Frequently Asked Dental Questions
- What is a specialist dentist?
Like medicine, dentistry also has general practitioners and specialists. Specialists are recognised by the General Dental Council (GDC) for having undertaken extra training to deal with problems beyond the level expected of general dental practice.
- What is a prosthodontist?
A prosthodontist is a dental specialist who replaces missing teeth using dental implants, bridges or dentures. The specialisation also covers advanced cosmetic dentistry, crowns, veneers, the temporomandibular joint and the bite.
American College of Prosthetics describes their role as "Serving as the 'architect' of a dental treatment plan, prosthodontists collaborate with general dentists, specialists and other health professionals to develop solutions to your dental concerns."
- Why do we always use an operating microscope when treating patients?
Since 1997, we have been performing our dentistry under operating microscopes. This is because we know that dentistry done well, requires precision and attention to detail.
For example, we use a material for checking the bite called "shim stock". We check the bite when we fill teeth, when we crown them or whenever we do anything that affects the biting surfaces of the teeth. Even though "shim stock" is only is only 8 micrometers thick (eight thousandths of a millimeter, the same thickness as a red blood cell), we find that many of our patients can feel it between their teeth when they bite. Who would have imagined that teeth are so sensitive that they could detect the thickness of a red blood cell?
The operating microscope gives me a tooth that is the size of a coffee cup to work on. It is invaluable when we are examining teeth for cracks, when we are finding elusive root canals, when we are sealing the tooth surfaces to minimise post-operative sensitivity and when we are fitting precision restorations.
I could not do what I do without it.
- Why do we use CT scans in dentistry?
X-rays or radiographs give us two dimensional views of the teeth and bone and have been highly useful in dentistry for many years. Since they have become digital in the last ten years, we have been able to view instant x-ray images on the computer. These can be magnified and adjusted to bring out obscure details which can make all the difference when we are trying diagnose the cause of your presenting discomfort.
The next quantum leap beyond radiographs has been with CT scans. Traditional radiographs are limited by providing two dimensional images in a limited number of directions. CT scans (computed tomography) give us three dimensional views in any plane we choose. This means that we can now visualise problems lying behind other structures which would have previously blocked our view. There are various types of scan and there are various types of computer software to help analyse the data.
In our practice we commonly use Simplant software. This software allows us to view three dimensional images of the bones and teeth. Using the software we can analyse the optimum implant dimensions and angulations for the best clinical outcome.
A cheaper alternative is the iCat Vision software which allows us to look at a series of two dimensional planes and make measurements. This software has an advantage in that we can look from directions not possible with traditional radiographs. However, any 3D views are quite basic when compared with the Simplant software.
When a patient has a CT scan, we normally send the scan to another company to reformat it into the Simplant software. This adds to the costs but provides more useful information when planning your complex surgical procedures. As well as the cost of reformatting the scan, we have to pay a licence fee to use the software. Overall we have found that the Simplant software is worth the extra cost.