Monthly Archives: June 2012

7 Physical Health Problems That Can Destroy Your Teeth

You might not think that your dental health is as important as other aspects of your health. It’s easy to be lazy about flossing or to miss a few dental checkups because of a hectic schedule. However, your dental health directly correlates with several other facets of your health. In fact, many health problems can take an unprecedented toll on your teeth and gums, just as neglecting your teeth can cause ailments to other parts of your body over time. Keeping your body in top shape involves a number of factors, from a healthy diet and exercise to regularly tending to your oral health.

  1. Eating Disorders

    If you suffer from bulimia, it can rapidly deteriorate your teeth and gums because stomach acid is expelled every time you vomit. The stomach acid can eat through your tooth enamel over time, cause cavities, and even cause your teeth to fall out. You may also have a yellowish hue to your teeth as a result of the repeated vomiting. For an anorexic individual, osteoporosis may develop as a result of not getting enough critical nutrients in your diet. The osteoporosis makes your bones brittle, including your teeth. Your teeth may break easily or fall out. A dentist may be able to identify whether you suffer from an eating disorder based on the condition of your teeth. Being thin isn’t worth the damage it does to the rest of your body.

  2. Fertility Issues

    At the American Academy of Periodontology conference in 2004, research was presented linking the presence of gum disease to infertility in women. In the study, women undergoing infertility treatments in an attempt to get pregnant for an excess of three menstrual cycles tended to experience bleeding gums, inflammation, and increased levels of gingival crevicular fluid, a precursor for gum disease. This may be because the gums act as estrogen receptors, and the body is subjected to increased estrogen levels through the treatment. Gum infections appear to delay conception by around two months, as exemplified by a Swedish student conducted by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. Likewise, periodontal disease has been linked to miscarriage, because a mother’s infected gums can pass disease down to her unborn baby. The baby’s immune system can’t fight off the disease as effectively, causing preterm birth, miscarriage, or for the baby to be stillborn.

  3. Obesity

    Obesity impacts more than just your weight. According to Carole A. Palmer, a professor of general dentistry at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, obesity and dental decay are intrinsically linked. To some extent, the link should be obvious. People who snack on foods that are high in fat or sugar put their teeth at risk by exposing them to that food for a prolonged period of time, thus creating tooth decay. Likewise, obesity has been linked to periodontitis because increased BMI can cause gingival bleeding. Obesity might transform the individual’s immune system, leaving them much more vulnerable to microbial plaque.

  4. Thyroid Issues

    The thyroid regulates metabolism, and without the right balance of hormones in the thyroid, bodily problems can emerge. Your mouth isn’t immune to these problems. Hypothyroidism, in which you have a thyroid hormone deficiency, can cause things like impacted molars, poor periodontal health, and misshapen teeth according to an article published to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Conversely, hyperthyroidism is the condition in which too many thyroid hormones are produced. This can affect oral health in a number of ways as well, such as a higher risk for cavities, periodontal disease, accelerated dental interruption, and burning mouth syndrome. Childhood hypo or hyperthyroidism can be even worse for dental health, as it can impair the way the mouth develops and affect craniofacial growth.

  5. Heart Disease

    Atherosclerosis, the build-up of fatty deposits within the lining of artery walls that can lead to blood clots, has been linked to gum disease. In turn, atherosclerosis causes heart disease. Although the link between heart disease and deteriorating dental health has not been entirely unshrouded, more and more studies are finding common ground between the two, suggesting that keeping your oral health in check may ward off heart disease and visa-versa. There are a couple of theories as to why heart disease impacts your teeth. According to an article on ABC Health and Wellbeing, the bacteria found between your teeth that cause plaque may enter the bloodstream through a bleeding gum and attach itself to fat deposits in coronary arteries. The resulting inflammation then causes blood clots and heart attacks. An additional theory stipulates that mouth bacteria boosts your antibody formation, attacking receptors in cells along blood vessels, thereby causing blockages.

  6. Diabetes

    Individuals with diabetes are more prone to oral issues like gum disease, thrush, dry mouth, ulcers, infections and cavities. This is because diabetes causes a change of glucose levels in the blood, which in turn can be present in your saliva. High glucose levels contribute to plaque growth, the root of nearly all dental problems. With diabetes, gum disease becomes a much more serious issue and can be troublesome to heal. Likewise, if you have gum disease, your blood glucose levels can spin out of control, causing diabetes — the cycle is self-perpetuating.

  7. Asthma

    Asthma and other respiratory problems can also be detrimental to your teeth. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, those with asthma are often mouth-breathers, experiencing less saliva flow which leads to bad breath and cavities. They are also particularly sensitive to inflamed gums, with less saliva cleansing the mouth, putting them at risk for gum disease. Asthma inhalers can cause red lesions in the back of the mouth, which may quickly lead to infection without proper treatment. Likewise, other asthma medications such as corticosteroids lead to increased cavity production. To alleviate the risks, asthmatic patients should always rinse their mouths out with a fluoride wash after using their inhaler. They should also be especially diligent about brushing their teeth and flossing.

8 Fun Ways to Get Your Kids to Care About Their Teeth

It’s not always easy to get your kids to brush their teeth regularly. Until children reach the more mature age of about seven or eight years old, you may be constantly persuading (or nagging) them to routinely brush their teeth. The American Dental Association has declared February National Children’s Dental Health Month, reminding parents everywhere the importance of educating our kids about proper dental care. Here are some fun, encouraging ways to keep your children’s pearly whites healthy:

  1. Brush to a song

    Since brushing your teeth should last about two to three minutes of thorough cleaning, encourage your kids to pick out their favorite song to listen to while brushing for the entire length of the song. This can be a distraction, but it can also be a great way to keep track of time and keep them motivated.

  2. Turn teeth brushing into a group activity

    At an early age, the saying, “monkey see, monkey do” is still a very real concept. Brushing your teeth together with your child, in stages, offers guidance and encourages good brushing habits. Follow the right teeth brushing routine with your child every night until your child can do it by themselves. You can make this process more fun by making silly faces, naming each tooth as you attend to it (to encourage that every tooth is brushed), and even switch roles, letting your child take the lead.

  3. Create a reward chart or system

    Children are highly motivated when they know they get recognized for their efforts. To reward your child for doing well, you can create a sticker chart or present a weekly prize, helping them stay on top of their daily brushing routines. This helps your child keep up good brushing behavior.

  4. Let your child pick their own toothbrush and toothpaste

    Brushing may be more enjoying to children if they have a more active role in picking out their own brushes and toothpastes. Bright colors, characters, or different flavors can create a more appealing side to dental care.

  5. Explain the importance of each step

    When teaching your child the right steps, try to explain the importance of each step. This includes brushing the surfaces of all teeth, angling the toothbrush at 45 degrees towards the gum line, and brushing in a circular motion. You can make this a fun experience by creating a funny rhyme or telling a funny anecdotal story that goes along with each step.

  6. Try baby-sized flossers

    Flossing can be a pain, literally, for children with small gaps in between their teeth. To make flossing a more pleasant experience, try baby-sized flossers, which are sold in most supermarkets. Reinforce good habits with praise and supervision, since incorrect flossing may cause gum inflammation and bleeding.

  7. Personifying plaque

    Plaque causes cavities, leading to gum disease, which is a concept that can be creatively explained to your kids. Personifying plaque as the “plaque monsters” or “bad guys” (or any other name that will give plaque a villainous image,) might be an effective method to motivate your kids to brush properly.

  8. Consider electric toothbrushes

    Nowadays, electric toothbrushes can do anything: shake, play music, pulsate, rotate in many directions, and appeal to young children. Electric toothbrushes create a more stimulating experience, appealing to more than one sense, keeping your kids entertained while brushing. Some studies show that electric brushes are equally as effective, if not more effective in removing plaque, when used right.

Mini-Denture Duties

Taking care of your child’s teeth begins long before their permanents come in. A common assumption is that temporary dentures don’t need to be kept as clean since they will be replaced eventually, but this is far from the truth. Decay and infection can occur with any tooth whether it is temporary or not, and to protect your little one from a painful experience and a possible traumatic trip to the dentist, hygienic practices should be put in place early on.

Teething

Between the first three months to a year, a baby will usually breach at least one tooth. This process can be quite painful and stressful for the child but there are ways to comfort and help them through the event.

First you should pay attention to signs that your baby is teething: drooling more than usual, red cheeks that are hot to the touch, irritability, and excessive chewing tendencies. If you can see in their mouth, check for redness or swelling. You can also lightly press your finger down on their gums to check for incoming teeth.

Infants will typically fuss more as the pain increases but a chilled teething ring will help soothe the pain and provide relief to the gums. Although there are teething gels that numb the gums from pain, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned of the potential reactions to Benzocaine, which is the active ingredient in the gel. Since 2006, approximately 30 cases have been reported of severe reactions to the chemical that typically included skin turning a blue-gray color, short breathing, light-headedness, rapid heart rate, and in a few cases, even death.

In most cases, it is best to just comfort the child and provide something to chew on until the tooth breaks through the gums. Once this happens, the pain typically subsides completely.

Teaching

Once the baby teeth have come in, it’s time to teach your child the habit of good brushing. Aquafresh.com offers some advice on helping children become used to brushing teeth. They recommend that until toddlers become accustomed to the feel of bristles on their teeth (which can tickle), children may be better off starting with a damp washcloth instead. Getting them to hold still long enough to do any actual cleaning can be tough, but if they think it’s a game, they will be more cooperative. Be sure to explain what you’re doing and why so they aren’t afraid of the process.

After they are used to the feel of a toothbrush and are capable of holding it themselves without poking their throat, let them attempt to brush their own teeth. Start with helping them scrub the outside of the teeth and gradually work them up to being able to reach the insides and molars. At first, don’t put toothpaste on the brush. Just get it wet and let them practice before giving them actual toothpaste.

Until they are about six years old, you will need to do the final brushing in order to ensure they get thoroughly cleaned. Brushings should be routinely done in the morning and at night until a habit develops. When the child can do the whole procedure by themselves, you will only have to supervise.

Pulling

At the age of about six years, a child will begin to get loose teeth that need to come out in order to make room for their permanents. In some cases, the tooth comes out on its own. But most of the time, kids opt to have them pulled before it reaches that point.

The first tooth to come out can be a scary event but after that, children are generally excited about the event. The best way to get your child over the fear of teeth-pulling is to make the process as interesting as possible. Although you can pull the tooth out for them by hand, or let them do it, kids often find it more entertaining to yank it out with string.

Unique ways to pull out teeth include tying a string to a doorknob and opening the door suddenly, attaching the string to a remote-controlled car or helicopter and jerking it out that way, or tying the string around a rock and throwing it. Whatever your method, make sure the string is tied tightly around the tooth, and that the child keeps their mouth open wide enough to keep the tooth from hitting anything on its way out.

The long-held tradition of putting teeth under their pillow at night and promising a visit from the “tooth fairy” can make any youngster excited to get teeth out as soon as possible. Whether the prize is money, a toy, or a piece of candy, this is great motivation for teeth removal.

Dentist Visits

For children unaccustomed to the cold feel of a dentist office and the intimidating scene of equipment, dental check-ups can turn into a harrowing ordeal. Taking your smaller children with you to your own dental appointments will help them get used to the environment. Over time, you can introduce them to their own dentist and begin regular check-ups with them. Most dentists will give well-behaved children (and even misbehaving ones) a sticker or two as a reward for their attendance.

7 Common Dental Phobias and How to Beat Them

Sitting in a dentist chair with that bright light shining in your face, and metal probes, suction devices, and pointy objects poking around in your mouth is an unbearable and frightening situation for many people. Traumatic experiences at the dentist have caused extreme dental phobias, which lead to a number of problems. Skipped appointments, paranoia, lost teeth, gum disease, and oral cancer are just a few examples of how dental fear can affect your well-being negatively. According to Peter Milgrom, the director of the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington, Milgrom, between 5% and 8% of all Americans avoid the dentist out of extreme fear, and around 20% have enough anxiety that they will only go to the dentist when absolutely necessary. Here are some common dental phobias, and ways to overcome them:

  1. Fear of needles

    Many painful dental experiences are associated with procedures using needles. In the past, the problem stemmed from blunt needles but in today’s modern practices, brand new needles are used for each patient. Though needle phobia is more common in children than adults, it is a pressing and very real problem that patients and medical professionals should try to tackle together. From fear of injections to the needle itself, there are many solutions and ways to overcome this fear. Products such as The Wand offer a reliable alternative to traditional anesthetic techniques. Dental professionals should pay particular attention to explaining technical aspects of procedures requiring needles or injections, which can help many patients relax more. Coping and distraction techniques should also be explored; for example, encouraging a family member to accompany the patient during the procedure or bringing a comfort item or toy into the room. Additionally, there are topical anesthetics that can be applied to numb painful sensations.

  2. Fear of the drill

    Does the sound of the drill send shivers down your spine? For many people, even the thought of the drill can be overwhelmingly traumatizing, to the point where even quieter drills (hand pieces) still won’t ease your nerves. It can be hard to unlearn this association of drills with bodily harm and teeth breaking. There are a couple things you can do to help ease those worries: bringing an mp3 player and drowning out the sound with music, keeping your eyes closed during treatment, asking for an anesthetic top-up or numbing agent, and squeezing a stress ball. For dental professionals, it may be helpful to let your patients examine (look at, touch, listen to) the drill before it is used. Most of the time, fear of drills is a result of exaggerated perspectives of the drill.

  3. Fear of feeling numb

    Many people fear getting anesthetized because it symbolizes loss of control for them. They fear not being able to move, losing total sensation, injuring their bodies from perceived loss of control, among other things. Others fear the embarrassment of possibly slurring their words. Patients who suffer from other illnesses related to the throat (asthma, for example) associate the tingling and numbness with being unable to breathe. Whatever the case, remind yourself that numbing agents are usually applied to a single confined area in your mouth. Sometimes block injection may affect more than one area and move on to your lip or an entire side of your mouth. You could request an adrenaline-free local anesthetic for certain procedures, which wears off quicker.

  4. Fear of panic attacks

    Many people who have experienced a serious panic attack before tend to avoid situations that could bring on another one. As a protective mechanism, this tends to make any situation worse. Over-analyzing, psyching yourself out, and exaggerating the looming harm will only escalate your anxiety and even increase your chances of fainting on the spot. A highly effective therapy method, called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, (ACT) demonstrates that getting rid of anxiety isn’t the answer, but rather accepting anxieties while doing things you care about will bring you relief. “Mindful acceptance” is encouraged, helping you face your fears in order to brace yourself for what has to happen — regular visits to the dentist. If you’re concerned about pain, ask your dentist about additional sedation options (IV sedation, nitrous oxide) and bring a close friend along with you.

  5. Fear of embarrassment

    Many patients fear making a fool out of themselves because of severe fear of the dentist or dental procedures. This may include crying uncontrollably, freaking out, fainting, and panic attacks. Try expressing your fears verbally to your dentist instead of bottling them up. It’s okay to openly express your fears so that your dentist can better cater to your needs. Take baby steps — every time you go to the dentist and experience something positive, remind yourself of that experience next time. There’s nothing like positive reinforcement to help you overcome your fears.

  6. Fear of future dental work

    Some patients avoid regular visits to the dentist because of their irrational fear of it escalating to future dental work or long-term treatments. Though this fear may be associated with expenses, it stems from a physical phobia — fear of serious dental work that might arise from the current visit to the dentist. It’s a vicious cycle, making it easy to avoid the dentist totally. This phobia takes a change in mindset — think of regular visits as preventing, not causing, more serious future dental problems. Consider counseling and talking to your dentist to get a comprehensive examination and explanation of your current dental needs. You’ll be able to change the vicious cycle into a fruitful one, necessary for preventative care of your teeth.

  7. Fear of the dentist

    People who fear the dentist ultimately fear loss of control. Upon sitting on that operating chair, you hand over total control to your dentist, who has the power to inflict pain. Many dentists go out of their way to create a nonthreatening environment: the office does not resemble a dentist office. There is soothing music and warm colors, for example. For dental professionals, focus on methods that enhance the feeling of control for patients. For example, giving the patient an opportunity to stop the procedure at any time, asking the patient for permission to continue, and explaining procedures before proceeding. For dentist-phobic patients, keep in mind that your dentist’s intention is to help improve your dental health, not inflict unnecessary pain. Communication with your dentist is key when trying to overcome this phobia.

Scummy Truth About Toothbrushes

Brushing your teeth is a ritual you perform twice a day, but hardly any thought is given to what kind of damage might occur to your mouth by the toothbrush. Depending on what kind of toothbrush you use, how hard or often you use it, and where you store it, there could be significant damage occurring without you even being aware of it.

Electric Toothbrushes Causing Problems

Fox News recently reported that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers that the popular electronic toothbrushes from Spinbrush (including the ProClean, Sonic, and For Kids models) can cause choking or damage to teeth. According to the FDA’s website, multiple injuries have been reported including chipped or broken teeth, cuts to the gums and mouth, swallowing broken pieces causing choking, lip burns, and injuries to the eyes and face.

The real problem is not that the tooth brushing itself causes problems to the teeth, but that the dangers associated with malfunctioning brush heads and breaking pieces is very serious. In extreme cases, the removable head has come off while in use and poked people in the cheek and the area close to the eyes. The best way to avoid this hazard is to replace the head every three months or so and carefully supervise children using electric brushes.

In addition to possible parts breaking on electric toothbrushes, they can be a problem if they run out of batteries on a regular basis — as some consumers have reported — leaving you temporarily without a way to clean your teeth. To avoid being stuck in this situation, just keep a couple regular brushes on hand in case your spinner decides to die.

Toothbrush Abrasion

Webmd.com, a leading resource on dental information, highlights another problem that can be exacerbated by the kind of toothbrush you use. The article mentions that abrasion and sensitivity can occur if you brush your teeth too hard or vigorously, and although the brush isn’t necessarily at fault for this, a harder toothbrush can make this occurrence much more likely.

In addition to switching to desensitizing toothpaste, the Academy of General Dentistry suggests you use a softer bristled toothbrush to alleviate sensitivity and reduce the potential for abrasion. Harder bristles cut through plaque much easier than people realize and the “enthusiastic” attempts to clean the teeth can do more harm than good.

Bacteria Farm

The American Dental Association points out the worst disadvantage to toothbrushes — bacterial growth. Sadly, many consumers don’t take precautions against this and it can lead to unsanitary practices and potential health risks. Its website lists hygienic habits that ensure the sanitary state of your brush.

Under no circumstances should you ever share toothbrushes with someone. Regardless of how close you are to family members or friends, this is a guaranteed way to transmit bacteria between individuals. This is particularly risky for those with weak immune systems.

Keeping your brushes clean and dry is important as well since bacteria are particularly fond of wet environments. The ADA recommends you rinse out your toothbrush with tap water after each use and store it upright to dry completely between brushings. Although covers and caps may seem convenient, they can create a humid environment for bacterial growth.

Finally, replace your toothbrushes at least every three or four months. Usually you can tell it’s time to replace one when the bristles lose color and become worn down or frayed. Depending on how much you use the brush, you may have to change it out for a new one even sooner than three months. As an added measure, you can purchase toothbrush sanitizers to further prevent bacterial growth.

Crowning Dental Surgeries

Between braces, cavity fillings, cleanings, and whitening, you could spend a fortune and many hours at the dentist. Although these procedures can be costly and time-consuming, they pale in comparison to the most common surgeries you could end up having on your teeth. Although you can sometimes prevent surgery from needing to happen by taking good care of your teeth and making regular visits to the doctor, there are a few surgeries that can’t be avoided in certain cases.

Root Canals

If a cavity is not treated immediately, over time it can continue to decay inside and cause severe discomfort and sensitivity. Infection can also set in and after enough time, it will become necessary to have a root canal performed to repair the tooth or even remove it in extreme cases of decay.

You can often detect the need for a root canal if you begin experiencing toothaches when chewing or applying pressure to your tooth, if you suffer from extended sensitivity due to heat or cold even after the source has been removed, if your tooth becomes darker, if swelling and tenderness occurs in the nearby gums, and if a pimple shows up on the gums on more than one occasion. In some cases, no symptoms are present and your dentist will alert you of the need for a root canal.

This particular surgery can cost between $350 and $800 depending on the tooth type and if performed by a general dentist. According to webmd.com, endodontists can charge up to 50% higher. On the bright side, most insurance policies cover this kind of surgery and it has a 95% success rate. Furthermore, this surgery generally lasts a lifetime.

Dental Implants

In the event that a root is damaged beyond repair due to an injury, or if you experience periodontal disease, you may have to get a dental implant. Designed as an artificial tooth-root replacement, the implant holds a fake tooth or bridge in your jaw in such a way that it still feels natural.

The best benefit of a dental implant is the fact that it doesn’t affect the neighboring teeth in your jaw. Other surgeries to replace a tooth and root will alter the structure or state of the adjacent teeth. Furthermore, perio.org notes that it feels completely normal and the success rate of this surgery is highly predictable.

Wisdom Teeth Removal

Many teens are elated to have their braces removed, only to find out a few years later that a much more serious dental procedure awaits them. Through the use of x-rays, dentists can detect your final set of wisdom teeth coming in. Some people will never need their wisdom teeth removed because they remain stationary all their lives. But for the majority, wisdom teeth try to push through in the late teens to early 20s.

Dentists often suggest having the extra molars removed prior to the pain that follows when your wisdom teeth decide to grow out. In general, wisdom teeth are removed because they grow at an angle and are misaligned. Not only does this hurt, but it can damage adjacent teeth.

Though this surgery requires a good dose of anesthesia, the cost is fairly low. On the low end of the spectrum, a simple extraction can be as little as $99 according to medicinenet.com and an impacted tooth will cost about $230 to $340. Be sure to check with your insurance company to see if they cover at least part of the operation, as most do.

The most important aspect of wisdom teeth removal is proper care post-surgery. If the proper care is not taken following the extraction(s), you can develop issues such as dry socket. This complication occurs when a blood clot either fails to form or becomes dislodged and the socket doesn’t heal properly. The results usually surface after about three to four days after the surgery with pain varying from dull to severe. Your dentist will treat this problem by medicating the socket.

8 Reasons You Should Change Dentists

The relationship you have with your dentist should be nurtured. A good dentist will treat your entire family for as long as you’ll allow them, becoming familiar with your oral history, your comforts and concerns about dentistry, and accommodating your schedule as best they can. Much like your family’s general practitioner, they come to know you over time and moving on to a different dentist after spending years with one can be nerve-wracking. Yet, there are times when you may be required to seek a second opinion for dental care, for a wide variety of scenarios.

  1. They Don’t Acknowledge Your Comfort Level

    A lot of people have anxiety about visiting the dentist, fearing the potential pain and discomfort that comes with drilling, filling, and other poking around in their mouths. If you’re truly concerned, your dentist should be observant of your anxiety and do everything they can to make you more comfortable with the situation. They should walk you through the procedure, inform you of any pinching or pain associated with each step, and offer you nitrous oxide if you can’t stomach it. Simply put, if you don’t trust your dentist, you should move on. If your dentist isn’t respectful or attuned to your needs, changing your choice of dental practitioner may be in order.

  2. They Cost Too Much

    Dentists are notorious for charging wildly high prices for basic procedures and even for the usual bi-annual checkup. If your dental insurance isn’t the best or you lack insurance entirely, dental work can be devastating to your wallet. You may live a very budgeted lifestyle and find that keeping your teeth in check isn’t your top priority. Likewise, many people resent spending a wad of cash on something they don’t get a personal sense of pleasure out of, associating the dentist with mostly negative connotations. CBS Money Watch’s Sarah Lorge Butler posted the article, “Is Your Dentist Ripping You Off?” in which one woman’s two crowns cost her $1,395 apiece. Butler says it’s perfectly acceptable to shop around for dentists within your price range, but never base your choice of dentist on price alone. Your teeth are valuable, and keeping them healthy should be worth the expense. However, if your dentist charges astronomical prices and you simply can’t afford it, you may need to find someone who better fits your budget.

  3. They’re Unreliable

    If you’re a working citizen, chances are you have to take off part of your working day to visit the dentist, since they often have business hours akin to other professionals. For that reason, it can be extremely frustrating if your dentist cancels on you at the last moment, forcing you to reschedule. It’s equally irritating if you step into the office on your lunch break and find that your dentist is behind schedule by an hour or more, rendering it impossible for you to get back to work on time. It might be tough love, but the best policy for a dental office is to not accept late patients, who ultimately throw off the entire schedule for the day. Peter Gopal of Visionary Management, a dental practice management consulting firm based in Pennsylvania, says that his office receives “two or three appointment cancels or no-shows a day, some even more.” It’s not your dentist’s fault if his patients can’t make it their priority to show up, but if it affects your schedule, find a dentist with a tougher cancellation policy.

  4. They Perform X-Rays Excessively

    Dentists have long since known that X-rays are harmful, which is why you’re suited with a lead apron before they zap the machine on for a split second. Too much exposure to the radiation produced by X-rays can result in cancer. According to CNN’s Health blog, the use of X-rays have been linked to a type of brain tumor called meningioma. If your dentist deems it necessary to perform X-rays multiple times a month, run for the door. Your health could be at stake, and though it might be important to see how your teeth are doing, you shouldn’t have to risk your life for it. Dental X-rays should only be performed at most every six months. There are exceptions, of course, but you should be able to determine if you’re the exception or the rule.

  5. They Used Your Money for Unnecessary Merchandise

    Occasionally, dentists will raise their prices, which is their prerogative. However, if you notice a huge price influx that just so happens to correlate with brand new LCD screens and built in DVD players above every dental chair, you might feel a bit duped concerning how your hard-earned cash is being spent. For example, The Huffington Post profiled New York’s EastSide Dental Medicine which, apart from resembling a spa, graces their patients with things like eye pillows and herbal tea. Some patients may find amenities comforting while they undergo dental work, but others will find these upgrades unnecessary and opt for a dentist who spends money on equipment that really matters, like new drills. It might be nice to watch a movie to distract yourself from what’s going on in your mouth, but ultimately, you don’t want to see an increase in prices go toward office decor, with is really just material. If you prefer to sacrifice the bells and whistles for the sake of lower prices (while still maintaining professional care), drop your dentist that insists on buying memory foam chairs for the entire office.

  6. You Have a Bad Experience With Them

    Having a dental procedure go wrong can be a huge nightmare. Whether the dentist botches a tooth, drills too far, or simply hurts you in some way, you’ll likely find a new dentist after having a negative experience with one. Likewise, if your dentist is forceful or rough, this can produce a traumatizing experience that may keep you wary of dentists for life. The Detroit Free Press describes one harrowing case in which a 6-year-old boy was over-sedated for a dental procedure and nearly died. Sometimes, avoiding dental nightmares can be as simple as doing your research on a dentist before your visit, ensuring that they have the proper credentials, and obtaining good references. However, even well-reputed dentists make mistakes. If you find your trust wavering as a result of poor dental care, don’t hesitate to find someone else you can relax with.

  7. They’re Unlicensed

    You’d never elect to have a neighbor perform surgery on you out of their basement, and the same should go for receiving unprofessional dental care. Cory Twibell of the Westbury Times wrote an article about a man who ran a cash-only dental practice out of his home without a license. Manuel Carranza, 46, did not have sanitized tools, any formal education in dentistry, and operated in a dirty room. Still, Carranza was able to keep his “business” afloat for 18 months and likely performed dental work on more than 100 people. You might have considerably better instincts when it comes to selecting a dentist, but if you find out that a dentist does not have a license or is operating a shady practice, do your teeth a favor and find someone who received at least formal education in dentistry.

  8. You’re Moving Away

    Obviously if you’re moving and visiting your dentist is no longer a practical option for distance reasons, you will require a new dentist within your area. Your current dentist shouldn’t take this personally and may be able to assist you in finding one in your area through referral. Likewise, if your dentist is going out of practice or moving away, you’ll have no choice but to stray from your comfort zone and find someone new. Do not be daunted by the task of finding a new dentist. Use dentist directories to find a dentist in your area, making note of qualities in a dentist that are important to you. Feel free to call up several and ask them questions regarding their practice. If you desire a dentist with night hours, for example, it may take a couple of calls to find the right dentist for you.

8 Apps that Encourage Good Dental Hygiene

There are dozens of apps that track your overall health, so why not use apps for your oral health as well? Both Android and the iPhone have a wealth of mobile apps geared toward dental hygiene. These apps may help you answer questions concerning your teeth, outline various dental procedures, or even time how long you’re brushing your teeth so that you may get the most out of your brushing ritual. Dental apps help keep you on track where it concerns your pearly whites.

  1. My Dentist

    My Dentist, an app by Dental Anywhere, helps patients keep in close touch with their dentist, accessing their office, treatment and services all from the convenient touch of their phone. Patients can look up their dentist and download an application for their next visit. The simple interface makes it easy to keep in touch with your doctor without the hassle of phoning or emailing them. From the app, you may easily check on the offices hours and schedule an appointment, refer your dentist to a friend, or even look up specific medical emergencies. When you book appointments from within the app, they will sync up with your calendar on your mobile device as well as your computer.

  2. Dental Expert

    The Dental Expert app by Cosmetic Innovations, Inc. is an expansive resource for all things related to dental care. The comprehensive guide portion of the app answers questions as to how to keep your teeth healthy, how to address dental emergencies, how to alleviate anxiety at the dentist’s office, how to choose a good dentist, and more. It explains how to effectively care for your child’s teeth, the causes and treatments of gum disease, and even information on how to address dental care during pregnancy. There are pages upon pages of information with questions answered by experts in dentistry. You can access a gallery of before and after photos of various patients to see just how far modern dentistry has taken us to achieve cleaner, healthier teeth.

  3. The Beambrush App

    The Beambrush is the first Bluetooth-equipped toothbrush that monitors how well and long you brush through a mobile app. After brushing or while brushing, sync the brush with your phone to see statistics on your brushing habits. The app will also keep your data for extended periods of time, so you can track your brushing for several months and show your activity to your dentist. The creators of the app hope to have updates down the road that will detect what areas of the mouth are being brushed and for how long. They also aim to have the app play music while you brush as well as social-media based rewards for executing good oral health, which could be useful in getting children to brush their teeth correctly.

  4. Dental Care Aid

    The Dental Care Aid app by DigibunnyTech is an instruction manual of sorts which shows you how to use various dental care products. The app walks you through the proper way to use manual toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes, superbrushes, dental floss, dental floss holders, single tuft toothbrushes, interdental brushes, superfloss, and a dental floss threader. The instructions are implemented via 38 3D videos, which guide you through the processes. Some instructions are intended for specific groups of teeth, and the app provides necessary visuals to help you understand the accurate way to utilize these products. Your dentist will be impressed at your perfect technique and you’ll be on your way to an enviable smile in no time.

  5. Whiten Your Teeth

    The Whiten Your Teeth app by LifeMobile is a breakthrough in app technology, or so they say. The app is made for Android and is supposed to actually whiten your teeth if used as intended. According to the app’s makers, every electronic device emits electromagnetic signals which function identically to the teeth whitening rays used in dental offices. In the dental office, a whitening agent is applied to the teeth and then struck with rays for a few seconds to bleach the teeth. Your app is also able to whiten your teeth, but without having to apply a coating of whitening agent. Simply wait for the app to bring up the white light, hold it to your teeth, and wait ten seconds for the whitening to occur. The process is gradual, but should start to make a visible difference within one month.

  6. ToothNotes

    Beepscore LLC’s ToothNotes app helps you take note of what’s going on with your teeth, so you can remember to relay the information to your dentist on your bi-annual visit. The app displays a 3D view of a full set of teeth and gums so that you may highlight the offending tooth or gum area in question for future reference. Select the tooth or gum by tapping it, which will prompt the app to tell you its name. You may also use this feature to help learn the names of the different teeth and gums. After selecting it, you may enter notes and will be prompted to identify how much pain it is causing, the type of pain, cause of pain, and any dental work that must be done as a result. When you input the dental work that has to be done, you may choose from a list of cosmetic and repair procedures.

  7. Kids’ Dental Health

    The Kids’ Dental Health app by Alexandr Stacanov is an app made to educate children on oral hygiene. Children may resist learning about teeth or visiting the dentist until they play this app, which educates them with games, fun visuals, and wacky sounds. Your child can choose from various characters, each with their own story arch, and navigate the character through games that address dental health issues like brushing your teeth and eating the right foods for tooth care. Your child can choose whether to read the app themselves or turn on the “read to me” feature, which is narrated by a teenage voice actor. Children will grasp healthy dental habits by using the app, and it’s only $1.99 with continuous updates and new games.

  8. Flossy

    Flossy, by Slybits, helps you to remember whether or not you’ve flossed each day. Remembering to floss is probably the most difficult part of oral hygiene, and dentists hate to constantly remind their patients not to neglect their gums. With Flossy, you simply press a button which says, “I Flossed Today!” each time you floss. Your flossing history will be recorded so you can see just how often you forget or remember to floss, helping to make it a daily habit. You can also implement alarms and notifications that will alert you of when it’s time to floss or whether you’ve missed a certain amount of days. It’s an incredibly simple app, but being able to see visually how little or much you floss can be a huge motivator for integrating it into your morning and evening tooth care ritual.