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Frequently Asked Questions

How does my oral hygiene affect my overall health?

In the past, oral health has been associated only with the mouth. New research has found that the advanced stage of gum disease, periodontitis, is linked with health problems such as heart disease and stroke. Some researchers have even suggested that periodontitis can cause premature birth, low birth weight, pancreatic cancer, high blood sugar levels and even bacterial pneumonia.

Even though studies have linked gum disease to many health problems, the American Dental Association states that, “just because two conditions occur at the same time, doesn’t necessarily mean that one condition causes the other”. Much more research is needed on this subject.

Bacterial endocarditis is a common risk associated with periodontal disease. Bacterial endocarditis is an infection in the lining of the heart or heart valves, which could damage or destroy these valves.

Bacterial endocarditis can also occur in patients who have minor heart valve problems, especially if periodontal disease is present. The consensus is that bacteria can get into the bloodstream from infected gums, which can activate infection in the bloodstream within the heart.

According to the American Heart Association, bacterial endocarditis happens when bacteria in the bloodstream, called bacteremia, lodge on heart tissue that has been damaged or on abnormal heart valves.

What is gum disease?

There are two major stages of gum disease: Gingivitus and Periodontitus. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and can be treated and reversed if diagnosed early. Periodontitis is the serious and advanced stage of gum disease, which includes bone loss and is irreversible. Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of periodontitis. Common symptoms of gum disease are:

  • Frequent bad breath
  • Red and swollen gums that bleed easily
  • Gums separating from the teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Change in your bite
  • Change in the way partials or dentures fit

While gum disease is a serious problem, it can be easily prevented. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily and regular check ups with your dentist are the best ways to prevent gum disease, thus protecting your overall health.

What is an amalgam filling made of?

Dental amalgam is an alloy of silver, tin, copper and mercury.

Should I have my amalgam fillings replaced?

Dentists replace amalgam fillings for a variety of reasons including recurring decay, fracture, endodontic treatment and appearance.

If you seek replacement of quite satisfactory amalgam fillings for other reasons, such as a concern about the effects of mercury, you may create problems that otherwise would not have occurred, such as: possible damage to or weakening of teeth, sensitivity or pain after the filling and financial problems.

Are amalgam fillings dangerous?

The Australian Dental Association policy remains, on the basis of the research available, that the use of dental amalgam produces no harmful effects.

There has been much publicity regarding the safety of dental amalgam. The World Health Organisation and the International Dental Federation have released a joint statement confirming the safety of dental amalgam as a filling material.

The Association believes there is no positive gain in having dental amalgam fillings replaced with other materials, other than for aesthetic reasons.

What are fissure seals?

Dental sealants are a clear and protective coating that is applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant protects the tooth from getting a cavity by shielding against bacteria and plaque. Sealants are most commonly placed on children’s permanent back teeth because they are more prone to cavities. They can also be placed on adult’s teeth.

What causes bad breath?

According to dental studies, about 85% of people with persistent bad breath (also known as halitosis) have a dental condition that is to blame. These conditions could be one or more of the following:

  • Gum disease
  • Cavities
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Oral cancer
  • Dry Mouth (xerostomia)
  • Bacteria on the tongue

If bad breath is the cause of a dental condition, mouthwash will only mask the odour and not cure it.

How do I prevent bad breath?

Regular dental check ups and cleanings, flossing daily, and brushing your teeth and tongue twice a day can greatly reduce and possibly eliminate bad breath.

How often should I have a dental check-up?

Most children and adults should see their dentist for a regular cleaning and check up every six months. People at a greater risk for oral diseases should have dental check ups more than twice a year. Tobacco and alcohol use, diabetes, pregnancy, periodontal and gum disease, poor oral hygiene and certain medical conditions are some of the many factors that your dentist or dental therapist takes into consideration when deciding how often you need your dental cleaning and check up.

Going to your regular check ups will help to keep your gums and teeth healthy as well as detect any early problems such as gum disease, oral cancer and cavities. The best way to maintain good oral health is to visit your dentist on a regular basis.

When should I start taking my child to the dentist?

You should start taking your child to the dentist regularly from about the age of one — even if it’s just so that s/he can sit in the big chair! Regular visits will mean that your child will be relaxed each time s/he visits the dentist. It also means that a health professional will be consistently keeping an eye out for any potential dental problems.

What causes decay?

Decay occurs when plaque, the sticky substance that forms on teeth, combines with the sugars and/or starches of the foods that we eat. This combination produces acids that attack tooth enamel. The best way to prevent tooth decay is by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Eating healthy foods and avoiding snacks and drinks that are high in sugar are also ways to prevent decay.

What is bruxism? What is TMJ?

Bruxism is the clenching and/or grinding of your teeth, especially at night. Clenching refers to tightly clamping your top and bottom teeth together The force of clenching causes stressful pressure on the muscles, tissues and jaw. Jaw disorders, jaw pain, soreness, headaches, earaches, damaged teeth and other problems can result from bruxism. If clenching causes jaw pain, it can disrupt sleeping and eating, lead to other dental problems or create TMJ problems. Nightly grinding can also disturb sleeping partners. Your dentist can make a clear night guard for you to sleep in to alleviate the clenching or grinding.

The temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ, is the ball and socket joint that connects the lower jaw to the bone on each side of the head. The temporomandibular joint is stabilised by muscles that make it possible to open and close the mouth. The pain, discomfort or tenderness in or around these joints are referred to as TMJ disorders.

Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder can include:

  • Tenderness or pain in the face
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Pain in or around the ear
  • Pain in the neck area
  • Stiffness in jaw
  • Chewing discomfort
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Painful clicking of the jaw
  • Teeth that don’t come together properly when eating or chewing

It’s also important to note that some clicking of the jaw is normal and that other problems can cause facial pain, such as sinus, headaches and earaches.

How important is sterilisation?

Sterilisation and infection control in any health care environment is extremely important. The team at Booragoon Dental Clinic continue to stay well informed on the latest changes in dentistry, sterilisation and infection control techniques.

We make sure to protect against the spread of disease or infection by abiding by rigorous standards and procedures in our practice. It is imperative that all clinical staff disinfect their hands between each patient and follow strict guidelines of personal hygiene. Disposable gloves are worn at all times when working on the patient and are changed anytime the team member needs to come in contact with anything else outside of the patient treatment zone. Masks are worn at all times during treatment as well to protect against airborne contaminants.

All our non-disposable instruments undertake rigorous sterilisation procedures and are all ultimately sterilised by a steam autoclave. Sterilisation under steam puts instruments under so much pressure and hot steam that all bacteria, viruses and fungi are killed. The instruments are stored in sterilised packaging and a tracking method is used to ensure added safety.

Booragoon dental clinic makes sure that all items unable to be autoclaved i.e. dental chair and cart are all disinfected with appropriate dental solutions before and after each patient, plastic barriers are also used and replaced for each patient.

Answers sourced from dentistry.about.com


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*Please note that due to legal obligations all new patients must have an initial examination with their first scale and clean.