5 Tips for Coping with Dental Anxiety

5 Tips for Coping with Dental Anxiety

If even the thought of going to the dentist quickens your heartbeat and makes you break out into a sweat, you are not the only one! Many people share this fear, and in fact, coping with dental anxiety is so common, there’s actually a term for it — dentophobia. We’re not making that up!

Unlike other fears, however, such as being afraid of spiders, you can’t simply avoid going to the dentist like you can run away when you spot a web. Doing so would be detrimental to your oral and overall health. So what do you do? Well, while you might not be able to escape the need for dental care, there are ways to cope with the anxiety that comes with it. 

If you struggle with dental anxiety, follow these tips to ensure a stress-free visit to your dentist:

#1: Ditch Dental Anxiety by Being Upfront

The best way to deal with your fears is to share them with your dental team. There’s truly no need to be embarrassed. Like we said, you are not the first person to stress out over taking a seat in a dentist’s chair!

Have an upfront conversation about your anxiety from the get-go and explain any past bad experiences that may haunt you. A good dental team will understand and accommodate you to help ease your concerns. Whether it’s talking you through the steps being taken, letting you take timeouts if necessary, or periodically asking if you’re doing okay, good communication with your dental team will allow you to feel more informed and in control, and in turn, more comfortable.

#2: Distract Yourself from Dental Anxiety

Sometimes dentist offices offer built-in distractions, from TVs to magazines to calming pictures on the ceiling. However, if these are not enough to preoccupy your mind, ask if you can bring your own dental distractions along. Wear headphones to listen to your favorite tunes, podcast or audiobook. Or, bring a tablet to watch a movie, level up, or keep your binge streak alive by streaming that latest series you love. 

#3: Cope with Dental Fears Using Calming Techniques

Just as with other anxieties, practicing relaxation techniques can help you sit back and, well, relax. Try squeezing a stress ball, concentrating on breathing slowly and relaxing your muscles from head-to-toe, visualizing your happy place, or repeating a calming mantra, like “I love having fresh breath and a healthy smile”. Okay, maybe that’s not the phrase you’d choose, but you get the idea. 

#4: Ask About Sedation to Stop Dental Stress 

During your upfront conversation, be sure to ask if there are sedation options that your dentist may recommend to ease your anxiety and help you relax. Nitrous oxide (a.k.a. laughing gas) is a common go-to choice that can help beyond just making you giggle! Your dentist may also prescribe an oral sedative to take prior to your visit, or use local anesthesia for a stress-free procedure. 

#5: Nix Dental Anxiety with Proper Nutrition

Believe it or not, what you ingest before your appointment can make a big difference in how you feel! Here’s the key: avoid high-sugar foods and caffeinated drinks beforehand which can increase anxiety levels. Instead, stick to options high in protein since these actually have a calming effect. Oh, and don’t forget to brush your teeth after your meal. Sorry, couldn’t help but get that in there!

 

It’s important not to let dental anxiety get in the way of your good health. Yes, trips to the dentist aren’t exactly fun, but they are necessary, so be sure to use these coping tips to help you stay calm, cool, and collected next time you schedule a visit

Rest assured, at Weber, Mountford, and Ruskowsk, we understand how you feel and are here to make sure your dental visit is as pleasant and stress-free as possible. If you’re worried about coming in for your appointment, reach out to our team. We’ll help you through the process and do whatever we can to keep you comfortable and relaxed. We are here for you!

Plaque vs. Tartar: What’s the Difference?

Plaque vs. Tartar: What’s the Difference?

Plaque and tartar go together like Batman and Robin, but this pairing isn’t exactly on the side of the good guys! In fact, plaque and tartar can wreak havoc on your dental health, which is why it’s good to know the difference between the two, as well as the signs and risks of each. Here’s everything you need to know about fighting this dynamic duo of dental doom.

Plaque vs. Tartar: The Breakdown

What is Plaque? 

Guess what? We all have to deal with plaque. That’s because plaque is a sticky, clear film that naturally builds up on teeth throughout the day as you eat and drink, especially if what you’re consuming contains sugar. Add saliva to the mix and harmful bacteria forms, releasing acid that enjoys hanging out along your gum line and causing damage and disease. If that isn’t reason enough to make sure you brush and floss daily, here’s the kicker: the longer plaque sticks around on your teeth, the greater chance it will harden and turn into, you guessed it — tartar!

What is Tartar?

Because the struggle of plaque buildup is real, it’s common for tartar to accumulate over time. Tartar occurs when plaque remains on teeth too long, allowing it to trap minerals and calcify, thus tartar’s alter ego: calculus (and yes, it’s even more bothersome than the similarly named math class!).

If tartar, a.k.a. calculus, is left unaddressed, it can result in not only discoloration and cavities, but also tooth decay and gingivitis, among other serious dental problems like periodontitis, which can lead to cardiovascular disease.   

Spotting the Signs & Reducing the Risks 

Now that you know the difference between plaque vs. tartar, it’s time to learn what’s behind this terrible twosome and how to spot the warning signs before tooth trouble ensues.    

Signs of Plaque and Tartar:

  • Bad breath
  • Slimy, fuzzy feeling (plaque)
  • Yellowed appearance and roughness (tartar)
  • Gooey residue on floss
  • Bleeding or sore gums

Risk Factors of Plaque and Tartar:

Your Best Defense Against Plaque and Tartar

If plaque is inevitable and tartar is its trusty sidekick, what do you do to fend them off? Well, the good news is, it’s not all that complicated. You can reduce your risks of plaque and tartar buildup by simply following a healthy and diligent dental routine.

  • Brush twice daily – you might want to use a tartar-control toothpaste for extra fighting power.
  • Floss at least once each day – this is important to get to the spaces between teeth where plaque may set up camp, but a toothbrush can’t reach it.
  • Consider an electric toothbrush – this can provide greater scrubbing power to remove plaque more effectively.
  • Reduce your sugar intake – if you are craving something sweet, just be sure to brush soon after you indulge! 
  • Try opting for snacks with natural plaque-fighting abilities such as celery sticks, apples, or cheese.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings – these are recommended every 6 months.

Remember, if you don’t take plaque and tartar seriously, they can have serious consequences on your dental and overall health. To keep tartar and disease at bay, schedule your biannual dental cleanings with West Michigan Dentistry. You can count on us to keep your teeth safe!

How to Clean Your Toothbrush

How to Clean Your Toothbrush

How to Clean Your Toothbrush

Your toothbrush keeps your teeth clean, but how do you keep your toothbrush clean? Hint: it’s not just by rinsing it alone. 

Toothbrushes tend to be a favorite hangout for bacteria and germs, and a quick swipe beneath a running faucet is just not enough to keep that bacteria at bay. Know what that means? Your toothbrush isn’t as clean as you think when you put it in your mouth. Not a pleasant thought, we know, which is why we’ve put together these guidelines on how to clean your toothbrush, and how to keep it that way.

Tips for Keeping Your Toothbrush Clean 

Store Your Toothbrush Upright and Solo

You might think covering your toothbrush is a good way to protect it from gathering germs, but unless the cover offers plenty of air circulation, it will actually create an environment mold and bacteria love! Instead, store your toothbrush vertically in a holder or cup with the bristles up so they can dry properly. 

In addition, it’s important to keep your brush separated from others. If you store toothbrushes together, they can easily exchange microorganisms, and that’s not good! 

Never Borrow or Share Your Toothbrush

Your mouth harbors plenty of its own bacteria, don’t add someone else’s to the mix! Sharing a toothbrush is a great way to share germs as well, which not only increases the amount of bacteria in your mouth and on your brush, but also increases your chances of getting sick or contracting an infectious disease such as tooth decay

Clean Your Toothbrush Regularly

The only true way to keep germs at a minimum and say bye-bye to bacteria is to include cleaning your toothbrush in your daily routine. In other words, don’t just brush your teeth every day, clean your toothbrush daily too! Here’s how:

  • Rinse your toothbrush under hot water both before and after you brush.

 

  • When you get done brushing, put your toothbrush head-side down in a cup of antibacterial mouthwash or hydrogen peroxide and leave it there for 3-5 minutes. 

 

  • Another option? Head to the kitchen and boil some water, then dip your toothbrush in and hold it there for 2-3 minutes.

 

  • Don’t want to bother with boiling water? There’s another way to clean a toothbrush in the kitchen –  just put it in the dishwasher! Yep, what works for knives, forks, and spoons works for your toothbrush too. Just be sure to use a lower temperature to avoid damaging its plastic handle. 

 

  • Invest in a UV sanitizer. Sure it’s a little on the pricey side, but it can absolutely be worth the investment when you consider this go-to bacteria buster is so reliable and effective, even hospitals use it!

 

Know When it’s Time to Replace Your Toothbrush 

Toothbrushes typically last 3-4 months, but you should reach for a new one sooner if your toothbrush is showing signs of wear and tear such as excessively frayed bristles. A toothbrush in such condition can’t do its job of cleaning your teeth very well, so it’s definitely time to trade it in for a fresh one. 

You should also replace your toothbrush if you’ve been ill, or if it’s been near the toothbrush of anyone else who’s been sick. Otherwise, you’re just keeping those germs around that are getting in your way of staying healthy.

Visit Your Dentist!

You know what they say: The best cure is prevention. Scheduling regular dental appointments not only keeps your teeth healthy and clean, but you get the added bonus of a new toothbrush every time! Now you know how to keep that brush in good condition, too, which in turn will keep your smile looking its best. 

Give Weber, Mountford, and Ruszkowski a call today to make your next dental cleaning appointment, and make sure your teeth stay not only clean, but also healthy, and strong.

Dental Bridges vs. Implants: What’s the Difference?

Dental Bridges vs. Implants: What’s the Difference?

Both dental bridges and implants are methods used for replacing teeth, but they each have specific qualities that could make one or the other a better fit for you. Do you think you need one of these procedures? Let’s look at the differences between dental bridges vs. implants, the pros and cons of each, and how to decide which is a better choice for you.

Dental Bridges vs. Implants

Dental bridges cover a few teeth where implants are used to replace a single tooth. Your dentist might recommend one or the other depending on your specific concerns, how much repair is needed, and your overall dental health. Dental bridges and implants are very different procedures and offer specific advantages over the other. Here’s what you can expect from dental bridges vs. implant procedures.

Dental Bridges

Dental bridges use existing teeth to bridge the gap of a missing one. Crowns are placed on either side on top of prepped and shaped teeth, and connected to a structure that holds a false tooth between them. The bridge is then cemented in as a whole unit, with the bridged section supported by each side. 

Dental bridges are permanent prosthetics. You don’t have to take it out to clean it, but you do have to clean around and under it to keep the area free of bacteria.

Pros and Cons of Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are easy to attach. The simple procedure can generally be completed in one visit. Because it is less invasive, dental bridge procedures are usually more affordable than dental implants, and are covered by most dental insurance plans.

Typically, dental bridges won’t last as long as dental implants. This is because they aren’t as strong and lack the same foundational support. Due to natural wear, bridges put more stress on surrounding teeth. Bridges are also not as natural-looking as an implant, and require more maintenance to keep them clean.

Dental Implants

Implants are a more involved procedure, but offer a longer lasting solution than dental bridges. A dental implant is basically a metal post that anchors to the jaw itself. A crown is attached to the top of the post. 

The procedure itself has three parts, which must all take place separately and allow for proper healing to occur between each stage. (1) The implant is connected to the jaw where it will fuse with the bone, a process called osseointegration; (2) the post is connected to the implant which protrudes above the gum line; and (3) a dental crown is attached and cemented to the post.

Pros and Cons of Dental Implants

Because they are fused directly to the bone, dental implants are very strong and stable. With their own built-in support system, they don’t put stress on surrounding teeth like dental bridges and can last a lifetime. An implant will also look and feel like a real tooth — and since they require such little maintenance beyond your normal dental hygiene routine, you might forget it’s not a natural part of your mouth.

The biggest drawbacks of dental implants are the time and cost. The multi-step procedure can take from 5 to 9 months to complete, depending on each patient’s rate of healing between stages. Because it does involve surgery, each patient must consider associated risks such as infection and nerve or other damage. Implant procedures are generally more expensive than bridges, and not always covered by insurance.

Dental Bridges vs. Implants: Which is Better For You?

Now that we understand the differences between dental bridges vs. implants, how do you know which is the better solution for you? Your choice will depend on —  in addition to your dentist’s recommendations — several personal factors, including your dental insurance, available time you’re willing to commit, and what you’re looking for out of your dental procedure. 

  • Insurance: Are both procedures covered by your dental insurance? Often, bridges are covered under most plans, but not all plans cover implant procedures because they are more involved. Before you commit to a more expensive procedure, you’ll want to be informed about out-of-pocket costs.
  • Time commitment: Implant procedures are more involved. They take more time, more appointments, and more recovery because they require surgery. Bridges are a more simple procedure that can usually be done in a single visit, depending on the amount of work you need done.
  • Cost and Durability: Implants last longer than bridges in most cases; about 15 years or more as opposed to around 7 for bridges. Based on the severity of work needed and your dental health, the costs might be comparable, so you’ll need to decide whether durability will play a role in your decision.

You should talk over all of these factors with your dentist, and they can help you decide whether dental bridges vs. implants will give you the results you’re looking for, and match your situation. 

Are you concerned that you might need either a bridge or an implant? Schedule an appointment with Creason, Weber & Mountford today! We’re happy to take a look, offer a consultation, and even get that procedure scheduled for you. 

How Do Dentists Feel About Mail-Order Orthodontics?

How Do Dentists Feel About Mail-Order Orthodontics?

Mail order orthodontics like Smile Direct Club, Candid, and others, have been gaining popularity as more patients look for affordable and convenient ways to achieve more beautiful straight smiles at home — but how effective are these treatments, really? If you want to try straightening your teeth at home, it’s a good idea to talk to your dentist first. Not all mail order orthodontics will work for everyone’s teeth, and they can come packaged with risks. Let’s talk about mail order orthodontics, how they work, and what you should know before you sign up. 

How Do Mail Order Orthodontics Work?

Mail order orthodontics are marketed towards customers wanting a straighter smile at home, without the price tag of orthodontic treatment from a dentist. Customers sign up online and receive a kit in the mail to take their own impressions at home. An affiliated dentist reviews the model made by the patient to determine if they are a candidate. Then, the dentist then designs a treatment plan using clear retainers that work to shape the teeth over time. In their plan they include a model of what the patient’s smile will look like and directions for how long and how often each retainer should be worn. The customer pays a one-time fee or monthly payments to begin treatment over a certain period of time. 

The appeals of mail order orthodontics are the convenience and price. Many patients like the idea of handling their teeth alignment journey at home, without having to wear traditional metal braces. They are also attracted to the lower price. Mail order orthodontics cost about $2,000 compared to $5,000-8,000 of professional orthodontic treatment.

Are Mail Order Orthodontics Effective?

Despite the appeals of convenience and price, are mail order orthodontics worth it? While you may pay less to pick up your retainers in the mail, you will also receive less. As a better comparing factor than price, you should consider if the treatment will be valuable and effective for you.

While mail order orthodontics might have some success for minor alignment issues, major orthodontic work is not advisable. Orthodontic procedures should be regularly monitored by a licensed professional to make sure the treatment is effective. Orthodontists play a critical role in helping patients achieve a straight and healthy smile. Under their supervision, minor adjustments can be made to help ease teeth into position naturally and with minimal discomfort. 

Additionally, many are unaware that they can also receive clear aligning retainers from their dentist. If you don’t want to go the route of conspicuous metal braces, clear retainers are a more subtle way to straighten your teeth. Rather than trust the opinion of a mail order dentist, your dentist can work with you on a customized treatment plan to achieve actual results. 

Mail order orthodontics put a huge amount of responsibility on the patient. They require them to initiate and manage their own treatment. Patients must wear the retainers diligently with no guarantee they are working, and ignore the possible risks that come from taking treatment into their own hands. What other medical procedures would you do on your own without help from a licensed professional? Are mail order orthodontics worth the risks?

What Are the Risks of Mail Order Orthodontics?

Risks associated with mail order orthodontics come from skipping over steps that would normally be taken with professional in-office orthodontic treatment. Before starting orthodontic work, your teeth should receive a complete cleaning and examination to ensure they are in peak health and prepared for alignment work to begin. Your dentist can then design a treatment plan based on your needs and goals, using all of the tools at their disposal. 

Professional orthodontic treatment is based on more information than mail order orthodontics, including radiographs and a thorough in-person examination, as well as consideration of the unique topography of your teeth and your dental history. Your dentist has access to all of this — a mailbox doesn’t. Without this valuable information, mail order orthodontics cannot design a comprehensive treatment plan that works for every individual and the specific challenges or health issues they may be facing. 

Health Risks of Mail Order Orthodontics

Either missing or failing to properly diagnose dental problems patients may be dealing with prior to orthodontic work makes the treatment less effective and possibly dangerous to the patient’s health. For example, failure to recognize tooth decay or gum disease, problems with teeth sensitivity, lesions, and even cancer, can have long-lasting health consequences. All of these are best treated when caught early, and performing orthodontic work over afflicted areas could exacerbate problems and lead to tooth loss, extensive dental problems, or long-lasting health issues. 

What’s the Real Cost of Mail Order Orthodontic Treatment?

When you opt for mail order orthodontics over professional orthodontic treatment, you risk completing the “steps” of mail order work and then having to repair considerable damage caused by ineffective treatment — due to unaddressed dental issues that could have been resolved before starting treatment, or from following a treatment plan that wasn’t designed for your unique teeth.

Another major risk is cost. Although mail order orthodontics are less expensive, they are still not cheap. If treatment doesn’t work, or causes more problems, you will still need to see a professional orthodontist to straighten your teeth or repair the damage — and it could end up costing you more than it would have to see a professional in the first place.

Mail Order Orthodontics vs. Professional Treatment

Before being licensed to complete orthodontic work, dental professionals receive an additional 2-3 years of training, on top of their rigorous medical studies. They have dedicated their lives to finding ways to straighten teeth and align the bite effectively and safely. Their education gives them the ability to assess, diagnose, and treat dental problems and irregularities. 

Mail order orthodontics use one method to align teeth, where dentists and orthodontists have several tools and solutions at their disposal to help you achieve a beautiful and healthy smile. If you want to give mail order orthodontics a try, it’s best to talk to your dentist first. They will support you as the patient, but can give you valuable information about how to use the mail order service to achieve the best results without compromising your smile goals or dental health. However, if you need significant work to achieve your goals, your dentist may advise against mail order orthodontics. 

In-office, professional orthodontic treatment will be most effective in aligning your teeth and giving you the best value for your investment in a straighter smile. If you’re concerned about costs, there are financing options that can help you affordably reach your goals. Talk to your dentist before starting any orthodontic treatment to get an assessment of your dental health and see what option would be best for you. 

If you have questions about mail-order orthodontics like the Smile Direct Club, don’t hesitate to give Creason, Weber & Mountford a call. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have, and even schedule an appointment so we can get a closer look.