- Q?Why should I go to the dentist regularly?
Many people do not see a dentist on a regular basis. They go only when they have a problem. The reason why it is so important to see the dentist regularly is that most dental problems do not have any symptoms until they reach the advanced stages of the disease process. A simple example is tooth decay, which can remain completely symptomless until it gets close to the nerve of the tooth. By that time, root canal treatment followed by a post, buildup, and crown are often necessary, instead of a filling which could have been placed several years earlier when the cavity was just beginning to form. Your dentist can usually detect a cavity 3-4 years before it develops any symptoms. This is why regular checkups are important – so why not schedule yours today?
- Q?How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?
You should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year, though your dentist may recommend more or less frequent visits.
Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. At these visits, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities. Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent, and maintain your dental health. These include:
Medical history review: Knowing the status of any current medical conditions, new medications, and illnesses, gives us insight to your over all health and also your dental health.
Medical history review: Knowing the status of any current medical conditions, new medications, and illnesses, gives us insight to your over all health and also your dental health.
Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss.X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any sings of oral cancer.
Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for sometime and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line, and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
Teeth polishing: Removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during toothbrushing and scaling.
Oral hygiene recommendations: Review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed (electric dental toothbrushes, special cleaning aids, fluorides, rinses, etc.).
Review dietary habits: Your eating habits play a very important role in your dental health.
As you can see, a good dental exam and cleaning involves quite a lot more than just checking for cavities and polishing your teeth. We are committed to providing you with the best possible care, and to do so will require regular check-ups and cleanings.
- Q?Why should I floss, isn’t brushing enough?
You should floss to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth. There are millions of these microscopic creatures feeding on food particles left on your teeth. These bacteria live in plaque which can be removed by flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of some of the bacteria in your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the bacteria your toothbrush can’t get to. That’s the bacteria hiding in the tiny spaces between your teeth.
If you do not floss, you allow plaque to remain between your teeth. Eventually it hardens into tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing. Only your dentist can remove tartar.
Ask your dentist to show you the proper way to floss. You will both notice the difference at your next cleaning appointment.
- Q?How can I prevent cavities?
You can certainly minimize the number of cavities you get. Always spend two to three minutes brushing your teeth. It takes that long to get rid of the bacteria which destroy tooth enamel. Do not brush too hard. It takes very little pressure to remove bacteria and plaque. Floss at least once a day. It is the only way to get bacteria from between your teeth.
Watch the sugar you eat. There is sugar in sweets, fruits, crackers and crisps. These are the foods that the bacteria in your mouth like best. Be mindful of foods like raisins and peanut butter that stick to your teeth. They can provide a constant supply for the bacteria eating into your teeth. Most importantly remember its FREQUENCY of sugar consumption and not Quantity which is more important in the formation of dental cavities. Keep the frequency of sugar consumtion down to help reduce the chances of cavities.
Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can also help. Chewing stimulates the flow of saliva which acts as a natural plaque-fighting substance.
Do not forget your regular dental visits. Good dental habits will go a long way toward a no-cavity visit.
- Q?Why does the dentist take X-rays?
Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when your dentist examines your mouth. An X-ray examination may reveal:
- small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
- infections in the bone
- periodontal (gum) disease
- abscesses or cysts
Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money and often unnecessary discomfort. Dental radiographs can detect damage to oral structures not visible during a regular exam. The schedule for radiographs can vary with age, risk for disease or for evaluation of growth and development. There are many benefits to having dental radiographs taken. Any additional questions or concerns should be discussed with your dentist.
- Q?What can I do about sensitive teeth?
Specialist sensitive toothpastes, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate are very effective in treating sensitive teeth. After a few weeks of use you may notice a decrease in sensitivity. Highly acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, as well as tea and fizzy drinks can increase tooth sensitivity, and work against any sensitivity toothpaste. If you do not get relief by brushing gently and using a desensitizing toothpaste, see your dentist. There are special filling materials that can be applied in the surgery to the roots of your tooth to reduce—if not eliminate—the sensitivity. High-fluoride containing home care products can also be recommended to help reduce tooth sensitivity.
Ask the friendly staff at St James Dental Surgery for more information on sensitive teeth.
- Q?What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting bone structure, which if left untreated, can cause permanent jaw bone destruction and possible tooth loss. Untreated periodontal disease has been linked to increased risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, low birth weight babies and pre-term delivery, respiratory disease, and prostate cancer. An advanced stage of periodontal disease exhibits inflamed gums pulling away from your bone and teeth. Other signs of periodontal disease include:
- Bad breath
- Red or swollen gums
- Loose teeth or teeth that have moved
- Sensitive teeth
- Pus coming from around the teeth
- Pain on chewing
- Tender gums
- Bleeding gums
Treatment of early periodontal disease can be performed in the surgery. However, advanced stages may require surgery. Periodontal disease can be prevented and treated successfully by seeing your dentist regularly and following recommended care plans.
- Q?How can cosmetic dentistry help improve the appearance of my smile?
If you’re feeling somewhat self-conscious about your teeth, or just want to improve your smile, cosmetic dental treatments may be the answer to a more beautiful, confident smile.
Cosmetic dentistry has become very popular in the last several years, not only due the many advances in cosmetic dental procedures and materials available today, but also because patients are becoming more and more focused on improving their overall health. This includes dental prevention and having a healthier, whiter, more radiant smile.
There are many cosmetic dental procedures available to improve your teeth and enhance your smile. Depending on your particular needs, cosmetic dental treatments can change your smile dramatically, from restoring a single tooth to having a full mouth make-over. Ask your dentist how you can improve the health and beauty of your smile with cosmetic dentistry.
Teeth Whitening: Bleaching lightens teeth that have been stained or discolored by age, food, drink, and smoking. Teeth darkened as a result of injury or taking certain medications can also be bleached, but the effectiveness depends on the degree of staining present.
Composite (tooth-colored) Fillings: Composite fillings are now widely used instead of amalgam (silver) fillings to repair teeth with cavities, and also to replace old defective fillings. Tooth-colored fillings are also used to repair chipped, broken, or discolored teeth. This type of filling is also very useful to fill in gaps and to protect sensitive, exposed root surfaces caused by gum recession.
Porcelain Veneers: Veneers are thin custom-made, tooth-coloured shells that are bonded onto the fronts of teeth to create a beautiful individual smile. They can help restore or camouflage damaged, discoloured, poorly shaped, or misaligned teeth. Unlike crowns, veneers require minimal tooth structure to be removed from the surface of the tooth.
Porcelain Crowns (caps): A crown is a tooth-coloured, custom-made covering that covers the entire tooth surface restoring it to its original shape and size. Crowns protect and strengthen teeth that cannot be restored with fillings or other types of restorations. They are ideal for teeth that have large, fractured or broken fillings and also for those that are badly decayed, or teeth which have had root canal therapy.
Dental Implants: Dental implants are commercially pure titanium “screws” that are surgically placed into the jaw to replace one or more missing teeth. Porcelain crowns, bridges, and dentures can be made specifically to fit and attach to implants, giving a patient a strong, stable, and durable solution to removable dental appliances.
Orthodontics: Less visible and more effective brackets and wires are making straightening teeth with orthodontics much more appealing to adult patients. Also, in some cases, teeth may be straightened with custom-made, clear, removable aligners that require no braces.
Thanks to the advances in modern dentistry, cosmetic treatments can make a difference in making your smile shine!
- Q?What can I do about stained or discolored teeth?
Since teeth whitening has now become the number one aesthetic concern of many patients, there are many products and methods available to achieve a brighter smile.
Professional teeth whitening (or bleaching) is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment used to change the colour of natural tooth enamel, and is an ideal way to enhance the beauty of your smile. Over-the-counter products are also available, but they are much less effective than professional treatments and may not be approved by the British Dental Association (BDA).
As we age, the outer layer of tooth enamel wears away, eventually revealing a darker or yellow shade. The colour of our teeth also comes from the inside of the tooth, which may become darker over time. Smoking, drinking coffee, tea, and wine may also contribute to tooth discolouration, making our teeth yellow and dull. Sometimes, teeth can become discoloured from taking certain medications as a child, such as tetracycline. Excessive fluoridation (fluorosis) during tooth development can also cause teeth to become discoloured.
It’s important to have your teeth evaluated by your dentist to determine if you’re a good candidate for bleaching. Occasionally, tetracycline and fluorosis stains are difficult to bleach and your dentist may offer other options, such as veneers or crowns to cover up such stains. Since teeth whitening only works on natural tooth enamel, it is also important to evaluate replacement of any old fillings, crowns, etc. before bleaching begins. Once the bleaching is done, your dentist can match the new restorations to the shade of the newly whitened teeth.
Since teeth whitening is not permanent, a touch-up may be needed every several years to keep your smile looking bright.
The most widely used professional teeth whitening systems:
Home teeth whitening systems: At-home products usually come in a gel form that is placed in a custom-fitted mouthguard (tray), created from a mould of your teeth. The trays are usually worn overnight while you sleep. It usually takes a minimum of two weeks to achieve the desired results, but depends on the degree of staining and the desired level of whitening.
In surgery teeth whitening: This treatment is done in the dental surgery and you will see results immediately. It may require more than one visit, with each visit lasting 30 to 60 minutes. While your gums are protected, a bleaching solution is applied to the teeth. A special light may be used to enhance the action of the agent while the teeth are whitened.
Some patients may experience tooth sensitivity after having their teeth whitened. This sensation is temporary and subsides shortly after you complete the bleaching process, usually within a few days to one week.
Teeth whitening can be very effective and can give you a brighter, whiter, more confident smile!
- Q?Root Canal Treatment
What is root canal treatment?
Root Canal treatment (endodontics) is needed when the pulp (blood/nerve supply) of a tooth is infected through decay or injury.
Why is root canal treatment needed?
When the pulp becomes contaminated with bacteria then the infection spreads through the root canal system of the tooth and is usually associated with considerable pain. This may eventually lead to a dental abscess. Root canal treatment helps to get rid of this infection and prevents any recurrence of the infection.
Does it hurt?
No. A local anaesthetic is used and it should feel no different to having an ordinary filling.
What does it involve?
The aim of the treatment is to remove all infection from the root canal. The root canal is cleaned and shaped so that it can be filled with an inert material to prevent re-contamination. Most courses of treatment will involve two or more visits. Root canal treatment is a skilled and time consuming procedure and in order to be successful it needs to be highly accurate. At the first appointment, the infected pulp is removed. The root canal is then cleaned and shaped ready for the filling. A temporary filling is placed in the tooth along with an antiseptic dressing to allow the tooth to decontaminate thoroughly. At the next visit the tooth is checked and if the infection has cleared, the root canals are filled with an inert material called Gutta percha (rubber like material). Small X rays are taken to check the accuracy of the root filling.
Is root treatment expensive?
In comparison with routine fillings, yes, a root filling is more expensive. This is because it is a time consuming process, if it is carried out to a high standard.
What if I don’t have the treatment?
The alternative is to have the tooth taken out. Once the pulp is infected it cannot heal and it is not recommended to leave an infected tooth in the mouth.
Will the tooth be safe after the treatment?
Yes. However, for a back tooth it is usually better to provide extra support for the root treated tooth in the form of a crown. A front tooth, providing it is not too badly broken down, can generally be filled with a conventional white filling.
What is a Dental Implant? A dental implant is a small screw shaped attachment made from titanium. It is inserted into the bone in the jaw and takes the place of a missing tooth root. Once osseo-integration (process whereby which bone joins the implant) has taken place, a replacement tooth can be attached to the top of the implant. This new prosthetic tooth can look, feel and perform like a natural tooth. It is also possible to support a denture or a bridge using multiple implants.
Benefits of Implants:
- Implant supported prosthetic teeth are more comfortable than conventional dentures because they are firmly held in position and do not move or slip. This provides more self-confidence.
- Dental Implants are a good alternative to conventional fixed bridgework as they eliminate the need to grind down natural teeth.
- Dental implants help to preserve bone. When natural teeth are removed the supporting alveolar bone shrinks. However by placing implants soon after the extraction the supporting bone is maintained
Process of implant placement:
Initial assessment and planning- At the initial consultation, after discussing the possible alternatives, the dental surgeon will assess the feasibility of providing implant treatment. Appropriate X-Rays would need to be taken and study models prepared. A written treatment plan along with an estimate of the cost would be provided.
Implant placement – A minor surgical procedure is performed under sterile conditions in the dental surgery under local anaesthetic and if required, this can be supplemented with conscious sedation. If the surgical stage reveals inadequate bone for implant placement then the procedure may be have to be abandoned or bone regeneration options pursued.
Integration period – Although some implants can be loaded quickly, it is generally thought to be a good idea to allow a period of 3-4 months before loading the implant. This allows the implant enough time to osseo-integrate successfully. A temporary adhesive bridge or a removable denture can be provided in the interim, to satisfy aesthetic need.
Restorative phase – Once integrated, the implants usually need to be uncovered and can then be linked to using an abutment and a crown. Impressions are taken of the implants and using this information the dental technician constructs the prosthetic crown. All ceramic crowns can be constructed to give that ultimate natural look.
Maintenance – Following completion of implant treatment it is important for the patient to practice a good level of oral hygiene and to attend check up appointments regularly.
Will I be able to eat normally afterwards? Yes, once completed patients should be able to eat a normal healthy diet.
What costs are involved in implant treatment? The dental cost can vary depending on the complexity of the treatment required. A full dental estimate would be provided prior to commencement of treatment.
How long will it take? Usually from start to finish it takes 4-6 months. In some cases they can be provided in a shorter period.
How long will the implants last? Once treatment is successfully completed, a routine of careful dental hygiene and regular check ups should ensure that the implants last for many years. Smoking is detrimental to the well being of implants and patients are encouraged to give this up.
Am I too old for implant treatment? There is no upper age limit for patients to undergo implant treatment, provided they enjoy reasonable good health.
Is the treatment painful? Patients are often surprised at how little discomfort they experience during and after implant procedures.
- Q?I have dentures. Is it necessary for me to still see my dentist?
Visits to the Dentist include more than just “checking teeth”. While those patients who wear dentures no longer have to worry about dental decay, they may have concerns with ill fitting appliances or mouth sores to name a few. Annual visits to the Dentist (or sooner if soreness is present) is recommended. During these visits an oral cancer screening and head and neck exam will be performed as well as an evaluation of the fit or need for replacement of the existing appliances. Regular visits can help you to avoid more complicated problems down the road even with a denture.