Dental Tips Blog


The New Look of Dental Care

If you are like most people, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect at a traditional dentists office:  a mildly pleasant waiting room with lots of magazines, maybe a few plants, and some innocuous artwork.  In the back, the treatment areas are clean, but businesslike.

In recent years, the trend in decorating dental offices has been toward making the waiting area and work areas as soothing and inviting as possible.  There is good science behind this trend – millions of Americans suffer from some level of dental anxiety and the more pleasant their experience at the dentist’s office is, the more likely they will be to return for needed dental care.

In addition, dental anxiety tends to build as a patient waits to be seen.  A soothing environment from the moment they enter the office helps minimize dental anxiety and makes the procedure go more smoothly.

Some dental offices are taking this concept to the next level by providing an atmosphere that is almost like going to the spa instead of going to the dentist.  The range of amenities that can be offered at the dentist’s office is almost unlimited.  They include fresh juices, cookies, warm blankets, high definition TV’s, and wifi.  Noise cancelling headphones are a nice touch – they minimize the traditional noises associated with dentistry such as the whine of the drill.  Soothing music and pleasant aromas help make the experience more pleasant.

For a different dental experience, try a dental practice with a spa like atmosphere.  Who knows, you may find that you even enjoy going to the dentist!


Dental Cleaning and Check Ups

Most experts recommend that you have your teeth cleaned and a dental examination performed every six months to maintain good oral health.  Pregnant women, tobacco users, and people with compromised immune systems may need more frequent dental check-ups .  Your dentist can help you determine a good visitation schedule.

You may be thinking that since your teeth aren’t bothering you that you can wait to go to the dentist.  Waiting until you have a toothache or some other oral health problem is not a good idea.  Much of dentistry is preventative care.  By having your teeth cleaned and examined regularly, you can prevent small problems from becoming big problems.

Keeping your teeth clean helps prevent gum disease and cavities and reduce plaque and tartar build up on your teeth.  During your examination, your dentist will look for signs of decay, oral cancer, gum disease, and other health issues.  These are much more manageable if they are caught early.

For example, if your dentist sees signs of tooth decay, he can restore your tooth with a small filling.  However, a cavity can decay completely through your tooth to the nerve in as little as a year and may cause very little discomfort until the nerve is exposed.  If you wait too long between dental visits, instead of a minor filling you will need much more extensive dental work such as a root canal and a cap.

People who get regular dental care keep their real teeth much longer than those who avoid the dentist.   Call your dentist to schedule Buckhead dental cleaning and checkups.  Make sure you are getting those dental cleanings and check-ups and you can look forward to years of great oral health!


What About Dental Bonding?

When you think of cosmetic dentistry, the word “expensive” may come to mind.  If you have been thinking about getting a smile enhancement but have been avoiding the dentist because you think it will cost too much, you will be happy to hear that dental bonding is one of the least expensive, most cost effective cosmetic dental techniques.

If you want to improve the appearance or shape of your teeth, fill in a gap, or fill a blemish on a tooth, bonding may be the answer.  It is much less expensive than veneers or caps and can be done in the dentist’s office, usually in one visit.

To bond a tooth, your dentist applies a soft, putty-like white material to the tooth and uses a special light to harden the material and make it adhere to the surface of your tooth.  The dentist then shapes the hardened material and smoothes and polishes it to achieve the desired effect.

Unless a cavity is being filled, most patients don’t need any anesthesia and the procedure can be completed in thirty minutes to an hour.  Veneers and crowns can achieve the same effect, but they are more expensive and have to be made in a lab before your dentist installs them.

Bonding is an excellent alternative to expensive caps and veneers, but it has a few disadvantages.  The bonded material will probably not last as long as a cap or veneer.  It can also chip or break off of your tooth.  Also, bonded teeth are less stain resistant than caps or veneers.

Talk your Lawrenceville cosmetic dentist to find out more about the advantages of bonding.


Types of Fillings

Posted in Fillings

If you need a filling, you will need to choose the material your dentist uses to fill the cavity.  There are several types of materials commonly used in dentistry today and your dentist will probably offer you one or more alternatives.  Gold, silver amalgam, and composite resin are the most commonly used materials for fillings.  Each has certain advantages and disadvantages.

Silver amalgam is a mixture of silver, mercury, tin, zinc, and copper is a very common material for fillings.  Amalgam is a strong, durable, inexpensive filling material.  It is relatively easy to use and the filling can be done in a single visit to the dentist’s office.  Many patients don’t like the silver color and teeth with amalgam fillings tend to crack at a higher rate than other types of fillings.

Gold is also a good material for fillings.  It is strong and durable and can last 10 to 15 years or longer.  Many patients prefer the look of gold fillings over silver amalgam.  However, gold fillings are more difficult to place and usually require more than one visit to the dentist.  In addition, they are much more expensive than silver amalgam. 

Composite resins are tooth colored material so the filling match your teeth.  They can usually be installed in a single visit, although the process takes a little longer than amalgam fillings.  Composite resins are more expensive than amalgam, but not nearly as expensive as gold fillings.  The main drawback to composites is that they are not as durable as gold or amalgam.  Composite fillings only last 5 to 10 years. 

Your dentist will help you choose the best material for your filling.


How Does Intravenous (IV) Sedation Work?

An estimated 40 to 50 million Americans suffer from some degree of dental anxiety.  These patients may have had a bad experience at the dentist, they may be afraid of needles, or they may be self conscious about their oral health.  Whatever the reason, if you are one of these patients you should know that you are not alone.  It is very common to have some anxiety about any dental procedure.

Fortunately, sleep and sedation dentistry is now available that can provide many patients with a painless, anxiety free dental experience.  Your dentist may have recommended that you have intravenous sedation, or you may have heard that is a great way to get the dental care you need safely and comfortably.

Unlike novocain that is injected to numb the area of the mouth where the dental procedure will be performed, intravenous sedation is used to calm and relax the patient.  Some dentists use oral sedatives, but intravenous (IV) sedation is much easier for your dentist to control the level and duration of the sedation.

Your dentist will administer the IV sedation which takes effect very quickly.  You will be conscious, but in a drowsy, very relaxed state.  After the sedative takes effect, novocain will be injected to block pain sensations, but you will probably not feel the novacain injection or even remember the procedure.

Throughout the procedure your blood pressure and blood oxygen level will be monitored and the effect can be quickly reversed if needed.  IV sedation is safely administered to millions of dental patients every year with excellent results.


Oral Sedation Concerns

Many dentists offer oral sedation to patients who suffer from dental anxiety or who want to “sleep through the procedure.”  Sleep and sedation dentistry can be beneficial for patients who have trouble tolerating dental procedures with just a local anesthetic such as novocaine, but oral sedation can be troublesome.

With oral sedation, the patient is typically instructed to take the prescribed medication a short period before their appointment.  The patient will be unable to drive after taking the medication and will need someone to transport them to and from their appointment.

With oral sedatives, it can be difficult to predict the effect of the sedative on the individual patient.  Each person reacts differently to oral medications and the sedative may have more or less effect on a given patient depending on the patient’s weight and other factors.

Another problem is that the dentist has no control over the level of sedation during the procedure.  The sedative may begin to wear off if the procedure takes longer than anticipated.  Since the sedative takes time to start working, it is almost impossible to adjust the level of sedation during the treatment.

Intravenous (IV) sedation may be a better option than oral sedation, but it is more difficult to find a dentist that offers IV sedation because it requires significant additional training and expensive equipment.  With IV sedation, the sedative takes immediate effect and can be adjusted during the procedure to keep the patient at a comfortable level of sedation.

IV sedation is more predictable and controllable than oral sedation and the effects wear off more quickly.  If you need sedation dentistry, talk to your dentist about the right type of sedation for you.


Difference Between Conscious and Unconscious Sedation

Sedation dentistry is a wonderful option for many people who would not or cannot tolerate dentistry in a traditional dental setting.   Many people have a fear of visiting the dentist, some of which can develop into a true “dental phobia”.  An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 have dental phobia sufficient to prevent them from seeking dental care.

Many other people have physical or developmental disabilities that make it difficult for them to receive dental care.  Others may have an uncontrollable gag reflex or they may not respond to local anesthetic such as Novocain. As a result, these patients avoid getting needed dental care and their oral health and overall health suffers.

Sleep and sedation dentistry is a type of dentistry where the patient is fully or partially sedated during the procedure.  Many advertisements for sedation dentistry suggest that the patient will be able to sleep through the procedure.

In some cases this may be true, but there is a difference between conscious sedation and unconscious sedation.  In conscious sedation, the patient is given a sedative either orally or intravenously the puts the patient in a very relaxed and drowsy state.

In some cases the patient may doze off, but the patient is always conscious.  They can respond to questions and follow directions.  Conscious sedatives partially block memory formation so even if the patient was not actually asleep, it may seem that way since they have little or no memory of the procedure.

In unconscious sedation, general anesthesia is used to fully sedate the patient.  The patient is unconscious throughout the procedure and cannot respond to questions or directions.

Whether conscious or unconscious sedation is right depends on each patient’s situation.  Talk to a qualified sleep and sedation dentist about the type of sedation that is best for you.


True Sleep and Sedation Dentistry

Many dentists advertise that they offer “sedation dentistry” but only a few dentists offer true sleep and sedation dentistry.  There are various levels of sedation used in dentistry.  The mildest form of sedation is nitrous oxide, often called “laughing gas”.  Nitrous oxide provides temporary feelings of relaxation and helps reduce anxiety.  The patient is fully conscious, can easily respond to questions, and is aware of what is going on around them.

The next level is mild sedation using oral medications.  The medication is usually taken before the patient arrives at the dentist’s office and he patient is very relaxed and drowsy.  Sometimes the patient will fall asleep during the dental procedure, but can be easily aroused to answer questions.  Most patients have limited memory of the treatment.

Most dentists only provide these first two levels of sedation.  However, a few sleep and sedation dentists have completed extensive training and can offer additional levels of sedation.  Intravenous sedation is administered in the dentist’s office and the level of sedation can be controlled during the procedure.  The patient is conscious, but in most cases sleeps through the procedure and has no memory of it afterward.

Dentistry under general anesthesia is the deepest level of sedation.  The patient is unconscious and fully sedated throughout the procedure.  Dentistry under general anesthesia is performed in a surgical suite either at a hospital or in the dentist’s office.  The patient has no memory of the procedure.

Talk to your dentist about the right level of sedation for you and your dental care needs.  If you need true sleep sedation, make sure your dentist has the necessary qualifications.


What’s the Difference Between Novocain and Sedation?

If you are one of the millions of Americans who have been told that you can benefit from sedation dentistry, you may be wondering what the difference is between sedation and novocain.  Novocain or other anesthetics have been used in dentistry for over 100 years.  On the other hand, sleep and sedation dentistry is a relatively recent development in dental practice, and it is a wonderful way for many Americans to get the dental care they need.

Novocain is a brand name of a local anesthetic that numbs an area of the patient’s mouth.  Novocain fell out of favor many years ago and was replaced by lidocaine and other anesthetics, but novocain has become a generic term for all of these anesthetics.

Novocain is injected into the area of the mouth where the dental work will be performed.  It numbs the area around the tooth or teeth by blocking pain sensations, but otherwise the patient is completely aware and fully conscious.  A patient can be given novocain to numb the area, but still have a very high degree of anxiety.

Sedation is primarily intended to relax and calm the patient.  Nitrous oxide or laughing gas is a very mild type of sedation that has been in use for many years, but modern sedation dentists can use either oral sedatives or intravenous sedatives to provide various levels of sedation.  Some sedatives have some pain-blocking component, but the primary purpose is to relax the patient and alleviate anxiety.

The patient will be conscious, but very drowsy.  The sedatives also impairs memory formation so in most cases, the patient will not remember even having the procedure.


Dental Care for Patients With Rett Syndrome

Rett syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that primarily affects young females.  Most males with the disorder die during infancy.  Believed to be caused by a genetic mutation, Rett syndrome usually appears between the ages of 6 to 18 months.  Up to that point, the child develops normally, but then stops developing and begins to regress, losing fine motor skills and speech skills.

When the disease has fully developed, most individuals display repetitive hand and tongue movements, lack of motor control, and limited communication skills.  Most patients suffer from frequent seizures, shaking, abnormal breathing, and the inability to control their movements.

Dental care for patients with Rett syndrome can be very difficult.  Due to the patient’s inability to control their movements, frequent seizures, and breathing difficulties, traditional dental practices can be dangerous for these patients.

At the same time, it is very important for patients with Rett syndrome to maintain good oral health.  Most Rett syndrome patients, especially adolescents, have difficulty eating and accordingly do not get sufficient nutrition.  Poor oral health can make this problem even worse.

If you are a caregiver for a person with Rett syndrome, consider a consultation with a dentist who specializes in sleep and sedation dentistry.  Dentists who practice in this specialty area have advanced training in administering moderate to full sedation and treating dental patients under sedation.

Sleep and sedation dentistry is a humane, safe, painless way for many hard to treat patients to receive the dental care they need including everything from cleanings to filling cavities and other dental procedures.  In some cases, moderate conscious sedation is sufficient for the patient to comfortably tolerate the treatment in the dentist’s office.  For other, the safest and most comfortable option is full sedation in a specially equipped hospital operating suite.  Your dentist will determine an appropriate level of sedation depending on the needs of the patient.

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