Put a smile on your face.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section we provide answers to many of our patients' most frequently asked questions. If you cannot find an answer to your questions here please contact us and we will be happy to help.
Some of the information provided below has been obtained from the Australian Dental Association
A bridge is an appliance permanently fixed in the mouth to replace missing teeth. It uses remaining teeth to support the new artificial tooth or teeth.
A conventional fixed bridge consists of crowns that are fixed to the teeth on either side of the missing teeth and false teeth are rigidly attached to these crowns.
An enamel bonded bridge uses a metal or porcelain framework., to which the artificial teeth are attached, then resin bonded to supporting teeth.
- With very high peroxide gel concentrations, the dentist may very carefully apply the gel and use some heat from a light source (sometimes a laser is used) to whiten the teeth in a short time. This technique is not common and is usually expensive.
- Plastic trays are custom-made by your dentist using models of your teeth, and then you administer the treatment yourself using safe-strength gels at home.
There are many excellent ways to whiten the teeth and all have advantages and disadvantages. Since each case is different there is no one best way.
When staining is present on the surface, a DB Dental dentist can professionally clean the teeth, often producing a fresher, whiter appearance.
On the other hand, when staining is actually in the tooth, below the surface, there are a number of ways to whiten the teeth. Sometimes simply replacing old, worn out fillings that are failing at the edges can produce better looking front teeth. Alternatively, when the enamel is heavily stained, crowns or facings may be the best option. DB Dental dentists have access to continuing education in the latest dental techniques and they can give advice as to the best choices for you.
Home bleaching involves wearing very thin, transparent plastic trays molded to your teeth, which are used to hold a bleaching agent in contact with the tooth surface. They are normally worn for approximately ten days.
The active agent in the bleach is usually carbamide peroxide. This is a chemical that quickly breaks down to hydrogen peroxide, which is the chemical that lightens the teeth.
This may vary depending upon the circumstances, however teeth can still become dirty and they will continue to age in a normal way with the passage of time. You should keep the trays and obtain new bleach stocks from your DB Dental dentist to repeat the whitening periodically (usually once a year). The trays will continue to fit your mouth for many years in most cases.
Whitening toothpastes are really aimed at whitening stains that are on the surface of the teeth, not whitening into the tooth surface. Whitening toothpaste needs to be in contact with the teeth for many minutes to have the slightest effect. The active ingredients of bleaching toothpastes are present in much lower concentrations than those in home bleaching kits, and they tend to be quickly washed off the tooth surface by saliva. Many people choose whitening toothpastes because they may get some whitening as well as the benefits of fluoride in the paste.
The crack will expose the inside of the tooth (the 'dentine') that has very small fluid filled tubes that lead to the nerve ('pulp'). Flexing of the tooth opens the crack and causes movement of the fluid within the tubes. When you let the biting pressure off the crack closes and the fluid pressure simulates the nerve and causes pain.
Most fractures cannot be avoided because they happen when you least expect them. However, you can reduce the risk of breaking teeth by:
- Trying to eliminate clenching habits during waking hours,
- Avoiding chewing hard objects (eg bones, pencils, ice),
- Avoiding chewing hard foods such as pork crackling and hard-grain bread
If you think you grind your teeth at night, ask your dentist if a nightguard or a splint will be of use to you. It is very important to preserve the strength of your teeth so they are not as susceptible to fracture.
Try to prevent dental decay and have it treated early. Heavily decayed and therefore heavily filled teeth are weaker than teeth that have never been filled.
Individuals who have problems with tooth wear or "cracked tooth syndrome" should consider wearing a nightguard while sleeping. This will absorb most of the grinding forces.
Relaxation exercises may be beneficial.
It depends on the direction and severity of the crack. If the crack is small enough, it may be removed by replacing the filling. Bonded white fillings and bonded amalgam fillings will hold the tooth together making it less likely to crack.
Sometimes the cracked part of the tooth fractures off during the removal of the filling and this can be replaced with a new filling.
Your dentist may first place an orthodontic band around the tooth to keep it together. If the pain settles, the band is replaced with a filling that covers the fractured portion of tooth (or the whole biting surface). Other options include the placement of gold or porcelain fillings or even a crown.
If the crack goes too far vertically, there is a possibility the tooth may need to be removed and replaced with an artificial one. (See bridgework, denture, and implant)
The nerve may sometimes be affected so badly that it dies. Root canal treatment will be required if the tooth is to be saved.
Unlike fractures elsewhere in the body, this crack will never heal. There is a small chance that the crack will get worse even with a crown placed. This may lead to the need for root canal treatment, or even removal of the tooth. However, many cracks can be fixed without root canal or tooth removal.
Front teeth usually break due to a knock, an accident or during biting.
Back teeth can also be fractured from a knock. They are much more likely than front teeth, to crack from forces applied by the jaws slamming together rapidly. This is why sportspeople wear mouthguards to cushion the blow.
Other forces occur during sleep because people grind their teeth with a much greater force than they would ever do while awake. The first sign of problems may be what we call "cracked tooth syndrome" – a sore or sensitive tooth somewhere in the mouth that is often hard for even the dentist to find. In some individuals the grinding, called bruxism, causes tooth wear rather than fracture.
Dental crowns (also sometimes referred to as ‘dental caps’ or ‘tooth caps’) cover over and encase the tooth on which they are cemented. Dentists use crowns when rebuilding broken or decayed teeth, as a way to strengthen teeth and and as method to improve the cosmetic appearance of a tooth. Crowns are made in a dental laboratory by a dental technician who uses moulds of your teeth made by your dentist.
The type of crown your dentist recommends will depend on the tooth involved and sometimes on your preference. They include porcelain crowns, porcelain-bonded-to-metal crowns, which combine the appearance of tooth coloured material with the strength of metal, gold alloy crowns and acrylic crowns.
A crown is more complicated than a filling. Laboratory fees are incurred in its preparation and the materials used are more expensive than normal filling materials.
Two or three visits are usually required for the dentist to reduce the size of the existing tooth, make a mould, fit a temporary crown and finally adhere the permanent crown in place.
Very persistent toothache is always a sign that you need to see a dentist as soon as practicable. In the meantime, you should try to obtain relief by rinsing the mouth with water and trying to clean out debris from any obvious cavities. Use dental floss to remove any food that might be trapped within the cavity (especially between the teeth). If swelling is present, place a cold compress to the outside of the cheek (DO NOT HEAT). Take pain relief if necessary, using pain medicines that you know you are safe with. Remember, no pain relief tablets will work directly on the tooth. They must be swallowed as directed. If placed on the tooth, they can cause more trouble (especially aspirin).
Braces or retainers:
If a wire is causing irritation, cover the end of the wire with a small cotton ball or a piece of gauze or soft wax. If a wire is embedded in the cheek, tongue or gum tissue, DO NOT attempt to remove it: Let the dentist do it. If there is a loose or broken appliance, GO TO THE ORTHODONTIST OR DENTIST.
Knocked out tooth:
If dirty, rinse tooth in milk holding it by the crown (not roots). If not available use water (few seconds only) or have patient suck it clean, then put the tooth back in the socket. If the tooth cannot be replanted, wrap in Glad Wrap or place it in milk or in the patient's mouth inside the cheek. Go to a dentist within 30 minutes if you can. Time is critical for successful replanting.
Try to clean debris from the injured area with warm water. If caused by a blow, place a cold compress on the face next to the injured tooth to minimize swelling. Try to find all the bits that are missing and bring them to the dentist, keeping them moist. Some broken bits can be bonded back onto the teeth almost invisibly. Go to the dentist as soon as practicable.
Bitten tongue or lip:
Apply direct pressure to bleeding area with a clean cloth. If swelling is present, apply cold compress. If bleeding doesn't stop readily or the bite is severe, go to the dentist or hospital.
Objects wedged between teeth:
Try to remove the object with dental floss. Guide the floss in carefully so as not to cut the gums. If unsuccessful, go to a dentist.
The best way to overcome your fear is to discuss your concerns with your dentist.
Experiences as a child may become distorted by time and reinforced by outdated media presentation of stereotypes. Much has changed, thanks to technology and education, and dentists are skilled professionals in dealing with patients who are apprehensive about seeking treatment.
This will obviously be a team approach between you and your dentist and his/her staff. Communication is the key. You must feel comfortable expressing your fears and concerns and have a sense that you are being listened to.
There are various forms of anaesthesia and relaxation that can be used effectively to change your negative thoughts into a positive experience.
A patient's dental records and x-rays are the property of the dentist.
They are a professional's working notes used in the planning and performing of treatment.
You may seek access to the information held about you and the dentist will provide this access without undue delay. This access might be by inspection of your dental records at the time of appointment or by special access or copying of information at other times.
There will be no charge made for requesting this information but there may be fees levied just to cover the costs associated with the processing of this request or the copying of information.
Under the some state regulations, the owner of the x-ray equipment is required to provide a copy of an x-ray on receipt of a written request from the patient, but at the expense of the patient.
If you are changing dentists, you could give written permission for your new dentist to seek a copy of a record of your treatment from your previous dentist, or request your current dentist to forward them on to your new dentist.
It is far better for all records to be forwarded directly from dentist to dentist to prevent the loss of these important records during your move. Some dentists provide a summary of relevant treatment which is usually all that is needed by the new dentist.
A denture is an appliance that replaces teeth. You remove it to clean it and it may be replacing all the teeth (full denture) or some of them (partial denture).
Removable dentures are those dentures (plates) the wearer can remove and replace at will. These types of dentures can replace one tooth, all your natural teeth, or any number of missing teeth in between. A crown or a bridge is fixed or cemented in place and cannot be removed.
Before any denture treatment is undertaken, it is recommended that you have a thorough dental check-up. If you are having full dentures, it will involve an examination of the mouth and an assessment of the health of the gums.
If you are having a partial denture, this check-up will include a full examination of your teeth, gums and other soft tissues of your mouth. At this check-up radiographs may be taken to ensure the teeth are healthy, and strong enough to help support a denture. Remember, the only oral practitioner who has the training and is legally able to undertake such a thorough check-up is your local dentist.
You then have impressions, bite records, trial wax insertions and then the final insertion and instructions.
Some removable dentures are made to be inserted immediately after the removal of a tooth or some teeth. These types of removable dentures are commonly termed ‘immediate dentures’. They can be constructed to replace only one tooth or many teeth. Your local dentist can undertake all the required stages involved in immediate dentures. This will mean that one person will oversee the whole treatment, assuring you of the highest possible standards.
If you currently wear removable dentures of any kind, it is advisable that you have these checked regularly. It is recommended if you have any remaining natural teeth you should have these and your dentures reviewed every six months or as directed by your dentist. If you have no natural teeth and wear removable full dentures, your dentures should be reviewed at least every two years.
The rapid shrinkage of bone following extractions means the denture will soon need to have the fitting surface relined once that shrinkage has slowed down enough. After a reline, patients report a much better fit. This relining maybe done between three and six months after an immediate denture has been fitted. Your dentist will advise you when an immediate denture is ready to be relined.
Relining involves an additional fee, but this is going to be cheaper than a new set of dentures and it is often very much appreciated.
All dentures lose their fit through natural changes in your mouth. Chewing gum, biting your nails or grinding your teeth can accelerate this. You should see your dentist yearly for a denture check, when refitting or relining may be necessary. For example, many patients report that their full dentures are loose after a period of rapid weight loss.
There is no such thing as a 'recommended fee' for any dental treatment. A dentist charges what he or she thinks is appropriate for the service they provide, taking into account all their costs and the particular circumstances of each treatment. The suggestion that some dentists depart from an 'approved' or ‘recommended’ level of fees, thereby creating 'gaps' between the fee and the Health Fund rebates is both false and misleading. In fact, it is against Trade Practices law for dentists to collude in the maintenance of any set fee scale.
Health Funds set their rebates at a level that suits their commercial needs. Those rebates are not related to any recognised fee scale. The responsibility of adequately adjusting rebates lies with the Health Funds.
A filling is a material (amalgam, GIC, porcelain, metal) that is used to restore functional and lasting structure to a toothe that has been disfigured by, for example decay or accidental breakage.
Most teeth with small to moderate decay or fractures are easily restored to function with fillings. Where decay is extensive or fractures are large, more complex treatment may be required. Some teeth can be so badly broken down or fractured that they are unable to be saved.
Tooth preparation, prior to filling placement, is usually done under local anaesthesia (making the tooth numb). Once all the decay is removed and the tooth is washed and dried, the filling is packed into the cavity and it sets.
After the filling is placed, it is shaped to match the original tooth contour and the bite is checked.
You may not know if you need fillings in your teeth. Many small to medium holes in teeth are asymptomatic, giving no pain. In fact, decay can sometimes eat out two-thirds of the tooth from the inside and you would have no idea it is happening.
Dental radiographs (X-rays), which are taken on a regular basis as part of your check-up, may show early decay that has not yet given any symptoms. You may be able to see a change in the colour on some of your teeth which may indicate early decay.
If your teeth are sensitive to hot, cold, or sweet food and drink, you may need fillings. All persistently sensitive teeth should be checked by your dentist. Toothache that lasts for more than a few minutes at a time should be investigated by your dentist. Teeth that cause severe pain may require fillings, or in some cases will require more extensive treatment such as root canal treatment.
The position, shape, material, and functioning pressure, all influence how long dental fillings will last. Larger fillings that bear a heavy functional load tend to break down more quickly than smaller fillings that bear little force. This is why it is impossible and meaningless to try to state categorically how long fillings should last.
However, when placing a filling, the dentist may have an idea of the expectation of the life of the filling. For example, a very small filling in the groove of a tooth away from biting pressure could be there for decades whereas a very large one in the mouth of a person who grinds their teeth may be lucky to last a few years and really should have a crown.
In a checkup, your dentist is constantly monitoring the state of your fillings, looking for signs of weakness, cracking, decay or discolouration.
With proper attention to diet, oral self-care, regular dental check-ups, and the correct use of mouthguards to prevent injury, the need for fillings can be eliminated, and the frequency of filling re-placement can be extended.
Yes, baby teeth should be filled to prevent toothaches, to maintain the baby teeth for eating, and to hold the right amount of space for the adult teeth. If the baby teeth are going to be exfoliated (fall out) soon, then it is not always necessary to fill the teeth. This should be discussed with your dentist.
Dental amalgams (silver fillings) are made from a silver/tin/copper alloy that is mixed with mercury. The alloy is in powder form prior to mixing with the mercury, which is liquid at room temperature.
Dental composite (tooth coloured fillings) consist of a resin matrix with filler particles. The resin is the liquid component that hardens with time by chemical reaction. The filler particles are made from solid substances such as glass or pieces of set resin.
There are no other cost-effective preventive schemes that benefit the total community like water fluoridation. Health conscious parents and individuals outside fluoridated areas can use personal fluoride supplements such as tablets and drops. But they do not work as well as fluoride in drinking water, are more expensive, require continuous motivation and compliance, and only reach a small part of the population. There is also the danger of accidental overdose with any tablets or drops.
Dental fluorosis is seen as small white flecks in the surface enamel of teeth. In minor cases it is usually not visible to patients but in more advanced cases it appears as large white patches or occasional pits in the tooth surface. After some years, stains may penetrate the white patches and they can appear brown.
Receiving excess doses of fluoride during the formation of teeth causes fluorosis. This can occur by eating or swallowing excessive amounts of toothpaste or exceeding the dose when taking fluoride tablets. It can also occur where there is excess fluoride in natural water supplies or a combination of all three. In extreme or severe cases of fluorosis the teeth are unsightly and may need treatment to improve their appearance.
Water fluoridation alone does not cause fluorosis but it can happen in combination with other sources of fluoride.
Some filters do and it is important to check with the manufacturer or supplier.
Filters That Remove Fluoride:
- Ion Exchange Filters
- Reverse Acinous Filters and Distillers
Filters That Don't:
- Carbon Filters
- Ceramic Filters
Given at optimal levels, fluoride can strengthen teeth and help prevent tooth decay. The correct amount of fluoride to give your child depends upon his or her age and whether or not the local water contains fluoride. Your DB Dental dentist is the best person to advise you on the amount of fluoride needed to meet your child’s needs.
Regardless of the presence or absence of water fluoridation, or the taking of fluoride supplements, everyone should be encouraged to brush their natural teeth with fluoride toothpaste.
Fluoride toothpaste tubes should carry advice that for children under the age of six years, brushing should be supervised, and only a "pea" sized smear of toothpaste should be placed on the brush. Thorough rinsing is recommended and children should be instructed not to swallow the toothpaste.
WHAT IS WATER FLUORIDATION?
All water supplies have some natural fluoride in them and the water fluoridation process just involves adding or removing fluoride to the level that protects dental health. It does not involve adding anything to the water that is not already there. There is no chemical difference between fluoride present naturally and that which is added to the water supply.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF WATER FLUORIDATION?
Drinking fluoridated water increases the resistance of teeth to decay, resulting in fewer cavities. This means fewer fillings, fewer extractions, fewer visits to the dentist and lower dental bills - resulting in better smiles, fewer dentures and less pain and suffering. Fluoridation will help to reduce the number of school or working hours or days that are lost due to dental problems or visits to the dentist.
Fluoridation will also help in the prevention of aesthetic problems associated with decay, especially in the front teeth, problems with discomfort and problems with self-esteem. Fluoridation also indirectly reduces orthodontic problems.
This benefit applies to all teeth (baby and adult) and to all age groups in our community. All teeth, at all ages, benefit as the fluoridated water has a continuous topical action.
Despite the availability of other sources of fluoride (tablets, drops, toothpaste, professional applications), water fluoridation is still shown to be the most appropriate means of reducing tooth decay in the twenty first century. The magnitude of the fluoridation benefits has decreased in recent decades, but they are still in the range of a 20-40% reduction in tooth decay in fluoridated areas.
There is ample evidence that if water fluoridation ceases, the rate of tooth decay increases despite the use of fluoride toothpaste and supplements. The decay rate decreases again when fluoridation is re-introduced.
A community that fluoridates its water today will have teeth with approximately half as many cavities in 10 years’ time.
IS WATER FLUORIDATION 'MASS MEDICATION’?
No. Fluoridation is not mass medication any more than other disease prevention health measures. It is not a 'foreign chemical' in a water supply, but a naturally occurring element that reduces dental disease. Along with pasteurisation, water purification, and immunization, fluoridation is considered one of the four most important and successful public health measures of the twentieth century.
ARE THERE ANY GENERAL HEALTH SIDE EFFECTS?
No. Drinking optimally fluoridated water is not harmful to human health.
Many cities throughout the world have large amounts of natural fluoride in their water supply without water fluoridation. Artificial water fluoridation was introduced over 50 years ago, providing many opportunities to study fluoridation's side effects. The only effects of water fluoridation that have been scientifically proven are those that benefit teeth.
Numerous studies have shown that consumption of fluoride in community water supplies at the level recommended for optimal dental health has no harmful effect in humans. For generations, millions of people have lived in areas where fluoride is found naturally in the drinking water in concentrations as high as or higher than those recommended to prevent tooth decay. Research conducted among these groups confirms the safety of fluoride in the water supply.
Fluoride's safety has been monitored for the past fifty years through over 30,000 studies, and no evidence has ever been found that water fluoridation causes any health side effects.
WHO SUPPORTS FLUORIDATION?
Water fluoridation is supported by the World Health Organisation (World Health Assembly, 1978), the Australian Dental Association, the Australian Medical Association and the National Health Medical and Research Council.
75% of Australia is currently fluoridated. In 1995, enabling legislation was passed in California for water fluoridation, so virtually all major cities in the United States of America are fluoridated.
Fluoride is the ion that comes from the naturally occurring element, fluorine.
Fluoride reduces the number of cavities an individual will develop in their life by about half. This is because it makes the enamel of the tooth more resistant to the acid attacks of plaque bacteria. Resistance occurs initially when the fluoride is incorporated into the teeth during their formation and secondly, as fluoridated water washes over the surface of the erupted teeth.
"Gum disease" describes a range of conditions that affect the supporting tissues for the teeth. The supporting tissues comprise both the surface tissues that can be seen in the mouth and also the deeper tissues of the bone, root surface and the ligament that connects the teeth to the bone.
The cause of gum disease are multifactorial, suffice to say that in the great majority of cases, the disease is entirely preventable if precise steps are taken to control the formation of plaque, and the invasion of bacteria.
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria. Bacteria form a ‘plaque’ which is a sticky, colourless film that forms on your teeth, particularly around the gum line. Other bacteria thrive deep in the gap between the gum and the tooth (the ‘pocket’). Some people are much more at risk of developing periodontal disease — smoking is one of the major risk factors. Other conditions such as diabetes, stress, pregnancy and various medications can all be contributing factors.
Infection affecting the surface tissues is called Gingivitis. This may progress to affect the deeper supporting tissues and is called Periodontitis (previously called pyorrhea). The effects of gingivitis are largely reversible with appropriate care. Once this has progressed to periodontitis there is permanent damage to the ligament and bone that supports and holds the teeth. Often a space develops between the gum and the tooth called a pocket. The pocket forms a protected environment for more bacteria and the condition progresses. If left untreated periodontitis may cause abscesses and tooth loss.
Yes. In the vast majority of cases the progression of gum disease can be arrested with appropriate care. Management of gum disease becomes more difficult and less predictable the more advanced the disease. Therefore, the sooner periodontitis is diagnosed and treated the better. Regular dental examinations are important to check for the presence of gum disease.
The cause of gum disease is bacteria. To manage it, the bacteria must be reduced to a level the body's defense mechanisms can handle. Treatment classically involves:
- Achieving the best possible home care
- Professional cleaning of the teeth above and below the gum line (into the pockets) to remove the plaque and hard deposits (calculus / tartar), and
- Regular reviews
- Trying to remove risk factors such as smoking.
Gum disease causes permanent damage to the supporting tissues; therefore the aim of treatment is to stop the progression of the disease through controlling the bacteria. This is an ongoing, lifelong activity.
Your DB Dental Dentist is trained in managing periodontal problems. They may also use a hygienist to assist in your care. You may be referred to a Periodontist if your dentist considers your condition needs more advanced care. A specialist periodontist has gained additional qualifications and experience to satisfy the requirements of the State Dental Board and may therefore use the title "Periodontist".
No. Bleeding gums are common but not OK. In a healthy state gums do not bleed. Bleeding is often an indication that the gums are inflamed. The inflammation is generally a response to the bacteria on the surface of the teeth. The surface inflammation is Gingivitis. The bleeding may also arise from Periodontitis or traumatic cleaning. Bleeding gums are sometimes associated with serious medical conditions.
A dental practitioner should check bleeding gums.
Many people will have a small amount of periodontitis, which gradually increases with age. However approximately 15% of the population will have a significant degree of periodontitis. The destruction of the tooth's supporting tissues caused by periodontitis gets worse over time when left untreated, and is often seen more severely in the 45+ age group. However the different types of periodontitis may affect people of all ages.
The risk for periodontitis is increased with poor oral hygiene, smoking, diabetes, a family history of periodontitis and a range of medical conditions, in particular those affecting the immune system.
- Bleeding gums when you brush your teeth.
- Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth.
- Receding gums.
- Sensitive teeth or gums.
- Loose teeth or teeth that have moved.
Visit your DB Dental dentist, who will examine your gums as part of a normal dental check-up. X-rays are often needed to help diagnose periodontal problems.
Good dental hygiene is one of the most important factors in preventing gum disease. Your dentist will show you proper brushing and flossing techniques that will help ensure healthy teeth and gums.
You may need to be referred to a Periodontist who is a specialist in treating gum disease. Treatment involves careful, deep cleaning of the teeth to remove the cause of the problem. This can be done with local anaesthetic.
Health funds have assessors who determine the level of rebate for particular dental items. There is a balance between the rebate and the level of premium you pay, the type of cover and other factors such as waiting periods, annual limits and any promotional offers.
As a consumer, you choose the private health scheme that best suits your needs.
Most have fixed rebates for treatments irrespective of the actual fees charged. The rebates are generally not designed to provide full cover for dental fees or even a consistent percentage.
In addition, most schemes do not include all treatment items. Some common treatments have no rebate at all.
1. Your contract with the health fund is between you and the fund. It remains separate from the contract you have with your dentist.
2. There is no such thing as a ‘recognised fee’ or ‘schedule fee’ in dentistry and the ADA states categorically that any organisation that implies that their rebates are set to a percentage of a ‘schedule fee’ is misleading the public, regardless of whether it is an ‘internal’ schedule.
The HBF Participating provider scheme provides greater opportunities for HBF members to access dental care with lower out of pocket expenses. As well as encouraging good dental health, through being able to access one fully covered scale and clean every year, the scheme allows your annual limits where they apply, to stretch further.
HBF doesn’t dictate which dentist you go to or limit your choice, they simply have a better deal for you if you choose to use a participating provider like DB Dental.
Everyone has the right to better health
Choosing private health insurance can be confusing, from trying to decide whether you need hospital cover, extras cover or both, to which cover suits you best. So Medibank have kept things as simple as possible - from the covers they offer to the way they explain things.
Their range of hospital and extras covers make it easy to choose what’s right for you. With the flexibility to mix and match, you can choose the combination that best suits your needs, lifestyle and budget. Plus you’ll also have certainty about what you’re covered for and how much you get back on extras.
With Medibank you also get more control over who treats you, where you’re treated and above all, how soon. You'll also have access to greater value through their Members' Choice network, which is one of Australia’s largest networks of hospital and health providers.
At Medibank, they are about more than just health insurance – they provide healthcare services too. In fact, Medibank employs over 1,500 health professionals who provide services to businesses and government, Australia wide. That’s why they can offer their members a new range of health support services. Their hospital covers now include Mi Health. Mi Health gives you access to personal support during your hospital stay and Medibank nurses 24/7 to answer any health questions. You'll also have access to an online health resource to help you make healthier decisions and mobile health apps to manage your health when you’re on the go.
It's Medibank's commitment to making health cover better for their members.
A dental implant can be thought of as an artificial tooth root that is submerged into the jawbone. When dental work such as a crown, fixed bridge or a full set of dentures is added, one or more missing teeth can be replaced. A dental implant is fabricated from a very strong, biocompatible material placed in a simple procedure that, generally, is as convenient as a tooth extraction. After an initial healing period, during which the implant is buried in bone and left undisturbed under gum tissue, it is uncovered and connected to a small metal post that secures and supports the artificial tooth.
The implant material is extremely biocompatible. The bone grows to the implant and bonds to it. This makes the implant very strong. The process is called 'osseointegration'.
It depends on the type of bone, and where the implant is placed into your jaw. It can range from a few months to over 9 months. Generally, implants in the front lower jaw need around 4 months; the back upper jaw needs around 9 months and elsewhere in the mouth around 6 months. These times may need to be lengthened if bone needs to be grown or grafting has taken place.
Some people may not be suitable for this procedure. Conditions such as alcoholism, some psychiatric disorders and uncontrolled diabetes can cause problems. Your dentist will also need to check to see how much bone you have and whether there is enough space for an implant. The adjacent teeth roots will also need to be away from the implant. If you don't have enough bone, it is possible to grow bone or even graft bone from elsewhere in the mouth or places like your hip.
A dental implant is the closest thing to a natural tooth your dentist can give you. They feel much more natural and secure than traditional removable dentures, especially if these are loose fitting because of extensive bone loss. If several adjacent teeth are missing, a fixed bridge may be attached to dental implants as an alternative to a removable partial denture plate. Dental implants allow for the replacement of a missing tooth without modifying adjacent teeth. Your dentist will be happy to discuss alternatives for restoring your dental function with you.
This is impossible to predict. Though research has demonstrated a long life once the implants have been integrated with bone, each patient is different, and longevity may be affected by overall health, nutrition, oral hygiene and tobacco usage. Individual anatomy, the design and construction of the prosthesis and oral habit s may also have an influence.
In general, costs are closely comparable to those of other prostheses involving fixed bridgework. The uniqueness of each patient’s restorative needs means this should be discussed with your dentist.
Discuss this with your dentist, as there are a few medical reasons preventing the use of implants. Sufficient bone to accept the implant is the major limiting factor. This can be assessed radiographically (x-rays), and bone can even be augmented where it is deficient.
A mouthguard is a removable, soft and flexible shield placed over usually the upper teeth. It is also a strong material to withstand the rigors of sporting injury situations.
There are two basic types of mouthguards available:
(1) The custom fitted mouthguard is available from your dentist. This mouthguard is constructed directly from a mould taken of your teeth in the dental surgery and fits tightly and comfortably over your teeth. This type of mouthguard is the type recommended by the dental profession and is the most effective in preventing injuries to the teeth and jaws.
(2) The "do it yourself" mouthguard, available at many pharmacies are usually poorly fitting and uncomfortable to wear. Dentists do not recommend these as they offer little protection to the teeth and patients are encouraged to obtain the custom-fitted guard as a bare minimum.
Custom mouthguards are available in a variety of colours. Popular team colours from AFL, ARL and NBL teams are also available.
Mouthguards should be worn during any sport where there is the chance of a knock to the face.
There are three types of sport when we consider the chance of injury:
1. Contact sports where contact is part of the game. These include football, rugby, martial arts and boxing. The mouthguard should be compulsory.
2. Collision sports where contact often happens but it is not expected or allowed. These include basketball, hockey, water polo, lacrosse, netball, baseball, softball, squash, soccer, BMX bike riding, horseriding, skateboarding, in-line skating, trampolining, cricket (wicket keeping or batting without a helmet), water skiing and snow ski racing. A mouthguard is highly recommended.
3. Non-contact sports where contact is a rare occurrence. These include such sports as tennis where a mouthguard is not needed.
Mouthguards should be worn during all competitions as well as during training sessions, as this is when many injuries occur. This should be stressed to children in junior teams.
After use, mouthguards should be rinsed in cold, soapy water. They can be disinfected occasionally with a mild disinfectant solution or mouth rinse.
A mouthguard should be stored clean and dry in a plastic container ready for its next use. As mouthguards can distort under higher temperatures, they should be kept in a cool place, not in the back of a hot car on a sunny day.
The most common dental decay problem seen in infants and younger children is nursing decay. Dental decay can affect baby teeth extensively. Teeth normally affected are the top front teeth. The back teeth in top and bottom may also be affected. Bottle and breast-fed babies are both susceptible. Babies left with a bottle as a pacifier and those who are frequently nursed, especially at night, run the danger of bottle or nursing decay due to the prolonged exposure to milk (human milk is no exception) or juice.
Another common decay problem seen in preschool children is due to frequent exposure to sugary, starchy and acidic foods, including all forms of juices, cordials and soft drinks. Snacking generally promotes dental decay, because the mere presence of food in the mouth feed the plaque that produces acid, causing decay.
Early visits can prevent minor problems from becoming major ones. Your dentist will be able to detect early decay. Teach good habits early, as good habits start young for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Brush frequently to keep plaque levels low, reduce snacking and begin dental visits early.
Root canal or endodontic treatment is a process whereby inflamed or dead pulp is removed from the inside of the tooth, enabling a tooth that was causing pain to be retained.
Once a tooth is fully formes it can functiona almost as a well as a normal healthy tooth, after it has been root canal treated, and can remain in service for many years.
If you have a damaged tooth, root canal treatment may help to save it. Inside your tooth is soft tissue containing nerves, and blood and lymph vessels, known as the tooth pulp. When the pulp cannot repair itself from disease or injury, it dies. A fracture in a tooth or a deep cavity commonly cause pulp death, as the pulp is exposed to bacteria found in your saliva.
When the pulp becomes infected, it is best to remove it before it spreads to the tooth and surrounding tissues. The whole tooth may be lost if the infection is left untreated. Root canal treatment can save your tooth.
Root canal treatment may involve one to three visits to the dentist. A general dentist or an Endodontist (a specialist in pulp problems) will remove the pulp of the tooth. They will then clean and seal the pulp chamber and root canal/s.
STEPS INVOLVED IN ROOT CANAL TREATMENT:
1. An opening is made through the crown of the tooth into the chamber where the pulp is found.
2. The pulp is removed, and the root canal/s are cleaned and shaped into a form that can be filled easily.
3. Medications to prevent infection may be placed in the pulp chamber.
4. Your dentist may leave the tooth open in order for it to drain, however often a temporary filling is placed in the crown of the tooth to protect it until your next visit. Antibiotics may be prescribed to help prevent infection.
5. The temporary filling will be removed, and after cleaning, the pulp chamber and root canal/s will be filled.
6. Finally, your dentist may place a crown (either porcelain or gold) over your tooth.
Holding floss is the key. You should have a decent length and make sure it is tightly wrapped around and locked onto the middle finger of each hand. Some companies also make small flossing aids. You should floss using a gentle sawing motion, against the sides of your teeth. If you find this tricky — speak to your dentist. They will be able to advise you on the best oral hygiene aids for you, and show you exactly how to use them. Remember — prevention is the aim!!
Surface stains (also known as extrinsic stains) are superficial stains located on the surface of the tooth. Common surface stains are dental plaque and calculus, tars (in tobacco), tannins (in tea or coffee), coloured foods such as soy sauce, cola drinks, and the ingredients in some dental mouthrinses when these rinses are used very often.
Internal stains (also known as intrinsic stains) are coloured molecules and pigments that have become incorporated into the internal structure of the tooth. This can occur as the tooth is developing, or after the tooth has been present in the mouth. Some fifty conditions have been associated with changes to tooth structure as it forms.
Examples of these developmental discolourations include:
• Severe illnesses and fevers in childhood
• Antibiotics such as tetracyclines taken in childhood
• Uncommon genetic conditions where there is a pattern of inheritance
• Medical conditions affecting the blood system or liver in childhood
• Excessive levels of fluoride intake in early childhood because of swallowing toothpaste, which can result in areas of whiteness (opacity).
Conditions which can lead to internal colour changes in teeth that have already erupted in the mouth include:
• Advancing age, which leads to greater yellow colouration of teeth
• Corrosion products from amalgam restorations, which can give grey stains
• Tooth decay
• Problems with the dental pulp (“nerve”), after decay, root canal work, or damage to the tooth in an injury.
Conventional toothpastes marketed for whitening contain ingredients that help remove external stains by a gentle abrasive or polishing action, however they will not be able to change the natural tooth colour. Conventional whitening toothpastes use abrasive particles such as modified silica, titanium dioxide, alumina, dicalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate, or similar particulate substances.
Many of these products also contain phosphate compounds (such as pyrophosphates and polyphosphates) to reduce the formation of calculus (“tartar”) and thus keep the tooth surface clean, to give an additional cosmetic benefit, even though this is not a direct whitening action in itself. Detergents in these toothpastes also help to remove loosely attached surface stains.
There is no physical or chemical mechanism by which products based solely on abrasives can influence chromogenic (coloured) organic and inorganic materials (“stains”) within the enamel or dentine of teeth, since their actions are entirely of a surface nature.
• Colgate: Total Plus Whitening (silica); Colgate Whitening (silica, pyrophosphate); Colgate Whitening Plus Tartar Control (silica, polyphosphate, pyrophosphate); Colgate Baking Soda and Peroxide (silica, sodium bicarbonate, calcium peroxide, polyphosphate, pyrophosphate)
• Macleans Advanced Whitening Ice (silica)
• Pearl Drops Electric (silica, alumina); Pearl Drops ToothPolish Advanced Whitening (silica, pyrophosphate, dicalcium phosphate)
• Cedel Whitening Plus Tartar Control (silica, dicalcium phosphate, pyrophosphate)
• Coles Persona Whitening (silica); Coles Persona Total Care Plus Whitening (silica, dicalcium phosphate, pyrophosphate)
• WhiteGlo Whitening Toothpaste (silica, calcium carbonate)
• Sensodyne Gentle Whitening (silica)
Internal stains are normally treated using oxygen-releasing chemicals such as peroxides (typically hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide, or sodium percarbonate peroxide) or chlorites which can penetrate into the tooth and give a bleaching effect. A level of 10% carbamide peroxide in the presence of water releases 3.5%, so this numerical relationship must be taken into account if comparing products with carbamide peroxide with similar products containing hydrogen peroxide.
These chemicals can be applied in a variety of ways:
• In an advanced whitening formula toothpaste where special activators are included to enhance the action of peroxides within the toothpaste
• As a paint-on treatment where liquid is applied to the teeth as an at-home treatment
• As adhesive films which are applied to one tooth at a time and left in place overnight
• In a gel applied to the teeth for several hours using a stock tray or a custom-made tray. This is often called “nightguard vital bleaching.”
• As a professional treatment in the dental surgery in which a gel is applied to the teeth and then activated using high intensity lights, lasers or ozone. This is called “power bleaching”.
• For teeth which have already had root canal treatment, whitening materials can be applied internally within the tooth and sealed in place for a longer period of time. This is known as a “walking bleach.”
When staining is inside the tooth, well below the surface, there are a number of other ways to improve the appearance of the teeth. Sometimes simply replacing old, worn out fillings that are failing at the edges can produce better looking front teeth. Alternatively, when the teeth are heavily stained, veneers or crowns may be a useful and better option. ADA dentists have access to continuing education in the latest dental techniques and they can give advice as to the best choices for you.
- They do not change the colour of dental fillings. After a whitening treatment, it may be necessary to have fillings resurfaced or replaced to match the new shade of the natural tooth structure.
- The one (partial) exception to this principle is for teeth that have porcelain veneers bonded to their front surface, the use of whitening gel applied in custom-made trays may cause a lightening of the natural tooth enamel from the inside. The colour of the veneer itself does not change, but because of its translucent nature, some improvement in the overall shade may result.
- They elevate the level of oxygen in the outer (enamel) surface of the tooth, and because this can affect dental adhesives used for bonding, any procedures on the same teeth which require bonding must be delayed for at least 2 weeks after the end of the bleaching treatment.
Hydrogen peroxide (the active agent of whitening systems) is actually produced in the body in small amounts, and its effects have been studied for many years. When bleaching is supervised and is carried out according to the dentist's instructions, it appears to be a safe, simple procedure.
The only minor complications are rare cases of slight gum irritation and of heightened sensitivity of the teeth particularly to cold stimuli. It would also be wise to check first with your dentist to see if all your teeth will be likely to bleach evenly.
Yes. Hydrogen peroxide (the whitening agent) is actually produced in the body in small amounts and the effects have been studied for many years. Dentists know that the whitening process should not be abused, because teeth being bleached repeatedly past the recommended level can damage the enamel. When bleaching is carried out according to an ADA dentist's instructions, it appears to be a safe, simple procedure.
The only minor complications are rare cases of slight gum irritation and heightened cold sensitivity in the enamel. It would also be wise to check first with your regular dentist to see if all your teeth will be likely to bleach evenly. Bleaching will not alter the effects of certain types of antibiotic drug use which may occur during childhood.
Your dentist may advise you your wisdom teeth (or third molars) are impacted and that they need to be removed. What this means is that your wisdom teeth will not grow or erupt into a position that allows them to be functional teeth.
Impaction may be due to soft tissues (i.e. gums), or hard tissues such as other teeth or bone. Teeth that become impacted are generally more likely to cause problems.
The common problems that can arise with impacted teeth are infections of the gum around the teeth, decay and resorption of adjacent functioning teeth, and gum disease around the molar teeth.
Rare complications are cysts and tumours that can grow around impacted teeth.
Some people feel that impacted wisdom teeth can contribute to crowding.
For those who play contact sport, most fractured jaws occur at the site of impacted teeth, as they can create a point of weakness. Most footballers who have broken their jaws have not had their wisdom teeth removed.
Infections are by far the most common problem, and although they can respond to antibiotics, the only real way to treat it is to remove the source of the problem. A small number of people who do not treat these infections seriously, especially people with other health problems, can have severe, even life threatening complications with wisdom tooth infections.
Some people do elect to wait until they are having trouble with their wisdom teeth. The only trouble is, sometimes the damage is done without any warning. Some people leave their wisdom teeth until they are older than sixty or seventy years. Often they have other health problems at this age and are much slower to recover than teenagers who have the same operation.
As a rule, your wisdom teeth will get more difficult to remove the older you are.
If they are impacted, an ounce of early prevention is better than a ton of late cure.
Yes, as with any surgery, post operative pain, swelling, bruising and infection can occur. Other consequences of wisdom tooth removal may include, difficulty in opening the mouth, sore lips, and bleeding.
There is a small risk with the extraction of lower wisdom teeth, of nerve damage that may cause numbness of the lip or tongue.
Discuss the above risks and consequences of wisdom teeth surgery with your dentist and/or Oral and Maxilofacial Surgeon before having your wisdom teeth out.