How often should I go to the dentist?
If you go every six months any problems that may be present will be detected while they are still minor and will be easily corrected at minimal cost.
My dentist said I need to replace my old fillings, why?
These will probably be silver mercury amalgam (grey/black fillings). While they once served very well over time they break down at the junction between the filling and the tooth allowing bacteria to get in and cause new decay.
These old type fillings are made of metal and expand and contract with change of temperature ranging from hot coffee to cold ice-cream at a greater rate than tooth structure. This can lead to sensitive teeth and cracks in teeth. Nowadays we have tooth coloured filling materials that have similar physical properties to tooth material and are cosmetically pleasing to the eye. By replacing these fillings you will not only be improving your dental health but you will also improve the cosmetic appearance of your mouth.
Do I have to have x-rays each time I get a check up?
No, but bite wing x-rays (radiographs) should be taken every two years to detect early new decays, bone height and over time successive radiographs can be used for comparison. An OPG x-ray should be taken every five years to give an overall picture of the mouth and surrounding structures. This is so important that it has become a requirement by the dental practice board of Victoria.
Can’t I just get my teeth cleaned without an examination?
People feel that because they have no pain they have no problems, but again it is a requirement by the dental practice board of Victoria that patient information and thorough dental examinations are done on a regular and ongoing basis. Usually by the time a patient experiences pain the problem is of a serious nature and quite costly to repair, for example root canal therapy.
How often should I change my toothbrush?
You should aim to change your toothbrush every three months. Always use a soft toothbrush as this decreases the likelihood of abrasion to teeth and gingival recession (receding gums) from occurring.
I brush my teeth well do I need to use dental floss?
Your tooth brush can only reach the outside, inside and biting surfaces of your teeth. It cannot reach between the teeth and that is why we need to floss as well.
By not flossing plaque will build up between the teeth leading to bleeding gums (gingivitis), bad breath (halitosis), decay between the teeth, build up of tartar (sub gingival calculus) and bone destruction (periodontal disease).
Are fizzy drinks bad for your teeth?
Most fizzy drinks have a high sugar content as do most sports drinks that are all the rage at the moment. While sugar is a good quick source of energy, it is also the basic food of the bacteria that cause dental caries.
It is better to get the energy by eating fruit rather than obtaining it from soft drinks and candy bars. Small amounts of sugar are however an integral part of a balanced diet.
How useful are mouthguards in protecting against sports injuries?
Prevention is better than cure and nobody wants chipped, broken or dislodged teeth, resulting in pain and frequent trips to the dentist to repair the damage from sports injuries. Over the counter mouthguards do afford protection but are bulky, uncomfortable, tend to cause gagging; but you will never see a serious sports person with one.
Only a custom made mouth guard fitted by a dentist will be contoured to fit your teeth exactly encouraging you to wear it, which in turn means that most sports injuries will be avoided or much less severe. Like brushing and flossing you should view a mouthguard as essential part of preventive dentistry.
Mouthguards can be made in your football team’s colours or other favourite colour combinations. What better way to encourage children, both young and old, to wear them!
Is Dental Treatment Tax Deductible?
Yes, all amounts spent on your health, be it medical, dental, optical chiropractic, physiotherapy or pharmaceutical, are a legal legitimate deduction. The first $1500 spent on your health care needs is taken as given and are covered in your general exemption, but amounts over that are claimable deductions at the rate of 20%. Also you will need to make allowance for any health fund rebate you may receive.
If you are required by your terms of employment to provide a certificate that you are “dentally fit”, it may be that any treatment to maintain your dental fitness is 100% deductible as a work related expense. Check with your accountant!
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Is Dental Treatment subject to G.S.T.?
Mostly the answer is no! Health has been exempt from GST. What is important here is that treatment is required for the health and functioning of your dentition. For example if a crown or porcelain facing is required to restore a tooth to normal function and appearance then GST is not applicable. If however you want a crown or facing to enhance the appearance of your tooth, then that is purely cosmetic in nature and is subject to GST at the rate of 10%. I am curious as to how the Tax Department will view practitioners that advertise themselves as “Cosmetic Dentists” or “Cosmetic Dentistry”.
The Dental Practice Board of Victoria makes it very clear that there is no such specialty as Cosmetic Dentistry. My personal view is that all dentistry must strive to achieve the best form, function and cosmetic appearance possible.
What is Rubber Dam?
For some procedures it is helpful and sometimes essential to isolate the tooth or teeth being worked on. To do this we use a rubber sheet with a hole or holes in it to isolate teeth. The teeth come though the holes and enable work to be done on those teeth. There are many advantages to using a rubber dam. It stops saliva contamination in the work area and keeps fluids we use from being ingested by the patient. Some procedures that rubber dam is useful for is placing composite (cosmetic) white restorations in back teeth, removal of amalgam and when we want to keep an area dry for a long procedure. Where rubber dam is essential is for vital bleaching of teeth and endodontics.
If you are having a root treatment (endodontics) your dentist must always use a rubber dam for the following reasons:
• To stop the root canal system becoming infected with saliva.
• To stop irrigation fluids getting into the mouth.
• To prevent small files from falling down the throat and being inhaled.
Do I have to have my wisdom teeth out?
This depends on the following situations and every case needs to be assessed on its merits. If all goes according to natures plan the size of the jaws and teeth match perfectly and you have room for 32 permanent teeth. If you have large teeth and small jaws then there will not be enough room for the last teeth (the wisdom teeth) to erupt correctly or if they are facing the wrong way (impacted) then you will have to get them removed. Sometimes orthodontics in your teens will involve the removal of 4 premolar teeth leaving enough room after the rest of the teeth have been straightened.
Should an Oral Surgeon remove my wisdom teeth?
This depends on how difficult they are to remove. For most people the idea of being asleep (general anaesthetic) during the procedure is preferable to local anaesthetic in the dental chair. However some people prefer to have their wisdom teeth removed under local because they do not incur the cost of a hospital visit or an anaesthetist’s fee.
In all cases your options are explained so you are able to make an informed decision that best suits you.
How long does it take to heal after wisdom teeth removal?
Healing time varies as we all differ and factors such as age and the complexity of each case has to be taken into account. What is important is that you follow the aftercare instructions we give you and keep us informed of any concerns that you have.
To assist with healing avoid rinsing or spitting for the first 24 hours after tooth extraction. Meticulous oral hygiene is essential during the healing stage.
Continue to brush your teeth using a soft brush avoiding the immediate area for the first 24 hours, after that brush with caution. Remember if in doubt call the surgery.
Please note that smoking delays healing.
Will I end up with dentures like my grand-parents?
A large proportion of Seniors nowadays do not have dentures. This is partly due to advances in implant surgery and the fact that other advances in dentistry can save teeth that could not be saved a few generations ago. Of course scrupulous dental hygiene as well as regular six monthly check-ups guard against tooth loss. Today most people can look forward to retaining healthy teeth for life.
Why is a scale and clean important before tooth whitening?
A scale and clean is necessary before tooth whitening because it removes calculus, plaque and surface stains. Whitening gel is more effective when applied to a clean tooth surface and not on to a layer of plaque.
What is an Oral Health Therapist?
An Oral Health Therapist is a dental professional who possesses qualifications in both Dental Therapy and Dental Hygiene.
Oral Health Therapists can provide the following Dental Therapy services to children, adolescents, and young adults (under the age of 25 years):
• Conduct dental examinations and diagnosis, and develop care plans
• Take X-rays of teeth and jaws, prepare cavities and restore teeth with fillings
• Extract deciduous teeth (baby teeth) under local anaesthetic when required
Oral Health Therapists also provide Dental Hygiene services for people of all ages.
These services include:
• Conduct dental examinations and diagnose periodontal (gum) disease, and develop care plans
• Take X-rays of teeth and jaws
• Scale and clean of teeth, and root planning (with/without local anaesthetic where required).
Prevention and education is key in the role of an Oral Health Therapist, and therefore preventative measures such s fluoride application, fissure sealants, dietary counselling, oral hygiene instruction, and smoking cessation will be provided where necessary.
Do I need a fluoride tray treatment after having my teeth cleaned?
No. Nowadays people are a lot more widely exposed to fluoride and therefore the need for this type of application has decreased. If you are at high risk of dental caries (decay) or do not have access to fluoride toothpaste or a fluoridated water supply, fluoride application may be considered, but not necessarily via trays.
Why are baby teeth important?
Many people do not realise the importance of baby teeth. Whilst these teeth fall out to allow the permanent adult teeth to erupt, they are still important for future oral health and development. The baby teeth guide the growth of facial bones and ensure the permanent adult teeth come through in the correct position and alignment.
Baby teeth are also important for speech development, and although these teeth fall out naturally, premature childhood tooth loss will have a significant impact on the alignment of adult teeth and speech development. It is for these reasons that your child’s baby teeth should be cared for properly.
How can I keep my child’s teeth healthy?
Proper brushing, flossing and a healthy diet are critical in maintaining not only baby teeth but adult teeth as well. Many parents feel their child is capable enough of performing these tasks themselves (the child may feel the same way), but help from a parent or carer is critical until the child has developed the manual dexterity to perform these tasks properly themselves.
When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?
As a general rule, the first of your child’s teeth should erupt around the age of 6 months. From the age of 6 months – 17 months (inclusive) you should clean your child’s teeth without toothpaste. You can either clean their teeth using a small age appropriate toothbrush or with a damp flannel. Prior to the eruption of their teeth, your child’s gums can also be cleaned using a damp flannel.
What sort of toothpaste should my child use, and when can they start using adult toothpaste?
The Guidelines for Fluoride Use in Australia recommend that:
• From the age that teeth first erupt to 17 months: teeth should be cleaned without toothpaste.
• 18 months -5 years (inclusive): a child specific toothpaste should be used (i.e., Colgate My First Toothpaste) as it contains a low amount of fluoride (0.4 – 0.55 mg/g fluoride).
Only a small pea size amount of pea size toothpaste should be used.
• 6+ years: a standard “adult” toothpaste (i.e., Colgate Total) may be used.