Lending Lagniappe to Your Dental Experience
// COSMETIC DENTIST
Can you help me overcome my dental anxiety?
Absolutely! A dental visit can be tied to stressful memories from past dental experiences or even just fear of the unknown, but modern dentistry has come a long way. First, it’s important to discuss your concerns and anxieties with your dentist so we can determine how to best address them. Some people are more concerned with pain control and injections, for example, while others dislike the entire experience.
We often use topical anesthetics to help eliminate or minimize the sting of injections, and some procedures can be performed without anesthetic using a dental laser. Music is a great distraction from drill noise. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is also an effective way to lower anxiety levels. It’s cleared out of your system before you leave the dental chair so you can drive home. You’ll be back to your normal self without “hangover” effects.
Oral conscious sedation is another option. A sedative is prescribed that you take in the office. You will be relaxed and sleepy during dental care and will not likely recall your time in the dental chair. You will need a ride home after oral conscious sedation.
What are the early warning signs of gum disease?
Signs include red puffy gums, bleeding gums, and even bad breath. Gingivitis can be reversed with stepping up oral hygiene, such as brushing, flossing, use of a Waterpik, and using rinses. Periodontal disease and bone loss can’t be reversed but can be arrested and managed.
I’m missing a tooth. What are my options other than a bridge?
A removable partial denture is one of the least expensive choices. Some people, however, are uncomfortable with an appliance they must take in and out of their mouth for cleaning.
Today, dental implants are typically the preferred option. They aren’t removable like a partial denture and don’t require drilling on adjacent teeth like a bridge. And because they are anchored in the jawbone, they help prevent bone loss. The implants we use are made from the same materials as hip and knee replacements, so they are biocompatible. Once the implant is placed and the tooth restoration, or crown, is complete, you will have a new tooth that functions and feels like a natural tooth. And you can continue eating what you want without worrying about it dislodging or shifting out of position.
How can I improve the cosmetic appearance of my teeth?
There are several ways to accomplish this. We offer free cosmetic consultations, so please schedule an appointment. We’ll custom-tailor a solution to meet your individual needs!
Options include teeth whitening with custom take-home bleach trays and a professional-grade bleach solution from our office, as well as in-office whitening that can brighten your smile several shades in a little over an hour.
If your teeth are crooked, using a series of clear aligners such as Invisalign to orthodontically move your teeth without braces may be a good solution.
Yet still another option is porcelain veneers or porcelain crowns, which involve preparing your teeth then cementing porcelain coverings in place. Veneers and crowns can whiten, brighten, lengthen and reshape your teeth, and address gaps, minor crookedness, and chips.
About the Expert
Stacey Smith, DDS
Dental Designs by Alisa Reed
Dr. Smith, a native Houstonian who grew up in Humble, has been in practice for 16 years. She earned her DDS and completed a two-year advanced general dentistry residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. She also taught dental students there for more than seven years and was a program director in the Advanced General Dentistry Program. A life-long learner, Dr. Smith believes education is imperative.
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