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General Dentistry FAQs

General Dental FAQs


I think my wisdom tooth is trying to come out. The gum is sore and inflamed. What can I do?

Until you can see your dentist, rinse your mouth with warm, salty water a few times a day. You could also use an antiseptic rinse which you can buy at most pharmacies. Brush the area very gently with a soft toothbrush to remove any food that may be stuck in the area. Ideally try to eat on the other side of your mouth whilst your gum is sore. Over the counter pain relief like Paracetamol (Panadol) or Ibuprofen (Nurofen) can also be taken to help reduce pain and inflammation.

Why are my gums bleeding?

When we eat and drink, plaque builds up on our teeth and underneath the gum line. Plaque contains bacteria and if it is not effectively removed through brushing and flossing then the gums become inflamed and irritated. This is called Gingivitis. Whilst you are at home and cannot attend your routine appointments with the dental hygienist it is extremely important that you practice good oral hygiene at home. Brush your teeth morning and night and floss every day. 

If you are pregnant then hormonal changes can increase your susceptibility to gum inflammation. Your gums may be more sensitive and bleed during brushing and flossing. Continue to brush and floss as normal. This issue will usually resolve after you have had your baby.


I think I have something stuck in my gum and now it is sore and bleeding. How can I remove it?

Sometimes a piece of food may get stuck under your gum line. It may be hard to remove and begin to hurt and cause the area to bleed.  Popcorn and meat are common causes. Try flossing the area first to remove the food. If this technique isn’t working you could try using an interdental brush (we recommend Piksters) which are available at most pharmacies and supermarkets. Make sure you use a small interdental brush to avoid damaging the area further. If you are able to remove the food that has caused the irritation then the gum will usually settle down after a day or so. You can also rinse your mouth with warm, salty water afterwards or use a Curasept Mouthwash (please follow instructions on the box). You could also apply some Curasept Gel to the affected area applying a drop of gel with your finger and then using some floss or an interdental brush. Stop using any Curasept product once the area has settled. You can continue using warm, salty water as needed to rinse.

How do I brush correctly?

The technique you use to brush your teeth is very important. Use a soft bristled toothbrush with a small head and place a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste onto your brush.

Starting at the back of your mouth, angle your toothbrush down towards the gum line and begin moving your toothbrush in small circular motions remembering to brush all surfaces of each tooth before moving onto the next tooth. At the end remember to brush your tongue to remove bacteria that causes bad breath. Avoid brushing with too much force as this can damage the surface of your teeth.

You should be brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day. 

Replace your toothbrush every 3 months or at the first sign of wear and tear. If you’ve just been sick, replace your toothbrush immediately as those nasty germs like to hide in the bristles.


How do I floss correctly?

Use about 30 centimetres of dental floss. Wrap the ends of the floss around your middle fingers and hold onto it with your thumbs and index fingers.

Guide the floss gently in between the teeth, sliding it up and down the surface of each tooth remembering to take the floss gently underneath the gum line. Repeat for each tooth and remember to use a different section of the floss each time.

Getting the right flossing technique can take a bit of practice so don’t give up. If you have larger gaps between your teeth you may like to use an interdental brush – like Piksters- to clean between your teeth and remove any food debris that may be stuck. Piksters are available at most pharmacies and supermarkets.


I’ve broken a tooth

If a tooth has chipped, broken, or a filling or crown has come out, please contact our clinic so that we can assess the situation. If a crown or bridge has come out, please make sure to keep it so that you can bring it to your next appointment. In most cases, these can simply be recemented back in place.

My tooth feels very sensitive

Sometimes our teeth feel sensitive when we eat or drink something hot or cold, sweet or sour. This sensation is usually quite sharp and sudden. Sensitivity can occur only sometimes or it can be very frequent. 

Sensitive teeth can be caused by a number of things: brushing your teeth too hard, clenching and grinding, broken or decayed teeth which can cause the nerve to become irritated and sensitive, gum disease, erosion of the enamel of the tooth, recent dental work including very deep fillings that were a result of broken or decayed teeth. 

Try using a sensitive toothpaste and a soft brush, making sure that you aren’t brushing your teeth too hard. If you are aware that you might be clenching or grinding then practice some home massage techniques (see next FAQ).

If this tooth becomes painful, aching and you need to take pain relief then there could be another issue going on. Please contact our clinic so that we can assess the situation.

I think I am clenching my jaw. What can I do to relieve this tension?
It is normal to perhaps feel more anxious and stressed in these unusual times. One of the ways our body shows this stress is through grinding and clenching your teeth which can lead to a whole host of other issues including headaches, ear, jaw and neck pain, among other things.  People that have pre-existing tendencies to clench and grind can notice an increase in severity of this habit during both day and night time.

Here are some techniques that you can do at home to help relieve these symptoms until you are able to see your dentist or health professional; 

  1. Daytime clenching and grinding can be minimised by simply having a greater awareness that this often happens during the day when you least expect it.  Try to be more conscious of this in order to catch yourself clenching throughout the day.
  2. Gently massage the jaw muscles for approximately 2 minutes in the following areas; the jaw joints right in front of the ears (zone 1), the cheeks (zone 2) and finally both corners of the jaw bone (zone 3) where muscle tension is often felt.  Massage will help to increase blood flow to the muscle and reduce tightness.
  3. Hot or cold compress applied to the jaw muscles.
  4. Take a hot shower.
  5. Take Paracetamol (Panadol) or Ibuprofen (Nurofen) if advised by your health professional.
  6. Reducing stress and anxiety by means of deep breathing exercises, yoga and/or meditation.
  7. Wearing your custom occlusal splint or night guard if previously issued by your dentist.

 For advanced/acute muscle pain, we recommend that you contact your local physiotherapist to arrange an emergency appointment.

I think I have sleep apnoea – what should I do?

It is important that if patients feel they have sleep apnoea to have this diagnosed. This is generally via a sleep test and the gold standard is with a sleep physician.

With a GP referral Medicare will rebate and if appropriate then either CPAP or a sleep device is recommended.


My sleep apnoea device has broken- what should I do?

Contact our clinic. If the device is broken we will need to determine if it can be repaired or whether you need a scan to have a new device made.

I’m halfway through root canal treatment and my tooth is sore. Is this normal? What should I do?

Tenderness or mild discomfort is often experienced in the tooth and surrounding gums for a few days after treatment.  This is normal and can be managed well with pain relief such as Ibuprofen (Nurofen) or Paracetamol (Panadol).  This discomfort is often exacerbated when biting hard foodstuffs, therefore we recommend that our patients avoid chew on the other side.

In some cases a ‘flare-up’ in the form of a toothache can be felt in a delayed manner some days or weeks after the first root canal appointment.  If you suspect that you are experiencing a flare up which is not well managed with painkillers and more importantly if this is accompanied with swelling around the tooth, please contact us immediately. 

I’m halfway through root canal treatment- is my tooth going to be ok during this delay?

In most instances the tooth should be fine given that a partially treated tooth can often stay safe and sound for up to 6 months.  However we require our patients to be diligent in the following to ensure that the tooth stays this way until the restrictions are lifted.  We recommend that our patients;

  1. Avoid eating hard and sticky foods on the tooth.
  2. Maintain a high standard of cleaning in the form of regular brushing, flossing and or interdental brushing.
  3. To continue wearing an occlusal splint (night guard) if previously issued by your dentist.

Please be reassured that our dentists are working behind the scenes to assess each patient that is in the midst of root canal treatment so that ‘at risk’ individuals will still be treated during this delay.

When do I need to call the clinic?

If the tooth is in pain or the pain is poorly controlled with common pain relief such as Ibuprofen and Paracetamol or if the tooth is broken, then please contact us immediately.

I have mouth ulcer, what can I do?

Ulcers present as small white lesions with a red border. They commonly develop in the mouth on the tongue, inside cheek areas, on lips, at the gum line and in the throat area. They are not usually contagious and can be caused from trauma in the mouth, eg biting the inside of your cheek or tongue whilst eating, or having braces. Other possible causes are viral infections, food sensitivities, spicy, salty or acidic foods, vitamin B deficiency, hormonal shifts and stress.

Try rinsing your mouth with salt-water a few times a day to soothe the pain and heal the sore and avoid touching the ulcer with your tongue. Try eating on the other side of your mouth. Avoid acidic or sharp foods.

My denture/splint/nightguard has broken

Please phone our clinic and we will make arrangements with our Dental Technician to have your denture/device repaired as soon as possible.

I was meant to have a tooth extracted. Is it ok to leave it if it’s giving me no trouble?

Due to the risk of complications associated with any extraction, which may require the tooth or surrounding bone to be drilled to facilitate removal, the current recommendation is to delay extraction unless symptomatic. Our dentists at Perfect Smile are assessing all patients to ensure that those cases that can’t wait until the COVID shutdown period ends are being contacted to make arrangements for treatment. If your tooth does become painful please call or email and we will respond as soon as possible. If the matter is more urgent, please see our website for the appropriate contacts or call your GP.

Should I see my GP to get antibiotics if I think I have an infected tooth?

Yes, in certain instances your GP may be able to assess dental pain and prescribe antibiotics if appropriate. Please also call the practice to advise us of the situation and one of our team can advise you accordingly.