Get Comprehensive Answers To The Most Frequently Asked Questions On Dental Care.

  • What are the parts of a tooth?
  • What causes cavity?
  • Fluoride: How does it work?
  • How do braces work?
  • I brush my teeth regularly but still have bad breath. What can I do?
  • When should my child first visit 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 a periodontal disease?
  • What happens if I just ignore getting my teeth cleaned?
  • What’s the best way to prevent gum disease?
  • What does gum treatment mean?
  • What are wisdom teeth?
  • What is the best way to brush?
  • What is a dental floss? How does it work?
  • Why do teeth get cracks?
  • I have a number of black fillings, what can I do to change this?
  • Why do I need x Rays?
  • What do I do when a tooth is pushed out of position?
  • What causes baby bottle tooth decay?
  • How to prevent baby bottle tooth decay?
  • How serious is baby bottle tooth decay?
  • What causes bad breath?
  • What is the material used in teeth whitening process?
  • Is it harmful to my teeth?
  • What does whitening process do to my tooth?
  • How white will my teeth get?
  • Are there any side effects or precautions?
  • What is a denture?
  • Do I brush them like real teeth?

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 gum line. The root is below the gum line. It makes up about 2/3rds of the tooth’s total length.

Four different tissues make up each tooth. The enamel is the 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 is softer than enamel and carries some of the nerve fibers that tell you when something is going wrong inside your tooth.

The Pulp is the centre part of the tooth. It is 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 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.
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 are 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.

Flouride , How does it work?
Fluoride is a natural element that can be found in many things, like in 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 toothpaste with fluoride.

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 agent 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 yesteryears . Today, many orthodontic patients can get braces that attach to the back 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.

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 the 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 is 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 wear out.)
  • Eat a healthy diet. Avoid snacks and junk food 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 to keep your mouth healthy. Visit your nearest Apollo Dental clinic at least twice a year.

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 pondering when the first trip to the dentist should be scheduled. Your child’s first visit to a dentist should be by the age of two or three, when all the 20 baby teeth have come in. After the first visit, your child should see a dentist twice a year for regular cleaning and checkup. These visits allow your dentist to detect flaws early, possibly preventing more serious problems in the future. For the 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 the young child’s needs.

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 a course of medication before your dentist or Endodontist can begin the treatment.

What can gum disease mean for a diabetic?
Gingivitis is an infection within the gums caused by bacteria found in plaque. A diabetic patient’s body does not respond as quickly to the 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 infection than those who are poorly controlled.

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


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.

What is a 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 bleeding.

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

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.

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.

What does periodontal treatment involve?
In the earlier states of gum disease (mild to moderate periodontitis), most treatment involves scaling and root planing. 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.

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 owners 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.

What is 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.

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. Inter proximal areas (those places in between your teeth) and below the gum line 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 is still unclean?

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

Why do teeth get cracks?
A common problem seen is cracking of teeth, 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 pointing out exactly which tooth hurts, either upper or lower

if you suspect that you may have a cracked tooth, discuss this with your dentist.

I have a number of black fillings, What can I do to improve this?
The black filling material used 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.

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 tumors. 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).

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.

What causes baby bottle tooth decay?

Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by the frequent and long term exposure of a childs teeth to liquids containing sugars. Among these liquids are milk, formula, fruit juice, sodas, and other sweetened drinks. 

The sugars in these liquids pool around the infant’s teeth and gums, feeding the bacteria that cause plaque. Every time your child consumes a sugary liquid, acid attacks his/her teeth. After numerous attacks, tooth decay can occur, resulting in baby bottle tooth decay.

How to prevent baby bottle tooth decay?
Parents sometimes do not realize that baby’s teeth are susceptible to decay as soon as they appear in the infant’s mouth. By the time the decay is noticed, it may be too late to save the child’s teeth. You can prevent this from happening to your child’s teeth by knowing how to protect them.
After each feeding, wipe the child’s teeth and gums with a damp washcloth or small soft toothbrush to remove plaque. Begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts.
Flossing should begin when all primary teeth have erupted, usually by age 2 or 2 1/2. Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing a sweetened liquid. If your child refuses to fall asleep without a bottle, simply fill it with water and nothing else.
If your local water supply does not contain enough decay fighting fluoride, check with your dentist to see if your child should receive fluoride supplements. Start dental visits between six and twelve months of age.

How serious is baby bottle tooth decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay can cause painful toothaches which can hinder eating. Severely decayed teeth can become infected and need to be extracted. If your child’s teeth are infected or lost too early due to baby bottle tooth decay, your child may have some of these problems:

  • Poor eating habits
  • Speech problems
  • Crooked teeth
  • Damaged adult (permanent) teeth
  • Yellow or brown adult (permanent) teeth

Keep your child happy and smiling by preventing baby bottle tooth decay.

What causes bad breath?
Bad breath can be caused by things such as certain food items, poor oral hygiene, gum disease, a dry mouth (Xerostomia), tobacco products or a medical disorder. When bacteria accumulate because of poor oral hygiene or gum disease, bad breath can result. Saliva is necessary to wash away food particles and bacteria. Certain medications and disorders can lead to a dry mouth. Sometimes a sinus infection, postnasal drip or other respiratory tract infections can cause bad breath. If bad breath is persistent, contact your dentist to determine whether the cause is of dental origin.

What is the material used in the whitening process?
The most popular and extensively researched material is a 10% carbamide peroxide, which is a mild form of 3% hydrogen peroxide.

Is it harmful to my teeth?
No, not if the proper material is used after a proper diagnosis by a health professional who will devise a treatment plan. The effect on the teeth seems to be no different from commonly ingested foods or regular dental procedures.

What does whitening process do to my teeth?
The carbamide peroxide soaks into the tooth’s dentin and enamel. It removes stains that have also soaked into the tooth, as well as changes the color of the inside of the tooth by an oxidation process.

How white will my teeth get?
This depends on the nature of the staining and length of treatment. You may see up to 13 shades of color change. Some people lighten 7 shades in 7 days.

Are there any reasons I should not whiten my teeth?
Yes. Restorations (fillings such as tooth colored composites and crowns) do not change color. If you have many fillings on your teeth that show when you smile, they may become more noticeable (look darker) after the teeth get lighter. Your dentist will examine you and advise you as to whether the improvement from whitening is worth the cost and risk of replacement of those restorations.

Are there any side effects or precautions?
Yes, some people may have episodes of tooth sensitivity during treatment. These are generally mild, and will stop when treatment is completed. However, your dental office will work with you to determine the best wearing time to minimize sensitivity. There are also medications available that can be used to reduce sensitivity which can be applied using the same carrier. People who have a history of sensitive teeth can use desensitizing toothpaste containing potassium nitrate and fluoride during treatment. Occasionally, gingival (gum) irritation can occur from wearing the tray and is relieved by removing tissue contact from the tray.

What is a denture?
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and adjacent tissues. It is made of acrylic resin, sometimes in combination with various metals. Complete dentures replace all the teeth, while a partial denture fills in the spaces created by missing teeth and prevents other teeth from changing position. Complete dentures are either a Conventional or Immediate. A conventional denture is placed in the mouth, about a month after all the teeth are removed to allow proper healing, whereas an immediate denture is placed as soon as the teeth are removed. The drawback behind an immediate denture is that it may require more adjustments after the healing has taken place.

Do I brush them like real teeth?
No, dentures should be cleaned, if possible, after each meal. The best way is to remove them and rinse them. If one is able to, brushing the dentures is advised, as well as rinsing the mouth to clean it of any debris. If some natural teeth do remain, brushing them is suggested. Always soak dentures at night after brushing them. Over the counter cleaning agents are available. Keeping the dentures soaked prevents them from warping. It is also much healthier to keep the denture out overnight to avoid excessive pressure on the soft tissue and bone. Always remember to brush your tongue and lightly brush the gums with a soft toothbrush. Special denture brushes can also be used on the dentures

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