Developing a Dental Strategy that will Save you Money: Scottsdale Dentist

Taking care of your teeth is a commitment you need to make for a lifetime. Similar to any other realm of healthcare, it can get costly — from regular dental visits and cleanings to more expensive treatments and procedures for protecting, preserving, and repairing your teeth.

If you are limited financially, it does not mean that your dental care has to wait or your health has to suffer. If you commit to following an effective strategy for oral care, your dental visits do not have to be expensive in the future. Apart of a good oral health hygiene plan, here are a few key tips:

  1. Practice effective daily oral hygiene. Many of the potential dental problems people experience are the result of not having a consistent, effective oral hygiene habit — which includes daily brushing and flossing along with semi-annual dental visits for cleanings and checkups. The goal of oral hygiene is to remove bacterial plaque effectively, the sticky film that adheres to teeth after we eat, and keep it from building up and causing significant damage over time. Removing plaque reduces your chances of developing the two major dental diseases caused by it, tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease, which could result in additional treatment needs. However, even with excellent oral hygiene you’ll still form tartar (hardened plaque deposits) on your teeth, so professional cleanings from a dental hygienist are necessary.
  2. Take care of your whole health. Your teeth and gums aren’t islands to the rest of your body. In fact, your oral health is heavily influenced by other conditions in the body, especially systemic diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular disease. So, be sure you’re following a healthy diet, following an exercise plan and seeing your doctors regularly. Your teeth will benefit from a holistic approach to your health.
  3. Work with your us to make your finances worry-free with treatment plan options. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee your teeth and gums won’t need additional treatment and procedures sometime in your life, even with excellent care and attention. If you’re in need of extensive treatment or you feel you need to enhance your smile, talk with us. We’ll be glad to talk through your options, and work out both a treatment and financial plan that fits your best health and financial goals.

Learn more about the cost of dentistry and how to make the best of your budget and health in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Finances and Dental Care.”

Scottsdale Dentist: Can We Save Your Tooth?

An implant is the closest restoration to mimic a natural tooth; however, a natural tooth is the best option if it can be saved. That’s not to say implants are a lowly treatment option – it’s often the best option if a tooth is unable to be repaired sustainably. Before any decisions are made, let’s try to save your natural tooth.

The first step is to evaluate your tooth to understand why it’s condition is poor — which the most common reasons are from tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease. Although different diagnoses, tooth decay and gum disease begin with bacteria in the mouth and can both lead to tooth loss.

Millions of harmless bacteria are present in your mouth consistently. There are a few strains that live in dental plaque on a thin “biofilm” on your teeth, that can cause disease. As they feed on sugar bound to teeth, they convert the sugar to produce acid, which can erode the protective enamel on teeth. This can cause the formation of cavities, which must be cleaned and filled with safe dental material to fix.

If decay is left untreated, it spreads deep within the pulp and through the root canals. When decay spreads deeper, your tooth is in more danger. Your tooth may be able to be saved with a root canal treatment. In this common procedure, we access the pulp chamber and clean out all the diseased or dead tissue. Then, the empty chamber is filled with sterile dental material and root canals with a gutta percha filling, then sealed. We later cap the tooth with a new crown to further protect it.

Dental plaque triggers chronic inflammation if gum disease is present. The inflammation can cause the gums to weaken and detach from the teeth to form large voids called periodontal pockets, which can fill with infection. This could lead to bone deterioration, causing the tooth to become mobile and loose.

By removing plaque stuck to the surface, we can help fix your tooth. Plaque may be fueling the infection you’re experiencing. We normally do this with special hand instruments, but in special cases, surgical instruments may need to be used. After successfully removing plaque off the teeth surfaces and below the gum line, inflammation should calm, giving the tissues a chance to heal and rebind to teeth. Depending on severity,  we may also need to assist the  tissues to regenerate through gum or bone grafting.

You may be able to save your natural teeth through oral care efforts and treatment options. Saving your natural smile yields the most benefits to your overall dental and bone health, so your Scottsdale Dentist will present you all possible treatment options before removing a tooth. Sometimes, however, it may be the best option to remove a tooth.

We are always willing to help you learn more about your treatment options. You can also learn more about saving teeth vs. placing implants by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Save a Tooth or Get an Implant?

Expecting Mothers Dental Q&A – Scottsdale Dentist

Pregnancy is an amazing and exciting time for an expecting mother. However, during this time, a lot of questions may come to mind about both the mother’s and the baby’s health. Dental care is an important factor within health during this time.

We frequently hear these questions from expectant mothers, and we’re happy to answer them here:

Is the calcium in my teeth used for development of my baby’s teeth?
Mothers who have had dental problems in the past frequently ask this question as they are worried to pass their troubles to their child. No — a baby developing in the womb acquires minerals, such as calcium, for their teeth and bones from the mother’s diet, not her teeth. A mother that ensures she is eating healthy, balanced diet rich in nutrients and minerals like calcium will help her own health and her baby’s development.

Are my chances of developing a dental disease higher when pregnant?
Pregnancy causes significant fluctuations in your body’s hormones, particularly increasing estrogen. With increased estrogen levels, changes can occur in the gum tissue’s blood vessels that may make periodontal (gum) disease (commonly called “pregnancy gingivitis”) develop. Later in pregnancy, it is also possible to develop non-cancerous overgrowths of gum tissues called “pregnancy tumors.” Considering that there is a heightened risk for gum disease during pregnancy, it is important to monitor your gum health closer and visit your dentist if you have any questions or concerns.

How should I take care of my teeth?
Like normal, it is important to brush your teeth twice a day with ADA-approved fluoride-containing toothpaste to remove plaque, bacteria, and food remnants that cling to your teeth. Flossing daily and using an anti-plaque/anti-gingivitis mouthwash also positively impact oral health. During your pregnancy, you should continue to see your Scottsdale Dentist for regular office cleanings and checkups, or if you notice any abnormalities, such as gum swelling, bleeding, and more.

Should I take prenatal fluoride supplements?
Studies on its fluoride supplement effectiveness do not support the idea that this will benefit you and your baby’s dental development. There is not data to encourage this professionally. Although, there is solid support from research that application of fluoride to teeth in young children just after they appear in the mouth has shown 99% cavity-free results using topical fluoride applications with sealants (in a study of over 1,000 teeth)!

Your Scottsdale Dentist is more than happy to assist you during your pregnancy. Call or visit us! The Dear Doctor magazine article “Expectant Mothers” covers more information on your pregnancy and healthy choices.

Simple Tooth Extractions: A Common Dental Procedure: Scottsdale Dentist

When a tooth is not able to be repaired due to disease, decay, or injury, it may be best to remove it. A “simple” tooth extraction is a member of the most common dental procedures and is not the grievous procedure you may think it is!

The term “simple extraction” is used because the shape of the tooth and root allows for a fairly uncomplicated removal. An example would be the normally cone-shaped upper front tooth that offers a resistance free extraction.

The simple extraction process is quite straightforward. The periodontal ligament holds your teeth in place. The periodontal ligament is an elastic tissue with tiny fibers that attaches the tooth to surrounding supporting bone. With careful manipulation by the hands of an experienced dentist, the fibers loosen. Once the fibers have detached, the tooth can be removed with little effort; with the aid of local anesthesia, you should not experience pain. You may experience slight pressure.

Immediately after removal of the tooth, we commonly insert bone grafting material in the socket to minimize bone loss. If you’re planning an implant or other restoration in this area, the bone graft helps make the next phase simpler. After your extraction, we place sterile gauze over the site until a blood clot forms. If you have a large socket, we may place a few dissolvable stitches to close the area and promote faster healing. Post-extraction materials are given to you for proper caring and cleaning methods. After extraction procedures, we commonly prescribe antibiotics to reduce the chance of infection and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce potential discomfort.

Although a simple extraction is a very common procedure, we still perform a proper assessment of the tooth and the surrounding bone beforehand, which includes x-rays to determine the tooth’s exact structure and position.

It’s our hope you’ll have your natural teeth for a lifetime. But if you find yourself needing a simple extraction, you can rest assured it’s a very common — and uneventful — experience.

If you would like to more about simple tooth extractions, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Simple Tooth Extraction.

Chronic Dry Mouth: 3 Common Causes: Scottsdale Dentist

Like most people, you’ve most likely experienced occasional dry mouth when you’re thirsty or just waking up in the morning. Usually, this doesn’t last long and shouldn’t concern you.

But xerostomia, which means chronic dry mouth, is a concern. Chronic dry mouth is this persistent lack of adequate saliva. Not only is this uncomfortable for you, it could also increase your chances for tooth decay or gum disease.

Here are 3 common causes of chronic dry mouth and what you can do to help the symptoms.

  • Insufficient fluid intake.
    • Obvious, but very common —you’re simply not consuming enough water. Insufficient fluid intake deprives the salivary glands of essential fluid to produce the necessary amount of saliva. If you find that you’re often thirsty, you’ll need to increase the amount of water you consume throughout the day.
  • Medications.
    • More than 500 drugs, both over-the-counter and prescription, can list dry mouth as a side effect. Older adults who take more medications than average, may have increased problems with dry mouth. You may be able to help your medication-related dry mouth. Talk with your healthcare provider about alternative drugs for your condition that are less likely to cause dry mouth. Also, drink more water right before and right after taking your medication. Lastly, focus on increasing your daily intake of water.
  • Diseases and their treatments.
    • Along with some other, systemic diseases like diabetes or Parkinson’s disease can lead to xerostomia. Autoimmune conditions are particularly problematic because the body may turn on its own tissues, the salivary glands being a common target. Radiation or chemotherapy treatments can also damage the glands and lead to decreased saliva production. If you have a condition and are experiencing xerostomia, talk with your healthcare provider about ways to protect your salivary glands.

You can also ease dry mouth symptoms with xylitol gum (“saliva boosters”) or medications that stimulate the production of saliva. Caffeinated drinks and sugary or acidic foods affect your saliva production, so try to avoid them. Importantly, stay diligent with your oral hygiene habits and regular dental visits to continually reduce your risks of dental disease.

If you would like more information on the causes and treatments of dry mouth, please contact us for a consultation. Also, the following article gives you more insight on xerostomia: Dear Doctor magazine article “Dry Mouth: Learn about the Causes and Treatment of this Common Problem.”

Why Do I Need a “Deep Cleaning?” – Scottsdale Dentist

It can be shocking to hear from your dentist or see your treatment plan and learn that you need a “deep cleaning,” known as an SRP. SRP stands for Scaling and Root Planing. What does this mean? This meanings that you need a cleaning that extends to below the gum line.

During every check up, measurements of your tissues around each tooth are made. If you have multiple measurements of tissues above 4mm long, you need a deep cleaning. With tissue measurements longer than 4mm, this means you have deep pockets, and may have bone loss. Within these deep pockets lies “calculus,” which is hardened plaque attached to the tooth, causing problems to occur. Such problems can include inflammation, redness and bleeding in the gums, bone loss, and tooth decay.

When encouraged to receive an SRP, it is important to understand the risks of not receiving the deep cleaning:

  • Bone Loss
    • Bone loss leads to a higher chance of your teeth becoming loose.
  • Gum Disease / Infection
    • Bacteria present on your teeth and below the gums leads to the occurrence of gum diseases, such as periodontitis and gingivitis, as well as infections. Both gum diseases and infections damage the teeth, causing decay. Also, gum diseases and infection can spread to other systems in the body, such as the heart or brain.
  • Tooth Decay
    • The longer an SRP is not performed, the longer the calculus can damage your teeth below the gum line. Without its removal, your teeth are more likely to start feeling sensitive and/or painful because the exposure of the nerve from decay.
  • Tooth Loss
    • Deep pockets and calculus buildup can ultimately lead to the loss of teeth. Keeping up with your dental cleanings can eliminate this risk.
  • Aging Effects
    • With bone loss due to deep pockets and calculus buildup, your face may start appearing “sunken” and your jawline will become less and less sharp.
  • Overall Health Changes
    • There is research available to you showing correlation between gum disease and buildup of calculus to other health problems, such as heart disease and stroke.

The benefits of SRPs includes:

  • Reversing signs of gum disease
  • More Attractive Smile
    • If your smile teeth have visible plaque or red gums, a deep cleaning will help you gain confidence and show a healthier smile!
  • Decreasing Inflammation, Redness, and Bleeding
  • Better Breath
    • Your breath will improve after removing the bacteria present on your teeth and below the gums.
  • Improving your Overall Health
    • Keeping up with your dental cleanings will help your overall health as the bacteria present in your mouth can reach the rest of your body and the blood stream.

Make sure to schedule your deep cleaning so you can get your oral health back on track! If you have any questions, ask your dental hygienist or dentist.

Here is another great blog about the difference between regular cleanings and deep cleanings: https://www.rsfdentist.com/our-blog/2017/7/1/what-are-deep-cleanings-and-why-is-the-srp-so-misunderstood.

What is a Comprehensive Exam: Scottsdale Dentist

When establishing yourself as a new patient at a dental office, the very first visit you’ll experience is a “Comprehensive Exam.” This is the first time you’ve ever been on their schedule!

The key of Comprehensive Exam is to get to know you as a dental patient. Also, you should get to know your dentist and office! Typically, you will receive a panoramic X-ray to evaluate your whole mouth. Next, a set of Bitewing X-rays will determine the need for fillings, root canals, or crowns. A hygienist will then complete “perio charting” to physically check your gum health. Your dental assistants may take photos of you and within your mouth for more diagnostic material. Read our blog about the different types of dental X-Rays here: https://www.serenitysmiles.com/blog/are-dental-x-rays-safe/.

Afterwards, your dentist will meet you face to face during your first appointment. They will give you a physical exam, gently exploring your oral health. For your dentist to gain key information about you, your medical history and previous dental experiences will be reviewed.

Looking for that perfect dentist? Read the American Dental Associations guide to picking the perfect one: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/dental-care-concerns/how-to-choose-a-dentist.

Dental Technology – Making Dentistry Easier: Scottsdale Dentist

The science of lasers has changed dentistry forever, giving patients easier and better experiences when visiting the dentist. Also, dental technology is making dentistry easier for everyone! When you visit your dentist, you most likely will see new technologies that make dentistry less messy, time consuming, and more fun!

Panoramic 3D images are used to see your entire smile and skull anatomy in one image! Because of this powerful image, your dentist requires less X-Rays overall to diagnose and treat your dental needs, exposing you to less radiation.

Have you ever had an impression taken at your dental office? Was it messy and gooey? Now, dental offices are ditching the goop and using 3D scanning technology! With new digital scanning, dentists can quickly “scan” your mouth to make the perfect crown, bridge, night guard, and more. Best of all, your dentist might have the technology to 3D print your crown, bridge, or night guard right in office!

Read our blog about laser technology used in procedures at: https://www.serenitysmiles.com/blog/what-is-laser-dentistry/!

To learn more about other things 3D scanning can do in dentistry, read: https://www.laserdesign.com/3d-laser-scanning-makes-an-impression-on-the-dental-profession/.

Dental professionals are working hard to make your experience as painless, quick, and comfortable as possible. New technology, such as 3D scanning, changes how dentistry is performed and makes your visit enjoyable! Check out our website to see what other technology we offer to you: https://www.serenitysmiles.com/our-technology/!

Are Dental X-Rays Safe – Scottsdale Dentist

Dental X-Rays provide a precise diagnosis of your dental problems. Also, with procedures such as “crown seats” or “root canals,” X-Rays ensure that your treatment was completed successfully. With the technology available today, X-rays are the safest they have ever been. Four X-Rays use about the same amount of radiation that is in your banana.

Though small amounts of radiation pass through dental X-rays, offices still follow ALARA: “As Low As Reasonable Achievable” when performing any treatment.

There are a few different types of X-Rays that you’ll receive in a dental office, depending on your treatment.

Panoramic X-Rays: A 3D “panoramic” image of your whole mouth, jaw bones, sinuses, and neck.

Bitewings: X-Rays designed to focus on the crowns of your teeth, to help diagnose cavities and deep pockets.

PA’s: Single X-Ray films designed to focus on a specific area of the mouth, such as a painful tooth.

Dentists are switching to a technology called Nomad X-ray technology. Unlike your typical big X-ray heads where the assistant leaves the room while operating, they are handheld and expose you to even less radiation than before.

Dental professionals take every precaution to limit your exposure to radiation. Every patient receives a lead vest for each X-Ray.

It is important to let your dentist, hygienist, and assistant know of all of your medical changes, such as pregnancy. When pregnant, it is important to limit radiation as much as possible or get medical clearance from an OBYGN. Pregnant patients with a medical clearance can still receive X-Rays for treatment, with a different protective vest to protect both the patient and fetus.

If you have questions regarding children getting X-rays, here is a brochure made by dental and medical professionals: https://www.imagegently.org/Portals/6/Dental/IG14_DentalBrochure.pdf.

 

What to Look for in a Dental Practice: Scottsdale Dentist

Choosing the right dental practice can be daunting with so many offices to choose from. It is important to keep in mind what factors are important to you when trusting a dentist and staff with your dental care.

Find out their values.

All dental offices have a mission statement in their practice. The mission statement should be posted or easily available to you to look over. On the main page of a dental office’s website, there should be key information to define themselves to you. Also look for videos from the doctor or staff!

Check out their social media and website.

Find out what your future dental office does besides dentistry? Are they active within the community? Do they seem friendly? Social media accounts provide an excellent window into the actual culture of a practice and it is posted for you to see! A great dental office frequently posts about not only dentistry, but about the livelihood of their practice. If you interact with these posts, a great dental practice should almost immediately reach out to you!

See if your insurance is covered there.

If insurance is a factor in your dental office decision, you may call and ask if your insurance is covered, or check the dental office’s website. Some offices bill all insurances, regardless of them being “in network” with them or not, so keep this in mind if you end up preferring an office that isn’t “in network” with your insurance, because you may still receive worthwhile benefits.

Read reviews.

Reviews are the newest and easiest way to learn if a dental office is worth your visit. Communities thrive when word-of-mouth referrals exist, so reading reviews from people in your area will help you better understand the practice you’re looking into. If a dental office has stellar reviews from multiple people – it’s safe to say that the office prides itself in great work. You could even reach out to the reviewers and ask them for their honest feedback.

Learn about the dentist(s).

Learning about your dentist is just as important as learning about the dental office. On the dental office’s website, you can read about the dentist(s) working at your office of choice. Dentists should include credentialing, a bit of their personality, and their mission as a provider.

See what services they offer.

Before choosing a dental office, it is important to consider what services they offer and if they align with what you’re looking for. Do you suffer from anxiety or fear of the dentist? Gag reflex? If so, make sure that the office can cater to your comfort through oral or IV sedation. Also, most dental offices aren’t specialized in full mouth rehab/transformations and bigger procedures, like implants. Double check by calling or checking out their website that the office can cater to your needs.

Search for any local ads.

If you need to save money, look in the local ad papers to see if they have new patient specials or specials on procedures you may need done. Looking at the dental office’s advertisements also gives you a look into how they stage their practice to look to the public. Is it the type of practice you see yourself receiving treatment from?

Visit for a comprehensive appointment.

If you have narrowed your search for the right dental office down to one or two, schedule a comprehensive appointment! A comprehensive appointment is a full check-up done by the dentist so that he can diagnose any problems you may have and meet you personally for a one-on-one appointment. This is your chance to actually sit in the dental chair and see your dentist and dental office in action for your treatment and their first impression on you. First impressions COUNT, so pay close attention to their care.

Ask questions!

During this whole process, don’t be afraid to call and ask questions, as well as ask questions during your comprehensive appointment. A great dental office should happily help you through the process of gaining you as a new patient. Also, your dentist should thoroughly answer any of your questions!

Use these tips to find your best dental office ever. It is important to find an office that cares about your customer service experience, treatment experience, and overall satisfaction!