Scared of the Dentist? Let Us Help!

woman afraid of the dentistYou have a dental appointment early tomorrow morning…and you can’t sleep. You toss and turn in bed, you feel tense and can’t seem to relax, you start sweating, your heart starts pounding, and you may even start to feel nauseated. Does this sound like you? If so, you’re one of an estimated 80 million Americans that suffer from dental fear. The dental team at our dental office in Sacramento understands that dental fear is very real and very hard to overcome, but we’re here to try to help.

Top 4 Causes of Dental Fear

Before we launch into some tips that can help ease your fear of the dentist, it’s important to take a look at some of the most common reasons why people have dental fear.

  • Pain
  • Loss of Control
  • Embarrassment
  • Negative Experience

All of these reasons may keep patients from maintaining regular visits with their dentist in Sacramento, and that’s concerning.

Regular Visits Are Important

According to the Dental Fears Research Clinic in Seattle, nearly 20% of Americans will only see the dentist when it’s absolutely necessary instead of taking a preventative approach to oral healthcare. While visiting the dentist may be uncomfortable and cause a lot of stress, seeing your dentist bi-annually can really help keep more involved treatments to a minimum and, in turn, lower anxiety typically associated with the dental office.

Overcome Your Fear

When a fear or anxiety is so strong, it may seem as if all hope is lost and you’ll never overcome it. But give yourself some credit. By opening and reading this blog, you’ve already taken the first step to understanding your fear and how to help alleviate it. Below we highlight our guide to overcoming dental fear. We hope it helps you continue to learn more about your fear and gives you some hope.

  • Talk with friends and family to get a list of potential dentists. Then pick up the phone and call them. Notice the feeling you have on the call and how your concerns are addressed before you even step into a dental office.
  • Take your pick of all the offices you spoke with and call them back to schedule a new patient appointment. Remember to be open and honest on that call about your dental fear so the team is prepared at your visit.
  • Bring a friend or family member to that first dental appointment, preferably one without a dental fear. Just knowing you have a trusted person with you can really help you relax and feel comfortable.
  • Distract yourself by bringing some music and headphones or talk with your dental team about any amenities they may have to help ease stress such as blankets, sunglasses, or noise cancelling headphone.
  • Always be honest with your Sacramento dentist and dental team. Dental professionals are committed to both your health and overall comfort and they should be willing to help you relax so you can get the best care.

If you’d like to come into our Sacramento dental office for a visit, we welcome you to give us a call. We’re always happy to see new patients and are dedicated to providing gentle dentistry in a relaxing and calm environment.  

Can a Custom Night Guard Help Stop Tooth Grinding?

dental night guardTooth grinding is a surprisingly common problem that affects many people. The frustrating part is you may not even realizing that you’re a grinder. At our dental office in Sacramento, we understand that tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, can most often be experienced during sleep, when you have no recollection of ever doing it. So how do you fix something that you may not even know you do? We’re glad you asked.

Recognize the Signs of Bruxism

Since bruxism can occur during sleep, and there’s no way you can be aware of it while you’re snoozing, knowing the signs can help you identify the problem.

  • Flat or chipped teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Waking up with sore jaw muscles
  • Neck or facial pain
  • Headaches

If notice any of these indicators of bruxism, talk with your dentist in Sacramento about the right treatment for you.

Night Guards for Bruxism

One of the most recommended treatments for those who grind their teeth is a custom night guard. These form-fitting appliances help protect your teeth from damage caused by rubbing them against each other. They can also help position your jaw in a comfortable position and limit your ability to move your jaw around during sleep. Night guards are available either over the counter or from your dentist.

Custom vs. Over The Counter Night Guards

While over the counter night guards tend to cost less, a custom-made night guard from your dentist ends up being the better, most cost-efficient choice. Custom night guards are created using professional molds of your teeth. This means they end up being more comfortable than their drugstore counterparts. Night guards made by a dentist also take your jaw position into consideration. Without adjusting the guard to fit your jaw alignment, you may just end up with more problems. Finally, custom-made, professional night guards tend to last up to 10 years while store-bought, boil and bite guards last for a considerably shorter amount of time.

Other Bruxism Treatments

Night guards are a common treatment for bruxism, but it’s not the only option available. Other treatments to help you stop grinding may include:

  • Straightening your teeth with orthodontics
  • Reducing stress
  • Limit caffeine intake

Tooth grinding isn’t something you need to live with. You can get relief and stop through proper treatment from your dentist. If you’re looking for a solution, or suspect you suffer from bruxism, we welcome you to call our Sacramento dental office. We’ll evaluate your individual situation and talk with you about the best treatment for you.

5 Things Your Sacramento Dentist Wants You to Know

dentist explains to patientAt our dental office in Sacramento, a large part of what we do involves educating our patients and community about all things related to oral health. While we’re always ready and willing to talk about dentistry, there are some key elements that we feel are the most important for you to know. Read on to learn the five things that topped our list…

Dental health is related to overall health.

Recent studies have identified a positive correlation between poor dental health and several systemic diseases including heart disease, oral cancer, and diabetes. Additionally, oftentimes these diseases will first show signs in the mouth. Like most illnesses, the earlier the problem is diagnosed, the more successful treatment tends to be. This makes maintaining your dental visits at least twice a year important for not only your oral health, but your overall health too.

Bi-annual dental appointments are important.

As we just stated, bi-annual dental appointments can help catch oral health or whole-body problems early, making treatment more successful. But there’s even more to these twice a year visits. At your dental checkups and cleanings, we’ll remove plaque or tartar build up, take x-rays, talk about any changes you’ve noticed, and get you all set for another six months of great oral health.   

So is brushing and flossing everyday.

Bi-annual dental visits aren’t the only way to help keep your smile healthy. Following a proper oral hygiene routine at home is also essential. Your dentist in Sacramento recommends brushing twice a day and flossing once a day to remove food particles, bacteria, and plaque. Just remember to brush gently using small circular motions to avoid damaging gum tissue.

What you eat affects your oral health.

A healthy diet isn’t only good for your body, it’s also good for your oral health, too. Besides following a balanced diet, you should limit sugar intake as well as carbohydrates. We all know that sugar leads to cavities, but carbohydrates can do the same. As carbs break down, they convert to simple sugars. Bacteria then feed on these sugars and produce an acidic byproduct. This acid then eats away at the protective tooth enamel, leaving teeth exposed to decay.  

It’s not normal for gums to bleed.

Believe it or not, but seeing a little bit, or a lot, of blood in the sink after brushing or flossing is not normal. In fact, bleeding gums can be a sign of gum disease, and gum disease is dangerous to both your smile and your body. If left untreated, gum disease could lead to tooth loss, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Don’t ignore bleeding gums and make sure to talk with your dentist about it at your next appointment.

If it’s been longer than six months since you’ve been to the dentist, we encourage you to call our Sacramento dental office to schedule an appointment with us today.

3 Reasons Your Child Should See the Dentist Before School Starts

back to school toddlerAt our dental office in Sacramento, we believe preventive dentistry is the best way to protect our patients’ smiles. That’s one reason we always recommend seeing us at least every six months. And when it comes to the children in our community, we also believe in getting each one of them a dental checkup before school starts.

There are numerous reasons why a dental cleaning and exam are important for kids’ smiles, especially before embarking on a new school year. Let’s take a closer look at the top three reasons why you should add a dental visit to your back to school checklist.  

It’s About More Than Oral Health

It’s the mission of your dentist in Sacramento to keep our neighbors’ mouths and bodies healthy. One way we do that is through regular exams and cleanings that allow us to identify and treat any problems early, before they have a chance to affect overall wellness. Some of the whole-body concerns that have been linked to poor oral health include:

Less Time Out of Class

We know how hard it is for kids to maintain perfect attendance throughout an entire school year. Things like the flu and the common cold happen and require children to miss class. However, dental problems are also a common reason for absence. In fact, the American Journal of Public Health Dentistry reports that of the six days of school missed each year on average, two of them were because of a dental related issue. Seeing the dentist before school begins can cut back on those oral health problems and help keep kids in the classroom.

A Healthy Mouth = Healthy Grades

If kids are missing school, they aren’t learning, and if kids aren’t learning, passing tests becomes increasingly difficult. There’s also a risk of kids becoming distracted by the pain brought on by a toothache or cavity during class.  Preventive dental care can help diagnose cavities early, before they become painful, and sealants can protect teeth from future decay.

At-Home Care is Important, Too

Getting a back to school dental checkup is a great way to check for any potential oral health problems that could keep kids out of class and potentially lead to other whole-body concerns. But it doesn’t stop there. Practicing good oral hygiene habits at home can go a long way in ensuring your child’s smile remains healthy all year long. A proper brushing and flossing routine consists of brushing gently in soft circles twice a day and flossing in between teeth once a day. You can help your child follow these good habits by doing them with him each morning and every night.

If your family doesn’t have a dentist, we welcome you to call our Sacramento dental office to schedule an appointment.

Receding Gums: Causes & Treatments

woman with receding gumsIf you’ve ever noticed gum tissue appear to creep up higher and higher over time, showing off more and more of the actual tooth, you’ve seen gum recession in action. Really slow action, but nonetheless, you’ve experienced it. Gum recession is incredibly common and can be treated. But our dental office in Sacramento wants to emphasize that just because it’s treatable, doesn’t mean you should let it go. It can be painful and be a sign of more serious problems.

Why is Gum Recession Concerning?

Besides helping to hold teeth in place, one responsibility of gums is to protect the roots of teeth. When gums start to recede, it leaves the roots exposed to the elements, making teeth sensitive and painful. If gum recession is left untreated, it will only lead to more serious and often painful problems including:

  • Severe inflammation
  • Increased susceptibility to bacteria
  • Erosion of bone and supporting tissues
  • Rotting teeth that will fall out

Top Causes of Gum Recession

There are a variety of things that can cause gum recession. While we can list multiple reasons here, the main culprits include:

  • Roughly brushing or using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Tooth grinding
  • Tobacco use
  • Genetics
  • Gum disease

Signs of Gum Recession

Gum recession is a slow process, and the best way to catch it early is to maintain regular visits with your dentist in Sacramento. In between appointments, keep an eye out for:

  • Teeth that appear longer
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Little indentations on the teeth near the gum line

Gum Recession Treatment

Treatment can vary greatly depending on the severity. Sometimes a new toothbrush and better flossing habits will keep it from progressing. For more serious cases, a deeper dental cleaning called scaling and root planing may be appropriate. People who have let the recession progress for a long time may need to explore a surgical option.

Gum recession isn’t something to take lightly. If you’re experiencing it yourself, we welcome you to call our Sacramento dental office. We’ll talk about your oral hygiene habits, examine your mouth for any other problems, and discuss the best treatment option for you.

What Your Teeth Are Trying to Tell You

young woman smilingDid you know that your teeth actually tell a fairly accurate, somewhat detailed story about who you are? They can give away your age, your hygiene habits, and so much more. At our dental office in Sacramento, we love meeting and treating smiles of all ages for this very reason. Now let’s take a moment to find out what your teeth are trying to tell you!

What’s Your Dental Identity?

The way your teeth are shaped and even positioned can reveal the details about your personal dental identity. Here’s how it all breaks down:

  1. Central Incisors – These bad boys are always front and center acting as your front teeth. They also reveal your age. Younger people tend to have rounded corners on their incisors, while the other generation will have short more square-shaped teeth.

  2. Lateral Incisors – Meet your front tooth’s next door neighbor! Like the rest of your teeth, they need to look good and function well help you break down food and stay healthy. Did you know they also reveal your gender? Our Sacramento dental office has found that these teeth tend to be more rounded in women while men’s laterals are square and long.

  3. Canines – Last but not least are your canines! They’re next to your laterals and, while their name may suggest otherwise, should not resemble the fang-shaped teeth commonly found on our furry friends. It’s been said that these teeth have the ability to tell someone about your personality, depending on their unique shape. Pointier, longer teeth can signify aggression. Flattened or rounded tips show passiveness. Smaller teeth can indicate shyness.

Are Your Teeth Feeling The Grind?

Do you grind your teeth? Do you maybe grind your teeth in your sleep and not even know you’re doing it? Well, if so your teeth can tell the truth! Grinding or bruxism is usually a sign of stress, anger, and anxiety. Your teeth may be showings signs of wear such as chips or breakage, this could mean you’re grinding whether or not you even know you’re doing it!

Aside from personality traits, gender, or habits, your smile really does say so much about who you are. That’s why your dentist in Sacramento wants to make sure your teeth are always healthy and functioning at peak performance. Do you have questions about what your teeth may be trying to tell you, or just want to learn more? Give us a call!

“It’s Been Awhile Since I’ve Seen The Dentist. What Do I Need to Know?”

anxious woman in dental chairWhether it’s been a couple of months, a couple of years, or even a couple of decades since you’ve seen your dentist in Sacramento, please know you’re not alone. We see patients frequently who are hesitant to schedule an appointment just because it’s been such a long time since they were seen by a dentist. Having a gap (big or small) between appointments is more common than you think and we’re here to let you know what to expect your first visit back so you can feel comfortable!

There’s No Time Like Right Now

There are a number of reasons why patients put off visiting our Sacramento dental office. Sometimes it’s due to insurance. Other times patients put off making an appointment because of a bad experience with a previous dental health care provider. Maybe life is just too busy or hectic and it’s just not something you think about until you have an issue. Please know it’s never too late to get a checkup and learn more about your oral heath. In fact, the sooner you come see us, the better!

“What Can I Do To Prepare for My First Appointment?”

Don’t be nervous! We’re here to help and are excited to welcome both new and returning patients into our dental family. It’s always a good idea to arrive a little early to make sure the necessary paperwork is in order. (And it gives you a few minutes to meet all the friendly folks who work in the office.) Be sure to jot down all of the current medications you’re taking and also any questions you may want to ask.

“What Can I Expect at The Exam?”

No matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen the dentist, every patient will receive a thorough exam and x-rays. This information is crucial because it allows for a more personalized assessment of your oral health. We will also check the status of your gums to look for any indication of disease. Things like broken or missing teeth, cavities, etc. are relatively common and we simply chart everything to make sure we have a clear picture of any immediate and possible future treatment needs. Your exam is also a good time to let our dental team know about any other issues we should be aware of such as aches, pains, clenching, grinding, etc.

We’re positive that once you’re in our dental office in Sacramento, you’ll feel right at home. There’s no better time to take charge of your oral health so you enjoy better overall health too. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to give us a call! We can’t wait to see you.

5 Favorite Treats That Can Crack Teeth

biscottiThere are a lot of things that can cause tooth damage. We’ve seen cracked teeth from sports injuries, loose teeth caused by clenching and grinding, and there’s always the chance for us to treat someone for a simple cavity. But at our Sacramento dental office, it’s also pretty common for us to have patients come in with tooth damage caused by eating. There are several types of foods that are most often responsible for these types of cases, so we’ve put together a list of some of the top culprits for you to help you avoid tooth damage from foods.

  • PopcornNotoriously viewed as the #1 worst food for teeth, popcorn can seem harmless, but the danger tends to hide within the puffy, airy, buttery treat. We’re talking about the kernels. These sneaky, hard bits of popcorn can cause some serious damage if bitten on, so snack away carefully.
  • BaguettesWhen we talk about bread, we typically think about soft, easily chewable sandwich bread. But there’s another type out there that isn’t so easy to nibble. Baguettes have a hard, crispy texture that’s hard to rip and difficult to chew and it can cause some problems for teeth and dental restorations.
  • Olive PitsAny type of food that naturally contains a pit or a seed, like olives, is dangerous to your teeth. While oftentimes the pit is removed, there are occasions when it’s not. Since we may not know when the pit is gone, we recommend eating these types of foods with caution as to not quickly bite down and crack a tooth.
  • CandyIt’s pretty well known that candy isn’t great for teeth, but some types of candy are worse than others. Sticky candy like caramels aren’t only tough to chew, they can loosen fillings and other dental restorations. Hard candy isn’t much better. Although it’s meant to be sucked down and softened to a manageable size, sometimes we become impatient and start chewing right away. This can break teeth.
  • Ice CubesIce cubes are hard by nature and can be useful when helping to cool down a drink. But we should never chew on them. Eating ice can cause teeth to chip or even to sustain tiny cracks. These cracks may remain unnoticeable, but over time, they’re a great place for bacteria to hide and eat away at enamel creating cavities.

We want our patients to enjoy what they eat, so we’re not asking you to avoid these foods altogether. We’d just encourage you to use caution when eating them to reduce your risk of damage. If you do happen to crack a tooth with a popcorn kernel or lose a filling thanks to a caramel, give our dental office in Sacramento a call. We’ll be glad to help.

Understanding Dental X-Rays

male dentist examining x-rayWhen you come to your appointments at our dental office in Sacramento, there’s a good chance we may recommend taking some x-rays of your mouth. And for good reason. Dental x-rays are critical in helping us detect a number of potential oral health problems early, often making treatment easier and more affordable. What our patients may not know is there are various types of dental x-rays that are appropriate to help diagnose different issues. In this blog, we cover some of the most common types of dental x-rays and why dentists use them.

Two Main Categories of X-Rays

When referring to dental x-rays, or radiographs, we are either referencing intraoral x-rays or extraoral x-rays. Extraoral x-rays take a view of the entire mouth structure, including the teeth, jaw, and skull while intraoral x-rays are more about the details of each tooth. Each category of x-ray is beneficial in its own way, depending on what your dentist in Sacramento is looking for.

Intraoral X-Rays

Since intraoral x-rays show such a detailed view of the teeth, they’re great at helping dentists identify specific problems that otherwise would be undetectable including:

The most common type of x-rays taken at most dental offices fall into the intraoral category and are known as bitewing x-rays. Bitewings x-rays are used so frequently because they can successfully detect even the tiniest cavity that the naked eye wouldn’t be able to see. When caught early, cavities are much easier to treat.

Extraoral X-Rays

The images produced from extraoral x-rays often show the bigger picture and look at the entire anatomy of the mouth and skull. Extraoral x-rays can help examine:

  • Tooth Growth & Development
  • The Relationship Between the Teeth & Jaw
  • Impacted Teeth

If you need an extraoral x-rays, you’ll most likely have a panoramic x-ray taken. The photos from a panoramic x-ray show the entire mouth and are helpful in diagnosing problems with your jaw joint (TMJ), developing wisdom teeth, or even a tumor.

Dental x-rays are incredibly safe as they emit a low amount of radiation. But that doesn’t mean you should go crazy and get as many as possible. How often you should get dental x-rays taken depends on your age and your oral health. If you’re at higher risk for decay, our Sacramento dental office may recommend x-rays at each visit twice a year. If not, we may only suggest them once a year. Either way, having x-rays of your mouth completed regularly will help keep your smile healthy.

All About Oral Cancer

oral cancer riskApril is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and our dental office in Sacramento thought we should dedicate a blog this month to help educate our patients and community on the prevalence of oral cancer in America, what increases someone’s likelihood of developing the disease, and how to spot signs of oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Statistics

Like any other cancer, oral cancer is a complicated disease that takes the lives of many individuals. While scientists continue researching cures and treatments are always improving, the data surrounding the oral cancer epidemic is still scary.

  • According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, nearly 50,000 Americans will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2017.
  • Of those, only a little over half are expected to live longer than 5 years.
  • This year alone, oral cancer will kill one person every hour of every day.
  • Across the globe, an estimated 450,000 oral cancer diagnoses are made each year.

Oral Cancer Risks

While anyone can develop oral cancer, there are several factors that increase the likelihood of diagnosis. Of these, there are few we can control and others we can’t.

  • The top risk factor is tobacco use. An estimated 80% of oral cancer patients are, or have been, tobacco users.
  • As we get older, our risk of oral cancer increases. The majority of oral cancer patients are over the age of 55.
  • Gender can also play a role. Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
  • Drinking alcohol heavily also increases your risk.   

Oral Cancer Symptoms

  • Pain while swallowing, chewing, or speaking
  • Changes in voice
  • A sore or discoloration that doesn’t go away after two weeks
  • A lump inside the mouth or neck
  • Chronic bad breath

Signs of oral cancer can be similar to other non-serious oral health issues. If you notice any of the symptoms above, we strongly encourage you to call your dentist in Sacramento as soon as you can. Early detection of oral cancer greatly increases the chance for successful treatment. This is also one reason why you should see your dentist at least every six months.

At our Sacramento dental office, we care about keeping our neighbors healthy. If there are any questions we can answer, or if you’re looking for advice on oral cancer treatment, give us a call.