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Fear of going to the dentist didn’t make any top 10 lists I found on the internet, but it’s a sentiment I hear several times a week. The reason behind the fear is as varied as the people who express it.
Unfortunately, not going to the dentist only works for so long. Eventually, you’ll be forced to the dentist by a serious problem and probably end up spending a lot more than you would have if you’d gone sooner.
In addition, lack of dental care results in an increased risk of gum disease (a leading cause of tooth loss in adults), poorer overall health, increased self-consciousness and decreased self-worth.
It is important for you to identify what fears keep you from seeking dental care so that you can find the right dentist to help you. Your dentist should be willing to discuss your concerns with you and propose solutions. Some offices will schedule a meet-and-greet appointment with the dentist.
Some things you can do to make yourself more comfortable:
- Schedule your appointments at the time of day when you are most relaxed
- Bring someone (a relative or friend) along for support (You may want to ask if the office allows this now depending on COVID regulations)
- Bring your own music (an iPod or other mp3 player, portable CD player etc.)
- If you are someone who likes to know what is going on, ask your dentist and their team to explain what they are doing either before starting or during the procedure itself. (Conversely, if you don’t want to know, advise them of that also.)
- Know what the office’s signal is to stop them in case you need to tell them something. (Usually it’s something like raising your left hand).
Today’s dentists have a wide range of options to assist fearful patients. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but merely a starting point for discussion with your dentist. My office offers some but not all of the items on this list.
- Laser Dentistry: Some treatment can be done with a dental laser. With some lasers, like the Waterlase, the need for local anesthetics (what people commonly call “novocaine”) is reduced or eliminated.
- Topical Anesthetic: Ask if the office uses a topical gel prior to numbing you (topical gels are like over-the-counter Anbesol products).
- Oraqix: A product called Oraqix can be used for some shorter, soft tissue procedures like deep cleanings. It is a gel placed between the gum and the tooth and provides about 20 minutes of numbness and can be reapplied if needed.
- Ask if the office has a local anesthetic delivery system: The Wand or VibraJet are two brand names you may have heard.
Remember that you may need more local anesthetic than the average dental patient. You should not be afraid to ask your dentist to give you more if you feel you are not numb. (Though there is a limit to how much you can safely be given, and if you get close to that, your dentist may need to reschedule you with a different plan to manage your treatment.)
If none of the above work for you, your dentist may enlist the help of a psychologist to plan a series of visits that helps you to become more comfortable with the dental office. Hypnosis is another tool psychologists have that might help you to feel more relaxed during dental treatment.
Sometimes your dentist will prescribe an anti-anxiety medication to take an hour or two before your dental appointment. A disadvantage of this option is that someone must drive you to and from the dental office. Your dentist may want to consult with your medical doctor if you take other medications or have health problems to make sure there are no interactions.
Laughing gas (nitrous oxide) provides a quickly reversible relaxation experience, but because it is delivered by a nosepiece, some people find it confining or claustrophobic. It is harder to find dentists that offer this option because of increased regulations over the past few years plus studies that have linked its use to a higher rate of miscarriages in dental office personnel.
If you are looking to be “knocked out”, IV sedation might be your best choice. This is also a good choice if you have a large amount of dental work that needs to be done at one time. You will need someone to drive you to and from your appointment as well as to stay with you for at least 6 hours after your dental visit. This option is not a good choice for you if you have trust issues or want to feel you have control.
General Anesthesia is usually the last resort as it has many more drawbacks and possible complications than the other options listed. General Anesthesia is usually done in a hospital or surgery center because of these increased risks.
So as you can see, you have many options to help you cope with your fear and receive needed dental treatment. The first step is finding the right dentist. If you do not have a dentist and want to see if we’re the right office for you, please call us at 440-960-1940 or contact us through our website at www.drjrobb.com.
*Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.
Have you ever had a cold and asked your doctor to prescribe antibiotics? In this day and age, we tend to think that antibiotics can cure anything, but many commonly held ideas about antibiotics are not true. Let’s look at some of those:
Myth #1: Antibiotics are a cure
Your immune system is what cures you. Antibiotics only help slow down the bacterial invaders so your immune system can catch up. Plus, antibiotics only work against bacteria--viral infections like the common cold can’t be helped with antibiotics.
Myth #2: Antibiotics are a substitute for dental treatment
As the antibiotics slow down bacterial growth, your symptoms may become less or go away altogether. But because things like food go into your mouth and because your mouth connects to other parts of your body, there is no way to make it a bacteria free environment. Oral bacteria will continue to leak into the problem area until you have dental treatment to correct the underlying problem. Don’t be fooled! Just because it doesn’t hurt, does not mean that nothing’s wrong.
Myth #3: If one antibiotic doesn’t solve the problem, just try a different one
This one does have some merit. Sometimes bacteria are more susceptible to one type of antibiotic over another. However, we are seeing more and more “superbugs” that do not respond to treatment with antibiotics. Multiple antibiotics seem to increase the chances of developing drug-resistant bacteria. So it may be necessary to do a culture to determine which antibiotic most affects the bacteria that you have in order to best treat you.
So when should you have an antibiotic?
In an otherwise healthy adult, antibiotics are often not needed. Research shows that up to 60% of human infections resolve on their own after the cause of the infection is removed. Most dental infections clear up two (2) to seven (7) days after dental treatment has removed the source of the infection.
If an area of infection is so swollen that dental treatment cannot be performed until some of the infection clears up or if you have symptoms of a systemic infection, an antibiotic will be used to assist your body’s immune system. (You will often see this as wide-spread facial swelling.) Your dentist will review your healthy history and your specific case to determine if you need antibiotics. Don’t be surprised if he or she recommends treatment rather than a prescription.
Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of a dental problem and do not have a dentist, Dr. Robb invites you to join her practice. Call 440-960-1940 or contact her via her website at www.drjrobb.com. She’s saving a seat for you!
Jennifer G. Robb, DMD is a general dentist located at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd. W, Lorain, OH 44053.
Many people have their root canal and think that once the root canal is finished, that's all they have to do. But If you’ve had a root canal, you should permanently fill your tooth or crown your tooth as soon as possible to prevent re-infection.
You might feel confused because the term “filling” is used as part of the root canal treatment to mean filling the canals within the root to seal them off from oral bacteria. So why do you need another filling? You’re not alone. Many people think their tooth is filled once the root canal is complete and that they don’t need to do anything more. But that is not the case!
In order to do your root canal, your dentist or root canal specialist had to create a hole (or access) to get to the canals in your tooth. After the root is filled as part of the root canal procedure, this access hole remains as a hole in your tooth. Your dentist or root canal specialist will plug that hole with a temporary filling. A temporary filling is just what its name says it is—a filling material meant to be used short-term. Temporary fillings wear down, wash away, or get pulled out by sticky foods, allowing mouth bacteria to leak back into your tooth and eventually re-infect it. The re-infection can happen in as little as 30 days after the temporary filling is placed under the right conditions.
Clearing up a re-infection requires more dental treatment that can be quite expensive—much more expensive than a permanent filling! And if you choose to clear up the re-infection, you’ll still need the permanent filling and/or crown on the tooth to prevent it from happening again.
Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist and usually refers root canals out to endodntists (who are root canal specialists. They have 2-3 years of additional training just in the subject of root canals and related treatments). Dr. Robb will fill or crown your tooth after a root canal.
Call 440-960-1940 to reserve your seat at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb or on the web at www.drjrobb.com
Q: “I come every six months, how can I have so much work to do?”
The six month dental check up is designed to identify dental problem areas at an earlier stage so that they can be treated by more conservative means (such as fillings) rather than needing more complex treatments (such as root canals). There are several reasons why you might have more areas that need dental treatment at one of your visits even if you have been coming every six (6) months:
1.Age of the work: So far, none of our restorative materials completely mimic natural tooth structure. Because of this, the margin or edge of your filling or crown eventually breaks down, allowing decay to form in the gap between the margin and your tooth. If you had a large number of teeth filled around the same time in the past, it is possible that they will all break down around the same time and need to be replaced.
2.Proximity of other work that needs to be done: For example, if you have decay between your teeth, the area will tend to trap food and plaque. This will often cause decay to occur on the tooth next door.
3.Ignoring known or identified problems: I know it sounds silly when it’s put like that, but I can’t tell you how many times we hear people say they’ll “just wait” when I tell them there is a dental problem. Tooth decay does not go away—it just gets bigger and deeper. A tooth abscess won’t go away on its own—it will stay abscessed until the path the bacteria is taking to the nerve is treated by a root canal or by tooth removal. Gum disease doesn’t go away on its own—it gets progressively worse, and the more bone that has been lost, the tougher it is to manage. A split tooth won’t magically heal itself. The fact is that very few dental problems will fix themselves if you “just wait”. While in most cases it is fine to wait a couple weeks to make arrangements, putting treatment off indefinitely can lead to many things going wrong at once.
4.Changes in your habits, health, or medications: Have you changed what you eat or drink in the last 6 months? One patient’s increase in tooth decay was traced to the grape Hubba Bubba bubblegum (not sugar free) that she chewed to replace her cigarettes while quitting smoking. Has your health changed in the last 6 or so months? Some health conditions and/or their treatments can cause changes in your mouth. For example, diabetes can cause gum disease to worsen more quickly than it does in a non-diabetic person. Have your medications or supplements changed in the last 6 to 12 months? Many medications cause dry mouth. Saliva/spit rinses food and other particles off your teeth and also helps make the mouth less acidic. Acids can wear away your tooth structure.
5.Bruxing, grinding and clenching your teeth: These habits create a lot of stress and force on your teeth. Teeth can crack, break, chip, or split as a result. Fillings can break too, especially if they wear thin. Changing the bite on one tooth can change how other teeth in your mouth hit and cause the other teeth to have problems.
There are other reasons why you might feel like a whole bunch of dental treatment is needed all at once or within a short period of time. Each person is unique. Communication with your dentist and dental team is important to determine which factor or factors are at work in your mouth.
Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the clincial judgement of your healthcare professionals.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist with an office at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH. She is accepting new patients. Please call 440-960-1940. Also check out her website www.drjrobb.com and find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb
Tooth enamel is like armor for your teeth. Though it is the hardest substance in your body, it is not invulnerable. Everyone is at risk, but teens and young adults have more porous, immature tooth enamel that breaks down easily.
Most of you are probably aware of the danger sugars present to your teeth, but you may not be aware that acids can have the same or worse effects. Acids strip minerals from your teeth, damaging the enamel.
What are some common foods and beverages that you might not realize contribute to damaging your teeth?
• Sports Drinks: In one study, sports drinks did more damage to teeth than sodas or juices! Sports drinks contain acids which are added to help replenish what your body has lost. Generally speaking, only true endurance athletes need to use sports drinks.
• Energy Drinks: Energy drinks placed second in damage to your tooth enamel because there is little in them to buffer the acids they contain. Some energy drinks also contain a lot of sugar to give you an immediate boost of energy. Sugar plus acid equals a double whammy for your enamel!
• Soft Drinks: The high acid content of all sodas, including diet varieties, strips minerals from your teeth. Non-diet sodas contain oral-bacteria-activating sugars and, just like energy drinks, provide a double whammy to your teeth. Clear, citrus flavored sodas cause 2 to 5 times more damage to your teeth than colas.
• Fruit Juices & Drinks: Even 100% juice drinks contain some acids. Citrus, apple and berry flavors have the most. Since juices do have some benefits such as vitamins and anti-oxidants, it is recommended that you drink them in moderation and that you rinse your mouth with water afterward. Calcium-fortified juices may pose less of a hazard to your tooth enamel due to calcium counteracting the acidic effects.
• Sour Candy: One study showed that sour candies, such as Sour Patch Kids or SweetTarts, are worse for teeth than regular chewy candy, hard candy or licorice. Acid added by the manufacturer’s to create the tangy taste seems to be the culprit.
• Fruit: Citrus fruits and berries contain the most enamel damaging acids. Because fruits have so many health benefits, eat them with meals to minimize damage and don’t suck on citrus fruit slices.
• Vinegar: Vinegar is a hidden ingredient in many foods because it is a low fat way to add flavor. Some common products that contain vinegar are pickles, salad dressings, sauces, some potato chips, and even ketchup.
So what can you do to minimize acid wear on your teeth?
1. Avoid snacking
2. Don’t swish acidic beverage around in or hold them in your mouth. Sip through a straw to limit the amount of contact with your teeth.
3. Rinse your mouth with plain water or chew sugarless gum after meals to neutralize acids.
4. Consume high calcium milk or cheese before or with meals to help reharden enamel. Foods high in iron like liver or broccoli may help too.
5. Wait 30 minutes before brushing after eating or drinking highly acidic foods or beverages to allow your softened enamel a chance to reharden. Softened enamel is more likely to be damaged by the mechanical actions of your toothbrush.
6. Brush with a fluoride toothpaste to help strengthen your enamel. Some brands like Sensodyne Pronamel are specifically designed to make fluoride available to counteract the acids in your foods and beverages. Home fluoride treatments are also available.
7. See your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Healthy teeth and healthy enamel are linked.
Once enamel is damaged, it is hard to reverse the process. Take the time to protect your teeth. If you do not have a dentist, I invite you to call my office at 440-960-1940 to make an appointment. You can also ask questions or make comments on facebook at www.facebook.com/drjenniferrobb
Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the judgement of your health care professionals.
Jennifer G. Robb, DMD is a general dentist with an office located at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd. W, Lorain, OH 44053