How to choose the right dentist for you

Let’s talk a little bit about how to choose the right dentist for you.

There are some obvious things, like picking a dentist that’s convenient to your house or work, has hours that work with your schedule and perhaps accepts your insurance.  Those are easy, but how do you know if you’re going to be treated the way you want and expect?

Well, it comes down to numbers really.  What I mean by that is if the dentist is seeing many patients per hour, they’re not going to be able to spend quality time with you to answer your questions, get to know you and really take a long look at your teeth.

I separate dental practices into a few categories, you have the large corporate organizations that are about Production, with a Capital P!  They want to see as many people in a day as they can, as they accept every insurance plan under the sun, including many that don’t pay enough to turn the light switch on.  Their business model is to counteract the low fees with volume.

The next category is the multi-dentist practice that uses dental assistants to do as much as possible.  You get to see the dentist more than the corporate model above but most of your time is spent with the assistant, not the dentist.

Lastly is what would now be considered “old school”, where the dentist does all of your work him/herself, some insurance is accepted but for the most part this is what would now be considered a “concierge” practice.

My practice is the “concierge” practice, I accept most major insurances but I don’t take the HMO level, I simply can’t provide the level of service I want if I do.  What I mean by that is I want to have the time to talk to you, get to know you as a person and a friend, as well as have the time to address any concerns or questions that you have.  I want you to feel like a valued part of my practice, not my three o’clock appointment.

I’m available for after hours emergencies 24/7, during office hours I make sure I can take care of same day emergencies.  In fact, I set aside time everyday for them, you just never know what can happen when.

Ultimately it comes down to priorities, I know I’m not the cheapest office in town (at the same token I’m far from the most expensive!) but I do take the time to make you feel like a part of my family.  I hope that the level of service that I provide is worth it!

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Have small teeth or spaces in between them?

Having small lateral teeth, so called “peg” laterals is fairly common.  These are the two small front teeth on either side of your two front upper teeth.

I mostly tend to see “peg” laterals in men, although they can certainly happen in women too.  I recently saw a young man who didn’t have peg laterals but had very small lateral teeth, with large spaces between all of his front teeth.  He was unhappy with his smile and wanted to know what I could do for him.   The next step was a consultation with him and his mother, as he was still a minor.

Initially he just wanted me to “bond” his teeth to close the spaces.  That’s when I use white, tooth colored composite material and bond it to the existing teeth, building them up to close the spaces.  The issue there was that the spaces were so large, by the time I closed them the teeth would be as wide as they were tall, which would be out of proportion and look very strange.

At that point I started to talk to them about all their options, which were to bond all the front six teeth, from eye tooth to eye tooth, porcelain veneers on all the front six teeth, or have him go back into braces to close the spaces entirely.

Complicating the matters is that this young man isn’t done growing, so I didn’t want to do porcelain veneers on him yet.  I usually wait until age 21-22 on men to do anything like implants, crowns or veneers as I want the skeletal growth to have completed.

So that left doing bondings on all six teeth for either a permanent or temporary solution, or orthodontics.  While there’s nothing the orthodontist can do about the shape of the teeth, they can close the spaces.  I feel that orthodontics is very elegant, as I don’t have to pick up my drill and take away tooth structure that will never come back again.

The patient and his mother agreed and decided to go back to the orthodontist to get a consultation and then determine the best course of action.

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Are you using your dental insurance?

Statistics say that half the people out there with dental insurance never use it.  To me this is mind boogling!  Not only does this mean that people are neglecting their dental health but they’re also paying for something that they’re not using.  (I suppose the same could be said for those on “auto-pay” at the gym who never make it through the gym doors, but I digress)

So, what’s the issue here?  Is it lack of desire?  Fear?  Lack of convenience?  Money?  Something else?

Most insurance plans will cover preventative procedures at 100%.  Generally that means that your cleanings, x-rays and exams are FREE!  Even better, the insurance will pay for them bi-annually, or twice a year.  So every six months you can come in and get a FREE cleaning, exam and x-rays!  What a bargain!  That takes care of the monetary barrier, what about the other ones?

Let’s talk about fear.  Fear of the dentist is a very real phenomenon.  Despite the fact that I’m a *really* nice guy people still seem to not be really excited to come and see me professionally.  Many times its rooted in the unknown, people fear what they don’t know and don’t like to be surprised.  We try our best to explain everything that we’re going to do ahead of time and talk things through.  Other times people are afraid of getting hurt.  Anesthesia is very effective, there shouldn’t be any pain during the procedure.  (At times some post operative sensitivity will occur, this is normal due to surgical procedures being done).  Sometimes people are just anxious.  This is where Nitrous Oxide (N2O) is extremely effective.  I call it a “wonder drug” as it makes people far more calm and has no side effects.

Ok, how about convenience?  My office has early morning hours to try and get people in and out before work even starts.

Now desire is the hardest thing to address.  As comfortable and convenient as my office is, if you don’t want to come in, I can’t make you.  At some point you’ll need to motivate yourself and give us a call.

At the end of the day, I promise we’ll make your visit as easy and comfortable as possible.  Take advantage of the benefits you’re already paying for!

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Six Common Myths About Dental Care

Thanks to the internet, news travels fast as the speed of light nowadays. However, rumors, urban legends, and myths spread quickly, too. That includes false beliefs about dental care. So we thought we’d take a few moments to clear up six common myths about caring for your teeth.

1. MYTH: Brushing my teeth several times a day hurts tooth enamel.

TRUTH: This is only partially true. Typically, brushing your teeth two times a day is enough. If you have an opportunity to brush your teeth more often (like after every meal), use a soft toothbrush to avoid damage to teeth.

2. MYTH: There’s no need to see a dentist if you don’t see or feel any problems with my teeth.

TRUTH:  Everyone needs to see a dentist twice a year, no matter how beautiful their teeth may appear. You need to  have your teeth professionally cleaned near the gum line and places you can’t easily see. Also, a tooth that looks healthy and white can still have cavities, problems with the root, or issues requiring treatment. A dentist can see these problems, and it’s always better to start treatment at the earliest stages.

3. MYTH: Putting an aspirin tablet beside an aching tooth can ease the pain.

TRUTH: Aspirin used this way does not work effectively for relieving toothache. Besides, it damages
soft tissues in your mouth. You’re better off visiting a dentist if you have chronic nagging tooth pain that won’t go away or have sudden extreme pain.

4. MYTH: Teeth whitening is harmful, since it can damage the enamel.

TRUTH: Modern teeth whitening methods–including laser teeth whitening or Air Flow technique– have minimal, if any, harmful effects. Nevertheless, teeth whitening is not for everybody. People with sensitive teeth, problematic enamel, children, adolescents, as well as pregnant and nursing women should delay or avoid teeth whitening.

5. MYTH: Good teeth can be inherited.

TRUTH: Just because mom or dad never had a cavity doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Inheritance plays a very small role for good dental health. Maintaining proper oral hygiene and visiting a dentist regularly has a much bigger impact on dental health.

6. MYTH: There’s no need to worry about baby teeth because they’ll fall out in a couple years.

TRUTH: This is flat out wrong. If parents don’t properly care for their baby’s baby teeth, they may fall out prematurely and cause problems with bite or lead to improper development of their permanent teeth. Besides, it’s important to start educating your children and get them in the habit of good dental and oral hygiene as early as possible.

If you have further questions about dental care, feel free to give us a call. We suspect that new myths about dental care spring up just about as fast as we can debunk them in our blogs!





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The Importance of Fluoride

People often talk about fluoride being important for the dental health of young children. That’s because fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque. It does this by remineralizing the tooth’s top layer, or enamel. Each day, minerals are lost from enamel by acid. Fluoride found in foods and water redeposits the enamel.

When Is Fluoride Intake Most Critical?

Fluoride is important in children under six years of age, since fluoride strengthens developing teeth. Exposure to fluoride is particularly important for infants beginning at 6 months, since this is when the primary and permanent teeth come in.

In addition, many people at increased risk of tooth decay would benefit from additional fluoride treatment. They include people with:

* Crowns, bridges and/or braces: The area where the crown, appliance, or bracket meets the tooth structure increases the chances for plaque to form.

*  Dry mouth: Caused by certain medical conditions or medications. The lack of saliva makes it harder for food particles to be washed away and acids to be neutralized.

*  Gum Disease: Gingivitis can expose more of your tooth and tooth roots to bacteria, thus increasing the
opportunities for tooth decay.

*  History of frequent cavities: One cavity every year or every other year is a sign you might benefit from
additional fluoride.

Forms of Fluoride

In addition to occurring in certain foods and water, fluoride can also be directly applied to the teeth
through fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses. Lower strength mouth rinses are available over-the-counter; stronger concentrations of fluoride require a dentist’s prescription. If a much higher level of fluoride is needed, a dentist can apply fluoride as a gel, foam, or varnish.

Important Reminders About Fluoride

Fluoride is safe and effective when used as directed, but it can be harmful at high doses. So it’s important for parents to supervise their child’s use of fluoride-containing products and keep them out of reach of young children.

Kids age 6 and under should only use only a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste on their toothbrush, since they’re more likely to swallow toothpaste at this age instead of spitting it out.

If you have any further questions about fluoride use, treatments, or fluoridated water, please give us a call.

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The Importance of Wearing Mouth Guards

Mouth guards should be worn by everyone, both children and adults who play contact sports like football, boxing and soccer just to name a few. Even those enjoying non-contact sports and recreational activities like mountain biking could benefit from wearing a protective mouth guard. While mouth guards are not required equipment for some sports, wearing one is still an important precaution to take.

Mouth guards are designed to help cushion the mouth, teeth and jaw, helping prevent significant damage where injuries could occur. Mouth guards provide protection by covering the front and lower teeth with frames to lessen an impact to the mouth. Therefore, mouth guards limit the risk of injuries to your teeth, lips, tongue and jaw.

Mouth guards work best and are most comfortably if they fit snuggly around your teeth. The only way to get a perfect fit is to use a customized mouth guard designed to properly protect you where you need it most. Because they are customized for your mouth, they slip easily onto your teeth. If you play sports and are interested in a custom mouth guard, give us a call or mention it at your next appointment. We can create a customized mouth guard specifically built to fit your teeth.

Remember, it is important to wear your mouth guard each time you play. That means wearing it for both games and practice or if you are engaged in rigorous activity such as skate boarding. Protect your smile and get into the habit of wearing a mouth guard whenever you participate in a sporting activity.

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The Benefits of Mouthwash

You brush twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist twice a year. Do you still need to use mouthwash?

The answer: It depends. Here are a few ways mouthwash can be helpful:

  • Helps fight cavities. A mouthwash with fluoride will help reduce cavities and periodontal disease. This
    is particularly helpful if you drink bottled or purified water; neither include fluoride. In addition, the antibacterial quality in mouthwash help kill bacteria. The swishing action helps rinse away food particles.
  • Freshen your breath. As the germs and food particles are washed away, so are many of the causes of bad breath. The scent of flavored mouthwashes can also mask odors from foods like garlic and onions that can’t be simply brushed away, since their smells are emitted through the lungs.
  • Kills germs in hard to reach places. Swishing with mouthwash helps clean in between the teeth and in the gum area, where brushing and flossing may not reach.
  • To fight gum disease.  If you have dental sores, bleeding gums, or dental sensitivity ask us about special dental rinses we have to prevent periodontal disease and fight bacteria. These special mouth rinses are very helpful if brushing is painful or impossible after oral surgery.
  • Prevents dry mouth. Many people with medical conditions or who are undergoing chemo therapy can benefit from mouthwashes (like Biotene) specially formulated for people with dry mouth. Dry mouth sufferers may want to avoid mouthwashes with alcohol, as it may dry out your mouth even more. There are also dry mouth sprays (like Oasis available at drug stores.) The sprays are small, so you can carry them in your pocket throughout the day.

There are many types of mouthwashes on the market. If you have questions about which type is best for you, feel free to ask us. Remember, the use of mouthwash does not replace good brushing and flossing habits and seeing your dentist every six months. However, mouthwash can be a pleasant, refreshing, and helpful addition to your daily oral health regimen.

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Bad Breath – Halitosis

What is Halitosis?

Halitosis, by definition, is bad or sour smelling breath. It’s common, but usually preventable with proper dental care, by avoiding certain foods, and by maintaining your overall health. There are two types of bad breath: temporary and persistent.

Temporary Bad Breath

Temporary bad breath is often linked to the types of food you eat. Once foods with strong odors are digested, they’re absorbed in the bloodstream, carried to the lungs, and the odor is expelled with your breath. In these cases, the most you can do is cover up the odor until it passes through your body.

“Morning breath,” on the other hand, is caused by dry mouth. During the day saliva flows freely, neutralizing acids produced by plaque and washing away dead cells that accumulate.  At night, saliva flow decreases dramatically. Since the dead cells and plaque are not removed, they decompose in the mouth and give off a foul odor. Brushing and flossing your teeth and cleaning your tongue in the morning usually eliminates this problem.

Persistent Bad Breath

If bad breath doesn’t go away by avoiding certain foods or brushing and flossing, it’s sometimes a warning sign of gum (periodontal) disease. Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque on teeth. The bacteria cause toxins to form in the mouth, which irritate the gums. If gum disease continues untreated, it can damage the gums and jawbone.

This is why it’s important to brush and floss your teeth daily and see your dentist regularly. Otherwise food particles can remain in your mouth, promoting bacterial growth between teeth, around the gums, and on the tongue.

In addition, bad breath can be caused by poorly fitting dental appliances, yeast infections of the mouth, and cavities. Dry mouth can be caused by some medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous mouth breathing (like from a sinus infection).

Tips for preventing bad breath

Over-the-counter mouthwashes generally are not the answer to bad breath. They usually provide only a temporary way to mask unpleasant mouth odor. You’re better off doing the following:

  1. Brush twice daily and after each meal. This will get rid of the bacteria on your gum lines and between your teeth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, too. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months. Use floss or an interdental cleaner to remove food particles and plaque between your teeth once a day. Dentures should be removed at night and cleaned thoroughly before being placed in your mouth the next morning.
  2. See your dentist regularly to ensure you remove the build up of bad breath causing plaque. He or she will give you an oral examination and professional teeth cleaning. Dentists can detect and treat periodontal disease, dry mouth, or other problems that may cause bad mouth odor.
  3. Drink plenty of water. This helps your saliva wash away those dead cells and food particles that decompose and cause unpleasant odors. Chewing gum or sucking on candy (preferably sugarless) stimulates the production of saliva, which helps wash away bits of food and bacteria.
  4. Avoid foods with strong odors. Garlic and onions are the biggest bad breath culprits, often lasting hours after a meal. However, if you’re not sure what foods are causing bad breath, record what you eat and review it with your dentist.
  5. Avoid tobacco products, like cigarettes and chewing tobacco.

If you’ve take these steps and still can’t defeat bad breath, talk with your dentist. Issues in your mouth–including bad breath–can sometimes be an indicator of other medical issues. In fact, your mouth can be a window to your body’s overall health.







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A Proper Diet Is Important for Oral Health

Proper oral hygiene is very important for taking good care of your teeth. Along with brushing, flossing, and semi-annual trips to your dentist, choosing the right diet choices is very important. In fact, eating healthy foods can help protect your teeth from future cavities and gum disease. Of course, it also contributes to your overall health.

A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and unsaturated fats will benefit your overall oral health. There are a few standout foods and nutrients that can really help maintain and even improve your dental health in some cases. Here are a few suggestions to maintain oral health:


  • Drink plenty of water. Water is one of the most important nutrients for the body and teeth.
  • Limit your intake of snacks and drinks that are high in sugar. Sugars cause plaque to form on your teeth. The bacteria in plaque results in the break-down of tooth enamel, causing decay.
  • Brush and floss at least twice a day.  Brushing is very important, but it cannot clean in between the teeth as well as flossing can.
  • Eat a balanced diet with fruit and veggies. Consuming a sensible diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables will help to maintain a healthy and beautiful smile.

The role of a healthy diet has a big impact on oral health. So, remember – the most important ways to keep your teeth healthy include brushing and flossing at least twice a day, visiting your dentist at least twice a year, and maintaining a healthy diet all year long.

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Tips for Healthy Teeth & Gums

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums gives you a beautiful smile and goes a long way for maintaining total body health. Here are a few tips to help you maintain healthy teeth and gums for years to come.


  • Brush your teeth regularly and as soon after eating as possible, even after snacking. Brushing keeps small food particles left in your teeth from becoming giant problems.
  • Floss at least twice a day. Flossing further cleans and removes particles where your toothbrush cannot reach.
  • Don’t use tobacco products. Cigarette or tobacco use can lead to tooth discoloration, gum disease and loss of teeth.
  • Eat healthy snacks. Make sure to incorporate fruit and healthy snacks into your diet like melon, tangerine, apples and berries that improve the health of your gums.
  • Visit the dentist. Every 6 months, you should visit the dentist for cleaning and checkup. The dentist can identify any complications you may have with your teeth and gums.
  • Strive to live a stress free lifestyle. Research shows that people who have a difficult time coping with stress tend to neglect their oral hygiene.

Be sure to maintain a healthy mouth by routinely practicing good oral hygiene habits and reporting problems when you visit the dentist. Don’t take dental health for granted. Having healthy teeth and gums helps you keep an amazing smile, not to mention very good general health.



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