A dentist answers the 10 awkward questions you've always wanted to ask.

Image: iStock

If sitting in a hair salon chair awakens the compulsive liar within us all, lying under a dentist’s lamp draws out all our deep-seated paranoia.

This might be because, unlike having your hair done in front of a huge mirror, you can’t see what’s actually happening inside your mouth during a dentist appointment. It might also be because dentists are often unfairly slapped with the ‘scary masochist’ label.

RELATED: Sorry, but your hairdresser totally knows you’re lying about these 8 things.

There’s also the fact it’s rather hard to hold a conversation when someone’s fingers are inside your mouth, so you tend to endure a lot of silence (punctuated by the odd squelching, scraping or um, drilling noise).

Would you trust this man with your teeth?

A lot of questions silently float through our minds as we lie there trying not to bite down on our specialist's fingers. Am I swallowing too loudly? Is it obvious I ate a whole block of Caramello last night? Is my breath heinous right now?

RELATED: The 4 fancy dental products that aren’t worth the money – and 3 that are.

I collected a handful of awkward toothy questions from my colleagues and presented them to Sydney-based dentist Dr Jenna Cutting, who was more than happy to answer them. Here we go...

1. Can you tell we’re lying about how often we floss? Or get checkups?

Image: 'Fresh Meat'

"Generally, the telltale signs are gingivitis (inflamed gums) and tartar or calculus formation on the teeth. If you don't floss, the plaque in between the teeth tends to cause inflammation of the gums with puffiness and bleeding. It's important to have your check ups to make sure there is no underlying disease."


2. Is there a strategy behind asking open-ended questions at the precise moment you put your hands in someone's mouth?

"No. I just ask when things come to mind. Often I will ask the patient how everything is going and they just give me a thumbs up!"

RELATED: Why are women everywhere brushing their teeth with charcoal?

3. Can you still smell patients' breath through those mask things?

"Yes. It doesn't matter. The important thing is finding the cause of any halitosis (bad breath) so you can help them, as this can be a sign of underlying tooth and gum issues." (Post continues after gallery.)

4. Do you ever find yourself checking out your loved ones’ teeth mid-conversation?

"Sometimes. I try not to outside of work."

5. Do you feel immediately guilty when you have soft drink or anything else that’s horrendously bad for your teeth?

"Yes! I try not to have juice, energy drinks or soft drinks. I'm not sugar free but I try to limit sugar for teeth and the rest of the body. Chocolate is my weakness."

6. Can you really tell someone eats a lot of sugar or drinks a lot just by looking at their teeth?

"Yes and no. Some people manage to get away with it, lots don't. The important thing is being educated about what causes dental problems so you can make informed decisions. Early detection of any problems at your dentist will go a long way to helping you keep your teeth for longer. I enjoy helping patients make their way to better teeth."

RELATED: 50 Shades of Cray: Pore strips for your teeth

7. Is teeth whitening terrible for your teeth?

"Whitening does remove some protein and moisture from the tooth. This needs to be replenished and can make the tooth sensitive to cold. However, if you have good oral hygiene and dental health, you should be able to avoid any issues by replenishing the protein with remineralising products."

The Glow tip: For easy whitening, try a whitening toothpaste like Oral-B 3D White Brilliant Toothpaste. It works gently to remove stains on the teeth and leaves you feeling minty fresh.

RELATED: The superfoods that are sending your teeth yellow

8. Who do you go to for checkups? Do you trust other dentists as much as yourself?

"Any of the three other dentists at my workplace. As for the trust question, I refer to the Australian Dental Association resources about the risks of dental tourism (click here)."

9. Do you appreciate when people brush their teeth before they visit, or do you not really mind?

"It really doesn't bother me if you had to have lunch before your appointment. If patients are worried we often let them rinse out before we start."

10. Do you ever go to bed without brushing your teeth?

"No — even before I was a dentist I couldn't sleep without brushing!"

What questions have you always wanted to ask a dentist?