Frequently asked questions

Fillings

What’s the difference between amalgam and white fillings?

Amalgam fillings are the more traditional silver-metal option – and the most cost-effective solution too. If you don’t want your fillings to show inside your mouth, a white filling, made from a composite resin material that bonds to the natural tooth, is the best option.

Will it hurt to get a filling?

No. Fillings are carried out under a local anaesthetic so you won’t feel a thing during treatment. If you are at all nervous about having an injection, do let us know so that we can gently help you through the procedure – we have a number of tried and tested techniques at our disposal and lots of experience helping nervous patients.

What happens after a filling treatment?

Some patients experience extra sensitivity for up to three weeks after the treatment, which gradually subsides. For most, though, a filling treatment is very straightforward. The anaesthetic wears off after 1-3 hours and after that you should be able to return to normal activity. Children must be observed until the anaesthesia has completely worn off.

How long will my filling last?

Amalgam fillings generally last longest – up to 12 years, although with good oral hygiene they are known to last even longer. White fillings have an average lifespan of around seven years, though many patients think the cosmetic benefits of white fillings outweigh the issue of having to have them replaced.

Root Canals

What is a root canal?

The root of a tooth contains a bundle of soft tissue and nerve endings known as dental pulp. If tooth decay penetrates this far, the dental pulp becomes infected and can cause severe toothache – sometimes even a tooth abscess.

Why would I need root canal treatment?

The causes of tooth infection are varied – deep decay due to cavities or gum disease, cracked fillings or crowns, and damage as a result of trauma, or even teeth grinding. Whatever the reason, a root canal treatment will prevent the need for tooth extraction and future costly treatments.

What are the symptoms?

Root canal symptoms often come in two waves. When the pulp becomes infected, early signs that you might need endodontic treatment include toothache, sensitive teeth to hot and cold foods, and pain when eating and drinking. When the infected pulp dies, these symptoms may temporarily subside – but don’t be tempted to put off seeing your dentist! When the infection spreads to the root canal, those early symptoms come back – this time accompanied by pain and swelling to the face and gums, and pus around the infected tooth, which will often appear dark in colour. In this scenario, contact Hassocks Dental Surgery immediately for an emergency dentist appointment.

What does the root canal procedure involve?

Root canal treatment is carried out under local anaesthetic and is usually a straightforward procedure, rather like getting a filling. Once the tooth is completely numb, the dentist will use a series of tiny instruments to open up the tooth and extract the infected pulp. The remaining space is cleaned and shaped, ready for filling with a rubbery substance called gutta-percha. A temporary filling is usually placed on top – the permanent restoration would be carried out in a separate appointment.

Will I need to take time off work for a root canal?

You can carry on as normal once the anaesthetic has worn off, though the full healing period will take around a week – just be careful with what you eat, how you chew and maintain an excellent oral hygiene routine.

Hygiene

What treatments can the hygienist offer?

The hygienist will carry out a scale and polish – a professional deep clean that removes disease-causing plaque and tartar from under and around the gum line. The hygienist is also qualified to advise you on the latest techniques and products for effective cleaning at home, as well as tips on diet, nutrition and lifestyle issues such as smoking and alcohol intake.

Does it hurt to get a scale and polish?

Not usually, though if your gums are very sensitive the hygienist can use anaesthetic gel to alleviate any discomfort.

How often should I see my hygienist?

If you have good oral health, we generally recommend seeing the hygienist twice a year. If you’ve had dental implants or tooth restorations, you may be required to visit more frequently to ensure plaque is being kept under control effectively around your prosthetic restorations.

What do I need to know about plaque and tartar?

Plaque and tartar are the key contributors to gum disease and tooth decay. The root cause of gum disease and tooth decay is bad oral hygiene – when you let your regular brushing and flossing slide, a film of bacteria – plaque – builds up around the gum line. Caused by the food that remains on your teeth after eating, plaque eventually hardens to become tartar. Together, they attack the tooth enamel, making gums and teeth vulnerable to disease and decay.

How do I know if my gums aren't healthy?

If you’ve ever experienced sore or bleeding gums while flossing or brushing, or you have bad breath, the chances are you have gingivitis – an early stage of gum disease. Gingivitis is easily reversed when you step up your oral hygiene regime – but left untreated, it will lead to periodontitis. At this stage your gums will be inflamed and begin to pull away from the teeth, leaving them open to further infection and decay. It’s a situation that requires urgent dental treatment.

What can I do to prevent oral hygiene problems?

Maintaining a rigorous cleaning programme at home is vital if you want to minimise hygienist appointments. Our hygienist will give you advice and tips not only about how to clean your teeth, but also about diet and general lifestyle.

How can my dentist or hygienist help with bad breath?

While regular check-ups with your dentist will flag any areas where plaque is caught between your teeth, your hygienist will be able to clean all those areas that are difficult to reach. They will also be able to show you the best way to clean your teeth and gums, and show you any areas you may be missing, including your tongue, and get you back on track with your oral hygiene. It’s a team effort!

How can I work out the sugar content of what I’m buying at the supermarket?

Always check the label on your packaging. The handy Change4Life Food Scanner app lets you scan packaging with your phone for a quick visual rundown of a product’s sugar content.

How else can I protect my teeth from sugar/acid attacks?

Timing is everything. Limit your intake of sugary, acidic foods and drinks to mealtimes – these are the times when your protective saliva production is working on overdrive. Snacking on sweet things, however small in quantity, all day is much worse for your teeth, as you are constantly exposing your teeth to sugar and acid attacks.

Teeth Whitening

Is teeth whitening suitable for everyone?

Almost. There are a few patients for whom whitening may not be advisable, which is why it’s imperative to only have teeth bleaching done by a qualified dental professional.

Why get my teeth whitened at the dentist?

The dentist is your only option if you want your whitening to work and you want it to be safe. Unlike over-the-counter or online products, professional whitening means the dentist can prescribe the highest-strength bleaching agent for you, yet adjust it if it causes any problems. This means you’ll get the best possible results with the least discomfort.

How do I get started with teeth whitening?

If you’re interested in whitening your teeth, you will first need to attend a consultation at Hassocks Dental Surgery. Your dentist will carry out a full examination before confirming you’re a good candidate for whitening. If whitening is the right treatment for you, your dentist will take your dental impressions, which will be sent to a lab where your custom-fit bleaching trays will be manufactured. Unlike generic bleaching trays, lab-made trays exactly fit the contours of your gum line, protecting your gums and targeting your teeth more accurately.

How long does teeth whitening last?

Whitening is like setting back the clock on the colour of your teeth – so they will start to darken again with age and to collect stains again, just as they would if you’d never had them whitened. The key to keeping your teeth white as long as possible, whether you have them whitened or not, is avoiding the foods and drinks that stain teeth and maintaining your dental hygiene routine. You can also use your bespoke whitening trays for top-up treatments that you can get from your dentist.

Can you whiten crowns or bridges?

No, the whitening gel only affects natural teeth – so if you are having dental restorations such as crowns and bridges, make sure you talk to your dentist about whitening too. It’s recommended that whitening is carried out first so that restorations can be colour-matched to your newly brightened teeth.

Crowns & Bridges

What is the difference between a crown and a bridge?

A crown is a single-tooth restoration that caps your existing tooth. A bridge replaces one or more adjacent missing teeth with a prosthetic that literally bridges the gap, held in place at each end by a crown.

How is my crown, bridge or partial denture made?

Traditional crowns, bridges and partial dentures have to be made in a dental lab. This will require you to sit for dental impressions so that an accurate restoration can be tailor-made to create the perfect combination of function and aesthetics. You will be involved in the process from start to finish and the lab will create a restoration that meets you and your dentist’s requirements in terms of shape and shade.

How is a crown or bridge fitted?

Before your custom restoration is made at the lab, your dentist will prepare your tooth by filing it down into a smooth shape that correctly accommodates the restoration. Dental impressions will then be taken and sent to the lab where your restoration will be made. When it is ready, you’ll return to the dentist to have your crown or bridge cemented in place and cured under a special light.

How long will my crown or bridge last for?

With good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups, your restoration could last as long as 20 years.

Dentures

Why choose dentures?

Dentures are the most cost-effective solution to missing teeth and will enable you to eat and speak with confidence.

How are dentures made?

Dentures are custom made in a dental lab, using your dental impressions to get the exact fit. A trial denture is usually made to check the fit before the final, permanent version is made.

What is the difference between full and partial dentures?

A partial denture fills the gap left behind by one or more missing teeth, and clips to your existing teeth. It can be easily unclipped and removed for cleaning. A full or complete denture is used when all the upper or lower teeth are missing, and fits snugly over your gums. It must be removed daily for cleaning.

Are dentures difficult to get used to?

Dentures can feel strange to begin with but most patients grow accustomed to them very quickly. As well as getting used to wearing them, you’ll also need to start a strict routine for cleaning them every morning and night; neglected dentures can cause a number of dental problems, from bad breath and oral thrush to gum disease and tooth decay.

How do I look after my dentures?

Clean them as you would your normal teeth – once in the morning and once at night. The routine requires you to brush them with soapy water only (as toothpaste can be abrasive), soak them with soluble denture-cleaning tablets to remove stains and bacteria, then brush again. If you’re taking your dentures out to sleep, keep them moist to stop them from drying out and changing shape. You’ll need to visit the dentist regularly to make sure your dentures are fitting and functioning correctly.

Dental Implants

What are dental implants?

A dental implant is a high-tech plug that replaces your tooth root. It’s surgically implanted into the jaw using state-of-the-art equipment and techniques, and is made from a super-strong, biocompatible material – usually titanium – to which your jaw bone will eventually bond, a process known as ‘osseointegration’. Once this has happened, a prosthetic tooth can be affixed onto the implant which looks and feels totally natural whilst delivering excellent function.

Can anyone have implants?

Implants can only be considered for healthy mouths – so some patients may find that the process of getting implants will first require other dental work, such as bone grafting, gum surgery or orthodontics. Make an appointment at Hassocks Dental Surgery for an initial consultation to assess your suitability for implants.

Is implant surgery painful?

Implant surgery is normally carried out under local anaesthetic with options for sedation available. There may be some swelling for a few days after the procedure. Your dentist will supply you with a comprehensive aftercare plan.

Are implants safe?

Absolutely. Dental implants are a long-established treatment, supported by over 30 years of clinical evidence and a 95% success rate or higher. Implants actually help improve the health of your jaw by increasing blood flow to an area that would otherwise atrophy.

How long does the implant process take?

Dental implants take a few months in total, from the initial assessment to the fitting of the final crown.

Children

Why bother taking a baby to the dentist?

Even if they haven’t got any teeth, we recommend that all children are seen by a dentist before their first birthday, and this can be as simple as bringing them with you during your own check-up. This will not only eliminate any potential risks, but also establishes the dentist as a familiar and fun place to be.

When should I start teaching my child to brush their teeth?

As soon as those milk teeth come through! Even babies can start getting used to the idea of brushing, and the earlier you give them a toothbrush, the more likely they are to comply with oral hygiene in the future. As more teeth come through, brush regularly and then encourage them to attempt their own brushing while you supervise.

How much toothpaste should my child use?

From birth to 3 years, use a flat smear of toothpaste with 1000ppm (parts per million) of fluoride in it. After the age of 3, a small pea-sized amount can be used. Children learn good habits from watching what happens in the home, and you can set a good example by brushing and flossing your own teeth twice a day.

Is it ok to give my child a dummy?

Sucking is a natural reflex in a young child and a dummy may be a useful aide to help soothe your baby. The important thing is never to dip the dummy in anything sweet and never use a dummy that has juice in it.

When should my child stop sucking their thumb?

If your child reaches the age of 5 and still sucks their thumb or fingers habitually, it may be time to start gently discouraging them, as this is the age when intensive sucking can cause speech or orthodontic problems. Your dentist should be able to advise you on the best course of action.

Why is fluoride important?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that prevents cavities and is highly beneficial to teeth, which is why it’s routinely added to toothpaste. At Hassocks Dental Surgery, we offer children fluoride varnish, a quick and completely painless procedure that is excellent for preventing child tooth decay.

What do I need to know about fissure sealants?

Fissure sealants are often recommended when the permanent molars erupt, and consist of a plastic seal that is smoothed over the tooth surface, preventing food getting stuck in those hard-to-brush areas.

Book an appointment online today

PROCEED TO BOOKING