How to Overcome Dental Anxiety

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If you feel anxious or afraid at the mere thought of  going to the dentist, you should know that you’re not alone. More than 33% of Americans feel the same emotions about dentists. Often, people who suffer from dental anxiety or fear never go to the dentist, and then are faced with a lifetime of poor oral health, pain, and potential adverse effects to their overall health.

Interestingly, patients who are anxious or fearful of a dental visit often find that an actual dental procedure isn’t nearly as “scary” as they expected. Patient surveys done prior to and after some of the most fear-inducing dental procedures (i.e. root canals or wisdom tooth removal) found that patients’ expectation of discomfort was not matched by the actual discomfort they experienced.

Common Reasons for Dental Anxiety – And Tips to Overcome Them

Not knowing what will happen: The unknown is often at the root of many of our fears, so sitting down with your dentist to discuss your situation and what dental procedures would be used to help you can be critical in reducing your anxiety level. Also, to make you feel more comfortable, bring along a friend for your dental visit. Your familiarity with them will help overcome the unfamiliarity of a dental office.

Physically feeling uneasy: Simple techniques like controlled breathing can help reduce the physical manifestations of fear and anxiety. For controlled breathing, take a big breath, then hold it, and finally let it out slowly (pretend you are a leaky tire). A second technique you can try is progressive muscle relaxation – tense and relax muscle groups one after another.

Dental equipment: Not understanding what those often odd-looking tools are used for during your dental visit can create lots of anxiety. Ask your dentist if you can hold the tools and examine them so you don’t feel like alien objects are going to probe around in your mouth.

Gag reflex: Dental X-rays are often difficult to cope with if you are anxious about your dental visit because of the tabs that are put in your mouth. Luckily, most dentists now use digital X-rays, which don’t need tabs.

Loud noises: The sound of a dental drill or other dental instrument often generates anxiety or fear in patients. Ask your dentist for earplugs or headphones that will eliminate sounds during your visit.

Lying back in a dental chair: For some patients, lying back in a dental chair creates anxiety because of the loss of control. For other patients, they may have back issues. Ask for your dental chair to be only put halfway back. Or also ask for pillows to reduce aches and pains in your back when the chair is lowered.

Breathing through your mouth: If you tend to breathe through your mouth, then you probably feel like your breathing is impaired when you are in a dental chair. After all, the dental care team will need to be working in your mouth during the visit, which can make it tough to breathe. You might try a nasal strip to open up the air passages in your nose. Or ask for nitrous oxide, which will help you relax and will make breathing easier while you are in the dental chair.

Sources: WebMD, Huffington Post

Top 10 Facts About Your Teeth That Will Surprise You

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We often don’t think about our teeth unless they are bugging us, but they are incredibly important to our overall health and wellbeing. After all, they help us eat, chew, talk and smile. And they are an incredibly complex and often misunderstood part of our anatomy. Here’s 10 interesting facts about your teeth that you might not know:

  1. At First Glance

The first feature people notice about another person is their smile, according to a survey done by the American Academy of Periodontology. And good teeth are kind of important to a good smile.

  1. In the Womb

Although a child’s teeth don’t start to appear until the child is six to 12 month’s old, they actually begin forming before they are born. Baby teeth, also called milk teeth, begin forming when the child is in the womb.

  1. 40 Sets of Teeth?

While humans only have two sets of teeth (32 teeth total), other species vary widely in the number of sets of teeth. Sharks top the list with around 40 sets of teeth!

  1. That’s A Lot of Toothpaste!

US consumers buy more than 14 million gallons of toothpaste annually. The typical person spends 38 days of their lifetime using that toothpaste to brush their teeth!

  1. Name All Four Types of Teeth

There are four different types of teeth used by humans to cut, tear and grind their food. They are incisors, canines, premolars, and molars.

  1. The Power of Saliva

Your saliva is critical to your oral health because it protects your teeth from bacteria in your mouth (and bacteria are the first ingredient in the formation of a cavity) and helps you digest your food. The typical person produces 25,000 quarts of saliva in their lifetime.

  1. Undercover

More than one-third of the length of your tooth is hidden out of sight underneath your gums. The part that is hidden is the root.

  1. Now That’s A Valuable Tooth

Sir Isaac Newton holds the record for the most valuable tooth. It sold for $3,633 in 1812, which today would be worth $35,700. Why would someone want to buy his tooth? To set in a ring!

  1. Inflation From the Tooth Fairy

In 1950, the Tooth Fairy left on average 25 cents. That went up to $1.00 in 1988, and now the rate is up to almost $2.00!

  1. No Self Repair

The bones and tissue in your body can repair themselves – but your teeth can’t. That’s why fillings and other dental work are necessary to protect your teeth from further damage once you have an oral health problem.

How Clean Is Your Toothbrush?

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When you brush you teeth in the morning, you’re probably not aware of what may be lurking on the bristles of your toothbrush.

It may be contaminated with bacteria or viruses if you’ve been sick. Even if you haven’t been sick, normal healthy microorganisms can cause infections in your mouth if there is an injury or break in your gum tissues. In addition, a brand new toothbrush still in its packaging might already have bacteria on it since the packaging doesn’t have to be “sterile” to be sold.

So what can you do to keep from getting sick from your toothbrush?

 

 Clean It!

Cleaning your toothbrush might not be at the top of your “to do” list since you rinse it off every day after you brush. But it’s actually an important item to add to your daily list. Here’s three “must dos” for your toothbrush to keep it clean:

Wash it. Thoroughly rinse your toothbrush with hot tap water after you brush to remove debris and wash away bacteria. If you’re suffering from a systemic illness or immune system disorder, you should consider regularly soaking your toothbrush in a glass of antibacterial mouthwash or run it through a cycle in your dishwasher.

Deep clean it. Consider purchasing a toothbrush sanitizer – there are a range of them available. They often use ultraviolet light to kill microorganism in as little as three minutes.

Keep it properly stored. Always store your toothbrush upright – in a cup or rack – so that it can properly dry out. If you want to put a cover on it, be sure to use one that allows air to circulate to prevent mold and bacteria growth.

 

Toss It!

How often should you toss your toothbrush to prevent bacteria from building up on it? Here are a couple of useful tips:

When to let it go. It’s recommended that you replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, or sooner if the bristles show excessive signs of wear. Bristles that are frayed will not effectively clean your teeth.

If you’re ill, get rid of it. Toss your toothbrush if it was used while you were sick. If you share a toothbrush holder with other family members, and one of them is sick, be sure to throw away all of the toothbrushes in the holder. Also, be sure to treat electric or power models the same way you handle an old-fashioned one. Get rid of the brush attachment after an illness or when the bristles begin to show signs of wear.

 

Don’t Share It!

If you’re tempted to lend your toothbrush to a family member or friend, just say “no”. The same advice is applicable if you’re thinking of borrowing a used toothbrush. By sharing, you’re transferring saliva and bacteria to the other person. Remember, bacteria is the first stage of the process that leads to cavities. Plus tooth decay is considered an infectious disease – one more reason not to share or borrow a toothbrush.

 

SOURCE: WebMD

 

Give Your Teeth A Healthy Thanksgiving This Year

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If you’re looking for ways to make this year’s Thanksgiving meal a little healthier for your oral health, then we have seven tips to help you keep everyone’s teeth and gums happy this year.

Slow Down on the Sugar

If you love sweets, then Thanksgiving is often a sugared-filled delight for you. Marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, cranberry relish, and a variety of pies covered in whipped cream are often packed with sugar. That’s tough on your teeth because sugar is a favorite food of bacteria in your mouth. And bacteria consuming sugar is the first step in the creation of a cavity in your mouth. There’s a simple solution to avoid all that sugar – switch to erythritol or xylitol. They don’t create cavities but are great as sweeteners.

Beware of Brightly-Colored Foods and Drinks

If your Thanksgiving spread includes red wine, cranberry relish, cherry or blueberry pie, then you might want to reconsider your choices. Brightly-colored food and drink can dull the enamel on your teeth and increase the odds of staining. So this year, cut back on bright foods and be sure to drink lots of water to wash away those stain-causers.

Reduce the Starches

Stuffing, cornbread and rolls are all starch-filled – which is why most of us love them. But consider cutting down on the amount you eat this year. You’ll get a double bonus if you do that because you’ll be reducing the calories you consume and reducing the opportunity for bacteria in your mouth to use the starches as food (starches convert to sugar when you eat them) that can lead to cavities. This year have an extra portion of protein or vegetables instead of a starch-filled food.

Acid Makes Your Teeth’s Enamel Unhappy

Acidic foods and beverages are tough on the enamel that covers and protects your teeth. The reason? The acid softens your teeth’s enamel, making it easier for bacteria to start the process of creating cavities. Cranberry juice and red wine are the biggest culprits in terms of acidity. But you can reduce the impact by keeping a glass of water handy and sipping from it between drinks of your acidic beverage. Also, be sure to wait at least 30 minutes before you brush after you have eaten acidic foods. The acid softens your enamel and the bristles on your toothbrush can damage the enamel.

Get A Little Nutty

You can strengthen and remineralize your teeth by spending some time at the nut dish this Thanksgiving. That’s because nuts are loaded with calcium and good minerals. Plus the nuts produce lots of saliva when you chew them!

Think “Rainbow” When You Fill Your Plate

If your plate on Thanksgiving looks like a rainbow of colorful vegetables, then your teeth will be happy. That’s because vegetables are packed with minerals and vitamins. Orange and red vegies will provide you with lots of Vitamin C, while green leafy vegies will deliver lots of calcium. A bonus is the fact that chewing raw vegetables will create lots of saliva, which will naturally wash away your oral enemy – bacteria. And don’t forget – celery’s fibrous strands are great at helping clean between your teeth!

Drinks Lots of Water…And Have a Cup of Tea

Damage to your enamel caused by acids is reversed when you drink fluoridated tap water. You also double your cavity-fighting efforts if you brew some green or black tea using fluoridated tap water. Teas kill bacteria and thus fight cavities. Sipping water or tea while you eat will also wash away acids caused by starchy and sugar-laden foods.

Sources: MouthHealthy.org (American Dental Association), DeltaDental.com, Colgate.com

Alternatives to a Candy-Filled Halloween

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