The world of dentistry can seem shrouded in confusing terms, with equally confusing definitions which might raise even more questions.
You might stumble upon information not relevant to your local practice, (as treatments, methods, pricing and materials can differ between regions or overseas) when all you want to do is find out more about a new treatment your friend is currently swearing by.
Whilst the internet has a wealth of resources, it can be difficult to locate relevant information - so for this reason, I’ve put together a list of common questions, with simple answers and definitions backed up by our dentists based around Manchester and the North of England, so you can refer back to it whilst you browse our website.
Will a dentist judge me?
Dentists spend years studying and learning in order to refine their skills and provide an expert service; your dentist was aware of the kinds of situations they’d encounter when they chose to enter the field, and are likely to have seen similar or more severe cases before.
Whilst the skill and ability from one dentist to the next may differ, the fact remains that if everyone had tip top dental hygiene, dentists would have been taught an arsenal of procedures to only ever conduct a scale and polish.
Why does a dentist call out numbers during an examination?
Dentists use a numerical code for different teeth in the mouth as they inspect them, highlighting any issues to a nurse which need to be treated.
Additionally, the dentist may be carrying out a basic periodontal exam (BPE) to understand the health of the gum around each tooth using a small probe. As the dentist moves the probe around your gums, they will see how deep your gum will allow it to go, and communicate this to the nurse as a number from 0-4.
How is a tooth removed?
Private and NHS services can differ in their methods - for private treatments, they may create a temporary denture or bridge before the extraction, so the patient isn’t left with a gap. This is less likely to be offered to NHS patients.
Extractions are done under local anaesthetic to make the area numb and prevent pain during the process. Amounts can be adjusted throughout the procedure to ensure the pain is managed effectively and keep you as comfortable as possible.
To remove teeth, the dentist will use forceps to grip the tooth and gently rock it back and forth loosening it from the jaw bone and ligaments. If a tooth is difficult to remove, (for example if you have very deep or spread-out roots on the larger back teeth), the dentist may suggest the tooth be removed in pieces, and use a small circular saw to carefully split it into more manageable portions.
A sedation service may be provided to private patients with dental anxieties or phobias, which can be administered via drip or inhalation, leaving a patient in a calm and relaxed state, but still conscious if they need to respond to the dentist during the procedure.
Why do I get shooting pain in my teeth randomly?
Two commonly occurring factors could be:
Sensitivity: high sugar intake, genetics, oral hygiene neglect, dietary or vitamin deficiencies, smoking, side-effects from medications or other drug use may leave you with thinning enamel, gum disease, decay, receding gums or exposed roots which can all lead to tooth sensitivity. Sensitivity presents as intense shooting pain when exposed to things such as hot drinks, acids and sugars, even breathing in cold air during the winter.
Underlying problems: there could also be a deeper and more serious unseen cause for such pain - ultimately, your teeth aren’t supposed to be paining you, and the pain is your body telling you there’s a problem - so don’t take the risk of deep abscesses or oral cancers.
For further information, support and resources relating to oral cancer, please visit Cancer Research UK.
These are the kinds of red flags our dentists are trained to notice immediately, using x-rays and screening processes, so make sure you’re sticking to your regular visits to the dentist, and if you’re currently experiencing these symptoms don’t hesitate to book online, pick up the phone and call 0161 820 3477 or visit your local practice.