Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the more common questions we get asked...
Why do teeth get cracks in them?

A cracked tooth can be caused by grinding, clenching, tooth decay or from a large filling in a tooth. ‘Cracked Tooth/Cusp Syndrome’ (CCS) relates to a range of signs and symptoms caused by cracked teeth. Early diagnosis is needed to improve the chances of saving a cracked tooth.

Symptoms include:

  • Sharp and erratic pain upon chewing or after release of biting pressure.  However, not all cracks will cause pain.
  • Sensitivity to cold or hot food/drink or sweets
  • Difficulty in pinpointing which tooth actually hurts, either upper or lower.

If you suspect that you may have a cracked tooth, you should discuss this with your dentist.

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt into your mouth. Usually they erupt between the ages of 18-25. Occasionally they can erupt later in life and some may not erupt or be present at all. Our jaws are much smaller than our cave man ancestors because we have a very different diet, although we do have the same number of teeth. As wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt into the mouth, often there is not enough room for them. They can cause pain and may lead to infection.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal Disease is caused by the bacteria found in plaque. If this plaque is not removed regularly, it will calcify into a rough, porous like substance called calculus or tartar. It is much like the scale that forms inside your electric kettle. By products of bacterial metabolism irritate the gums, making them red, tender, swollen and more prone to bleeding. Eventually, the supporting periodontal structures begin to breakdown. The result of this slow process is tissue loss, bone loss and eventual tooth loss.

What's the best way to prevent gum disease?

Regular removal of of plaque by flossing, brushing and regular professional cleanings will minimise the risk of gum disease. However, there are other factors that can affect the health of your gums, such as stress, diabetes, genetics and pregnancy. The hygienists at Gentle Dental offer a very professional service and can help keep gum disease at bay.

What does periodontal treatment involve?

In the early stages of gum disease (mild to moderate periodontitis), most treatment involves scaling and root planing. The procedure aims at removing plaque and calculus from the surface of the tooth adjacent to gum tissue. In the majority of early gum disease cases, treatment involves improved home care techniques, scaling and root planing.

What happens if I don't get my teeth cleaned?

As the plaque and calculus accumulate, the periodontal disease continues. Supporting tissues around the teeth (gums, periodontal ligaments, bone) are lost. Periodontal pockets form which trap additional plaque. Bad breath often accompanies this condition. Once the bone that supports the teeth is lost, it will not regrow without surgical intervention. All this can be prevented by early intervention with one of our friendly hygienists at Gentle Dental.

I have broken a tooth, what should I do?

If you are not in any pain you should ring your dentist as soon as possible to make an appointment. Try and keep the tooth as clean as possible and avoid biting too hard on that tooth. If you have pain, you will need to contact your dentist ASAP for emergency treatment.

Why do I need X-rays?

Radiographs or X-rays provide your dentist with an important diagnostic tool that shows the condition of your teeth, their roots, jaw placement and the overall composition of your facial bones. X-rays can help with the diagnosis of periodontal disease, and with the detection of cavities in teeth. X-rays can also help detect abscesses, and abnormal growths such as cysts and tumours. X-rays can also show the exact position of impacted teeth.

When should my child first see the dentist?

The ideal time is approximately 6 months after the eruption of their primary teeth (about 2 ½ years). Dental Therapists at primary schools can see children for free until they reach high school. From high school until the age of 18 the majority of treatment for adolescents is free.

I have bad breath despite cleaning my teeth?

Bacteria that produce odorous sulphur containing compounds are responsible for bad breath. Daily brushing and flossing does help remove these bacteria, however these bacteria not only inhabit the teeth and gums, but all surfaces of the mouth. The tongue has many deep furrows and grooves that contain lots of these bacteria. It is important to clean the upper side of the tongue. Many tooth brushes now come with a tongue scraper. You can also get dedicated tongue scrapers. There are also certain mouthwashes that help with bad breath. It is also important to see the Dental Hygienist regularly for the removal of those deposits in your mouth which you cannot remove yourself.