FAQs

Why are x-rays necessary?

Is it safe to have dental x-rays?

If I don’t have a tooth-ache, why see the dentist?

What should I do if a tooth is knocked out?

Should I use a fluoridated toothpaste?

Why do I need professional fluoride treatment?

Is water fluoridation of benefit? What about bottled water?

What happens to my fees if I have private health cover?

What are the recommended fees?

Do I need to floss?

Could I have a dead nerve in my tooth without knowing?

Is it safe to leave a tooth with a dead nerve?

Why do teeth get cracks?

Does grinding my teeth cause problems?

Why are x-rays necessary?

Good dentistry takes a lot of detective work. It’s quicker and easier to treat dental disease in the early stages than it is later on when it causes real damage. Visually, we can only see a small portion of the crown of a tooth. One of the most effective ways to diagnose problems is with x-rays. X-rays expose tooth decay hiding between teeth, under the gumsline, or under existing fillings where we otherwise cant see it. They also reveal bone loss caused by gum disease, abscesses, cysts, tumours and signs of cancer.

The Australian Dental Association recommends x-rays should be taken periodically depending of caries (decay) risk as a scanning procedure to ensure the integrity of dental structures. Typically this is every 2-3 years.

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Is it safe to have dental x-rays?

We have all come to understand that overexposure of radiation can be harmful to our health, so naturally we want to limit our exposure. Though understandably concerned, many people do not realize that the dosages of dental x-rays are exceptionally small. We are exposed to many different forms of radiation every day, however, it is ionizing radiation which causes damage on a cellular level. Natural environmental radiation that we’re exposed to comes from: cosmic radiation, breathing in the element radon in the atmosphere, and radioactive isotopes present in the earth’s crust. To put it in perspective, the amount of ionizing radiation we receive from a 6 hr international flight is roughly equivalent to 3000 dental x-rays! The chance of developing a tumor from 1 x-ray is the same as smoking ¼ of a cigarette.  Hence the benefit of the use of dental x-rays certainly outweigh the risks.

In the best interests of our patients and environment, we are using the Gendex Denoptics digital x-ray Imaging system. This technology enables us to reduce radiation exposure to our patients by 70% - 90% compared to the conventional dental film x-ray. It also allows more accurate diagnosis by using sophisticated imaging software. This also enables our practice to eliminate the chemicals used to develop x-ray film, the disposal of which can be harmful to the environment.

All of our equipment is tested regularly to comply with the Radiation Safety (General) Regulations and Additional Requirements Imposed under section 36 of the Radiation Safety Act, and conforms to Australian Standard 3200.2.201:1996.

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If I don’t have a tooth-ache, why see the dentist?

This is in-fact the best time to visit the dentist. A lot of people avoid dental visits at all costs - even when they have a tooth-ache, hoping it would go away. The trouble is that most dental problems are not painful until near end-stage where the situation has really gotten out of hand. There may be temporary relief for a while, but it usually comes back with a vengeance. This is where the problem becomes more complex and usually requires more extensive treatment.

It is always easier to take care of the small problems before they become big ones. It is even better to prevent problems from occurring in the first place. With modern dentistry, it is entirely possible to keep your teeth healthy for life.

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What should I do if a tooth is knocked out?

Remain Calm. Find the tooth. Handle the tooth by the crown only. If the tooth is clean, replant it in the socket immediately. If the tooth is dirty, clean it by: 1) Rinsing in milk or 2) Rinsing very briefly in water, then replant it as soon as possible. When replanting the tooth, place it back in the original position as best possible.

If you are unable to replant the tooth, keep the tooth moist by: submerging it in milk, or sealing it in plastic wrap, or holding the tooth in the mouth next to the cheek.

Seek immediate dental treatment – time is critical.

Do not hold the tooth by the root surface. Do not scrape or rub the root surface. Do not let the tooth dry out. Do not store the tooth in water.

To help prevent these sorts of injuries, the Australian Dental Association highly recommends professionally fitted mouth-guards to be worn when participating in contact sports.

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Should I use a fluoridated toothpaste?

Yes. Clinical trials have shown that fluoridated toothpaste is effective in the prevention of dental decay. However, in younger people where teeth are still developing supervision is required to prevent ingestion as may result in dental fluorosis. The Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health (ARCPOH) recommends the following guidelines:

  1. From the time that teeth first erupt until age 17 months: Children’s teeth should be cleaned by a responsible adult, but not with a fluoridated toothpaste.
  2. 18 months to 5 years: Teeth should be cleaned twice a day with a toothpaste containing 0.4 to 0.55 mg/g of fluoride (children’s strength toothpaste), using only a small pea-sized amount. Children should spit out and not swallow the toothpaste. Adult supervision required.
  3. 6 years to adult: Teeth should be cleaned at least twice a day using standard fluoride toothpaste containing 1.0 mg/g fluoride. Toothpaste should be spat out, not swallowed, and preferably not rinsed.
  4. For people who do not live in an area with fluoridated water, or have higher risk for developing decay, professional dental assessment will determine if a high concentration fluoride toothpaste, or mouthwash is required.
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 Why do I need professional fluoride treatment?

Clinical fluoride treatment helps to maintain the integrity of tooth structure, making it more resistant to decay and allows existing fillings to last longer. Fluoride given in professional applications also has antibacterial effects. Research has shown that up to 25% reduction in caries (decay) increment. This benefit has been derived from the formation of various fluoride compounds on the tooth surface, leading to the presence of small quantities of fluoride in saliva and oral fluids over extended periods – a concept known as ‘loading the intra-oral fluoride reservoir’. Individual assessment of each person’s caries (decay) risk will help determine the most appropriate frequency of professional fluoride application.

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Is water fluoridation of benefit? What about bottled water?

Water fluoridation is safe, and is recommended by the World Health Organisation. It is associated with a substantial reduction in the prevalence of decay in the community, with studies showing a 20-40% reduction. The target fluoride concentration in water supplies in Australia is 0.7-1.0ppm.  Recently there has been a large increase in the consumption of bottled water. A study published in the Australian Dental Journal tested the top 10 brands of bottled water. Most did not provide information on fluoride content.  All that were tested had negligible fluoride (<0.08ppm), which raises the concern that regular consumption of bottled water may reduce the community benefits gained from water fluoridation. People who choose to drink bottled water for various reasons such as cleanliness, health, taste, etc. may be at higher risk for dental decay. For this reason it is important to visit the dentist regularly for examination and review of preventive therapy.

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What happens to my fees if I have private health cover?

Private health funds can offer a contribution towards the expense of ongoing dental health care. They certainly provide a useful service, as well as maintain a profit. Unfortunately many benefit plans are limited and people have misunderstandings about their dental coverage and the role of their health fund.

Every day we are asked questions regarding dental cover. We would like to be able to answer each and every question, but with so many insurance companies each offering so many optional plans, the variables are endless.

Here are some facts regarding dental health cover you should consider: 

  1. Our office treats people, not insurance plans. Our mission is to provide excellent dental care regardless of dental benefits. We will gladly assist you in understanding and collecting any dental benefits you are entitled to. Our HICAPS facility allows direct & immediate claims to be processed. However, we do not expect all the services we provide will be covered by every dental plan.
  2. Insurance benefits are designed to assist in covering the expenses of dental treatment, not to be a pay-all. Free dental care and excellent dental care are not likely to be one and the same. 
  3. Dental health cover is a contract between a patient and the health fund. Our office remains independent of this contract, and it is up to the patient to meet the cost of treatment – including any gaps.
  4. Dental health cover has its limitations. Most rebates are not consistent in their cover. In addition, most schemes do not include all treatment items and impose annual limits. Having any dental coverage is beneficial but understand that most insurance plans have limitations on benefits.

For more information on Dental Insurance visit: www.ada.org.au  

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What are the recommended fees?

On occasion there is mention in the media to the ‘ADA Recommended Fees’. The Australian Dental Association has issued a statement: advising that there is no such thing. A dentist is free to charge what is appropriate for the service provided, taking into account of costs & circumstance of each treatment. The suggestion that some dentists depart from an ‘approved or recommended’ level of fees, thereby creating ‘gaps’ is both false and misleading. In fact, it is against Trade Practices law for dentists to collude in the maintenance of any set fee scale.– ADA News Bulletin July 2006.

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Do I need to floss?

Yes. Flossing is vital to maintaining good dental health. It helps to clean teeth in the areas that brushing alone cannot reach (between the teeth and the gum line). This helps to maintain fillings, prevent decay and prevent gum disease in those areas. Unfortunately, there is no alternative – no high-tech mouth wash, fancy toothbrush or jet-stream irrigator available that can replace the floss.

Learning the proper way to floss you teeth is important. Your dentist or hygienist will be happy to demonstrate proper flossing techniques.

So what is the best floss to use? The answer is simple: any floss that you will use. There are many available on the market: waxed, unwaxed, flavoured, unflavoured, regular, tape, satin, etc. Different people will find different types easier to use depending on manual dexterity and alignment & access of teeth, etc. The most important is to floss daily using correct technique.

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Could I have a dead nerve in my tooth without knowing?

Yes. Cracks in teeth can develop slowly and this can allow a slow ingress of bacteria into the nerve. As a result, the nerve can die in a manner that is less noticeable than usual. Nerves can become mildly sensitive to hot or cold and then die or they can die without any noticeable symptoms of pain. Many patients have teeth, unknown to them, have dead nerves. Sometimes there are even dormant abscesses on these teeth and the people still do not know.

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Is it safe to leave a tooth with a dead nerve?
Sometimes you can get away with it for a while, but unfortunately these teeth are like ticking time bombs. The low-grade infection that is usually in them can suddenly flare up and cause pain, swelling and pus. This usually happens when your immune system is down – often because of stress from an important life event. A dental crisis is the last thing you need at this time. It is best to treat it as soon as possible to minimise the size of the bone destruction that occurs at the end of the root, where the infection comes out of the tooth and into the jaw.

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Why do teeth get cracks?
Cracked tooth syndrome is very a very common problem, usually affecting teeth that are heavily filled. The decay and subsequent filling causes a weakening of the remaining tooth structure. Like all materials, teeth are subject to stress fatigue. If a tooth is overloaded by heavy stress cycles (ie: heavy chewing), a hairline fracture can develop, usually at the bottom corner of a cavity. If you are under a lot psychological stress, you may grind your teeth (usually at night) and increase the loading.

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Does grinding my teeth cause problems?
Yes, and grinding is a very common habit. Almost every person will at some time in their life grind their teeth – usually due to stress. Unknown to you, grinding at night causes a massive increase (200-300%) in the stress and strain on your teeth. This puts a lot more sideways splitting forces on the tips of the tooth during chewing, which leads to cracking. Even unfilled teeth can get cracks. In addition to damaging teeth, clenching and grinding can lead to problems with the jaw joint, muscles and ligaments. This can cause tension headaches and limitations in jaw movements. You may benefit from either an occlusal splint to protect teeth from cracking and reduce the negative effects of grinding.  

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