Posts for: April, 2022

SedationCanAlleviateAnxietyandOpentheWayforNeededDentalCare

Discovering how pain and anxiety complicated disease care, many ancient civilizations turned to natural substances like root herbs or alcohol to ease their effect. Today, we've developed more effective agents, which enable patients to undergo many treatments they would otherwise be unable to endure.

There's been immense progress in particular in methods for reducing patient anxiety during dental treatment. In contrast to physical pain, anxiety is more aptly defined as mental discomfort. Dental anxiety, the apprehension a person feels at the prospect of dental care, can be serious enough that a person avoids dental care altogether, even with serious teeth or gum issues.

Adages like "Just suck it up and get through it" can be hollow words to someone with serious dental anxiety. Today's dentist understands that anxiety is very real and a serious impediment to care. Fortunately, modern dentistry has effective measures to alleviate it.

This commonly involves an approach with two phases. In the first, the patient takes an oral sedative an hour or so before the appointment to produce an initial calming effect. In the second phase at the appointment, the dentist initiates intravenous or IV sedation, a deeper application that continues throughout the treatment session.

With IV sedation, we deliver the sedative medication through a small needle inserted into a patient's vein, placing the patient in a highly relaxed state. Unlike general anesthesia, which renders a patient unconscious, sedated individuals remain somewhat awake, often able to respond to verbal commands or physical stimuli.

In further contrast to general anesthesia, IV sedation doesn't require assisting patients with breathing or circulation. Even so, one of the treatment staff will continue to monitor vital signs while the patient is sedated.

Since the introduction of Pentothal in the 1930s, the first sedative used for medical and dental procedures, we've developed other safe and effective sedatives that flush from the body quickly and have few after-effects. Many have an amnesiac effect, so that the patient remembers little or nothing at all about the procedure.

Sedation therapy can accomplish two things. First, an anxious patient can have a more positive experience during dental treatment. And, as these positive experiences accumulate, a patient prone to anxiety may develop a readiness to receive treatment before a problem goes too far.

If you would like more information on dental sedation techniques, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “IV Sedation in Dentistry.”


By Dr. Dulat
April 12, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: nutrition   tooth decay  
EnergyDrinksCouldPoseaThreattoYourTeeth

In the last few years, energy drinks have begun to offer strong competition to traditional "pick-me-up" drinks like tea or coffee. But while the proponents of energy drinks say they're not harmful, the jury's still out on their long-term health effects.

With that said, however, we may be closer to a definitive answer regarding oral health—and it's not good. The evidence from some recent studies doesn't favor a good relationship between energy drinks and your teeth.

For one, many energy drinks contain added sugar, which is a primary food source for the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Increased bacteria also increase your chances of dental disease.

Most energy drinks also contain high levels of acid, which can damage the enamel and open the door to advanced tooth decay. The danger is especially high when the mouth's overall pH falls below 5.5. Energy drinks and their close cousins, sports drinks, typically have a pH of 3.05 and 2.91, respectively, which is well within the danger zone for enamel.

A research group recently put the acidity of both types of beverages to the test. The researchers submerged samples of enamel into different brands of beverages four times a day for five days, to simulate a person consuming four drinks a day. Afterward, they examined the samples and found that those subjected to energy drinks lost an average 3.1 % of their volume, with sports drinks faring only a little better at 1.5%.

Although more research needs to be done, these preliminary results support a more restrained use of energy drinks. If you do consume these beverages, observing the following guidelines could help limit any damage to your teeth.

  • Limit drinking to mealtimes—eating food stimulates saliva production, which helps neutralize acid;
  • After drinking, rinse out your mouth with water—because of its neutral pH, water can help dilute concentrated acid in the mouth;
  • Wait an hour to brush to give saliva a chance to remineralize enamel—brushing before then could cause microscopic bits of softened enamel to slough off.

There's one other alternative—abstain from energy drinks altogether. In the long run, that may turn out to be the best choice for protecting your oral health.

If you would like more information on the effects of sports or energy drinks on teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Think Before You Drink.”


DiamondFangsNotYourThingThereareSubtlerWaystoGetaMoreAttractiveSmile

Fashion designer and reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian recently displayed some unusual dental work to her followers on Instagram. The eldest Kardashian sister showed off her new diamond-encrusted canine teeth, which gave her the impression of bejeweled fangs.

We're not sure if this is a permanent enhancement or a temporary fashion statement. Either way, Kardashian's "vampy" vibe shows what's possible in cosmetic dentistry—with a little imagination, you can achieve a smile that gets attention.

Even if you're not channeling Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, dental enhancements need not be as dramatic as Kardashian's. Smile changes can be subtle just as well as they can be bold; and, the lighter touch is often as appealing—and life-changing—as the latter.

Here are a few ways you can make improvements to your smile in more subtle way.

Dental cleaning. Although sessions with your dental hygienist are primarily about disease prevention, a dental cleaning could also make those pearly whites look better. Clearing away dull, dingy plaque and tartar often reveals the shiny enamel beneath, especially after polishing. You can also help keep your smile bright—and your teeth and gums healthy—by brushing and flossing daily.

Teeth whitening. While a dental cleaning can help your teeth shine, you might also turn to this dental procedure to maximize your smile's brightness. We can apply a controlled bleaching solution, usually in one sitting, to help you obtain the level of brightness with which you're most comfortable: from all-out Hollywood bright to a more subdued shade of white.

Teeth bonding. Your otherwise beautiful smile has a few chips or cracks in it. We can usually repair these in just one visit with a dental bonding procedure. We use a composite resin material formed into a putty that we apply in layers to the defective area of the tooth, sculpting it as we go. Once we attain the desired shape and color for the tooth, we cure it to give it resilience. With dental bonding, your teeth can look perfect as well as beautiful.

Veneers. There are other mild to moderate flaws like heavy staining, misshapen teeth or gaps that might exceed the capabilities of dental bonding. Porcelain veneers bonded to the visible surfaces of teeth can hide these imperfections and truly transform your smile. There is some permanent tooth alteration we must perform beforehand, but otherwise veneers are only lightly invasive.

Even if diamond-encrusted canines à la Kardashian aren't your thing, the field of cosmetic dentistry is broad enough to meet whatever your expectations for an improved smile. Visit us for an assessment of your smile, and what we can do to make it even better.

If you would like more information about your options for enhancing your smile, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”