Why is it important to visit the dentist regularly?
Having regular check-ups minimizes the opportunity for cavities to develop, progress or go undetected until it is too late and starts to cause you pain. Good oral health stems from a good foundation. With regular visits & professional cleaning, inflammation of the gums is kept under control and facilitates ease of maintenance at home.
The dentist is often the first person to detect other conditions which you may be unaware of. If this is the case, early detection and referral could save a life!
Why do my gums bleed?
Bleeding gums is most commonly due to inflammation- aka gingivitis. This is mainly due to tartar build up on the teeth and around the gum-line; causing irritation to the gums and subsequent inflammation.
Patients using certain medication may also experience increased bleeding due to thinning of the blood. Tell your dentist if you experience spontaneous bleeding. If gingivitis is ruled out, you will often be referred to your medical physician for further investigation/testing.
Is flossing the same as using a toothpick?
No. A toothpick does not reach all the way between the teeth and could cause trauma to the gum area. Floss is specifically designed to clean between teeth and is often coated with fluoride- an extra bonus! If you are not comfortable or do not know how to correctly floss, don’t be shy to ask your dentist for a demo at your next visit.
Why must I floss, is mouth-rinse on its own not good enough?
Mouth-rinse is a good additive to your daily routine, it does not however substitute the mechanical action of flossing. Food that gets stuck in between teeth cannot efficiently be removed with tooth-brushing & mouth-rinse alone.
What to do after an extraction?
You should bite on the cotton/gauze for at least 30 minutes to control bleeding. Do not rinse or spit, just swallow. You may only gently rinse later the evening, with lukewarm salt water.
Avoid eating or drinking anything warm while you are numb as you may burn or traumatize your tissues while you have no sensation. Eat on the other side, as to minimize any food going into the socket. Do not play in or around the area with your fingers or tongue as this may cause infection.
Do not smoke for at least two days after an extraction- smoking minimizes blood flow to the area and compromises healing.
You may take pain medication to ease the discomfort post extraction.
What do I do if I have a swelling?
Visit your dentist as soon as possible to assess the reason for your swelling. Most times the swelling is accompanied by toothache, this is usually an indication of infection which requires antibiotic therapy.
DO NOT apply home remedies (garlic/ginger paste) or Aspirin to the area or inside the tooth- this causes trauma to your gums and soft tissues and thins your blood, causing bleeding during/after dental treatment. Alternatively, do salt water rinses and use Paracetamol or Ibuprofen based medication to help ease the pain & inflammation until you are able to visit the dentist.
Why won’t the dentist extract my tooth when I have an abscess or my face is swollen?
An abscess or swollen face is indicative of infection. When infection is present, the local anaesthetic is not as effective as it should be. This complicates treatment as we may not achieve total anaesthesia (you may not be as numb as we would like) and therefore may experience pain while having your tooth extracted - which is undesired.
Why does my mouth have a foul smell/taste?
There are various possibilities or contributing factors. It may as a result of decay and inhabiting bacteria in or around the cavity of the tooth. It could be infection and the fluid which drains from the abscess. You may have gingivitis/”bleeding gums” and that may be the taste of stagnant blood.
Book a consultation so that the source may be identified and treated.
What can I do about my sensitive teeth?
The starting point is often a consultation. This way the cause can be determined. There are various products which help address and ease this common complaint. Often your tooth-brushing technique needs to be adjusted. Regular professional fluoride applications help maintain and keep symptoms at bay. If there are areas of dentine/root exposure, protective sealants can be applied and thereby protect the exposed structure and eliminate sensitivity.
There are various toothpastes available which specifically address sensitivity and these can be used as part of your maintenance regimen.
What causes staining on my teeth?
Staining may be intrinsic (within the tooth structure) or extrinsic (on the surface).
Intrinsic/structural staining is most commonly caused by 2 things:
- Medication (usually antibiotics) consumed during tooth development or,
- Too much fluoride in the drinking water.
This type of stain cannot be removed and requires specialized treatment (veneers/crowns) to mask the stain.
Extrinsic staining is either caused by excessive intake of foods/drinks containing pigmentation such as curry, red wine, coffee/tea etc. or due to nicotine/cigarette smoking.