Q. What is a fissure sealant?
A. Fissure sealants are protective plastic coatings, which are applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth at risk of decay. The process simply involves cleaning the tooth surface (usually deep fissures and pits of back molars), preparing it with a special solution, and then applying the coating.  No injections or drilling are needed, and the entire process is pain free. (Source: NZDA)
Q. What are the choices for a filling?
A. Composite fillings are tooth coloured and can be used for both front and back teeth. A range of shades are available so that the colour of your teeth can be matched very closely, making them almost impossible to see. Amalgam (silver) fillings have been widely used in back teeth. Their disadvantage is their metal appearance. Glass ionomer fillings are another high quality material especially suitable for areas where strength is less important, such as the gum line and in children’s molars. Gold or porcelain inlays and overlays are very effective filling materials due to their strength and long term durability. They are more expensive than other materials. To find out which filling is best for you, and the costs involved, talk to your dentist. (Source: NZDA)
Q. What are crowns?
A. Crowns are tooth-shaped caps which fit over your teeth. They are usually made of porcelain, ceramic, zirconia, gold or other metals. Teeth with large fillings (and/or root fillings) are weak and can break when you bite. They can have hidden cracks which make them tender to bite on or sensitive to hot or cold. A crown will protect a heavily filled tooth. Crowns can also be used cosmetically to improve the appearance of your teeth. (Source: NZDA)
Q. What is a bridge?
A. A bridge is an artificial tooth supported by the teeth on either side of the space. Your dentist prepares your teeth on either side of the gap, and takes a mould which is sent to a dental technician. The dental technician makes the bridge using porcelain (for appearance) and a metal core (for strength). Your dentist then places the bridge into your mouth. Stronger materials are sometimes necessary for back teeth. These include all-metal, gold bridge etc. A bridge is a long term, very attractive way of helping you fill the gap. (Source: NZDA)
Q. What is an implant?
A. An implant is like an artificial tooth root and is surgically placed into the jaw bone either by a periodontist (gum specialist) or an oral surgeon where a tooth has been lost. A new artificial tooth structure (abutment & a crown) can then be attached to an implant by your dentist after a time of healing (usually a few months). This can be an excellent way of replacing a missing tooth or teeth, because other teeth are not involved. However not everyone is a suitable candidate for this treatment and you will need to be checked by your dentist to see if an implant is the right treatment option for you. (Source: NZDA)
Q. What is root canal treatment?
A. Inside a tooth is a fine space called the root canal. The root canal contains the dental pulp which consists of nerves and blood vessels. If the dental pulp becomes diseased or dies from decay, deep fillings, trauma, tooth fracture, infection and sometimes for no apparent cause, a toothache or an abscess may occur. In the past, these problem teeth were extracted but now your dentist can offer you root canal treatment to care for these teeth. Teeth requiring root canal treatment often have large fillings or extensive damage and will require a crown to restore them properly. These teeth are also weaker and the added protection of a crown is recommended. (Source: NZDA)
Q. What is tooth whitening?
A. Tooth whitening is a bleaching process that lightens stains in the enamel and dentine of your teeth to give a brighter tooth colour. Tooth whitening may be done on live teeth and teeth that have had root canal treatment. Tooth whitening can be done at home (using a customized tray system designed by your dentist) or in the dental office. Over time, your teeth can lose some of their whiteness. You may need to repeat the process occasionally. (Source: NZDA)
Q. What are the options available for improving your smile?
A. Tooth whitening, veneers, crowns and orthodontic treatment (braces) and periodontal surgery (gum surgery) are available. Veneers (also known as laminates) are thin, custom made ‘porcelain shells’ that are permanently bonded to the front of your teeth. They can transform teeth that are broken, chipped, stained or have large gaps between them and some crooked teeth as well. As for the orthodontic and periodontal treatments, your dentist will arrange a referral to a specialist depending on the necessity and complexity of your case. (Source: NZDA)
Q. Do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed?
A. Your wisdom teeth only need to be removed if they cause problems. For example, wisdom teeth can be very difficult to clean and are prone to decay, gum disease and recurring infections (Pericoronitis). Cysts and tumours can develop in tissues around impacted wisdom teeth. If your wisdom teeth are unable to erupt, they may cause pressure and damage or crowd the neighbouring teeth. Straightforward removal of wisdom teeth may be done in your own dentist’s surgery. If your case is more complex, your dentist may decide to refer you to an oral surgeon. You will need a panoramic x-ray for an accurate wisdom teeth assessment. (Source: NZDA)