Faq

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding dental care in general but if you have additional questions then please use the Contact Us page.

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What do I do in a Dental Emergency?

What are your hours of operation?

Do we treat Health Care Card holders?

Can we claim on Medicare?

Why does dental treatment cost so much

Will it hurt?

What do Hygienists do?

What do Therapists do?

Do you provide non-amalgam dentistry?

Do you provide payment plans?

Do you provide support for other languages?

How do you practice Infection Control?

What is the difference between a Prosthetist and a Dentist? 

Do you provide a warranty?

Can you supply any dental merchandise?

What is the difference between “direct and indirect restoration”?

What is “minimal intervention dentistry”?

What causes “endodontic (nerve) complications”?

What is meant by “caries (decay) control”?

What causes “periodontal (gum) complications”?

Why do we still extract teeth?

What is “bruxism”?

How do medications affect teeth?

What is “erosion”?

What are “fluoride bombs”?

Are there taxation benefits with dental treatment?

What is the “Medicare teen dental plan”?

Do you provide Sedation?

What are “immediate dentures”?

What about Payment?

Do we treat Health Care Card holders?

Are your instruments autoclaved?

What do I do in a Dental Emergency?

True emergencies are those associated with dental trauma. In the event that a tooth is avulsed (knocked out);

  • Replant in socket immediately if clean, hold in place with aluminium foil.
  • If tooth is dirty, rinse in milk and replant. Otherwise, briefly rinse in water and replant. Don’t scrape or rub root surface and hold tooth by the crown only.
  • If unable to replant, store in milk or wrap in gladwrap.
  • If tooth root appears broken, replant if clean, or store in milk or wrap in gladwrap.

SEEK IMMEDIATE DENTAL TREATMENT – TIME IS CRITICAL Otherwise, contact the surgery on 9250 8844 or contact us right away

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What are your hours of operation?

Our hours of operation are – Monday – 8.00am to 7.00pm Tuesday – 8.00am to 6.00pm Wednesday – 8.00am to 6.00pm Thursday – 8.00am to 6.00pm Friday – 8.00am to 5.00pm Saturday – Closed Sunday – Closed

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Do we treat Health Care Card holders?

As Dental Sense is a private clinic, we do not provide subsidised dental care. Health Care card holders should direct their enquiries to the government operated clinic at Swan Districts Hospital.

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Can we claim on Medicare?

As Dental Sense is a private clinic, patients are unable to claim Medicare benefits for procedures provided from this clinic.

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Why does dental treatment cost so much?

When one considers the duration and level of study required to become a dental practitioner, let alone the ongoing need for continuing education, the infrastructure and staffing necessary to perform dental procedures to a high standard, coupled with high material and laboratory overheads, it is no wonder that dentistry is expensive. However, in the long-term, costs associated with dental care are significantly less than those attached to owning a motor vehicle. On top of that, it is easier to cope without a motor vehicle than it is without teeth.

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Will it hurt?

Dentistry and pain control have come a long way in the past few decades and there is no reason in contemporary practice for patients to experience discomfort during dental procedures. Inhalational and oral sedation is also effective for the young and anxious. When indicated, the dentist will prescribe medication to help manage infection and / or discomfort post-operatively.

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What do Hygienists do?

Dental Hygienists are trained auxiliaries who work in conjunction with dentists to help optimise provision of dental care. Specifically, they can perform the following duties:

  • Instruction in, and organization and supervision of plaque control routine
  • Recording periodontal indices
  • Dental prophylaxis
  • Topical fluoride applications
  • Application of desensitising agents
  • Application of plaque control agents
  • Polishing and recontouring of restorations
  • Application of fissure sealants
  • Removal of calculus
  • Application and removal of periodontal packs
  • Dental radiography
  • Taking of impressions for all purposes other than final prosthetic impressions
  • Application and removal of rubber dam
  • Removal of sutures
  • Administration of dental local anaesthesia
  • Periodontal root planing
  • Placement of orthodontic separators
  • Preparation of teeth for orthodontic bonding
  • Orthodontic band / attachment selection
  • Placement of archwire fixation
  • Removal of ligatures / archwires
  • Removal of bands / attachments / cement

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What do Therapists do?

Dental Therapists are trained auxiliaries who work in conjunction with dentists to help optimise provision of dental care. They can perform all of the Hygienists dutis plus the following duties:

  • Extraction deciduous teeth
  • Emergency treatment of pulp exposure
  • Preparation and restoration of cavities in deciduous and permanent teeth of preschool and school children by direct placement materials
  • Restoration of prepared cavities in permanent teeth in adults by direct placement materials
  • Caries detection

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Do you provide non-amalgam dentistry?

At Dental Sense we do not use amalgam in children, pregnant or breast-feeding mothers, the immunocompromised or patients specifically requesting non-amalgam dentistry. However, as non-metal derivatives are usually weaker and more technique sensitive than their metal counterparts, patients need to be educated with respect to indications and limitations of the various materials available, particularly patients who brux (grind or clench their teeth). Whilst we do not recommend nor condone en-masse amalgam (mercury) removal, patients requesting non-amalgam dentistry will be managed according to contemporary or case specific amalgam replacement protocols.

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Do you provide payment plans?

Under certain circumstances, we do provide interest free payment plans. GE Credit facilities can also be arranged. We otherwise require accounts to be settled in full on the day of treatment. For patient convenience we accept cash, cheque, Visa, MasterCard and Debit Card. For patients with private health insurance, HICAPS is also now available.

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Do you provide support for other languages? Yes we can offer support to Spanish, Czech and Slovakian speaking customers.

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How do you practice Infection Control?

At Dental Sense, for everyone’s protection and peace of mind, we utilize the latest aseptic techniques for all clinical procedures as stipulated by currently accepted Australian Dental Association Infection Control Standards and Guidelines. This includes clinical coats, protective eyewear, disposable masks and gloves, instrumentation sterilized utilizing the latest hospital grade steam autoclaves with all surfaces and laboratory work decontaminated according to accepted protocols. Latex free products are also available for those patients with an allergy to latex.

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What is the difference between a Prosthetist and a Dentist?

Prosthetists are dental technicians (not dentists), some of whom with up to twelve months additional training in the field of complete dentures. Initially, Prosthetists agreed to provide complete dentures at a lower fee for financially compromised patients not otherwise in a position to have treatment performed by dentists. Ironically, some Prosthetists are now charging more for their services than more highly qualified dentists. Prosthetists are also becoming active in the field of partial dentures. However, because patients in need of partial dentures also have natural teeth remaining, a more comprehensive treatment approach is required, demanding detailed clinical and radiographic examination, the skills for which we at Dental Sense can provide.

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Do you provide a warranty?

We provide a 3-year warranty against mechanical failure for all treatment provided, assuming patients comply with treatment plans in their entirety, with work being replaced at health fund rebate or equivalent.

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Can you supply any dental merchandise?

Yes we can supply you with a range of carefully selected dental products to protect your teeth and help keep them healthy and clean We can supply –

  • Cleaning Aids (Electric/Manual)
  • Fluoride Supplements and Mouth Rinses
  • Calcium / Phosphate Supplements
  • Antiseptic Mouth Rinses
  • Bleaching Supplements

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What is the difference between “direct and indirect restoration”?

Dental restorations are classified either as “direct” or “indirect”. Direct restorations are those placed chairside in one appointment without the need for laboratory assistance and include amalgam, resin and glass-ionomer restorations. They are indicated for small to medium size cavities with amalgam providing average life spans of around 6-12 years. Resin and glass-ionomer restorations generally do not wear as well and are more technique sensitive requiring replacement within 5-7 years. Indirect restorations require laboratory support and multiple appointments. They include gold, ceramic, metal ceramic and resin reinforced restorations in the form of crowns, bridges, inlays, onlays, gold posts and veneers. These are generally indicated where teeth require definitive strengthening, replacement, recontouring and / or aesthetic improvement. The longevity of indirect restorations varies considerably depending on how well it is constructed and how well it is maintained. Studies indicate that the average lifespan is around 8-15 years after which time some of the work may require repair or replacement.

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What is “minimal intervention dentistry”?

I prefer to practice “Minimal Intervention Dentistry” which represents a conservative approach where rather than prescribing fillings for “all” carious lesions then and there, management initially focuses on cause related factors and the more advanced lesions whilst closely monitoring, clinically and radiographically, the remaining non-cavitated lesions at regular intervals. This is a widely respected and practiced approach centering on the ability of non-cavitated lesions to remineralise and become inactive, thereby delaying or better eliminating the need for invasive dental restorations in the future. The assumption here, however is that the underlying causative factors responsible for the initial carious lesions have been controlled! On the issue of radiographic review, dental standards loosely recommend intraoral films 3 yearly and extraoral films 5 yearly. This is based on the need to minimise exposure to radiation and also cost.

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What causes “endodontic (nerve) complications”?

As teeth were never meant to be filled, the very act of dental restoration can not only weaken teeth but also cause pulpal degeneration and reduced vascularity. In the presence of unfavorable occlusal loading, flexion, fatigue and microcracks can result in abfraction lesions, cracked and broken teeth, bacterial microleakage, secondary decay and subsequent contamination of the nerve space commonly referred to as an “endodontic complication” demanding either root canal treatment or extraction. Affected teeth are typically painful, often disturbing sleep, temperature sensitive and tender to touch. Endodontic complications occur in approximately 15% of heavily restored teeth and / or teeth restored with cast restorations, the timing of which is unpredictable. “Elective” root canal therapy is often recommended for teeth of strategic value where pulpal prognosis is guarded and the tooth concerned requires indirect restoration. Root canal treatment is not always successful nor risk free, demanding an initial period of observation prior to definitive restoration with an indirect restoration. Should complications arise, specialist referral and / or extraction may be indicated.

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What is meant by “caries (decay) control”?

“Caries Control” is a term used to describe management of teeth displaying the deepest decay that, if left more than a few months, may progress into irreversible nerve involvement demanding extraction or root canal treatment. It often represents an investigative approach, the dentist not knowing the true extent of the decay process until the tooth concerned is treated. A decision can then be made as to the likely potential for endodontic treatment, long term restorative requirements and / or need for extraction. Glass-ionomer is the material most commonly used to initially stabilise the tooth, due to its inherent ability to seal well, release fluoride into surrounding tooth structure and minimise temperature conduction, whilst the dentist monitors pulpal (nerve) status usually over a 6-12 month period.

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What causes “periodontal (gum) complications”?

“Periodontitis” has a bacterial etiology, the severity of which is a function of bacterial mix, tooth anatomy and host resistance, the latter greatly influenced by a history of smoking, stress, medical status, occlusal overload and / or genetic predisposition. Chronic bacterial colonization of supporting tissues results in irreversible destruction of the periodontal ligament that surrounds teeth, which in turn signals loss of bone volume, pocketing and / or recession of gingival tissues and increased tooth mobility. Other than occasional bleeding when brushing, the process is often painless. Depending on the extent and severity of involvement, specialist periodontal management may be indicated on a 4-6 monthly basis, or if less severe, may be managed in house by our hygienist. Treatment is aimed at elimination of all bacterial deposits on a regular basis both at home, and with the support of regular professional maintenance via scaling and root planing, oral hygiene instruction, mouthwashes and occasionally antibiotics. The disease process is otherwise often progressive in nature, irreversible and a common cause of tooth loss. “Gingivitis” is also bacterial in nature but represents an inflammatory condition confined to the marginal soft tissues only and is reversible assuming good plaque control. Left uncontrolled in susceptible individuals, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis.

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Why do we still extract teeth?

Extraction of teeth will be recommended for a variety of reasons including extensive decay, nerve involvement, advanced gum (periodontal) disease, limited strategic value, potential to complicate overall treatment, orthodontic and / or financial considerations.

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What is “bruxism”?

Parafunctional activity or bruxism (clenching and / or grinding) is becoming an ever increasing problem and causative factor behind many dental complications primarily due to the magnitude of forces involved (up to five times normal bite force) combined with dentitions mechanically compromised through the very act of dentistry. Associated dental breakdown typically presents as being localised, bilateral and advanced in nature. Once teeth are stabilized and the condition is reversibly controlled, usually via splint therapy, emphasis is placed on trying to harmonise the relationships between teeth, joints and the neuromusculature so as to distribute occlusal force as well as possible, thereby improving overall treatment prognosis. This, however, does not necessarily prevent the condition, otherwise linked to compromised sleep patterns. Once one learns the habit, one tends to retain the habit and hence, for many, continued splint compliance is often strongly recommended. In essence, I view parafunction as normal, and only when in the presence of a history of dental intervention is the stage potentially set for dental complication. Whilst tooth brushes and floss protect teeth from bacteria, splints protect teeth from muscle!

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How do medications affect teeth?

Medications, smoking and / or the use of recreational drugs can significantly contribute to oral complaints due to associated side effects including but not limited to dry mouth, hyperacidity and / or bruxism. Although difficult to control, these effects can be minimised by patient education and the use of medicated mouth rinses, gels, specially formulated toothpastes and / or foams on a regular basis. As denture patients depend heavily on saliva for denture retention, stability and comfort, artificial saliva substitutes may need to be prescribed

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What is “erosion”?

Dental erosion (chemical dissolution of teeth through non-bacterial processes), mediated through endogenous (gastric) or exogenous (dietry) acid, is commonly observed superimposed, and in part, jointly contributing to breakdown through it’s ability to soften and weaken dental hard tissues as well as selectively favour decay causing bacteria resulting in aggravated wear rates, differential loading patterns and “erosive caries”. When coupled with dry mouth and / or clenching and grinding, the outcome for teeth can be disastrous, demanding a multi-disciplinary approach. In many patients, I have found erosion to have an endogenous origin due to coexisting gastrointestinal related complaints and / or hyperacidity secondary to medication side effects, oral hypoglycemics in particular. Usually asymptomatic, the patient often only reports a history of bad tastes and / or breathe of a morning. Younger patients with a history of substance abuse, namely amphetamines and it’s derivatives, typically display localised bilateral breakdown in conjunction with marked dental erosion (“Meth Mouth”) due to the drug’s stimulant effect on the CNS (neuromuscular and gastric) aggravated by it’s xerostomic (dry mouth) effects.

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What are “fluoride bombs”?

“Fluoride bombs” refer to large areas of tooth decay in the absence of cavities. Fluoride essentially both strengthens and renders inorganic components of teeth (enamel) resistant to acid attack, acids typically produced by decay causing bacteria metabolizing refined carbohydrates. However, If fluoridated enamel is stressed repeatedly during parafunctional states, microcracks can appear, propagate and in turn “open the door” for cariogenic bacteria to access the organic component of teeth resulting in degradation of dentine and undermining of enamel, similar to traditional models. The difference being that teeth exposed to fluoride during formative years will not cavitate as early and the same stresses that caused the microcracks continue to fuel the spread of the carious lesion. Conceivably, therefore, fluoridation may help prevent dental caries caused by “acid attack”, but equally may now mask breakdown associated with “crack attack”!

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Are there taxation benefits with dental treatment?

Payment towards dental services qualifies for the 20% Government Medical Expense Rebate. This rebate is available to Australian taxpayers whose net combined medical and paramedical expenses exceed $1500 during any given financial year. For further details, patients should consult their financial advisor.

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What is the “Medicare teen dental plan”?

Introduced on 1 July 2008, the Medicare teen dental plan provides financial assistance to eligible families to help assess the health of their teenagers’ teeth, and to introduce preventive strategies to encourage good oral health habits. It provides dental benefits of up to $150 (indexed annually) per eligible teenager aged 12 to 17yrs, per calendar year, to help with cost of a preventive dental check. This includes annual clinical and radiographic examination, prophylaxis and fissure sealants as required. Teenagers who meet the means test will receive a voucher valid only for the calendar year in which it is issued. Patients are required to bring their vouchers to their scheduled appointment, and as no gap payment will be charged, patients will be required to pay dental sense the $150 fee upon completion of treatment, at which point a receipt will be attached to the voucher from which patients can then make a full cash claim direct from Medicare.

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Do you provide Sedation?

Sedation can be arranged upon request. This can range from oral, inhalational (nitrous oxide), intravenous and general anesthesia, depending on patient treatment requirements.

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What are “immediate dentures”?

An “Immediate Denture” is one issued at the time of extraction of teeth deemed otherwise to be of poor prognosis and / or of limited strategic value and in subsequent need of replacement for aesthetic and / or functional reasons. Immediate dentures, however, are not without their problems; 1. It is not possible to accurately determine the aesthetics of the dentures prior to their placement in your mouth because of the presence of natural teeth. This has to be done at laboratory level and will be a best estimation of where the teeth should be from a mechanical and aesthetic point of view. Any further major alteration in teeth arrangement may necessitate the complete remaking of the dentures instead of subsequently relining them following initial tissue healing and associated shrinkage. 2. Because teeth are removed and the dentures placed immediately at time of surgery, it is not possible to produce an accurate fit. Furthermore, as the supporting tissues heal there will be shrinkage and changes of the gum resulting in loosening and ultimate instability of the dentures. Major gum changes occur within the first 4-6 months. To overcome this problem, “tissue-conditioner” (soft temporary medicated liner) is placed periodically onto the fitting surface of the prosthesis so as to help restore fit and improve comfort. It is not uncommon to need at least three of these procedures within the first 6-9 months of initial healing. Once healing of the gums has stabilised and you are satisfied with denture appearance, relines of the dentures are carried out. This involves impression procedures of the gums using your existing immediate dentures and takes approximately 24 hours at laboratory level. However, as already mentioned, if at this stage major alterations in tooth arrangements are also required, a total remake is often indicated. Despite advice to the contrary, patient’s often fail to comply with tissue conditioning requirements whilst continuing to function with their dentures. Loss of denture support due to tissue healing coupled with continued denture loading particularly during sleep will result in flexion, fatigue and ultimate fracture. 3. If the deterioration of natural teeth was in part related to a history of clenching and / or grinding, we will often see significant muscle relaxation after teeth are removed and dentures inserted. This may result in changes in the bite necessitating adjustment of denture teeth on a periodic basis to maintain denture stability and comfort. In certain cases this will demand either remodelling of the denture 6-9 months post surgically (relining of the fitting surface and replacement of heavily adjusted denture teeth), or again a total remake. 4. For aesthetic and functional reasons immediate denture base and flanges are deliberately thinned in areas associated with tooth removal. Compared to conventional dentures, immediate dentures are therefore significantly weakened, and this coupled with compromised posterior support and heavy function can again result in flexion, fatigue and failure. Although tissue conditioning helps to minimize such complications, patients need to appreciate that immediate denture strength will not be restored until such time that the denture is relined. 5. Because dentures are essentially a foreign body, patients need to appreciate that they will initially feel and look different, with mechanical requirements largely dictating teeth positioning, especially in partially dentate patients (some teeth still remaining). Speech, function and comfort will improve with time, however, as we depend largely on patient’s “adaptive potential”, the slower and more unpredictable this process becomes with increased age. Studies have demonstrated variable yet progressive bone loss under all dentures with time, the rate of which varies from one patient to another. The lower jaw generally displays greater levels of bone resorption once teeth are removed and this in part accounts for difficulties commonly experienced in the elderly with lower dentures. By minimizing tooth loss in the lower jaw, we thereby retain bone and supporting tissues which in turn helps minimize denture instability. Bone loss and damaging soft tissue effects are generally painless and not noticed by the patient. Specialists in the field of denture construction therefore recommend that dentures be relined every 2-3 years and periodically replaced every 6-7 years. This is to protect and preserve both denture and remaining supportive tissues.

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What about Payment?

Payment is required on the day of treatment. For your convenience we accept cash, cheque, Visa, MasterCard and Debit Card. For patients with private health insurance, HICAPS is also available

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Do we treat Health Care Card holders?

As Dental Sense is a private clinic, we do not provide subsidised dental care. Health Care Card holders should direct their enquiries to the government operated clinic at Swan Districts Hospital.

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Are your instruments autoclaved?

At Dental Sense, for everyone’s protection and peace of mind, we utilize the latest aseptic techniques for all clinical procedures as stipulated by currently accepted Australian Dental Association Infection Control Standards and Guidelines. This includes clinical coats, protective eyewear, disposable masks and gloves, instrumentation sterilized utilizing the latest hospital grade steam autoclaves with all surfaces and laboratory work decontaminated according to accepted protocols. Latex free products are also available for those patients with an allergy to latex.

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