Okuda Cosmetic Dentistry Blog
Posts for tag: dental health
There is a situation that some people choose to ignore, and have done so for many years. It’s the “neglected” smile. There are some people who have not seen a dentist for 5, 10, 15 or more years. I know many of you (in jest) are wishing you could say the same, however the serious reality is that professional and personal dental neglect is extremely detrimental to your oral health. But you can still have a beautiful smile!
There are many reasons why a smile may have been neglected. It could be as simple as that your dentist retired and another one wasn’t found yet. Or maybe as complex as deep-seated dental fears and anxiety that makes going to the dentist the absolute, and I mean absolute, last priority. Or perhaps there are other urgent things going on, such as major health issues or taking care of a loved one. Regardless of the reason, after years of not seeing a dental professional, it may be very difficult to take steps to start seeing the dentist again.
Remake Your Neglected Smile – You Can Have a Wonderful, Bright Smile
So if you are someone who hasn’t been to the dentist in a very long time, keep in mind that your oral health is always in your hands. Whether the last time you saw a dentist was six months or six years ago, it does no good to just spend time fretting about the unfortunate state of your teeth. The main thing to focus on is what you’re going to do today to get your smile back in shape. Once you make the decision to have dental health become a priority, you have overcome the biggest obstacle.
If you do not visit the dentist and hygienist regularly for examinations and cleanings, you have a greater chance of losing teeth to periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease still remains the major cause of adult tooth loss and affects about 75% of Americans throughout their lifetime. Periodontal disease is a “silent disease” as its warning signs may be subtle. With gum disease when you first feel discomfort or pain it may already be too late to save your teeth. It starts with plaque, which is a sticky, colorless layer of bacteria that forms on your teeth. If not removed thoroughly each day by your brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar or calculus, which irritates the gums and will eventually lead to irreversible damage to the gums and underlying bone.
In addition to being at risk for periodontal disease, people who don’t regularly visit the dentist are more likely to develop advanced tooth decay. When a cavity first forms, it affects only the enamel or hardest surface of the tooth. If the decay is treated and repaired with a restoration, it will help to stop further damage to the tooth from that entry point. However, left untreated, bacteria would continue to feed on the tooth, which may damage the tooth pulp. Once there is exposure of the pulp, which houses the nerves, the tooth can be saved only through root canal therapy and an extensive tooth restorative procedure. Furthermore, by not visiting the dentist regularly, other essential examinations cannot be performed, such as an oral cancer screening.
There are many other negative aspects of having neglected teeth. Patients who finally decide to seek dental treatment tell me that their neglected smile affected their social life and professional life. They claim their visibly damaged smile forced them to not smile or not say anything to avoid embarrassment and attention to their teeth. They talk about settling to live with pain, discomfort and sensitivity. Also they would limit what they ate to softer foods, because of the discomfort of chewing.
The positives of curing the neglected smile are numerous. Starting to take steps towards a healthy smile today means increasing the chances of saving as many teeth as possible. Beyond that, patients who have undergone extensive cosmetic and restorative dental procedures not only say they regained their self-confidence socially, they feel they are able to dynamically do better professionally. All of these people also mention they regret not fixing their smile long ago.
Overcome Fear by Taking in the Dental Day Spa
So start now – there’s no reason to wait any longer. It’s time to start over on the road to optimal dental health. If you need to find a dentist, start by talking to family, friends and co-workers about their dentists. Think about what you want from a dentist and match it to the needs of those you’re talking with. For example, if it’s dental anxiety that keeps you away from the dentist, keep in mind that new approaches such as massage therapy and other spa pamperings help to counteract a lot of the problems of dental fear. Remember, if someone says they also haven’t been to a dentist in years, that’s not justification for you to stop your pursuit of good dental health. Keep on asking around.
When you do go to your first appointment, take a friend or family member if it gives you assurance, or would help you to make sure you go to the appointment. You should be able to tell the dental staff your concerns about dental treatment. If they don’t know, they can’t take measures to address them or make you feel more relaxed.
It’s never easy to leave your comfort zone, regardless of where that zone is. To take that first step, you have to make a decision that this is what’s important for you. Only then can you continue on your path, step by step, to a healthier smile!
Dr. Wynn Okuda is an award winning international leader in cosmetic dentistry. He is one of only 280 dentists in the world to be accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Dr. Okuda turned the dental profession on its head nearly a decade ago , replacing pain, fear, & discomfort with the Dental Day Spa system. His offices for cosmetic, restorative and implant dentistry are located in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Dr. Okuda has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, American Spa, Shape Magazine, Better Homes & Garden, Health & Fitness Sports Magazine, New Woman, and dozens more!
Dr. Okuda is the founder of “Give Back A Smile,” a charitable foundation of the AACD, which helps survivors of domestic violence throughout the nation to restore their smiles and lives. He has assembled nearly 1,000 cosmetic dentists nationwide to help fight against domestic violence.
So there you are, minding your own business and drinking your usual, a Grande Mocha Decaf Iced Frappuccino. Then all of a sudden, “Ouch!” Your tooth feels really sensitive. So you drink and chew on the other side of your mouth, hoping the sensitivity doesn’t return. What does this mean? Should you call your dentist? Should you just get toothpaste for sensitivity and consider yourself healed?
The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) states that sensitive teeth are one of the most common complaints at the dental office, and at least 45 million adults suffer at some time from it. A tooth is normally protected from sensitivity by a layer of hard enamel on its surface, or by gums over its root. Tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel is worn away or gums recede, causing the dentin to be exposed. The microscopic, nerve-filled tube-like structures within each tooth (“tubules”) are exposed to temperature and air, and a feeling of sensitivity results.
Tooth sensitivity may occur when your teeth come in contact with cold, hot, sweet or sour substances. In addition, pain when chewing, tooth brushing, or even sensitivity to breathing air may have more underlying causes that can be problematic. Many people try their best to ignore this sensitivity, and just chew on the opposite side. It’s important to let your dentist know of these symptoms so he or she may assess your situation and prevent a potential problem from becoming progressively worse.
POSSIBLE CAUSES FOR TEETH TO BECOME SENSITIVE
There are various reasons why a tooth feels sensitive. One cause of tooth sensitivity may be due to vigorous tooth brushing. Using a hard bristled brush or applying too much pressure when brushing may result in the gradual wearing down of tooth enamel. Always use a soft bristled brush. Save the hard bristled ones for scrubbing the sink. Use gentle pressure and circular movements on your teeth. Furthermore, although tartar control toothpaste may work well for some, it may be too abrasive for others. Talk with your dentist or hygienist about your special needs.
Another cause of sensitivity could be a tooth fracture or crack, or even a fracture or crack in a restoration. Sensitivity could also be a sign that a cavity has developed. In addition, gum disease or bite-related problems may cause your gums to recede and expose the root surface. In these situations, various dental procedures such as a restoration (filling or a crown), may be needed to correct the problem.
In addition, with an increase of stress in our daily lives, there has been an increase in “bruxism,” or the grinding of teeth. Teeth grinding over a period of time can cause the wearing away of enamel on the biting surfaces of teeth. When bruxism occurs during sleep, a person is unaware of the damage that is chronically occurring night after night. After prolonged grinding, this may lead to severe pain in all affected teeth. For these situations, your dentist may recommend a preventive approach to correcting these problems.
SOME SOLUTIONS THAT CAN HELP RELIEVE TEETH SENSITIVITY
One solution may include the use of a “bite splint” or a “nightguard.” This can be similar to the mouth guards that athletes wear when playing contact sports. This custom-made acrylic resin guard is used as a shield between the upper and lower teeth. Therefore, as you grind your teeth in your sleep, this bite splint will help protect your teeth. This is especially important to wear when delicate restorations, such as veneers, are present.
Finally, toothpastes for sensitive teeth may help to relieve the pain, but are not the solution for everyone. What toothpaste for sensitive teeth does is coat the exposed dentin tubules to minimize its nerve exposure. Another solution your dentist may suggest is an in-office treatment, such as a desensitizing gel to apply to your teeth.
TALK WITH YOUR DENTIST OR HYGIENIST ABOUT TREATMENT OPTIONS
So the next time you’re drinking that Frappuccino and your teeth feel sensitive, don’t just turn the other cheek! It’s wise to mention your sensitivity to your dental hygienist or dentist, so they can determine exactly what’s going on and discuss with you the different treatment options available. Many people just want to ignore tooth sensitivity; however, it’s always better to be informed and be proactive about your dental health.