Posts for: March, 2013
We all know that dentistry can do amazing things these days to give you the smile you've always dreamed of. With the latest cosmetic and restorative dental techniques, it is possible to achieve amazingly natural-looking results. But how do we map out the best route to a better smile? And how do we know that the results will hold up over time?
Every individual has a unique set of conditions in his or her mouth and it is our job to figure out how you have come to your present state, dentally speaking. We need to correct or at least manage any factors that could risk the success of your treatment. These risk factors fall into four basic categories:
Periodontal Risk — This involves the condition of the structures that support your teeth, including your gum and bone tissue. It's important to establish good periodontal health before we perform any restorative or cosmetic procedures.
Biomechanical Risk — This has to do with the structural integrity of your teeth. We will look at whether any tooth structure has been lost due to decay, and take steps to reduce your susceptibility to decay if necessary.
Functional Risk — This relates to your bite: how your teeth, muscles and jaw joints are functioning. For example, do you have excessive tooth wear or joint pain? If so, you are at a higher risk in this category and we need to figure out why.
Aesthetic Risk — This is the most subjective of the categories as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Still, if you display a lot of your teeth and gums when you smile, any issues you have (gum recession, for example) will be that much more visible and affect your smile more. We will have to take this into account when we plan your treatment.
Only when we have determined how best to minimize your risk in all four of these categories can we restore or enhance your smile in a way that will not only look great but also last as long as possible.
Oral cancer is a serious health problem, responsible for the death of about one person every hour, every day in the United States. It was once thought that folks over 40 were chiefly at risk for the disease. If present trends continue, however, younger people may soon form the majority of oral cancer patients. So, no matter who you are, it makes sense to recognize the risk factors, and find out what you can do to reduce your chances of getting the disease.
As in many other diseases, genetic factors play a role in determining whether an individual will develop oral cancer. At present, there's nothing we can do about these inborn traits. But there are several choices we can make that will lessen our risk of oral cancer. Most of these risky behaviors are associated with other types of cancer as well.
Moderate to heavy drinkers, and users of tobacco products of all types, are as much as 9 times more likely to develop the disease than non-users. Chronic exposure to the sun has long been associated with the development of cancers of the lip. And, because the sexually-transmitted Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can lead to oral cancer, unsafe sexual behavior is a factor that's fast becoming a primary cause of the disease.
So if you need another reason to quit smoking, stop drinking excessively, wear sunscreen and practice safe sex — consider this your warning. But there's still more you can do to reduce your risk for oral cancer, and improve your general health as well.
Eating a plant-based, whole food diet doesn't just reduce your risk of getting oral cancer — it also makes you less likely to develop many other cancers, and various chronic conditions like heart disease. The exact mechanisms by which this happens aren't completely understood, but its effects have been documented in numerous studies.
Avoiding certain chemicals, like the nitrites often found in preserved foods, can reduce cancer risk. And the antioxidants you get by eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help protect your body from cancer-causing substances.
Finally, don't ignore regular cancer screenings. The early signs of oral cancer are difficult for many people to distinguish from common mouth sores — but we are trained to identify possible problem areas, and can schedule further tests if needed. You can get an oral cancer screening (a fast and painless procedure) at your regular dental checkup. And you always get your checkups on time — don't you?
If you have concerns about oral cancer, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Oral Cancer” and “Diet and Prevention of Oral Cancer.”
Three quarters of people surveyed have admitted to having some fear about going to the dentist. About 10% to 15% are so afraid that they never go. Because they put off checkups and treatment they end up with toothaches, infections, and even lost teeth.
You should know that even those who are most afraid of the dentist can learn to reduce their fear and have dental treatment in comfort.
How does fear of the dentist get started?
Fear is learned behavior. People may learn it from stories they have heard from their parents or others, or they may learn it first hand by having a bad dental experience. Once the fear is planted, they avoid going to the dentist, so there is no way for them to learn that a visit can be a positive experience.
If you are among those who fear going to the dentist, the fearful feelings you have can be enough to reinforce themselves. Sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, and a queasy stomach are not pleasant, and if you experience such feelings they may be your main memories after an appointment, even if the visit was not frightening in itself.
Dental fear can be a subconscious automatic response. This means that you can't control it and make it go away. But there are things you can do to reduce your fear and feel comfortable during your appointment.
Move slowly and get help to conquer your fears.
You need to have new, positive experiences to counteract the bad experiences you had in the past. Realize that you are not alone, many people share this fear. Then talk about your fears with our office. We will start by doing things that cause only mild or no anxiety. You want each visit to be a good experience, so you are able to leave our office with a feeling that this was okay, and you can do it again. It may take a while to train yourself to get over your fears, but we have helped many people accomplish this — and you can, too.
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.”