Richmond Smiles Dental (formerly Clifton St Dentists)

Opening Hours : Mon to Fri - 8am to 5pm
  Contact : (03) 9428 2424


What is tooth whitening?

Tooth Whitening is a simple and highly effective method of lightening the colour of teeth without removing any natural tooth material.

What causes tooth discolouration?

There is a great variation in the shade and colour of natural teeth, but all teeth tend to discolour as we get older. Plaque build-up, on and around the teeth, if left unchecked, can result in tartar formation, making the teeth look yellow and “dirty”. In addition, surface staining can occur due to coffee, tea, red wine or tobacco.

How does home Tooth Whitening work?

A tooth whitening gel is placed in a thin cover that is custom made to fit over the teeth like a very thin gum shield. The tray containing the gel is worn for a mimium of 2-3 hours once a day for 7-12 days.

How long does it last?

Treatment results may vary: the effects may last from 1-3 years. Some patients may need to repeat the procedure periodically to top up the effect.

When whitening might not work?

Whitening cannot change the colour of natural teeth it can only lighten the existing shade. Whitening only works on natural teeth: it will not affect the colour of existing porcelain crown, veneers, bridges or denture teeth. It will not change the colour or shade of existing tooth coloured fillings: these may need to be replaced to ensure good shade matching.

Is tooth whitening safe?

Yes, it is very safe. Under the supervision of a qualified dentist the bleaching is safe for both gums and teeth. Should you opt for a customize take-home kit, be sure to listen as your dentist describes the exact usage instructions.

How white exactly will my teeth become?

Everybody’s teeth are different. If you have very heavy staining from smoking or coffee, most likely you will see a dramatic change. If your teeth are not extremely stained to begin with, the change will be noticeable but not as dramatic.

How exactly does the whitening work?

The bleaching material, hydrogen peroxide, gets broken down while on the teeth. This allows oxygen to enter the dentin and enamel, causing the existing stains to lighten.

I haven’t been to the dentist in years, why do I need to go now?

You’re fortunate that you’ve not experienced any dental problems over the years but that’s not enough reason to continue to avoid having regular check-ups. Regular visits to the dentist allow for the detection of potential problems early, which means easier and less-costly treatment. Prevention is definitely better than needing to have a dental procedure to fix a problem. Regular dental check-ups, together with a good oral health regime at home, are one of the most effective preventative measures there is.

How often should I see the dentist?

At Swinburne Dental we recommend coming in for a dental examination and clean every six months to help keep your teeth and gums in top condition. This also allows us to identify potential problems early which makes treatment easier.

I had a bad experience at the dentist as a child and now I’m really scared. Can you help me?

Be reassured that you are not alone; many people feel anxious or fearful about going to the dentist. There have been many advances in dentistry in recent years and you will find the experience is very different now. At Swinburne Dental we take your fears seriously and go to considerable lengths to make your visit as comfortable as possible. Make an appointment to come in and talk to our wonderful staff about your situation and we will show you around the clinic and explain new procedures to you. Feel free to ask any questions and we will do whatever we can to allay your fears.

Why does a dentist need to take my medical history?

Knowing your past medical and dental history helps the dentist make proper diagnoses and recommend the most appropriate treatments. In particular, we need to know what medications you take, if you are allergic to anything, if you have a blood disorder or any cardiac issues, or if you are or could be pregnant. Any of these issues could interact with the type of dental treatment you receive and our choice of suitable medications.

Does seeing a dentist regularly mean I won’t need fillings?

You need a filling when you have a cavity caused by tooth decay. The best way to avoid tooth decay is thorough cleaning and flossing every day and with a twice-yearly dental clean by your dentist. When you see your dentist every six months, minor changes and early symptoms of dental problems are easily identified, often meaning a major procedure is avoided. So, having regular check-ups won’t necessarily mean no fillings are needed but the possibility of developing cavities will be significantly reduced.

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is the name given to the destruction of the tooth caused by a combination of plaque and the sugars and starches in the foods we eat. An acid is formed which then attacks the tooth enamel. The best way to help prevent tooth decay is to brush and floss your teeth daily and see your dentist regularly for a dental clean to remove hardened plaque. Eating a healthy diet and limiting sugary foods also help to prevent tooth decay.

What is dental plaque?

Dental plaque is the sticky, soft substance that continually forms on the surface of our teeth and gums. When it comes in contact with food, particularly sugars and starches, bacteria forms and multiplies, producing an acid. It is this acid attacking the tooth enamel which causes tooth decay. As well as causing decay, plaque can also cause gum disease and bad breath. It can be controlled by daily flossing and brushing, full dental cleans at regular dental check-ups and limiting the amount of foods that are high in sugar and starch.

What is a cavity?

A cavity is the actual hole in a tooth that is caused by tooth decay. It will need to be filled by your dentist to control the spread of the decay and to restore full function to the tooth. If the cavity is not filled, the tooth can break or the nerve become exposed, causing pain and requiring more extensive treatment than the simple filling.

Why do my gums bleed?

If tartar builds up on the teeth, especially in the fold where the tooth meets the gum, bacteria can develop which can then lead to the condition known as gingivitis. The symptoms of gingivitis are red, swollen gums which bleed easily. Bleeding gums can lead to more serious periodontal disease and should not be ignored. The best way to avoid gingivitis is to have a regular scale and clean at your dental surgery as well as daily brushing and flossing. Other factors that can affect the health of your gums include diabetes, smoking, stress, pregnancy and poor general health.

My partner complains that I grind my teeth. What can I do about it?

Grinding the teeth is not only irritating; it can cause disturbed sleep, headaches, tooth wear and jaw pain. Since you are asleep when you grind your teeth you have little control over it. The best remedy is to wear a special splint at night to control the bruxism habit.

I’m worried I have bad breath. Can you help me?

Bad breath can be caused by the bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria produces plaque which has a bad odour. Plaque can be controlled with daily flossing and brushing your teeth and tongue twice. In addition, seeing your dentist every six months for a professional clean and scale will remove any build-up of hardened plaque. Bad breath can also be caused by other factors, including some medications, so it is a good idea to have a general health check as well.

At what age should I first take my child to the dentist?

At Swinburne Dental we recommend seeing children for the first time when they are around four years of age. By this time, they should have all their baby or primary teeth and the dentist can check the development and placement of the teeth and gums. You will be able to ask for advice about any issues that are worrying you such as thumb sucking, teeth cleaning etc. Early examination identifies any potential problems and allows preventative measure to be implemented.

Why are the baby teeth important?

The primary or baby teeth allow for the normal placement and development of the permanent teeth by maintaining correct spacing. The baby teeth also help with speech development in young children and develop a positive self-image. Young children need to be helped to adequately clean these important first teeth to maintain the health and space for their permanent teeth to come.

Why do I need to have a dental X-ray?

An x-ray is an important tool that dentists use to help diagnose and treat problems with the teeth and gums. Only part of the teeth and gums can be examined visually and so an x-ray may be required to see what is going on between the teeth, under the gum line and with the jaw bone. Sometimes the x-ray picks up hidden tooth decay that wasn’t visible to the naked eye. We use the most advanced equipment that minimises radiation exposure.

Is it true that dental problems can affect your general health?

Absolutely; research has shown that there is a direct link between general health and poor dental hygiene and gum disease. Poor dental health is also implicated in diseases such as diabetes, stroke, heart attack and osteoporosis. Even minor problems with your teeth can cause stress and anxiety or interfere with proper digestion and restful sleep.

My teeth are not very white. What causes that?

Some people have naturally brilliant white teeth while others have teeth that are slightly tinted; this is largely a matter of genetics. Teeth can also become discoloured by factors such as disease, tobacco smoking, some medications and certain foods and beverages. Tea, coffee, cola drinks and red wine are commonly believed to stain the teeth. Teeth whitening is effective for some people while porcelain veneers can be fitted over badly stained teeth. Contact Swinburne Dental for an appointment to discuss how teeth whitening can help you.

Is it safe to whiten my teeth at home?

There are many products available these days that promise to give you a whiter than white smile. These contain a bleaching agent that is applied to the teeth for a varied time period. The results of these products vary widely and some contain dangerous levels of chemicals. The safest way to whiten your teeth is to consult your dentist who will first examine your teeth before advising you on the most appropriate method for you.

My friend is having her amalgam fillings taken out. Why is this?

There has been some debate over the years as to the safety of amalgam fillings, because it contains small levels of mercury. However, extensive research has confirmed that amalgam is safe to use. Amalgam fillings may break down over time and can crack or fall out. They then need to be removed and the cavity refilled to prevent tooth decay and to maintain the functionality of the tooth. New materials used for fillings are white and so are not as visible as amalgam. Some people are electing to have their old silver fillings removed and replaced with white fillings.

Does Swinburne Dental see patients with Health insurance? And do you have HICAPS facilities?

Yes, we have the facilities to claim your dental rebates here at Swinburne Dental, please remember to bring your health insurance card with you to every appointment. However, please be advised that the term ‘dental cover’ can be misleading and different companies cover different amounts and it only acts to assist you with paying the invoice. All care will be taken to provide you with the correct item numbers on your treatment plan estimate; however the practice takes no responsibility for the amount rebated, if any at all.

How does smoking effect my teeth?

Most people are becoming aware that smoking poses a problem to general health. It contributes to heart disease, stroke, and to a third of all cancer deaths, to name just a few conditions. In 1992 it was estimated that almost five thousand deaths in Victoria resulted from smoking.

What is less well known is the effect it has in the mouth.

The main damage is to the gums and mucosa, or lining of the mouth. Smokers develop more oral cancers than non-smokers (about five times more) and invariably suffer some degree of gum, or periodontal, disease.

Smoking also has a profound effect on the saliva, promoting the formation of the thicker ‘mucous’ form of saliva at the expense of the thinner watery ‘serous’ saliva. There is a reduction in the acid-buffering capacity of their saliva.

This effect of nicotine explains why some heavy smokers get decay even if they are brushing well.