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Patient Education

At Chaney, Couch & Associates, we’re committed to educating our patients on oral health conditions, dental procedures, and proper oral hygiene techniques. Here you’ll find all of the information you need to keep your teeth healthy and make informed decisions about your dental health.

Oral Health

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How To Brush Your Teeth
The first step is to choose a good toothbrush.  You always want to use a soft brush with a small head.  A soft brush is hard enough to remove plaque, yet gentle enough not to damage your teeth or gums.

 

The next issue is to select good toothpaste.  In general, any toothpaste that contains Fluoride will do the job, unless you have special needs that are determined by your dentist.  Two of the best brands of toothpastes are Colgate Total and Crest Multicare.

The first rule of brushing is to start from a specific location and work your way to the opposite side, continuing all the way through the whole mouth so that you end where you started.  This way you won’t miss any area. Usually a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is enough.  An adequate brushing should at least take 2 minutes and preferably around 4 minutes.

There are a variety of techniques for brushing your teeth, but one of the most popular ones is described here:

Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle toward the teeth and gums.  Gently press against the gums so the tips of the bristles go in between the gum and the teeth.  Then apply a few lateral strokes and roll down the brush to sweep the plaque away from the teeth and the gum.  Repeat this motion 6 to 10 times and move on to the next area of 2 to 3 teeth.  If your mouth is full of foam, spit out and continue brushing.  Your brushing is completed when you have brushed all the surfaces of your teeth, not when your mouth is full! On chewing surfaces, short strokes work best to get the plaque out of the grooves and pits.  When brushing the back side of your front teeth, hold your brush vertically to be able to reach the teeth better.

As far as frequency of brushing is concerned, ideally you want to brush your teeth after each meal.  But if you can’t, brush at least twice a day – after breakfast and before going to bed.

How To Floss Your Teeth
The surfaces that are between teeth are not accessible to brush.  Therefore, the best way to clean them is by flossing.  The frequency of flossing is like brushing – ideally after each meal. Though one time a day, preferably before going to bed is the minimum necessary.

 

To start, cut a piece of dental floss (approximately 2 feet).  Wrap both sides of the floss around your middle fingers.  Using your index and thumb, glide the floss in between all your teeth one by one.  When flossing, make sure you are not cutting your gums.  The goal is to clean the teeth surfaces, not the gums. In the space in between teeth, press the floss against each side of the tooth (hug the tooth) and gently move it back and forth and up and down.  Then move to the opposite surface of the adjacent tooth.

Electric Brush vs. Manual Brushes

ElectricvsManualThere have been multiple studies comparing the effectiveness of manual brushes as opposed to electric brushes.

Although not all electric brushes are the same, these studies conclude that in general electric brushes are more efficient in controlling plaque than manual brushes. Theoretically, you can do a very good brushing with a regular hand brush, but the movements of an electric brush make the task easier and more effective.

Also, some electric brushes (Sonicare) produce sonic vibrations that are difficult to mimic with a hand brush!  Other electric brushes like Oral-B and Rotadent have small heads that help you access hard-to-reach areas of your mouth.  This aspect is more important when you are talking about someone with orthodontic braces or a history of periodontal (gum) disease.

Bad Breath
BreathThere are a few different causes of bad breath.  Ranging from stomach problems to diets and teeth problems, most of the causes can be found in the mouth.  They are:

 

  1. Tongue (when bacteria grows in between the papilla)
  2. Teeth cavities (especially when food particles get stuck in them)
  3. Gum diseases
  4. Extraction sites during healing
  5. Dentures when not cleaned properly
  6. Alcohol and tobacco

If you or someone you know is concerned about bad breath, the first step is a dental check up.  Your dentist will be able to confirm or rule out the source of bad breath.

When the cause is found, treatment will be determined and explained by your dentist.  If the source of the bad breath is your mouth, there is little chance that mouth washes or mints can treat the problem.  They usually mask the problem for a short period of time, and can sometimes exacerbate the situation (mouthwashes that contain alcohol cause dry mouth and usually make the bad breath worse).

These are a few other, non-dental reasons that cause bad breath:

  1. Sore throat
  2. Tonsillitis
  3. Some food
  4. Infection of air passages

Following a good oral hygiene routine and receiving regular dental check ups are the best ways to prevent bad breath.

Dental Health and Your Diet
Sugar is the main cause of dental decay when there are bacteria present.  More significant than the amount of sugar you eat is the frequency of consumption.DentalHealthandYourDiet

 

Probably the worst thing you can do to your teeth is to drink a soda and have a sip every few minutes over a long period of time.  The same is true for snacking.  It is recommended that if you want to have a snack, a soda, or juice – it is better to have it after food, as dessert, or have it all in one sitting.  Eating or drinking something sweet over an extended period of time creates a constant supply of sugar for bacteria that causes tooth decay!

It is important to be aware of all the sources of sugar that are out there.  It is not just everything that is sweet, but anything that can turn to sugar like pieces of bread.  Cutting down your sugar intake is good for cavity prevention, as well as your general health.

But what about when you have to have sugar?  The best way to avoid cavities is to prevent the sugar from staying next to your teeth.  Brushing after eating sugar, rinsing your mouth with a Fluoride mouth wash, or chewing sugarless gum can help.  However, nothing has the effect of avoiding sugar!

Is there any kind of food that prevents tooth decay?  Well, not really.  Some people believed that chewing foods like apples and carrots may have some plaque removal effect, but they still contain some sugar so any advantage is not clear.

Another group of food that causes significant damage to teeth structure is acidic foods.  If in frequent contact with teeth, things like lime, lemon, and grapefruit can cause serious irreversible damage (erosion) to your teeth.

Fluoride and Decay Prevention

FluorideandDecayPreventionMany years ago scientists started to notice that children who were born and raised in areas with natural fluoride in drinking water had fewer cavities than children in other areas.  Fluoride absorbed by your body when teeth were forming (during mother’s pregnancy to early childhood) integrates into the structure of enamel and makes it stronger.

After teeth eruption, fluoride found in your toothpaste, mouthwash, or in what your dentist places on your teeth still has a positive effect on your teeth.  It strengthens the enamel and reduces the chance of tooth decay.

If you have children and live in an area that has no fluoride in its drinking water, you should consult your dentist and physician about fluoride tablets that are available for children.

Dental Procedures

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Smile Gallery
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Dental Crowns & Bridges
CrownandBridgesA crown (cap) is a restoration that is placed on teeth that have lost a lot of their structure.  There are various types of crowns, ranging from full porcelain to full metal.  Your dentist will explain the advantages and disadvantages of each kind for you.

 

A bridge is essentially a series of crowns that are connected to restore a missing tooth or number of teeth.

The process of making a crown includes a number of steps, beginning with preparing and taking impressions of the tooth/teeth involved.  A temporary crown or bridge is then placed on your teeth.  Meanwhile, the impressions are sent to the lab where a mold of the teeth is poured and the work begins.  The completed work is sent back to the office; after inspection and any necessary adjustments, it is cemented onto your teeth.

Teeth Whitening

TeethWhiteningTeeth stains are inevitable due to our consumption of a variety of foods and drinks (soda, spicy food, coffee, etc.). However, advanced teeth whitening technology has enabled dentists to whiten teeth without adversely affecting the tooth structure.

Almost all whitening methods are similar in concept, but some are much more effective because of the way the whitening material is delivered to the teeth.  Another contributing factor is the concentration of the material, which is why less potent over-the-counter whitening systems usually don’t give patients the results they are hoping for.

The two main methods of professional whitening are tray whitening and in-office whitening.  In tray whitening, an impression is taken and a custom tray is made for the patient.  Then, a supply of whitening gel is given to the patient and he/she wears the tray for a few hours each day (techniques differ) for a period of time until an acceptable result is achieved.  Sensitivity of the teeth is a normal side-effect of this whitening method and is almost always transitional.

On the other hand, in-office whitening is the most efficient means of whitening.  There are a number of different types used, but the process is very similar for these methods.  You can have your teeth whitened in one session and achieve significant results.  Your dentist can give you more detailed information and help you decide which method is more suitable for you and your teeth.

Dental Implants
DentalImplantsDuring the last 20 years, dental implants have become a desirable alternative to other methods of replacing missing teeth. Excellent success rates and a range of available options give dentists a variety of new ways to treat and replace lost teeth.

 

Your dentist can evaluate your case and tell you if you are a candidate for dental implants. Structurally, a dental implant is a titanium-based cylinder that replaces the missing tooth root.  After a period of time, other parts are placed on the implant to enable your dentist to eventually place a crown (cap) on the implant. Implants can also be used to support full or partial dentures, dramatically improving denture retention and stability.

Most patients with adequate bone mass can have implants, although it varies among individuals.  Typically an x-ray and CT-scan are performed to determine if you have enough bone to place the implant, as well as to verify the size and kind of implant that should be placed.

Veneers

LumineersLUMINEERS BY CERINATE are a terrific cosmetic solution for permanently stained, chipped, discolored, or misaligned teeth, or even to revitalize old crown and bridgework.  LUMINEERS BY CERINATE are a porcelain veneer that can be made as thin as a contact lens and is placed over existing teeth. Unlike traditional veneers, they do not require painful removal of sensitive tooth structure.

Dentists apply these contact lens-thin “smile shapers” to teeth without any grinding or shaving, and transform misshapen, worn teeth into a naturally beautiful smile.  LUMINEERS can even be placed on porcelain bridgework and crowns with the new Revitalize Kit, available from your dentist.  LUMINEERS BY CERINATE provides the best of both worlds – they are ultra-thin, yet super strong for a radiant smile that resists any cracking that can damage restorations.  LUMINEERS are completely reversible.  Get your perfect smile today!

Root Canal Treatment
RootCanalTreatmentEvery tooth consists of three different layers.  The outermost and hardest layer is enamel, and the second layer is dentin. The third is pulp, which is the cavernous space where the live tissue and nerve of each tooth is located.

 

If for any reason the pulp space is exposed to the outside, the tissue becomes contaminated and eventually infected.  The exposure of pulp happens in many circumastances, such as when you have a large cavity or a fractured tooth.  Your dentist can explain the exact reason for damage to this tissue. In these cases, the treatment is usually root canal treatment.

Root canal treatment is the process of goingaaa inside the pulp space and removing the infected, dead tissue.  The space is then disinfected and sealed with special materials. Nowadays, root canal treatments are performed with advanced techniques and materials, making them far more comfortable and faster.  After root canal treatment is complete, your restorative dentist will usually place a crown on your tooth to safeguard against fracture.

Inlays and Overlays
InlaysandOverlaysInlays and Onlays are lab-made restorations that are placed on teeth when the cavity or lost tooth structure is too large to be restored by a simple filling.  The process of making an inlay is very similar to a crown.  After the tooth is prepared, it is cemented or bonded to the tooth.

 

There are different materials that inlays are made of, including gold, porcelain, and composite resins.  Porcelain and composite inlays and onlays are cosmetic alternatives to fillings and are very strong compared to regular white fillings.  Gold inlays and onlays are also suitable alternatives, but their appearance makes them less popular.

Your dentist will explain when an inlay or onlay is a viable treatment option for you.  In general, inlays and onlays can replace most back teeth fillings and are sometimes cosmetically preferred over conventional fillings.  At the same time, they are more conservative than crowns.

As far as cost is concerned, because the process of making an inlay or onlay is similar to a crown, its cost is also comparable.  But when considering the longevity of inlays and onlays, they can end up costing less than traditional fillings.

TMJ Treatment

TMJTreatmentTMJ is the joint that connects the lower and upper jaw.  The term TMJ stands for Temporo-Mandibular Joint.  This is one of the most complex joints in the entire body, capable of forward and backward movement, rotations, and side-to-side movements.  TMJ often refers to complications and problems with this joint.  Some of the most common symptoms of TMJ problems are:

  • Pain
  • Limited movement of the lower jaw
  • Clicking sounds
  • Muscle spasms
  • Locking of the jaw

Some potential causes of the disease include genetics, hormones, low-level infections, auto-immune diseases, trauma, and clenching or grinding of the teeth.  Diagnosis and evaluation of such conditions are performed by dentists experienced in TMJ problems and treatments.  Some common treatments are Night Guards, Bite Guards, and Bite Adjustments.  Your dentist can guide you toward the best treatment for you.

If you experience any TMJ problems or symptoms please let us know.  The doctor will be happy to evaluate your situation and offer the best treatment possible.

Teeth Sealants
SealantsSealants are thin layers of resin that are placed on the pits, fissures, and grooves of molars to prevent decay on these surfaces.

 

The majority of decay on back teeth starts in the grooves and pits of chewing surfaces, especially during the first few years after their eruption.  Sealing these surfaces with composite resins prevents this kind of decay.

Sealants are one of the most effective methods of preventing decay on the surfaces where they are placed.  Although it is still a possibility that decay may develop on surfaces in between teeth, sealants significantly reduce the overall chance of having cavities.

Post-Op Instructions

Please select the procedure you received to see a summary of post-op instructions. Call us if you have any questions:

Extraction

1)  Pressure should be placed on the gauze pad that has been put over the extraction site for one hour.  If the bleeding continues new gauze should be placed and pressure applied for another 45 minutes.

2)  If you are supervising children who have had an extraction done, make sure they don’t bite on their numb lips or tongue (it can cause serious injury to their soft tissue).

3)  NO SMOKING for 2-3 days following any extraction. Avoid eating or drinking anything hot on the day of your extraction.  Also, do not rinse your mouth and do not use a straw for drinking.  Do not spit and do not drink carbonated beverages.  Do not brush on the day of the surgery – you can gently resume your brushing and flossing the day after.

4)  You may experience some pain, bruising around your lips, and/or some swelling, especially after extraction of impacted wisdom teeth.  Applying ice to the affected area and taking medication as prescribed for you will help to minimize your discomfort.

5)  Please take all the medication you have received based on the provided instructions.

6)  During the first 2-3 days after surgery a diet of soft food and liquids is recommended (soup, yogurt, milkshakes and juice).

7)  For more complex surgical procedures, including Impacted Wisdom Tooth Extraction, Implant Surgical Procedures, etc: You will receive an ice pack which should be applied for the rest of the day until you go to bed on the day of surgery (10 minutes on and 5 minutes off).  Instructions for various surgical treatments will have some unique directions, which will be supplied to you at the time of your treatment.

8)  Call our office if you experience excessive bleeding, severe pain or swelling, or if you have any questions or concerns. In case of serious emergencies call 911.

Fillings

1)  Do not eat on your new filling for one hour and until your numbness is gone.

2)  If you are supervising children who had fillings done, make sure they don’t bite on their numb lips or tongue (it can cause serious injury to their soft tissue).

3)  Do not bite hard or chew on silver amalgam fillings for 24 hours.

4)  You may experience cold and heat sensitivity and some gum soreness – this usually subsides within a few days.

5)  Call our office if you experience pain or discomfort for more than a few days after the fillings, or if you have any questions.

Crowns, Bridges, Inlays and Onlays

1)  Crowns and bridges… usually take 2 or 3 appointments to complete.  On the first appointment, the tooth/teeth are prepared, impressions are taken, and a temporary crown is placed on your tooth/teeth.

2)  You may experience sensitivity, gum soreness, and slight discomfort on the tooth/teeth.  It should subside after the placement of the permanent crown(s).

3)  Whenever anesthesia is used, avoid chewing on your teeth until the numbness has worn off.

4)  A temporary crown is usually made of plastic-based material or soft metal.  It can break if too much pressure is placed on it.  The crown may also come off.  If it does, save the crown and call our office.  The temporary crown is placed to protect the tooth and prevent other teeth from moving.  If it comes off it should be replaced as soon as possible.  To avoid losing your temporary, do not chew on sticky or hard food (chewing gum, ice).  Try to chew on the opposite side of the temporary as much as possible.

5)  Continue your normal brushing but be careful while flossing around the temporaries (remove the floss gently from the side).  If it is difficult to get the floss between the temporary and surrounding teeth, refrain from flossing until you receive your permanent crown.

6)  After the permanent restoration is placed you may feel slight pressure for a few days.  Also, the bite may feel different for a day or two. But if after 2-3 days the bite still feels uneven or if you feel discomfort when chewing on the tooth, call our office.  Delaying the necessary adjustments may damage the tooth permanently.

7)  Call our office if you are in pain or if you have any questions.

Root Canal Treatment

1)  You may experience moderate pain and sensitivity to pressure on your tooth.  Also, you may feel gum soreness for few days after your treatment.  The healing process may take several days but the pain and discomfort should subside gradually.

2)  Take any medication that was prescribed for you according to instructions.

3)  Usually a temporary filling has been placed on your tooth.  Do not bite on the tooth for one hour and while you are numb.  Also, until the permanent restoration is placed, be very gentle with the tooth.  Try to chew with the opposite side.

4)  Continue your brushing and flossing.

5)  Follow-up with the placement of your permanent restoration such as a crown – as you have been advised.  Any unnecessary delay in the placement of a final restoration may damage the tooth permanently.

6)  Call our office if you are in severe pain or experience swelling, or if you have any questions.

Teeth Cleaning (Deep Cleaning)

1)  You may experience some cold and heat sensitivity – especially after deep cleaning.

2)  If you have received anesthesia do not eat anything until the numbness has worn off.

3)  Continue your regular brushing and flossing.

4)  Some bleeding for a day or two after cleaning is normal, but if you experience any excessive bleeding – please call our office.

5)  Call our office if you are in pain or if you have any questions.

Periodontal (Gum) Surgery

1)  You may experience some pain, swelling, and bleeding after the surgery.

2)  Take all medication that was prescribed for you according to instructions.

3)  Apply an ice pack on your face over the surgical site on the day of surgery for 10 minutes on and 5 minutes off.

4)  Keep your next appointment on time for removal of sutures and follow up checks.

5)  DO NOT raise your lips with your fingers to inspect the treated area.

6)  DO NOT brush teeth near the surgical site.  Brush teeth in the rest of your mouth.

7)  There is often a temporary loss of feeling in the operated area and the tooth may feel loose.

8)  Do not smoke, spit, or use a straw on the day of the surgery.  Also avoid smoking for a few days after the surgery.

9)  Should any difficulties occur, do not hesitate to call our office.  In case of serious emergencies call 911.

Implant Surgery

1)  You may experience some discomfort and bleeding the day of the surgery.

2)  Take all medication that was prescribed for you according to instructions.

3)  Apply an ice bag on your face over the surgical site on the day of surgery for 10 minutes on and 5 minutes off.

4)  Keep your next appointment on time for removal of sutures and follow up checks.

5)  DO NOT raise your lips with your fingers to inspect the treated area.

6)  DO NOT brush teeth near the surgical site.  Brush teeth in the rest of your mouth.

7) There is often a temporary loss of feeling in the operated area and the tooth may feel loose.

8)  Do not smoke, spit, or use a straw on the day of the surgery.  Also avoid smoking for a few days after the surgery.

9)  Should any difficulties occur, do not hesitate to call our office.  In case of serious emergencies call 911.

Denture Delivery

1)  You will experience some discomfort with any new denture for a few days.  All new dentures need several adjustments to completely and comfortably fit your mouth.

2)  You should take the dentures out every night and keep them in a clean container filled with water or denture cleaning solution.  Your gums need to rest and be without the dentures every day for a period of time.

3)  Clean dentures thoroughly with a brush and water before putting them back in your mouth.

4)  It may be difficult to talk normally with the new dentures for a few days.  One way to practice is to read a book or newspaper out loud for a period of time everyday.  Your tongue and muscles will get used to the new dentures and you will talk normally very soon.

5)  Call our office if you are experiencing pain, discomfort, or if you have any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Unlike other dental web sites, our FAQ is not prepared by one or two doctors. What we have done is compiled the best answers for our FAQ, organizing it all here for you. For instance, if you have a question about root canal treatments we guide you to the American Academy of Endodontics FAQ section. So instead of getting your answer from an individual doctor, you get it from the most reputable source for root canal treatment issues.

All the answers provided are for general information only. Your dentist will be able to answer any specific questions about your case. You should consult your dentist before making any decisions regarding treatment for your oral health issues.

Contact us if you have a question you would like us to answer.

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