Dr Ben Dunster
General Dentist

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Preventive and General Dentistry

How can we help you?

We welcome all of your questions because we want you to feel completely confident in choosing us to care for your family’s oral health.

Here are some of the most common questions we receive along with detailed answers to help. If your question is not listed here, we welcome you to contact our clinic and one of our knowledgeable team members will be happy to help.

Preventive and General Dentistry

At Dr Ben Dunster’s Hornsby dental clinic, we focus on prevention and early treatment to provide the highest benefit to our patients and make it possible for the families in our community to enjoy optimum oral health and confidence in their appearance.

Part of the preventive care we provide includes digital dental x-rays taken on a regular basis to help both Dr Ben and Dr Clint diagnose many conditions before they cause a dental emergency, like a toothache.

We also understand patients’ concerns regarding the safety of dental x-rays. We have implemented digital technology at our Hornsby surgery for improved safety and accuracy. Digital x-rays emit up to 80% less radiation than film x-rays and provide the highest resolution images available.

As part of your check-up and clean, we may recommend x-rays to ensure that conditions such as decay, bone loss, fractures and even cysts or tumours are not present. Dental conditions often do not present with symptoms until they are well advanced and therefore more costly and invasive to treat. Without x-rays, we can only see part of what is happening with your oral health.

We recommend x-rays based on your oral and medical health histories. If you ever have concerns regarding the necessity of safety of any treatment we provide, let us know and we will be happy to discuss it with you.

Treating bad breath can be a 3-stage process. It may require different home care regimes, seeing a dentist or gum specialist for intensive cleaning and maintenance, and possibly seeing a General Doctor to treat underlying medical conditions.

Lifestyle changes and home care:

  • Brushing your teeth after you have eaten is one of the most important ways to help prevent bad breath. This removes plaque, bacteria and toxins that can emit odours.
  • Flossing your teeth at least once per day will remove the plaque that gets stuck between the teeth, where the tooth brush bristles can reach.
  • Cleaning dentures, dental appliances, splints will also help reduce the plaque and bacteria that are retained in the mouth
  • Cleaning the tongue with a tongue scraper or brush will help remove the plaque and bacteria from the tongue, reducing the smells
  • Changing your tooth brush regularly is important.
  • Using antibacterial mouth wash / toothpastes will help reduce plaque build up
  • Changing your diet will help eliminate the smells created by food. e.g. onions / garlic
  • Drinking appropriate amounts of water per day to reduce dehydration, will help with dry mouth, and the smells that come with it.


Regular Dental Check ups:

During your examination, the dentist will be looking at your oral health.

We are assessing the areas of plaque and calculus build up, how much there is and what is it doing to the gum and tooth tissues.

Plaque and bacteria can cause dental decay, and gum disease. This needs to be treated to maintain a healthy mouth.

A sign of gum disease is bleeding, swollen and sore gums. Sometimes there is even pus coming up from around the teeth. This all produces bad breath.

Tooth decay / poor fillings / poor fitting dentures need to be replaced or repaired as they can harbour plaque and bacteria that produce bad breath.


Once everything has been assessed, the dentist with give you treatment options that are specific to your dental needs.

Often only a clean and oral hygiene instruction is required to get you back on track.

In some cases, a referral to a gum specialist (periodontist) is required. Generally, this is because the gum disease has caused bone loss, causing the teeth to get loose. Or there are hard to get areas, where specialists have the correct instruments, techniques and surgeries that further help the patient.

Once gum disease is under control, and the oral health has improved, then the bad breath will be under control.


Sometimes the dentist may refer you to your General Doctor to assess your medial health / conditions.

Underlying diabetes, kidney and liver conditions can cause bad breath.

The dentist will give you advise on what to do if they think this is the case.

The short answer is no!

Many Mums ask if fruit juice drinks are healthy for my children, especially as they have no added sugars, and they are marketed as healthy?

This is also the case for fruit chews.

They all contain a lot of sugars, including natural sugars. They can be very acidic, and will dissolve the enamel at the same time, making the baby tooth more prone to dental decay.

Dental decay in children is still a major problem. It may cause pain to your child, which makes the child harder to treat, and it can become a costly exercise.


Parents can help prevent tooth decay in children by -

  • Brushing / flossing their child’s teeth to the age or 7-8 yrs.
  • Limiting the sweet snacks during the day
  • Limit the consumption of sugary drinks / sodas / sports drinks.
  • Keep your regular dental checkups to help prevent developing problems
  • Sending your child to school with water and not fruit juices / poppers / cordials


Please ask us if you have any other questions. Our job is to help prevent dental decay.

Bad breath can be caused by a great array of factors, some on their own, and a mix of the different causes.

Commonly it is caused by,

  • different foods that we eat, such as onions and garlic.
  • Smoking and alcohol.
  • From your stomach or digestive system
  • Dry mouth caused by stress, dehydration, medications, smoking and drinking.
  • Bad dental health, gum disease, poorly cleaned dental appliances / dentures.
  • Plaque, badly cleaned teeth
  • Yeast infections
  • Diabetes
  • Sinus infections/ pneumonia/ bronchitis/ post nasal drip
  • Mouth, nose and throat conditions
  • Acid reflux


There are many causes, so it can be a process of elimination to determine the cause.


Bad Breath can have a huge impact on a patient’s lifestyle, and can cause anxiety and lowered self-esteem.


When you ask this question, a dentist will follow it up with a number of questions to work out why you may have bad breath, and the prevention options

Questions such as

  • When and how long have you had it?
  • How do you clean your teeth / dentures / dental appliances?
  • Do you Floss?
  • What is your medical history?
  • What medications and supplements are you taking?
  • Do you have any health conditions?
  • Are you a mouth breather, and do you snore while asleep?
  • Do you have any allergies or sinus issues?


From here the dentist will examine your mouth, to form a diagnosis and a treatment plan that best suits you.


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