Invisalign: The Clear Alternative to Braces

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Teeth straightening today offers many options. There are metal bands and brackets that now come in a variety of colors appealing to younger patients; but teens and adults that wish to straighten their teeth have choices too … and many are opting for Invisalign clear aligners.

The advantages of Invisalign are numerous:

Clear – This makes teeth straightening a virtually invisible method.

Removable – This is an important component for a couple of reasons. Patients that can remove their dental braces are free to enjoy all the foods they love. Simply remove the aligners, enjoy your snack or meal, and replace. Secondly, the patient can brush and floss thoroughly without cumbersome braces to get in the way.

Comfortable – The aligners are made without wires or metal. They are firm enough to gently shift teeth to their correct placement without abrading soft oral tissues in the process.

Convenient – With standard metal braces, the patient must see the dentist to have wires tightened to keep the straightening process moving forward. With Invisalign, the aligners are simply replaced every two weeks … each aligner is designed to keep teeth moving toward the correct occlusion.

Invisalign is ideal for resolving an over bite, under bite, or cross bite. A consultation with your dentist will involve photographs, x-rays, and dental impressions. These are the tools that will be used by the Invisalign lab to fabricate the series of aligners using 3-D digital technology. They will develop aligners based on the length of time determined to resolve your malocclusion.

The aligners need to be worn twenty to twenty-two hours every day. When each aligner is replaced every two weeks, the new aligner will feel very snug. That is because at the end of this two week period, your teeth should have been shifted to where the aligner no longer feels tight. This is how the process gradually moves teeth to their new placement.

At treatment conclusion, no matter what type of orthodontic treatment you choose, you will be given a retainer to be worn. The retainer will allow your teeth to develop a memory for their new location. Failure to execute this part of the program will allow your teeth to possibly shift back to their former location. Don’t waste months or years of treatment … wear your retainer as directed.

To learn more about Invisalign or other services we offer, contact our team at Anderson Dentistry today.

Oral Piercings: The Hidden Risks to Your Health

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Tongue and lip rings may be trendy, but is a fashion statement truly worth the risks it may present to your health? Educate yourself on the potential pitfalls that oral piercings can have for your oral health as well as your general well-being. If you still decide to proceed with an oral piercing, be sure that you are taking all necessary precautions to minimize your risks.

As is the case with any piercing or opening in the soft tissues of the mouth, a lip or tongue ring does present the risk of infection. This risk may be more pronounced in the mouth, which is a warm, moist environment that is hospitable to bacteria growth. If you get an oral piercing, it’s essential to keep it clean to limit the likelihood of infection. Pain and swelling can also be problematic with a lip or tongue piercing, and the latter can be life-threatening if the swelling is severe enough to restrict your airway’s opening.

Similarly, patients who have sensitivities to certain metals can experience an allergic reaction to an oral piercing, and this can also cause swelling.

A lip or tongue piercing can also damage your teeth, which might require a dentist to place a restoration of some sort to address the damage. Many people with tongue piercings get in the bad habit of running the piercing along their teeth, and doing so can cause chips and cracks in the teeth. Oral piercings may also cause lacerations or other injuries in the soft oral tissues.

Depending on the location of the piercing, it can also be an obstruction in imaging needed by your dentist for your care, like x-rays. It can also cause you to drool excessively, and you may experience some nerve damage from the piercing, although this typically reverses with time.

If you already have an oral piercing, be sure that you know how to care for it properly. Check in with us for tips and suggestions for keeping your mouth as healthy as possible.

Look Carefully at Dry Mouth: Causes and Treatment

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Xerostomia, commonly called “dry mouth”, is a common symptom that affects many people and can have varying effects on oral health. The causes of dry mouth do vary as well. If you suffer with dry mouth on a consistent basis, we recommend that you bring this up with our dentist at your next appointment. During your appointment, we might inquire about lifestyle habits and which medications and supplements you take to help narrow down the underlying cause of dry mouth. In many cases, xerostomia is exacerbated by medical conditions, common medications, and lifestyle habits.

Causes of Dry Mouth

More than likely, dry mouth is a sign of another issue. Sometimes, patients who take anti-histamines to fight allergies or other medications such as anti-depressants will suffer from dry mouth. Medical conditions like diabetes contribute to xerostomia as well. Both medical conditions and medication can affect the production of saliva and subsequently cause one to experience dry mouth.

Lifestyle choices such as drinking alcohol, inadequate water consumption, and smoking cigarettes also contribute to insufficient saliva production.

The Importance of Saliva
Saliva production is very important to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. We like to think of saliva as nature’s way of rinsing the mouth. Saliva can help patients swallow small particles of food and it can dilute acidic compounds, which weaken tooth enamel. Soft oral tissues such as the gums and linings of cheeks benefit from saliva production as well. It is important for these tissues to remain moist. Patients with persistent dry mouth typically have a higher incidence of gum disease and tooth decay.

Treating Dry Mouth

The first line of treating dry mouth is to evaluate a patient’s lifestyle habits. If patients drink or smoke, our dentist will likely recommend abstaining from these substances. Adequate hydration is also important. We encourage patients to drink at least 64-ounces of water daily.

Since diminished saliva affects the health of teeth and gums, patients should practice very thorough oral hygiene including daily flossing and twice-daily brushing. Scheduling regular dental cleanings and checkups will also help safeguard oral health.

Contact Anderson Dentistry at either of our convenient locations today to schedule a checkup or cleaning.

Can frequent headaches signal a dental problem?

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Individuals that suffer with frequent headaches should pursue their origin. Your dentist is a good place to start. Chances are you may be due for your six month check-up so you can accomplish this important task at the same time.

Headaches, jaw pain, neck discomfort … these are possible signals that the source could be due to teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Patients often initiate teeth grinding subconsciously during periods of sleep. This act can occur for several reasons.

Adults that deal with daily stressors often grind and clench. And the things we stress about are sometimes common and unavoidable such as work, school, family, finances, and the things we must do to deal with them such as commuter traffic or not enough time in the day to complete tasks.

Although you might not be able to eliminate the root causes that produce stress, there are steps you can take to limit the side effects. In addition to things like counseling, your dentist may recommend the use of a night guard.

A night guard that is designed especially for you can comfortably and effectively relieve the habit of teeth grinding and jaw clenching while you sleep. When this habit acquired during sleep is eliminated, the daytime habit you have probably adopted should subside as well.

It’s not just stress that can result in teeth grinding and clenching. A malocclusion is a condition where the top teeth do not properly align with the bottom teeth. When biting down the teeth slip off each other instead of making solid contact. This could also promote grinding and clenching.

TMJ disorder is another condition that can result in headache. TMJ is an acronym for temporomandibular joint. This joint is located where the jawbone and skull intersect. Every time you open or close your mouth to eat, speak, smile, cough, or yawn … any of these actions can lead to discomfort. Although this ache is focused primarily in the face, neck, or jaw, it can lead to head pain too.

Once a diagnosis has been rendered, the likelihood of finding relief through the use of a mouth guard is very high. Your dentist will work with you to find the material and model that will provide the optimum fit and functionality to provide relief.

To learn more or to schedule your next visit, contact Anderson Dentistry at either of our convenient locations.

How can I tell if I have gingivitis or gum disease?

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Multiple symptoms provide clues to your dental condition. It is most often that a combination of these problems should raise the awareness flag that you may be dealing with the onset of gum disease. Your dentist will educate you on what to look for when your dental health may be at risk including:

  • Bleeding gums: Sometimes gums may bleed if you are using a hard bristle tooth brush and too much pressure while brushing. The simple answer is to use a soft tooth brush and less exertion. An electronic tooth brush is often recommended as it does a very thorough job and since most come with a timer, the patient is encouraged to brush the recommended two minutes every time. If gum tissue is bleeding without provocation, you may be experiencing one symptom of gingivitis.
  • Gum tissue appearance: If gums are red or swollen, this is not normal. Healthy gum tissue is firm and pink.
  • Bad breath: Strong or aromatic foods and beverages can cause bad breath; however, if bad breath is chronic and you always seem to emanate a sour smell, this is a sign of some type of infection.
  • Receding gum tissue: While some gum recession occurs as we age, if gums appear to be pulling away from teeth, this represents a serious condition.
  • Loose teeth: A trip to the dentist is needed right away. Loose teeth signal the possibility of bone loss which is a sure sign of periodontitis or gum disease. Immediate treatment is needed; hopefully it is not too late to save the affected teeth.

Many patients believe all teeth must be involved with gum disease. It is possible to experience problems with one area, one arch, or the majority of your teeth. Self-diagnosing is never a good idea. If you suspect a problem, trust your instincts and see your dentist.

Even patients who diligently brush and floss daily and keep regular visits to the dentist are not exempt from the possibility of experiencing gum disease. However, patients that keep to a consistent schedule with their dental provider are less likely to experience serious problems that require long term care to correct.

Once gum disease is diagnosed, your dentist may recommend an anti-bacterial rinse to add to your daily oral regimen to help with maintaining control of gum disease in the future.

If it’s time to schedule your next appointment, contact Anderson Dentistry today.

Harmful Dental Habits to Avoid

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It seems we’re always being told what to do … employer, spouse, parent, teacher, doctor … instructions are never ending. But when something as important as your teeth are concerned, listening to the advice from your dentist could save you lots of time, money, discomfort, and aggravation.

As children, our baby teeth fall out and our permanent teeth emerge. How we take care of our teeth can make a huge difference in many of life’s pleasures. Our dentist tells us how to brush, when to brush, what to brush with, and to make sure we floss every day. These are critical steps needed to try to maintain great dental health.

But your dentist may not caution you about what not to do, probably believing you already know these common sense things to avoid:

Tobacco use – We learned over a half century ago about the perils involved with smoking and tobacco use. While many adhere to the cautionary tales, many people continue to risk their overall health and the loss of their teeth to partake of tobacco products.

Neglect – We only get one set of permanent, biological teeth. Lack of daily care and passing up on regular dental visits can lead to the development of dental decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.

Nail biting – A habit often brought on due to anxiety, nail biting is harmful to teeth and very unsanitary. Fingernail chewing is often seen in youngsters and teens, and is often eventually outgrown; but the damage may have already been done.

Grinding and Clenching – Another habit that often is the result of tension or anxiety, teeth grinding may start subconsciously during periods of sleep. If allowed to continue, teeth can be worn down, cracked, chipped, or broken resulting in extensive dental repair.

Opening device – Scissors, clip knives, and bottle openers were invented for specific uses that teeth were never intended to do.

Chewing hard objects – Chewing or biting into ice or rock candy; chewing inanimate objects like pen tops or erasers; or abusing teeth by chewing anything hard or abrasive … these actions can result in broken teeth.

There may be something unforeseen that results in tooth loss. But avoiding the things that are almost certain to have a negative impact on your teeth makes perfect sense. Your teeth are critical to your daily functions of speaking, eating, and smiling.

For more information or to schedule your next exam, contact our skilled team at Anderson Dentistry today.

Common Misconceptions About Dental Health

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Maintaining excellent dental health is more than just producing a beautiful smile. While your teeth’s appearance says a lot about you, your overall health is very dependent on the care you give to your mouth. We all know we are supposed to brush and floss daily, but are biannual visits to the dentist as important? The response is a resounding YES!

Ongoing research has linked oral health with deadly illnesses and diseases like heart attack, stroke, and diseases of the immune system. In addition, many cases of oral cancer are discovered during the dental exam performed by your dental provider. Waiting until a problem has occurred can be a deadly mistake.

There are many misconceptions surrounding dental health and its importance in our day-to-day living. For instance, many people think cavities are unavoidable. However, there are preventive measures that can be taken to safeguard teeth not already affected by decay, such as dental sealant. This protective covering is spread over the chewing surfaces of teeth, filling in the pits and openings where dental decay often begins.

With the consumption of bottled water and specialty drinks today, individuals may be lacking the built-in fluoride protection from tap water. If so, your dentist offers fluoride treatments in the office. In addition, there are fluoridated toothpastes, gels, and rinses to enhance dental care.

A lost or missing tooth is unnatural and can alter the way we eat, speak, and smile. Accepting tooth loss as a part of aging is unnecessary. There are multiple ways to resolve lost teeth, and your dental provider can discuss the options with you.

Gum disease often gets its start due to neglecting daily oral hygiene. Seeing your dentist every six months for a cleaning and an exam is not a substitute for daily brushing and flossing. Develop a daily dental hygiene regimen, and stick with it.

Tobacco use endangers overall health but can also significantly impact your oral health. Smokers are much more likely to be faced with gum issues, like periodontal disease, that contribute to tooth loss. Tobacco use also prolongs dental problems by preventing or elongating natural healing.

Because of the threats that bad oral health poses, exceptional care should be given to keep teeth healthy which includes daily brushing, flossing, and six month dental visits. If you haven’t had a check-up or cleaning in a while, call Anderson Dentistry today to set up an appointment with one of our caring dentists!

Do genetics play a role in the overall health of teeth?

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Do cavities or other dental conditions seem to run in your family? It’s probably not your imagination. Genetic factors can influence the health of your teeth and gums.

In fact, your dentist may review your family history of oral diseases with you to see if there are any conditions for which you may face a higher risk. There appears to be a genetic component to gum disease, as well as to jaw deformities and conditions that may contribute to crowding of the teeth. Families may also share a tendency to have thinner enamel, which makes their teeth seem “softer” than normal.

Your family members can influence your oral health in ways that go beyond your DNA, as well. For example, studies have shown significant similarities among the oral bacteria found in cavities in close family members, who may swap these bacteria when sharing meals from the same plate or kissing.

Additionally, if your parents don’t demonstrate healthy oral hygiene behaviors to you and encourage you to maintain good habits and take you to regular appointments with your dentist, you’re less likely to develop a good regimen on your own.

…a good dental hygiene routine is a must for all patients, regardless of their family’s history of oral health problems.

While genetics can affect your oral health, bad genes don’t necessarily automatically mean that you’ll get more cavities or develop gum disease. It’s important to know what steps to take to protect your oral health if you do face an increased likelihood of problems due to genetics.

Obviously, a good dental hygiene routine is a must for all patients, regardless of their family’s history of oral health problems. If you have “soft” teeth or come from a family that is more prone to gum disease, it’s even more critical that you brush and floss adequately to minimize the presence of oral bacteria.

Patients with known genetic factors that affect their oral health should also be extra conscientious about visiting their dentist at least every six months. Regular checkups give dentists a chance to diagnose and begin treating oral disease at their earliest stages before they cause extensive damage.

We encourage our patients to be aware of genetic factors that can contribute to oral health problems and bring them to the dentist’s attention. Feel free to bring up this subject at your next appointment. Contact our team at Anderson Dentistry today to schedule your visit.

Tips to Protect Tooth Enamel

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Although tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it can still erode. When it does, your teeth may be more susceptible to decay, and they can also become more sensitive. Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your tooth enamel from breaking down.

If your dentist notices signs of worn enamel, it’s important to understand what habits or aspects of your life could be at fault. Many things can cause tooth enamel to wear away. Here is a listing of some of the most common factors and how to reduce your risk of damage from them:

Dry mouth: Saliva is important because it helps to reduce the acidity in the mouth. If you don’t have enough saliva, the acids produced by bacteria can build up and affect your enamel. Drink lots of water or consider an artificial saliva product if you have trouble with dry mouth.

Bruxism (teeth grinding): If there is evidence that you are grinding your teeth in your sleep, talk to your dentist about being fitted with a custom mouthguard to prevent this issue.

Acidic foods and beverages: Excessive consumption of acidic foods and beverages can harm your teeth, so limiting those items may help you to protect your enamel. When you do drink acidic beverages, try to do so through a straw, which limits the contact of the drink with your teeth.

Medical conditions: Stomach acids can eat away at your enamel, so getting treatment for issues like bulimia or acid reflux can benefit your oral health as well as your overall well-being.

You may notice some symptoms that indicate worn enamel on your own, too. Check in with your dentist if you’re experiencing any of the following:

  • Rough edges on the teeth
  • Teeth that have become noticeably more sensitive
  • Yellowed teeth (more so than the patient’s typical shade)
  • Dents on the biting surface

It’s important to protect your tooth enamel to promote good oral health. Talk our team of dental professionals at Anderson Dentistry about other suggestions to prevent enamel erosion. Call 817-485-2111 to schedule your visit.

Smoking and Your Dental Health

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Most patients are aware of the health dangers associated with smoking, but many do not realize how smoking affects dental health. Signs of smoking are obvious to the dentist, and maintaining regular checkups, professional cleaning appointments, and screenings throughout life will help detect early signs of more serious health problems, improving the potential for success with treatment intervention. In addition to cleaning teeth and looking for cavities, the dentist checks for signs of cancer, infection, gum disease, and other oral health-related conditions.

Obvious signs of smoking habits are found in discoloration of the teeth, especially in the front where the strongest contact with cigarette smoke occurs. These stains are extremely difficult to remove, and many are permanent when developed over a long period of time. Smoking enhances plaque and tartar buildup on teeth, and this contributes to greater numbers of cavities, especially in patients that are not extremely diligent with home oral hygiene and self-care habits. While flossing daily and brushing at least twice daily can improve conditions, smoking will continue to make things worse.

Obvious signs of smoking habits are found in discoloration of the teeth, especially in the front where the strongest contact with cigarette smoke occurs.

Detecting smoke on the breath, or overall bad breath, can also be a chronic problem for patients who smoke, and can continue for a while after the patient begins the process of quitting. In addition to the odor associated with smoker’s breath, inflammation in the saliva glands of the mouth can lead to dry mouth conditions, which worsen bad breath and support an increase in the harmful bacteria that leads to cavities and gum disease. Receding gums, leading to sensitivity in teeth along the gum line, is also a sign of a smoking condition that greatly affects dental health. If left untreated, the condition worsens to advanced stages of gum disease.

Serious conditions associated with smoking include oral cancer, including throat cancer, bone loss and slower healing. Smoking can make tooth repairs and dental implants more challenging, if needed, and as the dental health conditions worsen they spread to other parts of the body affecting overall health. While smoking is a choice, discussing options with the dentist can make a difference in patient efforts to quit.

For more information on improving oral and overall health, contact Anderson Dentistry at 817-485-2111 today.