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Detailed information to answer your questions

We know you may have some questions for us, especially if you are thinking about a new dental treatment or have not been to the dentist for a while. We’ve collated some of the more common questions here for your convenience. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, please get in touch and we’ll be very happy to help.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I book an appointment?

If you would like to book an appointment with us, please call 01444 233454, email or call in to see us at the practice. We are happy to arrange an appointment at a date and time that is convenient for you. As a courtesy, we will send you a reminder by text or phone you the day before your appointment. If you need to cancel or change your appointment, please give us as much notice as possible, and make sure it is at least 48 hours prior. This allows us to offer the time reserved for you to someone else. Thank you for your cooperation.

Do you charge if I miss or cancel an appointment?

No fees are charged for any appointments cancelled or changed with at least 2 working days’ notice. If you cancel your appointment with less notice, we will do our very best to get this rescheduled with another patient. If we are unable to fill the slot, there may be a cancellation fee. A fee will be payable if you miss your appointment.

Do you do NHS treatment?

Over the years, changes have been introduced to the NHS dental system which we felt made it increasingly difficult for us to provide the standard of care we were comfortable with, and which we knew our patients deserved. We have progressively reduced our commitment to the NHS, and currently offer NHS care for children only, when we have availability. We will always endeavour to provide this to the children of our adult patients. If you have an urgent problem and are not registered with a dentist elsewhere, we will always provide you with advice and, if we have availability, seek to provide you with emergency treatment.

Do you do orthodontics (teeth straightening)?

Henry Duckham is a Platinum Invisalign provider, able to help our patients achieve a straighter smile with clear aligners. Henry offers free Invisalign consultations for anyone who would like to find out more about the treatment, and whether it is suitable for them.

For more specialist orthodontic treatments, we are lucky to have a branch of Total Orthodontics very close to us in Haywards Heath, where we often refer patients to. Orthodontics is a specialised branch of dentistry, carried out by orthodontists with many years of extra training. Orthodontists are very experienced at solving even complex problems, and achieve incredible results.

Why do I need to come to the dentist if I am not in any pain?

This is a very good question! Tooth decay and gum disease need to be well advanced before you notice any pain. If they are left to get to this stage, treatment becomes more difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and the outcomes are far less predictable. Regular dental care means we can find and treat any issues before they become a larger problem, which could save you time and money.

How do you make sure all your equipment is properly clean and safe?

We strictly adhere to all the latest government regulations, advice and guidance regarding equipment, cross-infection and decontamination. All our equipment is properly serviced and maintained, and our staff receive regular training to make sure we are all completely up to speed. We take your safety and ours very seriously!

What do I do if I have a dental emergency and need urgent help?

If you need urgent help, please phone the practice on 01444 233454 as soon as possible. We will do everything we can to help you. The earlier in the day that you ring, the more likely you are to be seen that same day, and at a time that suits you best. If the practice is closed and you can’t wait until we open, please phone and listen to the instructions on the answerphone message, which will tell you how to access our out-of-hours emergency service.

Do you offer guarantees on treatment?

We offer a 12-month standard guarantee on all our fillings, crowns, bridges, and dentures. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee root fillings, as even a perfect technique does not 100% guarantee a successful outcome.

I’m really scared of the dentist - can you help me?

Many people feel a bit nervous at the thought of seeing the dentist, particularly a new dentist. Sometimes, this fear or phobia is so severe it will stop people from coming to see us unless they are in really severe pain. It could be you’ve had bad experiences as a child and the smells and sounds in the surgery bring those memories back, or your fear is very specific and you are really scared of injections or the slow drill. Whatever your problem is, we can help!

The first thing to do is make an appointment and tell us you are nervous. You will find us empathetic and friendly. We are nice and never tell people off! We will listen to you and will do everything we can to help.

If you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time, you may be really worried about how much treatment you need. Most of the time it is nowhere near as bad as you imagine. The biggest thing is picking up the phone and making the appointment!

How does smoking affect my mouth?

The nicotine and tar in smoke will stain your teeth, cause and accelerate gum disease which could lead to tooth loss, and increase your risk of developing mouth, throat and lung cancers. It may also give you bad breath. Smoking reduces the blood and oxygen supply to the gums, meaning that if you smoke, your gums don’t bleed, even though they are unhealthy. Bleeding gums are the first warning sign of gum disease, which can be overlooked.

If you are thinking about quitting smoking, please visit, where you will find lots of information, support and advice to help you.

What are the signs of mouth cancer?

Mouth cancer can appear in many different forms and can affect all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips. If you have a painless mouth ulcer that does not heal after three weeks, please make an appointment to see us so we can check it out. It is also important to visit us regularly for a dental health check, as we can see parts of your mouth that are difficult for you to see yourself.

Mouth cancer is most common in patients over 40 who smoke cigarettes or a pipe and drink alcohol. Mouth cancer kills over 1,700 people in the UK every year. Most of these deaths could be prevented if the cancer is caught early enough

Why do I need to see the hygienist?

Hygienists are specially trained to help you look after your gum health. It’s really important to look after your gums and keep your mouth healthy to reduce your risk of gum disease. There are also links to poor gum health and other health problems such as heart disease, so we want to help you look after your gums with regular hygiene visits. Our hygienists will advise you and help you improve your teeth cleaning, as well as carry out thorough cleaning to get any gum disease under control.

Find out more about dental hygiene.

Can I still go to the dentist if I have a cold sore?

Cold sores are very infectious, particularly when they are blistering. We will not be able to see you for routine dental treatment if you have an open cold sore due to the potential of our staff becoming infected.

Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex virus, and can be treated with over-the-counter antiviral creams. We can also help treat your cold sore using our Elexxion laser! The painless treatment can prevent the cold sore from progressing and cut down the healing time.

See more about our cold sore therapy here.

Do I need to wear a mouthguard?

A mouthguard is a custom-made rubber-like cover that fits exactly over your teeth and gums, protecting them and cushioning them from damage. It can also protect against damage to the jaw, neck and even the brain, helping prevent a concussion from a heavy blow. It is really important to wear a mouthguard whenever you play a sport that involves physical contact or a moving ball, including cricket, hockey, football, american football, boxing and rugby.

We can make a custom mouthguard for you. Mouthguards do need replacing as your teeth change position, and children who haven’t got all of their permanent teeth will need new mouthguards more frequently to accommodate the new shape of their mouth and teeth. You can buy a kit to make your own mouth guard which is cheaper. Unfortunately, these don’t always fit well and don’t provide the best protection. The biggest problem is they are more uncomfortable so they tend to stay in your kit bag, not in your mouth! We can make some really great looking mouthguards in every conceivable colour and even in your team colours!

What do I do if I knock a tooth out?
  • Don’t panic! Teeth can be successfully put back in your mouth. We may need to splint the tooth in position and you will almost certainly need further work on it later on, but it can be restored.
  • Find the tooth – if it is clean, push it gently back into the socket yourself and make sure it is facing the right way! Contact us ASAP.
  • If the tooth isn’t clean or you are not confident about pushing it back in yourself, put the tooth in a container of milk or in your mouth, between your lip and gum. Make sure you don’t swallow it!
  • See us at the practice as soon as you can, ideally within 60 minutes. If you can’t get to us, try another dentist or hospital. If you are a member of Denplan, you can ring them for help.
  • Take painkillers if you need to. Avoid aspirin as it may encourage further bleeding.
  • Don’t handle the tooth by the root. It has fragile ligaments which need to be kept intact if it is to be successfully replaced.
  • Don’t try to clean the tooth with disinfectant or water. It is important the tooth doesn’t dry out, so the best thing to do is to put it in a container of milk.
  • If a baby tooth has been knocked out, it doesn’t need to be reimplanted as the new permanent tooth will grow in its place.


What’s the problem with fizzy drinks? I drink diet coke…no sugar…surely that’s ok?

Diet coke is better than ‘full fat’ coke because it has no sugar in it and therefore doesn’t cause tooth decay. However, all coke and other fizzy drinks contain carbonic acid, which means you are essentially bathing your teeth in acid. This destroys the enamel in a process of dental erosion, causing disfiguring tooth loss, pain and sensitivity. The odd can of coke isn’t a problem but we know lots of people drink up to a litre a day! Use a straw and never ‘swish’ drinks around your mouth. Alcopops and fruit juices can also be damaging. Water and milk are the best things to drink.

Are dental X-rays dangerous?

The amount of radiation received from a dental x-ray is extremely small. We have recently invested in new digital radiography technology which reduces radiation exposure still further. Radiation is present around us all the time. You get about the same amount of radiation from having two dental x-rays as you do travelling on a flight to Spain. We take your safety and ours very seriously.

We use x-rays to take radiographs which give us much more information about your teeth and mouth than we can see just by looking. It can show us decay in between the teeth or under old fillings which if treated early is much easier and less expensive than waiting until the problem becomes obvious. They can also show us the position of second teeth and what your wisdom teeth roots are doing.

What are the dangers of mouth piercings?

We wouldn’t recommend a mouth piercing, but if you are going to have it done, ask how they sterilise their instruments. They should be autoclaved in order to be properly cleaned and safe for use.

The dangers of a mouth piercing include:

  • Local infection
  • Inflammation of your tongue and mouth, causing breathing problems
  • Blood infection
  • Chipping and breaking of teeth
  • Your oral hygiene can be compromised


My teeth are really sensitive. What can I do to treat it?

Sensitive teeth are usually triggered by cold food (ice cream) or drinks, touch (by toothbrush or fingernail) or sweet foods (chocolate). The pain is severe but only lasts a few seconds. If you get pain that lasts longer than this and is triggered more by hot things rather than cold, you have a toothache, not sensitivity!

Sensitivity can be caused by exposing the dentine on your teeth, either by brushing too hard or drinking and eating too many acidic foods, fizzy drinks, white wine or fruit juice. Orange juice and yogurt for breakfast followed by aggressive brushing with a hard brush is guaranteed to give you pain! The solution is to limit exposing your teeth to acid attack, cleaning with an electric toothbrush and using specially formulated toothpaste for sensitive teeth. You can also use the toothpaste as an ointment – rub it into the sensitive areas and leave it there, not rinsing after brushing. It’s also best to avoid brushing your teeth within one hour of eating and drinking acidic foods and drinks.

What can I do if I’m unhappy with my treatment either in or out of the surgery?

We are very proud of the care we provide and we know that most of our patients are very happy most of the time. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we do get it wrong. We promise we will always do whatever we can to put it right. While we won’t say we welcome complaints, we do genuinely believe a negative comment gives us an opportunity to improve not only our service but also our relationship with you.

If you are unhappy, please tell us. There are several ways to do this. If it is something small, please write on one of the patient comment cards in our waiting rooms and put it in the suggestion box in reception. We look at these regularly and discuss your comments at every staff meeting.

If it is something clinical, please talk initially to your dentist. They will always do everything they can to resolve problems. If you are uncomfortable discussing things with your dentist, or if a non-clinical issue can’t be sorted out by our reception team, please ask to speak to our Practice Manager. Alternatively, you could write, email or phone.

However you communicate with us, please be assured we take your feedback very seriously and it will be acted upon quickly. Please note, we keep strictly to the rules of confidentiality. If you are complaining on behalf of someone else, we have to know that you have their permission to do so, unless they are a child under 16.

View our Complaints Procedure here.

What is your Freedom of Information Policy?

You can view our Freedom of Information policy here.

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