Category: Featured

Dental X-Rays: Your Questions, Our Answers

Let’s talk about x-rays. Sure you’ve had them at your dental visits, but have you ever asked your dentist why? X-rays are a useful tool with many benefits. Read on as we shed some light on commonly asked dental x-ray questions.

Why do dentists need x-rays?

Dentists perform x-rays to check for issues with the teeth, mouth and jaw. Problems can include tooth decay, impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts or tumors, bone damage within the jaw and injuries like broken roots. X-rays can find these problems early, possibly before symptoms are even present. Without x-rays, dentists can easily miss early stages of oral problems, including decay between the teeth.

What types of X-rays are there?

  • Bitewing x-rays: These x-rays are used during check-ups to look for tooth decay, bone loss and severe gum disease as they show the upper and lower teeth in one view.
  • Panoramic x-rays: Given occasionally, this type of x-ray gives a complete, broad view of the upper and lower jaw. Used to identify issues like bone abnormalities, cysts, infections, fractures and tumors, panoramic x-rays will include the jaw, teeth and sinuses.
  • Periapical x-rays: Checking for problems below the gum line, these x-rays uncover problems like impacted teeth, cysts, tumors and abscesses. A periapical x-ray will capture the entire tooth from the surface to below the root. These x-rays are usually performed during a patient’s first visit.
  • Occlusal x-rays: Larger than most x-rays, these images allow a clear view of the roof and floor of the mouth. They will help pin-point foreign objects, extra teeth, jaw fractures, cleft palate or growths.

Are dental x-rays safe?

Dental x-rays use minimal amounts of radiation; your Dental Select dentist will use an up-to-date, modern machine. As a precautionary measure, you will wear a lead apron when this is performed. If you are pregnant, inform your dentist prior to receiving any x-rays. You may choose to wait having x-rays until after birth.

How often do you need dental x-rays?

The need for x-rays is based on age, risk, and signs of disease or oral issues. Healthy patients with little cavity risk may have x-rays performed every year or two, while high risk patients may receive them more often (possibly every 6 months). The ADA recommends that dentists and patients discuss the need for x-rays together.

Bad Habits Teeth

5 Habits That Are Bad for Your Teeth And Why You Should Break Them

From nail biting to chewing ice, we all have different habits that we do on a daily basis – however, you may not be aware of or the impact they have on your oral health. So, even though you brush and floss regularly, you could still be damaging your teeth without even knowing it. Take a look at these five habits that are bad for your teeth – then start making a plan to kick them to the curb.

1). Chewing Ice

Although it seems like an innocent habit, chewing ice can actually lead to cracked or chipped teeth, problems with existing dental work (like fillings or crowns), gum injuries and tooth enamel damage. You may recall our post on chewing ice before. Need a refresher? Check it out here.

2). Nail Biting

Nail biting may seem harmless, but believe it or not, nail biting can actually impact your jaw because of the extended period of time its placed in a protruding position. It can also wear down the front teeth, leading to cracks or chips.

 3). Using Teeth to Open Things

Teeth aren’t made to be tools. Using your teeth to open things or hold things, can be a destructive habit that can ruin more than your smile. In fact, when putting excessive pressure on your teeth, you will increase your chance of cracking your teeth or even suffering a jaw injury.

4). Teeth Grinding

When you grind your teeth, it can cause significant damage and increase risk of development temporomandibular joint (TMJ). As bruxism weakens your tooth structures it can lead to loose, painful or fractured teeth and also damage fillings and crowns. Check out our full post about teeth grinding here.

5). Eating A Lot of Sugar

Too much snacking, especially foods that are high in sugar will increase your chance of cavities and tooth decay. Excessive sugar increases production of plaque that will break down tooth enamel. So when bacteria come into contact with sugar in the mouth, acid is produced that attacks the teeth. Then, this will eventually lead to tooth decay and cavities. Read more on creating a balanced diet for healthy teeth here.

If you need help with breaking any of these habits, making an appointment with your dentist is a great place to start. They can help establish a healthy oral care plan to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Still need to find a Dental Select dentist near you? Click here.

Wisdom teeth

Wisdom Teeth: To Remove or Not to Remove?

Removing your wisdom teeth is an important decision. And whether they are impacted or not, wisdom teeth should always be closely monitored to make sure they won’t cause future problems. We know it can get confusing, so to help understand your options, we’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions and answers. As always, your dentist is the best resource to answer questions about your oral health and we encourage you to schedule an appointment with them for the most detailed information.

 What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the third last molars to erupt. Generally, there are one on each side of the upper and lower jaws and are the furthest teeth from the front of the mouth.

What age do wisdom teeth come in?
Usually between the ages of 17-21, but this can vary between patients.

Do wisdom teeth always need to be removed?
Not necessarily, as long as the wisdom teeth erupt fully into the mouth and function correctly. Also, not everyone gets wisdom teeth. While some people have all four wisdom teeth, others may only get one, two or three or none at all. If a wisdom tooth remains fully buried, it can sometimes be left alone if it does not cause problems. Your dentist will continue to monitor these teeth because the potential for developing problems later do still exist.

In what instances would wisdom teeth need to removed?

Wisdom teeth can partially emerge, come in crooked or lead to overcrowding and disease. Consequently, diseased or potentially problematic wisdom teeth should almost always be removed. Your dentist can help examine your wisdom teeth as they erupt and help you make an informed decision; however, instances for removal usually include: 

  • Incorrect position, or not coming in properly
  • Not enough room
  • Infection
  • Tooth decay
  • Cyst or tumor formation
  • Gum disease
  • Pain

 What age should wisdom teeth be removed?

The ADA recommends that people between 16 – 19 should have their wisdom teeth evaluated. Generally, wisdom teeth that are removed before age 20 have less complications.

Need to find a dentist to discuss your wisdom teeth treatment plan? Click here to find one near you.

Fillings

Dental Fillings: What’s the difference?

If you’ve had a cavity before, chances are your dentist treated the decayed area of your tooth with a filling. Fillings are a common procedure that helps restore teeth back to normal functionality and shape.

Nowadays, there are many choices when it comes to types of dental fillings. Two very familiar types are amalgam and resin composite. Although dental amalgam has been trusted for more than a century, recent advancements in the industry have made resin composite more appealing. But there can be limitations with both.

So what’s the difference between the two and which one should you get? We’ll cover some basics to help you get familiar with these two popular types of fillings. Before your next appointment, we recommend discussing treatment options with your dentist first.

Amalgam
Also known as silver fillings, dental amalgam is made from mercury, silver, tin and copper. Dentists sometimes prefer this type of filling because it’s considered stronger than other types, more affordable, and easier to manipulate when filling cavities. Amalgam has been around for 150+ years and is still a top choice for hard to reach areas or cavities below the gum-line. Amalgam’s low maintenance and durability are appealing to both dentists and patients. It’s important to note that the American Dental Association (ADA) deems amalgam to be a safe, durable material that has been studied extensively.

Resin
Resin composite appears as a more natural, tooth colored material and is made of plastic and ceramic compounds. Even though it’s been around for years, it hasn’t been strong enough to withstand pressure and chewing on back teeth until the last decade. The lifespan of resin is still somewhat unknown, but is expected to last at least 8 to 10 years. Resin can be a bit tricky to place, as it requires a dry environment. Consequently, there are times resin won’t work to fill certain cavities. Resin also costs more, so sometimes it’s helpful to verify your benefit eligibility prior to receiving this service.

In summary, you and your dentist should discuss treatment options available, which may vary based on the size, location and cost. Ask your dentist to cover your choices to help you make the right decision.

Insured Vision

5 Ways Your Company Saves with Insured Vision

Have you given much thought to adding an insured vision plan to your company’s benefits? Perhaps you felt it was too expensive, or simply not worth it. That’s where we come in. You may not be aware that with all of our EyeMed vision plans, not only will your employees receive affordable benefits and a consistently easy member experience, but they will automatically receive additional discounts –

many of which sets us apart from our competitors. Here are 5 ways your employees will save with an insured vision plan through Dental Select:

 

  1. Discounts on Additional Eyewear Purchases

After your employees use their eyewear benefit, they don’t need to stop there. Each insured vision plan includes 40 percent off any additional purchases of complete pairs of eyeglasses. And with no limit on this discount, employees can receive endless discounts on additional in-network purchases.

 

  1. Discounts on Lens Options

With a fixed schedule of lens options, employees will receive significant savings on the most popular options including: UV coating, tint, standard scratch-resistant and standard polycarbonate. All vision providers are contracted to these discounts, meaning your employees will know exactly what balance they are responsible for ahead of time.

 

  1. Discounts on Out-of-Pocket Amounts

If employees happen to exceed their original allowance, no problem. They will receive 30 percent off frame allowance balances and 15 percent off any conventional contact lens allowance balance. It’s just another way to protect members from large balance billing.

 

  1. Consistency of Discounts

All participating provider locations contracted to the EyeMed Vision Network have accepted your company’s plan. Meaning your benefits will be consistent with discounted pricing, wherever your employees go. And with access to more than 22,000 locations nationwide, your employees will have no problem picking a vision provider that works for them.

 

  1. LASIK and PRK Discount

If your employees would like to receive LASIK or PRK, there’s a discount for that too. Members will receive 15 percent off of the retail price of 5 percent off these procedures.

 

So go ahead, take the plunge and give your employees the option to select an insured vision plan. Learn more here.

Chewing Ice

Have a Habit of Chewing Ice? It’s Time to Chill Out

Imagine sitting outside on a hot summer day. Hoping to cool off, you reach for cup full of ice cubes to chew on. Sounds refreshingly innocent, right? Well, not really. It turns out, chewing ice is not so great for your teeth, which is why the ADA recommends avoiding persistent ice chewing; specifically, to avoid tooth injuries and other oral problems.

It’s true, chewing ice comes with risks and often leads to an increase of dental patients during summer months. Some of these dangers include: cracked or chipped teeth, problems with existing dental work (like fillings or crowns), gum injuries and tooth enamel damage. It’s also common to find that your teeth become more sensitive to hot or cold temperatures after chewing ice excessively. If you are experiencing any of these issues, please book an appointment with your dentist immediately.

So what’s an ice chewer to do? Instead, try letting ice dissolve in your mouth rather than chewing. Once and a while, a slushy drink or semi-melted ice slivers (instead of cubes) can also suffice. You could also try eating cold carrots or apples if you are looking for a similar type of crunchy refreshment.

Another noteworthy point is for anyone who thinks they may have an ice chewing habit. If you feel this is something you cannot stop on your own, you should make an appointment with your primary care doctor. Sometimes, this can be associated with iron deficiency anemia.

Want to learn more about ice chewing and other foods that can damage your teeth? Check out this article by the ADA to start protecting your teeth.

teeth grinding

What You Need to Know About Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, occurs most often in your sleep. It’s important to be aware that grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw regularly can wreak havoc on your oral health. Without addressing the problem early on, it can damage your teeth and increase risk of development temporomandibular joint (TMJ). As bruxism weakens your tooth structures it can lead to loose, painful or fractured teeth and also damage fillings and crowns. Not to mention, if you grind your teeth, you are also more prone to have headaches and jaw soreness.

So what can you do about it? First, it’s important to find the cause of your problem; visiting your dentist is a good place to start. Schedule your appointment right away to ask your dentist about potential causes and solutions. Teeth grinding can be caused by stress, anxiety, sleep disorders and abnormal bites. Research also shows a connection between using alcohol and tobacco and bruxism. If stress is the issue, you may need to work your health provider to find a way to relax. Meditation and counseling are great ways to reduce anxiety and may be worth a try as well.

In the meantime, your dentist can fit you for a mouth guard that you will wear at night. This plastic, oral appliance is a simple solution that will help protect your teeth while you sleep. Again, it’s critical to take care of bruxism in early stages to prevent long-term damage to your teeth. A little damage control now can go a long way.

Benefits of Wearing a Mouth Guard

Play sports? You may want to consider wearing a mouth guard.

Do you or your children participate in sports? Then read on. As an athlete or a parent, you’ve probably heard about mouth guards, the flexible piece of plastic you can wear over your teeth. But a mouth guard is more than next year’s fashion statement, mouth guards significantly minimize the risk of sports injuries to the mouth and jaw. And while it’s obvious (and required) to wear a mouth guard during collision and contact sports like ice hockey, football or lacrosse, you may not be aware of the benefits that wearing a mouth guard can provide in during other sports too. In fact, the ADA encourages wearing a mouth guard for a variety of sports and activities, even though some may be considered a “non-contact” or not required.  Some of these include: basketball, boxing, gymnastics, racquetball, rugby, skateboarding, skiing, soccer, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting and wrestling. Basically any time there is a risk of face contact with other people or surfaces, a mouth guard can greatly reduce chance of suffering a dental injury.

So even though you or your children may not think a mouth guard is the coolest thing to wear, there are three big advantages to wearing a mouth guard that may quickly change your mind.

 

A mouth guard will:

1). Protect your teeth.

Without a mouth guard, your teeth are more likely to be chipped, broken teeth or even get knocked out (tooth loss). Protecting your teeth now can also save on immediate dental expenses or procedures that may come up down the road. These include: root canals, dental crowns, bridges and splinting or TMJ treatments.

2). Protect your face and mouth.

Wearing a mouth guard can prevent bruising or cuts to the lip, tongue or face, especially those who have braces or orthodontic appliances.

3). Protect against other serious injuries.

This includes root, bone damage and jaw fractures. Mouth guards can help avoid a situation where the lower jaw jams into the upper jaw. Also, mouth guards may reduce the severity of concussions by acting as a buffer to a blow.

 

For more information about protecting your teeth during sports or athletic activities, talk to your dentist at your next appointment. They will provide the best knowledge to help you select the most effective protection for your specific needs.

Sparkling Water

Is Sparkling Water Bad For Your Teeth?

Is the satisfying fizz of your favorite sparkling water putting you at risk for tooth decay? Any drink with carbonation—including sparkling water—has a higher acid level. Some reports have questioned whether sipping sparkling water will weaken your tooth enamel (the hard outer shell of your teeth where cavities first form).

So, Is Sparkling Water Affecting My Teeth?

According to available research, sparkling water is generally fine for your teeth and here’s why – in a study using teeth that were removed as a part of treatment and donated for research, researchers tested to see whether sparkling water would attack tooth enamel more aggressively than regular lab water. The result? The two forms of water were about the same in their effects on tooth enamel. This finding suggests that, even though sparkling water is slightly more acidic than ordinary water, it’s all just water to your teeth.

Tips for Enjoying Sparkling Water and Protecting Your Teeth

  • Sparkling water is far better for your teeth than sugary drinks. In addition, be sure to drink plenty of regular, fluoridated water, too—it’s the best beverage for your teeth. Water with fluoride naturally helps fight cavities, washes away the leftover food cavity-causing bacteria feast on and keeps your mouth from becoming dry (which can put you at a higher risk of cavities).
  • Be mindful of what’s in your sparkling water. Citrus-flavored waters often have higher acid levels that does increase the risk of damage to your enamel. Plan to enjoy these in one sitting or with meals. This way, you aren’t sipping it throughout the day and exposing your teeth over and over again to the slightly higher level of acid it contains.
  • Sparkling water brands with added sugar can no longer be considered just sparkling water. They are a sugar-sweetened beverage, which can contribute to your risk of developing cavities. So remember—sparkling or not—plain water is always the best choice.
Special Needs

Planning Ahead for Patients with Special Needs

When it comes to dental exams and procedures, patients with special needs may require a little extra care and planning. Although most dentists can accommodate for special needs, there are things you can both consider to help plan ahead for your patient’s appointment. To help you get started, we’ve put together a checklist of things to keep in mind. Before you schedule, we encourage you to discuss these items with your dentist’s office, to ensure the comfort, well-being and safety of your patient.

Here are some things you may want to consider:

Parking – Where is the best entrance to the building for your patient?

Accommodations – Can the hallways and exam rooms accommodate your patient’s means of movement? Will someone from the office be available to help with access?

Comfort – Is there something that you or the dental team could do with lighting, distractions or sounds that could help your patient relax?

Time – Consider scheduling during a time of day that is best suited for the patient (when they are least tired, not hungry, etc.).

Needs – Be sure to let the dentist know about your patient’s emotional needs ahead of time. This can help with communication, comfort and trust.

Medical History – Have your patient’s medical information available. This includes any medications, allergies, surgeries and the patient’s primary care physician’s contact information.

If you have additional concerns or questions, be sure to bring them up to your dentist before your procedure or exam. And if you are looking for a dentist or specialist near you, you can search for one here to get started.