Browns Plain Dentist - Dental FAQ

Your smile is one of the first things people notice when they meet you for the first time.

General dental treatment

Dental procedures

For moms and dads


Routine Oral Care

Oral conditions

New patients

Medical questions

Dental issues



General dental treatment


I brush my teeth every day, why do I need a professional clean?

Brushing your teeth twice daily is extremely important to maintain excellent oral health. However, there are also a number of other steps you should be taking to safeguard your teeth. These include flossing daily and avoiding the consumption of large quantities of sugary food or drinks.

In addition, it is also important to see a dental professional every six months to remove the stubborn plaque that cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone. The resulting bacteria (if left untreated) can cause irreversible damage to the gums and supporting bone around the teeth. This often leads to early tooth loss and other health related issues.

Just remember, gum disease is a “silent disease”. Its signs and symptoms often go unnoticed, resulting in unchecked damage. The good news is, gum disease is a preventable disease.


Why do I need dental x-rays?

Via a thorough visual inspection of the mouth, your dentist is able to sight large, obvious holes. X-rays can show decay between teeth and changes in the thickness of bone caused by gum disease. They assist in determining any wear or breakdown of dental fillings. They can also reveal any unusual changes in the root and surrounding bone structures.

Detecting bacteria and decay that can be eating away the tooth unnoticed, is an important step in avoiding dental issues and complications. X-rays enable us to check hidden areas we can’t see with the naked eye.


My tooth was hurting, but now the pain has gone. Should I still see my dentist?

Any tooth pain is usually a direct indication that there is a problem. Even if the pain subsides, an infection may still be present. Other related symptoms may surface. These include: severe facial swelling, cysts, overall systemic health issues or the sudden onset of a severe toothache.

Toothache intensity can vary from a dull throbbing ache to acute pain. The tooth involved may also be sensitive to heat, cold, pressure or sugary foods and beverages. In the case of severe pain that has spread, identifying the problem tooth can often be difficult.

Most toothaches get worse if left untreated. This deterioration may also be the result of other dental conditions. So if any dental pain is experienced, it is recommended that you contact your dentist at Choice Dental immediately. The sooner you seek treatment, the easier and more successful your outcomes will be.


Is there any discomfort during a dental hygiene session?

A hygiene visit is usually pain free. However, inflamed and infected gums that are tender can result in a little discomfort and sensitivity. If you find treatment uncomfortable, it is important that you discuss your concerns with our hygienist during your visit. There are many products available to alleviate discomfort associated with hygiene treatment.


What is a dental hygienist?

A dental hygienist provides you with a professional assessment and evaluation of your gum condition as well as preventative maintenance. This allows the dentist to fully focus on providing you with specialised complex restorative care and treatment.

Our hygienists are specially trained members of our team. They work in close cooperation with our dentists. Together they provide patients with the best dental care – preventing dental disease through an individually developed maintenance program. Regular professional scale and cleans are vital in the prevention of gum disease. This treatment also halts the progression of gum disease to the more severe and irreversible periodontal disease (disease of the jaw bone).


Are dental X-rays safe?

Yes. The amount of radiation you are exposed to when you receive a dental X-ray is extremely minute.

Advances in the development of modern digital X-ray machines confine the radiation beam to just the area that is being X-rayed. Current X-ray films also have much higher speeds resulting in ever shorter exposure times to radiation. Government regulations also require that X-ray machines are tested and calibrated for safety and accuracy at regular intervals.

Nowadays, with the use of digital x-rays, radiation is further reduced by another 90%.


Why are scale and cleans recommended every 6 months?

Even if you brush and floss twice daily, you may be missing crucial areas in your mouth. Brushing alone is only suitable for cleaning 3 out of 5 tooth surfaces – and generally misses the areas between your teeth. It is in these hard-to-reach areas that plaque accumulates. And if you are one of the estimated 75% of adults that don’t floss or use interdental brushes then the plaque in these areas can build up over time and solidify into a cement-like substance called tartar – a precursor to gingivitis and gum disease.

Tartar can only be removed by a dentist at a regular dental scale and clean treatment. Having tartar removed every six months helps to keep your mouth clean and healthy, and allows for an earlier diagnosis of any potential oral condition.

You may require more frequent visits depending on your dental history, oral hygiene habits and the rate of tartar build-up and decay. Children or adults with special needs may be more vulnerable to plaque and tartar build-up. Consult with your dentist to find out what frequency of visits best suits you.


Dental procedures


What is drill-less dentistry?

Drill-less dentistry is also known as air abrasion or micro-abrasion and it is already being provided by some dentists.

An air abrasion tool works by using compressed air or gas to spray a fine stream of micro-particles at the tooth surface. The particles in this spray may be made up of silica, aluminium oxides or a baking soda mix.

Air abrasion has a number of applications in general dental treatment. It can be used to remove some types of tooth decay, old composite restorations and superficial stains or discolouration.


Are amalgam-type fillings safe?

Over recent years, concerns have been raised about the safety of silver-coloured fillings, otherwise known as amalgams. This is because amalgams contain mercury, a toxic substance that is harmful to the human body.

However, the mercury levels in amalgams are extremely low, and when combined with other metals, such as silver, tin, copper and zinc, they form a very stable alloy.

In 2006, the U.S. National Institute of Health proved conclusively that amalgam fillings were safe, after conducting several large-scale clinical studies.


For moms and dads

Can I still have dental treatment while I’m pregnant?

If you are pregnant, we highly recommend regular dental visits for the wellbeing of you and your unborn child. It is safe to receive routine dental treatment during pregnancy. However, some procedures or medication should be avoided in the 1st trimester.

If you are planning or currently trying to fall pregnant, it is important to inform your dentist at the time of your dental visit – to ensure x-rays are not taken. In some circumstances, an x-ray may be required to assist with identifying and achieving suitable pain relief.

During pregnancy, changes in hormone levels can cause an increase in oral bacteria. This results in the prevalence of gingivitis (bleeding gums) which can become quite severe if left unchecked. It is recommended that you continue regular maintenance visits during your pregnancy. Be sure to schedule regular checkups during your 2nd trimester.


At what age should I start to bring my children to the dentist?

It is recommended that your child have their first dental check up at 12 months of age. Dental problems at an early age are not uncommon. The earlier the dental visit, the earlier prevention can begin.

By the time your child is 2 ½ to 3 years old, they would have developed all their baby teeth. Children should have regular annual maintenance visits. This helps minimize your child’s risk of future unpleasant or major procedures that can cause dental fear and anxiety.

Baby teeth are necessary for proper chewing, learning to speak, jaw muscle development, and a healthy self-image. Some baby teeth must serve until the child is at least 12 years old. Early examination will help ensure your child gets the best possible start towards a lifetime of good oral health.


What are dental sealants?

A dental sealant is a thin acrylic coat that is applied onto the chewing surfaces of teeth – usually the premolars and molars – to seal and protect them from tooth decay and the development of cavities. As the liquid sealant is applied, it fills in and bonds to the grooves and depressions of a tooth. Once hardened, it forms a protective barrier over your tooth’s enamel.


Why are sealants recommended for children’s permanent teeth & how long do they last?

The fine pits and grooves in the chewing surfaces of a child’s molar teeth are especially vulnerable to decay because they are deeper than and not as calcified as adult molars. Food accumulates easily in these areas, turning them into the perfect habitat for billions of bacteria. If the food debris is not removed regularly and consistently, then tooth decay is almost a certainty.

Sealants applied to these pits and grooves help to protect and keep teeth free of decay and cavities. Sealants provide an extra layer of protection over the tooth enamel that prevents food residue and plaque from coming into contact with the tooth surface. They can reduce the risk of tooth decay significantly.

Children usually receive dental sealants from the age of 6, when their permanent premolars and molars emerge. They are usually more cavity prone from the ages of 6 to 14 years so dental sealants can help protect their teeth during this vulnerable time. Adults can also benefit from dental sealants, as long as they don’t have any tooth decay or fillings.

Dental sealants can last for several years. Your dentist will always check for chips or wear whenever you come in for a check-up.


Why do my child’s baby teeth look so huge?

It’s all a matter of proportion. A child’s baby teeth look so big and out of proportion because the rest of his or her developing head and body has yet to catch up.

However, over time, a child’s head and body will continue to keep growing while the baby teeth remain the same size. Eventually, those teeth will match the rest of the body.

Don’t worry about any worrisome gaps between the baby teeth either. It’s probably a good sign that your child’s permanent teeth will have enough room to grow without crowding – and as these teeth reach their final position, most of the spaces will close.


If a child’s baby teeth are going to fall out eventually, does it matter if those teeth have cavities? And should they be filled?

In children, baby teeth eventually fall out, and are replaced by permanent teeth. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore your child’s tooth decay, and just wait for their permanent teeth to take over.

When baby teeth become decayed, it can result in a painful infection making it difficult for children to chew and eat efficiently. A filling can halt the progression of tooth decay, preventing further damage and can even save a badly decayed tooth.

But why bother saving a badly decayed baby tooth?

Because its important for a child to keep their baby teeth right up until the permanent teeth are ready to erupt. A baby tooth holds a space open for the permanent teeth to move into. If a baby tooth is extracted or falls out too early, then the teeth on either side of the gap can tilt and shift into the open space – preventing the permanent teeth from reaching its final position. In this case, teeth crowding or an impacted tooth may result along with the likelihood of needing braces or aligners to straighten out the permanent teeth in the future.




Do whitening toothpastes work effectively?

Whitening toothpaste do work and can lighten your teeth effectively – by about one shade. They contain mild abrasives and gentle polishing or chemical agents that are suitable for removing superficial surface stains.

On the other hand, over-the-counter and professional tooth whitening products contain bleaching agents (e.g. hydrogen peroxide) that can remove far deeper stains.


What is power bleaching?

Power bleaching (also known as chair-side bleaching) from your dentist takes teeth whitening to another level. When light-activated, a professional whitening treatment provided by your dentist can lighten your teeth by up to eight shades lighter.


I want to change the shape of my teeth. What dental treatment options are available?

If you want to change the shape of your teeth, close the gaps between your teeth, or repair cracked or chipped teeth, you have a number of treatment options:

  • bonding – a dental procedure where a natural tooth-coloured resin is applied and bonded to the tooth surface using a special curing light.
  • veneers – wafer thin, custom-made porcelain “shells” that are applied to the front surface of your teeth
  • crowns – tooth-shaped “caps” that completely cover an existing tooth above the gum line.
  • contouring – a dental procedure in which small amounts of your teeth are removed to change its shape, size and surface.


What is contouring?

Contouring is a relatively inexpensive dental procedure used to reshape your teeth for a more aesthetic and appealing appearance.

During the contouring process, the new size and shape of your teeth is achieved by sanding and shaving enamel off to resolve any imperfections. It isn’t that much different from a manicure where your nails are filed into the desired shape. Contouring can improve your smile, and create the appearance of better alignment.

Contouring is a painless procedure and only requires one visit. Be aware that contouring takes away tooth material so once the procedure is completed, it is irreversible.


What can I do about a gummy smile?

You can get a gum lift.

When you smile to reveal your teeth, the ideal position for your upper lip should be just along the gum line. If too much gum is showing, you have what’s known as a gummy smile.

The most common dental technique used to improve gummy smiles is to use lasers to carefully remove excess gum tissue above the tooth – thus giving the impression of a “gum lift”.

A gum lift procedure changes the ratio of pink gum tissue to white teeth so that your smile looks more balanced, symmetrical and natural-looking.


Routine Oral Care

What toothpaste is most suitable for my teeth?

When it comes to selecting the right toothpaste for you and your family, you need to understand the oral health concerns that matter the most for you and your family. Consulting with your dentist or dental hygienist is the best way to identify the most suitable category of toothpaste to use.

There are many types of toothpaste that can benefit a number of oral health conditions:

  • Toothpastes containing fluoride, a clinically proven active ingredient that helps prevent tooth enamel decalcification, and protects against tooth decay and cavities
  • Desensitising toothpaste to treat hypersensitivity and pain
  • Anti-calculus toothpaste
  • Anti-plaque/tartar toothpaste which also help to prevent gingivitis
  • Whitening and smokers toothpaste to help remove superficial tooth stains and tar deposits
  • Antibacterial toothpaste helps eliminate anaerobic bacteria and bad breath
  • Gum care toothpastes that contain Triclosan benefit gum health and prevent gingivitis
  • All-natural toothpastes made with herbal extracts, such as tea tree oil, propolis and seaweed
  • “All-in-one” toothpastes are designed to target a set of oral health issues ranging from plaque control to tooth-whitening

Most dental experts consider fluoride to be the one vital ingredient that should be in any toothpaste you select.

Lastly, you need to consider your personal preferences, so you don’t end up using a toothpaste that you might find uncomfortable and irritating (for your mouth) to use.


Do electric toothbrushes clean teeth better than manual toothbrushes?

It’s not about which brush you should use but how you use it.

If don’t have the patience or time to spend three minutes twice a day to brush your teeth then electric toothbrushes may be a more effective alternative to manual toothbrushes. Electric toothbrushes may also be more suitable for impatient children with poor brushing habits.

However, if you use a manual toothbrush with proper technique for the recommended time (2-3 min) and frequency (twice daily) – then manual brushing is just as effective as powered brushing.


What is plaque and why is it bad?

Plaque is a whitish sticky biofilm that forms constantly on your teeth. It develops mainly in hard to reach places – between your teeth, on the back of your teeth and along the gum line.

The reason why plaque is bad for your oral health is because it contains and protects billions of bacteria. The acidic by-products of these bacteria damage your teeth leading to tooth decay, cavities and ultimately gum disease, if left untreated.

Over time plaque can harden into tartar which makes it impossible to remove unless you visit your dentist for a scale and clean. The good news is that you can prevent tartar easily by removing plaque with thorough brushing and flossing in all areas of your oral cavity – including the hard to reach places. These areas are most vulnerable to plaque and its effects because plaque can accumulate and develop undisturbed for long periods of time.


Why are oral hygiene care routines important?

Good oral hygiene care freshens and invigorates your teeth and gums. At the same time, you are laying the foundation for lifelong dental health.

Here are our top tips for maintaining healthy teeth and gums:

  • use a soft toothbrush with rounded bristles
  • replace your regular toothbrush every 3 to 4 months
  • brush twice daily
  • using fluoride toothpaste
  • floss daily
  • make regular dental visits (every 6 months)
  • avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
  • have regular periodontal check-ups (annually)
  • get screened for oral cancer


Oral conditions


What causes tooth decay?

Dental caries (tooth decay) are affected by three major factors:

  • Food or beverages consumed
  • Bacterial plaque
  • The oral health of your teeth and mouth

When these factors are out of balance in favour of the bacteria, there are negative effects. Bacterial waste products become acidic. This results in a breakdown or demineralisation of areas beneath the tooth surface.

Each time you eat, your teeth are under an acid attack. Your body counter measures by rinsing the food and acid away with saliva. Your saliva neutralises the acid, but more importantly it replenishes minerals (calcium and phosphate) to rebuild the areas of your tooth that were demineralised by the acid attack. This rebuilding process is called re-mineralisation.


What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is a common cause of tooth loss in adults. It is largely a hidden disease with few symptoms in its early to mid stages.

However, once it has progressed to a more advanced stage, there are a host of obvious symptoms. These may include: inflamed, swollen and/or bleeding gums; persistent halitosis; unstable teeth; and changes in the way your upper and lower teeth interlock when biting.


How do I get checked for periodontal disease?

As part of your routine check-up, your dentist will look for any signs of periodontal disease. They will use a periodontal probe to identify any breakdown in gum tissue attachment or the presence of any pockets developing between your gums and teeth.


What are the treatment options for periodontal disease?

If you are diagnosed with periodontal disease, your dental hygienist/dentist may have treatment options available.

For advanced stages, you may be given a referral to a periodontist. A periodontist is a specialist in diagnosing, preventing and treating periodontal diseases. Treatment is customised to suit your individual needs. A periodontist will determine how far your condition has progressed and assess how well your body will respond to treatment and therapy.

Treatment options include:

Your hygienist/ dentist can remove plaque and tartar all the way to the bottom of each periodontal pocket. These build ups are carefully removed with an instrument called a small scaler. An ultrasonic cleaner is often used also.

After this deep clean, the tooth’s root surfaces are planed or smoothed. The gum tissue is now able to heal. In the future, plaque will be less likely to accumulate along those root surfaces. As a follow up, you will be instructed on how to care for your teeth and gums as they heal.

With regular check-ups, gum disease can be treated in its early stages before it progresses to a more serious condition. Treatment will be necessary if your condition is in an advanced stage. Remember to maintain healthy oral hygiene at home twice daily after your treatment. Back this routine up with a good diet and regular check-ups with your dentist. This way you can prevent periodontal disease from recurring.


New patients


I recently moved and need to find a new dentist close by. How do I find the right one?

When you move to a new home in a different suburb or city, establishing yourself in your new community can be a daunting experience. You have to contact new service providers and utility suppliers.

The task of finding a new dentist may begin with a look in the Yellow Pages or a Google search. But once you have short-listed the dental clinics that you are prepared to travel to, you have to make a choice.

A pick from the top of a list does not ensure that you will be getting the services of the most suitable dentist for you and your family. So how do you identify the right dentist for you?

For a perfect fit dentist, consider the following research steps:

    • Find the ADA certified dentists in your suburb. Check out the Australian Dental Association (ADA) website’s “Find a dentist” page and search by location and specialty. Afterwards, visit each dental practices website for more specific information. Link: https://www.ada.org.au/Find-a-Dentist
    • Schedule consultations with each of your short-listed dentists.

This is your opportunity to hone in on the right dentist. Be sure to bring copies of your family’s dental records, and ask lots of questions to find out if they can provide the appropriate type of dental care – growing children may need the services of a pediatric or orthodontic dental practice. You can also gauge the dentist’s education, experience and empathy with you, by the answers they provide. Note the dental environment and whether the clinics staff makes you feel welcome, comfortable and well taken care of.

  • Ask your friends, acquaintances and work colleagues for their recommendations. They may be able to provide you with detailed information about dental clinics in your area that you can’t assess from an initial consultation. For example, the waiting time after you arrive for an appointment and the chair-side manner of the dental staff are important considerations.


Medical questions


I have type 2 diabetes. Are there any associated oral health problems?

Diabetics are more prone to oral infections and other oral health conditions such as gum disease, tooth decay and receding gums. That’s because diabetes reduces the ability of your body’s immune system to fight infection. Other contributing factors include a decrease in blood flow and circulation to your gums, as well as elevated blood sugar levels within the mouth.

Proper oral hygiene and well managed diabetes are key to preventing oral health issues associated with diabetes.


Dental issues


I am too scared to go to the dentist to get my teeth checked. What can I do?

Relax – you aren’t the only one. About 10% of Australians avoid a visit to the dentist because of fear or anxiety, and in doing so, put their oral and general health at risk.

Perhaps the best thing you can do to manage dental anxiety is to schedule a dental visit and have a chat with your dentist about your condition. By understanding your fears, your dentist can determine a strategy that can calm and comfort you enough so that vital dental treatment can take place successfully.

There are a number of strategies available to help patients overcome dental anxiety:

  • medication
  • dental sedation
  • lasers
  • relaxation techniques
  • support groups


I haven’t been to the dentist for a long time. What should I do?

You aren’t the only one. Even if you haven’t been to the dentist for 10 years, you can still get back on track with your oral health. You only have one set of adult teeth for life, and avoiding the dentist may result in serious oral conditions, such as gum disease, having more time to progress – increasing the risk of permanent damage to your teeth, gums and overall health.

When you finally decide to see a dentist in the event of extreme pain and other severe symptoms, it usually means that whatever oral condition you might have, is in a late stage of development.

Take advantage of your dentists professional skills and experience, for a proper dental check up and examination to be sure of your oral health.


What are the causes of bad breath?

Bad breath, also called halitosis, is usually the result of poor oral hygiene. When food debris is trapped between your teeth for several hours, it can become rotten resulting in a foul odour emanating from your mouth. By removing these food particles, through proper brushing and flossing, this type of bad breath is easily remedied. Plaque build up may also be the cause of bad breath because the bacteria in them give off odorous gasses.

Chronic bad breath may be caused by oral conditions such as cavities, gum disease and dry mouth. In these instances, normal oral care and hygiene will only mask mouth odours temporarily. See your dentist for advice and dental treatment if your bad breath persists despite regular brushing and flossing.

Don’t ignore long term bad breath or bad tastes in your mouth. They may be warning signs of gum (periodontal) disease. Left untreated, gum disease can damage your gums and jawbone.

A dry mouth can also contribute to bad breath. Saliva naturally moistens and cleanses the mouth by neutralising acids produced by plaque and acid forming food and beverages. It also washes away food residue and dead cells that have accumulated on your tongue, gums and inner cheeks. A lack of saliva can be a side effect of salivary gland problems, certain medications, smoking and other causes.

An ongoing medical condition may also result in bad breath. These include oral or stomach infections, gastroesophageal reflux, uncontrolled diabetes and colds.


How do I know if I have bad breath?

Short of subjecting a friend or family member to a whiff of your breath, there is a quick discreet technique you can use without the need for anybody’s feedback.

First, lick the back of your hand, then wait for about 10 seconds. Now sniff the area that you licked. You should be able to tell in an instant if you have bad breath. If it smells bad to you, it’s a good bet that everyone else will consider it offensive also. They are just too polite to mention it. If you still aren’t sure, then any good dentist worth their salt should be willing to oblige!


How do I get rid of bad breath?

If your bad breath is not the result of an oral or medical condition, try the following steps to prevent or eliminate bad breath:

  • Brush your teeth and oral cavity twice daily
  • Floss every day
  • See your dentist for regular check ups
  • Maintain a healthy and nutritious diet, avoiding junk food
  • Avoid tobacco products


Why is snacking harmful to your teeth?

Grazing on foods and beverages for extended periods between meals upsets the balance of the demineralisation/re-mineralisation cycle. Unfortunately for people who like snacking, it tips in favour of the demineralisation and decay.

Snacking on sweet sticky foods (like caramel and raisins) between meals should be avoided. The continuous acid attack overwhelms the saliva’s ability to clean and repair. These sugary foods should only be eaten at meal times. This allows for a more even tug-of-war between your saliva and the acids. This is a more manageable situation for you and your teeth.

In short, you can prevent tooth decay by:

  • limiting the consumption of sweet sticky foods between meals
  • limiting the sipping of sweetened beverages and refined fruit juices between meals


Call us now on 3809 3320 to arrange an appointment with our dental hygienist.