Dental Q & A – Common Dental Problems
In this section we aim to give you answers, explanations and insights into some of the common dental problems we get asked about everyday.
Click on a problem to find out more.
I am in pain…
Does your tooth hurt? Dental pain or a toothache can be absolutely terrible. Even if it starts as a niggling pain that comes and goes, it can quickly develop into an intense pain that is so overwhelming that it is hard to think of anything else.
This is a common condition that we see patients in and the more pain people are in usually equates to the length of time they have waited, often hoping that the pain and problem will just go away.
If you are experiencing dental pain then please call us and explain the nature of your pain. We save a handful of appointments on any given day to attend to people in your position.
Call us on (08) 8346 3940.
My teeth are stained…
What are the common causes of stained teeth?
When patients come in with tooth staining we start by seeing whether the staining is intrinsic or extrinsic.
The type of staining depends upon the cause of the staining, but also has implications for the treatment. Intrinsic staining is staining that comes from within the tooth, whereas extrinsic is on the surface of the tooth.
Tooth staining type one: Intrinsic staining
Intrinsic tooth stains can be due to a number of reasons:
- Problems during infancy: Some people’s teeth have always had that stained appearance since they were a baby. These kinds of staining are largely due to:
- Some kinds of antibiotics that they had as a baby. A common type of antibiotic tooth staining is tetracycline staining.
- If someone had a fever as a baby it can affect their developing teeth. Unfortunately that type is one thing that they couldn’t have prevented.
- Dental Trauma: If someone has sustained a trauma or a knock to the tooth, then the tooth can develop internal stains that discolour the tooth. Think of it like a bruise one might get on their skin but instead its on the tooth and it doesn’t go away
- Dental treatment: Root canal therapy on a tooth can sometimes leave that that tooth look greyer. This doesn’t happen to everyone but it does occur in some cases.
Tooth staining type two: Extrinsic staining
Extrinsic tooth stains, on the other hand, are on the surface of the tooth or teeth. The common causes of extrinsic tooth discolouration are:
- Cigarette smoking
- Tea or coffee
- Red wine,
- Previous white fillings that have gone yellow or brown over time.
This type of extrinsic tooth staining can cause yellow teeth, grey teeth and in extreme cases brown teeth.
What are the different treatment options for stained teeth?
The options for treating discoloured teeth depends on two things:
- The degree that the tooth is stained
- Whether it’s intrinsic or extrinsic staining.
Extrinsic staining is often easily polished away. This can be done our Oral Health Therapist or Dentist at your regular 6 monthly active maintenance visit, or dental check up.
Tooth whitening is not the only option for stained teeth.
It is a common misconception that tooth whitening or bleaching is the main treatment for stained teeth. In reality most extrinsic tooth staining can be removed by simply removing the stained layer above the white tooth enamel.
If there is a lot of extrinsic staining, for instance if you have smoked two packs a day or drink lots of coffee, then you might need a bit polishing than the average person. This might involve coming in for a polish every 3 months until the tooth colour returns to white. At your initial consultation we will decide together with you a plan of attack and then adjust along the way depending on the results we are able to achieve. There is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for tooth staining.
Intrinsic tooth stains are a little harder to treat than extrinsic. Depending on the severity and cause of the tooth staining there are a number of treatment options available:
- Bleaching: also known as tooth whitening may be an option.
- Veneers or a Crown: this technique of masking may be more effective than bleaching if the staining is severe.
It is a common misconception that tooth whitening or bleaching is the main treatment for stained teeth. Speak to us about the best option for your individual situation.
Can a Dentist tell before they start whether bleaching will work on tooth stains?
Most of the time the dentist can assess which treatment will be most effective in each case. When making our assessment and recommendations for tooth staining, as with any dental treatment, we tend to err on the side of caution for two reasons:
- We don’t like to raise people’s expectations beyond what is possible
- When paying the cost of treating tooth staining naturally people would prefer to pay for a treatment that will deliver a good result.
This is why an assessment by the Dentist or Oral Health Therapist is important – to find out the best way to treat the tooth staining.
There are options for difficult tooth staining cases.
In the cases where a root canal treated tooth is stained from the inside dentists have the option to whiten the tooth from the inside. In these cases, we would whiten the tooth from the inside out using the original access hole for the root canal work.
What should people do if they have stained teeth around a tooth cap or crown?
We see these type of cases where, for example, someone got a front tooth with a crown on it 10 years ago. The crown will still be beautifully white but the rest of the teeth are now looking darker.
In this case we will treat the tooth or teeth around it with either polishing or bleaching to bring the colour back to the same colour as the crown.
Patients often use the term ‘tooth cap’ for what we know as a tooth coloured filling, and sometimes in these cases we may need to replace the tooth coloured filling to change its colour or bleach around it to change the colour of the tooth next to it.
Can you treat one stained tooth as well as a group of stained teeth?
If the treatment is professionally applied, rather than with a take-home tooth whitening kit, then it is possible for us to target a single stained tooth or a group of stained teeth.
We will often do this to bring one tooth back in line with the colour of the surrounding teeth.
If you have any other questions or wish to discuss your individual situation then contact us now.
My teeth are crooked or out of alignment…
Tooth alignment problems arise when the line of the teeth don’t flow directly from one tooth to the next.
We see alignment problems in both our adult and child patients, although serious alignment problems are often tackled in early to mid teens.
Common problems or symptoms adults and children with alignment issues include:
Functional problems such as:
- Problems chewing their food
- Problems with talking and affected speech, for instance with the ‘s’ sound
Aesthetic or cosmetic problems with how their teeth appear when they talk or smile
- Crooked teeth
- Crowding of the teeth
- Teeth coming up in front of or behind other teeth (sometimes referred to as shark teeth in kids)
Alignment issues can affect how easily people can clean their teeth and floss well between their teeth. Unfortunately this gives people with alignment problems a predisposition to cavities.
Cosmetic problems with alignment shouldn’t be underrated.
With alignment issues many people think that we should be more worried by the functional problems than the cosmetic, but the impacts of the ‘appearance’ of someone’s smile can be quite significant.
How a person’s smile looks and how they feel about their smile is a huge issue and one that many patients are reluctant to bring up, even with their dentist. A person’s own concerns about the appearance of their teeth has a massive affect on:
- their self-assurance
- how they socialise
- progression at work
- confidence in relationships
There are a number of options to treat alignment problems.
It’s not something many people feel at ease talking about with their dentist but the range of options differ greatly in terms of the level of intervention, time of treatment and naturally the cost of the treatment.
The first option to consider is a non-destructive way of bringing your teeth together through Orthodontic braces or aligners such as Invisalign. The second option for patients who have crooked teeth is to have a crown or veneer placed over their original teeth to make it look straight.
We call the second option destructive because in order to put a crown on a tooth you’ve got to cut away a lot of the enamel of the tooth that is being crowned. This doesn’t necessarily make it a worse treatment or less desirable – it is simply another option for patients with alignment issues to consider.
Braces aren’t as bad as in the ‘old days’.
It is a lot more common and accepted nowadays to see adults with braces, and we have a lot more options with colours and design. So having braces doesn’t have to look terrible anymore.
How do I find the most affordable treatment for my alignment issues?
As everyone’s situation is different we recommend you start your discussion with your dentist around the problem you are trying to solve, rather than the treatment that you think you need.
Eg “I don’t like how these teeth are crooked – what are my options?”
verses “I think I need Invisalign – how much will it cost?”
There are many elements that impact the cost of your treatment, these include:
- the treatment type
- the length of treatment needed
- your suitability for that particular treatment
- the number of teeth for treatment and their condition
- your lifestyle factors
If you are concerned about alignment issues with your smile or teeth then contact Adelaide Quality Dental to discuss your options.
My teeth are sensitive…
Sensitive teeth are a very common dental problem. Many of our patients experience sensitivity to hot, cold or sweet food and drinks. If you have sensitive teeth, just the simple act of brushing your teeth can feel painful.
Sensitive teeth may be an early indication of problems.
It is important to investigate the cause of sensitivity with your dentist as it could be a sign of a more serious problem, such as tooth decay.
The reasons why teeth may be sensitive:
- A cavity is developing: Sensitivity to hot, cold or sweet is often the first sign of tooth decay.
- The gum around the tooth has receded: The neck and root of a tooth is not covered by enamel and, when exposed, can be quite sensitive.
- They are being scrubbed too hard when brushing: Sensitivity could be a sign that you need to change the way you brush your teeth before they get worn away. The enamel covering them is wearing away due to acids, such as acidic foods and drinks. If acid related issues are ignored, teeth can wear away over time, a process that can be painful and unsightly.
- They are being put under pressure from clenching or grinding habits: Grinding teeth is usually an unconscious habit, often occurring during sleep. If it isn’t addressed, not only can the teeth become worn and even more sensitive, but pain can develop in the jaw joints and surrounding muscles.
Please don’t put up with sensitive teeth.
If you are experiencing any issues with tooth sensitivity, please try to find a time to see to one of our dentists.
I have a missing tooth…
Losing a tooth as an adult can be distressing, especially if it is a front tooth. Not only is there the impact to your appearance and your smile, but also the functional loss of chewing or sometimes speaking.
Should I just leave the tooth missing?
There is also the long term consideration that if nothing is done that the surrounding teeth and gum move in on the space, causing that ‘shrunken’ face look that you may have seen.
What are my options for replacing missing teeth?
There are several options to replace a missing tooth that allow you to continue life as normal, the most common now being the dental implant.
Options for replacing a missing tooth.
Advances in dental technology have made tooth implants a much more desirable choice than previous tooth replacement options.
The main options for replacing a tooth are:
- Partial denture: a removable plate worn in the mouth with one or more teeth attached to the plate
- A bridge: teeth either side of the missing tooth are crowned, and a bridging tooth secured to these
- Dental tooth implant: This permanent method of replacing missing teeth is done by securing a titanium screw (implant) into the jawbone and topping it with a tooth crown
Not sure what is right for your situation? We are here to help.
If you are not sure what is right for you and your situation or if you would like to know more about the costs contact us now and arrange a consultation.
I have a dental emergency…
Sudden and severe tooth pain, toothache or accidents often happen outside of business hours. If you suffer toothache or damage to a tooth, it is important to seek emergency dental care as soon as possible to minimise pain or discomfort.
Emergency dental care for toothache or tooth trauma.
Depending on the type of toothache or damage, there are several steps you should take immediately:
Severe pain: Immediately phone our office on (08) 8346 3940 for an emergency appointment at our Adelaide clinic. If it is out of hours, leave a message and return phone number so we can contact you as soon as the office opens. We reserve a number of appointments everyday for just these types of emergencies so can usually fit you in. If the pain is unbearable, we suggest you take pain relief medication and have someone take you to your local hospital’s emergency department for immediate treatment.
Mild pain: Phone our office for an appointment and explain the nature of your toothache. We’d suggest you take pain relief at home, such as paracetamol, to minimise your discomfort until you are able to see the dentist.
Knocked-out teeth: If a tooth is completely knocked out of its socket then the best thing to do is to insert it back into the socket in your gum. This will increase the chances of us being able to save the tooth. If this isn’t suitable then pop it into cold milk and bring it into us. Read on to find out more.
If you suffer toothache or damage to a tooth, it is important to seek emergency dental care as soon as possible to minimise pain or discomfort.
So what are the main causes of toothache?
Cavities or tooth abscess: Toothaches are mostly caused by cavities, with the pain being due to the irritation caused by the bacteria to the tooth’s nerve. Without treatment, this can become an abscess, which may be extremely painful. In some cases you may need antibiotics as well as pain relief.
Cracked teeth or gum problems: Other times, toothache may result from a cracked tooth or a gum abscess. Again, we recommend you seek treatment as soon as possible and in most cases we can take immediate steps to reduce or eliminate your dental pain.
Non-tooth related: Sometimes painful teeth are the result of joint pain in the jaw. It is best to consult your dentist to identify the cause and appropriate treatment.
Call us for emergency appointments. Please explain the nature of your emergency so we can prioritise an appointment for you.
Call us on (08) 8346 3940.