"Quality Dentistry, Affordable Service, Compassionate Care."

ANSWERING COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT WISDOM TEETH.

Why do I have to pull these teeth…for that matter why do I have them?

We will start with the second question first. Wisdom teeth are biologically designed for helping replace a tooth that was damaged by having a caveman’s diet of eating rocks (or close enough). Of course, cavemen lost these teeth at a MUCH younger age so your wisdom teeth will not do the job of a tooth that you lost through extraction in adulthood.  An implant or bridge will be needed to replace the gap caused by the extraction.

Okay that is why I have them but why do I have to pull them?

Wisdom teeth are just a problem waiting to happen. Most wisdom teeth have two stages of problems. Your first stage is as they are trying to come in. People always empathize with babies as they are teething but really wisdom teeth can be way worse. As they develop, wisdom teeth can not only give you the pain of erupting through the bone and gums but also the pain of pushing against the tooth in front. This eruption into the mouth gets stopped for almost everyone because people don’t have space (refer back to eating rocks). Since they don’t have space, the teeth get stuck (or impacted is the other word for it). As they are stuck, trouble develops in the partly erupted tooth.  Bacteria gets down between the gums and the partly erupted tooth and can cause infection between the teeth, (pericoronitis), or a cavity on either the wisdom tooth or more importantly the tooth in front of it. The cavity on the tooth in front can lead to losing a good tooth just because of a wisdom tooth.

Later on in life all of these earlier troubles can still happen but there are additional risks of getting a cyst around the wisdom tooth that can eat away the bone leading to a fractured jaw.

Well if my wisdom teeth may not cause me problems until later in life why don’t I wait until then to remove them?

The difficulty in removal is not the same at age 18 as it is at 60; especially for impacted wisdom teeth. An impacted wisdom tooth removed at 18 will make for a sore weekend of sitting on the couch. An impacted wisdom tooth removed at 60 can lead to a horrible couple of weeks or even a hospital stay.  Wisdom teeth removed at the right time, (talk to your dentist here), when they are not fully developed is ideal. As those roots develop, they can grow around the nerve of the jaw leading to a dramatically increased risk of permanent nerve numbness to the whole lower jaw.  And as mentioned earlier, waiting can cause a cavity on the tooth in front of the wisdom tooth leading to the patient losing a good tooth.

Fine, you convinced me. I know I need them out, who should pull them?

Talk to your dentist at Davidson Family Dentistry. Dr. Michael Davidson of our office does a number of wisdom teeth removals and generally recommends twilight sedation for the procedure.  Usually the patient has no memory of the surgery at all.

Well if they specialize in surgery why don’t I just go to an oral surgeon?

Specialists are great to have. Especially for situations where you have a cyst that has pushed your wisdom tooth up by your eye. Or a wisdom tooth that grew too long and grew around the nerve. God bless specialists. Many other times referral to a specialist is just overkill. For routine wisdom teeth, a general dentist can do it at a lesser cost in the same office that has made you comfortable.

My dentist told me to keep my wisdom teeth so I’m confused.

There are times, albeit rare, that wisdom teeth do not need removed. This is when the wisdom tooth is buried so far under the gums in a high risk area that the benefits do not outweigh the risks. It doesn’t mean the benefits of removing the wisdom teeth have gone away; it just is too risky. The other set of people who do not need to remove their wisdom teeth are people that have space.  By the time wisdom teeth start coming in, it will be obvious if you have space and your dentist will tell you if you are one of the lucky ones.

Of course with all of this if you have questions the best thing you can do is talk to your dentist.  And please remember that individual advice from your dentist for your unique situation trumps any article written to discuss the subject in general terms.

Making smiles happen,

Your Davidson Family Dentistry Team

 

Posted May 19th, 2016

The Scoop on Beverages…

What’s the scoop on soda and other drinks?

Numerous articles in social media have discussed soda and other beverages and the approach is usually from a health perspective but rarely from the dental health perspective. Truthfully, dentists and hygienists consider the issue differently than other health care professionals.  For your teeth, sugar is sugar and it doesn’t matter if the sugar is from a soda, juice, performance beverages or lattes.

Sugary liquids bathe the teeth in sugar and are able to get into every nook and cranny of the mouth. It’s even worse if you are sipping on the drink because it increases the amount of exposure time your teeth have to the sugars.  If you want to have a sweet drink, you are much better having it with a meal so your teeth are exposed all at once to the sugars from the drink and the sugars from the foods.

Artificial sweeteners are better for the teeth than sugars. However, many artificially sweetened beverages still have a high acidic level that can be damaging to your teeth and of course, many beverages stain your teeth.  In order of preference, here’s our recommendations for drink selections from a dental standpoint:

  1. Drink water!
  2. Drink beverages with artificial sweeteners or no sweeteners (unsweetened coffee or tea) with your meal.
  3. Drink beverages with artificial sweeteners or no sweeteners at non-meal times.
  4. Drink sugary beverages with your meal.
  5. Drink sugary beverages at non-meal times. (Make this the rare exception.)

Remember, brushing and flossing after drinks with sugar can help.  So if you drink juice and sweetened coffees with your breakfast make sure you brush your teeth after breakfast instead of before. Brushing and flossing before you go to sleep at night will allow your teeth a whole night without the attack of sugars.

 

Making smiles happen,

Your Davidson Family Dentistry Team

 

 

Posted April 19th, 2016

Dental Assistant or Dental Hygienist

A frequently asked question we get is, “What is the difference between a dental assistant and a dental hygienist?”

A dental assistant assists the dentists at chair side.  Dental assistants are trained in many things to help with the dentist while doing dental procedures to make it actually more of 4-handed dentistry rather than 2-handed.  They do anything from preparing instruments, managing dental materials to be placed in the mouth, suctioning during the procedure, and handing the doctor instruments they need.

Eight of our dental assistants have taken additional training for expanded functions that go beyond assisting the dentists.  To name a few of these functions, they are all able to do procedures such as making and removing temporary crowns, monitoring nitrous oxide (laughing gas), placing and removing dry socket material, and testing the vitality of the tooth.  Our dental assistants are primarily the ones that oversee the care for children 13 and under and do a wonderful job of working with the parent/guardian to discuss ways to help improve the patient’s dental health.  They also oversee the whitening process of taking impressions, pouring up the models from the impressions, making the whitening trays from the models then instructing the patient on the procedure for whitening.

Dental hygienists have been trained to take care of and address the oral health of the patient.   Dental hygienists do a procedure called periodontal probing where they measure the space between the teeth and gums called a pocket area.  The numbers that are recorded help them determine the health of the mouth along with any bleeding spots.  If the numbers indicate any gum disease called periodontal disease, the dental hygienist will discuss with the doctor and the doctor will decide if the disease can be helped with good oral hygiene by the patient at home and a dental cleaning by the hygienist or if the patient will need a procedure referred to as a deep cleaning or scaling and root planning.  If the deep cleaning is indicated, the dental hygienist is able to do this procedure which is essentially removing all the plaque and calculus (tartar) that has accumulated below the gumline.  The dental hygienist is also able to administer the nitrous oxide and local anesthetic if needed during any appointment with them.

At our office, dental assistants and dental hygienists work together, along with the dentists, as a team to help each other in order to make the clinical portion of your visit run smooth.  All dental assistants and dental hygienists are able to take x-rays, discuss patient education and prepare instruments for sterilization.  All of our dental assistants and dental hygienists also stay current with ongoing continuing education classes, lunch and learns, team meetings, and various trainings.  All of our employees are CPR certified.

We have 191 years of combined dental assisting years with several dental assisting programs represented. Some of those colleges include DMACC, Vatterott, Marshalltown CC, Hawkeye CC, and Iowa Central CC.  When going through training, assistants learn how to assist for both general and specialty dentistry, laboratory procedures, radiology and office administrative duties.

The dental hygienists at Davidson Family Dentistry have 151 years of combined years of practice.  Most of our dental hygienists graduated from DMACC with an AAS degree but we also one who graduated with her AAS degree from Rochester CC and another graduated from the University of South Dakota with a BS degree.  Dental hygienists have background studies in microbiology, anatomy, and chemistry classes along with their dental related classes.  They are trained for dental offices, schools, public health settings or even hospitals.

As you can see, there is a difference between a dental assistant and a dental hygienist even though several of their roles do overlap and it may be hard to tell.  Regardless, at Davidson Family Dentistry our main combined role that we focus on is serving you and making your experience here one that you leave our office with a smile on your face.

Making Smiles Happen,

Your Davidson Family Dentistry team

 

 

 

 

Posted March 21st, 2016

How To Fix Bad Breath

Understanding the causes of bad breath can be a big start to fixing bad breath.  The top three causes for bad breath are 1) odorous foods or habits, 2) gum disease and 3) other medical conditions.

Odorous Foods or Habits

The usual suspect for bad breath is smelly foods or habits.  Certain foods like garlic and onions can cause bad breath for hours after eating them.  If you have eaten garlic the night before your dental appointment, your dentist or hygienist is going to know it even with wearing a mask.  And everyone knows that bad breath is only one of the problems created by tobacco use.  Brushing your teeth, flossing and brushing your tongue will help to remove some bad breath or at least make it harder to smell for people engaged in normal conversation with you.  Gargling with mouthwash and chewing gum can also mask the odor at least temporarily.  However if you are going to be close to someone, your best option is to either avoid stinky foods or habits or make sure the person you will be closest to eats the same food.

Gum Disease

Gum disease (or periodontal disease) smells bad.  When tartar builds up below the gum line, it creates pockets. As the disease progresses the gums can start to recede and odor producing bacteria is at a high level which can smell like rotting flesh.  Again, you can temporarily mask the smell of periodontal disease especially to people engaged in normal conversation around you but you are not going to eliminate the problem without dealing with the root of the problem.  Provided the disease has not gone too far, deep cleaning of your teeth and gums, (also called scaling and root planing), will clean out the pockets of buildup, diseased tissue, and help get the bacteria to a healthier level.  Regular periodontal maintenance will help keep the problem at bay.

Other Medical Conditions

Finally if the source is not from foods, habits or gum disease, then you need to consider whether a medical condition is causing the issue.  Two common medical sources for chronic bad breath are dry mouth and secretions from enlarged tonsils.  Chronic dry mouth can be the result of medicines or from sleeping with an open mouth. Sinus drainage and stomach acids can also cause your breath to be less than pleasant.  However before jumping to a medical condition as causing bad breath, we suggest you eliminate some of the obvious other sources and brush and floss.

Making smiles happen,

Your Davidson Family Dentistry team

 

Posted March 7th, 2016

Team Approach to Dentistry

The goal of Davidson Family Dentistry since its creation in 1980 is to provide quality dentistry, affordable service and compassionate care. The way we accomplish that goal is with a team approach to the delivery of dental services. We have five different teams at Davidson Family Dentistry: 1) dentists; 2) dental hygienists; 3) dental assistants; 4) front desk; and 5) financial. Each team has a team leader and each team meets on a regular basis. The team leaders meet together regularly to make sure we are working well together as an overall team. Each of the team leaders report to the clinic administrator. The clinic administrator reports directly to Dr. David Davidson who is the owner of the clinic.

A team approach allows the dentists to concentrate on the delivery of dental services and not administrative functions. It also allows for the gathering of ideas for improvements from the whole staff to make sure that the needs of our patients are always met. The team approach provides for consistency and excellence in dental services and the availability of same day services and emergency dental services for our patients. A spirit of professionalism and comradery amongst all of our teams and the office is another benefit. Finally, one of the noticeable effects of our use of teams for our patients is that it allows us to make a fairly big office continue to feel small and friendly.

Our managerial staff is as follows:

Diane Davidson – Clinic Administrator
Jan Wood – Clinical Team Lead
Dr. Michael Davidson – Dentists Team Lead
Cami Brocka – Hygiene Team Lead
Allie Spikes – Front Desk Team Lead
Lois “Star” Harkin – Financial Team Lead

Making Smiles Happen,
Your Davidson Family Dentistry team

Posted February 5th, 2016

How to Handle Children Who Won’t Brush Their Teeth:

Here is the trick. Don’t give them a choice in the matter. When your children were really little, you would brush their teeth for them. Most parents stop helping their children brush their teeth way too young. Children don’t have the hand eye coordination to effectively brush their teeth (also true for flossing) until they are 8 or 9 years old. If your older children don’t want to brush their teeth, then brush their teeth for them. In actuality, this can still be better than having them brush their own teeth, because you can see areas where their teeth need the cleaning (like how the dental hygienist can see the problem areas of your teeth that you cannot). So if your children don’t want to brush their teeth, then go ahead and brush them. Don’t even give them the choice.

If your child likes gadgets, let us work with them on an electric toothbrush that will make brushing a game. The new electric toothbrushes can 1) time the amount of time spent on each quarter of the mouth; 2) let’s your child know if they are brushing too hard; and 3) connect through an application on your smartphone to give you and them a record of their brushing history.

The other important thing you can do to help your children brush and floss their teeth is to model good dental habits for them. Brush and floss your own teeth twice a day using good techniques. Replace toothbrushes or toothbrush heads regularly. Notice and point out smiles on television or in magazines and talk about how important good dental hygiene is for maintaining a smile. Schedule regular dental visits for them and praise them for their successes and develop action plans for correcting areas that need help. Children who realize that maintaining good dental health is valued in their family are much more likely to maintain those habits throughout their lifetime.

Please talk to one of our staff if you have questions about your family’s dental health or if you would like tips or a demonstration on brushing your children’s teeth. We also have some nice videos designed for everyone in the family about preventative care.

Making Smiles Happen,
Your Davidson Family Dentistry team

Posted January 7th, 2016

More Than Just Esthetics

Many patients ask our dentists if there is a medical reason to straighten the teeth, or if it is purely esthetic. As the title of this post suggests, the benefits of straight teeth are much greater than purely esthetic. Straight teeth are easier to keep clean, which decreases the rate and severity of periodontal (gum) disease. In addition, straightening the teeth can reduce formation of abfraction lesions. An abfraction lesion is a ditching of the enamel right at the gum line. This scooped out area can trap food and is prone to cavities and sensitivity. Finally, movement of the teeth may be indicated prior to fabrication of crown, bridges, or implants for optimal outcomes. A certain amount of space needs to be present to accommodate an implant, and that space can be gained by moving the adjacent teeth if it is not already present.

Now that you know the many benefits of straightening the teeth, you may be wondering how we can help. At Davidson Family Dentistry, we offer clear aligner therapy to move the teeth using Invisalign. A new set of clear aligners is worn every two weeks during treatment to slowly move the teeth into the desired position. Aligners are worn approximately 22 hours/day and are only removed to eat and clean the teeth.

The major advantage over traditional braces is the ability to clean the teeth without brackets and wires impeding your brush and floss. However, some cases are still best treated with traditional braces. Patients that may benefit from traditional braces are treated by an orthodontist. They continue to be seen at Davidson Family Dentistry for regular check-ups, cleanings, and other dental work.

If you’re wondering if clear aligner therapy is right for you, give us a call and set up a free consultation.

Making Smiles Happen,
Your Davidson Family Dentistry team

Posted December 17th, 2015

Do I Really Need to Floss Every Day?

Do I Really Need to Floss Every Day?

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Yeeeeesssss! You do need to floss every day. In fact, you should floss at least once a day if not twice a day. “But,” I can hear you say, “flossing is so inconvenient!” “It takes too much time out of my morning.” If you find that adding an extra couple of minutes to your morning or evening ritual is adding too much hassle, then we would suggest combining flossing with another activity you already do every morning or evening. Examples that work with flossing are showering, watching the weather or your favorite television show, checking your cell phone or your calendar. Combining an existing activity with flossing your teeth will make the extra time required suddenly not so time-consuming. Problem solved! Go forth and floss away! Sorry, mouth rinse can be useful but it doesn’t count as flossing no matter what the commercials say.
Making smiles happen,
Your Davidson Family Dentistry team

Posted November 23rd, 2015

Dental Implants

Many people have now heard about dental implants, but do not know what they are. So what are they?

A dental implant is a prosthetic root that can be placed into a patient’s mouth to replace single or sometimes even multiple teeth depending on an individual’s situation. Dental implants can also be used to help make dentures more comfortable and stable. Dental implants have become an increasingly popular choice by many patients and doctors alike to replace missing teeth and stabilize dentures.

Advantages:
* Looks like a natural tooth
* Teeth next to the implant do not have to be worked on to replace the tooth
* The implant stays in the mouth and does not need to be removed for cleaning
* Implant can be treated like a normal tooth while eating, brushing and flossing
* Very predictable procedure with a high success rate

As with any good thing, it takes some time. This time is needed to make sure the bone has plenty of time to heal if a tooth had to be removed and to check and make sure the bone is properly attaching to the implant. The checks and healing time help ensure a successful treatment. Once the implant is planned and started, it can take 4-7 months before the final restoration is placed.

Dental implants are a fantastic option for replacing missing teeth and to make dentures more comfortable. Implants can be used in many situations and should be given consideration in a treatment plan to have a healthy and functional mouth.

At Davidson Family Dentistry, we have been involved with dental implants for many years and while they are a more expensive restoration, our patients who have elected this option have been very pleased with their decision. All five of the dentists at Davidson Family Dentistry have been trained and do dental implant restorations.

Making Smiles Happen,

Your Davidson Family Dentistry Team

Posted November 4th, 2015

Tobacco: Is there anything worse for your teeth?

Our first thought on the question of “Is there anything worse for your teeth than tobacco” was “maybe a hammer and chisel.” But that isn’t exactly a fair comparison, as we can’t think of anyone who would willingly subject their teeth to a good breaking with a hammer. And yet, people willingly use tobacco products, often quite eagerly. Smoking leads to all kinds of problems, including bad breath, tooth discoloration, increased plaque/tartar on the teeth, increased risk of gum disease, and increased risk of developing oral cancer to name a few! For a complete list, please look at the excellent articles on WebMD http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/smoking-oral-health.

Our office has always taken the approach that most smokers/tobacco chewers understand that their habit is not good for them. We work hard to accept our patients in whatever dental health they come to us. You should never receive a lecture from us. We will, however, offer to help a patient in tailoring a program to help them stop smoking/chewing tobacco if they would like assistance. We have found that some of the new medications have been helpful in assisting a patient to break the habit. If fear is helpful in stopping, take a look at some of the photos of the oral cancer consequences of tobacco use. They are not for those with weak stomachs. It may be why you find so few tobacco users in the dental profession. As always, we are here to help with all your dental needs.

Making smiles happen,
Your Davidson Family Dentistry team

Posted October 21st, 2015