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

Six Reasons Why Dental Implants Might Be the Best Option

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Missing teeth can have a huge impact on a person’s health and confidence. Often, those missing teeth make it difficult to chew, which affects your diet. Facial features can change if there is bone loss in conjunction with the missing teeth. And for many people with missing teeth, their confidence takes a hit because they are so self-confident about how they look and how they eat.

Historically, dental bridges and dentures have been the primary solution to helping people with missing teeth. But the development of dental implants has provided patients with a new choice that can be a “game-changer” for a patient’s life.

Here are six reasons why a dental implant might be the right choice for you if you are missing teeth.

Prevents Bone Loss

If you replace a lost tooth with a dental implant, it will prevent the bone from starting to reabsorb because it replaces the root. If you don’t take this approach, you may eventually require a bone graft because of the bone reabsorption process. You will need to make sure that too much time doesn’t pass between when you lose your tooth and begin the dental implant process.

Enhances Your Quality of Life

Implants look and feel like your own teeth, so your quality of life is bound to be improved. Dental bridges and dentures can be difficult to take care of and wear, and dental crowns can feel and look like they aren’t natural.

Eating Is Easier – Which Helps You Be Healthier

With dental bridges, dentures and crowns, eating can be a hassle. You may have problems with certain types of foods (crunchy or sticky foods can be difficult) adversely impacting the crown, denture or bridge. If you have a dental implant, you won’t have to worry about a bridge or denture slipping or a crown coming off.  Crunchy vegies, chewy steak, sticky caramel rolls – none of them will present a problem chewing if you have implants. And since you will be able to thoroughly chew your food with implants, your digestion will improve and so will your health.

Stop Worrying

Your dental implant won’t slip or move when you chew food, laugh, cough or sneeze. They are permanently attached to your jawbone and are as sturdy as natural teeth that are healthy.

Naturally Restores Your Mouth

An implant is the best dental approach to replicating the original tooth that you lost. It matches the structure of the original tooth as close as possible and is the sturdiest and most natural looking option available.

Food Can Have Flavor

For folks who wear an upper denture, the full flavor of any food they eat is seriously reduced. With a dental implant, you won’t have that problem. You’ll be able to enjoy the full flavor of whatever food you are eating.

If you would like more information about the advantages of dental implants, the procedure to put them into your mouth, and their cost, meet with a dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs for a complimentary consultation.

Source: Worldental.org, American Dental Plan

Why Are All Mouth Guards Not Created Equal?

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Did you know that athletes who don’t use a mouth guard are nearly 60 times more likely to suffer an injury to their mouth? And did you know that the mouth guard you choose can have a huge impact on how well your son’s or daughter’s teeth are protected from a blow to the face? Losing a permanent tooth can create a lifetime of problems for a young athlete, including impacting their smile, speech, eating and self-image.

Mouth guards are designed to reduce the risk of a blow to the face injuring – or breaking – your teeth or hurting your tongue, lips, face and jaw. They generally cover the teeth in your upper jaw and are especially important for the oral health of any athlete involved in a contact sport – football, lacrosse, hockey, wrestling, rugby, and boxing. Mouth guards can also prevent injury in sports that don’t feature constant contact, like baseball or basketball.

While wearing any type of mouth guard is better than not wearing a mouth guard at all, certain types of mouth guards provide superior protection and have less impact on an athlete’s speech, breathing, and comfort while wearing the mouth guard.

So what are the three main types of mouth guards?

Stock: These mouth guards are relatively cheap and you purchase them already formed and ready to wear. However, they are usually bulky and ill-fitting and negatively impact breathing and talking. Those issues usually reduce an athlete’s performance.

Boil and bite: You can purchase this type of mouth guard at most sporting goods stores and often at drug stores or big box stores like Walmart or Target. You soften them initially in boiling water, then insert them into your mouth so that the softened mouth guard can shape itself to your mouth.

Custom-fitted: These are the best type of mouth guards because they are one-of-a-kind and made just for you. Your dentist will personally fit these to your mouth – it takes just 30 minutes for the fitting -  and the custom manufacturing takes less than a week.

Among the benefits of a custom-fitted mouth guard from your dentist are:

  • Comfortable fit
  • Clear speech
  • Enhanced breathing
  • Better protection
  • Ease of drinking
  • Customizable colors
  • Different thicknesses

Give your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs a call about making an appointment for a custom-fitted mouth guard. Your son or daughter involved in sports will thank you for protecting their mouth for a lifetime!

SOURCE: American Dental Association

All About Root Canals

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You might think of a root canal as being especially painful, but the truth is that most people who have one reported much less pain than they expected. In fact, many compare it to getting a crown or filling. Most importantly, the benefits to your oral health from a root canal can be huge.

So what is a root canal? It is a procedure designed to save a tooth that is infected or badly damaged. The actual term "root canal" refers to the canals inside the tooth's root.

If your dentist suspects that you may need a root canal, they will initially take an X-ray or review X-rays previously taken to see where the decay is located. After administering a local anesthesia, the dentist removes the area of the tooth that is damaged, called the pulp, and then cleans and disinfects the area before filling it and sealing the opening. Most often, the root canal is needed because the pulp has been impacted by a cracked tooth, an especially deep cavity, or trauma. If you have severe anxiety about getting a root canal, your dentist can provide you with a sedative prior to the dental procedure.

What Are the Advantages of a Root Canal?

Inflammation Relief: When the nerve inside of the tooth become inflamed, it can often ache when you consume cold or hot liquids or when you bite. Usually, the only way to stop the inflammation (and the pain) is to remove the pulp through a root canal.

Infection Control: The pulp in your teeth usually can’t recover from an infection because of its limited blood flow. Bacteria are able to get into the tooth and fester, causing infection, inflammation and pain. Even if you are able to successfully treat the bacteria with antibiotics, the pulp is often partially destroyed. This means you may still feel pain in that area.

Decay Deterrent: Tissue in your mouth will gradually decay if the damage to the pulp is not dealt with by your dentist. This can spread to the gum and bone tissue and eventually impact other teeth. In addition, the dead tissue can become a bacterial breeding ground. A root canal will prevent additional damage to your mouth.

Prevention: If you have teeth that are at severe risk for additional pulp complications, your dentist may recommend a root canal to prevent serious problems from occurring in the future. This preventative approach can prevent what are called asymptomatic abscesses from forming. These lack pain, so you don’t notice them, but they can lead to additional problems with your other teeth and impact your overall oral health. The reason these don’t create pain is because the infection site is draining through a fistula, which is a tissue tunnel that prevents pressure from increasing in the tissue in the affected tooth – which would then cause you pain, which you would notice.

By deciding on a root canal, you can usually save the affected tooth from having to be completely removed. Remember, the dentist doesn’t remove your tooth or its roots. Rather, the canals around the root are cleaned of any infection, and pulp and nerve tissue are removed. This rids the area of all the bacteria, which is where the infection came from in the first place. 

Root canals are 95% successful and almost always are able to save the affected teeth. Because a crown or filling is added once the root canal is completed, it is impossible to tell that you had a root canal.

Sources: Worldental.org, Colgate, WebMD

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.

Is Xerostomia Making Your Life Uncomfortable?

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