How often do I need to get a dental check?
Most people need regular dental checks every 6 months. Others are at higher risk of dental hygiene issues and should go for 4 monthly checks. Examples are patients undergoing braces treatment who are at higher risk of dental caries and diabetics who are prone to gum problems and poor healing. If you are a heavy smoker or heavy drinker of red wine, tea or coffee, you will be prone to stained teeth. Regular dental checks and cleans will help to maintain a brighter smile.
When should I suspect that I may have dental problems?
You may have dental problems if you have the following symptoms or fall into these categories :
- Sensitive teeth, especially to either cold or hot foods
- Swollen or bleeding gums when you brush or floss
- Pain or swelling in your mouth, face or neck
- Difficulty chewing
- Uneven bite
- Dry mouth
- A discoloured tooth in isolation
- Spot or sore in your mouth that doesn’t look or feel right and isn’t going away
- Clicking sound or pain when opening or closing of the mouth, chewing or upon waking up
- Previous gum disease or tooth decay
- Dental restorations done (fillings, crowns, dental implants, dentures, etc)
- You smoke or use tobacco products
- Medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, etc
- Prior to commencing radiotherapy or chemotherapy (Please check with your medical doctor who may refer you to a dentist based in a tertiary hospital.)
When should I be concerned about oral cancer?
You should be cautious if you notice unusual symptoms such as a persistent lip or mouth ulcer, a white or reddish patch inside your mouth, a lump or thickening in the cheek or mouth, mouth pain or a persistent sore throat or feeling that there is something stuck in the throat. Schedule an urgent dental visit and make your concerns known to your dentist. Oral cancer is much more treatable if picked up in its early stages! In addition, some serious medical conditions present with mouth symptoms so do not delay if you suspect that something is wrong!
What are risk factors of oral cancer?
Risk factors of oral cancer are smoking, heavy alcohol intake, excessive sun exposure to the lips and infection with HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), a sexually transmitted condition.
When should I suspect that I have gum disease?
You may have gum disease if you have the following symptoms :
- Gums that bleed easily when brushing or flossing
- Receding gums
- Red, swollen, sore or tender gums
- Widening gaps between teeth
- Loose or shaky teeth
- Visible pus surrounding the teeth and gums
- Sharp or dull pain when biting or chewing foods
- Teeth that are overly sensitive to cold or hot temperatures
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
Can I leave my gum disease untreated?
Gum disease can be painless and hard to detect in the early stage but it is a progressive condition which can lead to premature tooth and bone loss over time. Gum disease does not only impact your dental health, it has also been linked to many medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pregnancy complications, Alzheimer’s and even certain cancers.
At what age should my child start seeing the dentist?
A child’s first visit should be when the first teeth start erupting in the mouth, certainly no later than one or two years of age! It should take place before your child develops any dental problems.
What is the purpose of the first dental visit?
The purpose of a child’s first dental visit is to introduce him/ her to the dentist in a non-threatening way. Going through the steps of a regular dental visit helps takes away the fear of visiting the dentist. It allows the dentist to identify any dental problems, including those which may affect speech development. Lastly, it allows the dentist to educate your child about dental hygiene in an age-appropriate way and to answer any questions you may have.
Why should I bring my child to a dentist when he/ she has no dental problems?
Your child’s first set of teeth, the primary teeth (also known as baby or milk teeth), are very important. Strong & healthy primary teeth help him/ her to chew food easily, learn to speak clearly and look good. Your child’s general health can be affected if diseased and broken primary teeth are not treated early. Primary teeth hold the spaces for permanent teeth to erupt into good positions. It is important that the first dental visit is pleasant and not anxiety-producing. Delaying the first dental visit until your child develops dental problems which cause pain or needs urgent treatment is a very bad idea.
How can I prepare my child for his/her first dental visit?
Bring your child along when you go for your own regular check-up and professional cleaning. This helps him/ her understand that visiting the dentist is a routine practice for everyone. If you speak of your visit using positive words and tone of voice, your child may even look forward to his/ her own future dental visit! Avoid using reassurances with negative words such as “It isn’t painful.” Psychologists say using these words can be counter-productive. More importantly, never threaten your child with dental treatment as a punishment!
Another tip is to play “dentist and patient” at home. Ask your child to lie down and open his/ her mouth wide while you peer into them. Take turns at being the dentist. This prepares your child for a similar experience at the dentist and makes the oral examination feel like a fun activity!
Why did the dentist pull out my child's baby (milk) tooth?
While baby teeth serve as important placeholders for permanent teeth to emerge and will eventually fall off on their own, there are situations where it is best for the baby tooth to be pulled out early. One example is when it emerges too early in babies. This is called a neonatal tooth and can become a choking hazard for the infant.
Another common reason is major tooth decay or damage due to accidents. These can put the child in extreme pain and discomfort so it is best to pull out the offensive tooth. However, if the tooth can still be salvaged, your dentist will do their best to keep it intact with the cooperation of the child.
When can I expect my wisdom tooth to appear?
Wisdom teeth typically appear between the ages of 16 and 25 years.
Can I just leave my wisdom tooth in my mouth?
Wisdom teeth may cause problems, whether they stay fully hidden in the gums or erupt partially or fully. Common complications associated with wisdom teeth are :
- Decay. Food tends to get trapped between the gums and the partially erupted wisdom tooth. As it is hard to clean, there is high chance of tooth decay.
- Gum disease. Difficulty with cleaning increases the risk of gum inflammation.
- Damage to other teeth. The wisdom tooth may push against the second molar, damaging it or causing infection. It may also cause crowding and misalignment of other permanent teeth.
- Bone cyst. A cyst (fluid filled sac) can form in the soft tissue surrounding the impacted wisdom tooth. It can lead to bone destruction, jaw expansion, or damage to the surrounding teeth. Rarely, benign tumours can develop in the cysts.
What should I do if my permanent tooth is knocked out?
If your permanent tooth is intact, try your best to save it! Handle the tooth carefully and avoid touching the root. Rinse gently if dirty. Keep your tooth moist either by placing it back in the original socket, holding it in your mouth (between cheek and gums), or keep it in a container of milk/ your own saliva or water. Get to the dentist as soon as you can, preferably within 30 minutes. For more details, read What should I do if my permanent tooth is knocked out?).
What can I do about my missing tooth?
A missing tooth can affect not only your looks but your dental health. It can be replaced either by a denture, a bridge or a dental implant. Read about so what if I have a missing tooth
It is so difficult to clean my teeth with my braces on! What’s the big deal anyway?
It is a fact. Braces trap food. If you do not remove your Invisalign™ aligners during meals or re-wear them without brushing teeth after meals, you can trap food and sweetened fluids in between your teeth!
Effective brushing and at least daily flossing is most critical to prevent decay, decalcification, gum inflammation and disease. In fact, braces specialists (orthodontists) recommend increasing your visits to the general dentist from twice to three times a year as long as you are on braces treatment : for dental checks and thorough teeth cleaning. Both are essential for ensuring good oral health and hygiene.
The final outcome of your braces treatment can be hugely compromised if you do not keep your teeth clean and healthy! What’s the point of achieving straight teeth if they are badly stained or riddled with unsightly cavities?
With your oral hygiene in mind, Sunshine Dental has come up with the Braces Oral Hygiene Package! This package of 4 heavy scaling and polishing treatments is reserved only for our braces patients commencing on their exciting journey of transformation. We hope that the significant cost savings will encourage you to take better care of your teeth! Find out more by calling us or enquiring at our counter.
How long do teeth whitening treatments last?
Teeth whitening treatments are not permanent. People who frequently take foods and beverages which cause staining may see the whiteness start to fade within months. Examples of such food and beverages are berries, beetroot, curry, tomato-based or dark sauces, coffee, tea, soft drinks and red wine. Those who avoid such foods and beverages may be able to wait a year or more before requiring a touch-up. If you cannot resist these foods and beverages, you can reduce the chance of restaining by brushing your teeth or at least rinsing your mouth after taking them.