How can I improve the whiteness of my teeth?

How can I improve the whiteness of my teeth?

Many people present to their dentist or dental hygienist asking how they can make their teeth whiter. That’s because an improved smile is on most patients’ priority list when visiting the dentist. And bright, white teeth are a significant part of what makes a smile appealing.

Teeth whitening at the dentist is becoming increasingly common, effective, affordable and, most importantly, safe.

Compared to whitening products that can be purchased off the supermarket shelf or at your local chemist, the products used at the dentist are of a significantly higher strength and potency and are designed to maximise contact with your teeth, in order to achieve a more desirable shade.

Following a thorough check up and clean at Smile Solutions the choice of which whitening approach to be undertaken depends on the causes of your teeth staining (smoking versus antibiotic staining), time-frame for achieving your results, and your budget.

Causes of discolouration

The outermost layer of your teeth is enamel. Most of us start out with thick, sparkling white porcelain-like enamel. With age, enamel becomes worn down and more transparent, allowing the yellow colour of the inner tooth structure, dentine, to show through.

There are two categories of tooth staining:

  • extrinsic (or external) staining – the most common causes being smoking, heavy consumption of tea/coffee/red wine and poor oral hygiene
  • intrinsic (or internal) staining – which can result from trauma (such as a fall), excessive fluoride exposure while teeth are developing, or medication (tetracylines can stain a child’s teeth if taken by a mother during the second half of pregnancy or by a child up to the age of 8).
  1. Food and drink

Extrinsic tooth staining (staining on the outer surface of the tooth) can be caused by the consumption of highly pigmented foods and drinks such as black and green

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Root canal treatment: who and what is involved?

Root canal treatment: who and what is involved?

What does root canal treatment involve?

Root canal treatment, or root canal therapy (RCT), is required to treat a tooth with a dead, dying or inflamed pulp, more commonly known as the ‘nerve’.

Endodontology, or endodontics, is the art and science of root canal treatment. Endodontics is one of the dental specialities recognised by the Dental Board of Australia, which also maintains the register of specialist endodontists, all of whom have had a minimum of three years post-graduate training.

Endodontic treatment is required when the pulp of a tooth becomes inflamed or if it becomes necrotic, ie; it dies! The presence of a dead nerve can lead to the formation of an abscess. Inflammation of the pulp, or indeed pulp deaths, can be caused by trauma, such as a blow to the mouth or tooth, by deep dental decay (dental caries), the presence of a crack or split in the tooth, or in some cases, simply a reaction to a very deep filling or the placement of a new crown on a compromised tooth.

Endodontic problems can present in an acute phase, with pain and swelling, but in many cases the patient could be symptom free and the presence of an endodontic problem is diagnosed via a routine radiograph, or X-ray.

Endodontic treatment is carried out over one or two visits and involves the endodontist, or general dentist, creating a small hole in the top of the tooth and removing the dead or dying pulp with a series of fine files. Once the canals have been shaped to allow filling, they are soaked with a strong antibacterial solution to make sure all the bacteria are rendered ineffective. 

Following this antibacterial irrigation, the root canals are dried with small, sterile paper cones, and then filled with a soft rubbery material.

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How can I improve the whiteness of my teeth?

How do I protect my teeth during pregnancy?

Being pregnant is incredibly exciting but it can also be a very nervous time for a new mum. And it’s a time when you need to pay particular attention to protecting your teeth, especially your gums.

There are plenty of guidelines as to what pregnant women should and shouldn’t do, and these can be overwhelming. As far as oral health is concerned, two questions often asked are: “How do I protect my teeth during pregnancy?” and “Is dental surgery safe during pregnancy?”.

A woman’s hormone levels rise during pregnancy, which can cause her gums to swell and bleed more than usual. This is one reason why it is very important to see a dentist and hygienist while you are pregnant.

In addition, preventive dental work such as teeth cleaning is essential to avoid oral infections and gum disease – both of which have been linked to preterm birth. And dental surgery such as cavity fillings should be carried out to reduce the chance of infection.

In a nutshell, we recommend you do the following to maintain your oral health and hygiene and protect your teeth while pregnant:

  • Keep your teeth and gums clean, which means brushing twice daily for a minimum of 2 minutes and flossing once daily.
  • Be gentle with your teeth and gums and always use a soft-bristled toothbrush, a gentle brushing technique and a fluoride toothpaste.
  • If you have extreme gum sensitivity, try using a sensitive toothpaste or talk with your dentist about what you can use.
  • Eat a balanced diet and try to cut down on sweets and candy. Try to make healthy snack choices such as fruit, veggie sticks or nuts.
  • Have preventive exams and cleanings during your pregnancy.
  • Postpone non-emergency dental work until the second trimester or after delivery if
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How can I improve the whiteness of my teeth?

Bridges, implants, or dentures for replacing missing teeth?

How can I replace my missing teeth?

Before we delve into replacement options of bridges, implants and dentures, let’s start with why we have to replace missing teeth at all. Is it important to do so? What will happen if you don’t get a replacement? 

The human dentition is designed to function with twenty-eight interacting teeth. Each tooth connects with two other teeth in the opposing arch.

When we lose a tooth it’s like knocking a brick out of a wall! At first nothing happens, but soon gravity and external forces take over and the wall starts to collapse. 

It’s the same with teeth: gravity and other forces win. The teeth either side of the gap begin to collapse inwards and the opposing teeth start to move. This results in malocclusion (abnormal tooth alignment).

The longer you wait to replace missing teeth, the more complicated replacement gets and the more costly. You may even sacrifice replacement options – for example, the bone at the gap resorbs over time and so an implant may not be feasible.

There are various ways to replace missing teeth and all have different cost implications and different benefits. It’s much like getting from A to B: you can, for example, walk, cycle, scooter, or drive a small, medium-sized or extravagant car. Each will get you there, but differently.

The available tooth replacement options are: dentures, implant-supported crowns, and bridges. You will have to rely on the expertise of your clinician to ascertain which is the best option for you.

Meanwhile let’s have a look at the two most popular long-term replacement options: bridges and implants, and we will discuss dentures a little later.

A dental implant consists of an implant crown and an implant screw, whereas a dental bridge consists of two crowns and one

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Dr Philippa Robinson

Why would I need to see a dental specialist?

Dental specialties explained

All dentists fall into one of two groups: general dentists and dental specialists.

General dentists have a university degree in the general aspects of dentistry, enabling them to provide a broad range of dental care, such as regular checkups and teeth cleaning, repairing damaged and decayed teeth and gum care. Dentists should be your first point of call for general teeth and mouth issues, like your family doctor is for your general medical concerns.

General dentists will readily refer to specialists in cases where a patient has a difficult dental situation or in cases where a patient may be seeking a second opinion. General dentists and specialists work together as a team to provide comprehensive and tailored care for each patient.

Dental specialists, have both a general dental degree and a further postgraduate university degree of at least three years’ duration in a particular field of dentistry. In all, there are 13 fields of dental specialisation in Australia, including oral and maxillofacial surgeryorthodonticsendodontics, paediatric dentistryperiodontics, and prosthodontics.

It is important to determine that your dental specialist is, in fact, registered as a specialist with the Dental Board of Australia, as distinct from a general dentist with a “special interest” in a particular field. The terms used by various clinicians can be confusing but a practitioner’s true qualifications are easily checked on the website of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

Smile Solutions is both a general practice and a dental specialist clinic: all of our general and specialist dentists work together in the same comfortable CBD location at Collins Street Specialist Centre, not only for the convenience of the patient but also to ensure the highest level of integrated clinical care.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeon

need see dental specialist


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All your conventional braces questions answered

All your conventional braces questions answered

Caring for your conventional braces

Has your orthodontist suggested conventional braces to straighten your teeth?

Here are all your questions about this treatment answered.

What are braces made up of?

Conventional braces consist of two main parts: a series of brackets (either metal or clear) attached to the surface of each tooth, and an arch wire running through slots in the brackets which slowly moves the teeth when tensioned.

How should I care for my teeth while wearing braces?

Excellent oral hygiene is crucial for anyone wearing conventional braces. You should take particular care to ensure the areas around your braces and along your gum line are kept free from plaque.

We recommend you use your new orthodontic toothbrush, along with Superfloss and Pixsters, after snacks and meals. Superfloss has a stiffened end that can be threaded between your teeth and the arch wire. You then use the spongy section to floss large spaces and the smith end for the smaller ones.

In addition, you can use Pikster inter-dental brushes to clean between your teeth and the arch wire. With bendable heads, these can easily reach around to your back teeth and will last up to two weeks when properly rinsed after each use.

If you are finding it hard to clean your teeth or notice that your gums seem puffy or bleed easily, we recommend more frequent visits to your dentist or hygienist for professional hygiene therapy.

What happens if a part of my braces breaks or comes loose?

You need to take care while wearing your conventional braces to ensure brackets and arch wires stay in place. This is often caused by eating foods that are particularly crunchy or sticky. This is not an emergency and commonly happens within the first weeks of treatment. If this occurs, make

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Dr Cynthia Chu

Why do I need a filling?

Signs and symptoms of needing a filling

There are many instances in which a filling is required. Normally dental fillings are needed when there is a cavity caused by one of the following:

  • tooth decay (caries) due to sugary diet and bacteria forming acids that dissolve the enamel and dentine. If left untreated, cavities can lead to serious dental problems – including pain, infection and abscess.
  • enamel loss due to wear and abrasion causing sensitivity
  • fractures caused by trauma
  • crack lines due to weak tooth structure and heavy bite or grinding
  • a broken or lost filling.

Some symptoms and signs that may indicate a filling is needed:

  • Noticeable holes which are seen with the eye or felt with the tongue
  • sensitivity to heat or cold or pressure
  • toothache
  • pain on biting or chewing
  • floss that keeps tearing in a particular gap
  • Discolouration or shadowing of tooth surfaces.
  • rough tooth surface.

Because most cavities start silently, without symptoms or pain, it is important to see your dentist for regular check-ups and dental care. Your dentist will manually examine your mouth and if necessary take X-rays to check between your teeth.

Fillings serve to stop further tooth decay and restore the function, integrity and morphology of the missing tooth structure.

Five different types of filling materials are used:

  1. amalgam
  2. composite resins that are tooth coloured fillings
  3. ionomers – also tooth coloured fillings that release small amounts of fluoride
  4. gold
  5. ceramic/porcelain fillings – which are custom produced for larger fillings that need external surfaces of the tooth covered.

The right filling choice for you will depend on your dentist’s recommendation and your personal preference and budget.

In general, placing a filling involves four stages:

  1. Anaesthetic (optional). The area is made numb to minimise discomfort during the procedure.
  2. Preparation of tooth. The tooth
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Dr Martin Poon

What is the cost of braces?

Understanding the costs of braces and Invisalign

So you are ready to invest in your smile and ready to have your teeth straightened. But how much do braces actually cost?

You start Googling, talk to friends who have been through braces and discuss your options with your local dentist or specialist orthodontist.

You may quickly find out that there are many different options and quotes. So how do you choose? Do you go with the cheapest? Or do you go with the most expensive thinking it has to be the best?

There are several factors that contribute to the cost of braces, these include:

  • severity of the condition being addressed as to the length of treatment required;
  • type of braces used; and
  • the level of experience of your treatment provider.

Firstly, the more involved the treatment, the higher the cost of braces may be. A simple treatment that may take six months would be less than that of someone who requires two to three years of orthodontic treatment including the removal of teeth and oral surgery to correct their bite or position of their jaws.

Secondly, the type of braces used will impact upon the cost of your treatment.

Conventional braces are still the most commonly used orthodontic appliance and many still consider these the “gold standard”. It’s one of those rarities in life: effective, efficient and the least expensive.

However, if the appearance of metal is not to your liking, there are also ceramic or clear braces. These often achieve the same result but are more aesthetically pleasing. This will often cost you more due to the increase in value of the materials used.

Clear braces are made out of a ceramic material and there are many brands on the market. Together with the use of white

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Dr Jacques Theron

What are the differences between dental bonding and veneers?

Improving teeth aesthetics with dental bonding

When wanting to change the shape, length, width, colour and overall appearance of your front teeth, your dentist will probably discuss two options with you: dental veneers and dental bonding. Both, when done well, can enhance the beauty of your smile.

Direct composite bonding, also known as dental bonding, is a process whereby a composite resin material is directly bonded to your tooth to hide minor imperfections, fix small chips and close small gaps. This method can also be used to place a composite filling.

Direct composite veneers can be bonded in one visit, having been manufactured by your dentist without the involvement of a laboratory. However, they are not as strong as the alternative. Also, directly bonded veneers lose their lustre after a while and need to be polished and maintained more often than porcelain. On the upside, they are the cheaper alternative.

Porcelain Veneers are made by a ceramist in a dental laboratory after a dentist has shaped the proposed teeth. With the advancement of Digital Smile Design technologies, it has become so much easier for patients to become more involved with the aesthetics of their smile and the final outcome. In most cases digital veneers can be custom-made and placed for patients to view before the dentist has so much as picked up a mirror.

Porcelain veneers are still the paragon of aesthetics when it comes to creating beautiful smiles. This is because ceramists nowadays use a plethora of porcelain shades and opacities to create what are virtually works of art.

The main advantage of veneers over dental bonding is that they are stronger and more flexible, which makes them less susceptible to fracturing. In some twenty years of practice I have noticed a higher propensity for patients to clench

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All your conventional braces questions answered

My denture is broken, can it be fixed by my dentist on the spot?

You have a denture to which you don’t give much thought. With this denture, you eat well, speak clearly, and most importantly, smile proudly.

Then, a clasp breaks off the denture, or worse still, a tooth. Disaster! What do you do about this and what options are available to you?

Firstly, and most importantly, call Smile Solutions. We have dentists available seven days a week and will see you at your earliest convenience.

The first person you will speak to is a Smile Solutions receptionist who will require a brief description of what has happened and when you will need the repaired denture socially and functionally. Most importantly, the receptionist will ask if you have a spare denture.

We understand that it is far from ideal to go about your daily routine with a broken denture, or a missing tooth, and we will fit you in to see a suitable dentist or prosthetist as soon as possible.

When you meet the clinician, explain what has happened and when you need the denture back. Tell them, also, if you have a spare denture.

Repairs can be done in one of two ways: in the dental chair or at a specialist laboratory.

In many cases, the chairside repair is somewhat of a temporary fix. Unless repaired by a prosthetist, repairs done this way will involve a cold curing acrylic (plastic), which will not last as well as the laboratory heat-cured acrylic.

During the working week, most repairs sent to our trusted laboratories will be completed the same day the denture is sent away. As most labs are closed on weekends, there may be delays for work needed on Saturdays or Sundays. This is where your spare denture comes into play.

A spare denture can be prepared when you have your

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