Monthly Archives: February 2012

Anxious About the Dentist? Three Keys to Relief!

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Has it been six months already? That appointment reminder in the mail has set your mind running and upped your heart rate. What if I have a cavity? What if it’s painful?

For some people, going to the dentist is a small fear that they never grew out of after childhood. They don’t like the thought of going to the dental office, and they associate dentistry with anxiety. Yet good dental health is imperative. So how can one overcome being anxious over dental work?

The key to eliminating that anxiety is a mix of preparation, consultation and explanation.


Want a dentist with excellent bedside manner? There are plenty of health review websites that allow patients to research the dentists on their insurance plans. Sometimes there are star ratings for things like:

  • Knowledge
  • Bedside Manner
  • Quality of Staff
  • Cleanliness of Office
  • Punctuality

Some websites allow written reviews that you can read. Here you’ll be able to read real stories of past patients who have had both positive and negative experiences. Knowing your doctor has good reviews and happy patients will help you to feel comfortable and self-assured during your visit. Of course, you can ask your friends or coworkers to recommend a good dentist as well.


During your appointment, don’t be shy about letting your dental assistant and dentist know you’re anxious. This is something they come across very often in their practice and they’ll be experts at doing their part in quelling your fear. You should feel free to ask your dentist what he’ll do during the appointment, what sort of education and experience he has—and what sort of pain killing and anxiety-reducing drugs (such as Novocain, Nitrous Oxide or IV Sedation)  he uses. Learn and understand your options. Often, dentists will allow you to come in for a separate consultation before your appointment to get work done. This way they can show you the facilities, explain what happens during the appointment and give you an estimate on the price.


Narration can be a helpful tool when it comes to anxiety. Ask your dentist and dental assistant to explain what they’re doing as they’re doing it. You’ll find that those loud noises and bright lights will be somewhat more welcomed when you know what they’re used for. Ask them to tell you when to expect pain, dryness, or pressure. Much anxiety is created from the point of not knowing what’s happening—or anticipating a pain or unpleasantness that you aren’t even sure is coming.

Root canals are especially concerning for those with “dental anxiety”. By going to an endodontist – someone who has had additional schooling and training to perform root canal procedures – some of that stress can be alleviated. Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist to recommend an endodontist if a root canal is needed.

Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be fraught with drama and trauma. You do have tools at your disposal to help you feel more in control of the situation.  Follow the three simple rules—Preparation—Consultation—and Explanation—and your next visit will be easy as (sugar-free) pie!


Germs in the mouth – Keeping the mouth clean

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We have a lot of germs in our mouth. How many?  Scientific research studies vary, but the commonly accepted range is 32 to 40 different types of germs and bacteria are present in the human mouth – much more than a dog’s mouth carries, in case you are wondering.

Germs lead to bacteria, bacteria leads to decay.  Tooth decay and gum disease are not fun things to have. So we should try to avoid these things by keeping our mouths as clean as possible. There are things you can do to reduce the amount of germs and bacteria in your mouth.

Brush, Floss, Rinse

Brush frequently—three times a day. Floss after brushing—at least once a day. Before bed or when you wake up in the morning, rinse your mouth thoroughly with a germ killing mouthwash. Also, replacing your brush every 90 days will ensure that your toothbrush is doing a good job.

Get back to nature

You can find certain elements in nature that are good for a healthy mouth. Tea tree oil prevents gum disease and you can occasionally rub it around your gum line. Do you like to drink green tea? If so, your mouth thanks you. Green tea actually has certain properties in it that remove bacteria from your mouth. Do you have plaque buildup or yellowing of the teeth? Making paste out of baking soda and a little bit of water will reduce plaque and yellowing.

Don’t be so sweet

You know this already but it is good to keep in mind—limit the amount of sugar that you eat. Sugar can lead to decay of your tooth enamel.  If you or someone you know has children and puts their child to bed with a juice bottle, this is not a good idea, too much sugar soaking into the teeth.

You may think you are okay chewing sugar-free gum. Actually the alcohol properties in the artificial sweeteners contribute to bacteria.


Vitamins and Cleaning

Do you take your vitamins every day? This is good for you too because Vitamin C is known to combat gum disease.

If you have old fillings in your mouth—old caps or crowns, you should get them checked and see if your dentist recommends replacing them. Often these become harbors for germs, plaque and bacteria.

Last but not least, when your dentist reminds you about getting your teeth cleaned, make the appointment. Every six months you should have a professional cleaning as preventive maintenance. Dentists and Endodontists (who specialize in root canals) are here to care for your teeth once decay happens. You are the only one that can care for your teeth to prevent decay… and show the world a bright, healthy smile.


Teeth Knocked Out in Sports Play – What to do

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We all hope that we would never lose a tooth. If we have children, we certainly don’t want to see them get their teeth knocked out. But—accidents do happen, especially in sports. If you are around when a friend, relative, or child has a tooth or teeth knocked out during sports play, you will be glad that you read this article.

Most people would never attempt to put the tooth back in, but that is exactly what you should do. Rinse the tooth off and gently nuzzle it back into its socket.  A tooth that has been suddenly dislodged is called an “avulsed” tooth.  Tiny blood vessels and nerves are greatly damaged when this happens. However, there is always a chance that the tooth can be saved and re-implanted if great care is taken to keep it moist and to get to an Endodontist as quickly as possible.

Think of how you can pull a plant up out of the ground with roots still attached, and if you replant it quickly, it will probably live. But quickly is the key. The same goes for teeth, and children’s teeth have a better chance of being successfully reimplanted then adult teeth. How you handle the tooth after it has been knocked out is extremely important.

Try to avoid touching the root area and only hold the tooth by the crown. Do not wipe the tooth off with a cloth or your shirt. Ideally, you should rinse it with milk but if you don’t have milk then use water. If for some reason you cannot put the tooth back in its socket until reaching the dentist office, then you should place it in some milk or salt water or it can be carried inside the mouth. What is important is that it stays wet and is not allowed to dry out.

It should go back into the socket fairly easily but make sure the tooth is facing the correct way. If you are having trouble, don’t force it—use the milk or the person’s own saliva to keep the tooth moist until arriving at the dental facility.

If possible you should see an Endodontist because they are dentists who are experienced at working with the root of the tooth and saving teeth. They are root canal experts and will consider an avulsed tooth a dental emergency, because they understand how important it is to act quickly to save the tooth. What is amazing is that tiny ligaments in the root of your tooth will naturally reattach to the gums if given the chance.

Reimplanting a knocked out tooth is not always successful, but it is always worth trying. The tooth probably won’t last as long as it normally would have, but it can last for many years and then a permanent solution can be used.

Mouth guards are designed to prevent tooth loss from happening. But often, both children and adults alike won’t bother to wear a mouth guard when they are participating in a sport or recreational activity. Mouth guards work very well and we strongly recommend their use. Watch for a future article about mouth guards.




Protect Your Tooth Enamel

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Your tooth enamel may not be something that you think about very often, if ever. But we endodontists do. We think about everything to do with teeth. What exactly is tooth enamel? Well, it is a pretty amazing substance. It is the hard outer surface layer that covers your teeth and the hardest element of your body. (Tooth enamel is stronger than bone).

So it is kind of ironic that it can be so susceptible to other elements. Yet as tough as tooth enamel is, it can be eroded by foods and beverages that we consume every day. Things that are acidic or sweet, things that contain starch—these go into the enamel of your teeth, causing decay.  Food and drink that we put in our mouths causes plaque, and plaque contains bacteria…and this bacteria creates acid that weakens enamel. And once enamel is gone, there is no getting it back.

Did you know that enamel loss is becoming more common? Many experts believe this is due to our modern day diet. So what can you do to protect your enamel and your teeth? Obviously using a fluoride toothpaste protects your teeth from plaque and acid. In addition, you should avoid anything that rubs against your teeth because this can wear down your enamel. This means all you pen biters and toothpick chewers need to stop that habit.

There are special toothpastes, rinses and other products that can promote the building of enamel. Ask your dentist about sodium fluoride and which products he or she recommends. This one is obvious—but brush your teeth regularly. At least twice a day. This means that you are not giving plaque a chance to form on your teeth and so your tooth enamel will not be compromised as much.

As an endodontist, we see a lot of tooth decay. Neglected decay leads to cavities and sometimes just filling the tooth will not resolve the issue. When decay extends up into the root of the tooth, it is not only a painful situation but it must be corrected. This usually means a root canal. The good news is that new technology and methods practiced by dentists and endodontists has taken the pain out of root canals. They are now a routine procedure that is only mildly uncomfortable.

Protect your teeth, avoid too many acidic and sweet foods, and your teeth will last, as will your smile.  : )