All posts by jburrow

Dental Health Tips for Parents of Teens

By the time your child is a teenager, they’ve lost all their baby teeth and hopefully have gotten over any fear of the dentist. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be concerned about your teen’s dental health. Your teenager’s mouth is changing as rapidly as the rest of their body is at this age, and teens have their own set of dental health concerns. Take a look at some important dental health tips for parents of teenagers.

Keep an Eye Out for Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the last of the teeth to emerge, and they come much later than other types of teeth, usually somewhere in the mid-to-late teen years. Your teen may experience pain and discomfort when these teeth break through the gums.

For a long time, it was common practice to remove the wisdom teeth as soon as they emerge, and some dentists still routinely recommend it, while others take a wait-and-see approach. Wisdom teeth may become impacted, unable to fully break through the gums, or they may be positioned in such a way that your teen can’t reach them to brush and floss them thoroughly. This can lead to decay and infections if the teeth are not removed. It’s important to be on the lookout for wisdom teeth, so your teen’s dentist can determine if they need to be extracted.

Encourage a Healthy Diet

By the time they become teenagers, kids have much more control over their own diets than they did when they were small. This can result in some teens overindulging in junk food, sweets, and sugary sodas or energy drinks. These treats are OK in moderation, but if your teen overdoes it, a poor diet can take a toll on their teeth.

Talk to your teen about the importance of maintaining a diet that’s good for their body and for their oral health. Stock the fridge and pantry with tooth-friendly snacks and drinks. Remind them that their teeth need to last a lifetime, and to do that, they need a healthy diet full of nutrients.

Think Twice About Oral Piercings

It’s normal for teens to experiment with their looks, and some experimentation is harmless. However, oral piercings, such as tongue bars and lip rings, may not be so benign.

The mouth is full of bacteria, and it’s not uncommon for mouth piercings to become infected. Teens can also crack a tooth by biting down on a tongue bar or other oral piercing. Encourage your teen to discuss the risks of oral piercings with their dentist before making any decisions.

As a parent, it’s your job to ensure that your teen makes good dental health decisions during this crucial period in their development. This can protect them from painful and expensive dental problems in the future.

 

Are Healthy Foods Always Good for Your Teeth?

Everyone wants to have a healthy body and a healthy mouth. When it comes to your diet, a lot of advice focuses on which foods are healthy for your body, and many people assume that the same foods are also good for your teeth. But that’s not always the case. Take a look at some healthy foods and beverages that can actually be damaging to your dental health.

Tea

Tea is a common choice for people who are trying to wean themselves off of a coffee or sugary soda habit. Many types of tea are full of antioxidants that can be good for your health. But tea is not necessarily such a good choice for your teeth.

For one thing, tea can stain your teeth. While this may not cause you pain or affect the way you chew or eat, it can certainly dim your smile. Black tea can also contribute to tooth erosion, and fruit teas contain acids that can wear away your tooth enamel.

You don’t have to avoid tea entirely, but avoid sipping on it all day, and consider using a straw to prevent your teeth from having as much contact with the liquid. Make sure that you’re drinking plenty of water every day – water is great for your body and your mouth.

Nuts

Many varieties of nuts are full of nutrients and a great replacement for empty calorie snacks like potato chips. However, whole nuts can fracture your teeth or weaken them, leading to tooth sensitivity. This is especially true for very hard nuts, like almonds.

You don’t have to give up nuts to protect your teeth, but you should avoid whole nuts, especially when they’re very hard. Opt for chopped or slivered nuts instead.

Dried Fruit

If you have a sweet tooth, you may gravitate toward dried raisins, cranberries, apricots, or other fruits to replace a candy habit. These dried fruits can give you that satisfying sweetness, but are healthier than a bag of candy.

However, it’s important to remember that natural sugar is still sugar, and dried fruits contain highly concentrated levels of sugar. They’re also sticky, which means that sugar clings to your teeth long after you’re done eating. You’re better off choosing fresh fruits instead.

It’s important to take your oral health into consideration as you plan a diet of healthy foods. Discuss your diet with your dentist to get a dental perspective on the best foods for your tooth health.

Teeth Whitening Options

Is your smile as bright and white as you want it to be? Many of our patients are not happy with the color of their teeth. The good news is that there are many teeth whitening options available. Here are some of them.

Over the Counter Strips and Gels

One of the easiest and fastest ways to whiten your teeth a shade or two is to use the strips and bleaching gels available at your local pharmacy. These are inexpensive and easy to use.

There are a few caveats to keep in mind, however. First, if you experience any gum irritation, stop using it right away and see your dentist. Because the trays don’t fit your teeth perfectly, there’s a greater chance that the solution will irritate your gums than if you were using custom trays. Secondly, follow the directions carefully; some of these products are not meant to be used for more than a week or two.

Teeth Whitening Toothpastes

If you’ve got some staining on your teeth that regular brushing isn’t removing (and you’ve seen your hygienist for a professional cleaning within the past six months), whitening toothpaste can smooth out those stains and restore your white teeth. This product will not whiten all of your teeth or make a noticeable difference if you don’t have staining, however; they really only work by removing stains.

Custom-Designed Bleaching Trays

For the most effective teeth whitening option, you’ll need to see your dentist for a custom-fit bleaching tray and solution. This is a more expensive option than using the type bought at your local pharmacy, but it’s also usually a more effective option. It also tends not to be as irritating to the gums because the solution fits into the trays, which fit your teeth perfectly.

If you want to explore teeth whitening options, give us a call to make an appointment. We want your smile to shine as brightly as you do, and we can help. Call today!

Dental X-rays: Why Are They Important?

When you go to your dental appointment, you might be periodically told that it’s time for dental x-rays. Why are these films important? And when should you have them done? Are they safe? Check out this guide to dental x-rays so you can make an informed decision.

Why Are Dental X-rays Important?

When your dentist looks in your mouth, he or she can see all of the same structures that you can see when you look inside of your mouth. What they can’t see is what’s happening beneath the surface of your enamel, between your teeth, or under your gumline. That is where dental x-rays come in.

These films can show bone loss, early cavities, infections, and structural issues before they are visible to the naked eye, so having them done routinely can help you avoid the situation of small problems getting worse because you didn’t know about them.

When Should Dental X-Rays Be Done?

This is really an individual matter, and your dentist will talk to you to determine how often routine films should be taken. You might have bitewings (a series of four films that show your molars and premolars) done every six months or every two years… or somewhere in between. A full-mouth series (a series of up to 24 films that show all of the teeth) or a panorex (one large x-ray of all of your teeth and bone structures) might be done every three to five years.

If you are having a toothache or swelling in between routine appointments, additional x-rays will probably be taken.

Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

In a word, yes. The amount of radiation used for a full-mouth series is less than the radiation you absorb on a day-long trip to the beach. Today’s dental radiography machines are made so only extremely minimal radiation is emitted. In fact, they are even safe for pregnant women (though your dentist will cover your reproductive organs with a lead vest, just in case) and young children.

If you have questions about any part of your dental care, do not hesitate to ask!

 

Is Anxiety Causing You Dental Problems?

Do you struggle with anxiety? While everyone experiences stress from time to time, those with anxiety disorders or phobias deal with these uncomfortable — and sometimes debilitating — feelings on a regular basis. Anxiety can raise your blood pressure and cause various health issues, including dental problems. Read on to find out how anxiety can cause dental issues and what you can do about it.

Dental Phobia

If you have a strong fear of the dentist, you may have a dental phobia. Does the thought of going to the dentist make you feel physically ill, or do you experience heart palpitations, sweating, and shortness of breath either in the chair or while in the waiting room?

Some people who have dental phobia cope with it by avoiding the dentist. Unfortunately, this can lead to gum disease, dental decay, and other dental problems that don’t get addressed. Talk to your dentist about your phobia; there are solutions that can help! For example, listen to music to help distract you from your worries. In severe cases, medication might be needed.

Grinding Your Teeth

If you have generalize anxiety or just a lot of stress, you might clench and grind your teeth. This habit is called bruxism, and it can cause headaches, jaw pain, and worn enamel. You could break fillings or even break teeth.

Reducing your stress can help; so can a nightguard fabricated by your dentist, which you’ll wear overnight to help prevent grinding in your sleep.

Too Overwhelmed to Stick to Routines

If you are dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety, you might find it difficult to stick to your regular routines. If you’re falling into bed at the end of the day because you are exhausted, you might not be brushing and flossing before you sleep. This can lead to poor dental health.

If you are so busy and stressed that you are relying on drive-through meals or junk food, you can be negatively impacting your teeth (and your overall health) in this way, too.

Some relaxation methods like taking up yoga, exercising each day, guided imagery, or seeking counseling can help.

If your anxiety is getting the best of you, talk to your doctor about ways that you can feel better. There’s no need to suffer from anxiety; it’s a treatable condition and your health, including your dental health, can be improved by taking that step.

Why Regular Dental Appointments Are So Important

If you have had healthy teeth and gums to this point, you might wonder whether it’s really necessary to take time out of your busy schedule twice per year to see the dentist. After all, you brush twice a day and floss every night before bed. Does it really matter if you see your dentist regularly? The answer is yes, dental appointments are important! Read on to find out why.

Catch Problems Early

While you’ve had good oral health to this point, there’s no guarantee that the trend will continue. Anyone can develop a dental cavity or even the early stages of gum disease (called gingivitis). While good oral hygiene helps you avoid these problems, they are not a surefire solution to all issues that might arise. If you do develop an area of pocketing in your gums or a tiny cavity, seeing your dentist every six months will help him or her find it quickly and get it treated right away. This can help prevent widespread gingivitis, gum infections, or bigger cavities, which could lead to the need for root canal therapy and other more invasive (and expensive) treatments.

Cancer Screenings

You might not realize this, but your dentist screens you for cancer during your routine appointments. He or she looks for areas of thickening, lumps, or white or red sores. If you notice areas that are irritated or ulcers that don’t heal within two weeks, you should bring it to your dentist’s attention. Sometimes, however, the early symptoms of oral cancer aren’t apparent, so it’s important that your dentist takes a look to make sure nothing looks suspicious.

Prevent Health Issues

Did you know that your oral health is closely tied to other parts of your body? For example, people with diabetes are more likely to develop oral infections, including thrush, which is a fungal infection. And people with gingivitis might be more likely to develop heart disease. Your dentist is an important part of your preventative medical team; he or she can watch for signs of serious health issues and, if you already have a chronic condition, professional cleanings can stave off complications.

If you are due for one of your dental appointments or if you have any concerns about your oral health, please give us a call to schedule an appointment today.

What You Should Know About Canker Sores

Have you ever had a sore on your inner lip or cheek that was very painful every time your teeth rubbed against it? It’s possible that it was a canker sore. Here’s the lowdown on what canker sores are, how you get them, and what you can do about them.

What Is a Canker Sore?

A canker sore is a type of ulcer in the mouth. Although anyone can get a canker sore, they’re most common in older children, teenagers, and young adults. A canker sore often starts out as an irritated, pink section in the gums, but it quickly turns into a white or yellow circular sore with a ring of red or dark pink around it. They can be extremely painful.

Most of the time, a canker sore will go away on its own within a week or so. Once you have gotten one, you might get one a few times per year. Occasionally, people who are prone to canker sores might develop a complex canker sore, which is larger and lasts for approximately a month. This type might cause a scar.

How Do You Get a Canker Sore?

Any type of irritation or trauma can cause a canker sore. Getting braces or dentures can irritate the cheek tissues enough to cause sores. Biting your lip or inner cheek while eating is another common cause.

Sometimes, canker sores are caused by stress. Some foods, particularly tomatoes and citrus fruits, can cause the sores when eaten in excess. Some people are even sensitive to certain toothpaste ingredients or brands.

What Can You Do About the Pain?

Most of the time, these sores will go away on their own and need no special treatment. With that being said, sometimes they’re in a location that makes it nearly impossible to avoid irritating it further. There are mouthwashes available that reduce pain and encourage quicker healing. You can also buy canker sore medication at the pharmacy; this is a non-prescription gel that creates a coating on top of the sore to speed healing and reduce further irritation.

If you are plagued by canker sores, talk to your dentist about ways to minimize them and reduce pain. Also, if a sore does not clear up within two weeks, make an appointment to have it evaluated in case it is something more serious.

Bruxism: Do You Clench and Grind Your Teeth?

A habit that many people have and might not even know it is clenching and grinding the teeth, otherwise known as bruxism. Bruxism can lead to enamel erosion, broken teeth, lost fillings, and pain. The tricky thing about it is that many tend to do it in their sleep, which means they might not be aware that it’s even occurring until damage has been done. Read on to find out the signs that you are clenching and grinding, along with tips on what to do about it.

Signs of Bruxism

You might catch yourself clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth during the day. Or you might not know that you’re doing it. One sign of grinding in your sleep is jaw pain and headaches in the morning. Another is that your molars feel tender. Finally, if you have a sleeping partner, he or she might complain that you are making grinding sounds in your sleep. Your dentist will be able to tell if you are grinding your teeth because your enamel will often wear down on your molars.

Reducing Stress

Many people who grind and clench their teeth do so as a reaction to stress. Today’s lifestyles tend to be stressful: Work, children, household chores, volunteer positions, errands, and going back to school as an adult all can pile up and make us feel very overwhelmed. Bruxism becomes a habit much like nail-biting or smoking in times of stress.

You can reduce stress by being aware of it. Exercising daily can reduce stress and bruxism. So can getting enough sleep. Yoga and meditation are more strategies to try.

Getting a Mouthguard

In the meantime, your dentist can fit you for a mouthguard, which is a removable appliance that you wear while you sleep. You can grind your teeth against it and it will help prevent tooth damage and pain.

If you believe you are clenching and grinding your teeth, give us a call to schedule an appointment. We can fit you for a mouthguard and let you know about any dental work that needs to be done.

Keep a Healthy Smile This Spring

As the weather warms up, there are some joys of spring that go along with the sunshine. Chances are good that you are getting outside more, becoming more active, and enjoying the seasonal foods of the spring, but are you thinking about how you can keep a healthy smile this season? Check out these tips for making sure your oral health remains a priority through the warmer seasons.

Protect Your Teeth When Playing Sports

Are you looking forward to playing on a softball team this spring? Maybe you are going to be doing some other sports that include physical contact or flying balls. If so, getting a mouthguard is a good idea; it can keep your teeth from breaking if you happen to take a fly ball to the mouth.

Your dentist can fabricate one for you or you can use the “boil and bite” type from any pharmacy. The most important thing is that you wear it when you are on the field.

Watch Your Sweet Tooth

Part of keeping a healthy smile (as well as a healthy body) all year long is moderating your sugar intake. With longer evenings and warmer weather come delicacies of spring such as ice cream and cold soft drinks. While it’s fine to indulge once in a while, try not to make it a frequent habit. Also, be sure to brush well afterward; sugar that sits on teeth can lead to gum disease and dental decay.

Keep Up With Your Oral Hygiene Regimen

The lighter evenings often translate into later nights, and it’s normal to be tired by the time you finally fall into bed. Don’t neglect your dental health routine, however! Keep a healthy smile by being sure to brush and floss before bed. You can also do it after dinner, if you prefer to get it out of the way; just be sure to brush again if you end up having a late-night snack.

Visiting your dentist regularly is another way to make sure you have a healthy smile. Give us a call if you’re due for a cleaning and checkup!

Braces for Adults: Frequently Asked Questions

If you have always wished that your smile were straighter, you might think that you lost your chance to have braces after your teenage years. Maybe the thought of having metal braces in your mouth just doesn’t appeal to you, or maybe you’re afraid of the discomfort at this time in your life. The good news is that braces for adults are common and there are several different options to suit your needs. Take a look at these frequently asked questions and see if you might be ready to look into braces for adults.

Won’t Braces Look Unprofessional?

There are a lot of reasons why someone might choose not to have metal braces; one of them is that there is a stigma of unprofessionalism that can go along with them. Of course, this depends on your job and your age, but if you feel as though you’d look unpolished in the workplace with metal braces, then there are other options to consider, including ceramic braces, lingual braces, and Invisalign.

Are Lingual Braces Uncomfortable?

In a word, yes, they can be, but the discomfort is mainly in the beginning, when your tongue is getting used to the braces. All braces come with an element of discomfort in the early days. If you have traditional metal braces or ceramic braces, the discomfort tends to be on your inner lips and inner cheeks. With lingual braces, however, it occurs on your tongue. This can make talking and eating painful. The good news is that you will adjust to them within a week or two.

Is Invisalign Right for Me?

Only your dentist or orthodontist can answer that question, because it varies from person to person. If you have a mild overbite, a space between your front teeth, or crooked incisors, then Invisalign could work for you. If you have a more severe malocclusion, however, you might need to go a more traditional route. A consultation with a dental professional can tell you whether this type of orthodontic treatment is right for you.

If you are looking into the possibility of braces for adults, give our office a call for a consultation or to be referred to an orthodontist in the area.

All About Dental Insurance

It’s not uncommon to have a hard time understanding your dental insurance. Not only is each plan different, but there might be terminology that you don’t know. To top it off, you might not understand why some procedures are covered at one percentage while other are covered at a much higher or lower percentage. While we cannot possibly know every detail about every insurance company or policy available, here are some facts that might help you decipher your plan.

Deductibles: When Do They Apply?

A deductible in dental insurance terms means about the same as it means in medical insurance terms. It’s the fee that you need to pay before the insurance company begins paying for work. Some policies apply the deductible toward preventative work and others do not. Some policies don’t have deductibles, but the ones that do usually apply them per calendar year.

Yearly Maximums

Unlike medical insurance, many dental insurance plans include a yearly maximum of benefits paid. This means that if your maximum is, for example, $1,500, that is the amount that your insurance will pay out over the course of a calendar year. There are certain procedures that might not apply toward the maximum; these often include cleanings and periodic exams. Some policies do count these, however. There are a few plans that do not have calendar year maximums.

Coinsurance and Copays

If you have a dental HMO, you will pay a copay per procedure in most cases. This means that if you have a two-surface resin filling, you’ll pay a set fee regardless of the actual charge for the filling. (Do keep in mind that this only applies if you see an in-network dentist.)

If you have a dental PPO or another type of plan, most of the time you will pay a percentage of the cost. Common coinsurance percentages are 20 percent for things like fillings and 50 percent for things like crowns. This varies substantially depending on the plan. Also, if you go to an out-of-network dentist, you will, in most cases, pay more because the dentist won’t usually accept the insurance’s reduced fee plan as payment in full. If your dentist doesn’t participate with your insurance plan, it’s a good idea to find out what they charge for a procedure and to find out from the insurance company what they will pay.

Dental insurance can be confusing, and we can help you make sense of your plan. Do keep in mind, however, that it’s your responsibility to know the details of your plan. Call your insurance company for specific information or ask our front desk for help understanding your plan.

Root Canal Therapy: What to Expect

Root canals are often portrayed as one of the most painful dental procedures, so if your dentist tells you that you need root canal therapy, it’s understandable that you might be worried. But advances in dental techniques and technologies have come a long way, and root canals are no longer a procedure that patients should be afraid of. Take a look at what you should expect from your root canal therapy.

What is Root Canal Therapy?

Root canal therapy is used when a tooth is badly decayed or when an infection has reached the pulp inside a tooth’s root. Your dentist will remove the pulp from the tooth, clean out the inside of the tooth, fill the tooth with a substance called gutta-percha, and install a crown over the tooth.

The benefit of root canal therapy is that it allows you to keep your natural tooth structure. When a root canal is recommended, usually the only other option is to extract the tooth. In most cases, keeping the tooth and having a root canal is healthier for your mouth and less costly in the long run.

Will It Hurt?

Generally, by the time a tooth needs a root canal, you’re already experiencing pain in the tooth. An infection that reaches the pulp is usually painful, and badly decayed teeth are often sensitive to heat, cold, and sweet or spicy flavors. Root canal therapy actually stops the pain.

The procedure itself is usually painless. Your dentist will use a local anesthetic to thoroughly numb the area before your procedure. If you’re anxious, your dentist may also use nitrous oxide or another calming medication to help you relax during the procedure.

After the Root Canal

Once the procedure is over and your anesthesia has worn off, you may feel some mild discomfort, and your tooth may be tender for a few weeks. Your pain should be manageable with an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen. Your dentist will probably recommend that you avoid chewing with that side of your mouth until a permanent crown can be placed.

If your dentist recommends root canal therapy, don’t worry. Schedule the procedure and follow your dentist’s instructions. Root canal therapy can relieve pain and restore the function of a damaged tooth.

Preventing Gum Disease

Did you know that nearly half of all Americans have gum disease? Gum disease, if left unchecked, can lead to bone loss, loose teeth, and even tooth loss. Here are some ways you can prevent gum disease and keep your teeth for a long time.

Know the Signs of Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. When caught early, gingivitis can be turned around easily to reduce your chances of developing periodontitis, a more advanced stage of the disease. Symptoms of gingivitis include red gums, swelling, bleeding when you floss, and soreness in the gums. If you notice these symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist or dental hygienist for a professional cleaning.

Brush, Floss, and See Your Dentist Regularly

Gum disease is often caused by not brushing or flossing enough. If bacteria is left to sit on the teeth, it can get under your gumline and cause swelling and soreness. This makes it more difficult to get under the gumline to clean it properly, which causes even more soreness, swelling, and bleeding. It’s a cycle that can only be broken by improving your oral hygiene.

A professional cleaning will remove the plaque and bacteria under the gumline. From there, you’ll need to brush twice daily, floss each night before bed, and, in some cases, use an antibacterial mouthwash. Once your gums go back to normal, it will be easier to keep them clean, so don’t worry if it’s uncomfortable in the days following your cleaning. Just keep brushing and flossing as directed.

Stop Smoking

If you smoke, it’s likely causing gum disease. It’s difficult to quit, but you should do so to reduce the negative health implications. If you’re having trouble quitting, talk to your physician for help. In the meantime, be sure to brush and floss well to minimize the damage.

Watch Your Diet

Eating a lot of sugar and starches (like white bread and potato chips) can cause gum inflammation because the bacteria in your mouth are well-fed by these substances. This causes them to multiply. Also, these types of foods tend to stick to the teeth, causing decay and gum swelling. Be sure to sip water frequently and to eat foods like raw carrots, apples and strawberries to help keep your teeth and gums in good shape.

Seeing your dentist twice per year allows him or her to evaluate you for the early stages of gum disease so you can make changes before it’s too late. If you’re due for an appointment, give us a call!

Smoking and Your Oral Health

Do you smoke? If so, you already know that it’s not good for you. Smoking can lead to lung disease, cancer, heart attacks, and a host of other issues. What you might not know is that smoking also wreaks havoc on your oral health. Check out this list of ways smoking impacts your dental health, in case you need more of an incentive to quit.

Smoking Can Cause Staining and Halitosis

On a purely aesthetic level, smoking can cause staining of your teeth. No longer will they be pearly white after you’ve smoked awhile. The tar and the other chemicals will stain your teeth yellowish, brownish, or grayish. You can brush with a whitening toothpaste, but that will go only so far.

Many people who smoke know that smoking also gives them bad breath, also called halitosis. If you smoke and your partner does not, this can be a sticking point in your relationship. Chewing gum and brushing and flossing regularly help somewhat, but you can’t completely hide the smell.

Smoking Can Cause Gum Disease

Inflamed, red, bleeding gums can occur when someone smokes. One reason is that smoking dries out oral tissues, and dried out gums are more susceptible to tiny cuts and cracks that can lead to bacterial infections. As the bacteria and plaque sit in the pockets between your gums and your teeth, they are ready to infiltrate any little cuts, causing the bleeding, sore gums that are the hallmark of gingivitis and periodontitis (both forms of gum disease).

Smoking Can Cause Tooth Loss

As gum disease progresses, the teeth can become loose, eventually falling out. Also, tooth decay tends to be more prevalent in smokers, so broken or decayed teeth may need to be extracted. Smokers are also more prone to dry sockets and other complications following extractions and other types of oral surgery.

Smoking Can Cause Oral Cancer

Finally, in severe cases, both smoking and chewing tobacco can cause oral cancer. If you notice a lesion, sore, or patch in your mouth that doesn’t clear up within two weeks, make an appointment with your dentist right away to be evaluated for oral cancer. This is particularly important if you smoke.

Talk to your doctor about ways that you can quit smoking. You will be adding years onto your life and you might be able to avoid some of the dangers to your oral health and your overall health.

Improve Your Smile in 2018

Are you happy with your smile? When you look in the mirror, does your grin make you want to, well, grin? Too many people make it a note to smile with their lips closed or talk with a hand in front of their mouths because they aren’t happy with the way their teeth look. If this sounds familiar, we don’t want you to feel that way anymore! Check out some of the ways you can improve your smile in 2018.

Veneers

If your front teeth are chipped, misshapen, or otherwise making you hesitate to smile, porcelain veneers might be the right option for you. Veneers can also close up a gap, called a diastema, between the front teeth in some cases. These fit over the outside surface of your front teeth, much like an artificial nail fits over your natural fingernail. The tooth will be prepared for a veneer, so it’s a permanent restoration; if it were to fall off, which is uncommon, you’d need to have it replaced.

Braces

Many people think that their chance for having braces has passed once they exit their teen years. This is not the case! Many adults have orthodontic treatment, including braces, throughout their 30s, 40s and beyond. You can have the metal type that most teens get, or you can use one of the options available for adults, such as lingual braces, porcelain braces, or Invisalign. Talk to your dentist about whether a referral to an orthodontist is needed.

Teeth Whitening

If you aren’t happy with the shade of your teeth, then teeth whitening might be on your list of smile-brightening new year’s resolutions. Today’s bleaching agents are gentle, safe, and effective. You can use the type you find in your local pharmacy or you can have a tray fabricated by your dentist. Your dentist can help you decide what option is right for you depending on your budget, how much whitening you are looking for, and whether you are prone to hypersensitivity or gum irritation.

Give us a call today to schedule an appointment. We’d love to help you have a brighter and smile-inducing 2018!

Referred to a Dental Specialist: What You Need to Know

Your family dentist is your best resource for most of your dental care. In fact, many people almost never see any dentist other than their family dentist. In some cases, however, you  might be occasionally referred to a dental specialist. These specialists have extra education and expertise in one specific niche of dentistry; it’s similar to when your general practitioner refers you to a dermatologist for a skin condition or a cardiologist for a heart problem. Here are some of the dental specialists who might one day make up your dental care team.

Periodontist

A periodontist specializes in gum care. While your hygienist and your dentist will handle some gum problems, like gingivitis, a periodontist might be appropriate if you have extensive bone loss or need surgical treatment of your gums. A few patients see a periodontist routinely, but most just have the one problem addressed and then return to their family dentist to have routine cleanings.

Endodontist

An endodontist performs root canal and root canal surgery. While a general dentist can also perform root canals, an endodontist often has specialized equipment that allows them to access calcified canals or handle other challenges. An endodontist is also the dental specialist you’d see if you needed surgery at the tip of your root; that procedure is called an apicoectomy. After a root canal or apicoectomy, you would return to your family dentist for the final restoration of the tooth.

Orthodontist

An orthodontist is the dental specialist who straightens teeth. They can apply braces and other types of appliances. Some family dentists do some orthodontic work, but complex cases generally require the expertise of an orthodontist. While having orthodontic work done, you’ll still need to see your general dentist for cleanings, fillings, and any other treatment required.

If you have questions about your dental health or the need for a dental specialist, don’t hesitate to ask.

How to Handle a Dental Emergency While on Vacation

Do you have plans to travel this December? Many people trek across the country or even to other parts of the world to celebrate the holiday season. Something that you probably don’t want to deal with is a dental emergency while traveling. Unfortunately, these things do happen from time to time. Here are some tips on managing a toothache, broken filling, or swelling while you are away from home (and from your dentist).

You Wake Up With a Toothache

First, don’t panic. Try to floss around the area; sometimes a popcorn kernel or some other type of food debris gets caught up under the gum and can cause a toothache. Next, swish with warm salt water.

If the tooth is still throbbing, take the over-the-counter pain reliever of your choice; for many people, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) works best. If you can’t take that safely, take acetaminophen (Tylenol). Follow the directions on the bottle.

No relief? In this case, you might want to find a local dentist to take a look. You don’t want your vacation ruined by a toothache, so ask your relatives or friends if they have someone to recommend. Your dental insurance company might be able to help, too.

You Break a Filling

If you crunch down on a hard piece of food and you crack a filling or a filling falls out, it might not be an emergency. Clean out the tooth and evaluate the situation. Are any pieces moving and pinching your gums? Are you in pain? (If so, follow the advice above.) If the answer to both of these is no, you’ll want to head to the dental aisle of your nearest pharmacy and pick up temporary filling material. Use it as directed and make an appointment to be seen once you get home. Keep in mind that the filling material is temporary; it won’t last longer than a few days and might need to be replaced if you’ll be gone longer than that.

Your Jaw Is Swollen

A swollen jaw caused by a dental abscess can turn bad very quickly, particularly if it’s accompanied by a fever or a flu-like feeling. In this case, you need to be seen. See if there is a dentist available. If not, try a walk-in clinic or urgent care. As a last resort, go to the emergency room. In this situation, it’s likely that you’ll need an antibiotic to prevent the prescription from spreading, so don’t wait.

If you have any type of dental emergency while traveling, call our office and make an appointment to be seen as soon as feasible after you return. Don’t let a temporary solution turn into a permanent one; any toothache that’s not remedied by flossing, a broken filling, or a dental infection needs to be addressed.

What to Look for in a New Dentist

Whether you’ve moved, your previous dentist has retired, or you haven’t had a dentist in a while and need a new one, searching for a new dentist can be a bit stressful. Starting with a list of what you are looking for in a new dentist can help. Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you begin your search.

Insurance Requirements

Depending on your insurance plan, you might or might not have to see a dentist who is in the network in order to have your treatment covered. While it’s best not to choose a dentist based only on whether they are participating with your insurance company, the truth is that finances are a consideration for most patients. Take a look at who is in your plan. If you have a dental HMO (or a DMO), you won’t be able to out out-of-network and have the treatment covered at all. If you belong to a PPO or a POS plan, you will be able to see who you want, but you’ll pay more to see someone who is not in-network. Start with the list of dentists participating in whatever plan you have and go from there; if you cannot find a suitable dentist in that list, then you can decide at that point whether to go outside the network.

Location, Location, Location

Let’s be honest: Most people are not going to drive far out of their way to go to the dentist. Choosing a provider who is not near your home or your work might tempt you to skip checkups and cleanings. Convenience is often key when it comes to preventative care. Also, when you do have a toothache or need treatment, you won’t relish a long drive to or from the office. Look within several miles of both your home and your workplace to keep things simple.

Hours and Availability

If you work a traditional 9 to 5 job, you will probably want to find an office that offers some evening or weekend hours. Similarly, if you are off on Fridays, you’ll want to find an office that is open that day to make appointments easier. When you call offices that you are considering, find out how far they book out for both routine appointments and emergencies; while it’s normal for offices to book out weeks or even months in advance when it comes to cleanings, your chosen dentist should be able to see you promptly if you have a broken tooth or a toothache.

Your Gut Feeling

Finally, make an appointment with the top dentist on your list and make sure you feel good about the office. Is it clean? Is the staff friendly? Does the dentist have a good bedside manner? As long as you feel welcome and the dentist answers your questions, it might be the perfect office for you!

If you are looking for a new dentist, please give our office a call!