Don’t Let Dental Problems Steal Your Christmas

Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is the ultimate Christmas classic – it’s been a holiday favorite of children and adults alike over the decades and is still going strong. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 50 years, the Grinch is a miserable hermit that hates Christmas and hates the Whos in Whoville, so he hatches a plan to steal Christmas from them.

 

Luckily there is no Grinch to steal Christmas from us, but you know what can? Dental problems. The holidays are full of eating, drinking and being merry, and that merriment will be stolen away if you are suffering from a toothache, cracked tooth or gum disease. 

Here are 5 tips to help you keep dental problems from ruining Christmas this year:

Limit sweets and candy. The temptation is REAL during the holiday months. We know this. It’s okay to indulge, just remember that moderation is key. Plaque feeds on sugar, so the more sugar that enters your mouth, the higher the risk of tooth decay. So go ahead and indulge here and there, but make sure to brush and floss afterward!

Use tools, not your teeth. Your teeth are for chewing your food: they are NOT for opening bottles and pulling off tags! If we had a nickel for every broken tooth we’ve fixed solely based on this reason, well … we’d have a lot of nickels.

Say no to grazing. Most holidays involve a lot of food: Snacks swarming the counters and appetizers abound! Not to mention all the wines, punches, sodas, cookies, candies and desserts. The longer and more often your teeth are exposed to the sugars and acids in food and drinks, the higher the risk of tooth decay. Instead of grazing and snacking your way through the office holiday party, just eat once. Don’t wait an hour and then eat dessert. Don’t snack on appetizers randomly for the length of the party. Whatever you plan on having – appetizer, entrée, dessert, punch, etc. – consume it all in one sitting. That way your teeth only take a sugar hit once, and you can counteract it with a good brush and floss.

Pro-tip: cheese is good for your teeth! The calcium in cheese helps put back minerals your teeth may have lost eating other foods, so you can’t go wrong snacking on the cheese tray!

Maintain a good oral hygiene routine. At the end of the day, one of the most important parts of avoiding dental problems is good oral hygiene. Brush for two minutes, twice a day and floss once a day. Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash can also help keep harmful bacteria at bay.

Visit your dentist. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never had a dental problem in your life, or if you’ve had multiple dental problems: everyone should see the dentist for a checkup and professional cleaning every 6 months. A professional cleaning is a much more thorough cleaning than what you are able to do at home. It will knock out any hard-to-reach plaque and tartar buildup. Your dentist can also check for overall health and any dental issues that may be invisible to the untrained eye.

Please visit our website for more information on oral health or schedule an appointment at one of our two locations in Spring or Tomball.

What You Need to Know About Gingivitis

dentist showing oversized open teeth model in his office

Gingivitis is probably the most well-known form of gum disease. In fact, it’s so well known that people tend to disregard it as a common, minor condition.

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums as a result of plaque bacteria buildup on the teeth and under the gum line. It is an early stage of gum disease and should be taken seriously.  Without treatment, gingivitis will develop into a much more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis.

Symptoms of gingivitis include:

  • Bad breath
  • Receding gums
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Tender, painful gums
  • Bleeding of gums while brushing and/or flossing

The easiest way to prevent gingivitis is to have a good oral hygiene routine. Visit your dentist regularly, meaning every six months, for a cleaning and check-up. Brush your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day, every day, and floss daily. Limiting your intake of sugary and/or acidic foods will also help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

If caught early, your dentist will be able to treat gingivitis with a rigorous teeth cleaning and provide instructions for necessary at-home care. However, if ignored you may need a more serious form of treatment. The next level of treatment is scaling and root planning, which is where the dentist cleans the root surfaces underneath the gums to remove plaque and tartar. Sometimes, if the gingivitis is bad enough, it can require surgery as the only treatment.

If gingivitis is ignored and turns into periodontal disease, it can damage your gums and the bones that support your teeth. Periodontitis has also been linked to heart disease, strokes, diabetes and even cancer.

Brushing and flossing every day is a small price to pay for something as priceless as good health.

If you think you might have the symptoms of gingivitis or periodontal disease, please visit our website to schedule an appointment or contact us at one of our two locations in Spring and Tomball.

Five Common Causes of Bad Breath

bad-breath-mouth-teethBad breath happens – we’ve all been there. Luckily, it can be cured (and prevented) easily with good oral healthcare. However, if you have chronic bad breath there’s usually a more serious cause.

Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments, so it’s no surprise that there are millions of bacteria that live in the mouth. These bacteria are the most common culprit for bad breath.

The easiest, most effective way to cure bad breath is by following these 3 easy steps:

1.       Brush twice a day, and floss once a day – EVERY DAY.

2.       Brush or scrape your tongue (especially towards the back) every day to get rid of the bacterium that has built up on the tongue.

3.       See your dentist every 6 months for cleanings and checkups.

If you have chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis, you might need more than good oral hygiene to get it back to normal. If someone has good oral hygiene habits and still seems to have halitosis there’s usually an underlying cause.

Aside from poor dental hygiene, here are 5 common causes of bad breath:

Outside Factors – Eating strongly scented foods, like garlic or onions, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes or cigars, chewing tobacco or drinking alcohol can all lead to unpleasant breath. 

Dry Mouth – Many factors can contribute to dry mouth including dehydration, prescription drugs, over the counter medicines, salivary gland problems or even breathing through your mouth instead of your nose.

Oral Infections – Infections in the mouth, like gum disease or tooth decay, can be a cause of bad breath. If you notice red, swollen or bleeding gums, loose teeth, sores on tongue or gums, or sharp pains in a tooth then you should consult a dentist.

Respiratory Infections – Any infection in the sinuses, throat or lungs can cause bad breath.  

Serious Illnesses – Illnesses such as diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease, liver disease, etc. can all have symptomatic bad breath.

If you are experiencing chronic bad breath you should schedule an appointment with your dentist for further assessment. A good cleaning might be all you need to fix the problem, but your dentist will be able to check for signs of anything more serious. 

Visit our website for more information on oral health or schedule an appointment at one of our two locations in Spring or Tomball.

 

What Are My Options If I Don’t Have Dental Insurance?

dental insurance

Health insurance is a hot topic today, and although dental insurance doesn’t get quite as much attention, the lack of coverage in the U.S is a major concern. Poor oral health can have a drastic impact on a person’s overall health.

Dental insurance for children is covered under the Affordable Care Act, but it is not mandatory for adults. Medicare doesn’t cover most dental care (including cleanings, filings, dentures, etc.). For a variety of reasons, whether unemployed, self-employed or retired, over a third of Americans are currently without dental insurance.

Not surprisingly, those without coverage often skip routine preventative dental visits such as cleanings. They want to save money in the short term, but this lack of dental care can lead to more problems and greater expense down the line. For example, a small cavity caught early may be easily fixed with a filling. However, if ignored the plaque and tartar may build up, causing major problems such as gingivitis or periodontal disease.

So What Are My Options if I Don’t Have Dental Insurance?

The worse thing to do is put off going to the dentist. Fortunately, there are options available:

Ask Your Dentist About a Payment Plan – Many dentists are willing to work with you to set up a payment plan for treatments. Others offer a sliding scale for treatments or discounts for certain services. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Financing Options – Many dentists, including as America’s Family Dental, accept Care Credit, a healthcare credit card that allows you to receive treatments and pay in monthly installments.

Dental School – If there is a dental school in your area they may offer free or discounted rates for routine services, performed under guidance of licensed professionals.

Nonprofit Organizations – There are several nonprofit organizations that work to provide access to healthcare for those that don’t have insurance or the resources to pay for it. Mission of Mercy is one example that operates in Texas.

Health Savings Account – A health savings account allows you to pay for dental services with pre-tax dollars.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene – Everyone should practice consistent, regular oral hygiene, put it’s particularly important for those without dental coverage. Regular brushing and flossing, as well as avoiding sugary foods and drinks, can help you maintain a healthy smile longer and prevent future problems and expenses.

If you do not currently have dental insurance, please don’t let that stop you for taking proper care of your teeth. America’s Family Dental can discuss options and work with you to determine the best treatment and payment plan for you. Contact us today.

What is a Root Canal?

root canal

The Infamous Root Canal: the most notoriously detested dental procedure in America – but why? Sure, everyone has heard of a root canal, but does everyone really know what a root canal is?

In short, a root canal is the procedure used to repair a tooth that is badly damaged from decay or infection. Our teeth have layers. Underneath the outer-most layer of hard enamel, is another hard layer called dentin. Underneath the dentin is a soft layer composed of blood vessels, nerves and tissue. When the soft layer, aka Pulp, is damaged it starts breaking down and a bacterium begins to spread throughout the inside of the tooth, leading to infection.

What causes infection in the root canal of a tooth?

The pulp of a tooth can become irritated and/or infected from excessive or deep decay, a cracked tooth or as the result of an injury to the face.

Symptoms of an infected root canal are:

  • Toothache
  • Pain when applying pressure
  • Darkening of a tooth
  • Swollen gums
  • A puss pocket on the gums
  • Prolonged sensitivity to temperature

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should contact your dentist for a consultation. An untreated root canal infection can lead to swelling, an abscessed tooth, loss of bone or teeth and can even lead to life threatening conditions.

What does a root canal procedure entail?

A root canal procedure involves drilling a small hole in the crown of the tooth, removing the bacteria and pulp, disinfecting the interior of the tooth, and filling the pulp cavity with gutta-percha (a material similar to rubber). A temporary filling is placed to seal the hole and a permanent restoration will be placed over the tooth at a later date, to protect it and restore the permanent, full-function of your tooth.

If you would like to know more about root canals, or would like to schedule a consultation, please visit our website at www.americasfamilydental.com or contact one of our two convenient locations in Spring and Tomball.

How Often Should You Go to the Dentist?

dentistRegular visits to the dentist are important to long-term oral health. Preventative care such as checkups and cleanings help prevent problems down the line. Also, dentists can often detect problems before they are visible or even felt by the patient. Things such as cavities, gum disease and oral cancer are more manageable and easier to treat when caught in the early stages. This is why it’s important to establish a good relationship with a dentist you trust and schedule regular visits.

What is the Magic Number of Dental Visits?

Although the number can vary based on individual circumstances, a good recommendation for most people is two visits per year. A checkup and cleaning every six months helps prevent plaque buildup and future problems.

However, patients that are at a high risk of dental disease may need to schedule more, seeing their dentist 3-4 times per year. High-risk patients can include those who smoke, people with diabetes, those who tend to get frequent cavities or have a week immune response to bacterial infections.

Additionally, life circumstances may cause you to need to visit a dentist more often. Pregnant women may want to schedule an extra checkup. Illnesses or injuries can also increase the need for dental visits, or procedures such as root canals, crowns, or bridges often been more visits (although America’s Family Dental offers same day crowns).

So while two per year is a good recommendation, the number of visits that is right for you and your family can vary.

Ben Franklin’s famous quote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly applies to dentistry. By scheduling regular dental visits you can help you prevent future problems and maintain your healthy smile for years to come.  You future, cavity-free self will thank you.

If you would like to schedule an appointment please visit our website or contact us at one of our two conveniently located offices in Spring or Tomball.

Same Day Crowns with 4D Image Enhancing

dental imagingGone are the days when getting crowns automatically required multiple visits. With improved technology, such as 4D image enhancing, some dental offices can now complete crowns in the very same day.

4D imaging increases accuracy and convenience for patients. Also, the virtual reality makes it easy for patients to understand the process and visualize their new tooth/teeth.

How Does 4D Image Enhancing Work?

4D imaging doesn’t require traditional messy impressions, instead creating a 3-D image of the teeth and gums. The dentist uses this to plan the new teeth and put them in the perfect position, allowing patients to see their “new look.”

The dentist then uses the plan to create a surgical guide for implant, and makes the customized tooth right in the office (only 15-20 minutes!).

This technique is highly accurate (not to mention pretty cool!), minimally invasive and helps put patients at ease because they know exactly what to expect. 4D image enhancing detects approximately 25% more abnormalities than traditional 2D treatments.

Patients leave on the same day with a new crown that is color matched, fitted, polished and bonded. These are permanent crowns designed to last many years. Not only is this process convenient, but it is also:

  • Safe
  • Quick
  • Uses Low Radiation Dose
  • Accurate
  • Performed In-House
  • Easy to Understand
  • Costs Less than Medical CT

America’s Family Dental is one of less than 0.3% of Dentists in America that uses the 4D technology. For more information about this cutting-edge technology or to schedule a consultation contact us today.

Teeth Grinding – Do I Need to See a Dentist?

teeth grindingTeeth grinding, known medically as bruxism, is when you clench or grind your teeth together, which over time can lead to damaged teeth and other complications. Most often people with bruxism are unconsciously grinding their teeth during the day or grinding them in their sleep so they are unaware of the occurrence.

What Causes Teeth Grinding

Here are the three main factors that lead to teeth grinding:

Stress & Anxiety

According to Bruxism.org approximately 70% of teeth grinding is a result of psychological factors like stress and anxiety. Personality comes into play here as all people handle stress differently. Some people are more vulnerable to the physical and psychological impact of stress, which in turn leaves them more negatively affected by it.

Lifestyle

The use of psychoactive substances is another main cause of bruxism. Psychoactive substances are chemicals that alter the consciousness, mood or thoughts of the consumer, including caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, sleeping pills and depression/anxiety medicine. All of these substances stimulate the mind in some way which often causes disruption of sleeping patterns and daytime sleepiness.

Sleep Disorders

The most common kind of teeth grinding is sleep bruxism, when teeth are clenched or ground while sleeping at night; In relation to this, teeth grinding is almost always accompanied by a sleep disorder. There are many sleep disorders that have been paired with teeth grinding, but sleep apnea is the most common link. Sleep apnea creates a lack of oxygen to the brain, altering its consciousness much like a psychoactive substance does.

When to See a Dentist

Lifestyle changes, like lowering caffeine intake, quitting smoking and finding a way to cope with stress, can lead to the end of teeth grinding, but that is something that won’t happen overnight.

Teeth grinding can lead to many oral health problems, including cracked teeth, erosion of teeth, loss of teeth and TMD/TMJ; Because of the risks involved it is important to consult your dentist if you suspect you have bruxism. With a dental professional’s knowledge and experience they will be able to see evidence of teeth grinding that will not be noticeable by the untrained eye.

If your dentist sees signs of teeth grinding he can make you a custom mouth guard that will protect your teeth from further damage.

If you would like more information on teeth grinding, or would like to schedule a consultation, visit our website here or contact us at one of our two convenient locations in Spring and Tomball.

Benefits of Improving Your Smile

improve your smile

Improving your smile, whether by teeth whitening, veneers, restorative implants or other cosmetic procedures has far-reaching positive effects. Not only can the work create dramatic physical improvements, but the benefits also extend well beyond the actual teeth.

In fact, improving your smile can truly be a life-changing decision. Some of the benefits to cosmetic dentistry include:

Increased Confidence – People who are self-conscious about their teeth often avoid smiling. The last thing they want to do is draw attention to them, so may limit social interactions or avoid eye contact out of embarrassment. Improving someone’s smile has a huge impact on his or her self-confidence. She is no longer embarrassed or worried about her appearance and can now smile and laugh proudly.

Many people don’t realize how self-conscious they were about their smile until they take the steps to have it improved.  The change in self-esteem is often quick and dramatic.

Elevated Mood –Because they find themselves smiling more, cosmetic patients often find themselves in much happier moods overall. It’s not just psychological.  Science tells us that smiling not only makes you look happier, but it truly does make you feel happier. When you smile, your body releases endorphins that brighten your mood. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, when you do you can trick your brain into thinking it’s happy. Pretty cool trick.

Leads to New Opportunities – When people take the steps to improve their smiles, they’re also taking steps to improve their life. Once they experience the increased confidence that accompanies their new smile, many find themselves faced with new opportunities, both professional and personal. They may find the confidence to ace that interview for their dream job, or go on the blind date with their future husband. They’re open to new opportunities, meeting new people and taking on new adventures.

When a patient improves his or her smile the physical changes may be dramatic, but the emotional changes that accompany it can be life changing. If you’re considering cosmetic or esthetic dentistry in the upcoming year the change in confidence, increased happiness and new potential opportunities are three important reasons to make an appointment today.

If you are ready to improve your smile, contact or visit America’s Family Dental at one of our two convenient locations in Tomball, TX or Spring, TX today.

 

Porcelain Veneers: What to Expect

Porcelain veneers are very thin shells that are bonded to the front of natural teeth improving their appearance. These versatile shells can be used to alter the color, shape and size of your teeth. This form of cosmetic dentistry is used to fix teeth that are stained, discolored, uneven, misshapen, gapped, chipped or broken.

What to Expect

The process starts by coming in for a scheduled consultation. Once you decide to proceed, we begin by taking photos and impressions of your teeth. These impressions will be sent to a lab to create your personalized veneers. After a couple weeks your customized veneers will arrive ready to be bonded to your teeth. Your teeth will be etched prior to application of the veneers. This allows the veneers to bond to your teeth better, as well as feel more natural in your mouth.

Once your natural teeth have been cleaned and etched, the veneers are ready to be permanently cemented on. The final step is making any necessary adjustments and scheduling a follow up appointment to make sure everything is as it should be. The whole procedure is completely pain-free, is usually takes about an hour, but they will last you decades (or even longer)!

At America’s Family Dental we offer Lumineers veneers, the #1 patient requested veneer in the world. If you think you might be a good candidate for Lumineers veneers contact us today to schedule your consultation, or visit our website HERE.

We want to show you what you’ll look like with your new smile!