FAQs & Doubts
Orthodontics

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.


Who is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialist who has completed an advanced education program following dental school, to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.


What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?
  • A more attractive smile
  • A more attractive smile
  • Reduced appearance-consciousness during critical development years
  • Better function of the teeth
  • Possible increase in self-confidence
  • Increased ability to clean the teeth
  • Improved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth
  • Better long term health of teeth and gums
  • Guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
  • Reduce the risk of injury to protruded front teeth
  • Aid in optimizing other dental treatment

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Braces use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the arch wire that connects them are the main components. When the arch wire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.


How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is from one to two years. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.


Endodontics

Who is an Endodontist?

An Endodontist specializes in root canal treatment. Dental decay that is neglected often spreads deep inside the tooth and reaches the pulp tissue in the core of the tooth. They specialize in removing infected and inflamed pulp and filling the area left after its removal.


Why does a tooth require root canal treatment (R.C.T.)?

Basically, tooth is made of three layers, outer strong and hard enamel, intermediate tough dentin and inner soft pulp that contains the nerve ending, blood vessels and others cells which maintain the vitality of the tooth. When dental decay is allowed to progress, it results in a deep cavity that may reach the pulp thereby exposing the pulp to the exterior. Exposure of the pulp may also occur due to erosion or trauma like fracture of the tooth. Whenever the pulp is exposed to the exterior, it develops inflammation and infection. A tooth that has its pulp exposed by decay, trauma, etc has two treatment options - extraction of the tooth or retains the tooth by undertaking a root canal treatment.


Can a tooth with an abscess or infection that has spread beyond the root be saved by R.C.T.?

Once the pulp gets infected and adequate treatment is not carried out there is a chance that the infection may spread to the underlying bone. In such cases the infection forms an abscess in the bone that is nothing but collection of pus. Such an abscessed tooth can be saved by antibiotic therapy followed by root canal treatment. However, these patients required to follow up regularly by X rays and clinical check up until complete healing takes place.


How many visits does it take to complete root canal treatment?

Depending on the involved tooth and infection status it may take multiple visits or can be completed in a single sitting.


Oral Surgery

Who is an oral surgeon?

An oral surgeon is a dental specialist who specializes in surgery of the oral and facial region. An oral surgeon extracts teeth, performs surgeries involving the jawbones, etc.


Why are teeth extracted?

Teeth may need to be removed for a variety of reasons like: i. Very large cavity/ caries that cannot be restored with cements. ii. Periodontal diseases or in simple words diseases of the gums. iii. Fractured or broken teeth iv. Teeth that are traumatized leading to infection and inflammation of the pulp. v. Teeth that fail to erupt or are unable to erupt into the mouth and are deep inside the bone. They are called impacted teeth and may have to be removed. vi. Teeth that are abnormal in development i.e., structure, shape, size, etc. vii. Teeth that are involved in cysts or tumors. viii. Ectopic teeth that have erupted in a wrong place. ix. Sometimes the orthodontist may remove some teeth to correct crooked teeth.


Why is the wisdom tooth removed so often?

The wisdom teeth are the third molars, which are the last teeth in the dental arch. The teeth usually erupt between 18 and 25 years of age. In many individuals, the wisdom teeth remain in the bone, as they may not have adequate space in the dental arch to emerge out. This condition is called impaction. In addition the third molar may erupt in abnormal inclination thus affecting the health of the adjacent teeth. So the wisdom teeth need to be removed often.


Prosthodontics

What are dentures?

Dentures are artificial substitutes used to replace all or some of the lost teeth and adjoining tissues to maintain function, health and esthetics of the tissues. So in simple words dentures help replace lost teeth.


What are the different types of dentures?

Dentures are broadly classified as partial and complete dentures. Complete dentures replace all the teeth while partial dentures replace a few teeth. Partial dentures can be again classified as removable partial dentures and fixed partial dentures. Removable partial dentures replace a few teeth and are designed to be removed and replaced by the patient. The fixed partial dentures also replace a few teeth but cannot be removed by the patient.


What is a crown?

A crown is a restoration that covers the entire tooth like a cap. It can be made of porcelain or acrylic. Crowns are used to restore teeth that are discolored, have multiple decays or are fractured.


What is a bridge?

A bridge is a prosthetic appliance that replaces missing teeth by permanently getting attached to the adjacent remaining teeth.


Periodontics

Who is a Periodontist?

A Periodontist is a specialist trained in the care of (periodontal tissues) gums and other tissues that support the teeth. Periodontists have years of extra schooling and experience that allow them to use special techniques to treat advanced periodontal diseases.


What are the common signs of gum diseases?

Common signs are bleeding, red and swollen gums. Irrespective of the person's complexion, the gums should never be red, or be swollen. Persistent bad breath, receding gums, increasing spaces between the teeth, one or more teeth becoming loose, and vague aching, itching or discomfort around the gums are some of the other common signs.


What is gingiva (gum) and its function?

The gingiva (gum) is the protective type of skin that is closely adapted to the necks of the teeth and covers the bone holding the roots of the teeth. There is a shallow ditch like space that separates the margin of the normal gingiva from the tooth surface. This space is 2mm in depth and is called gingival sulcus. It is one of the places that a dentist will carefully examine to detect the presence of gum disease.


What causes Gum Disease?

Gum disease, is an infection of the gums caused by bacteria. These bacteria produce toxins that irritate the gingiva, and also directly infiltrate into the gingiva causing them to become inflamed and bleed easily. If the irritation persists, the gingiva separate from the teeth and form pockets. Plaque then forms within these pockets and eventually destroys the gingiva and the underlying bone. The teeth may then become loose and fall out or need to be removed.


Do all gum disease require surgical procedure?

Several non-surgical techniques are available for treating periodontal conditions, and the technique chosen will depend on the extent of damage that the disease has caused to the periodontium. The Periodontist will evaluate the condition of the periodontium and removal all the plaque and tartar deposits. In addition to this he will also use various antiseptics and antibiotics that are specifically meant for treating periodontal disease. If this treatment also fails to completely resolve the disease, he will have to resort to periodontal surgery.


What is a graft and can it replace tissues lost due to periodontal disease?

If the gum disease is diagnosed at a stage when there is not much loss of periodontal tissues, the lost tissues can be grafted. Grafts can be of soft tissues or hard tissues. The former is always taken from another site in the mouth of the patient being treated. Hard tissue grafts can be purchased from tissue banks.


Restorative Dentistry

What are cavities or dental decay?

Decay or dental caries is a disease in which the tooth is destroyed by softening as a result of growth of microorganisms on and around the teeth in presence of food particles.


How do cavities form on the tooth?

The microorganisms that exist in mouth along with the food remains form a sticky thin and translucent layer on the tooth called dental plaque. The plaque in initial stages can easily be removed by brushing and flossing. If it is not removed, the plaque gets attached firmly to the teeth and the bacteria multiply and in the process release mild acids that destroy the tooth structure. The enamel gets destroyed layer by layer and the bacteria gradually penetrate deeper into the tooth. The affected part of the tooth gets weakened and breaks during chewing and results in a cavity. The process is slow and continues until proper treatment is executed.


Can a badly decayed tooth be saved?

If sufficient sound tooth structure remains, then the tooth can be saved by covering the whole tooth with a metal crown / cap. A dentist specialized in crown and bridge prostheses will be the best person to treat such teeth.


Can a filled or restored tooth get decayed?

Yes, even a cavity filled with a permanent filling can develop dental caries below the filling. Hence, better care by brushing, flossing the restored tooth along with routine checkup will enhance the long-term success.


Does an abscessed tooth need to be removed?

Dental abscess is the extension of infection from the tooth to the underlying bone. Once, active infection is controlled by antibiotics, the tooth is treated by special procedure called root canal filling. This helps the tooth to be retained in position and function normally.


Can any dentist do all types of fillings?

Any dentist can do routine fillings. Badly decayed teeth and root canal treatment are better handled by a dentist specialized in restorative dentistry and endodontics.


What is a temporary filling?

If the dental decay is close to the pulp a medicated layer of filling is placed over the affected area and a temporary filling is done. Once the pulp heals the temporary restoration is removed and a permanent filling is done.


What is a permanent filling?

While temporary fillings are meant to last a few months only the permanent fillings last longer. Well made permanent fillings can last decades if not a life time.


Can you fill a cavity with a material that is the same color as the tooth?

Filling materials are available that are similar in color to tooth color. These are thus very esthetic in appearance and match the color of the teeth. These filling materials are called composites.


Tooth Loss

What are the causes of Tooth loss?

There are various reasons for tooth loss like Normal childhood tooth loss, Tooth decay, Loose tooth, Tooth injury, Mouth trauma, Gum disease, Periodontal disease.


How does complete tooth loss affect a person?

Loss of all natural teeth can contribute to a person's psychological, social, and physical impairment. Even when missing teeth are replaced with well-constructed dentures, there may be limitations in speech, chewing ability, taste perception, and quality of life.


At what age will a child get the adult teeth after the baby teeth are lost?

The first permanent 'adult' molars (back teeth) will appear at about 6 years of age, behind the baby teeth and before the first teeth start to fall out at about 6 to 7. The permanent ‘adult’ teeth will then replace the ‘baby’ teeth. It is usually the lower front teeth that are lost first, followed by the upper front teeth shortly after. All permanent teeth should be in place by the age of 13, except the wisdom teeth.


How can one replace a lost tooth?

The type of replacement depends on the number of teeth lost, the location of the lost teeth, and the health of the remaining teeth, gums, and the bone around the teeth's roots. Teeth can be replaced with appliances that are fixed or cemented to existing teeth (bridges), implants, or removable appliances (partial or full dentures).


How can Tooth loss be prevented?

Tooth loss can be prevented through education, early diagnosis, and regular dental care. Children and adults must recognize the signs and symptoms of oral and systemic diseases and know the oral and general health care practices necessary to prevent them.


Teeth Whitening

How Does Tooth Whitening Work?

There are many ways to whiten the teeth right from whitening toothpastes to other products that can remove many surface stains, to light-activated whitening techniques. All whitening techniques mainly work in two ways either the bleaching procedures or the non-bleaching procedures.


What is bleaching and non-bleaching procedures?

Bleaching procedure is the one which uses bleaches that contain an active ingredient, most often carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide in concentrations of 10-22%, which helps remove both deep and surface stains. A non-bleaching procedure works by physical and/or chemical action to help remove surface stains. All toothpastes rely on mild abrasion to remove surface stains between dental visits. Whitening toothpastes have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal.


Why should I whiten my teeth?

Tooth whitening is preferred in order to avoid the embarrassment of yellow teeth due to natural aging process or due to stains caused by over-consumption of tea, coffee and cola. Whitening the teeth not only gives a younger look but also boosts the confidence level and hence self esteem.


How safe is tooth whitening?

Over a decade of research has proven bleaching and other whitening methods to be both safe and effective. Several products in the market today have shown no adverse effects on teeth or gums in substantial clinical and laboratory testing. In the past, the higher bleach concentrations used in-office treatment resulted in more sensitivity. Today, however, bleaching gels are well buffered, making sensitivity less of an issue. Sensitivity may occur in people after whitening procedures, particularly when they eat hot or cold foods, but usually disappears after 48 hours and stops completely when treatment is stopped.


Who should avoid teeth whitening?

Whitening procedures should not be done while a woman is pregnant because the effect of the whitening materials on the development of the fetus is not known. Since the procedure is cosmetic and option, it should be postponed until after delivery.


Crowded teeth/ Crooked teeth

What will happen when one has crowded or crooked teeth?

Crowded or crooked teeth that overlap, protrude, or recess in a haphazard fashion can often be perceived as a personal disfigurement. Apart from looking aesthetically unpleasing, crowded teeth also affect the general dental condition of your mouth. They tend to attract food deposits, which get trapped in the narrow spaces, and are difficult to keep clean with routine oral hygiene. This leads to higher incidence of tooth decay and gum disease.


What Causes Crooked Teeth?

Crooked teeth can be because of crowded teeth, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, premature loss of baby teeth, a poor breathing airway caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils can all contribute to poor tooth positioning. It can also be because of the hereditary factors and extra teeth, large teeth, missing teeth, wide spacing, small jaws can also cause crooked teeth.


What can be done to correct the crowded teeth?

Till some years ago, orthodontic treatment was the only solution to crowded teeth. But now we have an alternative in cosmetic dentistry. Crowded teeth may require a combination of treatments in order to achieve an aesthetically and functionally satisfactory result. Individual problems require individual solutions, and the final decision about the right treatment procedure will be made by the dentist.


Who can use braces?

Anyone who has crowded teeth, protruding upper front teeth, excessive overlapping of the front teeth, spacing between the teeth, headaches or jaw pain, protrusive lower or upper jaws, inability to bite or chew food easily, missing teeth or difficulty cleaning due to crowded teeth can benefit from braces. Age should not be a factor stopping anyone from getting braces.


Toothache

What is toothache?

Toothache is a condition related to the irritation in the nerve root of the tooth. Each tooth has a soft spongy dental pulp, the inflammation of which causes pain in the tooth. Toothache usually takes place due to dental decay or dental cavities. Toothache is a very common problem and can happen to anybody at any point of time.


What are the common causes for toothache?

Common Causes of Tooth Ache: Tooth decay, Swelling of the pulp, Consumption of soft drinks, Consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugar, Faulty diet , Tooth infection, Crack in the tooth.


How can toothache be prevented?

The best way to prevent toothache is to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Try to avoid cavities by reducing your intake of sugary foods and drinks - have them as an occasional treat and at mealtimes only. Brush the teeth twice daily by using a toothpaste containing fluoride really helps. Cleaning between the teeth using dental floss, woodsticks, or an inter-dental brush according to your dentist's advice will help prevent toothache.


What should one do in the case of a toothache?

  • Avoid hot, cold or sweet stimuli. This will help prevent pain from pulpitis
  • Take a pain killer under the dentist's guidance
  • If the pain is caused by exposed root surfaces, toothpaste for sensitive teeth, either used normally or rubbed onto the exposed root, may be helpful
  • A saltwater mouthwash can also prevent infection if you have mouth ulcers
  • Visit the dentist as soon as possible