Frequently Asked Questions
Where will I be seen?
At Melbourne Dental Clinic we are extremely fortunate through our association with the University of Melbourne to have a first-class facility with state-of-the-art equipment. There are 12 general dental chairs co-located with the specialist dental chairs on the level 1 of 723 Swanston St, Carlton. Our central sterilizing facility is recognized as world class and is located on site along with an Imaging Service located on the ground floor.
Is it safe to be examined by student dentists?
The Melbourne Dental Clinic (MDC) is a purpose built teaching clinic designed to promote high quality care and effective teaching. Treatment at the MDC is provided by students of the Doctor of Dental Surgery, Doctor of Clinical Dentistry and Bachelor of Oral Health at the University of Melbourne. All treatment provided by our students is under the close supervision of qualified dental professionals. Students’ work is checked at various stages of treatment to ensure the same level of patient care you would expect from a fully qualified dental professional. You will find that the time allocated to your appointment is generally longer than your private general dental practice.
How long is the first appointment?
Your initial appointment is at the Melbourne Dental Clinic is approximately 30-90 minutes but this will vary according to an evaluation of your teeth, the procedure/s required and any unexpected or unforeseen issues arising.
How long are the waiting times?
You will generally get an appointment within one week for a general dental appointment and within a few weeks in the specialty areas. If you require faster access to the Clinic we can organize an appointment in the Private Practice arm of the service – fees will be at the standard service rate in private clinics.
How much will it cost?
The cost of your treatment is dependent on the outcome of the assessment of your mouth, what problems or issues that might be identified, whether you have private insurance extras cover and whether your particular health fund covers the service at this clinic. There will be an estimate provided to you after the initial consultation. The teaching and learning component of our supervised dental student service provides the opportunity for reduced dental fees.
Am I covered by my Private Insurance?
If you have private insurance with dental cover you will be covered for some of the costs associated with your treatment. Please check with your insurance provider to check the level of your cover before treatment.
Do you have treatment plans?
A treatment plan will be prepared for you and tailored to your needs together with an estimate of cost after the initial consultation.
How do I take care of my baby/toddler’s teeth?
If your baby doesn’t have any teeth yet, you can wipe their gums with a clean warm wet cloth after every feed. When the first teeth appear make sure you clean them after feeds with a warm wet cloth and avoid letting your baby fall asleep with a bottle. Ideally, it is preferable not allow your baby to drink anything else but milk or water from a bottle. Your toddler can have their teeth brushed the same way as the rest of the family. Until they are three years old they may not be able to spit, so avoid putting too much toothpaste on the brush and use only a smear rather than a blob of paste to brush their teeth. You may choose to use a milk teeth toothpaste with less fluoride until the first permanent teeth start erupting, but using regular toothpaste is acceptable as long as it is used in small quantities.
What is cosmetic dentistry?
Cosmetic dentistry is dedicated to brightening and enhancing the appearance of your smile. Whether your teeth are crooked, discoloured, too close together or too far apart, too short, too long or too gummy, today’s technological advancements can make an amazing difference. Techniques include porcelain veneers, crowns, dental bridges, gum lifts, bonding, tooth whitening and implants.
What is a dental crown?
Crowns are coverings for the entire visible part of the tooth. They are used when teeth are broken; old and large fillings are lost; teeth are badly decayed or severely discoloured. They improve the appearance of your natural teeth and can brighten your smile. The Melbourne Dental Clinic provides options taking into consideration where in your mouth the crown is to be placed.
Why do I need a crown?
Dental crowns restore the structure of the tooth. As time goes by, it’s not unusual to find our teeth are no longer structurally sound. Things like lost fillings, decay, chipping and cracking of the enamel can all lead to large-scale problems in a tooth’s surface. If the whole surface of the tooth is problematic but the root system is intact, a crown might be the ideal solution.
What is a dental bridge?
Bridges are the traditional way of replacing missing teeth. A dental bridge is a false tooth, fused between two porcelain crowns to fill in the area left by a missing tooth. The two crowns holding it in place are attached to teeth on each side of the false tooth.
What types of dental bridges are available?
There are several types, and which one we recommend depends on where it will go in your mouth, your bite and also the aesthetic and functional considerations.
A bridge will keep teeth from drifting into the space created by a missing tooth, helping preserve normal function and a normal bite for the jaw joint. In the most common type of bridge, crowns are applied to the two teeth on either side of a gap (where teeth have been removed). This involves joining three crowns, including a crown to fill the gap.
A bridge is suitable in areas where teeth on either side of the gap have been filled and would benefit from restoration with crowns. If the teeth beside the gap don’t have fillings, it might be better to explore options such as implants. This avoids having to cut otherwise-perfect teeth.
What are dental implants used for?
Dental implants are an ideal way to replace missing teeth. The Melbourne Dental Clinic can create a treatment plan that gives you stable and functional new teeth. Because quality and precision are crucial when it comes to implant dentistry, we take utmost care in planning and carrying out your treatment. You can be confident in the advanced materials and technologies we use to give you great results. Whether it’s to replace a single tooth or to create a full set of secure and stable new teeth, implants are a proven, long lasting alternative to bridges and dentures. Replacing the root of your natural teeth, implants bond with the bone to form a stable foundation for permanent replacement teeth that look, feel and function like the real thing!
Am I a candidate for dental implants?
If you have a missing tooth or teeth, or a loose lower denture, dental implants may be right for you. But there are many aspects to consider. The health and condition of your gums and bone play a major role in the decision process. That’s because, without the healthy structure in place, the implants will not be able to survive. If you would like to speak to one of our expert professional team about implants, just let our front desk team know.
What does Root Canal Treatment really mean?
Root canal treatment (also called endodontic treatment) is a procedure that specifically treats the pulp of the tooth and tissues surrounding the root of the tooth.
How can this improve my dental health?
The aim of root canal treatment is to retain a tooth that has been damaged by decay, disease or injury. The dead tissue is removed from the canal, antibacterial medications are used to disinfect the inside of the tooth, and the canals are filled. Root canal treatment is successful in most cases and if you take good care of the treated tooth, it can last for many years – possibly for the rest of your life. However, your tooth will not be treated unless the treatment is likely to succeed. In some cases, root canal treatment may not be appropriate, and the reasons will be explained to you.
What is included in my check up?
A checkup appointment at the Melbourne Dental Clinic usually starts with a thorough pre-clinical discussion regarding your medical and previous dental history. The dentist then completes a comprehensive examination of your face, neck and full mouth (including a cancer check of the soft tissues). The dentist and the dental assistant may take some photographs, digital scans or x-ray images to better visualise your mouth. They will then sit down with you and discuss their findings. The dentists will inform you of your condition and what options are available for you.
How often do I need to visit the dentist?
Depends, but ideally 6 monthly, unless your dentist specifies otherwise.
How can I ensure I maintain optimum oral health?
Good diet, great overall health, good hydration, good oral hygiene, regular visits to the dentist and hygienist.
How does oral health impact my overall well-being?
There are links between poor oral health and other systemic diseases. Most studies show that it is not a causative link (i.e. poor oral health does not cause heart disease), rather those patients already affected by a chronic systemic disease (such as heart disease and diabetes) have more problems trying to manage their disease if their oral health is poor. It is more difficult to maintain good oral health if you are already chronically ill or on medication, so making sure excellent oral health is maintained while you are healthy will pay dividends in times of illness.
Who can get orthodontics?
Braces are now commonly used for treatment of both adults and children, so it is never too late for treatment. Tooth alignment can be changed at any age if your gums and bone structure are healthy. Having orthodontic treatment can dramatically improve your appearance and self-esteem. Improving the health of your teeth and gums is equally important. Crooked teeth and a bad bite can contribute to gum and bone loss, tooth decay, abnormal wear of the tooth enamel and surfaces and perhaps headaches and jaw joint (TMJ/TMD) pain.
What type of orthodontics treatment is available?
The new techniques and appliances the Melbourne Dental Clinic uses greatly reduce discomfort levels, decrease the frequency of visits and shorten treatment time. There are also several options available, including metal braces, translucent braces or Invisalign. During your initial examination, we will be able to determine the best possible treatment for your individual needs. We can also outline the treatment plan, the timeframe required and the approximate cost. Metal braces are the most common. They are made of high-grade stainless steel and are smaller, more comfortable and more attractive than ever. Clear (or ceramic) braces are made of translucent material so are less visible. They are very popular with adult patients but are more fragile, and there is an additional fee for them.
What happens after I have my braces removed?
When we remove your braces, we will begin the retention stage of your treatment. Your final orthodontic result depends on you wearing your retainers, so follow through with the work you’ve put in so far. Remember to remove your retainer before eating and brush your retainer before placing it back in your mouth. Alternatively, we can fit you with a permanent fixed wire retainer on the inner surfaces of your teeth.
What are the benefits of Orthodontic treatment?
As we all know, straight teeth can have a big influence on the aesthetic appearance of our smile. Orthodontics specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of dental and facial irregularities in children and adults. Crooked and crowded teeth can be more difficult to clean and maintain, contributing to tooth decay, eventual gum disease and tooth loss. So, orthodontics plays an important role in reducing the need for future dental treatment. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing function and excessive stress on gum and bone.
What is Invisalign™?
The great news is that in some cases you can now get straighter teeth without the look of braces. For decades, traditional braces have been the only option for adults who wanted straighter teeth. Now there’s Invisalign™ which is nearly invisible, so your teeth can be straightened without it being so obvious.
How does Invisalign™ Work?
Invisalign™ uses 3D computer imaging technology to show you the complete treatment plan, from the initial position to the final desired position before treatment even starts.
As soon as you are happy with the computer simulation, a series of custom-moulded ‘aligners’ are produced. The clear, removable aligners gradually straighten teeth, positioning them into a wonderful new smile.
As well as being almost invisible, they’re removable. So you can eat and drink whatever you like during your treatment. You’ll also be able to brush and floss as normal.
Invisalign™, like everything, is not always right for everyone. The aligners work well for many patients, mainly adults but some adolescents’ problems may be suitable. Invisalign™ can suit people whose teeth are crowded or have spaces between them, and those whose teeth may have shifted after having worn braces in their youth.
Is Invisalign™ as painful as traditional braces?
As with any orthodontic treatment, most people experience minor temporary discomfort for a few days at the beginning of each new stage of treatment. This is normal and is usually described as a feeling of pressure. That’s a sign that the appliance is working, sequentially moving your teeth to their final destination. This discomfort typically goes away a couple of days after you insert the new aligner.
Why do people prefer Invisalign™?
The convenience and ease of Invisalign™ have made it the choice of over half a million people. You can live your normal lifestyle and still end up with an incredible smile, thanks to the comfort, convenience and virtual invisibility Invisalign™ provides during treatment.
How long does Invisalign™ take?
It’s different for everyone. Invisalign™ treatment can range from approximately 9 to 24 months, depending on what’s needed to get your smile straight and beautiful. Your orthodontist will determine the anticipated time frame and let you know before starting treatment.
What is a porcelain veneer?
Veneers are a wonderful way of improving your smile. A specially prepared shell-like material is custom made for you. It’s permanently bonded to the tooth, giving a natural look and feel, plus outstanding durability and strength. Just two visits is all it takes.
What is the difference between in chair and take-home bleaching kits?
In chair teeth whitening uses a strong active ingredient, which can only legally be prescribed and applied in the dental practice. This type of whitening can only be applied for an hour at a time and if multiple visits are required, they must be at least one week apart. While this whitening process may result in a dramatic change in brightness, it also causes more sensitivity and temporary tooth dehydration.
One visit may not be sufficient to get your teeth to the brightest shade they can be. Because this treatment is done in surgery, there is a higher cost associated with the treatment. Take home whitening is gentler, has a mild active ingredient and is safe to use without constant professional supervision. However, some professional supervision is still advised as all whitening can cause side effects like tooth sensitivity and even chemical burns.
It is important to follow instructions from your dentist, therapist and hygienist regarding the safest application of your home whitening kits. You should also check in with your NDC dental team regularly to ensure you are on track for the best results. Take home whitening is also very economical: once you have been issued your custom-made home kit and starter gel, you will only need to top up your whitening once per year and the gel can be supplied at minimal cost by your National Dental Care dental practice during your preventative care visits.
What is temporomandibular disorder (TMJ /TMD)?
The temporomandibular joints are located on each side of your head. They make it possible to open and close your mouth, and work together when you speak, chew or swallow. These joints also control the lower jaw as it moves forward, backward and side to side. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly may result in a painful TMD or temporomandibular disorder.
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
If you have TMD (also referred to as TMJ) you will experience a lot of pain, especially chronic headaches or migraines, or pain in the neck, shoulder and back. Other symptoms can include:
- Ringing or congestion in the ears
- Loose teeth
- Worn, chipped or cracked teeth and fillings
- Pain and sensitivity in the teeth
- Crowded teeth
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Fractures at the gum line
- Pain or clicking and popping in the jaw joint
- Difficulty swallowing
- Numbness or tingling in the arms and fingers
- Limited opening of the mouth
- Loss of chewing efficiency
TMJ disorders are generally caused by a combination of problems with the joint, and stress on its surrounding structures. Some causes of joint problems include:
- Arthritis, injury and dislocation of the joint, which can be due to an improperly-aligned bite or joint hyper-mobility (looseness of the jaw).
- Jaw clenching and teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) can put significant stress on the jaw muscles. People who clench their teeth during the day and grind their teeth while asleep will often suffer from muscle pain and tightness, as well as damage to the teeth.
- Poor posture (eg, holding your head forward while looking at your computer screen) can also strain the muscles of your jaw, face and neck. The onset of TMD can be gradual or sudden.
Fortunately, TMD is treatable. Through Neuromuscular Dentistry, we are now able to gently and gradually correct the position of your jaw. In most cases, by aligning the jaw and getting it back to its proper position, we will eliminate the recurrence of the symptoms.
What are dental fillings?
Dental fillings are used to restore worn or damaged teeth and treat tooth decay. Since different types of fillings are better for different conditions, your dentist will help you decide which is right for you. And we endeavour to minimise the need for fillings by helping you prevent future dental problems.
What kind of dental fillings are available?
We offer sophisticated, gentle procedures using state of the art materials. Fillings are available in tooth coloured resin or porcelain.
Do all wisdom teeth need to be removed?
The simple answer is: not necessarily. Nature doesn’t create redundancies, there is usually a reason we have all the body parts we have. However, due to many factors, impacted and problematic wisdom teeth are becoming more and more frequent. Your dentist will advise whether your wisdom teeth are fine the way they are or if they are likely to be problematic. If so, extraction may be recommended. This can be done in the general dental surgery, under local anaesthetic or under general anaesthetic or under sedation. Occasionally a referral to an Oral Surgeon (a dental specialist) may be required.
What is involved in post operative care?
Your dentist or Oral Surgeon will advise of best care after wisdom teeth removal. Typically, you will be advised to:
- protect the area where the tooth has been removed and avoid touching it with your tongue or hands
- avoid hot drinks or hot food for 24 hours, as this may cause the wound to bleed
- avoid rinsing your mouth and swishing water or mouthwash for 24 hours as this may dislodge the blood clot in the tooth socket and cause further complications
- if you experience bleeding, apply gentle pressure on the site with a clean gauze pack
- do not smoke for 2-3 days after the procedure and avoid drinking alcohol as this can cause serious complications and delay healing
Will I need to go under general anaesthetic?
Not all wisdom teeth extractions are difficult or complicated. Most wisdom teeth can be removed in the dental surgery setting and under local anaesthesia. Other forms of anaesthesia and sedation are available to relieve anxiety about the procedure. If you feel that you are anxious about the procedure and would prefer not to remember it, you may choose to have your wisdom teeth removed under general anaesthesia or intra-venous sedation at a hospital or day surgery.