Emergency Dental and FAQ’s

FAQ's or Frequently Asked Questions

Why are Dental X-rays needed?

There’s a lot going on in your mouth that is not visible to the naked eye, and dental X-rays allow us to see what’s happening below the surface. By taking X-rays, your dentist is provided you with a comprehensive assessment of the health of your mouth.

The type of X-ray we take will depend on the conditions for which you are being assessed.

What can dental X-rays detect?

Small areas of decay between teeth not visible in the mouth
• Problems with existing fillings, root canals, crowns or bridges
• The presence and severity of gum disease
• Abscesses or other sorts of infections
• Tooth development issues such as malformed teeth, extra or missing teeth etc.
• Cysts and some types of tumours
• Traumatic injuries such as tooth and bone fractures
• Proximity of teeth to nerves and sinuses
• The development of wisdom teeth and if there is a need for them to be removed
• The amount of bone needed for dental implants

When do I start brushing my baby’s teeth?

We recommend starting good dental health routines early on so your child sees them as a normal part of their day. Even if your child only has a few teeth, bacteria can get in and start causing decay, so you should start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. One great way to get your child use to teeth cleaning is to wipe their gums with a soft cloth twice a day. Then as soon as the teeth appear, you can switch to using a soft children’s brush. Sit them on your lap and move the bristles over their teeth to remove any food or plaque. Let them hold the brush for a little while when you’ve finished, as any additional chewing on the brush will remove plaque too.

Parents are encouraged to bring their children to see us regularly, beginning with the eruption of the first tooth. Then, Damian can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for parents to supervise and guide their children. These home treatments, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits.

Teething, is it to blame for everything?

Teething has been blamed for many things, including fever and general sickness! Research into the problems of teething has shown that some children become irritable, have increased drooling and sometimes a facial rash. However, for most children the effect of teething is teeth! Teething is a normal part of development. If your child has a high temperature that worries you, it is unlikely to be caused by teething and you should consult your physician. Many remedies have been suggested over the years. Chilled rubber teething rings have been found to be helpful for some babies, with the biting pressure relieving some discomfort. Treatment can usually be managed by simple measures. For example, local anaesthetic gels from your pharmacy are available to place on sore gum areas. Only use medicines intended for this purpose and if you choose pain relief for your child, use only as directed.

What is Root Canal Treatment?

When the nerve of your tooth has been exposed to bacteria, through a crack or decay in the tooth an infection of the root canal is likely to develop. If left untreated severe pain and a serious jaw infection or abscess can occur. To treat the infection and save the tooth, under local anaesthetic, it is necessary to access the pulp chamber and remove the infected pulp and nerves out of the root canals and then filling the cavity with an inert material and sealing up the opening. If enough of the tooth has been damaged, or removed as a result of decay or cracking, a crown may be required following root canal treatment.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is present in varying amounts in many foods and some water supplies. It is also used in many consumer dental products. Fluoride strengthens teeth making it more resistant to decay. Port Lincoln’s water supply does contain added fluoride, at an average rate of .4mg’s per litre. For most people it is recommended to use fluoride containing toothpaste twice daily when brushing. For some of our patients with additional dental needs, mouth rinses, topical gels and toothpastes with high fluoride content are used to gain the added benefit of preventing sensitivity and tooth decay.

I brush twice a day, why do I have bad breath?

Regular daily brushing and flossing are definitely the first steps to eliminating bad breath, this simple act alone removes bacteria responsible for creating odours and the food they feed on. However, bacteria aren’t only on and around the teeth but also on the tongue under a layer of mucous, where they are free to create odours. It is best to brush your tongue daily, with your tooth brush or you may want to consider a tongue scraper. Both are extremely effective at removing this mucous layer from the back of the tongue. If you still suffer with bad breath it’s best to have a dental exam to ensure you haven’t got a decaying tooth, food trapping between your teeth or the early stages of gum disease.

Why do my gums bleed when I try flossing?

Bleeding gums are usually the first sign of poor oral health or the result of trauma. So if your gums are bleeding when your flossing it’s likely to be because they aren’t healthy or your flossing technique could be a bit too robust. With twice daily brushing and gentle nightly flossing your gums will soon be healthy, with a light pink, tight appearance. If you need to refine your flossing technique we’re happy to guide you through the process at your next dental exam. If you experience bleeding gums despite your best oral health efforts it’s important to see us promptly.

Can I see the dentist whilst I’m pregnant?

Yes you can, but it’s important you let us know that you’re expecting a baby when you see us and how many weeks into your pregnancy you are. Many women experience changes to their oral health during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, dietary changes and morning sickness. We can help you manage these changes and ensure that your oral health doesn’t suffer as a result of being pregnant. If you do require dental treatment during your pregnancy we will answer any questions you have regarding treatment.

Dental Emergency

Emergency pain relief

Severe toothache pain is definitely a dental emergency! An oral examination including X-rays will discover the cause. In most cases toothaches are caused by problems in the tooth or jaw, such as cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, the emergence of wisdom teeth, a cracked tooth, or severe gum infection. We hold emergency appointments for our patients throughout the week; if we have allocated all of these we will fit you in between patients as best we can to relieve your dental pain.

Knocked out teeth

Retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown (the part that is usually exposed in the mouth), and if it’s dirty remove particles with the patients saliva or a quick 5 second rinse with water. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, try to put the tooth back in place. Make sure it’s facing the right way. Never force it into the socket. If it’s not possible to reinsert the tooth in the socket, put the tooth in a small container of milk, wrap in cling film or if possible ask the patient to place the tooth against their cheek in their mouth. In all cases, see a dentist as quickly as possible. Knocked out teeth with the highest chances of being saved are those seen by the dentist and returned to their socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.

When your child’s baby (or primary) teeth are injured, they can be aesthetically restored, but in general, we don’t recommend placing a knocked out baby tooth. Further damage can be caused to the soft permanent tooth that is still developing underneath.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Injuries to the soft tissues, which include the tongue, cheeks, gums, and lips, can be the result of a burn from hot liquids or foods, a cut or knock to the mouth. Minor injuries may not require treatment, however some result in bleeding or the risk infection.

To control the bleeding, we recommend you rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution to assess the extent of the injury, use a moistened piece of gauze or soft cloth folded to apply pressure to the bleeding site. Hold in place for 15 to 20 minutes. To both control bleeding and relieve pain, hold a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes.

If the injury is major or the bleeding doesn’t stop, see your dentist right away or go to a hospital emergency room. Continue to apply pressure on the bleeding site with the gauze until you can be seen.

Dental Abscess

Abscesses are infections that occur around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums. Abscesses are a serious condition that can damage tissue and surrounding teeth, with the infection possibly spreading to other parts of the body if left untreated.
Because of the serious oral health and general health problems that can result from an abscess, see your dentist as soon as possible if you discover a pimple-like swelling on your gum that usually is painful or pain on biting together. In the meantime, to ease the pain, try rinsing your mouth with a lukewarm, mild salt water solution.

Dry Socket (pain following a tooth extraction)

In dental terms a socket is a hole in the bone where a tooth has been removed. Dry sockets occur when the blood clot that should initially form to protect the bone and nerves has become dislodged or failed to form. Without the presence of a blood clot the area is exposed to air, food, etc, sometimes causing intense pain, throbbing and discomfort. Instructions are given to our patients following extractions to prevent a dry socket; however the only solution is to return to our clinic to have a medicated packing put in place. Causes of a dry socket include poor blood flow to the area, failure to leave a gauze pack in place with pressure, excessive rinsing, poking around the wound, smoking and alcohol consumption following your extraction.

Broken Tooth

Most chipped or fractured tooth crowns can be repaired either by reattaching the broken piece or by placing a tooth-coloured resin filling or Ceramic restoration. The bigger the broken off part, the more likely it is that you’ll need a ceramic crown or ceramic restoration to replace the lost tooth structure. It’s also important to assess the root of the tooth for fractures and the surrounding bone if you’ve had a severe knock to your face or jaw, this can be done using a dental X-ray. Sometimes you may have split or cracked a tooth but the damage isn’t evident straight away, it’s important to have and cracks or splits not visible treated as soon as possible.

If you’re finding that breathing through your mouth or eating or drinking cold food is painful, the inside of your tooth could be exposed or damaged. If this is the case, you might need root canal treatment. If you can see blood or a pink area at the centre of the tooth, you may have exposed the nerve of the tooth. Apply a small piece of gauze to the area and bite down gently. Contact us for a dental appointment straight away.