Frequently Asked Questions...

Your common questions answered...

How do I look after my teeth and gums?

Preventive dentistry is the modern way of helping you keep a healthy mouth. It helps you to keep your teeth and means you need to have less dental treatment. The two main causes of tooth loss are decay and gum disease. The better we prevent or deal with these two problems, the more chance people have of keeping their teeth for life.

When the dentist, hygienist and patient work together, this can help to prevent the need for treatment and avoid the traditional pattern of fillings and extractions. Our dental team may recommend a course of treatment to get your mouth into good condition, and then work out a ‘maintenance plan’ to help you keep it that way.

The best way to look after your teeth is to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, control sugars in your diet and limit them to mealtimes and to see your dentist and hygienist regularly.

What can I do at home?

There are many things you can do to look after your teeth and gums when you’re away from Steyndent Dental Practice.

Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. It is important to spit but not rinse your mouth after brushing. Rinsing with water will remove all the toothpaste you have just put on your teeth.

Using a mouthwash any part of the day except when you are brushing. Doing it straight after brushing means the toothpaste you have just put on your teeth is now down the sink.

Limit sugars to meal times and reduce the amount of snacking. If you have a snack then it’s important to have fruit and vegetables in your diet, not only for your teeth and gums but for your general health.

Having a lot of acid in your diet from fruit juices, squash or fizzy drinks can wear away the enamel of your teeth. It is important to limit acidic foods and drinks and never brush straight after! You should wait 30 minutes before brushing as this can spread the acid everywhere. Try and have it in one go rather than sipping it throughout the day and use a straw.

Using an electric toothbrush is clinically proven to remove more plaque than a manual toothbrush. Some of the modern toothbrushes have sensors to prevent you from brushing hard. Ask at reception for our latest offers on electric toothbrushes.

What are Veneers?

A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain made to fit over the front surface of a tooth, like a false fingernail fits over a nail. Sometimes a natural colour ‘composite’ material is used instead of porcelain.

Veneers can improve the colour, shape and position of your teeth. A precise shade of porcelain can be chosen to give the right colour to improve a single discoloured tooth or to lighten the front teeth. A veneer can make a chipped tooth look intact again. The porcelain covers the whole of the front of the tooth with a thicker section replacing the broken part. Veneers can also be used to close small gaps, when orthodontics (braces) are not suitable. If one tooth is slightly out of position, a veneer can sometimes be fitted to bring it into line with the others.

Veneers should last for many years; but they can chip or break, just as your own teeth can. Your dentist will tell you how long each individual veneer should last. Small chips can be repaired, or a new veneer fitted if necessary.

Common alternatives today are to have brace treatment like Fastbraces or Six Months Smile to move your teeth into the correct position and then have tooth whitening done to give you a brighter smile.

What are Dental Implants?

A dental implant is used to support one or more false teeth. It is a titanium screw that can replace the root of a tooth when it fails. Just like a tooth root, it is placed into the jawbone.

Implants are a safe, well-established, tried-and-tested treatment. It’s probably true to say that implants, much like natural teeth, will last for as long as you care for them.

How well you look after your implants – and whether you go for your regular maintenance appointments – will have the biggest impact on how long they will last. It is important to maintain hygiene at home and to see a hygienist regularly.

If you don’t look after your implants they will develop a coating similar to that found on neglected natural teeth. Left untreated, this can lead to gum infection, bleeding, soreness and general discomfort. You could get all these problems with natural teeth.

If your implants are well looked after, and if the bone they are fitted to is strong and healthy, you can expect them to last for many years. However, just as with other surgical implants (such as a hip replacement) there is no lifetime guarantee.

You can have any number of teeth replaced with implants – from one single tooth to a complete set. They can even be used to hold your dentures in place, and would only need removing for cleaning.

What are Dentures?

This is a plate with a number of false teeth on it. It may be all plastic or a mixture of metal and plastic. Both types may have clips (clasps), to help keep the denture in place in the mouth. Depending on where they are, some of these clips may show when you smile or open your mouth.

Plastic partial dentures are less expensive to make. But unless they are designed very carefully they can damage the teeth they fit against.

You can also get flexible plastic dentures. These dentures do not need clasps as they are held in place by flexing against your natural teeth.

Metal partial dentures are usually from an alloy of cobalt and chromium and they are much stronger. They are lighter to wear and can be supported by the remaining teeth. Although the base is metal, they have gum-coloured plastic and natural-looking teeth fixed to them. They are more expensive than the plastic ones.

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontic treatment is a way of straightening or moving teeth, to improve the appearance of the teeth and how they work. It can also help to look after the long-term health of the teeth, gums and jaw joints, by spreading the biting pressure over all the teeth.

Many people have crowded or crooked teeth. Orthodontic treatment will straighten the teeth or move them into a better position. This can not only improve their appearance but also the way the teeth bite together, while also making them easier to clean.

In some patients, the upper front teeth can stick out and look unsightly. These ‘prominent’ teeth are more likely to be damaged, but orthodontic treatment can move them back into line. In others, the way the upper and lower jaws meet can cause teeth to look unsightly and lead to an incorrect bite. Orthodontic treatment may be able to correct both.

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

Dentistry is no longer just a case of filling and extracting teeth, as it was for many years. Nowadays many people turn to cosmetic dentistry, or ‘aesthetic dentistry’, as a way of improving their appearance, much as they would use cosmetic surgery or even a new hairstyle. The treatments can be used to straighten, lighten, reshape and repair teeth. Cosmetic treatments include veneers, crowns, bridges, tooth-coloured fillings, implants and tooth whitening.

What is a Bridge?

This is made by putting crowns on the teeth at either side of the space and then joining these two crowns together by placing a false tooth in the space. This is all made in the laboratory and then cemented into place with special adhesives. The bridge cannot be removed for cleaning. Another option is an adhesive or “Maryland” bridge. This has wings that are bonded to the back of the supporting teeth with very little drilling involved. Bridges are only possible if you have enough strong teeth with good bone support. Your dentist will help you decide which is the best way of replacing missing teeth.

What is a Crown?

A crown is an artificial restoration that fits over the remaining part of a prepared tooth, making it strong and giving it the shape of a natural tooth. A crown is sometimes known as a ‘cap’. Crowns can be made of a variety of different materials and new materials are being introduced all the time. Here are some of the most popular options: Porcelain bonded to precious or non-precious metal: this is what most crowns are made from. A precious or non-precious metal base is made and then porcelain is applied in layers over it.

Porcelain bonded crowns: these crowns are made of a metal base with porcelain cover on top making it look like a tooth.

All-ceramic crowns: Emax is a modern material and is metal free giving an excellent aesthetic look. This makes it suitable for use in all areas of the mouth.

Gold alloy crowns: gold is one of the oldest filling materials. Today it is used with other metals to increase its strength, which makes it a very hard-wearing restoration. These crowns are silver or gold in colour.

What if I had a tooth removed and the bleeding won’t stop?

After a tooth extraction, it is important that you don’t rinse your mouth out as this can encourage bleeding. You should have a soft diet and relax for that day.

If you notice it bleeding, use one of the packs we provided or a handkerchief and bite down firmly for 15-20 minutes. The bleeding should stop normally. If you take aspirin or warfarin you will tend to bleed for longer.

If after this the bleeding has still not stopped, contact the surgery on 01403 251 015. If we are closed you will have a message where you can see a covering dentist in an emergency.

What happens if I have discomfort after a tooth is removed?

When a tooth is removed, just like any other surgery you may have bleeding, bruising, swelling or discomfort. It is important to follow the instructions that the dentist and nurse provide.

Take painkillers if you have discomfort and it will settle down by itself. If you find after 48 hours the pain is getting worse you may have a dry socket, which is an infection of the hole where the tooth came out from. Please contact the surgery for this so we can help and advise you on the appropriate care.