Bell Hill Dental

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can we help you?

At Bell Hill Dental, we want to provide excellent dental care for every patient. But we also hope to educate our patients as well. In this area, you will find some common queries with their answers. We intend to work diligently to answer any questions you might have.

If you don't see what you need below, we invite you to contact us for assistance.


We are aware that dental costs can be expensive and unexpected, and at Bell Hill Dental, we don't want costs to be a barrier to getting you the treatment you need. This fact is why we prepare such a comprehensive initial assessment that includes your treatment plan with each option itemised.

Then, we consult with you, emphasising that you decide what care and plan to include in the process. Some decisions are complicated, and we will work with you until you are comfortable with your treatment path along the way to your smile goals.

Routine Maintenance Is Cost-Effective

While it seems understandable that your regular check-ups and cleans will be affordable, their value in prevention is many times their costs. Cleans are vital in reducing the build-up of plaque and tartar residues that your at-home care leaves behind. But also, at these appointments, the Bell Hill Dental team can discover any potential dental problems at their earliest stages so that they require the least invasive treatments possible. 

We Offer Payment Options

We have partnered with Zip and QCard to help spread treatment costs and are happy to discuss treatment plans and phasing treatment to suit your needs. Please don't hesitate to contact our practice and ask about your options.

Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry is one of our passions at Bell Hill Dental in Dunedin. So when we see how our patients react to their restored smiles, we can't help but smile ourselves.

Our Tools for Smile Improvement

The cosmetic process will begin with a consultation with Dr Elaine Neill's team to help us understand your smile goals. Then, we can discuss some procedures we offer, such as replacing silver amalgams with tooth-coloured materials, veneers and tooth implant restorations.

We also provide whitening treatments to help reverse the staining effects of age and everyday life items such as coffee and other foods. In addition, we offer a range of options, from an in-house Boost treatment to take-home trays for your convenience.

We Can Help with Full Restorations

In some cases, we may agree on full-mouth reconstructions to address significant wear, missing teeth and even bone loss. However, if you have suffered extensive tooth damage or have lost many or all of your teeth, we have several solutions. From single tooth implants to full dentures, implant-supported dentures and dental bridges, we can help find what works best for you.

Cosmetic Dentistry in Dunedin, Otago

If you are concerned about your teeth's colour, shape, or size, we can talk you through ways to improve your smile. 

Dental Cleans and Exams

The problem is once gum disease has already progressed it cannot be cured because once bone loss has occurred around a tooth the bone will not grow back. However, gum disease can be treated by removing the plaque out of the gum pocket through scaling and rootplaning therefore stopping the infection from progressing any further. The treatment aim is to gain stability and stop further gum disease progression.

Everybody is different depending on how healthy your gums are. Normally, if you have a history of gum disease, we try and see you every six months, to help prevent it occurring again. Occasionally we need to see you more often, if you have deep gum pockets, or if you are having difficulty with your home-care. This ensures the gum pockets remain as plaque-free as possible helping maintain gum health.

By the time we see bleeding around a pocket it is telling us that the gum condition is active and maybe getting worse again. It is important to remember that you cannot clean down into the pocket yourself at home, so professional hygienist intervention combined with good homecare is important to achieve optimal gum health.

Gum treatment of a healthy mouth should not cause discomfort. Treatment of red, inflamed gums can be uncomfortable for some people, so we have various pain control techniques available. It is important for you as a patient to let us know if you are experiencing any discomfort as this can be controlled.

The problem is that until the gum disease gets quite severe, there are very few symptoms. Pain is not a symptom until the gum disease is often very advanced. By that stage it is often too late as there has been too much bone loss around the tooth and the tooth may already be loose.

The primary cause of gum disease is plaque. If you have no plaque you will not get gum disease.

However there are many factors that can contribute and make gum disease worse. Some of these factors with latest research are:

  • Smoking: If you smoke you are four times more likely to have gum disease compared to someone who has never smoked
  • Diabetes: 2-4 more times likely to develop gum disease
  • Pregnancy: pregnant women who have gum disease may have a seven-fold increased risk of delivering a pre-term, low birth weight baby
  • Cardiovascular Disease: 2 times more likely to develop gum disease
  • Genetic factors: Evidence suggests that there is a significant genetic component to susceptibility of periodontal disease. We now know that there are at least two genes related to gum disease. Genetic testing for these genes is something that is carried out in the USA and is not available here in New Zealand as yet.

As part of providing exceptional dental hygiene care, our hygienists may:

  • Complete oral health assessments that include a review of your health history, screen for oral cancers, record gum health and signs of gum loss (recession).
  • Take and interpret xrays
  • Remove plaque and calculus (tartar) from above and below the gumline
  • Apply agents to the teeth to protect against cavities (such as fluoride and dental sealants)
  • Provide topical and/or local anesthetics if any treatment is uncomfortable
  • Show you oral hygiene techniques to improve your home-care to help you maintain healthy teeth and gums 

Dental Hygienists are trained healthcare professionals. They are licensed to practice with the Dental Council of NZ. A dental hygienists major role is the prevention and non-surgical treatment of periodontal (gum) diseases.

A dental hygienist will help guide and promote healthy oral behaviours to help stabilise and maintain good gum health. Dental Hygienists are skilled in gum scaling and rootplaning (specialized cleaning of the root surface of your tooth). 

Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums caused by plaque, and is the earliest form of gum disease. The bacteria in the plaque irritate the gums making them bleed, and they become red and swollen. You may notice this sometimes when you brush or floss your teeth. Usually there is no discomfort from gingivitis, so you may not be aware you have it.

If the Gingivitis is not treated, the inflammation can work its way down under the gum towards the bone and tissues which are the main supporting structures of the tooth. This causes a deepened space down the side of the tooth called a periodontal pocket. As these pockets get deeper the supporting structures of the tooth are destroyed. Over time this will cause teeth to become loose, resulting in tooth loss. This is termed as Periodontal (gum) disease.

At Bell Hill Dental, one of our points of pride is the unique first exam experience we provide for our patients. We take the time on your first visit to get to know you and your dental history, discuss your goals for your oral health and talk through any fears or worries you may have about treatment.

Your First Visit Experience in Dunedin

We will start with the most thorough check of your mouth that you probably have ever had and then tailor a treatment plan for you that fits your goals. We thoroughly discuss costs, the timing of treatment and give you options wherever we can. This process takes about an hour, and if you have more complex needs, we can schedule a second appointment to talk through options at no extra charge.

We Can Serve the Whole Family

From the very young and their brand-new teeth to our senior population, we are proud to offer dental services to all ages. We can offer one location for everyone so that you can seek dental care as a family. We strive to cultivate long-term relationships with our patients for years to come.

Our new patient exam costs $120, and if you require radiographs (x-rays), we take as many as you need, which we cap this cost at $60.

The dentist will refer you to a hygienist if there is gum inflammation caused by plaque and tartar buildup. To stop gum disease from progressing, the dentist may recommend periodontal therapy or deep cleaning performed by the dental hygienist to treat and get rid of bacteria in the gum pocket. Our dental hygienists have specialized equipment to clean deeply into these unhealthy gum pockets which cannot be reached by a toothbrush. 

The success of your hygienist treatment with us will be strongly determined by how well you look after your teeth and gums at home. Plaque is in our mouth all the time and it is waiting to get back down into those gum pockets again once you leave the practice after your gum treatment. Thorough gum brushing, and cleaning inbetween your teeth is very important. The dental hygienist will help advise you on how to look after your gums at home.

This will depend on the severity of the gum condition. With deeper pockets and heavy calculus deposits the appointments of deep scaling and rootplaning may be divided up into different appointments. For example, the lower right side of the mouth may be worked on in one appointment and the other three quadrants at separate appointments. Alternately one half of the mouth might be treated per appointment. This gives us time to fully focus on one area of your mouth and ensure it is plaque and tartar (calculus) free.

Appointments are usually booked in for 50-70 minutes in duration.

Dental Crowns and Implants

Implant therapies have become far more common over the last ten to twenty years and are now a fantastic option for replacing missing teeth. Additionally, their costs have come down substantially, and many people are opting for implants as they are very cost-effective and long-lasting.

The Benefits of Dental Implants

We would best describe a dental implant is an artificial tooth surgically placed within the jawbone. An implant completely restores any missing tooth because of this placement. This permanence is enhanced through a process called osseointegration, where your implant fuses into the bone. 

We work very closely with the specialists in town (oral surgeons and periodontists) who place the implants to our joint design, and we then place the implant crowns once the healing period has occurred.

Discover Implant-Supported Dentures

For our patients using partial and complete dentures, dental implants can improve your existing appliances. Instead of resting on your gums held in place by adhesive, dental supported implants stay firmly in place. These attachments can even support whole-mouth restorations.

Our Team Can Answer Your Implant Questions

At Bell Hill Dental in Dunedin, we invite you to call to discuss if implants are a good option for you.

Emergency Dental Treatment

We Treat Dental Emergencies!

We know toothache is a terrible pain, can come on quickly and often occurs overnight, causing a lack of sleep and exhaustion. We are here to help! We aim to see all severe toothaches on the day you call. Our dentists have worked in Hospital Accident and Emergency (ED) departments, and all have experience with dental trauma.

How to Know It's an Emergency

While some dental problems are hard to define, a particular dental emergency is a knocked-out tooth. When a permanent tooth is forced from its socket, your quick action can save the tooth. Gently handle the tooth by the crown, not the root, and either place it back in its socket or a sealed container of water or saliva and call us immediately. Your quick action may save the tooth.

A Call to Our Clinic Is Step One

Some accidents need quick attention, and we will always prioritise these cases. We are registered for ACC and have five surgeries to accommodate urgent treatment to relieve pain. Our team is here to serve you.

Call us as soon as you can, and we will make sure you get the timely treatment you need. 

Oral Surgery

Dentistry has come a long way in the management of pain. We are very proud of our gentle techniques and want you to be comfortable in our chair.

One thing we think is essential for our patients to understand is that dental pain is often the result of inflamed and infected tissues. In these cases, dental procedures are what address and treat that pain with efforts to eliminate it. We never want you to associate a trip to the dentist with pain. We encourage you to maintain regular cleans and check-ups to break that association.

Our Approach and Expertise Will Resolve your Pain

Everyone has a different pain threshold and tolerance. We will consult with you before any procedure to know what to expect, and we understand your relationship to tooth and mouth discomfort. Where appropriate, we provide topical cream anaesthetic, stress balls, and the latest injection techniques.

We Respect Your Needs in Dunedin

To the Bell Hill Dental team, we want our patients to know that they are the boss; we will take treatment as slow or fast as they require.  When we have patients say, “I didn’t even feel it” and “that was the best injection I’ve ever had”, we know we have hit our target.

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