Frequently Asked Questions - Dentist On Main | Dentist Cape Town
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Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I go to the dentist regularly?

Many people do not see a dentist on a regular basis. They only go when they have a problem. This is known as “crisis treatment” versus “preventive treatment.” While these patients may feel they are saving money, it often ends up costing much more in rands and time. This is because many dental problems do not have symptoms until they reach the advanced stages of the disease process. An example is tooth decay. It is typical to hear, “Nothing hurts… I don’t have any problems.”

Tooth decay often does not hurt until it gets close to the nerve of the tooth. It is not uncommon to see a patient with a huge cavity who has never felt a thing.

The dentist can usually detect a cavity 3-4 years before it develops any symptoms. This early detection can help you prevent more costly procedures like canal treatment.

Do I need to arrive early for my first appointment?

Yes. Please arrive 10-15 minutes early to fill out any remaining patient forms.

What do I need to bring to my first appointment?

Please bring the following items with you to your first appointment:

  • Patient Information Form (also available to fill in at the practice),
  • Medical Aid or Dental Insurance Card (if applicable),
  • Identification such as your ID Book or Driver’s License,
  • If referred by another medical practice: any relevant paperwork outlining your treatment history.

How long will my first appointment last?

It varies from patient to patient, but please plan on at least 30 minutes for a cleaning an at least 30 minutes for any additional dental work required.

Can I be charged for missed appointments?

The dentist is entitled to levy a charge should you or any member of your family inadvertently miss a dental appointment. This charge may vary according to the time which was set aside for that appointment.

What if I cannot keep an appointment already booked?

Should you or any member of your family be unable to keep an appointment, kindly cancel in good time as a consideration to your dental team. Failure to cancel within a reasonable period of time may incur a charge. It’s best to talk to your dental team about this.

Am I entitled to copies of my records and treatment?

Yes you may request a copy of your records and any treatment plan which your dentist has against your record.

You may be levied a charge for copies.

It is best to discuss this requirement with your dental team.

What shall I do if I do not understand?

Dentistry is a highly specialised profession and you are not expected to understand all procedures. This is why it is of great importance, for your own peace of mind, that you speak to your dental team to establish good communication and a happy treatment relationship.

If you or any member of your family have a query with the service rendered, an account received, a quotation or the understanding of a procedure or treatment plan, or anything else within the dental office, speak to your dentist about it.

How often do I actually need to visit the dentist?

There are a few different ideas swirling around out there about how frequently you actually need to visit the dentist.
Most people need to visit their dentist for a regular hygiene visit twice a year, or once every six months.
There are exceptions to this rule, however. If you have gum disease, or a history of gum disease, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits. Another reason you may need to see the dentist more frequently is if you are undergoing orthodontic treatment.
The bottom line is that you need to at least see the dentist twice a year and you need to comply if it is recommended that you make those visits more frequent.

Why do I need a dental examination?

Regular exams help spot trouble early to prevent bigger and more costly treatments later.A dental hygienist will start by cleaning buildup from your teeth. Then the dentist will probe spots on the surfaces and near the gumline with special tools. If it’s been a while between appointments, you may have some sore and sensitive areas.You should get an exam every 6 months, or more often if your dentist recommends it. Find one who makes you feel at ease and lets you know what to expect. Often the dread of seeing the dentist turns to big relief when the visit is over and you have a care plan set up. Being positive as a parent can help your kids overcome any of their fears.

Why should I floss, isn't brushing enough?

Flossing reduces the number of bacteria in your mouth.

There are millions of these microscopic creatures feeding on food particles left on your teeth. These bacteria live in plaque which can be removed by flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of some of the bacteria in your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the bacteria the toothbrush can’t get to. That’s the bacteria hiding in the tiny spaces between your teeth. If you do not floss, you allow plaque to remain between your teeth. Eventually it hardens into tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing. Only the dentist can remove tartar.

 

Ask your dentist to show you the proper way to floss. You will both notice the difference at the next cleaning appointment.

Why does the dentist take X-rays?

Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when the dentist examines the mouth.
An X-ray examination may reveal:

  • small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
  • infections in the bone
  • periodontal (gum) disease
  • abscesses or cysts
  • developmental abnormalities
  • some types of tumours

Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money and often unnecessary discomfort. X-rays can detect damage to oral structures not visible during a regular exam. If you have a hidden tumour, X-rays may even help save your life. Dentist will evaluate your need for X-rays based on the conditions present in development. There are many benefits to having X-rays taken.

 

Any additional questions or concerns should be discussed with your dentist.

How do fillings work?

Cavities break through the surface enamel of teeth, and they’ll probably get bigger unless you close them off with fillings.Your dentist will numb your mouth before drilling around the cavity to prep it. A combination of strong materials or a white mix called a composite goes into the cavity soft and then hardens as it dries. You may feel pain or pressure when getting the numbing shot and during the drilling.Once set, fillings can last a long time but need replacing if they break or wear down.

What are cavity-fighting sealants?

Sealants as an effective weapon in the arsenal against tooth decay. Sealants are a thin coating painted on chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. Dental sealants act as a barrier, protecting your teeth against decay-causing bacteria.

Sealants have proven effective with both adults and children, but are most commonly used with children. Despite the fact that sealants are about half the cost of fillings, only a small percentage of school-aged children have sealants on their permanent teeth.

 

Ask your dentist whether sealants are a good choice for you or your children.

I knocked out a tooth, can it be saved?

Oral injuries are often painful, and should be treated by a dentist as soon as possible. If you have knocked out a tooth, these tips may be able to save it:

  • Rinse, do not scrub, the tooth to remove dirt or debris
  • Place the clean tooth in your mouth between your cheek and gum or under your tongue
  • Do not attempt to replace the tooth into the socket as this could cause further damage
  • Get to the dentist. Successful re-implantation is possible only when treatment is performed promptly
  • If it is not possible to store the tooth in the mouth of the injured person, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and immerse it in milk.

How long will the results of teeth whitening last?

Like other investments, if you whiten your teeth, the length of time you can expect it to last will vary. If you smoke, drink red wine or coffee, or consume other acid-containing foods, your bright smile may begin to yellow more quickly than you expect. In general, a teeth whitening procedure can last up to a few years. And even though the results can fade, occasional touch-ups can be done to regain luster.

Ask the experienced staff at The Dentist on Main about the long-term benefits of teeth whitening.

Am I grinding my teeth?

The effects of grinding can be identified by your dental hygienist while they are cleaning your teeth. If you are experiencing headaches in the morning or clicking/popping of your jaw, you may be grinding your teeth at night. Your hygienist can spot the signs of grinding and provide recommendations for relief, such as a nightguard.

What should I do about bleeding gums?

People often respond to bleeding gums with the wrong method of treatment. Usually, gums that bleed are a symptom of the onset of periodontal disease or gingivitis. But often, people stop brushing as frequently and effectively because it may be painful or it may cause the gums to bleed again. However, when gums are inflamed, brushing could help reduce the inflammation. More importantly, you should see your dentist to have a periodontal screening and recording performed in order to determine the level of disease present and the best treatment course to pursue.

It is also worth noting that chronic dental pain and discomfort are obvious signs of a problem. Over-the-counter drugs may provide some temporary relief. These medications usually only mask the existence of a problem and should be taken on a temporary basis.

It is important to see your dentist as soon as possible if your gums begin to bleed.

Why should I use a mouthguard?

A mouthguard can prevent injuries to your face and teeth. Most people benefit from wearing a mouthguard when playing any sport. You should wear one whether you are playing professionally or just on weekends. Do what you can to preserve your smile and your health. The best mouthguards are custom-fitted by your dentist. This is especially important if you wear braces or fixed bridgework.

Commercial, ready-made mouthguards can be purchased at most sporting goods stores. They are relatively inexpensive but they are also less effective. In either case, rinse your mouthguard with water or mouthwash after each use. With proper care, it should last for several months.

Ask your dentist which kind of mouthguard you should use.

Why do I have to take antibiotics before my dental appointment?

There are certain conditions that require pre-medication with an antibiotic prior to dental treatment to prevent adverse effects and infection that can be caused by bacteria that enter the blood stream during certain treatment. You will want to consult with your dentist about this prior to treatment.

How can I fix my teeth and smile?

Caps and crowns cover problem teeth by surrounding them in a material that looks like a real tooth. They use the root and inside of the tooth as a base to build on, then attach with special cement.Veneers and bonding improve your smile by sticking a layer of smoother and whiter materials like porcelain or resin to the natural tooth.Talk with your dentist about which fix is right for you.

I have dentures. Is it necessary for me to still see my dentist?

Visits to the dentist include more than just “checking teeth.” While patients who wear dentures no longer have to worry about dental decay, they may have concerns with ill fitting appliances or mouth sores to name a few. Annual visits to the dentist (or sooner if soreness is present) is recommended. During these visits, an oral cancer screening and head and neck exam will be performed as well as an evaluation of the fit or need for replacement of the existing appliances. Regular visits can help you to avoid more complicated problems down the road.

At What Age Should My Child First See a Dentist?

Studies show children can develop their first cavities by two years old, so the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends booking the first visit once their first tooth erupts – or, at the latest, their first birthday.

This helps your dentist catch potential problems that can affect the child’s overall health and well-being as more teeth erupt over time.

When Do Their Baby Teeth Typically Fall Out?

Most children begin losing their baby teeth between the ages of six and eight, and they typically fall out in roughly the same order in which they erupted.

Keep in mind that all patients are different. Children’s and adult’s oral condition depends on how long they’ve gone without an appointment, how long your kids’ baby teeth last and even some things to which you are naturally more sensitive.

Can I be charged for missed appointments?

The dentist is entitled to levy a charge should you or any member of your family inadvertently miss a dental appointment.

This charge may vary according to the time which was set aside for that appointment.

What if I cannot keep an appointment already booked?

Should you or any member of your family be unable to keep an appointment, kindly cancel in good time as a consideration to your dental team.

Failure to cancel within a reasonable period of time may incur a charge. It’s best to talk to your dental team about this.

How do I know what my dental fees will be?

You are advised to discuss all aspects of fees with our friendly dental receptionist prior to commencement of treatment.

Should I request a written quotation for treatment?

Should your dentist suggest additional treatment, or a treatment plan, you are quite at liberty to ask for a written quotation before commencing treatment.
Quotes typically take 24 hours to reach your inbox.

Who is responsible for the payment of services rendered?

Patients are fully responsible for payment of fees even if they belong to a Medical Aid Scheme.

In certain circumstances, such as the treatment of minors, it is your duty to inform your dentist of the name of the person responsible for the payment of the account.

Am I also responsible for laboratory accounts?

Yes you are.

The laboratory account is submitted by the dental technician to your dentist, who will invoice you accordingly.

The charge from the laboratory is at cost and is payable to the dentist.
A copy of the laboratory account must be included with your statement from the dentist.

If you are unsure as to why you have received a laboratory account you should contact your dentist’s office for an explanation.

Am I entitled to a second opinion and who pays the account for this?

Everyone is entitled to a second opinion. You will of course be charged by the second medical professional for the consultation. The professional fee from the second medical professional will be your responsibility.

Am I entitled to copies of my records and treatment?

Yes you may request a copy of your records and any treatment plan which your dentist has against your record.

You may be levied a charge for copies. It is best to discuss this requirement with your dental team.

What type of toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash should I use?

All toothbrushes are not created equal! Ask your hygienist what type of brush you need to use depending on your brushing habits. Also make sure you ask about what type of toothpaste and mouthwash to use.

There are many different types out there so it is important to be using one that will deliver the oral health benefits you need.

How can I get my kids to brush their teeth?

Make it fun! If you are enthusiastic about brushing your teeth, your children will also be enthusiastic. Children want to do the things their parents do. If your children see you brushing your teeth and displaying good dental habits, they will follow. Ask the dentist for other creative ways to get children to brush their teeth.

Getting your children to brush starts with taking them to the dentist at an early age. All children should be seen by their first birthday or 6 months after the eruption of the first tooth.

How can I prevent cavities?

Always spend two to three minutes brushing your teeth. It takes that long to get rid of the bacteria that destroy tooth enamel. Do not brush too hard. It takes very little pressure to remove bacteria and plaque. Floss at least once a day. Flossing is the only way to get bacteria from between your teeth.

Watch the sugar you eat. There is sugar in candy, fruits, crackers and chips. These are the foods that the bacteria in your mouth like best. Be mindful of foods like raisins and peanut butter that stick to your teeth. They can provide a constant supply for the bacteria eating into your teeth. Try to minimise the times during the day when sweet items are eaten and brush your teeth afterwards.

If you cannot brush after a meal, rinse your mouth with water – which can help to remove food from your teeth. Chewing sugarless gum after a meal can also help. Chewing de-escalates the flow of your saliva which acts as a natural plaque-fighting substance. And do not forget your regular dental visits. Good dental habits will go a long way toward a no-cavity visit.

What is fluoride and why is it important to dental health?

Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and in water. Some natural sources of fluoride are brewed tea, canned fish, cooked kale and spinach, apples, and skim milk. Some city water contains fluoride, so by drinking tap water you will acquire fluoride. If drinking water does not have fluoride, supplements are available.

The lack of exposure to fluoride places individuals of any age at risk for dental decay. Fluoride is important to dental health because it helps prevent tooth decay by making your tooth enamel more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria in your mouth.

Studies have shown that children who consumed fluoridated water from birth had less dental decay. Fluoride can reverse early decay and help prevent osteoporosis, a disease that causes degenerative bone loss. Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about whether you’re getting the daily amount of fluoride you need.

Are there any dangers with oral piercings?

We recognise that piercings are a widely accepted form of self-expression, and that includes piercings in the mouth. However, the potential problems from piercings are numerous. Some symptoms after a piercing include pain, swelling, infection, drooling, taste loss, scarring, chipped teeth, tooth loss, and an increased flow of saliva, none of which are particularly pleasant. Tongue piercing can also cause excessive bleeding. If you’re thinking of placing a piercing in or around your mouth, talk to your dentist first. If you already have piercings and are having problems, see your dentist right away.

What causes morning breath?

When you are asleep, production in your mouth decreases. Since your saliva is the mouth’s natural mouthwash, most people experience morning breath. Bacteria found on teeth in the crevices and on the taste buds of the tongue, break down the food particles, which produce sulfur compounds. It is actually these sulfur compounds which give our breath a bad odour. During desk, your saliva helps to wash away bacteria and food particles. Your saliva also helps to dissolve the foul smelling sulfur compounds.

Chronic, long-term mouth odour can be a sign of more serious illness.

 

See your dentist if this is a concern.

What can I do about sensitive teeth?

Sensitivity toothpaste, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate are very effective in treating sensitive teeth. After a few weeks of use, you may notice a decrease in sensitivity. Highly acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, as well as tea and soda can increase tooth sensitivity, and work against sensitivity toothpaste. If you do not get relief by brushing gently and using desensitising toothpaste, see your dentist. There are special compounds that can be applied in-office to the roots of your tooth to reduce – if not eliminate – the sensitivity. High-fluoride containing home care products can also be recommended to help reduce tooth sensitivity.

Ask the friendly staff at The Dentist on Main for more information on sensitive teeth.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting bone structure, which if left untreated, can cause permanent jaw bone destruction and possible tooth loss. Untreated periodontal disease has been linked to increased risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, low birth weight babies, pre-term delivery, respiratory disease, and prostate cancer. An advanced stage of periodontal disease exhibits inflamed gums pulling away from your bone and teeth. Other signs of periodontal disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Loose teeth or teeth that have moved
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Pus coming from around the teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Tender gums
  • Bleeding gums

Treatment of early periodontal disease can be performed in-office. However, advanced stages may require surgery.

Periodontal disease can be prevented and treated successfully by seeing your dentist and dental hygienist regularly and following recommended care plans.

Do whitening toothpastes work?

Commercial whitening toothpastes vary greatly in their ability to whiten teeth. They work by removing surface stains from the teeth with the use of mild abrasives. However, unlike professional whitening, some whitening toothpastes do not alter the intrinsic colour of the teeth. Toothpastes that are effective in removing stains can also destroy tooth enamel in the process. These toothpastes use harsh abrasives. With repeated use, harsh abrasives begin to damage tooth enamel and can contribute to increased tooth sensitivity.

If you would like to try a whitening toothpaste, consult with your dentist first.

What causes canker sores?

The exact cause of canker sores is unknown. Some factors may include genetics, allergies, stress, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Trauma to the inside of the mouth can result in the development of canker sores. Ill-fitting dentures or braces, toothbrush trauma from brushing too hard, or biting your cheek, may produce canker sores. Certain foods may also be a factor. Citrus or acidic fruits and vegetables can trigger a canker sore or make the problem worse. Foods like chips, pretzels and hard candies have sharp edges that can nick and injure the soft tissue of the mouth.

To treat a canker sore, rinse your mouth with antimicrobial mouthwash or warm water and salt.

Over the counter treatments are also available.

If the canker sore is present longer than two weeks, see your Dentist on Main dentist.

Is smokeless tobacco harmful?

Smokeless tobacco may be smokeless, but it isn’t harmless. These are some of the potential hazards:

  • A sore that does not heal
  • A lump or white patch
  • A prolonged sore throat
  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Restricted movement of the tongue or jaw
  • A feeling of something in the throat
  • Pain is rarely an early symptom. All tobacco users need to see their dentist regularly.

Why do my teeth darken?

Many factors work to destroy the naturally white smile you were born with. Tobacco, certain foods, and certain drinks actually stain teeth. These substances continually work on our teeth causing our white smile to gradually fade. Hot coffee and tea are especially hazardous to your smile because they change the temperature of teeth. This temperature change – hot and cold cycling – causes the teeth to expand and contract allowing stains to penetrate the teeth. Cutting down on coffee and tea can go a long way to creating a great smile. Foods that are slightly acidic are also dangerous to your white smile. These foods open up the pores of the tooth enamel allowing stains to move more easily into the tooth.

Your dentist can help you with more tips on keeping a white smile.

I have diabetes. Why is my dentist concerned?

Research today suggests a link between gum disease and diabetes. Research has established that people with diabetes are more prone to gum disease. If blood glucose levels are poorly controlled you may be more likely to develop gum disease and could potentially lose teeth. Like all infections, gum disease can be a factor in causing blood sugar levels to rise and make diabetes harder to control. Be sure to see your dentist regularly for check-ups and follow home care recommendations. If you notice other conditions such as dry mouth or bleeding gums, be sure to talk with your dentist. And don’t forget to mention any changes in medications.

I just found out I am pregnant. How can this affect my mouth?

About half of women who are pregnant experience a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. This condition can be uncomfortable and cause swelling, bleeding, redness or tenderness in the gum tissue. A more advanced oral health condition called periodontal disease (a serious gum infection that destroys attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold teeth in the mouth) may affect the health of your baby. Studies have shown a relationship between periodontal disease and preterm, low birth-weight babies. In fact, pregnant women with periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that’s born too early and too small. The likely culprit is a labor-inducing chemical found in oral bacteria called prostaglandin. Very high levels of prostaglandin are found in women with severe cases of periodontal disease.

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