Clifton Hill Dental
Dr Nick Malamas

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Family and General Dentistry

How can we help you?

We want you to feel confident in your choice of Clifton Hill Dental to look after your family’s smiles. It is natural to have questions before booking your first visit to a new dental clinic. After all, your smile is an important part of who you are.

We welcome you to browse some of our most common questions listed below. If you do not see your specific question answered here, give us a quick call. Our cheerful and knowledgeable team will be happy to help.

Family and General Dentistry

Ensure you have a healthy diet limited in sticky, acidic or high sugar contact foods, brushing towards your gums gently twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste and flossing between your teeth, ensuring to clean under your gums gently at least once daily.  Regular dental examinations will help catch caries early and allow the dental professional to educate and give skill tips on how to prevent it from spreading.

Generally, it is recommended to have a professional scale and clean every 6 months, however the time between visits may change based on your gum health and the additional risk factors of each individual. Some cases may require 3 monthly cleans rather than 6 monthly.

After a warm welcome to the clinic, the Oral Health Therapist will assess your gum health, keeping you involved in the presentation of your gum health and provide reassurance or education on how to achieve optimal health of your gums which are the foundations for your teeth.

After the gum health check, your teeth will be cleaned using an ultrasonic scaler, hand instruments, and floss, followed by a polish. This is done to remove the calculus (tar tar) buildups from around your teeth and sometimes under your gums that may be causing gingivitis (gum disease).

An Oral Health Therapist is a dual qualified dental therapist and hygienist. They provide oral health assessment, diagnosis, treatment, management and preventative services for children and adolescents, an if, like myself, educated and trained in a program of study approved by the National Board, for adults of all ages.

Their scope may include restorative/fillings treatment, tooth removal, oral health promotion, periodontal/gum treatment, and other oral care to promote healthy oral behaviours.

Oral Health Therapists may only work within a structured professional relationship with a dentist, as in the case with Nick and I.

Dental caries (tooth decay) is a process that causes localized destruction of tooth tissue. It starts with demineralization of the hard tissues until it progresses and cavitates. It’s cause is multifactorial, so caused by: diet- frequency and type of consumption, frequent snacking and high sugar content, plaque- amount and acidity. The longer the plaque is there, the more acidic it becomes. Saliva- flow and composition. Lower flow has lower buffering system and less ions to remineralise the teeth. Tooth resistance- exposure to remineralising agents such as fluoride and other helpful minerals.

Periodontal disease is used to describe chronic inflammation of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. The most common form of periodontal disease is gingivitis.

Gingivitis is defined as inflammation restricted to the tissues of the gums, which become red and swollen, and bleed easily. It is caused by presence of bacteria in the undisturbed plaque that rests in the crevice of the gum around the tooth. There is no destruction of the supporting bone or ligaments, making it reversible with appropriate dental treatment, unlike periodontitis.

Periodontitis is inflammation affecting the gums and ligaments, as well as tooth roots and supporting bone which can result in drifting of teeth or tooth loss. It is often associated with halitosis (bad breath) and bad taste as the bacteria develop in the pockets of gums around the teeth. Major risk factors include smoking and poorly controlled diabetes. Management usually involves debridement of the calculus (tar tar) deposits from under the gums usually under a local anaesthetic, some cases may require surgical treatment.

How do I prevent periodontal disease?

Ensure you’re brushing towards the gums gently morning and night, as well as nightly flossing, aiming to hug the tooth and allow the floss to glide under the gums. This will help disrupt the bacteria in the crevice of the gum surrounding the teeth before it has a chance to become acidic. Reducing risk factors such as smoking and controlling diabetes can help reduce onset and progression of periodontal disease. Regular professional cleans will also help to maintain your gum health, usually recommended for every 6 months, sometimes more frequently depending on the conditions of your gums and risk factors.


In terms of electric versus manual toothbrushes, it is shown that both do the same job if used correctly, however, most people have better results when using an electric toothbrush as it is smaller and does a lot of the work for you. It is best to use a soft toothbrush or toothbrush head without rubber wings as hard or medium brushes can be abrasive and wear the enamel off the teeth, as well as possibly causing recession of the gums, that may give you sensitivity.

Each patient is individually assessed and your treatment will be tailored to suit your dental needs. The oral health therapist may ask you a variety of questions related to your diet, lifestyle and oral hygiene habits. They will assess the health of your teeth and gums, gather information from the dentist and read over x-rays to determine your risk of gum disease. A periodontal evaluation will identify any pocketing or gum recession associated with gum disease.

They will remove the plaque and calculus deposits from above and below the gumline. You may also be given advice on products, diet and smoking or lifestyle risks. A home-care maintenance programme will be demonstrated to help keep your mouth healthy in between visits.

Depending on the dentist's recommendations, and based on the status of your oral health, the appointment can take between 45 minutes to one hour. Scale and cleans are usually pain-free at our practice. We do, however, have different types of desensitising agents and anaesthetic gels if the patients want added peace of mind during their procedures.

Your oral health therapist will be open to any questions or concerns you may have regarding your oral health and dental treatment.

Our oral health therapists are an essential part of our Clifton Hill Dental team.

Oral health therapists are dental professionals who have completed training at university and are qualified in dental therapy and dental hygiene. They are able to provide a wide range of dental care to children, adolescents and adults. Because of their training, oral health therapists are equipped to work in collaboration with dentists on preventive, restorative and certain cosmetic procedures. 

Oral health therapists also provide valuable advice and resources to help patients achieve optimal oral health.

  • Nutritional counselling
  • Smoking cessation
  • Home dental hygiene practices
  • Scale and clean frequency
  • Gum therapies
  • Children's dentistry

Our oral health therapists also have an extended scope of practice that enables them to provide minor restorative services to patients of all ages and also provide both in-chair and at-home teeth whitening systems for a brighter, more youthful smile.

At Clifton Hill Dental, we recommend adults have a thorough examination with a dentist before seeing one of the oral health therapists for teeth cleaning or further treatment. Your oral health therapist is your partner in oral health and is available to answer any questions or address any concerns you have about the health and appearance of your teeth and gums.

Oral health therapists are specially trained at university in the general maintenance of the mouth, teeth and gums, and also in gum disease therapy. A dentist will refer a patient to an oral health therapist for more specialised preventive oral care, whilst the dentist will continue to provide complex treatment and most restorative and cosmetic treatment with the exception of teeth whitening. Oral therapists are prevention-oriented, and their scope of care is highly personalised to meet the changing needs of patients over every life stage and throughout medical and dental changes.

Some dentists will see you for hygiene appointments; however, many people realise that oral health therapists have been specially trained to carry out hygiene therapies. They can spend a more extended amount of time demonstrating a maintenance program for you to continue at home to ensure keeping your teeth and gums healthy all year around.

If gum disease develops, your oral health therapist will customise a hygiene protocol and follow-up on your progress regularly, acting as an educator and provider as your gums heal. 

We hope that you will develop a long-term relationship with every member of our team so that we can get to know your goals for your smile and provide you with the dentistry you need for a healthy mouth.

We warmly welcome children to our Clifton Hill dental practice from their very first visit. Children should see the dentist for the first time between age six months and one year to help them acclimate to the dental clinic environment and to monitor their development and growth.

Our oral health therapist is particularly equipped to demonstrate proper oral care for children, coach parents in looking after their children’s smiles and discuss proper nutrition to bolster healthy growth and healthy smiles.

At your little one’s first dental visit, we will focus on familiarising him or her with the dental clinic and the team. We speak to children using kid-friendly language, let them hold the mirror to look at their teeth and have a look if they cooperate.

Once your child develops and grows, we will incorporate preventive dental treatments such as check-ups and cleans, bitewing x-rays, fluoride application and fissure sealants to protect their smiles.

Even though baby teeth eventually fall out, they are an essential part of your child’s development and maintain space and alignment for permanent teeth. This is why maintaining their health is essential to your child’s oral health.

If it’s time for your child’s first visit to the dental clinic, we invite you to call and arrange a booking. We provide convenient appointments on evenings and Saturdays to accommodate busy parents.

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Disclaimer: The information throughout this site is not intended to be taken as medical advice.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.