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When to seek emergency dental care

Sometimes it’s easy to know you when to seek emergency dental care, and other times it’s not so clear. A sore gum, a cracked tooth or broken tooth aren’t good signs, but are they emergencies? It’s important to know the difference between something that can wait a week, and something that needs immediate attention. Left untreated, seemingly minor problems can quickly turn into major issues.

When you need emergency dental care

Broken or Chipped Tooth – Broken or chipped teeth are usually the result of some sort of trauma — getting hit in the face by a stray ball, a fall that impacts your mouth, etc. Sometimes, a tooth can break or chip by biting down on something hard, such as nuts or a piece of hard candy. Sometimes, they’re a result of tooth decay. Whatever the reason, it’s important to get a broken or chipped tooth taken care of immediately. Left untreated, it may become infected and cause more serious or even irreparable damage to the tooth.

Cracked (Fractured) Tooth – A cracked tooth is also susceptible to infection and should be taken care of immediately. Like a chipped or broken tooth, waiting can lead to much more serious problems, even to the point of needing an extraction. The American Dental Society recommends immediately rinsing your mouth with warm water and placing a cold compress on your face to reduce swelling.

Extreme Pain – Most people suffering the extreme and relentless pain of a “toothache” don’t need to be told they need emergency care — they can’t wait to see the dentist to repair whatever is causing so much misery. Remember that pain is a signal from your body that something is wrong, and it’s not going to go away until you address the cause of the pain.

Knocked Out Tooth – A knocked out tooth is an emergency and it’s important to get to the dentist as soon as possible. If you can get yourself and the tooth to a dentist within a half-hour, the dentist can often re-implant it successfully. Longer than that, and the chances are greatly reduced. According to the American Dental Society, it’s essential to keep the tooth moist by placing it in your mouth between your cheek and gums or submerging it in a jar of milk for the trip to the dentist. If your regular dentist can’t see you, get to a dental clinic immediately!

Abscessed Tooth – An abscessed tooth is an infected tooth and is a dental emergency. Usually by the time the abscess appears, the infection has reached the tooth’s root. The abscess often needs draining before the tooth can be treated, and antibiotics prescribed to knock out the infection.

Jaw Injuries – If you injure your jaw and it swells or you have trouble opening and closing your mouth, you need to see a dentist immediately to make sure it’s not broken. Place a cold compress on your face in the interim to reduce swelling.

When a dental emergency occurs, don’t try to “tough it out” with self-treatments that will only treat and mask the symptoms. Contact your dentist immediately to seek emergency dental care.

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Why is flossing important?

My dentist is always telling me I should floss. It’s a part of their farewell to me as I walk out the door, “Thanks for coming in, don’t forget to floss!” We hear it all the time, but we always wonder–why is flossing important?

Why Does My Dentist Tell Me to Floss?

Earlier this year, there were a lot of questions surrounding the necessity of flossing. When the government neglected to include flossing as a part of their 2015 Dietary Guidelines, many people interpreted that to mean that the government was saying flossing really isn’t important. In reality, The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was just choosing to focus on food and nutrient intake, so they removed the flossing guidelines.
Since these developments, both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the ADA have reaffirmed the importance of flossing in maintaining a healthy mouth. The ADA recommends flossing once per day, in order to get rid of the plaque that avoids your toothbrush and gets left to harden.

When to floss

The ADA says that the most important part of flossing is just taking the time to do it. It doesn’t really matter whether you do it before you brush or after, as long as you do it, and you take the time to do it right.
You should start flossing your child’s teeth when they have two teeth that touch, because they start accumulating plaque as soon as they have teeth, so you need to make sure you get the space between their teeth clean. You may have to help your children floss until they are old enough to have the coordination to do it without hurting themselves.

Now you know why your dentist always reminds you to floss every time you see them. Without cleaning between your teeth everyday, you’re only preventing some of the problems that plaque buildup can cause. You’re neglecting a whole part of your mouth! Remember to floss–your mouth will thank you.



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How to Find the Right Family Dentist

A family dentist can provide dental care to your whole family. From kids to adults to senior adults, a family dentist is skilled in dental care for all ages. This can be a great convenience for your family because you can get everyone taken care of in the same place. How do you find the one that’s right for you? Here are 7 steps to finding a good family dentist in your area.

7 Steps to Finding the Right Family Dentist

  1. Make a list of the things you’re looking for in a family dentist. Your list may include things like affordability, the types of insurance accepted, flexible hours, range of treatments and specialties (an on-site oral surgeon is a big plus), handling of emergencies, education and the amount of time you have to wait for appointments. Then, use your list as a guide for assessing potential dentists.
  2. Call your dental insurance carrier and ask for a list of providers. Dental care will be cheaper if you choose one of their in-network providers since most insurance companies require a deductible and a co-payment for out-of-network providers.
  3. Look for a dentist that is near either your home or work place, or along a route you frequently travel, so that it’s convenient to get to.
  4. Ask your friends, neighbors and coworkers if they use a family dentist that they would recommend. You can also ask your primary care physician, who might know a good family dentist in the area.
  5. Take your list of referrals and eliminate any that are too far out-of-the-way, don’t accept your dental insurance, or are otherwise not a good match for your original wish list.
  6. Contact the dentists remaining on your list of referrals to see if they are a good match. Ask questions about everything on your list.
  7. Visit the dentist(s) you are considering to see how their office interacts with you and your family.


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Dentistry for Children – What You Need to Know

The first year of your child’s life can feel like a whirlwind. Time is flying by so fast, you probably feel like you’re barely keeping up. In the midst of all the craziness, it’s important that you take some time to give a little attention to your baby’s mouth and teeth.

What You Need to Know

  1. When should I take my child to the dentist? – The ADA recommends that you take your child to their first dentist visit before their first birthday.
  2. When should I start brushing my child’s teeth? – The ADA says you should start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they appear. This is because “as soon as teeth appear, decay can occur,” according to the ADA.
  3. How often should I brush my child’s teeth? – The ADA recommends that you brush your child’s teeth twice a day. You can start flossing as soon as they have teeth to floss between.
  4. When will I start seeing baby teeth? – You can expect to start seeing those little baby teeth around the 6-month mark.

Having Trouble Getting Your Kids to Brush?

For some kids that are old enough to say no, brushing is just an inconvenience they don’t want to deal with. After all, there are better things to do like racing cars around the room or finding something to climb on. If these are your kids, try coming up with a tooth brushing song! If you can make brushing their teeth something fun and interactive, they are more likely to get into the habit of doing it, and are less likely to put up a fuss about it. Need some ideas? Here are 7 tooth-brushing tunes to get you started.

Good Habits are the Foundation of Dentistry for Children

Building good oral hygiene habits when they are young is essential to making sure your kids grow up with healthy smiles. Brushing twice a day and flossing are two of the most important habits they can get into, and will go a long way towards preventing more serious issues down the road. And of course, regular checkups and cleanings at the dentist will help catch any problems before they become too serious.


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Getting a Perfect Smile

Getting that perfect smile you’ve always wanted starts with the basics of good oral hygiene. That means twice daily brushing and once a day flossing. Lots of people skip the flossing, which is a big mistake since food particles left between teeth not only causes bad breath, it can cause plaque and tartar build-up and can even lead to gum disease.

Regular Checkups

You’ve heard it time and again, but it bears repeating — get regular dental checkups and cleanings. This not only helps ward off tooth decay and other problems, but ensures that existing problems are caught early before they get more serious. Regular visits with the dental hygienist also ensure that your teeth look their very best.

Taking Care of Problems

You should take care of any cavities immediately so they don’t get worse and require more extensive work. If you find you must have a tooth removed, discuss options for replacing it with your dentist. Depending on how many teeth are missing and what your budget is like, this may involve a dental implant or a partial denture. Failing to replace missing teeth can cause your remaining teeth to shift position, affecting your bite and potentially causing noticeable gaps between teeth.

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Getting Straight Teeth

Your teeth can’t look their best if they’re not straight and even. Underbites, overbites, crossbites, and gaps can all be corrected with braces. There’s no reason to balk at the idea of wearing braces at any age. Today there are clear options, like Invisalign braces. Invisalign is a set of clear plastic aligners that gently re-position your teeth without the hassle of wires or the visibility of metal braces. Every two weeks, a new aligner is inserted and this process continues until your teeth are in line and straight.

Teeth Whitening

There’s no doubt about it – a key part of a perfect smile is bright white teeth. There are several different methods for getting a brighter smile.

  • Whitening Toothpaste – Will brighten your teeth and remove some surface stains.
  • Whitening Strips – These are applied to your teeth for an allotted amount of time. Some people have problems getting even and complete coverage on the surface of your teeth.
  • Whitening Trays – You can use whitening trays at home, but an even better option is to have your dentist mold the trays to fit your teeth precisely. The dentist can also speed and improve the process by using ultra-violet light while you’re wearing the trays.

Following these steps will help you have a healthy mouth, and a perfect smile.


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After-Care Guidelines for Oral Surgery

Just like any other type of surgery, what the patient does in the hours and days following the procedure can make a big difference in their comfort and recovery. That’s why proper after-care for oral surgery is absolutely essential.

Certain symptoms are fairly common after oral surgery and are not necessarily cause for alarm. They include swelling, mild bleeding and mild to moderate pain.

What to Do

  • Bleeding is common following oral surgery. You should reduce your activity level to help keep the bleeding to a minimum. You can also apply pressure to the area for 10 minutes with sterile gauze. If it does not stop on the first try, keep applying pressure for another 10-15 minutes.
  • To reduce swelling and the pain that accompanies it, hold an ice pack on your face for 20 minutes, then remove it for 10 minutes. Repeat this procedure during your waking hours for the first day. Then discontinue icing. If you have had a gingival graft procedure, DO NOT use ice.
  • You can take 600mg of Ibuprofen every 4 hours for the first week after surgery. Make sure to take it with food, which should help avoid indigestion.

Eating and Drinking After Oral Surgery

Eat a soft diet for the first week after surgery, or longer if needed. Avoid crunchy foods, hot or spicy food, and popcorn. DO NOT drink with a straw or smoke during the first 48 hours after surgery.


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What Else Do You Need to Know?

  • Continue to brush your teeth as you normally would, but be extra-careful in the area where you had surgery.
  • Take any pain medication or antibiotics prescribed by your doctor exactly as prescribed.
  • Give your body time to rest. Avoid doing any strenuous activity or exercise.
  • Don’t smoke or use chewing tobacco. Both will delay healing.

You may need a follow-up appointment after your surgery to have stitches or dressings removed and to ensure that your healing process is progressing as it should. Your dentist will let you know if this is necessary.

With a little extra care following your procedure, you can make your recovery a much more comfortable experience.


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So You Want Straight Teeth

So, you’ve just found out that your teeth need straightening, and you’re left thinking “I want straight teeth, but I don’t want braces“.

Well, you’re in luck! Because these days, there are alternatives to metal braces available to many patients.

What Is Invisalign?

Invisalign uses a series of aligner plates that are custom created specifically for your very own teeth. These plates are made out of a plastic that is practically invisible, does not attach to your teeth and gives you a whole lot more freedom to eat than traditional metal braces.

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Straight Teeth with Invisalign

Even if you have heard of Invisalign, you may still have some questions regarding the process. Here’s how it works.

  • Consultation: First, you will want to set up a consultation with a dentist who is experienced in Invisalign treatments. During this visit, you and your dentist will discuss the treatment, whether it’s the best option for your specific situation and how the process will work for you specifically. If you have any questions, jotting them down before the visit is a good way to make sure you don’t forget any of the important ones.
  • Customizing Treatment: Next, your dentist will get x-rays, pictures and impressions of your teeth in order to create a custom treatment.
  • Receiving Your Aligners: You will receive your custom-made clear aligners from your dentist once the order is processed. They are made of a comfortable plastic that is gentle on your gums and comfortable inside your mouth. Your dentist will help you put in the first set of aligners and make sure that everything is just as it should be.
  • Wearing Your Aligners: Once you receive your new aligners, the process of straightening your teeth will begin! You will change to a new aligner every two weeks as your teeth are straightened more and more. You can remove them to eat, brush and floss your teeth. Gradually, your teeth will become realigned and the best part: most people won’t even know you’re wearing them!

Your dentist will want to see you about once every six weeks to make sure things are moving along well and progress in continually being made.


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What is a Family Dentist?

If you are searching for a dentist, you might have come across many different kinds of practices. You may wonder, “What is a family dentist?”, and what makes them different? Let’s first take a look at some of various types of dentists.

  • Pediatric Dentist: a pediatric dentist is one who specializes in teeth from birth through adolescence, with at least two years of specialized training in that field.
  • Orthodontist: these dentists specialize in alignment issues of the teeth, also with two years of specialized training.
  • Endodontist: this is a dentist that specializes in treating issues that involve the dental pulp and surrounding tissues.
  • Oral Surgeon: an oral surgeon is a dentist with at least three years of specialized training in dealing with injuries to the mouth and surrounding area, and also have specialized training in anesthesia.

Most of these dentists specialize in a certain areas of oral health, and you may need a referral to one at some point in your life. A family dentist, however, can provide you and your entire family with most of the regular dental services you need. Sometimes a family dental practice will also have an Orthodontist or an Oral Surgeon on site, so that you can take advantage of their specialized skills without having to go to another practice.

What is a family dentist?

Family dentists are able to treat you and your whole family, having a depth of knowledge about dental health for young children, adolescents and adults, and later stages of life. They are often times located centrally in your own neighborhood or city, so traveling to them is convenient. Sometimes it can be nice having one dental practice that can treat your whole family.

Some of their services include:

  • Regular cleanings and deep cleanings
  • Fluoride treatments
  • X-rays
  • Fillings
  • General checkups
  • Simple extractions

Seeing a family dentist regularly can significantly lower the probability that you will ever need a specialized dental procedure. Not only do their regularly scheduled cleanings and checkups keep the teeth in top shape, they can show you the best methods to use at home so that your mouth stays healthy all through your life.

On the other hand, a family dentist is also able to spot real trouble – such as the need for a root canal or extraction of wisdom teeth – long before they start to cause real trouble or pain. They can then help you take the appropriate steps to treat the problem, before it becomes a bigger and more costly issue.


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I Need Oral Surgery – What Can I Expect?

Knowing what to expect and how to prepare for oral surgery can go a long way towards making the procedure and recovery a more manageable experience.

In most cases, your family dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon that is located nearby and accepts your dental insurance. You should make a preliminary appointment with the oral surgeon to ensure you feel comfortable with him or her. It is also a good idea to check with your insurance so that you can understand what is covered and your portion of the costs. In some cases, however, your family dental practice may have an oral surgeon on site and be able to perform the surgery right in their office.

Why Do I need an Oral Surgeon?

Typically, an oral surgeon is recommended when you require service beyond the scope of your routine dental work, like cleanings and x-rays.

Common procedures that require an oral surgeon are wisdom teeth removal, jaw surgery, dental implants, TMJ, and difficult root canals. Oral surgeons can also treat oral cancers and perform facial cosmetic or reconstructive surgery.


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What to Expect

Your dentist may use anesthesia during your procedure. Dental anesthesia is a safe and effective method for pain control during in-office visits. Discuss with your surgeon what your options are for your specific case. They usually include:

  • Local anesthesia, which numbs the area near the site. You may experience some pressure, but not pain
  • Sedation anesthesia is done through an IV line in your arm. During sedation you will have limited memory of the procedure and feel no pain during the surgery.
  • General anesthesia. You may inhale medication through your nose or have an IV line in your arm. You will lose consciousness and have no memory of the procedure and will not experience pain during it.

After-Care for Oral Surgery

Preparing for post-surgery care at home is important. You may spend some time in bed after your surgery, so set up extra pillows in your bed to help you elevate your head and still allow you to recline comfortably. Prepare some things to entertain you like renting that movie you’ve been waiting to watch, a tablet with some games, or magazines you can read while you rest and recover.

Initially you may have swelling around the surgery site. For the first couple of days after your surgery, you should put an ice pack on that area for 15 minutes, remove it for the following 15 minutes, and then repeat. After 24 hours, you should also start rinsing your mouth with salt water a few times a day and after eating. You may be prescribed antibiotics or other medication to help you heal.

Remember to follow your oral surgeon’s after-care instructions (we also wrote this helpful article on after-care for oral surgery) allowing enough time to recover so that you can heal quickly and avoid complications.

Find out about the in-house oral surgeon at the Smile Center.


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Choosing the Best Teeth Whitening Method

What is the best teeth whitening method?

When it comes to whitening your teeth, there are a lot of options to sift through. There is no magic bullet to remove daily ­coffee stains choosing the best teeth whitening method depends on your budget, how quickly you want results, and just how white you want them to be.

The first thing you need to do is consider why your teeth are yellow. Sometimes that grande latte five days a week isn’t the reason your teeth have turned. Your dentist can help you determine whether or not a whitening method will meet your needs or if there is an underlying issue causing you problems. Next, consider these five methods for getting back your pearly whites.

Whitening Toothpaste

If you aren’t looking for a drastic change and just want a quick and inexpensive method that will brighten your teeth, a whitening toothpaste is one option. A whitening toothpaste is easy to fit into your daily routine and can give your smile that little boost you’re looking for.

Paint­-on Teeth Whitening

Paint­-on teeth whitening is a gel that is applied to the teeth with a brush. This is an over the counter method and, while generally less expensive than whitening strips and trays, is also less effective. If you want something that will give a more dramatic result than whitening toothpaste but don’t want to pay for strips or trays, paint-on teeth whitening is a another option.

Whitening Strips

Whitening strips are literally thin plastic strips that contain a small amount of hydrogen peroxide on one side. They are generally worn for about 30 minutes per day and do not create much of an inconvenience in your daily life. This option can produce good results at an affordable price but can also be difficult to keep in position in order to obtain consistent coverage.

Whitening Trays

Whitening trays are plastic trays that can be custom­ molded to your teeth by your dentist. The tray is then filled with gel and placed over your teeth for varying amounts of time. Many patients choose to take these trays home and perform the whitening regimen on their own. While this method is more expensive, it also offers the most consistent and dramatic results.

Professional Options

Your dentist can offer or advise you on any of the methods we have listed here. If you choose to use whitening trays, your dentist will get trays that are custom molded to your teeth and ensure that they fit properly. This method also allows the dentist to use a UV light on your teeth while the trays are in, speeding up the whitening process and helping you get a whiter and brighter smile, fast.

Additionally, your dentist can ensure that these whitening methods are safe for your teeth and gums and will perform an exam to make sure there aren’t any underlying problems causing the discoloration in your teeth. The ADA advises patients that, “bleaching treatments will not remove tooth decay that may subsequently progress and result in the need for more extensive and expensive treatments.” So play it safe and check with your dentist before trying any of these methods.\
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The best teeth ­whitening method

The best method depends on your time, your money, and your desired results. Whitening toothpastes can provide mild results with modest effort or money involved, while whitening trays can provide more dramatic results at a higher cost with more of your day dedicated to a whitening regimen.

Remember that no teeth whitening method will last forever. Things like coffee, tea and tobacco can cause your teeth to darken and will need to be treated again to regain their whiteness. Products like whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes can help prolong the whitening process as will avoiding tobacco use and foods and drinks that will stain your teeth, but carry the risk of reducing your enamel.


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