Okuda Cosmetic Dentistry Blog
Posts for tag: gum disease
Does this sound familiar? Are you living with a broken, sore tooth, and tell yourself you’ll call the dentist only when you can no longer tolerate the pain? Or have you told yourself you’ll make an appointment when work is less busy, but that was one year ago? Or do you become tense and anxious with the mere thought of stepping into a dental office? If you identify with these examples, fear (phobia) or dental anxiety may be affecting your ability to achieve optimal dental and overall health. It may also keep you from achieving your smile makeover.
Talk to Your Cosmetic Dentist if You Have Dental Fears
Before you start thinking negative thoughts, it is essential to keep in mind the positive aspects of your dental treatment. Sometimes when you step out of your comfort zone, it’s easy to want to totally avoid an uneasy situation. Every step you take towards your goal to better dental health will benefit you and your quality of life. In overcoming dental anxiety, be proud of every achievement you gain in pursuit of your goal.
Why is it that some people have strong phobias or anxieties and others do not? For many people, phobias are linked to childhood incidents. Children may experience a fearful situation, such as almost drowning, where their “fight-or-flight” survival responses are triggered. Fight or flight reactions occur when a rush of adrenaline causes rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, cold sweat and other symptoms.
Many children may “outgrow” these fears as they have more positive encounters with swimming. However, some may always associate the ocean with this survival panic. In addition, there are studies that suggest learned behavior from other family members and genetics may also contribute to enhancing a person’s phobias.
Why is it important for people with a fear of the dentist to not avoid treatment? Unfortunately, if there are dental problems, neglect and time will increase its severity, decrease treatment options, and be more expensive to fix later. If cavities are left untreated, the decay may continue deeper into the tooth, leading to possible root canals, infections or possibly even tooth loss. Furthermore, periodontitis or gum disease, can lead to tooth and/or bone loss if left untreated.
Your dental appointment is made up of many different sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and touch. For someone who is dental phobic, anxiety may heighten their sensitivity to these sensations. If the patient’s perception is that the situation is out of their control, the patient may have the desire to leave their appointment and not come back.
Some Suggestions to Help You Feel More Comfortable So You Can Get that Beautiful Smile
To avoid this unwanted outcome, be sure to talk to your dentist and his or her staff about your special needs. Take control of your dental appointment. If you don’t tell them about your concerns, they will assume you are comfortable during your appointment. If knowing what the dentist is doing makes you feel more at ease, let the dentist know. For example, talking you through a dental procedure may make your appointment much easier.
During the dental procedure, if you need a quick break, work out a code with the dentist, such as raising your hand. This way you won’t feel helpless once the dental procedure starts. Also, if you want to communicate during your appointment, but are unable to speak, ask for a paper and a pen at the beginning of your appointment. This way you will still be able to relay your immediate concerns.
Be aware of what contributes to your stress before your appointment and take the necessary steps to minimize it. (1) Avoid caffeine on the day of your appointment. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it may cause you to feel anxious and jittery. This may contribute to a stressful appointment. (2) Allow extra time to get to your appointment. No one enjoys rushing through traffic when running late. Rushing to your appointment will increase blood pressure, which will then increase your stress level. (3) Take something to do or read while you wait. This will let you make good use of your time, the way you choose to, instead of concentrating on waiting for the appointment.
Everyone is unique. Something in the dentist’s office may bother one person, and totally not concern another. So take a moment before your appointment and ask yourself: What part of your dental appointments really bothers you? If it is the sound of the drill, bring ear plugs or a Walkman radio/tape player to your appointment to help drown it out. If it is the anesthesia shot that bothers you, remember that today dentists are knowledgeable of methods to administer “pain-free” shots. Many times a “topical” anesthesia is placed at the injection site using a cotton swab prior to the shot being given. If you don’t like to see the needle, make you sure tell the dentist!
Establishing good rapport with your dental professionals will assure that you not only receive timely dental treatment, but also do so in comfort. Don’t worry about what others will think about your special needs. You should feel proud of yourself for taking steps toward your goals of optimal dental health. Be proud of taking risks, challenging yourself, and achieving goals. Because in the end, you and your health are truly the ones that will benefit.
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.