- Why do I need to fill in a Health Questionnaire?
- What does my Dental Health Check involve?
- Why have I been recommended to visit the hygienist?
- I’m worried about pain during/following my hygienist appointment. Can I be numbed for this?
- Why do you recommend regular Dental Health Checks?
- I wear full dentures. Do I still need to see the dentist?
- How do I find a good dentist?
- My tooth didn’t hurt before my filling but it hurts afterwards. Why?
- Should I come to my appointment if I have a cold sore?
- Will antibiotics cure a dental abscess
- I’m really nervous about coming to the dentist. How can you help?
Why do I need to fill in a Health Questionnaire?
We will ask you to complete or update a Health Questionnaire at every Dental Health Check. This allows us to provide you with the best-quality and safest possible treatment tailored to your needs. For example, we need to ensure…
…that you are not allergic to anything we may use or prescribe.
…anything we prescribe will not have a harmful interaction with any medication you take.
…we are aware of a potential risk of any medical emergency e.g. heart attack, so we can quickly diagnose and respond to the emergency.
…we can assess your risk level for mouth cancer by checking your smoking/alcohol consumption.
…we are aware of any medical condition or medication which may directly or indirectly affect the health of your teeth, gums or soft tissues.
…we are able to plan treatment appropriately and safely taking account of your health.
What does my Dental Health Check involve?
A Dental Health Check is far more than just having your teeth checked. It is comprised of many parts which together help to form a full assessment (picture) of your dental and oral health and your risk status: During your Dental Health Check we will…
…update our records on your general health. See the FAQ on Health Questionnaires
…ask whether you have any problems, concerns or questions.
We can’t identify all problems just by looking at the teeth – some are hidden. For example, teeth with dead or dying nerves may appear perfectly healthy but cause anything from a mild niggle to severe toothache. Finding out any symptoms helps us to investigate, identify and treat problem teeth.
…check outside the mouth
We check various structures outside the mouth. We will check your jaw joint for any clicks and whether it moves smoothly, and also check your salivary glands and lymph nodes for any swellings which can be a sign of infection, inflammation or cancer.
…check soft tissues inside the mouth
We check everywhere inside your mouth. This includes your palate, cheeks, lips, tongue and under the tongue. We check these areas for any signs of mouth cancer but can also identify signs of many other diseases, including lichen planus.
…check your gums
We check your gums to look for signs of gingivitis (inflamed gums) and periodontitis (gum disease). This involves (gently) placing a blunt probe between the tooth and gum to check the attachment. Unhealthy gums may be tender or bleed during this check, although this is not painful and causes no damage. If not checked, gum disease can progress silently and causes no symptoms until very advanced at which point teeth start to loosen. Frequent checks help identify gum problems so they can be addressed as soon as possible and treatment can be plan to prevent teeth coming loose.
…check your teeth
We are looking for cavities (decay), cracks, signs of wear and damaged fillings, crowns or other restorations. We will also look at your bite to check it is even and stable and not causing any potential damage to your teeth and jaw joint.
…carry out any necessary further investigations
In some cases, further investigations may be recommended. X-rays are often appropriate to check for hidden decay or infections. We may also test teeth for sensitivity to temperature or pressure which can signify hidden problems with the teeth.
…have a discussion
If we have found anything that may require treatment, or action on your part we will take time to discuss this and its implications with you. It may be that we recommend a change in your cleaning routine, a particular type of cleaning, a mouthwash, or a change to your diet. If any treatment is recommended we will discuss with you what the treatment involves as well as any alternatives and the pros and cons of each.
… plan any required treatment
After discussion, once a treatment plan has been agreed we will ensure you are happy with your decision, print you a copy of your treatment plan including a full price breakdown and arrange any appointments that may be required. For many of you, this may simply be “That’s all fine. See you in 3/6/12 months”.
Why have I been recommended to visit the hygienist?
At your Dental Health Check, we may recommend that you visit the hygienist. The aim of hygiene treatment is to improve the health of the gums and reduce the risk of future tooth and gum problems by ensuring the teeth are as clean as possible. The hygienist will give you a dedicated appointment for a comprehensive clean, and their experience in this treatment means that this is usually the most effective way to improve the health of your gums. We will only recommend this to those patients who are likely to benefit from it. This includes those of you who…
…are showing signs of unhealthy gums such as gingivitis (reversible gum inflammation) or periodontitis (gum disease)
…are at an increased risk of tooth decay – e.g. patients with dry mouth
…may be able to reduce their risk of tooth and gum problems through improvements in dental hygiene
…have received particular dental treatments which require more comprehensive cleaning e.g. dental implants, bridges, dentures.
Following your first hygiene appointment, it is likely that your teeth and gums will be sore for a while afterwards. This is because before your first visit, your gums are likely to be inflamed (hence the need for an appointment). When the gums are then disturbed they are often sore. However, by having the plaque and tartar removed, and by following the tailored advice given by the hygienist, this will allow the gums to become healthier over time. We therefore find that usually, following the second appointment, there is much less discomfort. In the long run, your teeth and gums will be much healthier as a result.
I’m worried about pain during/following my hygienist appointment. Can I be numbed for this?
The first thing to mention is that, although a little sensitivity is normal with hygiene treatment, most people find this to be at a low level that is easily tolerable, and very few people need to be numbed for treatment.
It is not unusual to experience some discomfort during and after your hygienist treatment. During treatment, the teeth may be sensitive and the gums may feel tender. Afterwards, the teeth can feel more sensitive than normal for around a week. This is because the removal of unhealthy tartar deposits from the tooth surface means the teeth become more exposed to heat and cold. It can take a few days for the teeth to adapt to this.
Any discomfort experienced would usually decrease at each subsequent appointment, as the gums become healthier and the teeth would usually have less tartar build-up.
If your teeth are particularly sensitive during treatment, your hygienist can give you anaesthetic for your treatment. This may be an anaesthetic gel inserted below the gumline for very small areas of sensitivity, or can be standard dental local anaesthetic to numb wider areas if the sensitivity is more general.
Your hygienist would not normally numb both sides of the mouth at the same time. Therefore if you have widespread sensitivity and prefer the teeth to be numbed, we would usually recommend the treatment is spread over 2 appointments.
You can help to reduce sensitivity at the hygienist by….
….ensuring your teeth are kept as clean as possible between appointments. This means there is less tartar build-up on the teeth, so the teeth will be more adapted to hot and cold exposure. It also means the gums are likely to be healthier and therefore less tender.
….brushing with a sensitive toothpaste such as Colgate Pro-Relief for 1 week before your appointment (if you do not do so already)
….rubbing a sensitive toothpaste such as Colgate Pro-Relief on the necks of the teeth before going to bed the night before your appointment. The toothpaste will stay in contact with the teeth overnight and help to reduce sensitivity during your appointment.
….visiting the hygienist regularly. This helps to ensure teeth and gums are kept as healthy as possible which minimises discomfort during and after treatment
….ensuring you visit your dentist regularly for Dental Health Checks. Sensitivity after hygiene treatments can sometimes be caused by other underlying problems which need further treatment.
….if all else fails, and you would prefer to be numbed for your treatment, just ask your hygienist when you visit (but be prepared that a follow-up visit may be required)
Why do you recommend regular Dental Health Checks?
We recommend every dental patient to have Dental Health Checks regularly. This is because most of the things we look for during your Dental Health Check will not be apparent to you as a patient. Dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease almost always get worse over time if left untreated. The aim is to identify and treat problems early, thereby reducing their impact.
We will recommend a recall period of between 3 and 24 months based on your risk of developing dental disease, and for every patient, this period is carefully considered based on the factors we identify which will influence your risk level.
I wear full dentures. Do I still need to see the dentist?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is as follows: Even if you have none of your own teeth, there are still plenty of things that need to be checked on a regular basis. In particular, this involves performing a visual screen for mouth cancer by checking the gums and other soft tissues inside the mouth. We will also check the fit of your dentures and how they bite together. It is recommended that those patients with full dentures attend every 12 months for a Dental Health Check.
How do I find a good dentist?
If you are new to an area, or looking for a change, it can often be difficult to know how to start looking for a new dentist. The vast majority of dentists are ethical, caring capable professionals with their patients’ best interests at heart. For those of you in the Thirsk area, we hope you will choose us, but for those further afield, here are a few tips to make sure your dentist is right for you: A good dentist will…
…be registered with the Care Quality Commission and the General Dental Council. Both of these registrations are a legal requirement and both organisations have search facilities on their websites so you can check your dentist is registered
…have professional indemnity insurance. This is another legal requirement and your dentist should be happy to show you their certification if requested
…take a detailed medical history from you and ensure this is kept up-to-date. Medical conditions can impact on your dental treatment and vice versa. This information ensures you can be treated safely. You should expect to give these details at least every Dental Health Check
…have an open and clear pricing policy. A price list should be available for you and, if you are to return for any treatment, a written or printed estimate should be provided.
…discuss any treatment with you before it is carried out, including what the treatment involves, what the alternatives are, the pros and cons of each option and what may be the consequence if a problem is not treated.
…carry out a visual check for mouth cancer at every Dental Health Check.
…assess periodically whether X-rays are beneficial. For people who have most or all of their back teeth, it is usually recommended that X-rays are taken between every 6 months and 3 years to check for hidden decay. The frequency depends on your risk level for tooth decay.
…check your gums at every Dental Health Check. Gum disease can progress without giving you any signs, and can only be picked up by checking the gums regularly. This involves checking the attachment of the gum to the tooth by gently inserting a blunt instrument below the gumline. The earlier gum disease is recognised, the easier it can be treated.
…always be polite and respectful, and have staff who do the same. In return, we expect to treated with courtesy and respect ourselves, and are pleased that the vast majority of our patients do so.
…have a clean and tidy practice.
…have stringent cross-infection procedures in place. Your dentist and nurse should always wear a clean mask and gloves, use sterilised instruments, and be happy to discuss cross-infection procedures with you should you so wish.
…have an effective complaints procedure, and be able to provide you with a copy of the procedure on request.
It is important not to rule out a dentist because you feel things have not gone perfectly with your treatment. You should not rule out visiting a dentist based on…
…a tooth hurting after treatment, even if it didn’t hurt before. This is common for a short period after many dental treatments and will usually settle down. However, in some cases it may not settle and this does not usually mean the dentist has done anything wrong. See the next FAQ.
…things not going entirely to plan. Humans are not machines and this means the response of a tooth to treatment can often be unpredictable. Even the most experienced dentist will have patients returning with problems, or things going wrong during treatment.
…a refusal to provide certain treatments. An ethical dentist will always discuss the pros and cons of any treatment with you and in some cases, the cons may outweigh the pros to such an extent that we feel it is not in your best interests to proceed. This is not entirely black and white and is often down to a dentist’s judgement. However, beware a dentist who will happily provide a particular treatment that several other dentists have advised against.
My tooth didn’t hurt before my filling but it hurts afterwards. Why?
This is a common occurrence after dental treatment. When a tooth starts to decay, it is usually not painful, and only becomes painful if the decay becomes advanced and encroaches on the nerve, and even very deep decay is not always painful. We try to treat decay as early as possible to prevent it from progressing – the longer it is left untreated, the larger the cavity will become, causing the tooth to weaken and increasing the risk of an infection.
Treating decay early with a filling will usually stabilise the tooth and prevent infection. Any disturbance to the tooth (e.g. having a filling) is likely to make the tooth sore and sensitive for a short while, but most will settle within a few weeks. For deep fillings, the tooth can be particularly sore and may take longer to settle. For very deep fillings, the tooth may become infected despite our efforts, and we will tell you if we think this is a possibility.
In any case, it is important to remember that, without treatment, it is inevitable that decay will progress, and will eventually cause an infection and lead to tooth loss. We will never do a filling that leaves your tooth worse off in the long run. If complications occur after a filling, remember that things would have almost certainly been worse if you had not had the filling.
Should I come to my appointment if I have a cold sore?
Cold sores can be very contagious, especially during the blistering and weeping stages, which is usually 2-5 days after the initial tingle (they are less contagious during the initial tingle, and the later scabbing/healing stage).
Having a dental appointment can create sprays and aerosols which can spread the cold sore virus to other areas of your face and body. Therefore, we would usually reschedule your dental appointment. If you feel a cold sore in the days leading up to your appointment, please contact us to rearrange at your earliest convenience.
Due to the urgent nature of treating acute dental emergencies, we would usually make an exception if your appointment is for a dental emergency.
Will antibiotics cure a dental abscess
Antibiotics will not cure a dental abscess.
Abscesses come from bacteria which live inside an infected tooth, and spread around the tooth root. Many abscesses are pain free a lot of the time, but any abscess can cause pain and swelling at any time without warning.
If an abscess flares up, the best way to relieve the pain is to have the tooth extracted, or to have the infection drained and the tooth dressed with an antiseptic, before completing a root canal filling later.
If it is not possible to do either of these treatments, antibiotics can help to temporarily calm the pain or swelling from an abscess, but will not kill any bacteria inside the infected tooth. The abscess is not cured and can flare up again at any time.
Extracting the tooth will completely remove the abscess.
A root canal filling is usually successful at treating an abscess (80% success rate).
If an abscess is left untreated, even if pain-free, it could potentially (but rarely) cause the life-threatening condition of sepsis.
I’m really nervous about coming to the dentist. How can you help?
Lots of people don’t like coming to the dentist. Some find it very anxiety-inducing.
We appreciate that you may not feel relaxed about your visit, so we do all we can to help you feel at ease. At your first appointment, we can do as much or as little as you like. If you just want to chat and get used to the surroundings, that is fine. We will allow you to take your time during your appointment and will explain everything we are going to do (if you find that helps). You will always be in control of what is happening and can choose to stop your appointment at any time.
For patients who are nervous, the best thing to do is to visit your dentist and hygienist regularly. Not only will this allow you to get to know us and feel more relaxed, but it also means we can help to prevent any dental problems, and that any treatment required is likely to be more straightforward.
You can read more information about dental anxiety on the NHS website here