July 7, 2014 in Blog
Cosmetic dentistry is sometimes referred to as a purely appearance-based specialty of dentistry, without any real connection to health. However, as more and more research points to the strong link between the health of our mouths and the health of our bodies, more and more “cosmetic” procedures are proving to provide a big benefit to our overall physical health and well-being. Here are a few examples of cosmetic procedures that are actually pretty good for you.
In order to quickly and effectively cover decay spots, hide severely discolored teeth, or even out an irregular bite pattern, patients may elect to have porcelain veneers installed. These are custom-shaped, thin porcelain shells that are installed directly over the front part of a crown, offering a brand new facade and an immediately improved look. The health benefit? When porcelain veneers are used to cover decay spots, they effectively seal up the affected areas, preventing further damage.
Modern reconstructive cosmetic dental surgery usually begins with the placement of dental implants. These are small posts, made of titanium alloys, which are inserted into the jawbone to act as surrogate roots for replacement teeth. Implants can help patients who are missing one tooth, several teeth, or all their teeth have a beautiful, brilliant smile again. The health benefits? The new dentures are permanent dentures (implants can boast a 98% success rate), so digestion is improved, gums are better protected, and the patient’s diet is completely free of restrictions, unlike with traditional dentures.
Chemical whitening involves the application of a peroxide-based solution to the enamel in order to oxidize stains and discoloration away. While whitening is perhaps the most “cosmetic” of the cosmetic procedures, with arguably the fewest direct health benefits, the psychological, emotional, social, and even financial benefits are not to be ignored. A whiter smile can make a person more confident, more friendly, and yes, even more hirableto the world, especially in professions with a lot of camera time and media exposure. Better success, quite simply, leads to better health across the board.
The simple truth is, the healthier our teeth, the healthier and happier we are, whether it’s a direct physical benefit or a less-measurable but no-less-important boost in our self-esteem. Keep them looking great, and you’ll keep yourself feeling great for years and years to come.
July 2, 2014 in Blog
Did you know that if you fail to floss, you end up missing 40% of your tooth surfaces when it comes time to clean? Although everyone might want clean teeth, there’s often a disconnect between what people should do, and what they actually end up doing. Often, some of the disconnect is due to miscommunication or a lack of information. Here are four common questions many people like to ask a dentist, as well as their answers.
1. Is There a Point to Visiting a Pediatric Dentist?
It is very important that good dental care begins in youth with pediatric dentistry. Not only does this help establish a good lifelong habit of visiting the dentist and caring correctly for teeth, but dentists can take preventative measures to prevent problems from occurring later on. A child who has a bad brushing technique, for example, can have their technique corrected before permanent damage is done to the teeth.
2. Is Cosmetic Dentistry Expensive?
There is a large variety of potential cosmetic dentistry procedures. While some — like porcelain veneers — will be more expensive, others, like teeth whitening, can be highly affordable. It’s worth keeping in mind that better teeth can often give people a confidence boost and help them create better first impressions, which can be important both socially and in the workplace. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 99% of Americans agree that smiles are important social assets.
3. If I Don’t Get Cavities Easily, Do I Really Need to Floss?
Yes! It’s no secret that flossing is one activity that many dental patients would rather avoid at all costs — in fact, about 75% of Americans surveyed say they would rather go grocery shopping than floss. Even if your teeth are good at standing up to cavities, flossing, along with brushing, helps ensure good gum health. Many people don’t realize just how prevalent gum disease, known as periodontal disease, really is. It affects about 80% of adults in the U.S., and, left untreated and unmanaged, it can lead to irreversible bone and tooth loss.
4. Is There Such a Thing as a Bad Dentist?
It’s fair to say that there are some dentists you may want to avoid, which is why reading online dentist reviews is a good idea if you haven’t heard about the practitioner through word-of-mouth. If a dental office is frequently overbooked, or the dental staff are inexperienced and have trouble answering patient questions, that is something you’ll want to know.
If you have children, do you visit a pediatric dentist? Let us know in the comments.
May 13, 2014 in Blog
But unfortunately, we know that’s not the case.
The number of Google searches in a single month for “cheap dentists” might shock you, but cheap dentistry is what struggling families are looking for. As more and more connections between oral health and total-body health are discovered, the importance of professional dental cleanings and expert examinations is becoming clearer. However, the issue of “cheap dentistry” is really two separate issues.
First, there’s the upfront cost of care, and to be fair, this can be a difficult hurdle to jump. Parents see the cost of services for their children’s oral care (or their own), and the strength suddenly goes out of their knees. But it’s important to remember that the cost of dental care, especially preventative care, doesn’t begin and end with that single bill. It’s spread out over all the future problems prevented by those services — the fluoride treatment that prevents cavities, the filling that prevents further breakage and loss of teeth, and the braces that reduce the likelihood of major reconstructive surgery down the line.
The second issue is the use of the word “cheap.” It can easily conjure up images of substandard care and unsanitary conditions. The passage of the Affordable Care Act left very obvious holes in dental coverage for adults (though children’s services were deemed “essential”), and many found themselves scrambling to supplement their existing coverage. This led to a spike in searches for “cheap dentistry,” and the accompanying surge of less-than-reputable sources to fill the need.
So what’s the best way to tell the difference between an affordable dentist and a cheap one? When you walk into their office, if you’re not 100% comfortable and confident that your teeth (and the teeth of your whole family) are in good hands, you should walk right back out. A family dentist for kids and adults should put everyone at ease, exude confidence and competency, and leave no doubt whatsoever in your mind that you are getting the best care possible, no matter what the price.
May 1, 2014 in Blog
A new survey by Gallup shows that 33% of Americans have not been to the dentist in at least a year. This is troubling news, especially given that the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends an absolute minimum of one visit every 12 months, to prevent complications and the development of potentially serious health conditions. What could happen, and why are so many Americans neglecting critical dental care?
What You Don’t Know…
Many Americans do not realize that forgoing a trip to the dentist can, in rare circumstances, ultimately kill you. “Recent studies have also found an association between poor oral hygiene with cardiovascular disease and stroke, likely due to dislodged oral bacteria entering the bloodstream,” Fox News explains. Both heart attacks and strokes, of course, may be fatal. Finding a dentist, then, ultimately affects overall health as well as the quality and duration of patients’ lives. Poor dental and oral hygiene may also contribute to long-term, non-fatal health conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis.
Americans Still Cannot Afford A Family Dentist
“Individuals who made more than $120,000 a year were twice as likely to have visited the dentist than those who earn less than $12,000 a year,” Fox News reports of Gallup’s recent survey. In other words, a considerable number of Americans are still struggling to secure inexpensive dental care. Finding a cheap dentist — and one who offers relatively reasonable dental cleanings — is more than possible. Discounted dental clinics, emergency dentists, college dental programs, and other dentists in training all offer tooth cleaning and oral care services at lower costs.
Fear of the dentist still tops the list of common phobias. Dentists’ sharp tools — coupled with notoriously painful dental procedures like root canals — scare people away. Experts recommend being upfront about your fears. Dentists will likely be more patient; they can also explain all steps of dental procedures (and the exact function of the tools and equipment involved) to help alleviate fears. For patients who need more reassurance, sedation dentistry is also available.
Too few Americans are getting the dental care they need. Phobias and dental procedure costs deter many patients away from traditional and emergency dentists. A startling number of Americans simply do not understand the important of reliable dental care, or its impact on overall health.
Everyone wants whiter teeth. In the United States, patients spend $1.4 million on whitening procedures alone, ranging from basic chemical whitening trays to laser-activated in-office procedures. In extreme cases, patients can even undergo full dental replacements on titanium implants. But if you fall somewhere in between (i.e. if your teeth show some visible decay that chemical whitening can’t hide, but are otherwise healthy and strong), then porcelain veneers may be the perfect solution.
Porcelain veneers are exactly what they sound like — false, porcelain fronts installed over your existing teeth. Picture the false store fronts on a movie set for an old Western. Veneers will not only cover decay spots or badly stained teeth, but they’ll also in effect seal off the tooth from further damage.
The process is fairly straightforward. A patient receives a series of dental exams, which gauge everything from enamel strength to root health. Dental molds are taken so the veneer (or veneers) can be created to exactly match the tooth it’s replacing, including shape, size, and shade. Then a thin layer of enamel (usually around a millimeter is removed from the existing tooth, so that the veneer doesn’t protrude farther out than the surrounding teeth.
The porcelain veneers are created and bonded to the tooth, and the patient’s smile is instantly restored to its former glory. For patients who might find cosmetic dentistry too expensive at first glance, veneers can also be made from a composite resin, which may make the procedure more affordable. Be advised, however, that porcelain veneers are inherently stronger than the plastic ones, and will therefore last longer.
Porcelain veneers are a great middle ground between general whitening and full implant-based replacement. If you’re self-conscious about your teeth because of unsightly decay spots, ask your dentist about veneers, so you can stop hiding your smile from the world.
Believe it or not, dental cleanings are about much more than cleaning your teeth. Your semi-annual cleanings serve as the perfect opportunity for a family dentist to examine the condition of your teeth, your gums, and your bite pattern, as well as any other oral health concerns you may have.
Examining Your Teeth
When you consider that dental exams need to pay particular attention to the enamel of your teeth, the cleaning process can actually seem like just the first step in the process, literally clearing the way for a more involved inspection. Your dentist is looking for areas of decay, discoloration, or sensitivity, as these could be signs of underlying problems.
Examining Your Gums
Your teeth are just the most visible part of the dental picture. Healthy roots are vital to strong, functional teeth, and the gums act as protective blankets for those roots. Unhealthy gums warrant extra attention, to determine if that protective layer is weakening and potentially exposing the roots to danger, or if the weakening of that protective layer is a result of a deeper problem within the root.
Examining Your Bite
Dental exams also inspect how your upper and lower teeth fit together, know as your bite pattern. A healthy bite pattern should distribute the pressure evenly across the contact points of the teeth, so that no area is wearing away faster than another, and so that we can efficiently chew our food. If the bite pattern is shifting, advanced dental technologies like dental digital x-rays can help your dentist determine the cause (such as unerupted wisdom teeth, or significantly weakening roots).
Dental exams and cleanings can help your dentist identify and address areas of concern before they become full-blown problems. Whether or not you enjoy your cleanings, be sure to keep your appointments — your future mouth will thank you.
Professional dental cleanings can make your teeth feel great, no question about it. But your dentist is doing much more than just cleaning with those shiny tools. They’re constantly looking for trouble spots, warning signs, and areas of concern. Here are just a few of the ways cleanings do double-duty as your dental exams as well.
Your cleanings are about so much more than giving you that “fresh from the dentist” feel. It’s about examination and prevention. It’s up to you to communicate with your dentist. Or as much as you can, anyway, with a pick and a little mirror in your mouth.
Our teeth our some of our most valuable assets. They help us eat, they help us speak, and they help us smile at our fellow human beings. Almost all of the respondents in a survey (over 99.5%) see a healthy smile as important to everyday life. So finding the right dentist for you and your whole family is a big decision. But how do you decide? Here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a Dentist Near You
It may seem obvious, but location matters. While you may be willing to drive a certain distance for specialized care, your general dentist should be relatively close by. And don’t rely on signs and window labels — many dentistry signs are surprisingly low-key, and you may have passed by several without even knowing it. When the time comes to find a dentist, do a Google search for the nearest location. You might be surprised at what you can find nearby.
Finding a Dentist You Can Afford
Most dental insurance covers semi-annual dental exams and professional dental cleanings, but before you seek more specialized care, find out what portion (if any) of the procedure will be covered by your plan. Even orthodontic correction, which many consider to be more health-related than cosmetic, is very rarely covered by typical insurance. If you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket for the procedures you or your family needs, make sure you know your dentist’s prices up front. Many offices today offer flexible payment options and financing.
Finding a Dentist You Can Trust
A broad menu full of procedures and an office full of the most modern dental technologies are helpful… but if your dentist doesn’t inspire confidence and trust, you should find a new practitioner. Your teeth are too valuable an asset to settle for anything less than a competent, caring, and trustworthy dentist, who can treat not just you but your family with the utmost professionalism and care.
What do you look for in a good dentist? Please feel free to share your comments in the field below.
In the dental field, as with any field, there are a number of specialists you can go to. There are restorative dentists, cosmetic dentists, endodontists, periodontists, orthodontists, prosthodontists, pedodontists and oral surgeons. It can be a bewildering search through the phonebook if you don’t know exactly the kind of specialist you need. So what do you do?
When in doubt, a family dentist is your best bet.
A family dentist can take care of your routine dental exams and dental cleanings, recommend treatments for common problems or conditions, and provide many dental procedures right in their office, such as fillings, x-rays, some whitening treatments, and some restorative techniques. But most importantly, they can tell you when and if you really do need to see a specialist.
Everyone should see a family dentist at least twice a year for routine checkups. With regular visits, your dentist can actually spot irregularities and incipient conditions before they ever become full-blown problems, which may make a trip to a specialist completely unnecessary. However, if you’ve been somewhat lax in your preventative dental care, a family dentist can still assess the situation in your mouth, and help you find a cosmetic dentist, orthodontist, or any of the specialists listed above that can give you the specific care you need.
Your teeth are, quite literally, the gateway to your body’s health. If you take good care of them, they’ll take good care of you. If you ever have dental questions or concerns, ask your dentist. That’s what they’re there for. And if you don’t yet have a regular dentist but think you might have a problem that needs investigating, don’t waste any more time. Open a phonebook, do an online search, or ask a friend for recommendations. The sooner you address the problem, the easier (and probably cheaper) it will be to fix.
How do you feel about your smile? Over 99% of adult Americans believe that a healthy, straight, white smile is important to a successful life. However, misaligned teeth can be more than just a source of self-consciousness -— they can also delay speech development in young children, contribute to poor nutrition, and unevenly wear down your enamel.
Recent advances in dental technologies are making corrections, adjustments, and cosmetic improvements easier than ever. And with the obvious benefits to your health, your appearance, and your overall quality of life, there’s never been a better time to give yourself something to smile about again.