If you haven’t been to the dentist in a very long time, you might feel some shame surrounding the idea of your first return appointment.
Will people judge you when you go? What’s it going to feel like to have somebody working in your mouth? What will the dentist find when he or she gets in there? If you haven’t been to the dentist in years, now is a great time to take charge of your oral health and ensure it stays on the up-and-up going forward.
In addition to preventing tooth loss and other issues, going to the dentist is an essential part of maintaining healthy habits and setting yourself up for success as far as your oral hygiene is concerned.
This doesn’t mean you don’t have questions, though. With that in mind, if you find yourself going to the dentist for the first time in years.
Your Gums May Bleed
When dental hygienists begin to floss your teeth, your gums are likely to bleed. Although this may be a bit startling, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something terribly wrong with your teeth or mouth.
In many cases, gums will bleed because they’re simply not used to the pressure of floss. If you want to reduce the risk that your gums will bleed, practice flossing them at home.
The Cleaning May Take Awhile
If it’s been some time since you’ve gone in for a dental cleaning, your teeth will likely have a significant amount of plaque buildup on them. This is normal. It may, however, mean that you will spend more time in the dental chair having your teeth cleaned than you would otherwise.
As the hygienist works to clean each tooth, remind yourself that this process is essential to your dental health and that your teeth will be stronger and whiter once you leave the appointment. If you’re very nervous about spending time in the dentist’s chair, ask about relaxation techniques. Your dentist will likely have several suggestions to help make your next appointment a more pleasant experience.
Today, x-rays are standard in many areas of healthcare. If you have not been to the dentist in a long time, it’s likely that the professionals in the office will want to know what’s going on in your mouth. Dental X-rays are some of the best ways to do this.
With this in mind, prepare yourself to undergo some dental X-rays during your first return appointment. If you have old x-rays on file, the dentist may be able to use those. If not, however, Your dentist can create new x-rays to help create a comprehensive picture of your oral health and guide future appointments.
If you’ve ever had dental X-rays before, you know that they can be a bit uncomfortable. Relax and understand that they will be over quickly, and that they are a necessary part of this appointment.
A Comprehensive Oral Exam
Once a dental hygienist has completely cleaned your teeth, your dentist will give you a comprehensive oral examination. The purpose of this examination is to inspect your mouth for cavities, and signs of dental disease.
Your doctor may also look for signs of oral cancer and other conditions. If you haven’t been to the dentist in many years, it’s very likely that there will be a cavity or two in your mouth that will require some attention.
A Breakdown of Facts
Once your examination is complete, your dentist will sit down with you and discuss the facts. If you have questions, now is a great time to ask them. This is also the time at which your dentist will help you understand your future care needs, and come up with a plan to deliver them.
If you need fillings, crowns, or additional work, you may take the time now to schedule an additional appointment for the coming months or weeks. If your dentist has any concern about your dental hygiene routine or anything like that, now is also a great time too. Treat this time as the information-gathering opportunity that it is.
Keeping Your Teeth Healthy Going Forward
There are many reasons that people don’t go to the dentist for several years. In some cases, the issue is financial. Dental care is expensive, and those without dental insurance may have a difficult time accessing the professional attention they need. In other cases, people don’t go to the dentist because they’re afraid or nervous about the procedures therein.
Regardless of what kept you away from the dentist for so many years, taking yourself back into the dental office represents the start of a new phase of wellness. From here on out, you have the opportunity to go a different way when it comes to your dental health.
With that in mind, here are a few tips to keep your teeth healthy and strong as you move forward:
- Brush at least twice daily. Brushing your teeth regularly is your best defense against dental issues. Each time you eat a meal, brush your teeth immediately afterward. For best results, select a toothbrush with a narrow head and soft bristles, which are gentler on gums and provide better access to back teeth.
- Use fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride is designed to harden tooth enamel and cut down on your risk of dental decay. With this in mind, opt for a dentist-approved fluoride toothpaste, which will help you help your teeth stay healthy and strong.
- Brush thoroughly. Brush your teeth like you wash your hands. Thoroughly. The best tooth brushing sessions take between two and three minutes. Don’t sell yourself short here.
- Limit foods that are hard on your dental well-being. Certain foods, like those containing high amounts of sugar, acidic drinks, fruit juices, and sticky candies, are all difficult for your teeth to handle. With this in mind, limit your consumption of these things and choose healthier alternatives, such as cheese, fruits and nuts, and leafy greens.
A New Life of Dental Wellness Starts Here!
So you didn’t go to the dentist for years, but those days are over now. As you move forward, these tips will help you keep your mouth healthy and happy, and ensure that your teeth are as strong as they need to be.
For now, focus on getting through your first dental appointment. Remember that the dentist is there to help you and that even though seeing a dentist can be frightening, it’s always a wise decision.
Take this opportunity to ask your dentist any questions you may have, and to come up with an ongoing dental care plan. You’re not the only one who goes years without going to the dentist, but it’s never too late to start again. Treat this like a new beginning rather than something to be ashamed of. Regardless of what your dental history may look like, your teeth are too important to neglect from this point forward.
Do you need to schedule a dental appointment? Contact our team today to speak with one of our skilled staff members.
If you’ve ever watched a baby drool, fuss, and cry, you know that they think about their teeth just as much as adults do, if not more.
What you might not know is how, exactly, to care for those emerging teeth. Don’t worry; you’re not alone.
The fact is that many parents, although they mean well, aren’t exactly sure how to address baby teeth. Once the first tooth pops into the mouth, most parents start wondering how to care for their baby’s mouths. Is now the time to begin brushing teeth? When do babies begin to lose their teeth? Should kids ever use mouthwash? The questions go on and on.
Although baby teeth are small, they’re critically important. In addition to preparing the mouth for the presence of adult teeth, baby teeth are what allow your child to chew his or her food, and get a taste of the world, literally.
Without healthy baby teeth, your baby may find chewing difficult and may have trouble learning to speak. Because of this, learning how to care for and clean baby teeth is essential.
Here’s your complete guide to doing just that.
What you Need to Know About Baby Teeth
According to the American Dental Association, baby teeth are some of the most essential elements of a child’s development. At the time of birth, a baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present in the jawbone, and they emerge through the gums as the child gets older.
Typically, teeth begin to appear when a baby is between 6 months and one year old. For most children, the primary set of 20 teeth is fully in place by the age of 3. Although every child is different, the first teeth to come in are usually the ones located at the front and bottom of the mouth.
During teething, it’s common for babies to have sore, tender gums that may bleed slightly. This can be very painful for babies and cause much of the teething-related fussiness parents are familiar with. After the period of teething comes a period when children start to lose their baby teeth in favor of the adult teeth that will eventually fill their mouths. While this is normal, it’s essential to ensure the process isn’t happening too fast.
The reason is this: If babies lose their baby teeth too early, their permanent teeth can drift into that space, creating spacing issues and misalignment down the road. This leads to a crooked and crowded mouth and may put the child at risk for braces or intensive dental work later in life.
Because of this, most dentists recommend that children start getting dental check-ups during their “well-baby” visits. In addition to checking for cavities and other dental problems, a pediatric dentist can show you how to clean a child’s teeth and handle potentially damaging habits like thumb-sucking or extended pacifier use.
3 Common-Sense Tips for Caring for Your Child’s Teeth
Wondering how to care for those sweet little teeth in your baby’s mouth? Here are three tips to get you started.
- Start cleaning your baby’s mouth in the immediate postpartum period. Using a clean, moist washcloth, wipe the baby’s gums after it nurses or eats. While many parents think that the immediate postpartum period is too early to start dental care, it’s critical to remember that decay can occur as soon as teeth begin to appear. For most babies, teeth begin to push through the gums around six months of age, although it can take from 12 to 14 months for some children. Getting a jump-start on dental hygiene will help reduce the risk, and give your child a leg-up on dental health.
- Start brushing teeth as soon as they enter the mouth. If your child is three years of age or younger, start brushing the child’s teeth as soon as they appear in the mouth. Use a fluoride toothpaste and remote that is appropriate for the size of the child, brush the teeth thoroughly twice daily, or as directed by your pediatric dentist or doctor. Once your child is old enough to brush his or her teeth on their own, supervise the brushing process to ensure your child is using the right amount of toothpaste and that they are not swallowing the paste.
- Encourage swishing with mouthwash. Swishing with mouthwash is a good habit for children to develop early. In addition to banishing bacteria from the mouth, swishing with mouthwash also keeps the gums and tongue clean. While mouthwash is not appropriate for babies, it can be fun for older children. Just make sure that you are supervising the child, so they don’t swallow the mouthwash.
Earlier in this post, we discussed some of the side effects of teething, including fussiness and irritability. But what, exactly, happens during the teething process? Here’s a simple breakdown:
The Timeline of Teething
In most cases, it takes about two years for a baby’s infant teeth to come through the child’s gums and into the mouth. The process by which each tooth emerges is known as “teething,” and can be a difficult time for both parents and babies.
The reason for this is simple: teething hurts. Imagine the feeling of several teeth erupting into your mouth all at once. It doesn’t sound comfortable, does it? When you understand this, it’s easier to understand why your baby fusses and cries during and before teething. Additional symptoms of teething may include the following:
- Drooling and increased saliva production
- Swollen gums or painful gums in your baby’s mouth
- A slight fever or increase in body temperature
How to Alleviate Teething Pain
Want to help your baby cope with the pain of teething? Here are a few smart ways to do that:
- Teething rings. Head to the store and pick up some baby-specific teething rings. Stick them in the freezer and give them to your baby to chew on. As a general rule, you should avoid giving your child anything that’s small enough for them to chew on, or any teething rings with liquid inside, as these can break and drain into your baby’s mouth.
- Gum rubbing. Using a clean finger, applying gentle pressure to your baby’s gums, rubbing if it seems like that feels good for the child. This can help relieve some of the pain associated with teething and provide some temporary numbing for your baby’s gums.
- Pain relief. Topical pain relievers meant for babies can be purchased over-the-counter at any drugstore and applied at home. The only thing to be sure of is that you’re avoiding products that contain benzocaine, as the FDA has stated that these products can cause dangerous, potentially life-threatening side effects. Instead, talk to your pediatrician about how to give your baby Tylenol (acetaminophen) to reduce pain.
Preventing Cavities During Infancy
As soon as children have teeth, they can also have cavities. With this in mind, take active steps to prevent them.
The best line of defense against cavities is to be sure that you’re filling your child’s bottle with things they’re supposed to be drinking. This is generally limited to formula, breast milk, or water. Never fill a child’s bottle with fruit juices, soda, or other sugary substances, as it can settle on the child’s teeth during drinking, or if the child falls asleep with the bottle in his or her mouth.
Good Dental Care Starts Here
Caring for your child’s new teeth is easier when you have a trusted partner. If you’re interested in learning more about our pediatric dental services or making an appointment for your child, contact our team today.
The root canal: it’s a dental experience nobody wants to have but that’s actually very common.
Right now, dentists throughout the U.S. perform about 15 million root canals annually, making them some of the most common dental procedures in the world.
Just because root canals are widespread, though, doesn’t mean you don’t have questions about what to expect from yours. Here’s everything you ever needed to know about a root canal, from start to finish.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a simple, outpatient procedure that gets rid of infected pulp within a problem tooth. During the procedure, the dentist will drill into the tooth in question, clean it out, shape the inside of the tooth, and fill and seal it to prevent future problems.
Root canals are warranted when filings are not enough to rectify the damage and the tooth needs extensive attention. Without this procedure, the tissue surrounding the tooth may become infected and be vulnerable to an abscess, which can lead to further issues in your surrounding teeth.
While many people worry about how a root canal will affect the nerve of their tooth, it’s important to remember that the tooth’s nerve is not essential to the health and wellness of the tooth after it emerges through the gums.
Although you may lose some sensations of hot or cold in the affected tooth, the tooth will remain functional and strong once the procedure is over.
How Long Does a Root Canal Take?
A root canal may take as long as a few hours. But don’t worry – the dentist will numb you with local anesthesia.
Some dental offices even offer additional sedation options to keep you comfortable throughout your procedure. If you’re nervous about being awake or being able to feel sensation during your root canal, don’t be!
Simply talking with your dentist will allow you to learn more about your sedation options and find a solution that works for you. If you don’t want to go “under” during the procedure, you’ll have the option of listening to a podcast or music or watching a movie while your dentist works to complete the procedure.
What are the Signs you Need a Root Canal?
Aside from hearing the news from your dentist, what are the signs you need a root canal? Here are a few sure-fire indications that the procedure is right for you:
- Pain or signs of infection, including swelling and discharge
- Dark tooth color, soft tissue changes, or asymmetry surrounding the tooth
- Thermal, percussion, electric pump, or x-ray evaluation outcomes
- Tenderness in the tooth root or gum
- Dental examination
If you believe you have any symptoms your dentist is not aware of, make an appointment immediately. Root canals are more effective when they’re undertaken at the first sign of trouble.
What to Expect After a Root Canal
For the first few days after your root canal, your tooth will likely feel sensitive due to inflammation surrounding the tissue. This is especially true if there was pain or infection surrounding the tooth before the procedure.
This discomfort is typically controlled with prescription pain pills or over-the-counter medications like Advil or Aleve. Despite the slight discomfort, most patients find that they can return to work and other normal activities the day following the root canal.
Although your doctor will give you specific information about how to care for your tooth after the procedure, it’s generally wise to avoid chewing on the tooth that is under repair. This helps prevent contamination of the tender interior of the tooth and helps ensure the tooth won’t break before it can be fully restored.
How Successful are Root Canals?
Root canals are highly successful treatments. The procedure has a 95% success rate, in fact. In virtually every root canal performed, the repaired tooth can and will last a lifetime.
What’s more, the repaired tooth will not appear obviously repaired. Instead, the crown or filling added to the tooth will keep it looking normal and natural, which will hide from onlookers the fact that it was performed.
Root Canal Alternatives
If there’s any way possible to save your natural teeth, your dentist will want to help you do it. Because of this, a root canal is often the treatment of choice.
By removing the infected pulp from the interior of the tooth and repairing its structure, a root canal allows you to keep your natural tooth and get rid of infection all at once.
In some cases, a dentist may recommend an alternative to a root canal, such as a bridge or implant. This is highly case-dependent, though, and will depend on your unique needs.
Preparing for Your Root Canal
As the time draws near for you to undergo your root canal, it’s normal to be nervous. Be sure to talk with your doctor regarding your concerns.
He or she will be able to provide you with some literature and information that will help you understand the process of a root canal and prepare yourself accordingly.
No matter what, remember that the root canal is a safe, routine procedure and that you’ll be back to yourself in no time!
Have additional questions about your root canal? Contact our offices to learn more!
Determining whether a crown or a filling is necessary is not always a straightforward experience.
Even if you know you need dental work, it can be tough to figure out what kind of dental work, and which option is best for your unique injury, crack, or chip. In some cases, the best choice is a partial crown, which is also known as an inlay. In others, this won’t be the ultimate solution.
No matter what, it’s always necessary to talk to your dentist, who will examine your dental situation and come up with a recommendation for treatment. In most cases, this recommendation is based on several elements, including how much tooth is left after the removal of the old filling and decay.
For your own information, though, here’s what you need to know about when you need a crown, and when a simple filling will likely do.
The Differences Between a Filling and a Crown
To inform yourself about your dental care options, the first step is to understand the differences between a filling and a crown.
While dental crowns are ceramic or porcelain prosthetic teeth that fit over existing teeth, fillings are composite materials that serve to fill the space where decayed tooth material is removed. Filings are most commonly used to treat cavities, although more serious cavities may require crowns or crowns combined with fillings.
Crowns are also sometimes combined with bridges, which are used to fill gaps between teeth, using the crowns as anchors to hold them in place. Crowns are designed to protect weak teeth, provide structure for broken teeth, or support large or extensive fillings.
What you Need to Consider When Deciding Between a Filling and a Crown
In some cases, a filling or a crown will work to repair your tooth. In these cases, you’ll have more choice when it comes to which dental care option to choose. In these situations, here are the things you’ll want to consider as you make your decision:
The Condition of Your Affected Tooth
In many ways, the condition of the tooth that’s left behind after an injury or impact will determine which option is right for you. If the tooth that’s left behind is large and in decent shape, there’s a good chance that a filling will be enough to provide ongoing durability and structure. If the leftover tooth is fragile or small, however, a full or partial crown may be needed to augment the tooth structure. In these cases, the crown will also help the tooth resist further fractures. In rare cases, the fracture that’s already occurred will be serious enough that a root canal or a complete extraction may be needed.
The Likelihood of Decay or Further Fracture
If the affected tooth is completely healthy, you’ll have more options regarding treatment. If the affected tooth is already partially decayed, though, that will influence your overall care choices. Because preexisting dental decay increases your risk for cavities, patients with partially decayed teeth may need crowns rather than fillings.
This is because a filling can crack an already-decayed tooth, potentially furthering damage and causing even more issues, which may lead to root canals or extractions down the road.
If a partially-decayed tooth is properly cleaned and outfitted with a crown, that tooth can last upwards of ten years or more, which is an ideal long-term solution for many people.
When a Filling is an Acceptable Solution
In some cases, the damage to the tooth surface is minimal enough that a simple filling is a perfectly acceptable solution. Think of it this way: crowns are ideal for situations where dental damage or decay is considerable, while fillings are ideal for times when the damage is less pronounced.
Whereas fillings involve the removal of decayed dental material, a dental crown simply rests directly atop the tooth. The crown reinforces the structure, while the filling creates new dental material, essentially. Because of this, fillings are ideal for people who want to keep their natural tooth material intact, as much as possible.
Fillings will seal a surface comprehensively and provide the kind of stability needed to reduce splitting and fractures. If you’re in need of a minor improvement to the dental surface, you may be a good candidate for a filling. Fillings utilize composite material designed to attach to teeth and make them look natural, while also reinforcing their existing structure.
Although many people who get fillings worry that the filling will look obviously fake, the composite material can be altered in color to match the tone of your natural teeth, leading to a seamless appearance.
Additional Factors to Consider
Making a decision between a filling and a crown can be complex. Here are a few other things you’ll want to think about:
- Cost. There can be some large cost differences between fillings and crowns. Be sure to talk to your dentist if you’re concerned about the price of your dental treatment, and look into options like dental insurance, payment plans, or sponsorships. At the end of the day, getting the care that your mouth requires is more important than cost, so it’s essential to find a way to make the procedure accessible.
- Your long-term dental health. Well it crowns strengthens teeth, a filling won’t offer quite as much protection. One of the primary reasons for Crown placement is that it is designed to reinforce and strengthen a tooth by cupping and encasing the tooth surface. In most cases, the crown literally creates a rigid splint that holds a tooth together. This means that a tooth repaired with a crown is actually stronger than the tooth would have been original. Dental fillings, on the other hand, don’t offer quite the same level of protection. Placing a feeling won’t increase the overall strength of the tooth, but may serve to resolve short-term or less serious issues.
- Your dentist’s recommendation. Even if you have an idea about what would or would not be the ideal care approach for your tooth, it’s important to listen to your dentist. Remember the dentist deal with fillings and crowns on a daily basis, and the recommendations they’re making are grounded and Science and experience. With this in mind, be sure to maintain an open dialogue with your dentist, and ask any questions that you may have. They’ll be able to tell you why they’re making the recommendation they are, and how they believe that it will benefit the ongoing health and wellness of your mouth.
Making Your Dental Decisions
You’re trying to decide between a crown and a filling, be sure to talk to your dentist first. They’ll be able to help you understand the differences between the two, and come up with a plan to secure your dental on oral health for years to come. Are you trying to decide between a filling and a crown? Contact our skilled staff today. Our team will help you schedule an evaluation and get on your way to dental wellness.
The holidays are just around the corner, and white teeth are at the top of your mind. If you’re like most people, though, you’re a little concerned about the various risks and drawbacks of teeth whitening options.
Don’t fear, though! There are several safe and tooth-healthy ways to whiten your smile and get camera-ready for the holiday season.
Here are a few of our favorite teeth-whitening practices.
1. In-Chair Whitening
In-chair whitening is by far the safest and most effective tooth whitening method. In-office whitening takes just over an hour and can produce dramatically whiter teeth. Plus, it doesn’t come with any of the waiting or enamel risks associated with various at-home whitening procedures.
A one-time in-chair whitening appointment will last about 6-12 months and has a low risk of creating sensitivity or dental issues. If you do notice any sensitivity, using a sensitive toothpaste like Sensodyne can help restore teeth to their former glory.
Once you’ve had one appointment, you may choose to come back for touch-ups as needed.
2. Tray Whitening
Tray whitening can be done at your local dental office or at home, depending on your preferences. The whitening during this procedure is accomplished by wearing a tray at night for a certain amount of time, which depends on your teeth whitening goals.
While this method does require a trip to the dentist so they can take impressions of your mouth, whitening your teeth at home via trays is very simple.
Typically, the gel is worn for anywhere from thirty minutes to a few hours daily, and the course of treatment runs one-three weeks.
While this procedure takes longer than in-chair whitening, it does offer a more gradual, controlled change in color.
3. Whitening Strips
Whitening strips are the ultimate at-home tooth-whitening option.
Available at virtually any pharmacy or grocery strip, whitening strips are flexible, thin pieces of plastic coated in peroxide. When adhered to teeth, they whiten and remove stains gradually, producing results that last about four months.
Inexpensive, easy to use, and ideal for anyone searching for a DIY treatment, whitening strips are designed to be worn about 30 minutes a day for two weeks, although the course of different treatments varies.
There are dozens of whitening kinds of toothpaste currently on the market, many of which can help strengthen and improve the tone of teeth.
Depending on the type of toothpaste you buy, you’ll find that each works differently. While some work by remineralizing the teeth and sealing micro-cracks in enamel, others work by reducing the potential for imperfections in the dental surface, which can harbor stains.
No matter which option you choose, whitening kinds of toothpaste are safe, effective, gradual, and ideal as an at-home whitening method that doesn’t require professional supervision.
5. Coconut Oil
A natural remedy that has regained some popularity in recent years, coconut oil pulling is an ancient oral detoxification method with plenty of natural benefits.
Coconut oil pulling, which is essentially the process of swishing oil around the mouth for several minutes and then spitting it out, keeps the dental surface slick and reduces the likelihood that stains will stick to it.
As you swish oil through your mouth, it traps bacteria and plaque. This, in turn, keeps your gums and mouth healthier and helps prevent bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Which Whitening Option is Right for You?
Now that you know about the top five tooth whitening options, which one is right for you? The answer to that question depends on a few things. Namely, your budget, timeline, and goals.
Here are a few things to consider:
- How much you want to spend. Teeth whitening options vary from inexpensive (white strips) to more expensive (tray whitening and in-chair treatments). Remember that you get what you pay for, though, and a more expensive treatment will likely provide better and longer-lasting results.
- Your timeline. If you only have a week until that holiday party, you’ll be better off opting for a quick-turnaround whitening option, like an in-chair or tray treatment. While methods like oil pulling, toothpaste, and white strips can be effective, they generally take quite a bit longer to work and won’t give you the results you need in the timeline you desire.
- Your goals. Are your teeth very stained or just in need of a little touch-up? This will also impact your choice of whitening solution. Very stained teeth can typically benefit from a variety of approaches, such as an in-chair treatment combined with whitening toothpaste. If you only need a small touch-up, you might be able to get away with just using white strips or oil pulling.
By considering your budget, timeline, and goals, and discussing your teeth whitening needs with your dental care professional, you can come up with an actionable and approachable teeth whitening plan that works for you. Start now to make sure your smile is ready for all those big holiday parties!
If you have questions about teeth whitening or need assistance call the office!