In this Dental FAQ, we’ll try addressing the most commonly asked questions by patients. However, if there are questions that aren’t answered here, do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a personalised response OR you could arrange a consult by booking an appointment and our Dentist can examine to provide the most accurate diagnosis & prescribe treatments for you.
There are many types of toothpaste in the market. We recommend you choose one that suits your teeth’s general condition. As a general guide when buying a toothpaste, look out for the active ingredient known as fluoride. Fluoride helps to strengthen enamel, prevent tooth decay and remineralise weakened tooth surfaces. For sensitive teeth, avoid whitening toothpastes as they can be more abrasive and may worsen the sensitivity especially if you have gum recession. Whitening toothpaste are suitable for those who smokes or drinks coffee daily that leads to teeth staining/darkening. Gum and sensitive care toothpaste are recommend if you have gum disease and sensitive teeth. For children, choose toothpaste that are manufactured specially for children according to their age, with lower levels of fluoride compared to adults. As young children cannot spit effectively, we want to avoid them from swallowing the fluoride.
Dental plaque is actually bacterial biofilm which appears as the soft sticky substance that is produced when foods containing sugar and starches like cakes or candy comes into contact with the bacteria. They adhere and accumulate onto your teeth surfaces if they are not removed by daily brushing and flossing. Tooth decay or dental cavity is the result of the acids that are produced by plaque over time. Plaque can also develop under the gum and cause gum disease. You may notice gum redness, swelling and eventually loosening of teeth due to the breakdown of bone supporting the tooth. Therefore regular dental checkup, scaling polishing and good home care are important to keep your pearly whites healthy.
We recommend flossing at least once a day to remove plaque from areas of teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. This is vital because if left unremoved, they can harden like stone into tartar or calculus, which causes gum disease. Once they harden, it is nearly impossible to remove them with your toothbrush. Therefore it is important for you to visit your dentist to get them removed so it’s easier for you to clean them daily at home.
Whether is manual or electric toothbrush, when used properly, are both excellent choices yet it comes down to individual preference. Moreover, people with dexterity issues like special needs or very young children or elderly people with arthritis who cannot brush well, will benefit from using an electric toothbrush instead of manual one. Electric toothbrushes use oscillating and rotating motion that helps remove plaque more effectively. Do ask your dentist if you have questions regarding which toothbrush that best fits you.
Bad breath or “halitosis” is caused by sulphur compounds released by bacteria in the mouth. It can be exacerbated by pungent foods such as raw garlic. Certain systemic disease is also linked to bad breath. But most commonly it originates from the mouth especially on the tongue and teeth surfaces. A low salivary flow or dry mouth can also influence bad mouth door. Keeping the mouth moist regularly and drinking lots of water may help. Brushing your tongue using a tongue scraper can effectively remove the bacterial hidden under the mucous layer from the back of the tongue. Using a mouthwash for bad breath containing chlorine dioxide help neutralise odorous sulphur compounds. See your dentist if you suspect gum disease causing bad breath as well.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t visited the dentist for 6 months or 6 years. What is important is you take the first step to get back to a healthy routine. We are here to take care of your dental health so do come down and we will do a thorough full mouth examination and offer advise on how to best manage and take care of your pearly whites.
Ideally, everyone should brush and floss twice a day. Plaque builds up every day and the sticky film can solidly and turn hard into tartar or calculus. It is vital that this substance is removed regularly through scaling and polishing done by the dentist. A six month interval not only helps keep your mouth healthy and clean but also allows early detection of potential problems.
When the first baby teeth erupt, it can be a major milestone yet it can cause discomfort, saliva drooling and inflammation of the gums overlying the tooth. The average time the first tooth appear ranges from five to seven months of age. There is a wide range before and after this that can still be considered “normal”. Generally the lower incisor teeth come in first and girls typically erupt earlier than boys.
You can bring your child for dental checkup as early as six to nine months for a visual examination or no later than the first birthday. This helps to familiarise the child to the dental office environment and build healthy habits early on. When the child is brought in only when there is a toothache or pain, then they will have a negative impression of going to the dentist.
Decayed baby teeth can lead to pain and infection is they are not treated early. Untreated decay also increases the amount of decay-causing bacteria in the mouth that predispose the child to decay affecting the permanent teeth later on. Retaining the baby teeth and avoiding early extractions are vital because the baby teeth act as space maintainers to allow enough space for incisors and premolars to erupt. If baby teeth are taken early due to decay, the teeth permanent teeth often become crowded and will likely need braces in the future.
Dental sealants, also known as fissure sealants are recommended for children whose permanent teeth has erupted. They are a quick, easy and affordable solution that help prevent bacteria and debris from getting into the deep crevices on the teeth. Children are good candidates for this because in many cases decay has not set in. They benefit more as the fissures are deeper and less calcified than adults. Children are notoriously bad brushers and tend to ignore the problem areas in the back of the mouth that leads to cavities and decay.
The best time to visit the dentist is during the second trimester of pregnancy. If you are planning to get pregnant, it is advisable to get all your dental issues settled before you conceive. Preventive dental scaling and polishing and checkups are not only safe but recommended during the second trimester. Pregnancy-related gingivitis is a common problem women face due to the rising hormone levels during pregnancy. Preventive treatment is important to avoid oral infections like gum disease which is linked to pre-term birth. Extractions and dental fillings are also safe procedures to perform during the second trimester. During the third trimester, it is best to avoid taking any non-steroidal anti inflammatory medications which can induce early labour.
Fillings & X-rays
Unless the cavity has reached more advanced stages, they don’t usually hurt a lot. The longer you wait, it makes the problem more expensive to fix. The cavity and decay will gradually become larger and deeper if left untreated. It is best to get a thorough dental checkup and diagnose and treat problems earlier.
It is not uncommon for patients to dread doing a root canal as they heard it is a painful procedure. It is actually a myth that root canals are painful. When done properly under local anaesthesia, it shouldn’t hurt and you should feel fairly comfortable similar to having a dental filling done. Root canal treatment help save teeth from being extracted and is indicated for teeth that are badly decayed and infected inside the nerve canals. It involves cleaning and disinfecting the canal and then sealing it. Usually a crown is indicated to further protect the weakened tooth and restore back to function.
Silver dental amalgam is a kind of filling material that is made of metal alloy which include tin, silver, copper and liquid Mercury. They are generally safe but controversial due to its mercury content. For patients who are averse to dental amalgam, there are other options such as tooth coloured fillings to restore teeth. Do discuss with the dentist if you are unsure.
Radiographic or X-rays examinations provide your dentist with an important diagnostic tool that shows the condition of your teeth, their roots, jaw placement and the overall composition of your facial bones. X-rays help your dentist determine the presence or degree of periodontal disease, abscesses and abnormal growth such as cysts and other signs of disease that may not be possible to detect through visual examination.
Advances in technology allows us to take digital dental X-rays. At Kent Dental Works, we use digital technology exclusively. Benefits include less radiation exposure and reduce use of harsh chemicals and waste material associated with traditional X-rays. A traditional CT-scan exposes a patient to 2,800 times the radiation as a digital dental X-ray. Similarly, eating about 50 bananas can get you the same amount of radiation from our digital X-ray.
Time is of the essence when an accident or trauma dislodges a tooth out of its socket. First check if the tooth came out in one whole piece or in fragments. Avulsed tooth comes out whole with the crown and root intact. Rinse the whole tooth in warm water to remove debris and dirt. Avoid touching the root as much as possible. Keep the tooth in milk or inside the cheek to keep it moist in saliva. Rush the injured person and the tooth to the nearest dental clinic. Ideally, the tooth will be implanted and splinted with a wire to adjacent teeth for a period of time.
Check the internet for the nearest available dentist. If you still can’t get an appointment, you can take some steps to ease the toothache. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water, gently brush and floss to remove any trapped food debris. Take an over the counter painkiller such as Paracetamol to soothe the pain. Make an appointment to see the dentist even if the pain resolves. Without proper care the pain could recur or worsen. When your permanent or temporary crown dislodges out, keep the area clean by rinsing and gently brushing the area. Avoid leaving the crown out for more than a few days as teeth can shift, making it difficult or impossible to re-cement back the crown later on. If the tooth is painful, apply some toothpaste inside the crown and gently fit it back into place.
When a tooth is lost, a series of events can start to happen. Not only chewing on the affected side becomes difficult, but over time remaining teeth can tilt and erupt into the space, causing shifting of teeth. Depending on the location and condition of the missing tooth, replacement options include a dental implant, a bridge or a partial denture. If you would like more information do schedule a consultation so we can offer the best advise on your situation.
Tooth decay or dental caries is bacterial infection of a tooth, resulting in a cavity. Bacteria ferments carbohydrates from food to produce acid which eats away at your teeth. If left untreated, it will lead to infection, severe pain and eventual tooth loss. Decay begins as an unnoticeable damage on enamel which the outer layer of teeth. It then steadily progresses to deeper parts of the tooth called denture and eventually into the pulp chamber where the pulp tissues are located. Once it enters the pulp, there will be intense pain. Tooth decay is caused by a variety of factors which include: poor oral hygiene, improper nutrition, sugary foods, acidic foods and drinks, dry mouth issues, genetics, age and avoiding the dentist.
Bleeding gums are caused by bacterial plaque buildup at the gum line. This condition is called gingivitis or inflamed gums. Soft plaque if not removed daily will harden into tartar. This leads to intense bleeding and more advanced form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Bleeding gums can also happen as a side effect of pregnancy or changing your oral care routine. It is recommended that you floss and brush regularly and getting twice yearly visits to the dentist to stop your gums from bleeding. Make a dental appointment to get your teeth scaled and polished to remove tartar buildup, thus treating the gum inflammation. Using an antibacterial mouthwash after flossing and brushing daily also helps.
When the hard enamel is worn down or gums have receded, the tiny dentinal tubules become exposed,thus causing short sharp pain sensation or sensitivity when drinking cold beverage or rinsing with cold water or expose to cold air. Eating ice cream, for example can be a painful experience for those with sensitive teeth. Teeth sensitivity is a very common problem among dental patients. Avoid using certain toothpaste that contains abrasive ingredients that are harsh for people who have sensitive teeth. Using a de-sensitising toothpaste or having sealants applied onto teeth or applying filling material to the tooth surface can help reduce sensitivity. Other ways include fluoride gel treatment and reducing the intake of acid containing foods. If the sensitivity pain continues, speak to our dental team and they may be able to offer further care to reduce your symptoms.
Yes, untreated or poorly controlled diabetes can lead to the following oral/dental issues:
- Reduce salivary flow causing dry mouth.
- Higher risk of dental caries.
- Gum inflammation or gingivitis.
- Delayed wound healing after extraction/surgery.
- More susceptible to mouth infections.
Research suggests that treating gum disease can help improve blood sugar controls in patients with diabetes, decreasing the progression of the disease. Therefore regular visits are vital to bring the conditions under control. Practising good oral hygiene and getting professional deep cleanings done by your dentist can help immensely.
To make your teeth look longer, close up gaps between your teeth or repair a chipped or cracked tooth, there are several options available, such as composite bonding, crowns, veneers and re-contouring. Do check with the dentist what is the best options for your condition.
If your tooth is fractured, chipped or broken, see a dentist as soon as possible to prevent it from further damage or becoming infected, or worse you may end up losing your tooth. The dentist will need to assess the tooth to determine which treatment is best.
After the dentist examines your teeth and gums, a recommendation will be given as to which whitening option is best suitable. Generally there are two options, using a whitening toothpaste and/or undergoing professional bleaching. Whitening toothpaste only removes surface stains and do not bleach, therefore the colour can only lighten by about one shade. In contrast, light activated whitening using professional whitening gel can lighten your teeth by three to eight shades. Take home option using bleaching gel done at the comfort of your own home is another popular choice. The process is more gradual compared to in office one hour whitening.
It depends on the complexity of each case. Generally simple dentures replacing 1-3 teeth requires only 2 or 3 visits or roughly 1-2 weeks to complete. In contrast, complex dentures involving more teeth (such as full dentures) requires 4-5 visits or roughly 1.5-2 months to complete. Sufficient time must be allocated for the dental laboratory to process the denture at each stage. The dentist will not miss all the important steps, which include impression-taking, bite registration, trial fitting and finally issuing the dentures. Do speak to our dentist to find out more.
Wearing new dentures is akin to wearing new shoes. They won’t feel comfortable immediately at first and usually require an adjustment period whereby you need to give yourself time to get used to the dentures. Practise reading aloud, speaking and eating soft foods during the first two weeks to help you adapt to the dentures faster. You will usually need to come back 2-3 times so that the dentist can help you adjust the dentures at areas which are sore. It helps to take note of the area of discomfort and bring it up to the dentist during the adjustment visit.
A ideally after every meal, remove your dentures and wash away any food particles before wearing them again. This help to reduce bacterial accumulation inside the denture and around the teeth and gums. At bedtime, remove the dentures and clean lightly with a toothbrush and some liquid soap. Rinse well and soak in normal tap water or use denture cleansing tablets diluted in water. In the morning gently rinse again with water before putting them on.
When you notice the dentures getting loose or start to cause lots of pain and discomfort, have them checked your our dentist. As a general rule, dentures should be replaced when they don’t it as well as before or every 3-5 years depending on how fast the bone and gum tissues shrink as the years go by.
Implant-retained dentures are indicated to reduce denture movement and alleviate gum pain. The denture will sit on two to four dental implant fixtures which act as pillars to support the denture. Do ask the dentist if you are suitable for this type of denture.
Wisdom Tooth Pain and Swelling
Wisdom tooth pain and gum infection commonly occur right behind at the lower back part of the mouth. The pain and swelling can last for days and don’t usually get better on its own. It’s important to quickly make an appointment to see the dentist to get it sorted out or it could worsen into a facial swelling, fever or toothache affecting the second molar.
Wisdom tooth extraction starts from $150 per tooth, exclude X-rays and medications fees. You are able to use Medisave to pay fully for the wisdom tooth surgery, which includes X-rays, medication and sterilisation & disposable fees. Fees range from $650 to $1250 for surgery.
You can only claim subsidy for the wisdom tooth extraction under the CHAS scheme. However, surgery is not covered under CHAS. You can use Medisave instead. Speak to out dental team for more clarification.
Wisdom tooth pain and swelling is a common dental problem we see at the dental clinic. The good news is we do wisdom tooth surgery in the dental clinic as a day procedure under local anaesthesia. You are able to go back home right after the surgery once the bleeding has stopped and stabilised.
Recovering from a wisdom tooth removal procedure can take time. It’s important that you know how to care of your teeth and gums and help speed up the recovery period after surgery. Be careful that you avoid any hot foods and beverages for the first 24 hours. Stick to a soft diet and liquids for the first week. Avoid chewing food at the back of your mouth where the stitches are present. Rest as much as possible and take the painkillers and antibiotics prescribed for your dentist to help relieve any discomfort. Recovery can take a few days to a week so take it easy for the first few days, although in most cases, you can resume work or school or normal activity after the first day. Avoid rinsing your mouth during the first 24 hours after the procedure. After that, you should rinse after every meal with warm salt water or non alcohol mouthwash to remove food debris from the socket. For the first few days, keep your head elevated when you sleep. Use pillows to elevate your upper body to 45 degree angle. Find a comfortable position while elevating your head and shoulders above the level of your heart. Finally, don’t forget to schedule a follow up appointment with your dentist to make sure your socket heals properly. The dentist would be able to check for any infection or conditions that may hinder the recovery process.
Generally there will be discomfort after an extraction, which usually last for 2-3 days and can be easily relieved by painkillers given by your dentist. Be sure to take the painkillers as prescribed one hour after the extraction and regularly for at least 2 days so you will feel quite comfortable. Some patients don’t even need to take any painkillers on the second day onwards. However, if you develop sudden severe pain after 3-4 days, you will need to go back to your dentist. Quite likely you would have developed a dry socket whereby the blood clot is not formed properly and the bone becomes inflamed.
Although fevers are not related to a dental extraction, some patients do develop it, though it’s not common. If fever does develop, make sure you take Paracetamol to relieve the fever and monitor your temperature. It should go away within 1-2 days. Contact your medical doctor if the fever persists beyond 3 days as it could be other causes.