Regular examination or checkups are essential for maintaining good oral health. If you are a new patient or if it has been a while since your last checkup, we usually perform a comprehensive oral exam.
This involves asking you firstly if you have any specific areas of concerns or anything you would like us to look at. We will then perform extraoral examination outside of the mouth, including lips, neck and TMJ/jaw joint. Then the intraoral or inside of your mouth is checked, including all your teeth, gums, cheek, tongue. We also perform oral cancer screening at each examination.
In most cases xrays or radiographs may be required to check areas that we can't see simply by looking. Xrays may be used to check for problems in between the contact points of the teeth, or under the gum and bone. A large OPG or panoramic xray is usually required to check wisdom teeth and also make sure there is no pathology in the jaw bone.
Usually we also perform a scale and clean at the same appointment. This will remove any plaque or tartar buildups that cause gum problems and bad breath. Removal of buildup on the teeth will also ensure we don't miss any areas of the teeth when checking.
Scale and clean
Scale and clean is usually done at the same time as a checkup. The purpose of a clean is to remove buildup of plaque or tartar, also called 'calculus', from the surfaces of the teeth. If left for too long, these buildups can cause decay and gum problems. Gum problems may result in gum disease, gingivitis or periodontitis. This is where the gum becomes inflamed and may recede away from the tooth, eventually resulting in loosening of the teeth and further problems.
A clean can also remove surface staining of the teeth resulting in a brighter or whiter smile.
Fillings are used to repair teeth that have decayed or have cavities or holes. We use minimally invasive techniques to remove only the decayed tooth structure and maintain the structural integrity of the tooth. Once the decay has been removed, the 'cavity' or hole is restored with a composite filling, which is a white tooth coloured material. This results in a natural aesthetic result, as opposed to the amalgam or metal fillings used in the past.
White composite fillings are suitable for both front teeth, and also the back teeth, and have a similar strength to older style amalgam or metal fillings. We can also replace old metal fillings with new white restorations.
A crown is a solid 'covering' or 'capping' that covers the entire chewing surface of the tooth, and usually all other surfaces as well. When too much of the natural tooth structure is missing or weakened, such as in a cracked or decayed tooth, a dental crown can help maintain the structural integrity of the tooth and replace missing tooth structure.
Crowns are usually made from a solid milled zirconia, or porcelain, or gold. Crown are suitable for both front and back teeth.
In most cases we try and save and maintain teeth to prevent the need for extraction or removal of teeth. However there are some circumstances where tooth extraction may be necessary. These include:
- Where the tooth is damaged beyond repair, and unsuitable for fillings or crowns.
- Where the tooth is cracked or split down the root.
- To stop pain or toothache
- Where an infection, abscess or swelling is present.
- For orthodontic purposes
In each case, the dentist will explain to you your options and the procedure involved.
Root canal treatment
Root canal treatment involves cleaning and shaping of the nerve canals inside the root of a tooth. Contrary to popular belief, root canal treatment does not hurt, as the tooth is numb during the procedure, although the procedure does involve multiple appointments.
Cases where teeth may require root canal treatment include:
- A tooth that is causing pain or toothache.
- Where the decay is too large or deep, and has extended into the nerve of the tooth.
- Where an infection or abscess is present
- Where a front tooth has been knocked and discoloured or 'died'
After a root canal treatment has been done the tooth will become weaker and more prone to cracks or fracture, so in most cases a crown is required to cover all surfaces of the tooth and prevent it from breaking.
Dentures or false teeth (also called plates), are removable prostheses, and are used to replace either a single or multiple missing teeth. If all teeth are missing in either the upper or lower jaw, a full denture can be used to replace them.
Options for partial dentures to replace one or more missing teeth include acrylic or plastic dentures, or metal base dentures which are stronger and more comfortable.
Removal of wisdom teeth are advised in specific circumstances:
- Where the teeth are causing pain
- Where infection is present
- For orthodontic reasons or after braces to prevent crowding
- Where the wisdom tooth is impacted or pushing against the tooth in front.
In order to remove a wisdom tooth, an OPG is required, and in some cases we will take a 3D scan or CBCT Cone beam image.