General Dentistry FAQS
What is tooth decay and how is it caused ?
Tooth decay is the disease known as caries or cavities. Unlike other diseases, however, caries is not life threatening and is highly preventable, though it affects most people to some degree during their life.
Tooth decay occurs when your teeth are frequently exposed to foods containing starches and sugars e.g. fizzy drinks, squashes, sweets, ice cream, chocolate, cakes, biscuits and even fruits and juices. Natural bacteria live in the mouth and form plaque. The plaque interacts with deposits left on your teeth from sugary and starchy goods to produce acids. These acids damage tooth enamel over time by dissolving, or demineralising, the mineral structure of teeth, this leads to tooth decay and weakening of the teeth.
How are cavities prevented?
The acids formed by plaque can be counteracted by simple saliva in your mouth, which acts as a buffer and remineralising agent. Dentists often recommend chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate your saliva production. However, although it is the body's natural defence against cavities, saliva alone is not sufficient to combat tooth decay.
The best way is to brush and floss regularly. To rebuild the early damage caused by plaque bacteria, we use fluoride, a natural substance that helps to remineralise the tooth structure. Fluoride is added to toothpaste to fight cavities and clean teeth. Your dentist may recommend the use of professional strength anti-cavity varnish, or sealants, that provide an extra barrier against food and debris.
Is amalgam safe?
The potential health problems caused by mercury released from dental fillings have caused controversy in the popular media. The concern is to what extent the released mercury may cause health problems. The truth is that amalgam restorations remain safe and effective and there is no solid evidence that dental amalgams cause serious health problems.
The constant exposure to mercury in amalgam restorations may sensitise some individuals, making them more susceptible to oral lichenoid lesions. When these lesions occur, they cause no discomfort and are rarely noticed by the affected individuals.
At The Slade dental Practice, if you want to have your amalgam fillings replaced by white fillings due to your concerns or to improve the look of your smile, our highly qualified dentists can do this for you.
What if I am scared of having treatment done?
This is very common. Dental treatment has changed and people are often surprised how much easier treatment can now be compared with a few years ago. Always speak to your dentist about your fears rather than ignore the problems until they become worse. Our dentists care about you and will carry out any treatment necessary as gently as possible. However, if you have a major phobia about dental treatment, you may wish to consider intravenous sedation which allows dental treatment with "twilight sedation".The beauty of having sedation lies in the “soft and floaty” feeling our patients experience. After their treatment, the majority of our sedation patients cannot remember anything at all about their treatment