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Dental Examination

A dental examination is an evaluation of all teeth, their supporting tissues and the oral tissues in order to record the condition of these structures. This evaluation includes recording any appropriate medical history and any other relevant information. This evaluation allows the dentist to make an initial assessment and decide if any further tests or information are required. It is recommended that children are seen twice a year (every 6 months) for a dental examination.


A dental x-ray (also known as a radiograph) is a special diagnostic tool which allows the dentist to assess areas of the mouth that cannot be seen by just looking in the mouth alone. This allows the dentist to assess what is happening between teeth, under existing fillings, under the roots of teeth, as well as the presence and position of any unerupted teeth. The dentist can use this additional information to make a more thorough assessment of your child’s mouth. It is recommended x-rays are taken around the age of 5/6 once the adult molar teeth begin to erupt. Occasionally x-rays may be required at a younger age if a child is at increased risk of tooth decay or there has been some trauma to teeth. X-rays may be repeated at intervals of 6-24 months depending on your child’s risk of tooth decay.

Some parents are concerned about the safety of x-rays. X-rays can be taken safely at any age. The radiation from dental x-rays in particular is very low. We are all exposed to natural background radiation in the environment everyday. On average Australians are exposed to 1.5mSv of background radiation every year from natural sources. In comparison typical dental x-ray exposure is around 0.005mSv equivalent to the exposure received on a 1-2 hour plane flight.


Dental scaling is the removal of plaque and or calculus from the surfaces of the teeth. Plaque is a sticky, colourless film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. Plaque begins to form again soon after brushing and if left to advance the plaque will soon become hard and form deposits known as calculus which cannot be removed by brushing alone. If calculus remains on the teeth, it impedes brushing which results in gum inflammation, eventually advancing to gum disease and tooth decay.

The dentist will use a hand scaler, ultrasonic scaler and/or prophylactic paste and brush to remove the plaque and calculus from your child’s teeth. The treatment is very simple and pain free.

Fissure Sealants

A fissure sealant is a protective coating applied to the fissures (grooves) of molar (back chewing) teeth to prevent food, particles, plaque and bacteria from getting stuck in these areas. If food and bacteria collect in these areas and are not removed through effective brushing, the tooth tissue in these areas begins to breakdown and cause pit and fissure caries (tooth decay). Fissure sealants are applied to prevent this from happening. Fissure sealants fill in these grooves in the teeth, reducing the risk of food and particles getting lodged and therefore tooth decay. It is a very simple and effective preventative treatment that is recommended for teeth at risk of decay.

The procedure to apply a fissure sealant to a tooth is very simple. The tooth is cleaned and rinsed with water, a special gel is applied to the tooth, followed by a sealant (a bit like tooth coloured paint for teeth) and a light is used for 20 seconds to set the sealant in place. Fissure sealants on average last several years depending on the quality of the seal and your child’s biting and cleaning habits. Regular check ups are important to monitor their ongoing integrity.


When plaque and bacteria consistently remain on teeth through poor brushing habits and the diet is high in sugar consumption, tooth decay will eventually occur. Tooth decay (caries) is the breakdown of the tooth tissue resulting in a hole or cavity. When a tooth is decayed it may require a filling to prevent the decay from reaching the nerve of the tooth and then causing pain, infection and swelling.

The procedure to fill a tooth firstly involves removing the decay from the tooth. The dentist may or may not need to numb the tooth depending on the extent of the decay. The decay is then removed with a dental handpiece and bur and the tooth is then filled with a filling material, restoring the tooth back to its complete state. There are many different materials used to fill teeth. The most common filling materials used in Australia today are composite resin or glass ionomer cement which are both white tooth coloured filling materials. Fillings last on average around 10 years. Fillings can be compromised by biting habits, improper cleaning and high sugar diets. Regular 6 monthly dental checks are important to ongoingly check the condition of existing fillings.

Stainless Steel Crowns

When a tooth has a large cavity and is a number of years away from falling out naturally, we need to give it maximum protection. A Stainless Steel Crown is a metal cap that covers the crown of the tooth. It has a much higher success rate compared to a conventional filling. The advantage of a Stainless Steel Crown is it can often be placed without any drilling or removal of tooth decay (‘Hall Crown’) which is a big advantage when a child is still very young and not ready to cooperate for a conventional filling. An xray is required prior to treatment to establish whether any other additional treatment is also required.


When a tooth has a large area of decay which is very close to or into the nerve, if possible we will try to save the tooth from extraction by doing a procedure called a Pulpotomy. The procedure involves removing the infected area of internal tooth tissue until we reach a healthy area of tissue. The tooth is then treated with medicaments and restored with a filling material and a Stainless Steel Crown for the best success rates. The procedure is performed under local anesthetic and feels very similar to having a regular filling for your child.

Silver Diamine Fluoride

Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is a colourless antibacterial liquid that contains Silver and Fluoride. It is used to treat tooth sensitivity and to help stop tooth decay. It is simple to apply and a great tool which can help delay complex procedures until a child is better able to tolerate them.