My Blog

Posts for: August, 2012

By Redwood Dental Health Center
August 30, 2012
Category: Oral Health
HowtoGetOverDentalPhobia

If you fear a visit to the dentist, you are not alone. Studies have shown that up to 75% of people surveyed have some fear of dental visits, and 10 to 15% fear the dentist so much that they avoid any dental treatment. This can have serious repercussions, leading to toothaches, infections, and loss of teeth. Poor oral health can even negatively affect your general state of health.

Here's the good news. Even people who are the most afraid of the dentist can learn to reduce their fear and feel calm and safe during a dental visit.

Dental fears develop when people have bad dental experiences. For many, the problem is a sense of loss of control. Sometimes, fears are based on stories people have heard or even movies they have seen.

The feeling of being afraid reinforces your fear. If you experience the rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, tensed muscles, and other symptoms of fear while in the dentist chair, you are likely to remember these unpleasant feelings afterward and become even more fearful. In order to reverse this process, you need to begin to associate dental visits with good experiences and a sense of control. Here's how we can help you do this:

  • Know that you are not alone and we are here to help you.
  • Talk to us about your fears. We are sure to listen and not be judgmental. If you don't talk about it, you can't get over it.
  • We will start by doing things that cause only mild or no anxiety. We want each visit to be a good experience, so you are able to leave our office with a feeling that it was okay, and you can do it again.
  • Our goal is for you to overcome your fear. We will make this a priority and that priority is as important as “fixing your teeth.” We will be happy to talk about the time and fees associated with your treatment so that you can overcome your fear and gain a sense of control of the situation.
  • It took a while for your fears to develop, so you should realize that it will also take a while to get over them. We will spend as much time as you need to get over your fears and will not rush you into doing anything for which you are not ready.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about any fears you may have. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety.”


By Redwood Dental Health Center
August 23, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: oral health   root canal  
CanARootCanalSaveMyTooth

One of the most common treatments we are asked about is a root canal and the unfortunate bad reputation associated with it. The truth is that the procedure actually relieves the pain associated with the problem and not visa versa. And here's why.

A root canal or endodontic treatment (“endo” – inside; “dont” – tooth) is a necessary procedure in which diseased pulp tissue — and the nerve, which responds by causing the pain — is removed. This is followed by cleaning and sealing the root canals. This usually results from pulp inflammation and infection as a result of a severe decay or in a heavily filled tooth. Root canal treatment is typically performed by general dentists who have taken specialized training or by endodontists, dentists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of root canal problems. We perform them here in our practice to save a tooth, literally, from further damage and/or loss.

Here is a quick overview of the procedure. We will begin by making a small opening in the chewing surface of your tooth so that we can access the tooth's root canal. We use small instruments to remove the dead and dying tissues of the pulp. The root canals are cleaned and disinfected. The canals are then sealed with a biocompatible filling material. Lastly, we will seal the access hole with a filling material. You will then need to get a permanent restoration or crown to protect the tooth fully.

If you feel that you have the symptoms of a root canal problem and may need a root canal treatment, contact us to schedule an appointment. And to learn more about the signs, symptoms, and what to expect after root canal treatment, read the article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”


By Redwood Dental Health Center
August 14, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
HowtoGetWhatYouWantinYourSmileMakeover

When you begin a smile makeover in our office, you are embarking on an exciting partnership with my laboratory technician and me. You should be full of excitement and anticipation — if you have been dissatisfied with your current smile, and you have great expectations for the results of this project. You will really like what you see in your mirror.

Being completely satisfied with your new look depends upon successful communication — between you and me and also between my dental lab technician and me. As you might expect, your perceptions of how your teeth appear are different from a dentist's perceptions. My education leads me to think of factors that untrained individuals probably won't consider, such as crown (tooth) length, midlines (how the teeth line up with other facial features) and the distance from gum to lip.

It is helpful to be able to describe what you like and don't like about your current smile, and what changes you would like to see. Using visual aids is a good idea. Bring photos and magazine illustrations to show what you have in mind. (Remember that we cannot make you look exactly like a celebrity or anyone else. The pictures are guidelines.)

Things to think about:

  • The color, size, shape, alignment and spacing of your teeth.
  • How much of your teeth and gum tissues show when your lips are relaxed and when you smile.
  • Tooth color: bright “Hollywood” white or more natural looking off-white.

Your makeover is more likely to meet your expectations if you get an advanced view of the results. Computer imaging is one way to do this. Another is for us to make a mock-up of the proposed dental work in tooth-colored wax on models of your mouth.

Finally, a “Provisional Restoration” can be used as a test to make sure that what I envision is also what you, the patient, want to see. A provisional restoration, made from temporary materials, gives you a chance to test out the changes and make sure they work for you — that they not only look good, but they are also functional in terms of biting, chewing, speech, and gum health.

If the provisional restoration works, it is used as a blueprint to make durable and long lasting porcelains in the same design. We will take impressions of the provisional restoration and communicate the relevant information to a dental laboratory technician, who will make the final porcelain tooth replicas for your new smile.

Competent communication and a provisional restoration will put you on track to meet your expectations and obtain the most aesthetic and functional result in your Smile Makeover.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about Smile Makeovers. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Great Expectations — Perceptions in Smile Design.”


By Redwood Dental Health Center
August 13, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
IncludeaSmileMakeoverinWeddingPlanning

For a bride, there is so much to remember when planning the wedding — invitations, a dress, flowers, the site, the caterers, the cake, the photographer — the list goes on and on. In the midst of all these things, don't let a very important piece of the plan be forgotten — your smile!

Your wedding will be celebrated every year on your anniversary and commemorated in beautiful photos at any time. It is a special occasion you, your family, and your friends will always remember. But how will you and your family look in those photos? You have an opportunity to get makeovers that will make your smiles shine radiantly, and not only in your album. Your makeover will improve your appearance, your self-confidence, and your oral health far into the future.

Start with a visit to your dentist to assess your current situation and discuss your goals and dreams. Each person's situation will be different. At a minimum you may need a professional cleaning to make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy. Get started on treating any cavities or gingivitis (gum inflammation). If you haven't already, now is a great time to establish healthy dental hygiene habits including proper daily brushing and flossing.

You may feel that your teeth are discolored and need to be whiter and brighter. Your upper and lower jaws may not meet properly for the most effective biting and chewing. Your teeth may be crowded or misshapen. All these things and more can be modified and repaired with today's dentistry.

Teeth can be whitened by bleaching in the dentist's office or with products that can be used at home under a dentist's supervision.

Orthodontia may be needed to repair your bite. Today orthodontia may be done either with traditional braces, or with clear aligners. Remember that this process works slowly, so start well in advance of your wedding day.

After your teeth are properly aligned, your dental team can work on subtle contouring, overall shape and color changes for individual teeth, using techniques such as porcelain laminate veneers. Temporary veneers can be made so that you can try out your new look before the final installation.

Wedding planning works best when started early. To make sure you, your new spouse, and your family look and feel their best, remember to include smile makeovers in your plan.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about wedding smile makeovers. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wedding Day Smiles.”


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FAQs About This New and Miraculous Procedure

How can sinus surgery contribute to the replacement of missing back teeth with dental implants?
Dental implants must be anchored the in bone to be successful. Maxillary sinus surgery can help regenerate bone that has been lost and is critically needed to anchor dental implants.

What are the maxillary air sinuses?
Inside the upper jaw, or “maxilla,” are structures known as the maxillary air sinuses, one on either side of the upper jaw. Each sinus is an air-filled space lined by a membrane. Upper back teeth are normally encased in the bone of the maxilla, below the sinuses.

Why is it important to replace missing back teeth?
Replacing back teeth restores the ability to eat, chew, and talk properly. The back teeth also provide facial and cheek support.

Why use dental implants?
Dental implants are the state-of-the-art method for replacing missing teeth.

Why does bone loss occur?
Unless special precautions are taken to prevent it, when teeth are lost, the bone supporting them is also lost.

If there is insufficient bone to anchor dental implants, what are the alternatives?
If all the back teeth are lost and dental implants cannot be placed, removable upper dentures may be the only alternative.

How do you determine whether a sinus surgical procedure is necessary?
The size, shape, and remaining bone of the maxillary sinuses influence whether you can have dental implants with or without a sinus surgical procedure.

How does surgery grow bone?
A small window is created in the sinus wall above where implants need to be placed. The sinus membrane is lifted and the space thus created filled with bone grafting and biologically active bone generating materials. The window is then closed and simply heals.

How is the surgery done?
The surgical procedures are performed from inside the mouth in the area just above the missing back teeth. They are generally carried out under local anesthesia (small shots, just like for a filling), sometimes with the addition of sedation or anti-anxiety medication.

How do bone grafts work?
Bone grafts act as scaffolds that the body replaces with its own bone. The most well researched bone substitute grafting material is currently bovine (cow) bone. All grafting materials are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They are specially treated to render them completely sterile, non-contagious, and free of rejection factors.

What can I expect after surgery?
Moderate swelling and discomfort after surgery generally lasts for a few days to a week, about the same as having an upper impacted wisdom tooth removed. Supportive treatment usually includes a course of antibiotics to prevent infection and prescription strength medication of the aspirin or ibuprofen type. A decongestant may also be prescribed, if necessary. Healing is generally uneventful.

Who performs this surgery?
Maxillary sinus augmentations are usually carried out by oral surgeons, periodontists, or appropriately trained general dentists. Proper assessment of your situation and diagnosis are critical pre-requisites to the right procedure.

If you are missing upper back teeth, contact us today to schedule an appointment and discuss maxillary sinus augmentation. You can also learn more about this procedure by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sinus Surgery: Creating Bone for Dental Implants out of Thin Air.”