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How often should I brush my teeth?

Regular brushing is vital to maintaining optimal oral health.  Traditionally, we recommend brushing after every meal to eliminate the cavity challenge.  The carbohydrates in foods and drinks feed the bacteria in the mouth, and these oral bacteria produce acids that can lead to dental caries (cavities).  By brushing with fluoride toothpaste after every meal, you reduce the extent of acid production and reduce your chances of developing caries.  One caution, however – for those patients who eat several small meals (as some dieticians recommend), rather than the traditional three meals per day – brushing more than 5-6 times per day may (for some patients) increase the risk of damage to the enamel of the teeth (“toothbrush abrasion”).  For those patients, and the bottom line minimum for all patients, we advise brushing at least twice a day, especially before bedtime, since the saliva flow decreases during sleep, and any remaining food particles provide a great environment for those oral bacteria to thrive.

Are electric toothbrushes better than manual brushes?

Both manual and power toothbrushes are effective, but studies have shown electric and sonic toothbrushes, if used properly, can perform better than manual toothbrushes.  The key is to use the toothbrush that best meets your needs.  For example, people with arthritis or limited dexterity may find an electric toothbrush especially helpful.   People with orthodontic braces may find it easier to brush effectively with an electric toothbrush; and since the rotating head of a powered toothbrush requires less force and manipulation than a manual toothbrush, the risk of dislodging orthodontic appliances might be reduced.


How often should I have my teeth cleaned by a dentist?

Research shows that regular professional cleaning may reduce the risk of dental caries (cavities) and periodontal (gum) diseases, and most people like to have their teeth cleaned once or twice a year.  Some dental conditions require more frequent monitoring and intervention; some require less.  How often you go depends on your personal dental health needs.  You should discuss this with your dentist.

What can I do if I’m scared about dental treatment?

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Experiences as a child may become distorted by time and reinforced by outdated media presentation of stereotypes.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.

Do all dentists use “happy gas”?

“Happy gas”, “laughing gas”, “relative analgesia”, “nitrous oxide” are all describe the same form of sedation which can be used for patients who are apprehensive of treatment done with local anaesthesia.

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

In today’s age of technology, your dentist has a range of options to help your teeth look great. Stained teeth, dark teeth, chipped teeth, crooked teeth, and even teeth that are missing altogether, can be repaired or replaced. Cosmetic or aesthetic dentistry is the broad heading under which many dental procedures that improve the appearance of teeth may be described.

If amalgam is so great, why does my dentist use white or ‘tooth-coloured’ fillings?

White fillings have been used in front teeth for decades. In recent times, scientists have developed strong white filling materials for back teeth to be used as an alternative to the dark colour of amalgam. The reason for this is the public demand for tooth-coloured fillings in visible areas of the mouth. These materials have not been in use for enough time to test their long-term comparison with amalgam but results are encouraging.

In 1983-4, amalgam was used in 68% of all fillings in Australia. By the late 1990’s this had reduced to less than 30% (NHMRC 1999)

Do whitening products really work?

Yes, they do.  But, consult with your dentist first, because the procedure isn’t always as simple as many people believe.  Tooth color is influenced by many factors, including previous trauma to the teeth, exposure to certain medications, drinking tea or coffee, smoking, and the natural aging process.  Not all teeth respond equally well to bleaching.  In general, bleaching is more successful on lighter (yellow) colorations than on darker (gray/brown) colorations; and whitening will not lighten existing dental restorations, such as tooth-colored fillings, bonding, crowns or bridges.  Before bleaching, it is important to consider how much of your existing dental work will have to be replaced following whitening in order to achieve the desired results.  Your dentist can determine if you are a good candidate for whitening.

What’s in a dental fee?

A dental fee is the cost of a highly trained and skilled professional treating your teeth in a hygienic, comfortable environment. As well, fees represent the costs of the up-to-date equipment and materials, staff, laboratory fees, infection control measures, premises, utilities and furnishings. There are many factors affecting fees for dental treatment. The complexity of the treatment received, and the costs involved in running the dental practice you visit are such factors. The cost of maintaining correct infection control procedures alone can be very high. Dentists also need to pay ancillary staff wages and maintain equipment.

How do I find a good dentist?


Look for an ADA (Australian Dental Association) Member.ADA Members- agree to abide by a code of ethics- participate in on-going education.

Ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers, family doctor or previous dentist for their recommendation.

Will your dentist be located near your home or work? Will the surgery be convenient for you? Ask about the availability of after-hours emergency services.

Consider the friendliness and helpfulness of the dentist and his/her staff. Are they willing to answer your questions and readily provide information?

Is the practice clean, tidy and hygienic? If you have questions on infection control are they answered? Are instruments sterilsed? Do staff wear gloves and masks, and offer you protective eyewear?

Does the dentist appreciate that your time is important, allowing, of course, for the unpredictability of some procedures, e.g. emergencies?

Does your dentist take interest in your medical and dental history and listen to your concerns about having dental treatment?

Does the dentist examine all your teeth and your gums thoroughly and regularly?

Does the dentist present you with treatment options and explain them so that you understand? Does the dentist give you pre-treatment cost estimates and inform you of variations as they occur?

Does the dentist have a long-term view of your dental health – with a plan that you arrived at together, including seeing you regularly to help maintain optimal health?