Acton Dental Associates

Traveling and Oral Health: Tooth Tips for the Holidays

We don’t have to tell you: the winter holidays mark one of the busiest seasons of the year. With shopping, parties and vacations jam-packed on the calendar, it’s no wonder that many people take shortcuts when it comes to oral health maintenance during this time. If you are traveling during the holiday season and you want to avoid a January surprise cavity (or worse), here are some simple tooth travel tips to help you keep your smile intact.

  1. TravelDon’t leave home with a toothache! If you suspect you have any lurking problems in your mouth, schedule an appointment prior to your travel date so that you don’t end up with a tooth emergency while out of town. Research emergency dental clinics in your destination city and have those numbers handy to ensure that your time off is as relaxing as possible.
  2. No one ever regrets buying travel-sized gear. Keeping a travel toothbrush, floss and toothpaste on hand in addition to trial sizes of your favorite toiletries reduces your packing time, and not just during the holidays.
  3. Splurge on probiotics! Diseases and germs run rampant in buses, airports and other communal places that you might encounter during your trip. Researchers believe that probiotics are not only good for the gut; they may help maintain optimal oral health too!
  4. Toothbrushes don’t last forever! Generally, dentists recommend that you buy a new toothbrush every two to three months when at home. However if you are traveling, your toothbrush is exposed to even more bacteria. It’s best to toss it when you return home and swap it for a fresh brush, even if it hasn’t hit the three-month mark yet.
  5. Chewing gum is a limitless oral-health-on-the-go tip! Bringing sugar-free gum with you has multiple benefits; not only does it taste good and make your breath smell fresh, but the gum can help remove food that may be stuck in your teeth as well, acting as a secondary toothbrush.

Dental Checkups: How Important Are They?

We know that for most people, going to the dentist’s office is not high on their list of favorite things to do. A visit to the dentist takes up valuable time in our busy, modern schedules!

Dental CheckupSo we are not surprised that we hear this question time and time again from our patients: “Is going to the dentist twice a year really worth it?” And the answer is always the same: “Absolutely!”

Why? We’ll give you two good reasons right here:

Reason #1: Save yourself from pain!

The fact of the matter is that dental problems do not simply heal themselves on their own. In our practice, we are trained to detect problems and fix them before they get out of hand, saving you pain (and money) down the road. Using the dentist’s office only as an emergency room when you have an agonizing toothache will only cause you more pain in the long run.

Reason #2: Save yourself money!

Regular checkups and cleanings are also relatively inexpensive when compared to the cost of fixing much bigger dental problems (for example, a tooth that requires a root canal or extraction). Let us treat your oral health problems before they become unnecessarily complicated and costly.

Twice a year for better oral health!

Most oral health professionals recommend that you have your gums and teeth cleaned and checked once every six months. If they appear healthy, then this interval may be extended.

Don’t wait until you have tooth pain that is out of control! If we see you regularly for check ups, we can avoid many of these bigger problems together! Call us to schedule your next checkup.

Dental Implants: Are they right for you?

Not everyone is blessed with perfect teeth. Many people would tell you they lack the smile they’ve always wanted due to genetics, disease, and sometimes even accidents. Fortunately, we have a solution. With dental implants, you will no longer feel self-conscious about your smile; but rather delight in having a new and improved grin!

dental implant dWhat are dental implants?

Technically, dental implants are replacement roots for missing teeth. First, the implant, a titanium screw, is inserted into the jawbone. Next, a removable or permanent replacement tooth is attached to the top of the implant to mirror the appearance of your natural teeth. Currently, over 3 million people worldwide have dental implants and the technology has reached a point where each procedure has a 98% success rate.

Why should I get dental implants?

Beyond simply improving the appearance of your smile, dental implants include many other benefits:

  • Oral health: Unlike other restorative procedures, dental implants do not necessitate the reduction or alteration of neighboring teeth, thus resulting in improved oral health overall. Additionally, dental implants do not interfere with access to neighboring teeth, so it is no harder to brush or floss.
  • Longevity: While other dental aides such as dentures and bridges inevitably require replacement, dental implants are extremely durable, lasting many more years and in some cases even a lifetime!
  • Convenience: Dental implants do not ever need to be removed for activities such as eating, drinking and brushing, and do not require adhesives. They act, look and feel just like natural teeth!

How much do dental implants cost?

Dental insurance does not always cover the cost of dental implants. However, in the long run, dental implants are usually cheaper than other restorative procedures. Because they do not need to be replaced, the initial investment for implants is well worth the price.

Dental implants are becoming a popular trend in the world! Call us to set up an appointment to upgrade your smile!

What To Expect When Having a Tooth Extracted

What-To-Expect-When-Having-a-Tooth-ExtractedOne of the most common procedures done in our office is tooth extraction. The removal of teeth can be necessary for a number of reasons, including:

  • Joint problems in your jaw
  • Shifting teeth
  • Too much damage to tooth to be repaired
  • Baby teeth that don’t fall out
  • 3rd molars (Wisdom Teeth) impacted (wedged between the jaw and another tooth or teeth)
  • May be needed to create room for other teeth (such as when you’re getting braces)

Prior to Surgery

In preparation for surgery, we will obtain a full medical and dental history, as well as a list of all medications you take. This includes any vitamins, supplements, or over-the-counter drugs, as well as any medications you are allergic to.

An x-ray is then taken to assess the best way to remove the affected tooth.

You may be required to take antibiotics before or after surgery, depending on the duration of the surgery, or if you have a specific medical condition. We will discuss this with you if necessary.

Day of Surgery

At the time of surgery, your oral surgeon will numb the area around the tooth or teeth to be extracted with a local anesthetic, specifically numbing the affected tooth or teeth, your jawbone and the surrounding gums.

During the simple extraction process it is common to feel a lot of pressure. The affected tooth is firmly rocked back and forth so as to loosen it for removal. You should not feel any pain, just pressure. If, for any reason, you feel pain, please notify your oral surgeon immediately so that they can administer more numbing agent.

Surgical Extraction

A surgical extraction is a slightly more complex procedure that occurs when a tooth has not yet broken through the gum line, or has not yet fully grown into the mouth. When a surgical extraction is needed, your oral surgeon makes a small incision into your gum in order to access the affected tooth. From here, the procedure is similar to a simple extraction. Your oral surgeon may stitch the incision site if necessary.

After Oral Surgery

After the extraction you will be asked to bite down on a piece of gauze for 20-30 minutes. This pressure helps to form a blood clot in the extraction site, a crucial part of the healing process. Be careful not to dislodge the clot.

It is common to have a small amount of bleeding 24 hours after surgery. We will provide you with detailed instructions after your procedure, but here are some important things to remember:

Medications/Pain Management

  • Take pain medication as prescribed and recommended by your oral surgeon
  • Research has shown that taking anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil and Motrin (NSAIDs) greatly decrease pain after an extraction
  • Using an ice pack on your jaw can reduce swelling. 10 minutes on and 20 minutes off is standard for the first 24 hours. A warm compress can be used if your jaw is sore after the swelling has gone down

Eating/Drinking

  • Eat soft and cool foods for the first few days
  • Avoid hot foods and alcoholic beverages for the first 24 hours
  • Chew food away from the extraction site
  • Do not use a straw or spit after surgery. This can cause the blood cut to dislodge, greatly delaying healing

Brushing/Cleaning

  • Avoid brushing the area around the extraction site for the first 24 hours
  • Avoid using antiseptic and commercial mouth rinses – they can irritate the extraction site
  • 24 hours after surgery you can rinse with warm salt water after each meal and before bedtime (1/2 teaspoon in one cup of warm water)

Healing

The extraction site will generally close up in about 2 weeks time, but it can take three to six months for the bone and soft tissue to regrow. Remember, tooth extraction is a common procedure and our caring team has years of experience helping patients through this easy treatment.

Dental Implants: Changing the Way We Treat Missing Teeth

Dental Implants Changing the wayDental implants are rapidly becoming the standard of care in how we, as dental professionals, deal with missing teeth.    And while the incidents of adults losing permanent teeth has been declining for decades, there is still a good chance that at some point in your life you too will require treatment for a lost permanent tooth.

The way this was treated in the past was by one of two methods.  The first method was to install a bridge.  The second commonly used method was dentures.  But both of those methods present their own challenges and hassles to patients.  Thankfully, dental implants have improved so much over the years that more often than not they are a better choice for a patient’s oral care plan.

Here are our top five reasons that dental implants have a leg up on their old competitors.

  1. Almost Natural:  Dental implants are so sturdy that they feel and function just like a natural tooth.  This is achieved by inserting a screw into the jaw which is allowed to bond with the bone in that area.
  2. Longevity:  Dentures are a long term solution and have the ability to last a lifetime when properly placed and taken care of.  By contrast, traditional bridges last only about 5-7 years.
  3. Fully Functional:  Unlike dentures, which have a tendency to slip or feel uncomfortable and might even cause worry about possible embarrassments in public, dental implants don’t move when you are eating, talking or moving around.
  4. Face Shape Protection:  When a permanent tooth is lost, over time the face and smile can sag.  Dental implants fill in those spaces and allow you to keep your natural face shape longer!
  5. Keeps your Jaw in Shape!  Dental implants actually stimulate natural bone growth when set in the jaw.  Without them, the jaw gets lazy and can deteriorate.

If you have a site in your mouth where you are missing a tooth and have been wondering what to do about it, give us a call today for a consultation to see just how great dental implants can be!

Considering an Upgrade to Dental Implants?

Have you been thinking of upgrading your current tooth replacement strategy but aren’t sure where to start?  This is a great time of growth in modern dentistry, especially when it comes to replacing missing teeth!  With the evolution of dental implants, patients don’t have to suffer some of the pains of the past when older, traditional tooth replacement methods were used.

Considering an upgrade to dental implantsTraditionally, missing teeth were always “fixed” with bridges or dentures.  And while both of those procedures are still in use by dentists and do still serve an important purpose, they often cause unintended problems in the mouth that modern dental implants may be able to alleviate, or avoid completely.

What is a dental implant, you may be asking?  At the most basic level, a dental implant is simply a prosthetic tooth that is mounted to a metal post which is screwed into the jaw bone.  The procedure is typically done in two visits.  During the first procedure, a titanium screw is inserted into the jawbone, where it is allowed to “settle in” and bond, a process that takes about six to eight months.  After that, the dentist creates a prosthetic tooth and attaches it to the titanium post for a fully functional (yet fake) tooth!

The benefit of dental implants is that, unlike dentures, they are almost unnoticeable by the patient.  Anyone who has had dentures knows that they tend to slip and wear down and sometimes even cause mild pain or discomfort.  With dental implants, you will not even know they are there.  They function just like a natural tooth in your mouth, no slipping, movement or separate cleaning required.  Similarly, patients who are used to receiving bridges may benefit by an upgrade to an implant as bridges have a tendency to invite bacteria and infection, requiring additional replacements.

Whatever your concerns about dental implants are, we are here to help.  Give us a call today to see if dental implants might be right for you!

Calming Your Nerves Before Dental Procedures

Almost everyone has some feelings of nervousness when thinking about visiting the dentist.  We hear it all the time from our patients.  But don’t worry (I know, easier said than done).  It is totally normal to have a bit of anxiety (or even a lot of anxiety) before you come to our office.

Calming Your NervesIn our office, we have many years of experience in dealing with nervous patients.  So to help you out, we’ve compiled this quick yet effective set of tips for dealing with those inevitable nerves before your dental procedure.

  1. Let us know!  Sometimes just saying the words, “I’m a little bit nervous” can help by normalizing the nervousness itself a little bit, which instantly releases some of that stress that has the tendency to build up in your system. It also alerts us, which is great!  In fact, we might just be able to help by doing procedures a little bit differently than we normally would or even just by offering some words of encouragement and reassurance.
  2. Music – Ask us to turn up (or down) the music in your exam room if that helps.  Or, depending on the procedure, you may even be able to listen to your own MP3 player while we work away.  Ask us ahead of time to be sure the procedure will allow for this.
  3. Breathe – Did you know that consciously taking a breath instantly calls to action your parasympathetic nervous system which is the part of the brain responsible for calming you down?  The good news is that you always have your breath with you, so don’t forget to use it!  Just by paying attention to your breath, for example, how it feels coming in and going out and the other sensations it creates, you can access the calming center of your brain.  An easy breathing exercise that can be used anytime, anywhere, including in the dental chair is to breathe in for 4 counts, then out for 4 counts.   You will instantly feel better.

We hope you find these tips helpful in dealing with your dental fears.  Just remember, you are not alone.

Chomp! Fun Facts about Teeth

As children, we are obsessed with our teeth. Counting the teeth, watching the teeth fall out and grow back in and waiting for the tooth fairy surprise just to name a few. And as adults, we are still obsessed with our teeth, but maybe in a different way (as in “why do they always hurt and why aren’t they white anymore?”)  So just for fun, and to further indulge in this fascination with teeth (See?  It’s not just dentists that are obsessed with teeth), here are some fun facts about teeth.

chomp!This is a great article to share with your children!  How many of these facts did you already know?

Sharks don’t get cavities.  Why?  Because their teeth are coated in fluoride.  That, combined with the fact that they have rows and rows of replacement teeth ready to go at a moment’s notice, give them an unfair advantage over humans when it comes to oral health.

You are lucky!  You have three types of teeth:  (1) Incisors to bite pieces off, (2) Canines to hold and tear, and (3) molars to grind food.  This allows you to eat a wide variety of foods.  Some animals, like crocodiles, aren’t so lucky. They only have sharp teeth to grab and kill, which greatly reduces their restaurant choices.

Enamel is the hardest material in the human body.  It is considered the last line of defense for your tooth.  Normal wearing down of enamel does occur over time and is simply a part of aging.  But bacteria can cause this breakdown to accelerate, which is why we brush and floss regularly!

Taste buds only live for about 10 days, or 2 weeks if they are lucky.  They go through a life cycle just like every other cell renewal process in the body.

Sharkskin is covered in teeth.  Don’t believe me?  Both sharks and their cousins, rays, are covered in what are called dermal denticles.  Although they look like scales, they are actually just modified teeth, with an enamel coating and all!  These protect them and also help them swim faster, but enough about sharks.

The jaw muscle, called the “masseter”, is the strongest muscle in the body if we are talking about strength based by weight.  When all of these muscles work together, the jaw exerts 55 pounds of weight on the incisors and 200 pounds on the molars.  This is why we take jaw disorders like teeth grinding, TMJ, and bruxism very seriously – that’s a lot of force!  Call us today if you suspect you might be a teeth grinder.

Did you know any of these fun facts about teeth already or did we surprise you?

Can My Dental Implants Get Cavities? And other common questions…

Can My Dental Implants Get CavitiesIn my practice, I hear dozens of questions every day about dental implants from concerned (or simply curious) patients.  Every one of those questions is a good question, and I always try to provide an equally good answer.  To help you better understand an upcoming dental implant procedure, we’ve compiled a top-five list of the most common questions about dental implants that we field in our office every day:

1.  Can dental implants get cavities?

No.  Because the implant-restored crown is an artificial (not natural) material, it cannot grow cavities, phew!  However, you still need to have regular gum care and cleanings around the implant site just like you would for a natural tooth.

2.  Can implants slip or fall out like dentures?

No.  The artificial tooth (crown) is attached to the permanent titanium post that is set in the jaw.  They will not slip around or fall out like you may have experienced with dentures.

3.  Can I sleep with my dental implants in?

Yes!  They are practically “permanent”, unlike dentures.  You do not need to remove and soak these overnight.

4.  Aren’t dental implants more expensive than bridges and dentures? 

It depends.  If you are talking about just a few teeth, implants may be cheaper over time than bridges because they last longer.  However, if you need a whole row of teeth replaced, dentures may be a less expensive option for you.  Each case is unique, however, so be sure to call us for a proper consultation.   We are here to help you understand your costs and benefits so that you can make an informed decision.

5.  How long will my dental implants last?

If implanted and cared for properly, dental implants can last for many decades or possibly even a lifetime.  Some implants have been in patients for over forty years!

Don’t see your question on our list?  Contact us today for quick answers! 

Are Root Canals Safe?

Sometimes while doing research on procedures on the internet, a patient may come across some concerning information.  And since the internet is an unregulated source of information, you may have guessed that sometimes that “information” is actually MIS-information.  Unfortunately, thanks to old rumors that have resurfaced over the last few years, the root canal has unfairly been condemned on the internet as an unsafe procedure, even though this idea has been scientifically disproven time and time again.

Are Root Canals SafeIf you have been questioning the safety of any upcoming procedure, please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can do a thorough review with you and hopefully alleviate your fears.  In the meantime, however, we will zero in and set the record straight about root canals.

You may be surprised to learn that these rumors about root canal procedures go back almost 100 years (long before the internet).  It all started in the 1920s with research by a Dr. Weston Price that suggested that the bacteria that sits in the root of the tooth could be disturbed and leaked during a root canal procedure, then spreading and causing diseases around the body.  Needless to say this fear led to many unnecessary tooth extractions as dentists and patients panicked, refusing to have or perform the root canal procedure.  Within a few years of Dr. Price’s focal infection theory being born, modern research techniques were able to discredit the findings.  Additional studies were performed in the fifties and right on through to 2012, each debunking this old tale.  But we know how rumors can persist on the internet.

In fact, a root canal procedure is safer and offers a better overall health outcome for patients than tooth extractions as it preserves the original tooth.

If you still have concerns before an upcoming root canal procedure, don’t hesitate to contact our office.  We understand these concerns and would like to help you make the right decision for your health and peace of mind.