-How safe are amalgam fillings?”
Dental amalgam has been used on patients for over 150 years. All available world-wide research indicates that amalgam is not harmful to health. This view is endorsed by the World Health Organisation, the International Dental Federation, the International Association for Dental Research, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and many dental associations, including the American, British and Canadian.Visit cleaning dentures with SnorerX for more details.
No Government or reputable scientific, medical or dental body anywhere in the world accepts, on any published evidence, that dental amalgam is a hazard to health. Dental research is ongoing in a wide variety of areas, including filling materials, in the search to provide the most up to date and safest treatments to the public at large.
-Information on teeth whitening
There are many different techniques to improve the appearance of teeth, depending on the condition of your teeth. For more information in relation to tooth whitening, please discuss with your dentist.
-Advice for patients who want all treatment under GA
For a dentist to treat a patient under GA the current recommendations are that, if an emergency were to occur, the resuscitation facilities and equipment available in his practice should be up to the level of that available in a hospital setting. This requirement is beyond the reach of virtually every dental practice: practices are not, and don’t claim to be, intensive care units of hospitals. Because the demand for general treatment under GA is so small, there are very few practices set up specially to provide this service. There are only a small number of dentists who work in a hospital environment.
Ask your family dentist about a referral or better still why not consider treatment under sedation? Many dentists do this kind of treatment and while you will not be fully ‘asleep’ you will be given medication to make you feel drowsy and very relaxed. Dental treatment can then take place under much more stress-free conditions.
-“How often should I go to the dentist?”
The “typical” checkup interval used is about one year. However this really depends on each individual’s dental health, and is something you should discuss with your dentist, as they can advise you best. Some people need very regular cleaning for example, and may have to attend every 3 to 6 months. Others, with no dental problems, may only require a checkup every two years.
-“I haven’t been to a dentist in 20 years, and I’ve never had any problems. Why should I go to the dentist regularly?”
Firstly, the sort of person who goes without a checkup for a long period like this with no problems, is not very common! Also, when they eventually do have a problem (usually pain) and attend a dentist, there are usually huge problems to be dealt with, involving numerous teeth. Dentistry is a case of “a stitch in time saves nine”. It is much easier to treat a small decayed area on a tooth than trying to rebuild a tooth that has broken down to a “stump” or having to replace it with a false one!
-“I went to a new dentist recently, and they asked me a lot of questions about my health. I really don’t see how this matters. I just want my teeth fixed.”
It is very important that you co-operate fully with your dentist when they want to take your medical history. Should the dentist prescribe you a medicine of some sort, this may interfere with other medicines you may be taking already. Lots of medical conditions can be affected by dental treatment. Your dentist is not being nosey! They require this information to ensure the most appropriate care is provided for you. All such information is treated with the utmost confidence. In this regard, dental records are no different from medical records. The patient’s privacy is guaranteed.
-“Sometimes my gums bleed when I brush. They can be a little sensitive too, so I avoid brushing those areas.”
The most common cause of bleeding gums is due to the teeth not being cleaned thoroughly enough. If you leave bacteria-containing dental plaque sitting on the teeth beside the gums, the bacteria infect the gums themselves. The picture to the right shows gums that have been infected. Notice the red colour all along the edge of the gum beside the teeth. Compare this picture with the picture below, and you can see the gums are swollen as well as being red. This gum infection is called gingivitis.
-“Okay, I can see the difference in the gums, but I don’t see the ‘plaque’ with all these bacteria. where is it?”
The picture on the right was taken at the same time as the first one, except the plaque has been stained pink so it can be easily seen. Normally it’s white, almost the colour of the teeth, and thus much harder to see. It’s a soft sticky substance, and can be removed with a toothbrush used properly. Your dentist should be able to show you if there’s plaque on your teeth. They will also show you how to brush properly to stop plaque accumulating.
-“Can teeth fall out due to bleeding gums?”
In some cases gingivitis (bleeding gums) can progress to periodontal disease, (sometimes called pyorrhea) which is a more serious infection of the gums. Not only do the gums bleed, but the bone and gum that holds the teeth in place begins to break down. Over a period of time, this can lead to tooth loss. Regular dental checkups should detect this problem if it is occuring. The best defence against this is good oral hygeine as explained to you by your dentist. To find out more about periodontal disease and its treatment, visit the Irish Society of Periodontology
-“What about flossing? Does that help?”
Absolutely. Normal brushing doesn’t clean in between the teeth fully. The most common and effective way of doing this is by flossing. The dental floss removes the plaque between teeth. It is important flossing is carried out correctly, and regularly, at least once a day. You should get your dentist to demonstrate for you. Some patients may need to use other methods, like small brushes that fit between the teeth, particularly if the spaces between the teeth are bigger than normal. Your dentist will advise you on the method most suitable for you.
-“What are fissure sealants and how do they work?”
Fissure sealants are a protective coating placed on back (molar) teeth, to help prevent dental decay. The sealant is painted into the grooves (fissures) on the chewing surfaces of the molars, and is usually white or clear. I you look closely at the picture, you can just see the white colouring in the fissures. These grooves tend to be a weak point in the tooth, and can be hard to keep clean. Sealing this area helps stop decay starting. They are used in particular with children, although adults can benefit too.
“My daughter’s friend had a tooth knocked out last week in school. Apparently the teacher put the tooth in milk before bringing her to the dentist. Is this the right thing to do?”
If a tooth is knocked out, the most important thing is to replace it as soon as possible. The tooth should be picked up by the crown (the part visible in the mouth normally) only. You should not touch the root. The tooth should be rinsed briefly under cold water to dislodge any dirt. Do not scrub it! Still holding the crown it should be placed gently back in the socket. (Make sure it is the right way round! Looking at the same tooth on the other side will help here.) If the tooth can’t be put back in the socket, the most important thing is for it to be stored properly until you get to the dentist. Milk is ideal, as it simulates conditions in the body quite well. If milk isin’t available, water is better than nothing, but don’t let the tooth dry out.
You must attend a dentist as quickly as possible. With all dental injuries, time is of critical importance, and will make the difference between possibly keeping the tooth, or surely losing it
-“I didn’t knock my tooth out, but I hit it quite hard. It’s turned dark, and my dentist told me I need something called ‘root canal therapy’. What is it?”
Root canal therapy is where the nerve in the tooth has died and has to be removed. When the nerve dies, as it decays, bacteria multiply and cause an infection. This leads to pain and an abscess if left untreated. The procedure is actually totally painless, and can be quite a relief if you’ve been in pain beforehand! The dentist uses small precision files to clean out the space in the middle of the tooth that contains the nerve. This space is then filled with a rubbery material, sealing it. This procedure allows a tooth to kept that would otherwise have to be extracted.
-“The dentist told me I need a crown on one of my teeth. What is a crown?”
A crown is like a jacket or cap that fits over a prepared tooth. It has the same shape as the original tooth. If a tooth is badly broken down, a crown is often the only option. By fully enclosing the tooth it is strong, and where indicated it can have an excellent appearance, appearing just like a real tooth. It can be made of metal, porcelain, or a combination of both. To allow the crown to fit, the tooth must be prepared first. This involves trimming the tooth down a little. Crowns are fixed in place.
-“And he said something about a ‘bridge’. What’s that?”
A classical dental bridge (now called a “fixed partial denture”) is like two crowns, with a false tooth between them. The diagram shows how this works. The whole bridge is cemented in place, thus the missing tooth is replaced by the replica tooth between the two crowns. Bridges can be much more complicated designs than this. Sometimes, the bridge is glued to the backs of the teeth each side of the space, instead of putting a crown over the whole tooth.
-“What about dental implants? They’re like screw-in teeth, aren’t they?”
Dental implants are a comparatively recent development. An implant is basically a titanium screw that screws directly into the bone. They can then be used as anchors for a fixed false teeth (like a crown or bridge as described above) or to provide support for a removable denture. Implants are very successful, but they are not suitable for everybody. You must have enough bone to place the implant into for example.
Implants are quite expensive, but where they can be used, they are often the ideal solution to replacing missing teeth.