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Dental Veneers: The Magic of Cosmetic Dentistry

man smiling with dental veneers
Close-up cropped portrait of a man with dental veneers wearing a white shirt and a nice smile isolated over pastel background

Our smiles can tell a lot about our lifestyle, hygiene, and habits. And when it comes to expressing our feelings nothing can replace a beautiful, natural-looking smile. At the same time, our teeth are always at the front line, and they can start to show signs of wear and tear. 

Dental veneers are a transformative solution that can gift you once again with a healthy, beautiful, and functional smile. Learn everything you need to know about dental veneers or schedule an appointment with Lexington Family Smiles today to transform your smile. 

What Are Dental Veneers?

Dental veneers are a cosmetic dentistry solution that can help you regain the beauty of your smile. They are thin layers of a resistant material that dentists apply to the front surface of your teeth. Veneers are available in a range of materials, including resin composite and porcelain, which allows them to replicate the natural strength and beauty of enamel.

Since dental veneers can match your natural teeth shape and color, they find endless applications in dentistry. They can be used to cover chipped, damaged, broken, or discolored teeth. In the case of smaller teeth than normal, veneers can represent a non-invasive, fastest way to restore a smile. 

While these interventions are suitable to cover up a single tooth, they can also be used on an entire portion of a set of teeth. 

When to Consider Veneers?

Veneers have become a popular solution to restore the beauty of a patient’s smile. Since they are custom-made and created to match your teeth natural look, they are almost impossible to differentiate from other teeth.

Some applications include:

  • Improving the appearance of your smile
  • Teeth reshaping 
  • Closing gaps between teeth that are apart
  • Improving the look of stained or severely discolored teeth
  • Fixing damaged or chipped teeth
  • Fixing fractured and damaged teeth without the need for crowns

Veneers can also represent a layer of protection for the natural teeth because they can resist common lifestyle consequences, such as stains from coffee and tea.

Benefits of Veneers

There are several options in dentistry to remedy a broken or damaged tooth, including crowns and implants. However, when it comes down to recreating a natural-looking smile and restoring the visible front teeth, dental veneers are often the preferred alternative. 

Some of the benefits include:

  • Veneers might last for over a decade with proper care.
  • They are highly resistant to stains. 
  • They are as strong and versatile as the natural teeth enamel.
  • Unlike crowns, they don’t require the removal of entire portions of the tooth. Instead, your dentist can fit them by removing only some of your tooth’s enamel. 
  • They are low-maintenance
  • Because porcelain usually agrees with gum tissue, the recovery times and drawbacks are limited.
  • It can give a new, healthier color to natural teeth.

Dental veneers are generally the preferred solution for most patients, but there are some occurrences where they are not the recommended choice. If you have active gum disease, severe tooth decay, or you suffer from bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching), veneers might not be suitable. This is because, once in place, damaged veneers cannot be recolored or easily fixed. 

During your first visit, your dentist at Lexington Family Smiles will show you the best cosmetic dentistry options for your lifestyle, requirements, and budget.

Procedures and Treatment

Once the dentist has assessed that you are suitable for veneers, you will undergo a simple procedure to have them placed on the outer surface of your teeth. Here’s what to expect.

  1. Molds and Impressions – during the first appointment, the dentist will assess your suitability and take impressions of your dental structure. These impressions are sent to a laboratory or technician that will fabricate the veneers. It can take up to two weeks for them to come back. 
  2. Final Checks – on your second appointment, the dentist will show you the veneers and check whether these naturally improve your teeth color, shape, and look. Once you and the dentist are happy with the results, you will proceed to the fitting. 
  3. Teeth Cleaning – The dentist will clean your teeth and ensure they are free of decay and bacteria before placing the veneers. This is an important step to prevent side effects. Remember that if you need to have your teeth whitened, you should do so before the application. 
  4. Teeth Preparation – After cleaning your teeth, the dentist will deliver a local anesthetic. This is to prevent any discomfort you might feel while the dentist grinds the interested teeth enamel. This important step will ensure that the teeth have an outer rougher surface to which the veneers can stick more easily.
  5. Binding – the dentist will fix the veneers in place with dental cement and then harden this material quickly through the use of UV light. 

Generally, the procedure does not last longer than two hours, though this can vary according to how many you get. You can visualize what to expect from this procedure in the video below:

No-Prep Veneers

An alternative to traditional veneers is no-prep veneers. As we have seen above, traditional veneers will require your dentist to grind your teeth outer surface to create a rougher and more suitable surface for placement. This step of the process is referred to as “preparation.” 

No-prep veneers are an alternative that does not require the grinding of the tooth’s enamel. Therefore, they might be less-invasive and more straightforward to apply. Because of the limited prep-work that your dentist must take, you can have these applied on the same day. Although, on average, they have a much shorter lifespan than traditional veneers.

Caring for Your Veneers

Veneers are a semi-permanent solution that allows you to regain confidence in your smile. They can last up to 15 years with the right care, and they require minimal maintenance. Nonetheless, when in place, it is important to exercise some precautions, such as:

  • Avoid chewing and biting hard objects such as ice or your fingernails.
  • Avoid using your front teeth to chew foods. When eating those foods, cut them into small bites and chew them with your back teeth.
  • Don’t use your teeth to hold objects, open packages, or complete actions that can put stress on them, such as tearing masking tape. 
  • Use a mouthguard or splint to protect the veneers if you tend to clench or grind your teeth or if you play sports.

Once you have your veneers fitted, you might feel enhanced sensitivity to hot or cold. 

Contact Lexington Family Smiles to Learn More

Veneers are a great cosmetic dentistry option, especially if you wish to regain your smile quickly and without invasive or lengthy procedures. However, they can lead to drastic results and represent a semi-permanent solution. Therefore, it is crucial to find an expert dentist’s guidance to check that this is the right solution for your needs. Schedule your appointment today with Lexington Family Smiles in Lexington, SC.

Dental Crowns: Types, Procedures, Cost, and Aftercare

3D rendering of dental crown, inlay, and onlay fillings
3d render of teeth with dental crown, inlay, and onlay filling over white background

Our smiles are the first aspect that others will notice in us and can build up or knock down our confidence. When looking at the way to restore a broken or damaged tooth, there can be some confusion around the many procedures that a dentist might put in place. 

Below, we will have a look at dental crowns, how they work, and why they might be the right solution for your needs. These are not a new technology, and they have been tested and developed over time. Learn more here, or get in touch with Lexington Family Smiles to get all of your questions answered.

What Are Dental Crowns?

First of all, let’s see what dental crowns are and what they look like. Dental crowns are tailor-made cups for one of your natural teeth that have become broken, decayed, or damaged. Dental crowns are a technology that has been around since the late 1880s, but it has developed over time to become stronger and more durable, natural-looking, and versatile.

Depending on your damaged tooth location, you might consider metal dental crowns or more natural-looking all-porcelain crowns. Your dentist at Lexington Family Smile will be able to guide you in the choice. 

The Different Types of Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are available in a range of materials, such as:

  • Porcelain and all-porcelain
  • Metal, such as gold, chromium, palladium, and nickel
  • Ceramic and Emax Ceramic
  • Zirconia
  • Composite resin
  • E- MAX: Lithium Disilicate Crowns
  • A combination of these materials, such as in Porcelain Fused-to-Metal Crowns (PFM)

Each of these materials has considerable advantages and disadvantages. For example, metal crowns might be particularly strong, but they are visible and don’t match your smile’s natural look. 

Your dentist at Lexington Family Smile will help you pick the right solution based on several factors such as:

  • The look and color of your natural smile
  • The damaged tooth’s location and how visible it is when you smile
  • The function of the damaged tooth (molars will need to be stronger and more durable)
  • The quality of your remaining natural tooth
  • Your personal preferences

Dental Crowns, ¾ Crowns, and Onlays

Dental crowns are caps that will cover the entire tooth. However, if only a small part of the tooth is damaged, you and your dentist might decide to opt for ¾ crowns, inlays, or onlays. These are made with similar materials as crowns, but they only cover or reconstruct a portion of the tooth.

When Do You Need Dental Crowns?

Dental crowns are among the most used solutions to restore a smile, and your dentist might decide to use them for a variety of issues. 

Some of the instances that might require a crown include:

  • A tooth cavity that has become too big or severe for a normal filling
  • A severely damaged tooth
  • A worn-down tooth
  • A cracked or weakened tooth

Dental crowns can also be employed to increase the efficiency of other dental treatments such as root canals and bridges. Indeed, dental crowns might help to strengthen a fragile tooth or replace a missing one.

Cost of A Dental Crown

A dental crown may cost anywhere between $500 and $1500 per crown without insurance. There are many costs involved in making a crown, which is why the cost of a crown can be so high. However, with insurance, the cost can be as low as a couple of hundred dollars to about a thousand dollars ($250 – $1000) depending on the insurance you have.

What to Expect from a Dental Crown Placement Procedure

Many patients tend to feel somehow intimidated when having to visit a dentist. Understanding what procedure to expect can help you arrive prepared and get rid of some unnecessary worries. Learn more about a dental crown placement procedure below or contact Lexington Family Smiles to know more. 

Same-Day vs. Temporary Crown Treatment

Crown treatments can take place over the course of two visits or within a single day. Often, you will complete your first visit and have a temporary crown in place until a permanent one is manufactured – which can take several weeks. 

However, a crown can also be manufactured in-house with a CEREC® device or a similar machine. This option does not require you to wear a temporary crown and can be completed within a day. 

Below, we’ll see the most common kind of dental crown placement procedure – the two-visits treatment.

First Visit: X-Rays, Tooth Preparation, and Temporary Crowns

From the first visit with your dentist, you can expect a thorough investigation of the issue, giving you a better idea of the right solution for your needs. 

During this first appointment, you will experience these steps:

  1. Investigation and X-Rays: Your dentist will carry out an examination of your whole dental structure and take an X-ray of the tooth and underneath jawbone. The X-ray results will highlight potential decay and damage.
  2. Pre-Treatment Procedures: Depending on your situation, your tooth might require a root canal treatment before the crown fitting. This happens when the tooth’s pulp is injured and exposed to infections. 
  3. Tooth Preparation and Reshaping: The damaged tooth needs to be reshaped to accommodate the crown. The extent of this intervention will depend on the type of crown used. For example, metal crowns are generally thinner, which means that less tooth surface will need to be removed. During this step, your dentist will also treat any decay.
  4. Impressions of the Tooth: Once the tooth has been reshaped and ready to welcome a crown, your dentist will take the impressions and record the color and aesthetic details about your smile. This information will help them create custom-made crowns that will look natural once in place.
  5. Temporary Crowns: At the end of the first visit, your dentist will fit in a temporary crown. While custom made, this crown might not be so fitting for your smile, but it is only a temporary solution. 

Second Visit: Crown Placement

After your first visit, your teeth’s impressions are sent to a laboratory to create accurate crowns. The custom-made permanent crown can take weeks to arrive at your dentist’s studio. 

During your second visit, your dentist will start by removing the temporary crown that had been put in place. After checking that the final result is as close as possible to your natural smile’s look, your dentist will cement the dental crown in place. 

During this step, your dentist might deliver a local anesthetic and correct the crown to fit your bite perfectly.

Aftercare and Recovery Times

After treatment, the recovery period can last for a few days, during which you might experience some irritation, sensitivity, discomfort, or inflammation of the tooth that has been treated. These sensations will fade in a few days.

When cared for properly, crowns can last for over ten years. Some tips to look after your dental crowns include:

  • Practice careful brushing.
  • Use toothpaste for sensitive teeth
  • Floss daily 
  • Avoid hard foods
  • Use a night-guard to prevent the damages of bruxism (grinding or clenching the teeth at night)

Contact Lexington Family Smiles in Lexington, SC

Crowns are not only a great option to restore the look of your smile but also to prevent discomfort, dangerous infections, and reduced functionalities of your dental structures. Because of this, it is crucial to find a dentist who can help you find the right match for your needs.

You can learn more about these options by contacting Lexington Family Smiles in Lexington, SC, and schedule your appointment today.

What Makes a Great Family Dentist?

family at dentist office smiling
Portrait of a family dentist at the office looking very happy with a family in the background and smiling.

A visit to the dentist is very important to the oral health of you and your family. It sets your family up for longer-term healthy smiles. Choosing the right family dentist also sets the tone for your children to feel comfortable about regular visits.

In this post, we are going to take a look at the attributes that the best family dentists should have. Our goal is to help you choose a great dentist for you and your family.

A good family dentist is someone who knows how to communicate effectively

Yes, having the right qualifications and training is of huge importance. However, that is not enough when it comes to using the services of a high-quality dentist. You need someone who is a good communicator.

The last thing you want is a dentist who uses heaps of technical jargon, which you do not understand. You’ll be able to look after your mouth, teeth, and gums better if you understand what the dentist is saying.

This is why good family dentists are able to communicate effectively to all members of the family. They break things down in a manner that is easy to understand. They can explain how to brush effectively, how to floss, and so on, enabling the entire family to maintain good oral health.

The best family dentists are caring and compassionate

Some people feel nervous about going to the dentist. We understand this, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that you feel at ease when you visit our office.

We do not take your anxiety for granted. All of our dentists, assistants, and staff are caring and compassionate. Young or old, whether you need a check-up or dental implants, we make sure that you feel comfortable and cared for.

From our kind and reassuring attitude to our openness and patience, we will make sure that your experience is a good one.

A good family dentist is someone who has the required qualifications, training, and experience

As touched upon earlier, it is a necessity that the dentist you choose has the right level of training and qualifications. They should also have plenty of experience in the industry as well.

When it comes to something as important as your dental health, you really cannot afford to take risks. You need someone you can rely on. You want to feel safe knowing that your dentist has all of the experience required to deal with any dental issue that you may face. Don’t simply assume that this is the case; find out about your dentist, their training, and their history in the industry.

Another good way to find out more about the dentist is to do a quick search online to see what other dental patients have said about the service they have received. Is the dentist reliable? Have they helped with dental issues the patient has experienced? But to be fair, don’t just read reviews, talk to the dentist too.

Lexington Family Smiles has built a great reputation in the industry. Reading the testimonials left by our patients will be helpful to you.

A good dentist is up-to-date with all of the latest technologies and advancements

The dental industry is one that is progressing all of the time. If you compare the dental treatments of ten years ago with the dental treatments of today, you will see that a lot of advancements have been made along the way.

The best family dentist is someone who fully ingrains themself in the industry and stays up-to-date with all of the latest technologies and innovations.

Advancements can also include the look and feel of the office and how patients are treated and made to feel comfortable.

You should find an aesthetics-oriented dentist in addition to being health-focused

Primarily, a dentist focuses on your oral health and what makes the most sense in terms of your health. However, the best dentists not only prioritize your health, but they think about the aesthetics of your teeth as well. After all, the appearance of your teeth can have a significant influence on your confidence.

If your teeth are yellow and stained, you may feel embarrassed, and this may cause you to keep your mouth shut in photos. You may even find that you’re always worrying about your teeth and what other people think about them. This is no way to live, is it?

This is why it is important to make sure you choose a family dentist who can help you to enhance the appearance of your teeth, as well as the health of your mouth.

Look for a family dentist who offers the complete range of dental services

Last but not least, you want a dentist to be able to assist you with any dental problem that you may be experiencing. From wisdom tooth removal to root canal treatment, your family dentist should be able to care for your needs. Lexington Family Smiles has the experience and technology to handle any dental need you may have.

It is also important to find a family dentist who offers emergency dental services. Sometimes the inconvenience of a dental emergency arises due to injury or an abscess and you need proper dental care. Lexington Family Smiles can treat your dental emergencies with confidence and care.

Contact us today for a family dentist you can rely on

If you are looking for a professional and reliable family dentist, please contact us to schedule an appointment. If you have any questions about our clinic or the services that we provide at Lexington Family Smiles, we are always more than happy to assist.

Root Canal Treatment: What It Is, Procedure, Benefits, Recovery

Dentist performing root canal treatment on a patient.
Young woman getting root canal treatment by dentist and assistant.

While most patients cringe when they think of visiting the doctor for root canal treatment, clearing up some misconceptions can help ease anxiety. A proficient dentist will be able to perform the procedure and get you back to feeling well in no time.

What Is a Root Canal?

Your teeth are an important part of your everyday life and are meant to last for your entire life. Your oral health is also closely linked to your overall bodily health. Sometimes, even with proper dental care, teeth can need repair and treatment. Root canal treatment can often help to save a diseased or injured tooth that is in need of repair.

While the outside of your tooth looks solid, underneath the exterior, there are many layers. The part you can see is the crown of the tooth, and the root is what anchors it in place in the gums and jaw bone.

The crown houses the pulp chamber which extends into the root where it is called the root canal. There may be multiple root canals in each root. The root canals are where the dental pulp is contained which includes all the nerves and blood vessels.

Reasons You Need Root Canal Treatment

A root canal treatment is needed if the pulp tissue is infected and inflamed. During the procedure, the infected pulp is removed from the canal to prevent it from spreading. There are several different reasons why the pulp may be injured or diseased.

The dental pulp may be damaged if a tooth is cracked or chipped. A tooth requiring a deep filling, a leaking filling, or a complication from a larger filling are other reasons for a root canal. Any other injuries to a tooth can also lead to damaged pulp because it allows bacteria to enter and cause infection.

Treatment Procedure

Depending on the extent of the infection, root canal treatment may take more than one dental visit. The dentist will follow the same basic steps in every procedure, and taking the time to learn a little bit about it can help ease any nervousness you may be feeling.

Treatment Prep

First, your tooth is numbed. A dental dam is used to cover your tooth to keep it dry. This is made out of a thin, flexible sheet of latex material so it can be easily fit to your tooth.

Pulp Removal

After your tooth is numb, a small opening is made in the crown of your tooth. This opening extends all the way down into the pulp chamber. Through this hole, the pulp is removed from the pulp chamber and both roots. Both root canals are then cleaned and disinfected.

Temporary Filling

Once the root canals are properly emptied and cleaned, they are ready to be filled. A rubber-like substance is used to fill in the empty spaces to seal them completely. Once the tooth is filled, a temporary filling is put on top to prevent any further infection.

Permanent Filling

Once Dr. Moulton is satisfied with your progress, the temporary filling is removed and a permanent filling or a crown is used to finish the procedure. The filling or crown helps to restore the complete function of your tooth by improving its shape. It also helps the tooth to blend in with the other teeth instead of standing out.

Healing Time

Root canal treatments must be entirely completed in order to be successful. This means you will need to follow all instructions given by Dr. Moulton and go to all your appointments. Not following all instructions can make the procedure ineffective and will lead to the need for more dental work. It is best to follow the instructions the first time to avoid complications.

Benefits and Risks of Root Canal Treatment

The main benefit of a root canal is that the tooth can be saved. Before root canal treatment was available, the tooth would just be removed once it became infected. Now that a root canal can be performed, the tooth can often be saved, even after the infection has set in the tooth.

There are some risks with a root canal that should be monitored. Once the tooth is devitalized, it can become more prone to chipping. Sometimes the tooth can also darken after the procedure that will need to be corrected with a teeth whitening procedure or veneers.

Recovery After Treatment

After the procedure, you will likely feel some mild pain or discomfort. If you have concerns about pain levels, talk to your dentist. Most pain can be easily managed with over-the-counter medication.

You should talk to Dr. Moulton to discuss possible issues if you are having severe pain or pressure for more than a few days after the procedure. You should also reach out to your dental team if you notice swelling in your mouth or if your bite is uneven.

Your dentist should give you specific instructions for recovery, but you should not bite down or chew with the treated tooth until the permanent crown is placed. You should also take care to continue the proper oral hygiene practices like flossing and brushing regularly to prevent infection. Other instructions given by Dr. Moulton should be followed in order to prevent complications.

Even though the procedure is basically the same, each patient is a little bit different, so it is important to know how to best support your individual recovery.

Contact a Dentist In Lexington, SC

When a tooth is damaged, it is important to seek intervention as soon as possible. Not only will it keep you from having to deal with unnecessary pain, but it will also help prevent the spread of infection to other areas of your mouth.

Our dental team is ready to step in and help you get back to feeling your best. Dr. Moulton will work with you to make sure the procedure goes as smoothly as possible. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

Pediatric Dentistry: Why It Is Important and When to Start

pediatric dentist working on a youg girl

Pediatric dentistry refers to looking after the oral health of young children. As a child grows up, they face many dental changes over the years. Therefore, it’s important that you take care of their oral health to ensure everything develops correctly.

The question is, why is pediatric dentistry so important, and when should you start? There are many points to consider, and we’ve created a guide to help answer these questions.

Why You Should Brush Your Baby’s Gums

Pediatric dentistry begins before a baby starts teething. Brushing your baby’s gums is a task that shouldn’t be overlooked. Bacteria can become trapped in the gum tissue, leading to a variety of problems for a small baby. On the minor end of the scale, this bacteria can cause bad breath for your baby. While not a serious concern, it’s something you want to avoid! 

Brushing their gums can also stop cavities from forming on any teeth that are starting to break through. A report from the CDC states that 20% of children have at least one untreated decayed tooth. It’s a serious problem for kids all over the country, and brushing their gums when they’re little will help prevent this by removing harmful bacteria. Also, this stops issues such as gum disease from forming, causing inflamed gums and bleeding. 

How to Brush Your Baby’s Gums and How Often

When your baby has no teeth at all, you can brush their gums with a soft cloth or a finger brush. Just wet the instrument and gently wipe it along the gum line to remove bacteria. It’s a good idea to do this at least twice a day, with one time being before bed. 

As their teeth start to come through, you can start using a soft toothbrush to brush the teeth and gums. It’s advisable to use a toothbrush that is made for babies as it is small enough for their mouth. You can use some toothpaste, but it’s recommended you use no more than the size of a grain of rice for a baby. This is because they don’t have the capacity to spit the toothpaste out, so there are health risks if they swallow a large amount of toothpaste. 

Try your best to angle their mouth so some of the toothpaste can dribble out when you’ve finished. It also helps to sing a little song while you do this as it settles them down and distracts them from what’s happening.

The ADA states that fluoride toothpaste is safe for young children and it’s recommended you use it as fluoride can prevent tooth decay. Just be sure you use a tiny amount as suggested previously. The same frequency applies here: twice a day, with one of the times being before bed. 

When to Start Pediatric Dentistry with Your Child

Both the ADA and AAP recommend that you take your child to the dentist when their first tooth starts to erupt. Typically, this comes in at around the 6-month mark. 

Why see a dentist at such an early age? Well, the initial appointments are more to check that everything is okay inside their mouth. It’s a chance for your dentist to look for any anomalies and see that their teeth are erupting correctly without complications. We can spot early warning signs of decay, as well as assess your child’s bite and gum health. If we discover any problems, we can devise ways to treat them and ensure your baby continues to develop as healthily as can be. 

The first appointments help children get use to seeing a dentist. If they’ve visited the dentist since they were 6 months old, they grow up with less to fear. They’re comfortable in the setting from a young age, ensuring they have a good relationship with the dentist. 

What Does a Pediatric Dentist Do?

As you may have guessed, pediatric dentists are specifically trained to help children with their oral health. They are capable of treating patients all the way throughout childhood. In addition to the standard four years of dental school training, a pediatrician undergoes two years of residency training in dentistry for infants and children. This ensures they have the knowledge and experience to treat patients of a young age, understanding all the common problems. 

A pediatric dentist can offer many different treatments, such as:

  • Oral health exams for children and infants
  • Preventative dentistry 
  • Assessment and treatment for braces or other orthodontics
  • Dental fillings or crowns for children
  • Tooth extractions

Pediatric dentists will check for common issues like tooth decay, unerupted teeth, bite problems, gum disease, and any other signs of poor oral health in kids. They also make the experience as comfortable as possible for children, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. 

In essence, they offer many of the same services as a standard dentist, but with a focus on children and infants. It’s not recommended that you take your child to a dentist that hasn’t had pediatric training!

Promote Good Oral Hygiene Early

The sooner you look after your child’s oral health, the easier it is to maintain good oral hygiene. Regular appointments with a pediatric dentist are essential as it helps check for problems and prevent issues from arising. Of course, it’s your job as a parent to promote good oral hygiene at home. This begins by brushing their teeth and gums when they’re babies, and teaching them how to brush as they get older. Also, you should avoid feeding your children foods high in sugar or acidity as they are most prone to causing tooth decay and gum disease. 

Visit A Pediatric Dentist in Lexington, SC

If you’re looking for a pediatric dentist in Lexington, SC, feel free to contact us today. Our team is well-equipped to see infant patients, ensuring your child gets the help they need from a young age. Give us a call or request an appointment via our website to schedule your initial consultation.

When to See Your Dentist: Signs and Symptoms

Woman having teeth examined at dentists

The vast majority of patients know that visiting the dentist for regular checkups is a good idea. It helps detect oral issues and prevents more serious oral health issues from developing. But occasionally, something will go wrong in your mouth between visits to the clinic. And that may leave you wondering if you should visit your dentist or not? 

While your body can correct some issues, many require medical assistance. Here are the signs and symptoms that make an extra trip to the dentist a good idea. 

Loose Teeth

Adult teeth should last a lifetime (or many decades at the very least). So if you have a loose tooth, it’s usually a sign that you need urgent medical attention from your dentist. 

There are several causes of loose teeth. The most common in young adults is trauma or injury. If you’ve received a blow to the jaw, you may find that one or more of your teeth are loose and moving around more than usual. In many cases, the extra play is the result of a stretched periodontal ligament. 

tooth and periodontium anatomical structure. Sectional human central incisor showing the structures that form the dental tissue and the periodontal tissues.

In older adults, gingivitis – or gum disease – is the most common cause of loose teeth. It first develops at the interface between the gum and crown. If left untreated, it can slip below the gumline, infect the root, causing damage to the root bed, leading to looseness. 

Other common causes include changes in hormones during pregnancy and osteoporosis. 

Persistent Bad Breath

When your mouth is healthy, it shouldn’t smell awful.

In some cases, though, foul smells can develop. And if it doesn’t go away after brushing or flossing, it could indicate a more serious issue. 

There are many causes of bad breath. Food is the obvious one but usually subsides after a few hours. However, poor dental hygiene, tobacco smoking, dry mouth, and infections can all lead to persistent halitosis. 

If you have bad breath that won’t go away, schedule an appointment with us. Lexington Family Smiles provides treatments that resolve the root of the problem of bad breath. 

Jaw Pain

If you have jaw pain, it could be a sign that you have an abscess under a tooth. When the infection becomes established in your mouth, it damages not only your teeth but the surrounding bone, creating a kind of dull ache. If you have an abscess, you require medical attention from a dentist. 

Jaw pain can also result from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder where the joint stops working the way it should, or from the grinding of teeth, called bruxism. Our dentist, Dr. Michael Moulton, can provide treatment for this condition as well. 

Toothache

It can be tempting to do nothing about a toothache in the hope that it will go away. But, unfortunately, that rarely happens. In most cases, the throbbing continues to worsen to the point where over-the-counter painkillers are no longer sufficient. Don’t suffer the pain and don’t wait for the issue to become worse. Visit your dentist for toothaches.

A few forms of toothaches are purely nerve-related and don’t involve infection. For instance, you might have a toothache because a new tooth is coming through (not an issue for adults), or your teeth are shifting for some reason, perhaps because you’re wearing braces. Usually, these types of toothaches are not an issue, so long as the teeth are not loose. 

Most toothaches, however, are the result of infection. Bacteria get under the gumline or inside teeth, leading to swelling, inflammation, and intense pain. 

Toothaches at the back of the mouth tend to be the most severe because of the complexity and density of tissues in this region and the fact that the swelling doesn’t have many directions in which to expand.

A toothache may be treated by first eliminating the infection with antibiotics and then assessing whether extraction is necessary. If a gum pocket facilitates repeated infections, gum contouring may be needed to seal the gap and save the tooth.

Dry Mouth

In healthy patients, glands produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist. The purpose of the moisture is to help remove food debris from the oral cavity and foster the growth of beneficial bacteria. When the mouth dries out, it can lead to yeast infections like thrush, mouth sores, increased plaque production, and sores in the corner of your mouth. 

If you notice that you have a dry mouth, dealing with it is a matter of priority and something you should speak with Dr. Moulton about as soon as you can. If we can address the issue early, it will prevent oral health problems in the future. 

There are several causes of dry mouth. Top of the list are medications, including pain meds, muscle relaxants, decongestants, and antihistamines. Other causes of dry mouth include tobacco and alcohol use, cancer therapy, and damage to nerves in your head. Aging is also a significant contributor, so you may notice that your mouth becomes less wet as you get older. 

White Spots On Your Teeth Or Gums

If you notice white spots on either your teeth or gums, visit Lexington Family Smiles for a dental evaluation. 

White spots on the teeth are usually the first sign of decay. These lesions indicate a softening of the enamel and usually means the start of a cavity. They are particularly common in patients who wear braces, so proper oral hygiene is so important.

White spots can also appear on soft tissue in the mouth, such as the gums, tongue, and bottom of the mouth. Dentists call these spots “leukoplakia.” Usually, they are benign and easy to scrape off, but sometimes they are precancerous. It’s always worth having a dentist evaluate it. 

Canker Sores

Cankers sores are small ulcers that appear on the lips, cheeks, roof of the mouth, and tongue. Some patients only get a couple of these in their lifetime, while it is a regular occurrence for others. 

The majority of sores we see heal within a week or two. However, you may find that sores never heal or recur more frequently. This may indicate abrasion issues in the mouth, hormone problems, or issues with your immune system. As your dentist, we can provide long-term solutions for dealing with these issues. 

Schedule a Dental Appointment

If you feel you need a dental checkup, schedule an appointment with Lexington Family Smiles today.

Dental Hygiene: The Proper Way to Brush and Floss

Mother, father and daughter brushing teeth in bathroom

Basic dental hygiene is the most important step in ensuring healthy teeth and gums. But it’s surprising how many people neglect their oral health

To help you keep your mouth healthy, you need to make sure you brush your teeth and gums the right way. This will help keep bacteria at bay and prevent the cavities and other problems that can cause toothache and damage your teeth’s appearance.

By learning the proper way to brush and floss, you can improve your dental hygiene and form better habits for life.

How to Brush Your Teeth

Learning the right technique for brushing your teeth will make brushing easier and help you get better results. More effective brushing results in having better dental hygiene. 

Let’s start with toothpaste. Using fluoride toothpaste can help prevent tooth decay by protecting the enamel of your teeth. Most kinds of toothpaste contain fluoride, but you can also find a toothpaste that’s tailored to your specific dental concerns, such as sensitive or discolored teeth. You should only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste – there’s no need to cover the length of the brush. 

Your toothbrush should be aimed at a 45-degree angle. Use a gentle circular motion to brush your teeth, starting with the outside and then working on the inside. You shouldn’t need to brush for more than two minutes to do an effective job. 

How Often Should You Brush Your Teeth?

Most people brush their teeth twice a day for good dental hygiene. You should brush your teeth in the evening before bed and one other occasion during the day. Most people choose to brush their teeth first thing in the morning. 

Some people brush their teeth after every meal, but this could be preventing your mouth from doing its natural job. Your mouth produces saliva, which hardens your enamel after eating, protecting your teeth. If you insist on brushing after eating, you should wait at least 30 minutes to allow your mouth’s saliva to do its job. 

Chewing on sugar-free gum can help you keep your mouth feeling fresh and eliminate odors after eating.

Which Toothbrush is Best: Soft, Medium, or Firm? 

With so many different types of toothbrushes available, it can be difficult to choose the right one. When it comes to choosing which toothbrush is best, it can come down to your personal preference, as well as the condition of your teeth. But generally, a soft bristle toothbrush is better for your teeth and gums and oral hygiene.

The first choice you’ll need to make is whether or not you want a manual or an electric toothbrush. An electric toothbrush can be more effective at removing plaque and can be gentler on your gums. As most feature a built-in timer, you won’t have to worry about overbrushing.

A manual toothbrush is by far the easiest and most affordable option, but then you’ll need to choose between a soft, medium or firm type of bristle. A soft-bristled toothbrush is ideal for your teeth, helping to remove plaque without being too harsh on your gums.

If you have sensitive teeth or problems with your gums, you should avoid a firm toothbrush to avoid causing further damage.

How to Floss Your Teeth 

Flossing is another important element of your dental hygiene. While most people brush their teeth twice a day, the same can’t be said for flossing. Flossing helps to dislodge food trapped between teeth, as well as remove plaque from hard-to-reach areas. It should be a daily part of your dental care.

There are various types of dental floss out there, including electric air flossers. While any type of floss can be effective, you may have a personal preference about which one to use. Waxed floss can glide between teeth easier, while there are toughened types of floss for those with braces, bridges or implants.

To use floss effectively:

  • Use around 18 inches of floss, ensuring you have an inch or two either side of your fingers. 
  • After pulling the floss taut, place the floss between two teeth. 
  • Gently glide the floss up down, ensuring you floss the sides of each tooth.
  • Avoid flossing into your gums, as this can cause damage. Instead, curve the floss at the bottom of your tooth to help you access the gap between your teeth and gums.
  • Repeat on each tooth, making sure you use a clean section of floss each time.

Avoid These Brushing and Flossing Mistakes

Brushing your teeth is part of your daily routine, a habit that you don’t give much thought to. But could you be making a mistake with your brushing that could have a negative impact on your dental hygiene? Some common brushing and flossing mistakes to avoid include:

  • Don’t use a toothbrush that’s too firm – the bristles need to be soft enough to reach tricky areas.
  • Don’t rush brushing – aim for two minutes.
  • Don’t brush too roughly, this can cause bleeding and damage to your teeth and gums.
  • Don’t forget to change your toothbrush regularly – you should aim to change it every three months.
  • Don’t neglect your gumline – this is where a lot of bacteria can live.
  • Don’t do half a job – the more effective your brushing, the healthier your teeth will be.

See Your Dentist Regularly 

Brushing and flossing the right way can help you take care of your teeth at home, but making a regular appointment with your dentist is important for keeping up with your overall oral hygiene and make sure that everything is ok. 

Your dentist will be able to advise you on the effectiveness of your brushing and give you advice on how to improve your oral care. Cavities and other problems can be difficult to see yourself, but your dentist will be able to help keep your teeth and gums in great shape.At Lexington Family Smiles, we know how important it is to take care of your teeth. When you pay us a visit, we’ll be more than happy to advise on the proper way to brush and floss to boost your dental hygiene. Contact us to request an appointment and let us help you enjoy great oral care for a winning smile you can’t help but show off.

Cosmetic Dentistry Smile Makeover: What Is It and Should I Get It?

Cosmetic dentistry treatment and whitening of teeth, dental crowns. Before and after. Dental close-up.

If you are not happy with your smile, you don’t have to simply accept this and keep your mouth closed every time you have a photograph taken! That’s no way to live, right? Instead of letting your smile get you down, why not get a smile makeover through cosmetic dentistry?

Continue reading to discover everything you need to know about getting a smile makeover with cosmetic dentistry and what to expect.

What Is a Smile Makeover?

Smile makeovers may be thought of as only cosmetic. While they do have cosmetic elements, they are so much more than that. A cosmetic smile makeover involves using a number of procedures to enhance both the health and the appearance of your gums and teeth.

During a consultation, the dentist will assess the health of your teeth, gums, and jaw, utilizing a combination of visual examinations and digital x-rays, and perhaps making models of your teeth. By doing this, the dentist will be able to make recommendations regarding the best cosmetic dental treatments for you. 

What Are the Benefits?

There are so many benefits associated with a smile makeover and cosmetic dentistry. They include the following.

Boost Your Confidence

One of the main reasons why people go down this route is because their confidence has been struggling because of their teeth. A smile is one of the first things that we tend to notice about another person. If you are not happy with your smile, it can be easy to feel self-conscious around other people. A smile makeover can help you feel confident about your smile.

Increase Oral Health

As mentioned, a smile makeover or cosmetic dentistry is not just about improving the aesthetics of your smile. It is also about improving your oral health.

For example, if you have a broken tooth, a gap, or crooked teeth this can negatively impact your other teeth. It can even affect how you eat and speak. If you experience pain from misaligned teeth, this can also be resolved through a cosmetic smile makeover. 

Achieve More

You may be shocked by how much of an impact your new smile will have on other areas of your life. After cosmetic dentistry you will smile more and have more confidence. This confidence will start to flood into other areas of your life. You may notice that you perform better in the workplace or that your social life improves. This is because you are a more confident version of yourself now.

What Procedures Are Involved?

There are a lot of different cosmetic procedures that may benefit you with a smile makeover. Some of the most popular are as follows:

In-office Teeth Whitening

There is only one place to begin, and this is with teeth whitening. There is no denying that this is one of our most popular treatments. If your teeth currently have a yellow hue, teeth whitening can give you pearly whites! While there are teeth whitening products in stores today, they are nowhere near as effective as what you would get at the dentist.

Dental Veneers

A veneer is a custom-made, thin molding of porcelain bonded to the front surface of your tooth or teeth. This is an effective and quick way of dealing with crooked, misshapen, chipped, and stained teeth. 

Dental Crowns

Another cosmetic dental procedure that you may be interested in is dental crowns. A crown is a sort of cap that fully covers a real tooth and constructed from metal alloys, porcelain, ceramics, or composite resin.

A crown covers and repairs a damaged tooth. The crown fits over the prepared tooth and permanently seals in place below the gum line. The results are a natural and healthy-looking tooth.

Composite Bonding

Composite bonding, also dental bonding or tooth bonding, is another popular cosmetic dental treatment. Bonding provides a solution to gaps in teeth or minor damage. It is typically for fixing discoloration, filling chips, and gaps or fractures between the teeth.  

Dental Implants

A very effective cosmetic solution to missing teeth or extensive decay is dental implants. Dental implants provide an effective and long-term solution for missing or severely damaged teeth.

Dental implants are a popular cosmetic dentistry solution because the ending result is a fully functional tooth or teeth that look, feel, and function like natural teeth.

Surgically implanted into your jaw bone, an implant acts as an artificial replacement for the missing root. A crown or dentures placed over the implant gives the final touches of a realistic-looking tooth. The implant is able to support the crown or dentures in a similar manner as natural roots. The end result is a beautiful new smile. No one would know the difference.

How Long Does a Smile Makeover Take?

Unfortunately, it is impossible to say in this post how long a smile makeover will take because every treatment is custom. The time it takes depends on the number of cosmetic treatments and the type of treatments you undergo.

For example, you may only decide to have one or two simple cosmetic dental treatments whereas someone else may have many or more extensive treatments.

The best way to answer the question of time is to schedule a consultation with your cosmetic dentist. Your dentist will be able to assess your teeth and gum health and make recommendations. They will be able to provide you with a realistic depiction of how long the treatment(s) will take.

So there you have it, an insight into smile makeovers and cosmetic dentistry and what you can expect from this sort of treatment.

Contact a Cosmetic Dentist

If you have any questions or you would like to find out more about cosmetic dentistry and how you can benefit from a smile makeover, please do not hesitate to contact Lexington Family Smiles in Lexington, SC. We would be more than happy to answer your questions and schedule a consultation.

Answers to Pediatric Dentistry Questions

pediatric dentistry, little girls sits in dental chair
Happy young girl sitting in dental chair with open mouth while professional dentist doing regular check up of teeth using dental probe and mirror. Female nurse assisting.

Looking after your children’s teeth is vital. In this post, we answer parents’ most common questions. 

What is the difference between a dentist and a pediatric dentist? 

A regular dentist is a trained medical professional who has completed dental training and works on patients of all ages. By contrast, a pediatric dentist is a dental practitioner who has completed a specialist course designed to help them cater to children’s specific needs. 

Children can go to a regular dentist. However, pediatric dentists help to make the experience more pleasant for them, encouraging them to return to the dentist’s chair in the future without feeling fearful or anxious. 

Pediatric dentists also tend to provide treatment for children with the most severe oral health issues. Thus, they are specialists that parents can turn to for dental emergencies. 

At what ages does a pediatric dentist treat patients? 

Pediatric dentists treat children from birth to adolescence. Usually, dentists recommend that children visit the dentist as soon as their milk teeth begin to come through (or after their milk teeth erupt) to get them used to the dentists’ office. By going when they are young, dentists hope they will feel more comfortable returning when older. 

Pediatric dentists can also help children manage developmental issues from birth too. If you notice an obvious problem with your child’s teeth or gums when they are very young, you can take them to a pediatric dentist for specialist advice and treatment. 

Why is pediatric dentistry important? 

Pediatric dentistry is essential for two main reasons. First, it helps to ensure that a child’s teeth are developing normally. And second, it makes it more likely that children will maintain good oral health throughout their adult lives. 

The habits that children develop in childhood are crucial for determining their future oral health. Good routines mean better health long-term, and fewer trips to the dentist. 

Pediatric dentists have special training that enables them to better communicate with children. They help develop good brushing and flossing habits early on in life, reducing the likelihood of cavities and many other oral health problems later. 

Many young children do not know how to brush their teeth correctly and repeatedly make the same mistakes. Pediatric dentists can advise older children on the causes of decay, the importance of eating the right diet, and how to brush all the surfaces of the teeth. 

Pediatric dentists also provide helpful advice to parents or caregivers of very young children, showing them how something as simple as the child falling asleep with a bottle of juice or milk in their mouth can lead to tooth decay. They can coach you on the importance of encouraging your child to drink breast milk or approved formulas. And they show you how to brush young teeth properly. They may also discourage night-time breastfeeding after the child’s first teeth come through, as this may damage them. 

It is worth pointing out how common childhood oral health problems are. Estimates suggest that around 60 percent of elementary school-age children have some form of preventable tooth decay. And around 20 percent have cavities in more than seven teeth. 

When Should I start brushing my baby’s teeth? 

Just like adult teeth, kids’ teeth are a magnet for plaque, allowing bacteria to thrive. Leaving them unbrushed can lead to the development of tooth decay and cavities. 

You can start brushing your baby’s teeth from the moment they appear – usually at around six months. 

Start by cleaning them by wiping them with a soft cloth or brushing them with a small toothbrush and water. If your baby is very young, you should not use toothpaste. 

At around 18 months, you can add regular fluoride-containing toothpaste to your teeth-cleaning routine. Use a small, pea-sized amount and brush their teeth just as you would your own. Once you’ve finished, encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste. If they are having trouble with this, show them the action yourself. 

Children will continue to need help with brushing their teeth until around seven or eight years of age. It is essential to teach them the correct technique so that they can use it for the rest of their lives. Sometimes, both children and parents are unaware of the approach they should use, which can create issues further down the line. Pediatric dentists can instruct both children and parents on the proper techniques that ensure full brushing of all the surfaces in the mouth. 

You can make brushing easier via various methods, including singing while you brush or making the toothbrush into a train. You can also distract a child with a toy while you brush if they find it distressing. 

How often should you brush a 2-year-old’s teeth? 

Ideally, you should clean all teeth surfaces at least twice per day, once after breakfast and once before bed. Until your child is 18 months old, you should only use water unless instructed otherwise by a dental professional. However, you can start using small amounts of low-fluoride toothpaste to strengthen the enamel from two years. 

Where possible, try to include your child in the process. Get them to hold the toothbrush as you scrub to feel what the action is like. 

Start by sitting behind them, facing a mirror so that they can see both you and their own mouth. Then ask them to open their mouth. Insert the toothbrush and angle the bristles towards the gum while supporting their chin in your hand. 

Then just maintain this angle while brushing all around the mouth, back and forth over all the teeth’ surfaces. If possible, try to brush your child’s tongue, which can be a magnet for bacteria. Once you’re done, encourage your child to spit out any remaining toothpaste or rinse it out with water. 

Remember, most tap water contains added fluoride designed to harden children’s teeth. Thus, they are getting small amounts of the chemical every day if you give them water to drink or use it in your cooking.

To schedule and appointment for pediatric dental services, contact us today.

General Dentistry and Periodontics: What’s the Difference?

Dentist showing patient a model of teeth in a dental office.
dentist and patient discussion about planned teeth treatment in dental clinic office

What is the difference between a general dentist and a periodontist? 

While both general dentists and periodontists perform work on your teeth, the nature of that work differs. General dentists are trained medical professionals who perform a broad range of oral-health related tasks, such as fillings, extractions, cleanings, and root canals. Periodontists, however, are more specialized, working mainly on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of periodontal disease as well as placing dental implants. 

Both dentists and periodontists must undergo general dentists training. However, the latter needs to complete several more years of dental school before conducting more specialist work. Once qualified, they can offer a broad range of treatments, including cosmetic and restorative dental procedures. 

What are general dental services?

General dental services are a catch-all term for anything non-specialist that a dentist might offer to improve or maintain your overall oral health. It includes fitting bridges and crowns, providing fillings, dental hygiene services, dentures, X-rays, mouth guards, full mouth reconstruction, veneers, teeth whitening, and even oral cancer screening. 

General dental services are for all the family. Practitioners see both children and adults, including those entering their senior years. They provide coaching on proper oral hygiene and work with patients of all ages to reduce oral health issues in the future. 

What are periodontal services?

The term periodontal means “around the tooth.” Thus, periodontal services refer to a specific range of techniques for dealing with periodontal disease and ensuring implants’ correct placement. 

Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease where the bacteria penetrate the gum lining and begin making their way down the teeth’ roots. It is painful and leads to swelling and pus. If allowed to progress to its final stages, it destroys the structures that hold the teeth in place, leading to tooth loss. 

Periodontal services seek to arrest the progress of the disease and prevent it from returning. Periodontists offer a wide range of therapies, including root planing (which scrapes plaque off the surface of teeth below the gum line), surface debridement (to remove infected gum tissue), and a range of surgical procedures. A typical trip to the periodontist will involve checks for gum recession, bite tests to ensure proper arrangement of teeth, and tests to check the depth of periodontal pockets – openings between the gum and teeth. 

Should I see a dentist or a periodontist?

Whether you see a periodontist or general dentist depends very much on your circumstances. The vast majority of general dentists have the skills and tools available to control periodontitis and ensure implants’ correct placement. Often, patients do not need to go to a separate periodontist for specialist treatment. 

General dentists diagnose and treat the vast majority of dental issues. For instance, dentists can provide fillings, clean your teeth professionally, perform root canals and extractions, and offer cosmetic procedures, such as whitening. They can also provide veneers, some forms of teeth straightening, and implants. Thus, general dentists are the first port of call for most patients.

In some cases, a periodontist might be the better option, but usually only upon referral by a general dentist. Periodontists have training in specialist therapies that specifically target the bacteria causing infection and damage below the gumline. Many have training in laser therapies that kill harmful bacteria and prevent them from getting under the gumline in the future.

Reasons to visit a periodontist 

Here are some of the situations in which getting periodontal services makes sense: 

  • Your gums are red, swollen, or bleeding. A bit of blood when you spit toothpaste in the sink doesn’t necessarily mean you have periodontal disease. However, if you have swelling and redness around your teeth that don’t disappear with time, it could indicate a severe infection. In this case, you may wish to pay a visit to your periodontist. 
  • Your teeth feel loose. Periodontitis destroys the structures that support the teeth and hold them in their sockets, making the disease a common cause of loose teeth. As discussed, periodontists use special techniques to rescue your teeth and prevent further damage and tooth loss. 
  • Your bite is different. Periodontists also deal with the issue of “bite” or how your teeth close when you chew. Ideally, this shouldn’t change much throughout your life. However, some periodontal issues can cause teeth to move in their sockets, potentially leading to gum disease and tooth loss. 
  • You have pain that won’t go away. Periodontists can usually track general pain in your mouth down to a single tooth. Often a lone infection in, say, a wisdom tooth can transmit pain along the entire row of teeth on the affected side. Periodontists provide examinations that help you to diagnose and treat the issue correctly. 

Can the dentist give you something for anxiety?

Dental anxiety is a phenomenon dentists take very seriously. Surveys indicate that around 15 percent of Americans avoid the dentist entirely because of fear and anxiety related to various procedures. 

However, general dentists can provide several methods to help calm your anxiety, depending on how distressed you feel. Most of these techniques keep you conscious but make you feel more relaxed.

Inhaled minimal sedation is the mildest form of sedation. It involves administering nitrous oxide through the nose continually throughout treatment, which then absorbs into the body. You feel awake but relaxed. 

For more severe anxiety, general dentists will deliver moderate sedation in oral pill form. You’ll take Halcion, a drug closely related to valium, around an hour before the procedure, which will take away many of your concerns. 

For deep sedation, your dentist might prescribe a sedative drug intravenously. These get to work quickly, making you feel relaxed and calm almost immediately. All of a sudden, all your dental anxiety disappears, and you are often hardly aware of the work being done on your teeth. 

Finally, there is anesthesia, which makes you entirely unconscious. Most general dentists try to avoid this kind of treatment for anxiety since it carries risks that the others do not. 

If you feel that you are affected by any of the oral health issues raised in this article, book an appointment with us right away. Our expert team of general dentists and specialists can offer advice and give treatment where required.