Big Red Tooth

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Children’s dentistry:

At what age should I bring my child to visit the dentist?

We see so many children after some damage is already done and it’s almost “too late”. Your child’s first dentist visit is mostly to educate mom and dad and if you come early and get the juicy facts from an early age you can prevent many dental issues before they cause longer term damage. For this reason we recommend you start bringing your child to the dentist from the age of 1 year old.

When do the first baby teeth appear?

Baby teeth usually appear from between 6 – 8 months old. However, many children are getting their teeth later and later in life. You do not need to worry at all if your child is 1 year old without any teeth. However we would still recommend you visit your dentist from 1 year of age to make sure there are no underlying issues that could cause major problems later on.

What is the best toothpaste to use for my child?

Children have a great habit of eating their toothpaste, and a daily ingestion of fluoride, which is common in most commercial toothpastes, can be toxic over time. We recommend a FLOURIDE FREE, XYLOTOL based toothpaste. Xylotol is an essential ingredient in keeping teeth strong and healthy.

When will my child have all their adult teeth?

There is no definite answer here because huge discrepancies occur from child to child. However, in general, the baby molars fall out between the age of 8 – 10 years old. By the time a child is 12 they usually have lost all their baby teeth.

How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?

Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bed-time bottle. Also, learn the proper way to brush and floss your child’s teeth. Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums checked. The first dental visit should be scheduled by your child’s first birthday.

What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?

The most important thing to do is to remain calm. Then find the tooth. Hold it by the crown rather than the root and try to reinsert it in the socket. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the pediatric dentist.

2. General Dentistry:

How often should we see our dentist?

A cavity takes approximately 5 months to develop, so we recommend you see your dentist every 5 – 6 months to treat these before they get worse. It is far better (and cheaper) to prevent issues from becoming problems, or address them when they are small! Don’t wait until you or your child are in pain, or there is a severe problem, to visit your dentist.

What should I expect during my appointment?

When you first arrive at Big Red Tooth, you will be welcomed by a friendly staff member who will work with you in gathering your medical and dental history. We will examine your teeth and gums, screen for oral cancer, make X-rays of your teeth as needed and complete a TMJ (temporomandibular or jaw joint) exam. If treatment (such as a root canal, braces or oral surgery) is necessary, your dentist will thoroughly explain why it is recommended and the benefits of receiving that treatment. The dentist will also answer any questions you have. If you decide to move forward, your dentist will discuss fee payment options and set up a treatment appointment so that you can be on your way to happier and healthier teeth.

During regular follow-up visits, we will examine your teeth and gums, screen for oral cancer, thoroughly clean your teeth and make plans for treatment, as needed. We will discuss any pain or problems you may be experiencing and answer any questions you have.

What does “painless dentistry” mean?

We understand that going to the dentist can make some people feel anxious. Painless dentistry is a means of ensuring your total experience in our studio is as stress-free and pain-free as possible.

What if I have an emergency?

Things happen – and not always on a weekday during normal business hours. To better serve our patients, we invite you to call our office as soon as a dental emergency happens. If it takes place on a weekday, we will be glad to schedule an appointment as quickly as possible. For emergencies after hours, over the weekend and during holidays, please call our dentist’s emergency contact number: 084 577 9786

What is the difference between a Silver and White Filling?

The main difference between silver and white dental fillings is the material that they consist of. Silver (amalgam) fillings, are made up of 50% mercury and 50% of other various metals. White (composite) fillings are made up of acrylic and various glass particles which are totally safe and identical to the colour of your teeth. Other differences in silver and white fillings are cost, strength and the way they feel.

Are Silver Fillings Safe?

Silver (Amalgam) filling material contains about 50% mercury and 50% of various other metals. In June 2008, The FDA admitted that Silver Dental Fillings may not be safe. The fact is, mercury on its own is toxic to humans and your body battles to rid itself of it once it enters the system. Amalgam fillings can release small amounts of mercury over time, which although not serious enough to cause issues straight away, can be trapped in your body and eventually build up to cause issues. However, removal of amalgam fillings needs to be done extremely carefully and phased with a detoxification process. The immediate removal of all amalgam fillings without a proper planned detoxification process could result in significant amounts of mercury entering your system all at once, making it difficult for your body to effectively process it and cause significant toxicity. To have your amalgam fillings checked or to plan replacement of these with a safe, please contact us.

How Often Should I Brush My Teeth?

You should brush your teeth at least twice a day for 2 minutes, especially after meals. Brushing your teeth helps to remove plaque which causes tooth decay and can lead to gum disease.

Always use a soft bristled toothbrush with a toothpaste that preferably doesn’t contain flouride. Make sure that the toothbrush fits inside of your mouth so that you can easily reach all areas. When brushing, use gentle back and forth strokes, brushing all sides of the teeth. Always brush your tongue to remove any bacteria and keep your breath fresh.

How Often Should I Floss My Teeth?

You should floss your teeth at least once a day. Flossing in between your teeth removes food debris and plaque from in between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach. Plaque causes tooth decay and can lead to gum disease.

When flossing, be sure to gently insert the floss in between the teeth, without snapping, which could damage the gum tissue. Gently move the floss up and down into the spaces between the gum and teeth. Floss the sides of all of your teeth, even if there isn’t a tooth next to another one.

Which Toothbrush is Really Better – Manual or Electric?

According to us, the best toothbrush that you can buy is the one that you will actually use. That’s it – it’s really that simple. While both electric and manual toothbrushes have some pros and cons, the bottom line is which one you will use more easily. We recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes. We also recommend a soft bristled toothbrush with a smaller head, which then makes it easier to get to the difficult areas at the back of your mouth, and the soft bristles won’t damage your gums or cause them to recede.

If you’re not sure which type of toothbrush you would use the most, we have provided some pros and cons of both:

Manual Toothbrush:


  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to travel with
  • No need for charging/electricity


  • No built-in timer to tell you when two minutes are up
  • Requires good brushing technique to be effective

Electric Toothbrush:


  • Some have built in timers that let you know when you have brushed for a full two minutes
  • Rotating action of most electric toothbrushes aids with better brushing technique
  • Often have longer handles with smaller heads, which are better for reaching the back of the mouth


  • Can be quite expensive
  • Require charging
  • Temptation to over-use and press too hard, causing gum damage and receding gums

How Often Should I Change My Toothbrush?

Adults and children should change their toothbrush every 3 months because they become worn out and are not as effective as they once were. Some electric rechargable toothbrushes have very good brush heads that only need to be changed every 6 months. If you have gum disease, you should change your toothbrush every 4 – 6 weeks because bacteria can harbor in the bristles. You should always rinse your toothbrush out with hot water after every use and change it after you have been sick.

What causes bad breath?

Halitosis — known as bad breath to most — is an embarrassing condition that can affect anyone at anytime, and is caused by several factors. The most common causes of bad breath are preventable and easily treated, however certain medical conditions may also cause bad breath. Chronic halitosis may indicate an underlying medical concern that should be addressed by your dentist or medical doctor.

Learn about the most common reasons why you may experience bad breath, and when you should see a dentist for your halitosis.

Cause: The Food We Eat and Digestion

The food we eat can adversely affect our breath. Odors from garlic, onions, cabbage, and certain spices may result in halitosis when the suspected food is absorbed into the bloodstream after digestion. When the blood has transferred to the lungs, the smell from the food is evident when you exhale.

With eating comes digestion, another cause of bad breath. Gasses produced during the digestive process may escape through your mouth, emanating the odor it produces. Poor digestion resulting in constipation and disorders of the bowel may contribute to bad breath again, from the gasses that are produced during this process.

Cause: Infrequent Brushing and Flossing

It may seem like an obvious factor, but when you examine how limited and neglected brushing and flossing habits contributes to bad breath, the cause hits you like a brick wall — decaying food particles and bacteria trapped in your mouth.

When the food we eat is left behind either because it is trapped in hard to reach places such as the wisdom teeth, the tiny hair-like follicles on the tongue, or simply because brushing and flossing is neglected, it begins to decay in your mouth. The human mouth is warm and moist, an ideal environment for food to begin to decompose. When you exhale, the odor from the decomposing food, bacteria, and plaque causes the offensive odor.

Cause: Oral Diseases and Infections

Periodontal disease is directly related to improper or neglected brushing and flossing. One major sign of this potentially irreversible oral disease is halitosis. The accumulation of plaque, bacteria, and decomposing food particles contribute to bad breath as they destroy the delicate tissue that surrounds our teeth.

The same bacteria that cause gum disease, tooth decay, and abscessed teeth are also responsible for halitosis.

Cause: Dry Mouth

Xerostomia is a condition that causes a decrease in the production of saliva, resulting in a dry mouth. Several factors cause xerostomia, some of which may need to be treated by your dentist.

Saliva is necessary to provide lubrication the mouth to allow for proper chewing and swallowing. Saliva naturally cleanses the mouth and helps prevent cavities. If you are experiencing dry mouth, bad breath may occur because the food particles remain trapped in the mouth to rot and cause the unpleasant smell when you exhale.

Cause: Smoking

The effects of smoking on our overall health and wellness are frightening. Over 4,000 chemicals have been identified in cigarettes, 200 of which are poisonous. Lung cancer and COPD are obvious diseases that come to mind when you consider the health risk associated with the habit. But did you know smoking is also a major cause of periodontal disease? How does this relate to halitosis you ask? The smoke produced from a cigarette is inhaled into the lungs, and then exhaled through the nose and mouth. This causes an immediate effect on your breath because the chemicals and residue from the smoke remain in your mouth and airways. Continued use of cigarettes contribute to gum disease, a major cause of bad breath.

Cause: Medical Conditions

Unexplained or chronic bad breath may be an indication of an underlying medical condition or disease.

Ketoacidosis occurs in diabetics when there is insufficient glucose in the blood for the body to use as energy. An obvious sign of this is a fruity-smelling odor in the breath. People with eating disorders may experience halitosis, as well as frequent dieters. Breath that has a fishy smell or is reminiscent of urine or ammonia may be obvious in people with chronic kidney failure. After prolonged vomiting or if an obstruction is in the bowel, the breath may smell like faeces. Sinusitis and lung infections also cause bad breath. Children with a foreign body trapped in their nose may experience halitosis. If suspected, see your dentist.

How can I treat or prevent Bad Breath?

In order to treat your bad breath, the root cause of halitosis needs to be identified. Visit your dentist if you experience chronic bad breath (in other words bad breath that never goes away).

Over-the-counter breath fresheners such as gum, mints, breath strips, breath sprays, and certain mouth rinses will only provide a temporary relief from bad breath. Following good dental health guidelines from your dentist will assist you in managing, and hopefully eliminating, your experience with bad breath.

What Is Gingivitis?

Many people often ignore the early signs of gum disease, known as gingivitis, simply because they do not know what gingivitis is.

Gingivitis is a reversible form of gum disease. Affecting only the attached and free gingival tissue that surrounds your teeth, bacteria that invades the area below your gumline, known as the sulcus or periodontal pocket, causes gingivitis to develop and eventually manifest into periodontitis, if left untreated.

The early warning signs of gingivitis are often mistaken as normal occurrences one should expect when it comes to the mouth. Symptoms of gingivitis include:

  • Bad breath
  • Red, puffy, and inflamed gums
  • Bleeding after brushing and flossing

The causes associate with gingivitis vary, but typically include:

  • Improper or infrequent brushing and flossing
  • Trapped plaque in hard to reach places, such as around the wisdom teeth, above and below orthodontic bands and brackets, or fixed appliances
  • Teeth that are crooked or overlap each other
  • Certain medications that cause xerostomia or gingival enlargement
  • Tobacco use
  • Conditions such as diabetes may cause gingivitis
  • Pregnancy and oral contraceptives

Even though you may recognize these early warning signs as gingivitis, it is important that you book an appointment with your dentist for a check up. Why? There is a fine line between gingivitis and periodontitis. It is important to note that gingivitis is a reversible condition that is treated with professional cleanings to remove plaque and calculus build up, along with regular home maintenance that may include a prescribed antibacterial mouth rinse known as chlorhexidine gluconate. Your dentist is able to confirm the extent of your gum disease and plan treatment accordingly. If left untreated or improperly treated, gingivitis will progress into periodontitis, which is irreversible and often leads to tooth loss.

Obtaining regular dental check ups will help keep gum disease under control or eliminated completely. If you are concerned about gingivitis, speak with your dentist or dental hygienist at your next dental appointment.

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is mainly caused by bacteria from plaque and tartar build up. Other factors that have the potential to cause gum disease may include:

  • Tobacco use
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Certain medications


Types of Gum Disease Include:

  • Gingivitis – The beginning stage of gum disease and is often undetected. This stage of the disease is reversible.
  • Periodontitis – Untreated gingivitis may lead to this next stage of gum disease. With many levels of periodontitis, the common outcome is chronic inflammatory response, a condition when the body breaks down the bone and tissue in the infected area of the mouth, ultimately resulting in tooth and bone loss.

Signs of Gum Disease Include:

  • Red, bleeding, and/or swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Mobility of the teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity caused by receding gums
  • Abscessed teeth
  • Tooth loss

Treatments for Gum Disease:

Depending on the type of gum disease, some of the available treatment options are:

  • Removal of plaque and calculus by way of scaling done by your dental hygienist or dentist.
  • Medications such as chlorhexidine gluconate, a mouth rinse prescribed by your dentist or hygienist to help kill the bacteria in your mouth, along with frequent cleanings.
  • Surgery may be necessary in certain cases to stop, halt, or minimize the progression of periodontal disease. Surgery is also used to replace bone that was lost in advanced stages of the disease.

What Can I Do to Prevent Gum Disease?

Proper brushing and flossing is the easiest way to reduce and prevent gum disease, but regular cleanings with your dental hygienist or dentist are necessary to remove calculus and treat advanced gum disease. If you are concerned that you may have gum disease, contact us.

3. Holistic Dentistry:

What is a Holistic dentist?

Holistic dentistry, Biologic dentistry, Biocompatible dentistry , Complementary and Alternative dentistry are all terms for a similar approach to dentistry –we prefer the term “Holistic Dentistry”. Holistic Dentistry emphasizes approaches to dental care which consider the patient’s dental health in the context of their entire physical as well as emotional or spiritual health in some cases. It is part of the alternative health movement. Although the holistic dental community is diverse in its practices and approaches, common threads include strong opposition to the use of amalgam which contain mercury and other potentially toxic materials in dental fillings, nonsurgical approaches to gum disease, and the belief that root canals may endanger systemic health of the patient through the spread of trapped dental bacteria to the body. We define our field as an approach to dentistry that promotes health and wellness instead of the treatment of disease.

Holistic Dentistry acknowledges and deals with the mind, body, and spirit of the patient, not just his or her “Teeth”. And lays out the following basic principles:

  • Proper nutrition for the prevention and reversal of degenerative dental disease
  • Avoidance and elimination of toxins from dental materials
  • Prevention and treatment of dental malocclusion (bite problems)
  • Prevention and treatment of gum disease at its biological basis

If you have realized that your whole body works together as one, and that the treatment of separate systems, whilst ignoring the whole does not work in long term, then we are the right practice for you!

4. Cosmetic/Restorative Dentistry:

I’m interested in changing the shape of my teeth. What options are available?

Several different options are available to change the shape of teeth, make teeth look longer, close spaces between teeth or repair chipped or cracked teeth. Among the options are bonding, crowns, veneers, and recontouring.

Dental crowns are tooth-shaped “caps” that are placed over teeth. The crowns, when cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line.

What is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is a metal device designed to replace missing teeth and act as the tooth root and can anchor an artificial tooth or teeth such as a crown, bridge or denture. The device is usually made out of titanium and is surgically placed into the jawbone where the tooth is missing. Unlike a dental bridge, an implant is permanent.

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