Everything You Need For Your Next Dental Appointment

Everything You Need For Your Next Dental Appointment

Unknowns can be scary. Going into situations that are inconsistent with your day-to-day routine can cramp your style, causing extra stress that we know you don’t need. We all know that going to your dentist frequently is a great investment in your oral health and your general well-being, but what can you expect from the time you get to the office to the time you leave? Here is our quick guide and checklist with everything you need to know and bring to your next dental appointment.

How Often You Should Go

For most, it’s recommended that people visit their dentist twice a year. However, if you’re in what’s known as the “high risk” group—smokers, diabetics, people with gum disease or immune system issues—should be seeing their dentist more frequently. After your checkup, ask your dentist when they think you should come in again for a cleaning.

First Things First: Check-In

Try to give yourself 10 to 15 minutes of time between your scheduled appointment and when you arrive. That way, when you get to the office, you will have enough time to fill out any forms from the dental receptionist. Remember to bring with you any necessary medical information you may need, such as any prescriptions you are currently taking or your dental insurance information. After all of the necessary forms are filled out, it will be time for you to head to your examination room.

Meet the Dental Hygienist

Once you’re brought back into the examination room, your dental hygienist will begin scraping and cleaning your teeth. When scraping, hygienists will use tools to remove plaque and tartar that’s built up on your teeth, which if left untreated can cause gum disease, cavities, and bad breath. Next, the hygienist will rinse out your mouth before beginning to polish and floss your teeth, making them sparkly and clean for your dentist to look at.

Finishing the Check-Up

The last part of your check-up will involve the dentist coming in to thoroughly examining your teeth. Often, at this point, the dentist will also take X-Rays. These x-rays can show problems that are otherwise hard to detect, such as abscesses, decay, cysts or tumors. As the dentist is waiting for the x-ray results, they will also be examining your teeth and gums, often doing some extra cleaning and asking some follow-up questions about your oral health and cleaning habits. When the x-ray results have been evaluated and the examination is finished, the dentist will offer suggestions on how you can keep your mouth healthy, and will suggest when you should come to see them again.

Last But Not Least, Check-Out

With your pearly whites cleaned, now it’s up to you to keep them that way. Before leaving the office, talk to the receptionist about when you should make your next dental appointment. He or she will help you find a date that’s convenient with your schedule and will give you an appointment card or follow up with you via email or text.

If it’s been a long time since your last appointment and you know you need to schedule a dental check-up, give the Creason, Weber & Mountford office a call at (616) 842-0822, we’d love to meet you! We always welcome new patients, and you can even get in touch with us online!

10 Steps For Better Oral Hygiene in the New Year

10 Steps For Better Oral Hygiene in the New Year

New Year’s Resolutions. Even if you don’t make them, the ringing in of the New Year does have a fresh-start feeling. This could be the year that you stop scrolling through Facebook before bed every night. Or maybe this is the year where you start focusing on your health.

Whatever resolution you may be trying to stick to, we’ve got a suggestion: Make 2017 your year for healthier, stronger teeth. Maintaining good dental health is crucial to your personal well-being, with poor habits causing cavities, tooth loss, and gum infections. To help you start forming better hygiene habits, here are 10 steps to take better care of your pearly whites.

STEP 1: Brush Your Teeth AT LEAST Twice a Day

The American Dental Association suggests that you brush your teeth in the morning when you wake up and again before you head to bed. Over the course of your day, bacteria within your mouth begins breaking down the food you’ve eaten throughout the day. As the bacteria is munching away on what’s left over from your lunch, it releases acids that can start damaging your tooth enamel. If you are only brushing once a day, it’s likely that the bacteria will begin to spread to different parts of the mouth which are often what causes the onset of gingivitis. It’s important to brush twice a day to keep all of the bacteria at bay.

STEP 2: When Brushing, Use a Fluoride Toothpaste

You’ve probably heard of fluoride as something that’s added to your water, or maybe as a child, your doctor prescribed fluoride tablets to help keep your teeth strong. But what is fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in the Earth’s crust, water, and in foods. When fluoride is added to your toothpaste it can be absorbed into your tooth enamel where it can help strengthen the tooth by replenishing the phosphorus and calcium that has been lost. Although you may have fluoride in your water already, you should still consider giving your teeth the extra fighting power that’s provided by fluoride. (However, do not use fluoridated toothpaste with children under the age of two unless you’ve first consulted your pediatrician.)

STEP 3: When You Brush, Floss

Although you may be an avid brusher, the odds are that you are one of the 32% of Americans who never flosses. In a report from US News in May of 2016, a study found that over a third of Americans, a whopping 37%, floss their teeth “less than daily.”

The importance of flossing regularly is related to those pesky bacteria we mentioned earlier. When you brush, many parts of your teeth, like the cracks and crevices in between, are out of reach for the bristles to scrub clean. That’s where flossing comes in. By reaching in between your teeth, flossing is stripping away the bacteria that could continue eating away at your enamel or that could irritate your gums. By linking your flossing habits to your twice-a-day brushing routine, you have a much lower chance of enamel loss or tooth irritation and decay.

STEP 4: Start Using a Rinse or Mouthwash

You may think that mouthwash is simply an instant breath freshener, but it does a lot more than take away your bad breath. If brushing takes away most bacteria and flossing takes another swing at it, mouthwash is the knock-out punch. Mouthrinses can reach and clean within every nook and cranny your mouth has bacteria hiding within. But buyer beware, not all mouthwashes are going to break down the bacterial compounds that can lead to tooth decay.

When shopping in the mouthrinse aisle, look for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. This seal is given to manufacturers whose products have shown statistical significance providing the health benefit they claim. Don’t just look for something to mask bad breath, look for a product that can fight and kill the bacteria. You can even find some mouthwashes that have the bacteria killing power and added fluoride to help keep your teeth strong.

STEP 5: Replace Your Toothbrush More Often

If you’ve had your toothbrush for more than five months, do yourself a favor and toss it. Your toothbrush can house lingering toothpaste and saliva, even if it’s been rinsed after you’re done brushing. To keep your teeth as clean as possible, you should be replacing your toothbrush every three to four months. Consider buying a toothbrush sooner if you notice that your bristles are beginning to fray.

STEP 6: Drink More Water

Most people don’t want to bring their toothbrushes and toothpaste with them to use after every meal. With our busy lives, that solution is impractical. Instead, try drinking more water throughout the day, especially during and after meals. The water helps wash off foods and bacteria clinging to your teeth. Also, staying hydrated will help your mouth’s production of saliva and give your body the water it needs to distribute nutrients and keep you functioning at full capacity all day long.

STEP 7: Avoid Acidic Foods and Drinks

One of the reasons fluoride is such a good addition to your dental hygiene routine is because of the damage acidic drinks and food can cause. When drinks like soda, coffee, and wine are introduced to your teeth, their acidity breaks down your tooth enamel. In addition to some of these drinks, many of our favorite fruits also contain a high acid content. Limiting how much acidic foods you eat and drink can help you keep your enamel strong to ward off tooth sensitivity and decay.

STEP 8: Curb Your Sweet Tooth

Candies and sugary drinks are just two culprits that affect your dental hygiene. When you eat sugary foods, the starches from them get stuck in your teeth’s cracks and crevices. These sugars are great food sources for your mouth’s bacteria. By cutting down on some of your favorite sweet treats, you are doing your teeth a favor and giving your mouth’s bacteria only a sliver of a chance. If possible, try to eat sweet and acidic snacks when you’re home so you can brush up right afterward.

STEP 9: Stop Using Tobacco

Whether you are using chewing tobacco or have a habit of smoking, the use of tobacco products causes serious damage to your teeth and mouth. In addition to the yellowing of your teeth and gums, tobacco use is linked to the onset of gum disease, tooth decay, and mouth and throat cancers. If you are seriously wanting to take better care of your teeth this year, kicking these habits to the curb is a huge victory.

STEP 10: See A Dentist

The most important step is the one we saved for last. Although all of these steps improve your oral hygiene, there’s no substitute for the expertise and care that comes with visiting a dental office. Understanding your teeth’s strengths and weaknesses are the key to having good health overall, and dentists are trained to help you find a care plan that will keep your smile healthy for years to come.

If it has been awhile since you’ve been to a dentist, we’d love to meet you! If you would like to set up an appointment to meet the staff or for a check-up, give the Creason & Weber office a call at (616) 842-0822. We always welcome new patients, and you can even get in touch with us online!

Why College Students Need To Go To the Dentist

Why College Students Need To Go To the Dentist

From high school to college, students have a lot of new things to learn. The independence that comes with moving away from home can be exciting and terrifying, and can be the start of a lot of phone calls home asking “how do I do this?” While students are focused on their academic performance and new social lives, it’s not surprising that dental health gets pushed to the wayside. However, college is the last place you want to be saying “maybe later” to your dental hygiene.

You may not know it, but your mouth is a reflection of your body’s overall health. Lack of proper dental care can lead to more than just changes to your smile. Poor dental hygiene can result in tooth decay, tooth loss, and even gum disease. But studies show that once students have left the nest and entered college, the visits to a dentist’s office declined significantly. For some, the reasons may be economical ones. If individuals know that they have a lot of work that needs to be done, it’s possible that they’re avoiding the dentist to avoid paying out the cost of correcting their teeth. Another common reason for shying away from the dentist is related to students’ anxiety about finding a professional on their own, especially if their new college or university town is unfamiliar to them. Whatever the case may be, there are many reasons why college students should be seeing a dentist on a regular basis.

Diet Changes

Changes in eating habits are one of the biggest transitions for students when they come to college. They no longer can depend on parents or guardians for meal planning, and suddenly, quick, low-cost meals become a dietary staple. Some of those diet changes may also include more caffeine intake from coffee, soda, or energy drinks (all highly acidic), tobacco use (increased plaque build-up and heightened chance of gum disease), and greater sugar intake. These changes in how you eat can affect teeth directly, while over time the lack of nutrients in the diet may begin to cause additional problems to the health and well-being of the gums and inner tooth tissue.

Time Saver

Maintaining good dental health is a preventive measure students should be taking to avoid the need for more intrusive and more expensive treatment down the road. Although taking the time go to the dentist may seem daunting with classes, extracurriculars, and jobs, it’s important. A regular check-up may last about 45 minutes to an hour. However, infrequent visits and long stints of zero check-ups can result in longer appointment times. If there is a problem such as a cavity or severe tooth decay, fixing the problem may require making one or two more appointments to resolve the issue. Instead, students can be proactive with their dental health by seeing a dentist frequently to identify and stop issues before they start.

Save Money

Finally, the last big reason we wanted to share with you was the fact that taking care of yourself now means saving money for yourself later. Fillings, root canals, tooth replacements, or endodontic procedures can all be costly to fix differing issues related to tooth decay and poor dental hygiene. Understanding how to take care of your teeth and having them regularly cleaned is an important investment students should be making in themselves. The results may not be apparent now, but down the road after graduation when real life starts to happen, knowing that you’ve done everything you could to keep your teeth healthy and strong will be a relief to you and your wallet. (Especially when those student loans kick in.)

Been awhile since you’ve been to the dentist? We’d love to meet you! If you would like to set up an appointment to meet the staff or for a check-up, give the Creason, Weber & Mountford office a call at (616) 842-0822. We always welcome new patients, and you can even get in touch with us online!

Overcoming Dental Anxiety For Kids & Adults

Overcoming Dental Anxiety For Kids & Adults

Millions of people suffer from phobias—a somewhat debilitating, unrealistic fear—and an estimated 30 to 40 million have anxiety or fear related to going to seeing their dentist. These cases can be severe and classified as a full-on phobia or can be milder, and classified as a case of dental anxiety. Both adults and children can experience this discomfort. In some cases, this fear of seeing a dentist can lead to irregular check-ups and poor dental health from lack of care.

Dental Anxiety & Adulthood

For adults, avoiding the dentist’s office can create a mix of emotions. Maybe you’ve avoided the dentist because you’ve been embarrassed about the current state of your teeth. Maybe your last appointment was painful, and you’re afraid you’re going to experience that same level of discomfort again. Or, perhaps, the loss of control is unnerving to you. Whatever your reason for not seeing your dentist, know that you are not alone. Many people struggle with feeling uncomfortable at their dentist’s office and depending on what causes your discomfort; there are some simple coping mechanisms we suggest you try:

Scary Sounds
We realize that dental equipment—like drills and brushes—can have a menacing sound. If the noises of the dentist’s office are offsetting to you, bring in a pair of earplugs or headphones. We won’t be offended if you tune us out for a little while.

Too Many Tools
For some, the many tools we use in the office to clean patient’s teeth can be a little overwhelming and even intimidating. When you come in for your appointment, feel free to ask questions about what each tool is used for, maybe even holding some before your check-up begins. This kind of informal meet and greet with the tools of the trade make them seem less sterile and scary.

The Chair
Lying back can make people feel vulnerable. If the feeling of leaning back in your dentist’s chair creates anxiety for you, ask if the chair can be lowered only half-way. Different procedures may not allow this, but in some cases, this less severe recline can make the appointment more enjoyable.

Dental Anxiety & Children

It’s not uncommon for kids to experience some anxiety when they come to their check-up. Before you come in for your child’s appointment, start getting them comfortable with the idea of what the dentist does and why you need to go there. The best way to avoid dental anxiety is to begin introducing kids to the dentist when they’re young.

Start Young
One of the greatest advantages to starting dental appointments with children when they’re young is how much more comfortable kids become at the dentist office over time. The American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) agree that a child’s first visit to the dentist should be before their first birthday, or within six months of their first tooth erupting. These frequent visits make the dentist and the office more familiar, and also help prevent the development of dental problems. In a report from the ADA and AAPD on children’s dental care, they note that “children with healthy teeth chew food easily, are better able to learn to speak clearly, and smile with confidence” with early visits starting children “on a lifetime of good dental habits.”

Play Pretend
Starting this mindset at home is as simple as playing a pretend game of going to a dentist appointment. Have your child sit back with their mouth open, wide enough for you as the “dentist” to use a toothbrush to point at their teeth. As you’re looking at each tooth, count it out loud to them. This “game” is a great tool that gives your child a better understanding of what their real appointment will look and feel like.

Keep Expectations & Explanations in Check
Many parents try to explain to their child what a dentist appointment will be like. Trust us, the less that’s explained, the better off everyone will be. For example: Say that you’ve told your child to expect the dentist will clean their teeth. More than likely, that’s true. Unfortunately, in the case that more dental care is needed, such as a filling, your child’s expectations will not be met. This change could cause your child to not only distrust the dentist but also to distrust you. It’s better to keep explanations simple and light-hearted, allowing the dental staff to create the tone for the child’s treatment needs in their way.

Trust the Dental Staff
Dental offices know that coming to the dentist can be a scary experience for children the first few times. If your child fusses, whines, or cries, just know that it’s normal and is something that the staff is trained to work with. Be prepared to follow the staff’s instructions, whether that be to hold your child’s hand or just to sit in during the appointment. As tempting as it may be, try not to use bribery to elicit good behavior. Instead, wait until the treatment is done and use positive affirmations to reward bravery or agreeableness. Using positive reinforcement like this helps develop good patient habits, and takes out the want for candy or a toy when the appointment comes to an end.

For patients young and old who are dealing with dental anxiety or fears, we suggest coming in to visit and meet our staff. Getting to know who will be working with you has been a great solution to make patients—both adults and children—feel more comfortable. (If your child is a train lover, our officeis an old depot with many pieces of railroad memorabilia. Sometimes telling kids about our office’s little electric set and toys makes the visit sound more like a fun trip than a doctor’s appointment!) If you would like to set up an appointment to meet the staff or for a check-up, give the Creason, Weber & Mountford office a call at (616) 842-0822. We always welcome new patients, and you can even get in touch with us online!

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7 Foods That Are Worse For Your Teeth Than Candy

7 Foods That Are Worse For Your Teeth Than Candy

We are mere days away from the ringing of doorbells, the donning of costumes and the cries of “Trick or Treat!” Halloween, with its mountains of candied, sugary goodness, will be here before you can say “Boo.” All of the hard, sticky, and chewy candies you’ll find on All Hallows Eve have the power to give the strongest tooth a cavity, but there are a number of other foods in your diet that you may not realize can be causing just as much, if not more damage. Here’s a list of 8 cavity-causing culprits that can give your candy confections a run for their money:

SODA
To all of you soda drinkers out there, this is your warning. Whether your beverage is “diet” or not, soda breaks down your teeth’s enamel in two ways: sugars and acid exposure. The best way to reduce the effects of soda on your teeth is to drink water with your pop to help wash the sugars and acid off of your teeth or limit your sodas to your meals, where the food can help neutralize the soda’s acid.

ICE
What can be so bad about frozen water you ask? In this case, it’s not about the makeup of the water, but of the hardness of your average ice cube. Chewing hard substances can do a number on your teeth, putting extra strain on your enamel. Do yourself a favor: stick with bottled water.

CITRUS
We all know fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges can be great sources of vitamins and even better flavors to add to our water. However, like some of the other cavity-culprits on this list, citrus fruits combine natural sugars and high acid content to make a cavity-causing-cocktail that can promote tooth decay. Even worse are dried fruits, with their chewy, almost gummy texture that easily adheres to your teeth and gets trapped in between. With so many ways that citrus is introduced into our diets, this food is definitely a top contender on the list of bad foods for your teeth.

COFFEE
In addition to being a leading contributor to tooth discoloration and stains, coffee is an acidic powerhouse. For many, coffee is something that enjoyed throughout the day. Cup after cup, pot after pot. This is not even considering the many sugars we add to our favorite lattes and frappuccinos. No surprise that this office staple made the list.

TEA
Although tea can harbor a number of health benefits, it also carries the risk of a higher acidity. If you find yourself drinking a couple of cups a day, over time this exposure can be responsible for significant tooth erosion. May we suggest less tea time?

PICKLES
You’re probably wondering how this made the list. This might not be a main staple in your diet, but research has shown that for those who eat pickles often, they have an 85% higher chance of tooth wear. This is mostly a result of the acidic vinegar that the pickle has been preserved in.

CRACKERS/CHIPS
Crackers can be a nightmare for your teeth. As you chew, suddenly your tasty, cheese cracker becomes a gooey adhesive that becomes lodged in all of your mouth’s little cracks and crevices. As the cracker is broken down by your saliva, the carbohydrates are converted into sugars that consequently break down your teeth’s enamel.

BREATH MINTS/COUGH DROPS
Not only are both of these foods hard and bad to chew, they’re also full of sugar. As you suck on them to release either the minty flavor or the cough relief, your teeth are being soaked in your sugar-ridden saliva. Not good.

Thankfully, proper dental health—good brushing habits, flossing, regular checkups—can curb cavity-causing damage. When it comes to this year’s Halloween candy, enjoy your spoils. Just try to do so in moderation.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve had your last checkup and you’re a regular user of one of these cavity-culprits, give the Creason, Weber & Mountford Family Dentistry office a call at (616) 842-0822. We always welcome new patients, and you can even get in touch with us online!

What is a TMJ Disorder?

What is a TMJ Disorder?

Have you ever had pain in your jaw, face, or neck? Maybe jaw muscle stiffness, or limited movement? It’s possible that you’re experiencing symptoms of a TMJ disorder, also known as a temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder. This occasionally experienced pain is baffling researchers, as they try to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this disorder that is experienced by an estimated 10 million Americans.

What is a TMJ Disorder?

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, also known as TMJ disorders, are not something you hear about every day. Common symptoms categorized by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) list a TMJ disorder involving pain in the muscles that control jaw movement, derangement of the jaw joint, or arthritic joint disorders. Some patients experience just one or all of these symptoms. The disorder is more likely to affect women than men.

There isn’t always a clear indicator as to why patients start experiencing symptoms of a TMJ disorder. It’s not uncommon for the discomfort to start randomly and then subside over time. In other cases, trauma to the jaw itself or to the joint specifically can play a leading role in developing a problem.

What Are the Symptoms of a TMJ Disorder?

Symptoms listed by the NIDCR vary from patient to patient, but some common symptoms of TMJ disorders include:

  • Pain in the face, jaw, or neck
  • Jaw muscle stiffness
  • Limited jaw movement
  • Painful clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint
  • A change in the way upper and lower teeth fit together

Although these symptoms may appear without an obvious cause, it is possible for the disorder to be related to another health problem. Some cases of TMJ disorder have been reported alongside chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep disturbances, or fibromyalgia. Without a clear understanding of how or why jaw disorders start, it is difficult to pinpoint one responsible cause.

Ways to Treat Your TMJ Disorder

For most patients, the symptoms associated with a TMJ disorder will go away on their own. Only in extreme cases of chronic pain do we suggest talking with your physician about exploring aggressive, irreversible treatments that would alter the muscles, tissues, or joint of the jaw. Instead, we encourage you to explore other self-care options that can help with pain management.

  • Avoid Hard Foods. Give your jaw a break from aggressive chewing motions by eating softer foods.
  • Use An Ice Pack. As simple as it sounds, applying a cool ice pack to the painful joint muscle will begin to numb the region, allowing for a welcome relief.
  • Limit Your Jaw Movement. Whether you’re an avid gum chewer, opera singer, auctioneer, or wide yawner, it is best to try to limit your extreme jaw movements to avoid further irritation and discomfort of the jaw joint.
  • Relax & Stretch. Increased stress can add additional strain to an already tight jaw muscle. Try to find ways to relax and unwind. If need be, consult your physician or physical therapist to find exercises and stretches that will help loosen the jaw muscles.

If these techniques are not helping relieve the pain, talk to your dentist about other symptom relief options, such as pain medications or the use of a stabilization splint. It is best to always consult your dentist about any jaw discomfort you’re experiencing and avoid any alteration of the bite until you have a thorough diagnosis.

If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms of TMJ disorder pain, give the Creason, Weber & Mountford office a call at (616) 842-0822. We always welcome new patients, and you can even get in touch with us online!