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Monday, October 17, 2011

A Dream Cure for Dental Anxiety

According to Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, about 30-40 million Americans suffer from some degree of dental anxiety. There’s good news if you’re someone who gets sweaty palms at the thought of going to the dentist. Sedation or “sleep” dentistry can help you get the dental care you need without being crippled by swells of anxiety and debilitating fear.

If you like choices, you'll love sedation dentistry. You can choose from light to mild sedation, which help you feel relaxed and calm but keep you awake and aware, or deep sedation, which puts you to sleep and makes you unaware of treatment. Unsure what's right for you? Consider talking to your dentist about the range of sedation options now available.

Sleep dentistry is a catchall term used to describe a dental office that offers IV dental sedation or general anesthesia or both. This type of sedation dentistry is ideal for people with mild dental anxiety. With IV sedation, you won't feel, hear, taste or smell anything and won't have any memory of the procedure. However, you may be conscious enough to respond to the sedation dentist. General anesthesia is the most complete form of sedation, under which you are totally asleep and unaware.

Conscious sedation dentistry refers to light and moderate forms of sedation, including nitrous oxide and oral sedation. A sedation dentist administers nitrous oxide through a mask and oral sedation through a pill. With conscious sedation, you remain awake and aware but also relaxed.

Dental sedation is not a painkiller. It is designed to relax patients who feel nervous or anxious during dental treatments. With dental conscious sedation, patients remain awake and able to respond to the dentist. Under general anesthesia, patients are completely unconscious. To help with pain, sedation dentists rely on a local anesthetic like novocaine to numb parts of the mouth that require dental work.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Seniors Can Keep Their Teeth for a Lifetime

Surveys by the American Dental Association and Oral B® reveal that 7 in 10 respondents 65 years of age and older visit their dentist at least once a year and almost all said they believe that healthy teeth and gums are important. It's great to know that seniors are concerned about their oral health, because dental needs change as we age.
Unfortunately, cavities are not just for kids. All throughout our lives, carbohydrate-containing foods team up with bacteria in the mouth to produce cavity-forming acids. Seniors often have receding gums that expose the sensitive roots of the teeth to cavities. These cavities should be filled as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the teeth. Seniors should try to brush teeth at least 2-3 times a day and floss once daily. To reduce the risk of cavities, it is recommended to use fluoride toothpaste and a mouth-rinse containing fluoride.
Periodontal disease or gum disease is the main reason people lose their teeth. Gum disease is caused by plaque, a bacterial film that continuously forms around the teeth. Although gum disease is often painless until it is very advanced, some signs of gum disease include: bleeding gums after eating or brushing your teeth, persistent bad breath; swollen gums; loose teeth; a change in the fit of partial dentures; or permanent tooth loss.
The effects of gum disease become cumulative as we age. Your dentist or hygienist can clean the plaque and tartar under the gumline to help reduce the damage of gum disease. As with cavity prevention, daily brushing and flossing are essential. Regular dental cleanings and dental exams are important. Seniors with gum disease should see their dentist 3-4 times a year.
Seniors who have worn dentures for many years may find that they don't seem to fit as well anymore. Loose dentures make it difficult to eat and speak (they seem to make a "clacking" noise), and do not support the face as well. Your dentist can sometimes remedy the problem by relining the denture, but a new denture should be made every 5-7 years, or when the dentures cannot be used comfortably.