So you get nervous going to the dental office...

Ask most people what their least favorite thing to do is, and many of them will tell you that they are terrified of going to the dentist.  Whether they had a bad experience as a kid or just don't like certain aspects of treatment, the dental office can be a tough place to visit for many people.  Sadly, avoiding the dentist can lead to bigger problems, higher costs, and more unpleasant experiences.  Our goal at Contemporary Dental is to make what can be an unpleasant experience a truly great experience that makes people happy to be a part of our dental family.  For patients who are anxious, we are willing to take the time to make them more comfortable, to establish trust, and to make them feel like part of the family.  Some patients need a little extra help, and we offer a variety of sedation options to make their experience smooth and easy.  Read more below to find out about modern options for dental anxiety.

What do I do with my dentures?

If you or a loved are missing teeth, you may be wondering what the next step is.  You might already have dentures and not be sure how to care for them.  Read more below to learn everything you need to know about dentures.  If you need dentures or your current set is due to be updated or upgraded give us a call to chat about your options at 713.668.9119.

Replacing Missing Teeth by Philip Nauert, DDS

Sometimes a tooth is lost and the patient is faced with what to do to replace it.  All our teeth are important for chewing, speaking and looking our best when we smile.  Fortunately, there are several options to consider.  One option is the dental #implant.  An implant is much like a natural tooth because it is anchored in your jawbone then restored with a crown.  An implant is actually a metal post placed into the bone in your jaw and acts like the root of a tooth.  Then the dentist makes a replacement crown on the metal post.

Another alternative to replace missing teeth is a fixed bridge or #FPD.  An artificial tooth or teeth replace the lost natural ones.  Crowns, which are cemented on adjacent prepared natural teeth, serve as retainers that support the fixed bridge.  The fixed bridge can only be removed by your dentist.

The third option for replacing missing teeth is a removable bridge or #RPD.  It can be taken out of the mouth for cleaning.  They are made with replacement teeth attached to gum-colored plastic bases connected by a metal framework.  They attach to your natural teeth with metal clasps or devices called precision attachments.  Although removable bridges are less expensive, fixed bridges, when indicated, may feel more stable and natural.

It is advisable to explore your options for replacing missing teeth with your dentist.  It is an important decision and will help you look better and improve the functioning of your teeth.  Give us a call or stop by for a consult if you or a loved one are needing replacement of a missing tooth. 

2 Minutes 2x Per Day

Part of our job as dentists is to help educate our patients and the public about how to care for their mouth and the mouths of their children.  The Academy of General Dentistry has a great patient focused website filled with great information about how to keep your child's mouth as healthy as possible.  There are also numerous videos that are exactly 2 minutes long -- the perfect amount of time to brush your teeth -- that will keep your child entertained while they are scrubbing those pearly whites!  Take some time and peruse the information on http://www.2min2x.org/kids-healthy-mouths/ so that you can help keep your teeth and your child's teeth healthy for a lifetime.

Have you flossed today?

Few of us realize the importance of flossing.  It's one more thing to do and often it is the first thing to be neglected after a person has had her teeth cleaned.  I think one of the best quotes I've ever heard about flossing came from an article in Reader's Digest.  It said something like this: "If your hands bled every time you washed your hands, you would immediately make an appointment with your physician.  And yet, each time we attempt to floss and our gums are bleeding or inflamed, we treat that as normal."  Read more about flossing, its importance to your oral health and how to improve your technique in this Academy of General Dentistry article.  If your gums are bleeding, give us a call to find out how we can help.

Can Chewing Gum Help Control Cavities?

Cavities are caused by dental caries, a bacterial disease in which diet plays a major factor.  Sugars, as we know, promote caries and thus cavities.  Dentists have regularly told their patients to avoid sugary foods, brush and floss after eating, and if they chew gum, use sugarless gums.  A recent article in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that chewing gum sweetened with xylitol may have some beneficial effects.  Xylitol does not contribute to caries and may even reduce the accumulation of plaque on the tooth surface.  The xylitol-sweetneed gum inhibits the growth of bacteria in the mouth.  Also, chewing stimulates saliva production which is also helpful in preventing plaque.  So if you are note near a toothbrush after a meal, try chewing a xylitol sweetened stick of gum for at least five minutes.  But don't use sugarless gum as a substitute for regular brushing, flossing, fluoride and professional visits!  For more information about prevention and caring for your mouth, give us a call to set up your appointment.

Is your dentist still learning?

Dr. Nauert and Dr. Vaughan believe in the power of continued learning.  Dentistry is a constantly changing filled and staying current on the latest trends and technology in the profession is extremely important.  Through activities like residency programs, advanced training continuum like the L.D. Pankey Institute, dental study clubs, and other comprehensive CE programs, Dr. Nauert and Dr. Vaughan are able to keep their standard of  care and patient care at the highest levels.  Both doctors have achieved advanced professional designations with the Academy of General Dentistry due to their extensive record of continuing education.  To read more about the importance of CE, read this great article from the Academy of General Dentistry?

But they're only baby teeth...

The New York Times recently published an article on the importance of taking care of your kids' teeth.  It's a great read, and definitely worth the time to sit down and learn more about why baby teeth are important too.  If you have any questions or want to get your child scheduled in our office, give us a call at 713.668.9119.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/02/science/baby-teeth-deserve-care-while-theyre-there.html?_r=0

Has your child had her first dental visit?

When your new baby is born, it's hard to know what to do and when to do it.  Many times the first dental checkup gets lost in the shuffle and parents might not bring their child in until there is a problem.  So when should your baby come in for that first visit?  Read more from our informational handout below, and feel free to share with friends and family.  If your child is due, call our office and we will get that cute kid on the books!

Get Your Smile Ready for Summer!

There are many people out there who want to be happy about their smile, but just don't know what to do to get a great result.  The truth is that there are many options, ranging from conservative to aggressive and inexpensive to costly.  How does a patient go about deciding what the best treatment option is?  Well, the simple answer is that it all starts with a consult with your dentist.  Below is an article from the Academy of General Dentistry that explains the various options related to achieving a beautiful smile.  If you have questions or are ready to take that next step, stop by our office or give us a call at 713.668.9119.

Restoring Smiles with Dental Implants

Dental implants have become an important part of how we take care of our patients' smiles. Replacing what was missing rather than doing more irreversible work on adjacent teeth helps us give patients the best chance at returning them to ideal oral health.  The Academy of General Dentistry recently published a fact sheet for its members to use in our efforts to educate our patients and the public on the benefits of implant dentistry.  Please take time to read the information below.  If you or someone you know might benefit from implant dentistry, don't hesitate to call our office at 713.668.9119 for a consult.

4-7-2016 10-08-57 AM.jpg

Get That Whiter, Brighter Smile!

Whiter, brighter teeth can make you look years younger.  Tooth whitening has grown in popularity and there are several ways you can get the results you want.  The fastest way is an in-office whitening system called Zoom!  In just over an hour your teeth will be dramatically whiter.  The procedure is safe, effective, simple and painless.  A whitening gel is placed on your teeth, which is activated by a specially designed light.  A fluoride treatment completes the procedure.

Another safe method used is a bleaching process that lightens the enamel and dentin using a mild peroxide-based solution placed in a custom-fitted tray.  The tray is worn over your teeth for a period of time each day until you achieve the results you want.  Both methods (in-office and take-home) are effective and safe ways to help you achieve that brighter smile.

Teeth whitening can sometimes make your teeth temporarily sensitive.  This goes away within a few days.  If you used coffee, tea, red wine, or tobacco, you may find your teeth darken more quickly.  Touch up applications will help eliminate this problem.  For all your tooth whitening and bleaching needs, visit our office.  Call at 713.668.9119 or email us at info@contemporary-dental.com to schedule your appointment.

Back to School Dental Health Issues

As your children begin school again, there is a flurry of activity to make sure they have the proper clothes, school supplies, backpacks, etc.  You might want to give some thought to their dental care needs as the spend most of their day at school.

It is always a good idea to start the year off with a dental exam and cleaning.  Ask the hygienist about fluoride treatments and sealants.  Sealants are a great investment because they coat the teeth with a protective covering that helps prevent cavities.  While at your visit, discuss with your dentist the types of sports your child is involved in.  He can give you tips on how to protect their teeth during sports play, and whether an athletic mouth guard might be a good idea for your child.  Should a sports injury occur to the mouth, these are often very scary because the soft oral tissue does bleed profusely.  Put an ice pack on the injury, try to find any displaced teeth and bring them to your dentist right away to see if the teeth can be reinserted.  If a child loses a baby tooth prematurely, a spacer may be considered to insure that the adult tooth has the room it needs to emerge properly.

Another important issue when children return to school is their eating habits.  Parents have less control as children eat meals at school.  Be sure they start their day with a good breakfast and they brush after eating.  Pack healthy foods for lunch and avoid sugary snacks and sodas.  While most children are not going to brush during the school day, get them in the habit of a thorough brushing and flossing twice a day, mornings and evenings.  A fluoride rinse after brushing strengthens the teeth's enamel and helps protect against cavities. 

Don't slack off monitoring a child as they enter the teen years.  I have seen some teens with very bad soda habits that have rampant decay that threatens their ability to keep their teeth.  While most schools don't allow kids to chew gum, studies have shown that chewing sugarless gums with xylitol sweeteners help stimulate saliva flow and inhibits bacterial growth.  So some sugarless gum on the ride home could be a treat with an added benefit to their dental health.

Give the office a call at 713.668.9119 to get your back to school checkup scheduled.  We see all ages of kids at Contemporary Dental.

A Few Things You May Not Have Realized About Your Dental Insurance

Well, we've reached the halfway point of the year, and it's a great time to think about your dental benefits that you obtain through your employer.  Do you have any idea what your benefits actually are?  Do you know how much dental benefit you have remaining in your plan year?  Did you know that those benefits don't roll over into the next year?  Here are a few things to think about as we get into the last half of the year.

You have paid your insurance premiums all year – you have EARNED your
dental benefits, do not let them slip away before your remaining
benefits expire at year's end.

1.      Yearly Maximums

Your dental plan gives you a maximum of what can be spent on your
dental care on an annual basis.  This amount varies between insurance
companies, and averages around $1000 per person per year.  These
maximums are typically reset at the end of the year, and if you have
unused benefits, they will be forfeited.

2.       Deductibles

The deductible is the amount of money that you pay out of pocket
before your benefits begin to take effect.  The fee varies between
insurance companies and could be higher if you prefer to see a dentist
that is out of your network.  When your plan rolls over, you are
required to pay your deductible again to start taking advantage of
your benefits.

3.      Premiums

If you are paying for dental benefits, you should be taking advantage
of them!  This sounds simple, but there are many people that do not
exercise their benefits and let the insurance company take that money
away from you, and put it straight into their own pockets.

4.      Fee Increases

Another reason to use your benefits now is because it is always
possible that fees will be raised to accommodate for the cost of
living or increased material costs.  An increase in fees can also
raise your copay.

5.      Dental problems don’t get better over time

By delaying treatment, you may be opening the door for more extensive
treatment to be needed in the future.  What may be a simple cavity now
can turn into a root canal or extraction down the road.  Treat your
teeth with care now, and they will thank you for it in the long run.

We love to educate patients about their dental benefits so that they fully understand their plans.  Stop by the office or give us a call if you are interested in finding out if you have any remaining benefits for the year.  Even if you don't have pending treatment we would love to give you great information about your plan.  By completing your treatment before the end of the year, you will be able to maximize yours insurance benefits and enjoy better dental health.

Take Care of Your Teeth at Any Age

One of the most frequently asked questions that we get in our dental office is "What should I be doing to take care of my teeth?"  Our top priority is to educate our patients and empower them to maintain their smiles for a lifetime.  Whether they are two years old or ninety years old, each patient deserves to have a health mouth.  The American Dental Association (ADA) recently created a section on its website that addresses these issues and provides concise and useful information to help patients understand how to care for their mouth at any age.  Take some time and click through the links.  For any give age group, there are separate categories giving information about healthy habits, concerns, nutrition, and facts vs. fiction.  If you have any additional thoughts or concerns after reading the information, please feel free to stop by the office and chat with us.

http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/

Smile!

It is summer, time for family vacation, reunions, and cameras flashing -- SMILE!  Smiling for photographs is not always pleasant if you are dissatisfied with the way your smile looks.  Sometimes, the dissatisfaction is hard to identify.  Maybe your teeth are not as white or as straight as you would like.  Maybe you have staining from antibiotic use as a child.  Or maybe the size and shape of your teeth aren't proportionate with your face.  Often, you are not even sure what it is that you dislike, but you know something is not quite right.  Since a healthy, nice-looing smile can affect your whole attitude, it is worth giving some thought about whether you are happy with your smile.

Discuss your smile with your dentist.  In addition to keeping healthy gums and teeth for a lifetime, simple cosmetic changes can readily improve your smile.  Ad recent patient came in to my office with old veneers on her front teeth that were chipped and beginning to decay.  She hated to smile and felt that she looked older and less attractive than she could.  With just a few visits, we removed the old veneers, took care of the decay, and placed beautiful porcelain crown on her front teeth.  She was overwhelmed by her new look and left our office with tears of happiness.

Her case is just an example of what new materials and techniques can do to improve your smile, with less discomfort than ever before.  Whether it is bleaching for whiter teeth, Invisalign to straighten your teeth, or crowns to reshape the teeth, there is a solution for any esthetic desire you may have.

Please give us a call if you would like discuss any changes to your smile, so that the next time the camera flashes, you are proudly smiling back! 

Dr. Nauert and Dr. Vaughan

An Important Message About Oral Cancer...

One of the places that we turn to for information is Dentaltown Magazine.  It was started by a dentist named Howard Farran.  He is a great businessman and a wonderful advocate for our profession.  Recently he wrote a great article about oral cancer and what dentistry needs to be doing to really help the public fight this terrible disease.  A link to his blog and the full text is posted below. 

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Let's Band Together to Improve Public Health by Howard Farran, DDS, MBA, Publisher, Dentaltown Magazine

http://www.howardfarran.com/uncategorized/lets-band-together-to-improve-public-health/

When the average person hears “dentist,” the word “activism” doesn’t usually come to mind. However, there are many dentists who stand up for the changes they want to see. For instance, dentists changed oral health forever when they rallied to fluoridate water. They took action and won, case by case, community by community. We need that same kind of dedication for a different matter now: oral cancer.

In the United States, a person dies every hour from oral cancer, and many of those people could have been saved if they’d had a screening or an earlier screening for oral cancer.1 Let’s face it—actually getting reimbursed for a screening would help. We have 150,000 dentists in this country and we don’t even get paid by the largest dental insurance companies in the world for an oral-cancer exam?

Another lifesaver: the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV). If more people got the HPV vaccine, fewer people would get oral cancer. It’s that simple, but dentists aren’t even allowed to administer the vaccine.

It’s worse than that, though: most of us don’t give HPV advice or talk about HPV at all. How many people have to die before the physicians of the mouth start asking parents, “Has your child been vaccinated for HPV?” The fact that HPV is linked to cervical cancer is becoming well known, but the average person is not aware that HPV is also linked to oral cancers.

Dentists could be an amazing ally in spreading this information, and I believe we should be able to give the vaccine. I would like to, but as a dentist I’m not allowed to, and even if I did give it, I wouldn’t get reimbursed for it. A registered nurse can give the vaccine, but I can’t.

After almost a decade of advanced education I don’t have the legal right to give a vaccine, yet I go to Walgreens or CVS and I can get a flu shot.

Dentists, we have to take our ground back.

All the data I see says that the average American sees a dentist twice for every time he or she sees a physician. This frequency of visit gives us tremendous power, and that power is not being used adequately. Dentistry is a sleeping giant in terms of overall health. We do a lot, but we could do more, and we should be reimbursed for it. Should we screen patients for lung cancer or brain tumors? No. But preventing oral cancer is a cause we should take up.

There has long been a resistance to helping people regarding oral cancer and I think it has to do with past prejudice. When I got out of school in 1987, a lot of clinicians weren’t much into oral-cancer screening, and it’s probably because they were judgmental. Public perception was that everyone who had oral cancer did “bad” things such as drinking and smoking, and brought the illness on themselves. Some people still may have those beliefs regarding oral cancer and HPV, when sexual activity plays a role.

We’ve had some brave famous people go public about their oral cancer (such as actor Michael Douglas, who was diagnosed with throat cancer) and this is helping to remove the stigma. There’s a lot more that can be done to educate the public, though, and we are just the people to take the lead. We’ve taken the lead before…

I am very proud of our efforts for community fluoridation, which started in the 1940s in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Right now about 74 percent of Americans drink fluoridated water, and the research shows that we have about a 40-percent reduction in decay in those communities. But why stop there? One in four Americans still doesn’t have water fluoridation. Maybe it’s time for the American Dental Association (ADA) to get involved. The ADA has an amazing president, Dr. Maxine Feinberg, whom I love and adore, and the president-elect is Dr. Carol Summerhays, whom I also very much admire. Maybe if we start talking with these two legendary dentists and the ADA about this topic, water fluoridation can become a piece of national legislation. By the way, check out the podcast I did with Maxine Feinberg and Carol Summerhays at Dentaltown.com/ADApodcast. You can also find it in the blogs/podcasts section.

We have national legislation to put vitamin D in milk; we have national legislation to put chlorine in water. We don’t let every community decide if they put vitamin D in milk, or chlorine in the water to prevent cholera, or iodine in the salt to prevent goiter. Can you imagine if one in four communities didn’t have iodine in the salt and people had goiters? Or if communities didn’t have vitamin D in their milk and had rickets? This is crazy. It’s time to close the water-fluoridation deal and have one piece of national legislation.

I’d like to go farther than that, though, and take on oral cancer. I want to see legislation for this and I want people to accept that dentists have eight years of college and are doctors. They should be able to do anything in any state that a pharmacist at Walgreens and CVS can do, such as give a flu shot if they want to, and they sure should be able to give an HPV vaccine.

Legislation or not, we all need to start talking to patients about HPV and oral cancer, because someone is dying of oral cancer every hour.

You’re a doctor and your patients are counting on you. Man up. Woman up. Let’s band together to standardize fluoridation nationwide and to reduce oral-cancer deaths.

Oral Cancer Facts

  1. Nearly 45,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year.
  2. It will cause more than 8,650 deaths, killing roughly one person per hour, 24 hours per day.
  3. Historically, the death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high not because the cancer is hard to discover or diagnose, but because the cancer is routinely discovered late in its development.
  4. Of those 45,750 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half—approximately 57 percent—will be alive in five years.
  5. One of the real dangers of this cancer is that in its early stages, it can go unnoticed. The good news is that in many cases, a physician or dentist can see or feel the precursor tissue changes, or the actual cancer while it is still very small or in its earliest stages.
  6. Worldwide the problem is much greater, with more than 450,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Note that the world incidence numbers from the World Health Organization, while the best available, are estimates that users should consider with caveats.
  7. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is now confirmed to cause oral cancer in a younger age group. Transmitted via sexual contact, HPV (particularly version 16) is conclusively implicated in the increasing incidence of young, non-smoking oral-cancer patients. This is the same virus that—along with its other versions—causes more than 90 percent of all cervical cancers in women. The foundation believes, based on recent peer-reviewed published data, that HPV16 may be replacing tobacco as the primary causative agent in the initiation of the disease process in people under the age of 50.

I'm missing a tooth... Now what?

There is no worse feeling than having a missing tooth.  The smile is a powerful and beautiful thing, and when a tooth is gone, the picture just isn't complete.  In the past, replacement options for lost teeth were limited and not always esthetic.  However, dental implants now offer many patients an ideal solution to replace what is missing.

Dental implants offer an alternative to conventional crowns, bridges and dentures. For some people, dental implants offer a smile that looks and feels very natural. Implants are surgically placed below the gums, fuse to the jawbone and serve as a base for individual replacement of teeth, bridges or a denture. Implants offer stability because they fuse to your bone. Candidates for dental implants must have good over-all health, healthy gums, and enough bone to support the implant. A thorough evaluation by your dentist will help determine if you are a good candidate for implants.

Replacing missing teeth with implants begins with a surgery to place the implant in the jaw bone.  Diagnostic x-rays are taken prior to implant placement to determine the appropriate length and diameter of the implant as well as to assess the quality of the bone.  After a healing period of 2-4 months, the implant can be restored with either an implant crown, an implant supported bridge, or an implant supported denture.  Our extensive implant dentistry training allows us, in the majority of cases, to place the implants surgically here at Contemporary Dental rather than having to refer our patients to another doctor.  Some cases necessitate a team approach with a specialist due to patient health or other complexities involved in the case.

Implant supported crowns and bridges have revolutionized dentistry.  They allow dentists to be more conservative and simply replace a failed or missing tooth rather than needlessly grind away healthy tooth structure.  In addition, implants look very natural and can help preserve bone in an area where a tooth is missing.  If you or someone you know has a missing tooth, an implant might be the perfect solution.  Call our office today at 713.668.9119 to schedule your consult.

Doesn't Everyone Want Straighter Teeth?

Lately, I've seen more and more adults coming to my office who are curious about what they can do to improve their smile.  The answers are as diverse as the patients who make up my practice.  Some people just need a little whitening; some people have complex restorative needs; many could benefit from getting the position of their teeth corrected. 

What?  Braces?  Often when we start to discuss straightening teeth that question or one similar to that is the first thing out of the patient's mouth.  While some adults do need traditional braces, many adults can be treated simply with Invisalign.  Invisalign uses a series of clear retainers that are custom made for a specific patient and shift teeth incrementally over a period of months.  The best part about Invisalign is that these retainers are practically invisible. 

If you are interested in a better smile, Invisalign might be the perfect option for you.  Straighter teeth will make you feel more confident about your smile, will communicate to others a true picture of your health, and will help you and your dental hygienist keep your teeth and gums healthier with greater ease.  Call our office today at 713.668.9119 to schedule your consult or visit the Invisalign website at http://www.invisalign.com/how-invisalign-works for more information about the Invisalign process.