you’re in pain. Just bear in mind, the appointment will be primarily to get you out of pain. There may not be any time to discuss and deal with more than one problem but rest assured, we will schedule a follow-up appointment to determine the course of care for further problems. If you are booking in for a consultation and treatment plan (and you have no pain), you should be able to get an appointment within a few weeks.
8) Do you need to use the drill?
Only if a cavity is beyond “remineralization”. This is the reason why we recommend attending to the dentist before you have pain. Often, the treatment is simpler and cheaper (and we can hopefully avoid the use of a drill!). If you have a low-sugar diet, good oral hygiene (brush twice a day and floss once a day) and regularly attend the dentist, you will have a good chance that you won’t need to have your teeth drilled.
9) Do we need to use anaesthesia?
We need to use anaesthesia in circumstances you may feel pain when do dental treatment. Dentists are called upon to do precise surgery on teeth and gums in a saliva-filled environment. Without anaesthetic, you may flinch and move, which can cause problems when the dentist is trying to complete such a fine, precise procedure. Anaesthetic makes the procedure more comfortable for you and allows the dentist to complete the treatment without complications. Some patients prefer not to use anaesthetic for procedures because they don’t like the numb feeling. If this is the case, we can do the procedure without anaesthetic but its important that you hold very still.
10) How safe are dental X-rays?
Dental x-rays are very safe. With the advent of digital x-rays (which we have at all our clinics), this small risk has been reduced even further so it presents an extremely small risk to our patients. When you think about it, the dentists and nurses in our clinics are exposed to more regular radiation on a daily basis and there are no studies to date that this results in any health problems to us. The chances of anything adverse arising from a few x-rays every year is extremely low.
General Dental Questions
11) Will it hurt?
The pain you should feel during a dental procedure is minimal, with a small proportion of injections causing mild discomfort. If you don’t want to feel anything at all and the nature of the procedure is more invasive i.e. a root canal treatment or surgical extraction, conscious sedation i.e. “sleep dentistry” may be an option.
12) What do I do if I have an emergency?
Call our clinic as soon as possible to organise an appointment. Our Hotline is 63233200.
13) How long does it take to get an appointment?
If you are in a lot of pain, we should be able to see you on the day (but only for a short “get-you-out-of-pain” appointment) or the next day. Alternatively, you may also book an appointment directly on our website and receive an instant confirmation.
14) What can I expect at my first visit?
If its your first visit to our clinic, we will get you to fill out a medical history and consent form before you see the dentist. Depending on the nature of the presenting complaint i.e. tooth ache/consultation, you will discuss your issue with the dentist and progress from there.
15) Why would I only get one cleaning per year?
Some patients have such good oral hygiene and dietary habits i.e. low sugar diet that they are suitable for once-year only cleans but this is pretty rare. For optimal oral hygiene, it is recommended to have a clean every 6 months.
16) What is the difference between a white and metal filling?
A white filling is made up of a material called “dental composite”. Dental composite is predominantly a combination of a plastic resin and glass filler particles. A metal filling is predominantly made up of a mixture of mercury and silver-tin. The mercury is in “bound” form so it’s not toxic. In recent times, the use of metal fillings has become almost obsolete for a lot of clinics. We have other non-metal alternatives such as ceramic fillings in situations where bigger fillings with more strength are required.
17) Why is oral health important during pregnancy?
Oral health is important during pregnancy to prevent the amount of bacteria in the mother’s system. Studies have showed mixed results whether poor oral health results in pre-term low birth weight infants. If you can keep your gums really healthy when you’re pregnant, there is less likelihood of bacteria causing any adverse effects on the unborn foetus.
18) How does your mouth affect your overall health?
Numerous studies have shown the link between poor oral health and diabetes. The relationship is bi-directional meaning that if you have poor diabetic control, your gums are worse and if you have poor oral health, your diabetic control is worse. More recent studies are showing a relationship between poor gum health and conditions such as heart disease and strokes. Bacteria from the gums can enter the blood stream and lodge as “plaques” in small arteries increasing the risk of some of the above conditions.
19) I have a terrible fear of going to the dentist yet I recognize the importance of seeing the dentist to maintain good oral health. What should I do?
Firstly, you need to acknowledge that the fear of going to the dentist is a common one shared by a lot of people. You are not the only one. The second thing is to realise that we have anxiety management options i.e. mild sedation and conscious sedation. You need to discuss these concerns with the dentist when you see them. Although the fear of going to the dentist is bad, it is important to prevent the development of further problems which will require more intensive dental treatment. More intensive dental treatment means more dental appointments, more anxiety and more fear. So in a way, fear of going to the dentist is the exact reason why you SHOULD go to the dentist. If you want to see us less, see us more regularly!
Pediatric / Family Dentistry
20) What should I use to clean my baby's teeth?
When there are only a few baby teeth, a little bit of gauze is adequate to keep the teeth clean. Once there are more teeth and your child is able to use a toothbrush, get them to play with the toothbrush and practice. Get them to watch you brushing your teeth. Help them with their brushing until they are old enough to brush their teeth properly without guidance. Most children can start brushing on their own around 7-8 years of age.
21) When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?
1-2 years of age is a good time to get your child desensitised to the dental clinic environment.
22) Are baby teeth really that important to my child?
Baby teeth “hold the space” for the permanent successor teeth while the jaw grows and develops. If you lose the baby teeth and the back i.e. the molars, there might be a significant risk of orthodontic problems developing.
23) What should I do if my child has a toothache?
Call us to book a consultation immediately or schedule an online appointment from our website: www.ensodental.com.au
24) Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child's teeth?
Yes, thumb-sucking can cause significant orthodontic problems including crowding and an “anterior open bite”. An anterior open bite is quite difficult to fix and has a high rate of relapse so stopping the habit early is much better than trying to treat it once the problem develops.
25) How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?
Nursing bottle caries / decay is quite a major problem. It is important to not dip the pacifier in something sweet like honey and definitely do not let the baby go to sleep with a nursing bottle left in their mouth.
26) When should we begin using toothpaste for my child and how much should we use?
You should use start using the baby-strength toothpaste i.e. 500ppm toothpaste once the front teeth and the first baby molars start erupting into the mouth.
27) How do I make my child's diet safe for his/her teeth?
Ensure that the diet is low in sugar intake. You should aim for 5 out of the 7 days of the week to be sugar free. A treat day i.e. Saturday or Sunday can be considered. Remember, frequency of sugar intake is more damaging than the amount of sugar.
28) How do dental sealants work?
They stop food particles from catching in the deep grooves of the back teeth where cavities start first.
29) How do I know if my child is getting enough fluoride?
If you live in a metropolitan area, your water should be fluoridated. Water fluoridation is one of the best ways to prevent decay occurring in teeth. Check with your local council authorities as to whether the water supply is fluoridated or not.
30) What can I do to protect my child's teeth during sporting events?
We can make your child a custom-made mouthguard which protects the teeth from trauma. If your child has “buck teeth”, you should also consider discussing the need for orthodontic treatment with your dentist.
31) What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?
Clean any major visible debris from the tooth and place it in milk. Make a consultation with the dentist as soon as possible to have it replaced into the mouth.
32) How can parents help prevent tooth decay?
The most important factor in preventing tooth decay is diet. Reduce the frequency of sugar intake and your child’s teeth will be less likely to develop decay. Regular brushing and flossing also reduces the risk of decay whilst regular attendance to the dentist for checkups, cleans and the application of fluorides in the clinic can significantly reduce the risk of decay as well.
33) What is TMD?
Tempero-Mandibular joint Dysfunction is a condition in which the either both, or one of the jaw joints doesn’t work properly for a variety of reasons. Depending on how much it affects your quality of life, will depend on the nature of the intervention required. You will need to discuss any jaw joint problems with your dentist and they can discuss the management options further with you.
34) What is Tooth Erosion?
Tooth erosion is caused by acids dissolving the enamel of the teeth. The source of the acid can be from a variety of different sources including diet, occupational exposure, the gastro-intestinal tract i.e. gastric reflux, a recreational drug habit or a psychological condition i.e. anorexia/bulimia
35) What is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth is a condition in which there is not enough saliva in the mouth. Saliva is one of the biggest protection mechanisms in our mouth against decay and gum disease. There are a variety of reasons for dry mouth and this means you need a thorough examination and investigation by your dentist to determine the likely cause for the dry mouth. There are many ways we can effectively manage dry mouth but it will depend on the cause of the problem.
36) What is an Abscessed Tooth?
An abscessed tooth is one that has been infected by bacteria either through the root canal of the tooth or the gum surrounding the tooth (and rarely, sometimes a combination of both). Chronic long-standing abscesses tend not to cause severe pain whilst acute abscesses are very painful. You need to seek dental treatment immediately to aid the removal of the infection.
37) What is Decay and what causes it?
Decay is caused by bacteria breaking down carbohydrates into acids in a chronic process which demineralises the tooth making it prone to further breakdown. Decay can be reversed in its early stages through dietary modification, application of topical fluorides and other agents. Regular clinical check-ups are important in picking up decay in its early stages.
38) What is Calculus?
Calculus is hardened plaque which includes a mixture of bacteria, food particles and salivary proteins and minerals. It acts a rough surface to attract more plaque which can contribute to ongoing gum disease (gingivitis is the medical name for gum disease). Calculus is often concurrently present when periodontal disease is also present. Periodontal disease is an advanced form of gingivitis which results in the loss of bone support around your teeth, causing them to loosen and fall out.
39) What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is chronic inflammation (often painless) caused by the accumulation of plaque at the margin of the gums around the teeth. Gingivitis results in bleeding gums which are painful to “probing”. Gingivitis is a precursor to periodontal disease, which is a more serious condition which can result in the loss of bone support around your teeth.
40) What is a Crown?
A crown is a cap over a tooth which is used to protect a tooth that has been weakened over time as a result of decay or cracks or for some other reason. Crowns are great to extend the functional life of a tooth for many years.
41) What is a Root Canal Treatment?
A root canal treatment is needed when bacteria from a cavity or a crack in the tooth enter the root canal system of the tooth. The root canal system has the nerves and blood supply of a tooth. When bacteria infect this space, they dissolve the nerves and blood supply. This can cause pain necessitating the need for root canal treatment. A root canal treatment can be used to retain a tooth in the mouth for a long time. Often, a root canal treated tooth will require a crown to prevent the tooth from fracturing because the process of root canal treatment can often weaken the tooth.
42) What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an advanced form of gum disease that can result in the eventual loss of your teeth. Chronic bacterial infection of the gums can cause a somewhat silent disease which results in the loss of bone support around the teeth. Many factors contribute to the development of periodontal disease including oral hygiene, hereditary factors, pregnancy, smoking and systemic conditions such as diabetes.
Senior Dental Care
43) As I get older, am I more at risk of getting oral cancer?
Yes. As we get older, our DNA accrues more genetic damage. This accrued genetic damage can contribute to an increase in the risk of all types of cancer not just oral cancer. Oral cancer risk increases with smoking and alcohol intake. It is important to attend to the dentist because not only do we diagnose problems with teeth and gums we are able to pick up any oral cancer in its early stages. Early intervention markedly improves the outcome of cancer treatment.
44) How will my oral health change as I get older?
As you get older, your oral health becomes more challenging to maintain. As we get older, our saliva production becomes less which means we are at more risk of decay and gum disease. As we also get older, teeth that have been filled previously filled may need re-filling or further treatment. Loss of teeth becomes a problem as losing numerous teeth over your lifetime may now mean you need to replace teeth to replace your chewing function. Tooth replacements such as dentures or dental implants may need to be considered.
45) My teeth are getting looser, is there anything I can do to make them more secure?
Yes. There are two main things you can do to maintain your teeth. The first is at home oral health care through regular brushing (twice a day) and flossing (once a day). The second is professional care at the dentist. 6 monthly scaling and cleaning of the teeth is usually recommended to stave off the development of periodontal disease, the primary cause of loosening teeth.
46) Are braces still an option for older people?
Yes, adult orthodontics is now quite common. Invisalign (invisible braces) tend to be a more acceptable option for older patients. You will need to discuss your orthodontic concerns with your dentist to weigh up the options for straightening your teeth.
47) Are dental implants an alternative to dentures?
Dental implants are the strongest and most aesthetic tooth/teeth replacements currently available. Dental implants are made of titanium and become part of the bone of your jaw. They last a long time and look and feel like your own teeth.
48) I am on medication, can this affect my oral health and dental treatment?
Many medications affect your ability to produce saliva in your mouth. When you see the dentist, it’s important to list all your medications. We can assess your mouth and determine if there is an adverse effect from the medications you have listed in your medical history.
49) My dentures don't fit as well as they used to. What should I do?
We need to see you in the clinic to assess the reason for the lack of fit. Bone “resorbs” or reduces over time if there are no teeth present to keep the bone there. As a result, over time dentures can become ill-fitting. There could be other reasons for dentures not fitting so a proper dental consultation is required to assess the reasons the ill-fitting dentures.
50) I find eat difficult to eat and chew certain foods, what are my options?
The main options to replace teeth are a) Dentures b) Bridges (fixed dentures) c) Dental implants. Within each category, there are other specific methods of replacing teeth but those are your three main methods of replacing teeth. Dentures are the most cost-effective, followed by bridges and implants in that order.
51) What can I do to keep my mouth healthy and maintain my lifestyle?
Eat a balanced diet which is low in sugar and maintain a good at-home oral hygiene regimen (brushing twice a day and flossing once a day). It is also important to visit the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleans. Professional maintenance and prevention can mean that you can avoid problems before they arise. This means you can keep your teeth pain-free and functional for longer.