Frequently Asked Dental Questions?

Why are my teeth sensitive?

Sensitive teeth often come from the fact that your gums have slightly receded. This recession of the gum line allows the underlying dentin to show through which allows water and food easier access to the sensitive nerve. To manage this, there are a number of toothpaste, gels and even some dental procedures that can be applied. Speak to us in more detail if you have very sensitive teeth.

What should I do to prevent gum disease and tooth decay?

Great teeth and gum care start at home. Brushing and flossing on a daily basis is the best way to take care of your teeth and gums on a continual basis. By keeping to a daily routine, you will greatly minimize the risk of gingivitis or tooth decay as you age. A 6 monthly visit to the oral hygienist is also an integral part of healthy gums. The hygienist removes plaque and tartar buildup that is unreachable by brushing and flossing alone.

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a condition caused when bacteria surrounds the teeth and enters the gums. The gums can become irritated, inflamed and often bleed. To prevent the condition from worsening, regular hygiene visits are highly recommended. During your visit, our Hygiene team will teach you the proper flossing techniques, and Oral Hygiene protocol for Home Care will prevent the Gum Disease.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal Disease is a quiet disease that begins with little or no symptoms. It is caused by bacteria that surrounds the teeth and enters the gums. The immediate condition is known as ‘gingivitis’. The gums become irritated, inflamed and often bleed. If not properly treated, the condition worsens and causes severely receded gums or even mobility of teeth. Noticeable symptoms now appear. They include:
1) Bad Breath
2) Gum Recession
3) Gum Sensitivity to Acidic Foods
4) Abscesses
5) Tooth Pain
6) Tooth Loss

How Do You Treat Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal Disease is a chronic condition that needs immediate attention. Through a series of Periodontal Cleanings, Root Planning & Scaling, Laser Therapy and Local Antibiotics, this condition can be controlled. Periodontal Surgery is only necessary for severe cases.

What is the Difference between a White and Silver Filling?

Silver Fillings known as Amalgam have been around for decades. Amalgam fillings are usually placed in very large cavities due to the properties of the material. In our practice, we do not use any amalgam or metal fillings. We believe that amalgam has too many negative effects on the health of gums and teeth, and could also lead to systemic health problems.
White Fillings, also known as composites are often made of plastic or glass polymers. These cosmetic fillings allow us to fill a cavity with a substance that will look and feel just like your existing tooth structure. This restoration is created with a resin material and fits tightly into a tooth to prevent decay. The ideal area to use a composite filling is in smaller cavities. Rather than a grey or silver material in your mouth, the composite colour will match the tooth colour. Ceramic fillings or inlays/overlays (CEREC) can also be used in areas that need bigger fillings. The property of the ceramic allows for a stronger restoration and prevents microleakage often seen when a composite filling is placed in a large cavity. Ceramic fillings are the most aesthetic fillings and mimic tooth colour and structure almost exactly.

How Can I Improve My Smile?

There are several ways in today’s Dental World to enhance your smile. Certain procedures include:
1) Tooth Whitening
2) Bonding
3) Porcelain Veneers
4) Porcelain Crowns
5) Braces
6) Clear Retainers
We can improve your smile using all or some of these procedures. We offer a smile analysis at our practice where we use digital photography to mimic the ideal treatment for your teeth.

What is Tooth Whitening

Tooth Whitening is a cost-effective and safe procedure to create a beautiful, healthy smile. Over the years, fluoride has been added to the whitening product. This reduces the risk of tooth and gum sensitivity. Tooth Whitening must be monitored by your dentist and only done after a comprehensive exam and hygiene cleaning. The whitening process can last for a number of years if maintained properly. Beverages such as coffee, tea, cola and wine will reduce the lasting effect. Remember, if it could stain a white shirt, it will stain your smile!

What is Bonding?

Bonding is a cost-effective procedure used to fill gaps in front teeth and to change a tooth’s colour. The immediate results are amazing. Within a few hours, you will have a great smile! Bonding like Tooth Whitening may change colour over time due to coffee, tea, cola and wine.

What are Porcelain Veneers?

Porcelain Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that go directly on your natural teeth. This entire procedure can take as few as two visits. Veneers change the size, shape and colour of a patient’s teeth. This procedure is used to repair fractured teeth, teeth darkened by age or medication, or a crooked smile. Many times, patients ask for Porcelain Veneers to simply feel and look younger with a straighter, whiter smile!

What are Crowns?

Crowns are a permanent procedure that covers the entire tooth. It will change the size, shape and colour of the teeth in as few as 2 visits. Crowns are placed on teeth with big cavities or teeth that need to be strengthened to prevent further breakage. After root canal treatment crowns are also placed to strengthen the tooth.

What is a Dental Implant?

A Dental Implant is a “man-made” replacement for a missing tooth or tooth root. Made from titanium, this screw-like object is inserted under the gum and directly into the upper or lower jaw bone. There is usually minimal discomfort involved with this procedure. After a period of a few months, the Dental Implant and the bone fuse together. This creates an anchor for the new tooth to be placed onto the dental implant.

What are the Benefits of Dental Implants?

1) Dental Implants look and function like your natural tooth.
2) Dental Implants are a permanent solution for missing teeth.
3) Dental Implants are maintained by routine hygiene visits to your dental office.
4) Dental Implants decrease the possibility of bone loss, periodontal disease, tooth movement, and further tooth loss.
5) Dental Implants replace the need for a Removable Full or Partial Denture.
6) Dental Implants focus only on the tooth or teeth that are missing. A traditional bridge would involve the two or more adjacent teeth being compromised to create a false tooth in between.

Who is a candidate for Dental Implants?

With major advancements in Dentistry and Dental Implants, most people are candidates for Dental Implants. There may be exceptions due to chronic illness, heart disease, and tobacco habits. What does the Dental Implant Procedure Involve? The average Dental Implant Procedure takes 3 – 4 visits. The first visit is to x-ray the area and take an impression for a surgical guide and a temporary prosthesis to cover the Implant. The next visit is to place the Implant. A local anaesthesia is applied to the area. (Any additional sedation is no longer necessary unless deemed by the dentist). The dentist will then make a minor incision to place the implant. The implant is placed into the jaw bone. The area will then be covered with sutures. The procedure is usually completed with minor pain. You will next return in approximately 3 months to begin creating the Porcelain Crown to place over the Implant.

How long does a Dental Implant last?

With routine dental hygiene scheduled and proper home care, A Dental Implant can last for decades. There are however always risk factors that could affect the longevity of an implant.

What you should know about dental injuries of primary teeth?

When the child first starts exploring the world by themselves, with the help of their first baby walker, they are exposed to falls that can affect their face and teeth. During the first years of life, the primary teeth are very closely related to the permanent teeth, which are forming inside the bone. When an injury occurs to the primary teeth in this period, it can affect the aesthetics of the permanent teeth, which will present at approximately eight years of age with whitish marks or a deformation in the crown depending on the extent of the injury. The most serious lesions on the primary teeth can cause complications to the permanent successors; ie. intrusion (when the tooth is buried in the gum) and avulsion (when the tooth is knocked out). Both situations are more serious the younger the child is. The primary tooth should not be replaced once it has been knocked out.

How to prevent dental trauma in primary teeth?

Do not use baby walkers.
Do not let children use roller skates without protection.
Teach your children to:
– Look after their teeth as well as that of their friends’ teeth when playing by not knocking their teeth with heavy objects.
– Watch out for possible obstructions that they can trip themselves up on.
– Do not push when playing.
– Stay seated on the swing and do not jump off when the swing is in motion.
– Use the stairs when getting out of the swimming pool.
If the child participates in sports such as rugby, hockey, karate, riding on a bike, winter sports (i.e. skiing) a skateboard or any activity that involves potential trauma to the facial area, make sure that the child uses a helmet or mouth protector.

What to do in case of a fall that affects permanent teeth?

First, you must consult a dentist immediately after the accident has occurred. This measure has many advantages:
1) There is more possibility of conserving the tooth’s vitality.
2) A conservation treatment will be applied.
3) There is a better prognosis.
4) Future complications and high-cost treatments are prevented.
It is of vital importance that all traumatic injuries are diagnosed, treated, and controlled in time (at least within five years).

What to do if a permanent tooth is broken or knocked out?

  • Find the tooth. Hold the tooth by the crown (the white part), not by the root (the yellow part).
    2) Replant immediately, if possible.
    3) If contaminated, rinse shortly with cold tap water and put the tooth back in its place. This can be done by the child or an adult.
    4) Hold the tooth in place. Bite on a handkerchief to hold it in position and go to the dentist immediately.
    5) If you can not put the tooth back in, place it in a cup of milk or saline. When milk or saline is not available, place the tooth in the child’s mouth (between the cheeks and gums)
    6) Seek immediately specialized dental treatment

    Children between 7 and 10 years of age are more exposed to suffer avulsion due to the elasticity of the bone at this age.

    Good oral hygiene is absolutely necessary for the healing period.

If you have any more questions or need any dental assistance, contact the team at Corne Smith Dentistry, Claremont, Cape Town.