Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive at the Willows Dental Practice.

Emergency Questions

Q: What do I do if I have an emergency?
During our working hours, advice will be available by telephone on 01792 462241. Out of normal working hours a recorded message will give information regarding emergency contact details.

Q: What should I do if I knock a tooth out?
The first thing is not to panic.
If it is a baby/milk tooth DO NOT attempt to put it back in.
If it is a complete adult tooth, pick it up by the crown (the white part) but DO NOT touch the root. If it is dirty, get the person to lick the root or wash it gently under cold running water for 5-10 seconds.
If you are confident, try to replace the tooth in the socket and get the patient to bite down on a clean cloth to keep the tooth in place.
If you are unable to reposition the tooth successfully, place the tooth in milk or a container with the patient’s saliva. If the patient is calm and old enough to be trusted not to swallow it, it can be transported in the patient’s mouth – obviously be VERY CAREFUL not to swallow it.
Please contact us as soon as possible, as it is really important you seek help immediately.

Q: What should I do if I get toothache?
Take painkillers to manage pain initially. If this does not help, you have pain on biting, swollen gum or a bad taste, please contact us.

Q: When should I seek emergency advice?
If you have a swelling that is spreading to your eye/neck or making it difficult to swallow, speak or breathe. YOU MUST SEEK URGENT HELP. You can ring your dentist for advice or out of hours dial 111.

Uncontrolled bleeding from an extraction site or dental trauma e.g. a knocked out tooth. Contact your dentist or the out of hours dentist on 111.

Q: What should I do if my extraction socket bleeds?
Sit quietly and bite on the dental pack given to you by your dentist. Do this for 20 mins and in most cases this will be enough to stop the bleeding. If the bleeding persists please contact your dentist.

Clinical Questions

Q: What is my dentist looking for at my check up appointment?
Your dental check up involves more assessments than you may first think. These are some of the things we assess at every check up:

Medical history
Smoking habits
Alcohol intake
Dietary habits
How you clean your teeth
Oral Hygiene
Cancer screening and risk factors
Gum health
Dental caries (decay)
Tooth Surface loss (tooth wear)
Integrity of restorations (filling and crowns margins)
Teeth function
Tooth mobility
Development of your dentition

All these things are taken into consideration when we formulate treatment plans to help care for your mouth.

Q: Why does the dentist take x-rays of my teeth?
The X-rays allow the dentist to see parts of the mouth and teeth which can not be seen by direct vision. They are able to identify decay, changes in the bone support of your teeth and also any associated pathology (disease) e.g. cysts.

We try to take as few x-rays as possible and every x-ray needs to be justified.

Q: Why do I need a new filling?
The two main reasons filings are placed are following the removal of decay or as a replacement for a failing filling.

When decay is removed from the tooth the filling material is used to restore the tooth to function and hopefully prevent sensitivity.

Unfortunately over time filling materials slowly fail and they no longer adequately seal the tooth. If left, this may result in decay forming under or around the filling. If there are signs of failure the dentist will discuss the risks and benefits of renewing the filling with you.

Q: What is the difference between scaling and deep cleaning (periodontal treatment)?
Scaling is a preventative treatment than removes plaque and calculus from your teeth to keep your gums healthy. This is mainly above the gum level.

Deep cleaning (periodontal treatment) is a treatment for gum (periodontal) disease. Unfortunately some people are susceptible to gum disease. There are many risk factors associated with the disease such as poor oral hygiene, smoking, poorly controlled diabetes, stress and genetics. The disease is primarily caused by the bacteria in your mouth causing inflammation around your teeth which in some people leads to a reduction in the bone support. Pockets develop around the teeth – this is where gum disease progresses.

This can lead to some teeth becoming mobile and in some cases lost. The disease is managed by having excellent oral hygiene and regular cleaning below the gums (in the pockets) to keep inflammation and bleeding to a minimum. Smoking cessation can also improve the prognosis of your gums.

Unfortunately there is often no quick fix to gum disease. We will continually encourage you to maintain excellent oral hygiene and also support you in smoking cessation. In the presence of suboptimal oral hygiene there is little benefit in extensive periodontal treatment. We leave pockets heal for at least 3 months before any further treatment can be considered.

Q: What is the difference between a filling and a crown?
Fillings are primarily used to restore teeth to function following the removal of decay. They can be many colours, shapes and sizes. They can be bonded to the tooth or retained mechanically by the shape of the cavity.

Sometimes large fillings struggle to function because they can break or de-bond. In that case your dentist may advised placing a crown. A crown encases the remaining tooth tissue and is usually made in a laboratory by a highly skilled dental technician. They can be silver, gold or white. A crown is advisable when the tooth has been heavily restored and can be considered a last attempt to structurally save the tooth.

Q: My dentist says I need a root filling, do they hurt?
A root filling is required when a tooth’s blood supply has been compromised and the tooth becomes infected. This usually happens following dental trauma or if the tooth has a large filling or crown. The procedure involves trying to disinfect the tooth and then sealing it with a root filling. The procedure should be relatively pain free as it is performed under local anaesthetic. However, some people report some discomfort following the treatment. This is usually caused by a temporary localised inflammation and is often managed effectively with painkillers.

Q: Should I have a white or silver filling?
Composite (white) and Amalgam (silver) fillings have very different properties and in some scenarios one is favourable over the other. Your dentist will discuss the most appropriate material with you at your appointment.

Q: My dentist has advised that I have my tooth extracted but I want it filled?
Unfortunately on some occasions your dentist will advise you to have a tooth extracted rather than restored. This will be because it is impossible to restore or has a very poor prognosis. Examples of when a tooth is un-restorable would be a vertical fracture through the centre of the tooth or decay or filling margins under the gum. If the tooth has a reasonable chance of being maintained we will obviously prefer to offer you this course of treatment.

Q: I have had a root filling and now the dentist wants me to pay for a crown.
After extensive treatment such as root fillings, the remaining tooth structure can be fragile. It is good practice to protect the tooth from further damage by protecting the biting surface with either a filling or crown. Failure to protect the tooth may lead to catastrophic fractures leading to tooth loss.

Q: I’ve had a tooth out but I don’t like the gap?
There are many different ways to fill a gap if it needs to be filled at all. Broadly the options for a gap are:

Accept the gap – if function and aesthetics are good.

Denture – which can be taken in and out and fill multiple gaps. Can be acrylic, cobalt chrome or made from a flexible material. Their versatility is their strength but some people struggle to tolerate them in their mouth or their movement in function.

Bridge – (resin retained) a minimally invasive procedure that relies on an adhesive to hold a false tooth in to the gap. However, if the adhesive fails, the bridge falls out. Particularly suitable for anterior gaps with strong unrestored adjacent teeth.

Conventional Bridge – Involves crowning the adjacent tooth or teeth to the gap. More reliable than the resin retained bridges but a more destructive procedure. Again suitability depends on the amount of missing teeth and quality of adjacent teeth.

Implant – A titanium implant is placed via a surgical procedure. The implant fuses with the bone (oseointegrates) over the ensuing months. Following healing, the implant is restored with a bridge, crown or denture. Their benefit is that they do not load the adjacent teeth. However, they are expensive and will require ongoing maintenance. Careful treatment planning is required and not all patients are good candidates for this treatment.

Your dentist will be able to guide you on appropriate methods in your situation.

Q: Can I have white filings?
Your dentist will explain the suitability of filling materials available to you. If you are concerned about the aesthetics of the potential filling or crown please discuss it.

Q: Why does my mouth feel dry?
Potential causes may be dehydration, medications, mouth breathing, anxiety or cancer treatments.

Things you can do

Drink water at regular intervals.
Chew sugar free gum.
Use lip balm, if your lips are dried.
Brush your teeth well and have a low sugar diet as a dry mouth increases your risks of getting tooth decay.
Discuss it with your doctor or dentist.


Drinking excessive alcohol, fizzy drinks or caffeine.
Excessive salty or sugary foods.
Stopping your medications without discussion with your doctor.

Q: What should I do after I have had an extraction?
The most common problems encountered are bleeding and pain. Take painkillers as directed by your dentist and apply pressure with a dental pack for 20 mins if it bleeds.

Have a quiet day and don’t rush around.
Have a soft and cool diet.
Avoid hot drinks.
Avoid alcohol or smoking.
Tooth brush as normal but be careful.
The day after the extraction use hot salty mouthwash three times a day to keep the socket clean.

If you have any problems, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Q: How often do I need to see my dentist?
Your dental assessments are based on many risk factors. Your dentist will discuss these with you and a suggested date for the next visit. This may be between 3 and 24 months.

Q: I have pain from my wisdom teeth, do they need to be extracted?
The most common cause of pain from wisdom teeth is pain from the inflamed gum around a partially erupted tooth. Initial management is pain relief and cleaning. Gentle brushing of the area and using a mouthwash e.g. chlorhexidine gluconate 0.2% three time a day for a week. Occasionally antibiotics may be required if there is an infection present.

Guideline suggest that lower wisdom teeth should not be extracted unless there are recurrent episodes of pain or pathology (disease) present. There is a risk of nerve damage following the removal of lower wisdom teeth.

If you have any concerns, we will be happy to see you so feel free to contact us.

Q: How do I look after my denture?
You need to ensure that you continue to brush your teeth for 2 minutes and clean in between your teeth twice daily. You will need to take your denture out for this.

Take your dentures out to sleep.
When you are not wearing them they should be kept moist and use a denture brush to remove any debris from the denture.
Denture cleaners can be used but ensure they are appropriate to your denture to prevent damage.
If you have any discomfort from your denture – please see your dentist.

Q: Do you provide tooth whitening?
We provide tooth whitening and your dentist will be happy to discuss the procedure with you at your next visit.

Q: I have sensitive teeth what can I do?
The most common cause of sensitive teeth is exposed dentine. This often occurs with gum recession when the root surface is exposed. Home management starts with good gentle brushing. You can use a de-sensitizer toothpaste to reduce sensitivity (such as Sensodyne). This can be used as a toothpaste or applied directly as a gel. However, it is important that other causes of sensitivity must be excluded by your dentist.

Q: Why am I in pain after an extraction?
All patients will report some degree of pain following a dental extraction. This is usually managed with household pain killers and should improve with time.

If you are unable to manage the pain with painkillers or it suddenly gets worse it may be necessary to contact your dentist for advice.

Prevention and Health

Q: My dentist says I should stop smoking?
Smoking has a detrimental effect on many parts of your body. It affects your mouth by increasing your risk of developing mouth cancer and also can increases the severity of periodontal (gum) disease. Drinking alcohol in conjunction with smoking increases your risk of developing mouth cancer significantly.

Q: My dentist says I eat too much sugar?
Decay occurs when we eat sugar too often. It is advisable not to have sugar on more than four occasions in a day (three of these may be meals). Between meals only drink water and certainly do not put sugar in your teas or coffees.

Q: What should I do to do to keep my teeth and mouth healthy?
Do not have sugar in any form more then four times a day.

Drink water between meals and keep fizzy drinks and fruit juices to a minimum (if you have to drink them, have them with a meal to reduce their damage).

Do not smoke.

Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.

Clean in between your teeth twice a day with floss or interdental brushes.

Attend your dentist regularly!

Q: Why do my gums bleed?
The most common reason for bleeding gums is inflammation caused by the presence of bacteria. If your gums are bleeding, concentrate on brushing well and cleaning in between your teeth with floss or interdental brushes. If the bleeding persists on brushing for more than 7 days, please book an appointment for an assessment.


Q: How do I make appointments?
You can make appointments in person or by telephone on 01792 – 462241.

Q: Do you charged for missed appointments?
We charge for missed private appointments. We ask to be informed as early as possible if you are unable to keep your appointment. Missed appointments and late cancellations are recorded and may result in refusal to be seen in future.

Q: How long will my appointment take?
Length of appointments will vary according to the procedure and the clinician.

Q: Is the dentist running to time?
Unfortunately dentists are unable to always run to time. This is usually due to unforeseen circumstances such as an emergency. Sometimes things just take longer than planned but that is because your dentist is trying to provide the best quality care to their patients.

Q: Do I have to see the dental therapist/hygienist?
An increasing amount of our NHS work is provided by our excellent therapist. As with any treatments at the practice, it is the patient’s choice whether they wish to consent to a treatment. However, if treatment is declined you will be warned of the possible health outcomes of declining treatment.

Q: How long will I have to wait for an appointment?
We will endeavour to find the next available appropriate appointment for you. However, you may have to wait longer for more extensive treatments such as crown preparations and root fillings.

Q: Will I see the same dentist every time?
We will try to accommodate your wishes but unfortunately this will not always be possible. However, all our staff are appropriately trained and will be happy to see you.

Q: Do I have to sign the forms every visit?
You will be required to complete NHS forms for every course of NHS treatment and Medical history forms are required on a regular basis. These are legal requirements and are not optional.

Q: Are you taking on new NHS patients?
We have a waiting list for NHS patients and new patients will be seen when we have sufficient capacity. We are unable to tell you exactly how long the waiting times will be.

Q: What are the NHS/Private charges?
Our NHS charges are displayed on this website and at the practice.

Q: How long has the dentist been here?
If you would like more information about our staff, please see the section of this website with our staff biographies.

Q: Do I need to arrive early to my appointment?
We would be grateful if you would arrive with enough time to complete the necessary paper work prior to your appointment.

Q: How do I pay for my treatment?
Payment can be taken by cash, credit or debit cards.

Q: Can I book an appointment online?
No, not at present. All appointments are made via reception by telephone on 01792 – 462241 or in person at the practice.

Q: Can I pay monthly?
All treatment is paid for in advance and we do not accept payment in instalments. If you are struggling with your payments please let us know. We do have monthly schemes to spread the cost of your care. If you would like more information, please read our Dental Plans information.

If you have any other questions not answered by any of the above Frequently Asked Questions, feel free to contact us so that we can assist you further.

Want to know more?

If you are interested in learning more the our practice, our dental plans or dental treatments then please contact us and we will be more than happy to assist you.

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