The dentist looks for issues such as tooth decay, gum disease and other conditions. If a suspected dental problem is difficult to see (for example, possible decay between two touching teeth), the dentist may need to take x-rays.
Scale & clean
Scaling and cleaning involves the removal of built-up debris from the teeth. This may include food particles, soft plaque or hard calculus (sometimes called tartar). The dentist or hygienist then cleans and polishes your teeth using a rotating brush with a polishing paste. This helps treat and prevent gum disease. Keeping up your oral hygiene between appointments is important to help maintain healthy gums.
Sealants protect teeth from decay. Any tooth that has deep grooves or fissures can be treated, but the most commonly treated teeth are the molars and premolars. A sealant is a liquid solution that is painted on to the biting surface of a cleaned tooth, and which sets as a durable plastic material. It forms a physical barrier that stops food and other bacteria from collecting in the fissures of the tooth. Fissure sealants are commonly recommended for children, as they reduce the risk of decay in permanent teeth.
Veneers – teeth can be fitted with porcelain or resin veneers. A veneer is usually 0.5 mm thick and is permanently glued to the front of the tooth
Crowns – these are caps that are permanently cemented or bonded to a tooth. Crowns are made of porcelain or zirconia and can be matched to the colour of the existing tooth.
During root canal treatment, the pulp is removed from a tooth. The dentist cleans and shapes the root canals. The tooth’s interior is cleaned, dried and packed with a filling material that goes all the way down to the end of the root.
An artificial biting surface is created for the tooth out of composite material or a crown. This also protects the tooth from fracture, which can occur after root canal treatment. A root canal will need to be performed over a number of appointments.
Wisdom teeth can contribute to various dental problems, including overcrowding of the existing teeth, and impaction (the wisdom tooth grows at an angle and butts into the next-door molar or the gum). You may have a local anaesthetic before having a tooth removed (only the local area is numbed). Extractions requiring sedation or general anaesthesia (where you are unconscious) will be referred to an oral surgeon.
Alternatively, a denture can be made a few months after teeth are removed. This allows time for the jawbone to heal and means that the denture should have a better fit.