FAQs

What are the parts of the tooth?
What causes cavity?
Flouride: How does it work?
How do braces work?
I brush my teeth constantly but still have bad breath. What can I do?
When should my child first see a dentist?
What is root canal therapy?
What can gum disease mean for a diabetic?
My tooth was knocked out , how soon should I see a dentist?
What is periodontal disease?
What happens if I just ignore getting my teeth cleaned?
What’s the best way to prevent gum disease?
What does periodontal treatment involve?
What are wisdom teeth?
What’s the best way to brush?
What’s dental floss made of? How does it work?
Why do teeth get cracks?
I have a number of black fillings, What can I have done to improve this?
Why do I need X Rays?
What do I do when a tooth is pushed out of position?
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What are the parts of the tooth?
A tooth is basically made up of two parts: the crown and the root. The crown is what you see when you smile or open your mouth. It’s the part that sits above your gumline. The root is below the gumline. It makes up about 2/3rds of the tooth’s total length.

Four different tissues make up each tooth. The enamel is the durable, white covering. Enamel protects the tooth from the wear and tear of chewing.

Dental Fact: Did you know that the enamel on your teeth is the hardest substance in your body?

Dentin supports the enamel on your teeth. It’s a yellow bone-like material that’s softer than enamel and carries some of the nerve fibres that tell you when something is going wrong inside your tooth.

The Pulp is the centre of the tooth. It’s a soft tissue that contains blood and lymph vessels, and nerves. The pulp is how the tooth receives nourishment and transmits signals to your brain.

Cementum is what covers most of the root of the tooth. It helps to attach the tooth to the bones in your jaw. A cushioning layer called the Periodontal Ligament sits between the cementum and the jawbone. It helps to connect the two.

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What causes cavity?

Your mouth is a busy place. Bacteria – tiny colonies of living organisms are constantly on the move on your teeth, gums, lips and tongue.

Having bacteria in your mouth is a normal thing. While some of the bacteria can be harmful, most are not and some are even helpful.

Certain types of bacteria, however, can attach themselves to hard surfaces like the enamel that covers your teeth. If they’re not removed, they multiply and grow in number until a colony forms. More bacteria of different types attach to the colony already growing on the tooth enamel. Proteins that are present in your saliva (spit) also mix in and the bacteria colony becomes a whitish film on the tooth. This film is called plaque, and it’s what causes cavities.

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Flouride – How does it work?

Fluoride is a natural element that can be found in many things, like the water we drink and the food we eat. Decades ago, scientists began to notice that children who lived in places where fluoride occurred naturally in the water, had fewer dental cavities.

Fluoride that is absorbed by your body is used by the cells that build your teeth to make stronger enamel. Topical fluoride – fluoride that is applied to the outside of the enamel – makes the crystals that form enamel more durable. Tooth enamel crystals that have fluoride are much more resistant to acid. They are less likely to breakdown and cause the tooth surface to become porous.

If your dentist recommends a fluoride treatment during your next dental visit, you’ll be receiving topical protection. The fluoride your dentist puts in your mouth will help make the crystals in your tooth enamel stronger. Always use a toothpaste with fluoride.

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How do braces work?

Having straight teeth is important. Teeth that are crooked or out of place (misaligned) affect the way a person chews and talks and how their smile looks. Because they have unnatural spaces, crooked teeth are harder to clean and are more likely to have cavities. In some cases, crooked teeth can affect the way the jaws line up and can cause pain and discomfort.
One method to correct this is to have Orthodontic treatment (or braces and retainers as they are sometimes called). Orthodontic treatment works by exerting a gentle pressure over time to straighten teeth that are growing, or have already grown, out of place.

Braces have three basic parts:

1) Brackets – brackets that are attached to each tooth
2) Bonding or band – the material that attaches the bracket to the tooth
3) Arch Wire – a thin metal wire that runs from bracket to bracket

Braces have come a long way from the “train track” look of years ago. Today, many orthodontic patients can get braces that attach to the backs of the teeth, or use transparent brackets.

A retainer is a custom-made, removable appliance that helps keep teeth in their new, straightened position after braces have been removed. Retainers can also be used to treat more minor orthodontic problems.

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I brush my teeth constantly but still have bad breath. What can I do?

Gum disease is also known as periodontal (pronounced: per-ee-oh-don-tul) disease.
Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues and bone that support the teeth. Untreated gum disease can become very serious, causing teeth to become loose or fall out.

Gum disease is usually caused by a buildup of plaque, an invisible sticky layer of germs that forms naturally on the teeth and gums. Plaque contains bacteria, which produce toxins that irritate and damage the gums.

Hundreds of types of bacteria live in the mouth, so keeping plaque at bay is a constant battle. That’s why brushing and flossing every day – and regular trips to the dentist – are so important.

Prevention Tips

Fortunately, there’s good news: Gum disease is usually preventable. Just take care of your teeth, starting now. Don’t wait!
Brush twice a day for at least 3 minutes each time (about the length of your favorite song), and floss daily. If you’re not sure whether you’re brushing or flossing properly, your dentist or dental hygienist can show you the best techniques.
Always brush with a toothpaste that contains fluoride; some dentists also recommend daily mouth rinses containing fluoride.
Use a toothbrush with soft, polished bristles, as these are less likely to irritate or injure gum tissue. Be sure to replace your toothbrush at least every 3 to 4 months – a worn-out toothbrush can injure your gums. (Some toothbrush brands contain color indicators on the bristles to remind you to replace them when they become worn.)
Eat a healthy diet. Avoid snacks and junk foods packed with sugar that plaque-causing bacteria love to feed on.
Don’t smoke! Cigarettes and chewing tobacco cause mouth irritation and are very unhealthy for gums and teeth.
Regular dental care is extremely important in helping to keep your mouth healthy. Visit your Apollo Dental at least twice a year.
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When should my child first see a dentist?

A child’s dental development begins before birth, and continues for about the next 18 years. When your child’s first tooth appears, you might begin wondering when the first trip to the dentist should be scheduled. Your child’s first visit to a dentist should be by age two or three, when all 20 baby teeth have come in. After the first visit, children should see a dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups. These visits can allow your dentist to detect flaws early, possibly preventing more serious problems in the future. For a child’s comfort, you might consider selecting a pediatric dentist. These doctors specialize in treating young patients, and are usually careful to be gentle and sensitive to a young child’s needs.

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What is root canal therapy?

Our teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Sometimes, however, damage occurs to a tooth (often from a deep cavity or an injury that causes a tooth to crack) and the inside of the tooth becomes infected. This infection damages the pulp of the tooth – the network of blood vessels and nerves inside.

Left untreated, the damaged pulp can cause infection that will damage the bone around the tooth and cause swelling and pain. If the damaged tooth becomes infected, your dentist, or a dental specialist called an Endodontist, may have to perform an endodontic treatment (often called Root Canal Therapy) to save it.

Endodontic treatment involves opening the tooth, removing the damaged pulp, cleaning, shaping, filling and sealing the tooth. Depending upon how much infection there is in the injured tooth, your may be put on medicine before your dentist or Endodontist can begin to work.

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What can gum disease mean for a diabetic?

Gingivitus is an infection within the gums caused by bacteria found in plaque. A diabetic’s body doesn’t respond as quickly to infection as a non-diabetic. If the infection persists, it can spread to the underlying bone that supports and anchors the teeth.

It has been shown that diabetics who keep their condition under control and maintain good oral hygiene have a far better chance of combating infections than those who are poorly controlled.

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My tooth was knocked out , how soon should I see a dentist?

Immediately. Getting to a dentist within 30 minutes can make the difference between saving and losing a tooth. When a tooth is knocked out:
Immediately call your dentist for an emergency appointment.
Handle the tooth by the crown, not the root. Touching the root (the part of the tooth below the gum) can damage cells necessary for bone reattachment.
Gently rinse the tooth in water to remove dirt. Do not scrub.
Place the clean tooth in your mouth between the cheek and the gum to keep it moist.
It is important not to let the tooth dry out.
It is not possible to store the tooth in the mouth of the injured person, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and immerse in milk.
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What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is caused by the bacteria found in plaque. If plaque is not regularly removed, it calcifies into a rough, porous deposit called calculus, or tartar. By products of bacterial metabolism irritate the gums, making them red, tender, swollen and more prone to bleed.

Eventually, the supporting periodontal structures begin to breakdown. The result of this slow process is tissue loss, bone loss and eventual tooth loss.

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What happens if I just ignore getting my teeth cleaned?

As the plaque and calculus accumulate, the periodontal disease continues. Supporting tissues around the teeth (gums, periodontal ligaments, bone) are lost.

Periodontal pockets form which trap additional plaque. Bad breath often accompanies this condition. Once the bone that supports the teeth is lost, it will not regrow without surgical intervention.
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What’s the best way to prevent gum disease?

Conscientious removal of plaque by flossing, brushing and regular professional cleanings will minimise your risk of gum disease.

However, there are other factors that can affect the health of your gums, such as stress, diabetes, genetics and pregnancy.
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What does periodontal treatment involve?

In the earlier states of gum disease (mild to moderate periodontitis), most treatment involves scaling and root planning. The procedure aims at removing plaque and calculus from the surface of the tooth adjacent to gum tissue.

In the majority of early gum disease cases, treatment entails improved home care techniques and scaling and root planning.

Advanced cases may require surgical treatment.
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What are wisdom teeth?

They’re the last teeth to erupt in the back of your mouth. Usually, they erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. Occasionally, though, they find their way our much later than that; some never erupt at all.

Thanks to evolution, we’re evolving into the proud ownership of smaller jaws; unfortunately our teeth aren’t quite keeping pace. Most of our jaws only have room for 28 teeth; we have 32.

Basically, this means that the last teeth to erupt, which are the wisdom teeth, have nowhere to go if there’s not enough room remaining.

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What’s the best way to brush?

There are different styles of tooth brushing. The important thing to remember is that an effective brushing cleans every exposed tooth surface in a gentle, massaging motion.

How long do you take to brush your teeth? Most people think they brush for at least a minute or two, but in reality they brush for 30 seconds or less.

Time yourself and see how you do. An effective brushing takes 2 – 3 minutes.

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What’s dental floss made of? How does it work?

Brushing alone isn’t enough to clean all of the plaque from the surface of your teeth. Interproximal areas (those places in between your teeth) and below the gumline are two spots where the toothbrush can’t reach and plaque can build up. These are areas that are more susceptible to cavities. Daily flossing and regular visits to your dentist are the only effective ways to remove this plaque.

Dental fact: Did you know that failing to floss means up to 35% of your tooth surface goes uncleaned?

Dental floss is a man-made fibre (usually made of nylon) that comes on a spool. Ask your parents or your dentist how to correctly use dental floss if you’re not sure.

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Why do teeth get cracks?

A common problem is that teeth will crack, either due to trauma, grinding, clenching, decay or heavily filled teeth. “Cracked Tooth Syndrome” relates to a variety of symptoms and signs caused by a crack or many cracks in a tooth. Early diagnosis is needed to improve the chances of saving a cracked tooth.

Symptoms include:
Sharp and erratic pain upon chewing or after release of biting pressure: not all cracks cause pain.
Sensitivity to cold or hot foods/drinks, or sweets
Difficulty in pinpointing which tooth hurts, either upper or lower
f you suspect that you may have a cracked tooth, discuss this with your dentist.

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I have a number of black fillings, What can I have done to improve this?

The black filling material uses in your teeth is amalgam. It has been used as a filling material for over a hundred years; it’s still one of the strongest materials available.

However, it’s about as unattractive a filling material as you can get. There are a number of other tooth-colour restorative materials currently available that can be used to replace old amalgams.

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Why do I need X-Rays?

Radiographic or X-ray examinations provide your dentist with an important diagnostic tool that shows the condition of your teeth, their roots, jaw placement and the overall composition of your facial bones.

X-Rays can help your dentist determine the presence or degree of periodontal disease, abscesses and many abnormal growths, such as cysts and tumours. X-rays can also show the exact location of impacted teeth. They can pinpoint the location of cavities and other signs of disease that may not be possible to detect through visual examination (such as changes in the jaw bone structure as a result of systemic disease).
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What do I do when a tooth is pushed out of position?
Attempt to reposition the tooth to its normal alignment using very light finger pressure, but do not force the tooth.
Bite down to keep the tooth from moving.
Your dentist may splint the tooth in place to the two healthy teeth next to the loose tooth.