Your Questions

Our Derby Dentist Answers Your Questions:

Why do I need a check up?

A dental examination shows how healthy your mouth is. After your examination, we will discuss the results with you and plan the best way to deal with any problems.

Regular, thorough examinations mean that we can spot problems and correct them before the treatment becomes complicated, helping you to look after your mouth and prevent future problems.

Your examination may take longer if you are visiting our practice for the first time.

What happens in a check up?

We will:

  • Look at your face and neck to see that they are healthy.
  • Feel under your jaw.
  • Look inside your mouth, at your tongue, your cheeks and lips, the roof of your mouth and the back of your throat. These are places where there might be a problem that you cannot see or feel.
  • Look at your teeth and gums to see whether they are healthy and if there are signs of decay, damage or gum disease. For children, we will also check tooth and jaw development to see if orthodontic treatment may be required now or in the future.
  • Compare your mouth to how it was when we last saw you.
  • Decide if X-rays or plaster models of your bite pattern are needed to supply further information.
  • Tell you about any treatment you may need, explaining the choices and whether there will be any cost.

What questions will you ask?

As well as looking in your mouth, we may ask you some questions, the exact questions depending on what the dentist sees. These may include the following:

  • Why have you come for an examination?
  • Have you had any problems such as pain or sensitivity?
  • How good is your general health and are you taking any medicines? - These can both affect your dental care.
  • What are your eating habits? - Sugary snacks and drinks can cause tooth decay, but a balanced diet is good for your general health and resistance to disease.
  • How do you clean your teeth? - Correct cleaning helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Do you smoke and how much alcohol do you drink? - Both can harm your mouth as well as your general health.
  • Have you ever had any headaches, clenching or grinding habits.

What is plaque?

Plaque is mostly made up of bacteria and is the soft, sticky substance that builds up on your teeth.

There are bacteria in plaque which feed on sugar from food and drink and produce acids as a waste product.

These acids attack your teeth and dissolve the minerals in their surface which can result in tooth decay. If plaque is allowed to build up, bacteria can cause gum disease and make your gums sore and infected.

Tartar (also known as 'calculus'), is mummified plaque which cannot be removed by just brushing your teeth. We will remove this using a special procedure called scaling.

What is Scaling and Polishing?

Scaling cleans above and below the gum line. If you have gum disease, you may also need periodic treatment which involves extensive oral hygiene and full mouth disinfection.

We may use one of two types of instrument for scaling. Hand scalers come in different sizes and shapes and are designed to reach different parts of your teeth. Alternatively we may use with sonic scalers, the tip of which vibrates very fast in a stream of water. The water is removed from your mouth using a small suction device. There are also pain free scaling routes such as Oroquix.

We will also polish your teeth to remove stains from coffee, tea, cigarettes or red wine. This process makes it more difficult for plaque to stick to your teeth.

Scale and polish treatments take less time if you clean your teeth very thoroughly at home. During oral hygiene instruction session we will advise you on the best way to clean your teeth and gums thoroughly at home.

Regular scaling and polishing helps to keep your teeth and gums healthy by making it easier for you to keep your teeth clean at home. You should see and feel the difference.

If your gums bleed when you brush, you may have early gum disease. Regular oral hygiene helps to stop the disease getting worse; and it helps you to eliminate the disease by thorough cleaning at home. Bad breath is often caused by gum disease and regular scaling, and cleaning your teeth thoroughly at home, can prevent this.

Why do I need a filling?

Fillings rebuild and replace parts of teeth which have been lost because of decay or through accidental damage.

If decay is left unchecked, it can spread into tooth, causing pain and infection. This can mean teeth have to be root filled or even taken out. A filling can end toothache or prevent toothache developing.

Should I have white or silver fillings?

We will discuss the alternatives with you so you can make an informed decision about the type of filling to have.

Silver fillings are very strong and are ideal for back teeth, where there is heavy wear from chewing. They are made of amalgam, which is a mixture of mercury and other metals, such as silver, tin and copper.

White fillings are a more cosmetically acceptable way of replacing part of a tooth that has been lost because of decay or through accidental damage. They come in a range of shades and can be matched to the colour of your own teeth and are less noticeable than silver fillings.

Unlike silver (amalgam) fillings, white filling material sticks to teeth. This means it can be used to repair front teeth that are chipped, broken, decayed or worn. It can also be used as a 'veneer' to cover any marks or discolouration that cleaning cannot remove.

How can I whiten my teeth at home?

Our home tooth whitening kits provide you with a whitening jelly to use at home in a tray which fits closely around your teeth. You put the tray in your mouth for a few hours (usually overnight) on several occasions, typically over a period of weeks.

What is internal whitening?

Internal whitening is used when the 'nerve' of a tooth has 'died', through damage or disease and the tooth's root has been filled. We treat the inside the tooth with a whitening agent that stays in the tooth for approximately a week under a temporary dressing. We then clean it out and put in a white filling.

Are there any side effects of tooth whitening?

It is perfectly normal for your teeth to be sensitive to hot and cold food and drink for a few days after treatment.

Why do you use fissure sealant?

Back teeth are harder to clean and are more prone to decay. When considering fissure sealant, we will discuss with you the shape of each tooth, how much your child's teeth have already decayed and your child's general health.

What is fissure sealant?

Fissures can be sealed with tough protective plastic, which is runny at first but then sets hard. These sealants may be see-through or tooth-coloured.

How long does fissure sealant last?

They protect teeth from decay and can last for years. However, if they do fall out or wear out, they can normally be replaced if there is no decay underneath.

How do you apply the sealant?

When applying a fissure sealant, we will clean the tooth thoroughly with a rotating brush or rubber polisher, dry the tooth and keep it dry by putting cotton wool round it and using suction.

We then dab a mild acid on the tooth and leave it for a short time to make its surface rough (this will not hurt at all).

We then wash and dry the tooth by blowing water and then air onto it and then paint the plastic onto the fissures. The plastic is now hardened by pointing a bright light at it.

We make final checks to ensure that the tooth is comfortable to bite on and then the sealant is trimmed if necessary.

What does it feel like to wear dentures?

Dentures will never feel like your own teeth and it can take time to get used to them. If you have not had dentures before we will explain the difficulties and benefits of wearing them and tell you how to look after your new dentures and your remaining teeth.

What are dentures made of?

Complete dentures are best made of acrylic. Partial dentures are sometimes of acrylic, but can also consist of acrylic teeth on a cobalt chromium base.

How do you make my dentures?

When you visit us we will use a putty-like material to make moulds of your mouth. These and possibly a second set of moulds are used to make models for the denture to be built on.

For the next visit we make wax blocks which fit the models and these are put into your mouth to record the position of your jaws in relation to each other. We trim and seal the wax blocks to show how your teeth should bite together, and show the shape your dentures need to be made in.

On the third visit we make you a trial denture and consult with you on how it fits, feels and looks before we make any final changes.

Finally the permanent denture is then ready to use.

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Cosmetic dentistry refers to a range of dental techniques that can be used individually or or together to repair broken, stained or chipped teeth.

Find out more about cosmetic dentistry


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