Browse through some of our patients most Frequently Asked Questions

Dental Fees and Costs

How much will my dental treatment cost?

Unfortunately Dentist on Main does not publish our fee schedules. It is very hard to quote a fee over the phone because all patients have unique needs. The best option is to discuss your treatment plan and related costs at your treatment planning appointment.

How much of my treatment cost will my Medical Aid cover?

All Medical Aid Plans vary from Medical Aid Provider to Medical Aid Plan Type. The best option is to find out what dental benefits your Provider covers before you see your dentist. Dentist on Main will check your benefits and let you know what treatment your Medical Aid is willing to pay in full, part-subsidise or does not cover. Either way, Dentist on Main will recommend the best treatment plan suited to you and your budget.

Do I need to contact my Medical Aid Provider to approve benefit payment?

Dentist on Main will contact your Medical Aid Provider on your behalf before you receive your treatment. You will receive a statement from your Medical Aid Provider for the treatment performed. Please also be advised that confirmation of benefit with your medical aid is not a guarantee of payment.

What payment methods do you accept?

Dentist on main accepts: Cash payments, All major credit cards and debit cards, Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) . Please ask the receptionist for our banking details.
We unfortunately do not accept cheques.

Dental Examinations

I haven’t been to the dentist in 10 years because nothing hurts. Wouldn’t my teeth hurt if they had a problem?

Most often, cavities don’t start to hurt until they are very large; most people who have had fillings had them before they knew there was a problem. Also, most often gum disease doesn’t hurt at all, so you would only know there was a problem when a tooth became loose, and by then sometimes it’s too late to deal with. Oral cancer sometimes can hurt but many times it doesn’t. If it’s been a long time since you’ve seen a dentist, it’s a good idea to have a comprehensive oral examination and dental radiographs (x-rays) made, just to be sure you haven’t developed any problems that you don’t know about.

Dental Procedures

I had a toothache and my dentist told me I need a root canal. He put me on antibiotics and it stopped hurting. Do I still need the root canal?

Yes. Even though your tooth feels better since your dentist prescribed antibiotics, the underlying disease process did not change. Patients sometimes believe that antibiotics will “cure” a dental infection in the same way they can cure a medical infection such as sore throat. However, this is not the case. Once the inside (pulp) of a tooth becomes diseased, a root canal (or an extraction) is necessary even if you are not experiencing pain or swelling.‎

Do you think extra fluoride would help prevent cavities, or is there enough fluoride in toothpastes?

Fluoride has reduced the rate of cavities more than any other method of decay prevention. However, too much ingested fluoride can cause unaesthetic spotting on teeth. Most community water supplies in our area are optimally fluoridated, so between using fluoridated toothpastes and using community water supplies, additional fluoride might not be needed for most people. However, for added cavity protection for teens and adults, daily rinsing with fluoride mouth rinses also can be beneficial. If you see a dentist who determines that you are at high risk for development of cavities, he/she might prescribe some prescription dispensed fluoride that is even more concentrated, so consult your dentist to determine how much fluoride is best for you.

Is it true that the teeth that have been broken due to an accident can be reattached?

A frequent trauma related dental injury is a fractured tooth. To increase success with this emergency situation, your dentist should be contacted immediately. If possible the tooth fragments should be found, rinsed with water and kept moist. In some situations, the fragments may be reattached to the tooth. If this is not possible, the tooth often can be restored with resin composite with excellent aesthetic results and minimal removal of the tooth structure. If the fracture is severe, root canal treatment and eventual crowning may be necessary. Remember that most sports related dental injuries may be prevented by using a mouthguard.

Can good oral health help prevent oral cancer?

Your dentist should look for signs of oral cancer in your mouth at every routine checkup. You can help your dentist by advising him/her of any unusual colour changes in the tissues in your mouth (red or white areas), abnormal growths, ulcerated areas that don’t heal, areas of numbness or pain, or any problems with chewing or swallowing. Oral cancers often are found on the sides of the tongue, under the tongue, and on the soft palate, though they can occur on any soft tissues throughout the mouth. People who drink alcohol or smoke are more likely to get oral cancer, but anyone can get it, which is why early detection is so important.

How can I close spaces between my front teeth without braces or crowns?

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How can I close spaces between my front teeth without braces or crowns?

One of the best ways to close spaces between front teeth is by bonding composite resin to natural tooth structure to change the width of the teeth. This technique requires minimal or no removal of tooth structure, therefore does not affect the strength and vitality of the natural tooth. The dentist can select composite resin from a variety of shades, making sure the restorations blend perfectly with the rest of the dentition. The composite resin becomes an extension of the natural tooth and the distinction between the two is imperceptible. This treatment option provides excellent aesthetic results while being very conservative, entirely reversible, fast and economical in comparison to braces or crowns.

What does an implant examination and diagnostic work up involve?

In order to achieve optimal results, treatment with dental implants requires planning. At your initial visit we will assess your suitability for implant treatment by evaluating the volume of your available bone with X-rays; checking your bite; taking impressions of your teeth; and discussing your expectations. Sometimes, more sophisticated imaging procedures such as a cone beam CT may be required to provide more information. We have all equipment and expertise for the necessary imaging procedures located right in our clinics. The information gathered is used to visualise the final result in order to allow for ideal placement of your implant(s).

Should I have the silver fillings in the back of my mouth replaced with tooth coloured ones?

There are excellent options for placing tooth coloured fillings in the teeth in the back of the mouth. These include restoration with directly placed composite resin, porcelain inlays, or crowns. Tooth coloured fillings cannot be placed in all situations, however, and may have limitations such as reduced longevity or increased cost. Silver fillings can provide excellent long term service in the mouth. Research studies have not shown silver fillings containing mercury to cause health related problems. Their replacement should be for reasons due to restoration failure, decay or aesthetic improvement purposes.

My dentist recommended that I have my wisdom teeth extracted. Will I have to stay home from school?

Usually the postoperative course is influenced by the complexity of the extractions. In most situations the patient is advised to stay home for a couple of days following the removal of the wisdom teeth. This is due to the occurrence of post op discomfort and swelling which often tends to reach its peak within forty-eight to seventy-two hours after surgery. Ultimately the recuperative period will depend on the individual’s ability to heal.

I lost a tooth sometime ago and now worry that I do not have enough bone to allow dental implant placement. Do I have options if bone is missing?

Your Oral Surgeon can advise you if there is sufficient bone to allow dental implant placement by examining you and reviewing your x-rays. Bone grafting is an option to make you an implant candidate. Various bone grafting materials can be used including your bone, bank bone, bovine bone mineral or other bioactive substance that promotes bone growth. Bone grafting for dental implants has become common and quite successful, enabling you to move ahead with dental implants versus conventional restorations such as a bridge.

I have been told that my jaws do not “match” one another affecting my bite and profile. What are my options for treatment?

Discrepancies between the upper and lower jaws can be significant and may require surgery in conjunction with orthodontic care. Such surgery is termed “orthognathic” and can be used to correct many skeletal(bony) abnormalities of the jaws. A few examples include: retrusive or small lower jaw; protrusive or large lower jaw; gummy smile or long upper jaw. Crooked or asymmetric flaws can also be fixed. See your oral surgeon and orthodontist to discuss proper diagnosis and treatment.

I have gum recession around a tooth. Can anything be done to fix this problem?

There are various causes of loss of gum tissue resulting in root exposure. The most common causes are aggressive tooth brushing or gum disease. The first step in treatment of recession is to correct the cause. For patients who have healthy gums and normal support for their teeth, it may be possible to cover exposed root surfaces with gum grafts. For individuals with a history of gum disease, root coverage will be less predictable. Gum grafting involves the use of either your own tissue from another spot in your mouth or the use of commercially available tissue materials. For these procedures, the gum graft is stitched in place at the site of recession. With current techniques, post treatment discomfort is usually minimal, and the healed tissues usually provide a good match with the adjacent tissues.

Is there a relationship between tobacco use and periodontal disease?

Yes, tobacco users are more likely to get periodontal diseases and suffer from the more severe forms. Healing following the various forms of periodontal therapy may take more time. Tobacco use is associated with a number of detrimental effects to the mouth and the body as a whole. There can be a decrease in a patient’s immune response (their ability to fight off infections), constrictions of blood vessels in the gum tissue around the teeth, an increased risk of certain types of mouth cancers and bad breath. On average smokers are four times as likely to exhibit signs of periodontal disease as were those persons who had never smoked. The good news is that research suggests that those persons who quit can reverse many of the adverse risks caused by the use of tobacco products.

Should my wisdom teeth be removed if they haven’t caused any problems yet?

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last teeth to erupt in your mouth. Third molars however frequently become impacted due to a lack of space in the dental arch and their growth and eruption may be prevented by overlying gum, bone, or another tooth. Impacted third molars can be painful and lead to infection. However, not all problems related to third molars are painful or visible. These teeth may eventually crowd or damage adjacent teeth or roots. Sometimes they may even be associated with the growth of certain cysts or tumours. As wisdom teeth grow, their roots become longer and therefore more difficult to remove. This is why it is often recommended to remove impacted third molars when the roots are one-third to two thirds formed, usually between the ages of seventeen and twenty.

Babies and Children

May I receive dental treatments during pregnancy?

Recent research has shown that the oral health of pregnant mothers can affect the health of their babies. For this reason it is more important than ever that pregnant women receive routine dental care throughout their pregnancy. The best time to address active dental disease (cavities, etc.) during pregnancy is during the second trimester and early part of the third trimester.

My child has a baby tooth that has been loose for some time but it hasn't come out yet. I can see the permanent tooth coming in behind it. Do I need to do anything?

You should see your dentist or paediatric dentist to evaluate your child’s teeth if a loose tooth does not come out on its own or if the permanent teeth proceed to erupt when the primary teeth is still in place. They will examine the area and make radiographs. They may recommend removal of the primary tooth to facilitate the eruption of the permanent tooth in a timely fashion.

What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

“Baby bottle tooth decay” refers to cavities caused by drinking liquids containing sugar from a baby bottle. The teeth most likely to be damaged by this are the upper front teeth, but other teeth can also be affected. To avoid baby bottle tooth decay, don’t put your child to bed with a bottle containing anything other than water. Other liquids contain varying amounts of sugar ranging from very high amounts (Concentrated drinks and juice drinks) to lower amounts (cow’s milk). Children are also at risk of developing “Baby bottle tooth decay” if they use a bottle or sippy-cup for prolonged periods during the day.

My child is 10 months old and still doesn't have any baby teeth. Should I be concerned?

Children’s teeth begin forming before birth, and begin appearing in the mouth around six months of age. There is a lot of variation in this timing however, with some children getting teeth as early as four months of age, and others not getting their first tooth until after their first birthday. This wide variation is normal. We recommend that your child’s first visit to the dentist be at age one or within six months of the first tooth coming in. At this visit, you can discuss any concerns you have about your child’s teeth, including the delayed emergence.

What are things I should know about teething?

“Teething” refers to the process when new teeth break through a child’s gums. Many children do not experience difficulties with teething, but some children experience discomfort, irritability, and increased drooling. Home remedies that can help with discomfort include giving your child something to chew, such as a teething ring or a cool damp washcloth, and massaging your child’s gums with your finger. Over-the-counter teething gels can be helpful but they should not be over-used. Follow package instructions carefully. Pain relievers such as tylenol or ibuprofen can be used for children experiencing significant discomfort. It is important to understand that high fevers and diarrhoea are not normally associated with teething and could be an indication of a systemic problem or an era infection. You should contact your doctor if your child exhibits these symptoms.

Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child's teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your paediatric dentist.

Can you recommend some healthy snacks for my children that won't cause tooth decay?

One of the healthiest snacks for your child’s teeth is cheese. Research has shown that Cheddar, Swiss, Mozzarella and Monterey Jack stimulate saliva production which protects teeth from acids. Because of this, cheese actually disrupts the development of cavities especially when eaten between meals or immediately following a meal. Other “teeth healthy” snacks include fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, and yogurt. For beverages, water and low-fat milk are the healthiest for teeth. Snacks to avoid include sticky candy and sugar-containing drinks such as soda pop and Kool-Aid. If your child is going to eat sweets, it is best to eat them with a meal rather than between meals.

When will my child start losing her baby teeth?

Children usually lose their first baby tooth around age 5 or 6 years, although the timing can vary widely from one child to the next. As baby teeth get ready to fall out, the developing permanent teeth cause the roots of the baby teeth to dissolve. Children usually wiggle the baby teeth loose with their tongues and fingers. By the time the permanent tooth is ready to come in, there is often little holding the baby tooth in place besides a small amount of tissue. If your child wants you to pull out a loose baby tooth, grasp it firmly with a clean tissue or gauze and remove it with a quick twist. Apply gentle pressure to the site with a clean washcloth or gauze to stop any bleeding.

Are dental x-rays really necessary for my child?

X-rays (radiographs) are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental visit. Without them certain dental conditions can and will be missed. They detect much more than cavities. X-rays may be needed to learn more about erupting teeth, diagnose bone disease, evaluate an injury or plan orthodontic treatment. Missing or extra teeth are commonly found on X-rays. Many times if dental problems are found and treated early, dental care can be more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.

My seventeen year old daughter told me that she wants to get her tongue pierced. I don't feel comfortable with this. What do you suggest?

Common symptoms after oral piercing include pain, swelling, and occasionally infection. It may also induce a slight change in speech and periodically contribute to chipped or cracked teeth. The oral cavity is very vascular, especially the tongue. If a blood vessel is penetrated during the piercing severe bleeding can occur which may be difficult to control. As mentioned earlier, swelling of the tongue can be a common side effect. In extreme cases the swelling can become so severe that it can compromise the airway and prevent breathing. I would advise against it. She may think it’s fashionable now but many young people are not aware of the potential complications that can occur.

What is an underbite and what problem does it cause?

The word “underbite” is used to describe a bite characterised by the lower front teeth biting ahead of the upper front teeth. This situation can be seen in all ages. It may be a sign of an abnormality in the position of the jaws but it can also be caused by just a few teeth that are poorly positioned. In the latter case, the patient may have excellent jaw positions but actually has to position his jaw forward in order to bite because of the faulty tooth positions. Early detection and correction of this situation can help a child greatly.

At what age should I have my children seen by an orthodontist?

Depending on the recommendation of your child’s general dentist or paediatric dentist, every child should have an initial examination by an orthodontist no later than age 8 or 9. However, your child’s dentist may recommend an earlier or later evaluation based on specific situations. The initial evaluation usually involves a screening radiograph to check for missing teeth or teeth that are erupting in an unfavourable position and a clinical exam to check the bite, jaw positions, and amount of crowding. Then the orthodontist can advise you if there are immediate needs or establish a time for a future follow-up examination.

Should I be flossing my 4 year old son's teeth?

Yes, flossing once a day before brushing removes plaque and food particles that can’t be removed by brushing alone. The dental floss cleans between the teeth and below the gumline. To floss properly, wrap an 30cm strand of floss around your middle fingers leaving roughly 6cm section of floss to work with. Holding the floss tightly between your thumb and index finger, gently ease the floss between the teeth. Curve the floss around the tooth, making sure you go beneath the gumline. Slide the floss up and down several times to clean the tooth. Always remember to floss behind the last tooth.

My 10 year old daughter wants to bleach her teeth. At what age is it safe to bleach?

Enamel discolouration can lead to negative self-image and is a valid reason for bleaching, but you are right to be concerned with safety and the appropriate age to bleach. There are a wide variety of over- the counter or professionally applied products. It is wise to have professional advice before using these in children. There are many reasons for discolouration such as stain, trauma, enamel defects, or tooth complexion.’ The dentist can determine the best method for each situation or possibly spot bleach single teeth. Full arch bleaching is not recommended until after eruption of all permanent teeth and is best done after orthodontics.

How much radiation does my child get from dental x-rays?

Paediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimise the radiation exposure that their young patients receive during dental examinations that involve x-rays. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in dental x-rays is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead aprons and shields will help protect your child. Modern equipment and the newest technology like digital x-rays, high speed films, and filters are designed to help in minimising even the small amount of radiation that your child will receive.

I heard somewhere that if my child has a tooth knocked out in an accident I should put it in milk. Is that true?

When a child has a permanent tooth knocked out, the most important thing is to put the tooth back in the socket as soon as possible. This should be done immediately if possible by someone at the scene of the accident. The tooth should be picked up by the crown (don’t touch the root) and if dirty it should be quickly rinsed off. Then the tooth should be placed back in the socket and the child should be transported to a dentist who will splint the tooth in place. If it is impossible to get the tooth back into the socket, it is important to store the tooth in a liquid that will keep the cells on the root surface alive. Cold milk is one of the best storage media for this.

Dental Products

Are athletic mouthguards necessary?

In order to protect your smile during athletic activities a mouthguard is crucial. A properly fitted mouthguard will help cushion an impact to the mouth. Mouthguards can protect you from broken teeth, jaw injuries, or cuts to the lip or tongue. Dental health professionals can fabricate a mouthguard for you or your child which will offer a custom fit. If a custom mouthguard is not feasible, discuss other types of mouthguards with your dentist.

There are so many different toothbrushes on the market today. How do I know which one is the right one for me?

The brand of the toothbrush is not nearly as critical as the type of bristle, the size and shape of the head and how frequently you replace your brush. We recommend a soft bristled brush with a small head. The soft bristles are most important for the health of your gums. A small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums.Daily frequency of brushing and replacement with a new brush are much more important issues than the brand you choose.
We recommend replacing your brush at least once a month.

General Questions

I have heard that high-sugar carbonated drinks can affect my teeth. What problems does it cause and is diet pop OK?

High frequency consumption of soda drinks is one of the major risk factors that cause dental decay. A normal can of soda can have up to eleven teaspoons of sugar and is very acidic. The acid can dissolve enamel and when combined with sugar provides the perfect environment for bacteria which cause decay. Diet soda does not have the sugar, but has the same acidity and therefore can create erosion. If drinking canned drinks, minimise its use, choose diet over regular, and drink it quickly with a meal or snack. It is preferable to select water or other sugar-free non-acidic beverages.

My teeth are sensitive when I drink something cold. What can I do about it?

Tooth sensitivity can be due to a variety of causes. These can include decay, faulty fillings, and exposed root structure. It is best to visit your dentist to determine the cause. If it is decay or defective fillings, the problem should be fixed by the dentist. If it is exposed root structure, there are a variety of options including varnishes or solutions that the dentist can apply at their practice. There are also other at home options such as fluoride gels and desensitising pastes. Some sensitive situations will resolve and not return, but others may have to be retreated periodically.

Am I entitled to a copy of my dental records?

Patients have an absolute right to a copy — but not the original — of their dental records. Often dental records are needed when patients are referred to other practitioners or specialists. It is legitimately accepted practice for a dentist, as for any other health care provider, to charge a reasonable fee for duplicating a patient’s records.

Referrals and other practitioners

I need to have a tooth removed and my dentist suggested a dental implant. What is a dental implant?

Dental implants are a titanium implant that is placed into the bone of the upper or lower jaw. It replaces the root of the missing tooth. The bone integrates, or heals directly to the surface of the implant, which gives it longevity. Once this healing has occurred, your dentist makes a crown, or tooth, to go on top of the implant.

What is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon?

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon has received extensive training and experience in the diagnosis and management of impacted teeth, misaligned jaws, and dental related infections of the head and neck. They also treat accident victims suffering facial injuries, perform jaw reconstruction with bone grafts, care for patients with tumours and cysts of the jaws, and provide dental implant surgery for patients who are missing teeth.
Another significant aspect of their training is the acquisition of knowledge and skill in advanced and complex pain control methods, including intravenous sedation and ambulatory general anaesthesia. Thus, the oral and maxillofacial surgeon is able to provide quality care with maximum patient comfort and safety in the office setting.

There has been a lot of media attention recently about extreme makeovers. How can orthodontic treatment help achieve an ideal smile makeover?

Orthodontic treatment can be extremely helpful to achieve a smile makeover. For example, orthodontic treatment can place the teeth in better positions to correct the bite and eliminate crowding so that it is easier for the restorative dentist to improve the appearance of the teeth. A smile makeover without orthodontic correction may require reshaping and removal of tooth structure to adjust for crowding or faulty positions of the teeth. Often, an extensive makeover can be eliminated with orthodontic treatment and patients may only desire whitening or relatively small corrections of blemished or worn teeth.

I know orthodontic treatment provides cosmetic benefit, but what are some of the other reasons for having braces?

Adults and children benefit from orthodontic treatment to correct the bite, alleviate crowding and improve alignment, thus improving function, facilitating proper oral hygiene, and preventing possible future dental problems such as increased wear of teeth. For children, orthodontics is not only important for alignment of teeth, but treatment may help correct jaw discrepancies through some modification of jaw growth in combination with tooth movement and bite correction. Children also benefit through correction of problems when teeth do not erupt normally and reduction of overjet (“buck teeth”) to minimise trauma and fracture of front teeth.

My dentist has recommended my daughter see an orthodontist because her canine teeth are not coming in correctly. How will this be corrected?

Depending on the exact position of the canines and if the patient is seen early enough, the orthodontist may be able to help redirect the eruption path of the canines so that they will erupt normally. However, if the patient is already past the age of the normal canine eruption time or the positions of the teeth are significantly abnormal, the orthodontist may need to assist in the eruption of the teeth by employing surgical uncovering of the tooth and orthodontic tooth movement.

Do I still need to see my dentist while I am in braces?

Absolutely yes! I recommend that all of my patients see their dentist at least every 6 months or as recommend by their dentist; in some situations, a patient may need to have professional exams and cleanings more frequently.

What is a Prosthodontist?

A prosthodontist is a dentist who specialises in aesthetic restorations and replacement of your broken or missing teeth. They are specialists who have received 2-3 years of additional training after dental school to learn how to manage complex treatment as it relates to restoring your teeth with crowns, bridges, dentures, removable partials, veneers, and implants. They do this to reestablish both the function of your teeth and to create a pleasing aesthetic smile. A prosthodontist is a dentist who specialises in prosthodontics, the specialty of implant, aesthetic and reconstructive dentistry.

I would like to improve my smile. What options do I have?

Many options are available nowadays to improve people’s smiles, such as braces, whitening or bleaching, crowns and porcelain veneers. Every smile change needs to start with a proper diagnosis to evaluate individual considerations and desires, your bite and your smile. We believe in minimal and conservative intervention to improve your smile. We have all the diagnostic knowledge, experience, and state-of-the-art tools to provide you with an understanding and with realistic treatment options so that we can help you select the best way to achieve the smile you seek.

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It is your sole responsibility to consult a licensed physician or qualified health
care professional for advice, diagnosis, and/or treatment of any health related condition.