Signs of Tooth Enamel Loss

Enamel isn’t something we think about every day, or even all that often. However, it is one of the most important things about your oral health. Enamel is the tooth’s outer covering. Over time, enamel can become chipped, worn or even lost due to dental trauma, dental procedures or problems with the supporting tissues of the mouth. While calcium can naturally repair to some degree, damage sustained over time may leave your tooth vulnerable to further enamel loss.

It can be difficult to know if your tooth’s enamel is permanently damaged. We’ve created a list to know if yours is damaged to make it easier for you!

Tooth Sensitivity

One of the most common signs your tooth’s enamel is damaged is sensitivity. You may notice discomfort while eating or drinking something with hot or hot temperatures. The more your enamel gets damaged, the more extreme your sensitivity will become. If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, make sure to talk with your dentist as soon as possible!

Color

Another way to know if your enamel is damaged is if the color of your teeth has changed. This color change often occurs first on the central incisors, which are your very front teeth. Those teeth might become transparent around the outer edges. As the enamel continues to erode, your teeth might turn a gray or yellowish color.

Shape

If your teeth change shape, it’s a good indicator that you have enamel damage. Your teeth may begin to appear rounded, develop ridges, and often the gaps between teeth will become more substantial. Eventually, you may notice cracks in your teeth.

How to Stop Tooth Enamel Erosion

Tooth enamel loss puts your teeth at increased risk for tooth decay. Some tooth enamel loss occurs naturally with age, but you can help stop harmful tooth enamel loss by following a regular oral care routine of brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly. Your tooth enamel is the first line of defense for your teeth against the tooth decay.

Here at Mount Vernon Smile Design, we are always happy to help. If you think you are experiencing enamel damage, give us a call at 360-336-6193, and we’ll set up an appointment. We’ll look at your teeth for any signs of erosion, and talk with you about your options if you do have damage.

Dental Checkups & Teeth Cleanings: What to Expect

Knowing what to expect when you go in for a dental checkup can help ease the anxiety of going into the dentist. Usually, you should get a dental checkup every six months to ensure the health of your teeth and gums.

Not only are checkups great for your overall health, but they also give your dentist the opportunity to share tips on caring for your teeth and detect oral health problems early. Here is what you can expect from a typical dental checkup.

Physical Exam

Most teeth cleanings are performed by a dental hygiene professional. Before the teeth cleaning begins, the hygienist will start with an exam of your entire mouth. By using a small mirror tool, the hygienist will check around your teeth and gums for any sign of gingivitis (inflamed gums) or other potential concerns.

If any major issues are detected, the hygienist might call the dentist over to make sure it’s okay to continue.

Cleaning and Polishing

Next, the hygienist will begin to remove any plaque or tartar that has built up on your teeth. They do so by using the mirror tool and scaler. Usually plaque build up happens around the gums and in between teeth, so you’ll notice the hygienist focusing there. The more plaque and tartar there is, the more scraping there will be. Then they will expertly floss your teeth, making sure to get any problem areas where the gums might bleed more. Next, they’ll do a fluoride treatment on your teeth, which is a protectant for your teeth to help fight against cavities for several months.

Education

Another big part of the dental checkup process is education. After the cleaning the dental hygienist will discuss any hygiene problems that were detected. They’ll also show you ways to more effectively brush and floss your teeth, if necessary.

Examination

Both the dental hygienist and your dentist will then do an examination on your teeth, gums and mouth to look for signs of any problems, like a cavity, gum disease, or early signs of oral cancer. The dentist will use the mirror tool to get a better view of your teeth and gums, and if they see any issues, they might recommend a special treatment or refer you to a specialist.

X-Rays

At some of your dental visits, your dentist might ask for x-rays of your teeth. A dental X-ray allows the dentist to see detailed images of specific sections of your mouth to help diagnose problems not visible during the dental exam. X-rays aren’t typically needed at every checkup, so your dentist or hygiene specialist will talk to you about your need for x-rays based on your oral health and risk of disease.

Getting regular dental checkups is so important to your overall health. Dentists and hygienists are here to make sure you’re keeping your mouth and teeth in tip top shape. Dental Office is always here to help you and answer any questions you have. Call our office at 360-336-6193 to make an appointment for your next dental checkup!

One Year Update: COVID-19 and Dental Offices

It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic changed almost every aspect of our daily lives—including regularly visiting the dentist. However, this should soon be a thing of the past. Not visiting the dentist was one of the many ripple-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and even though it is not over, yet, things are looking up.

According to the ADA Health Policy Institute, confidence in going back to the dentist hit a new high since the pandemic started, with 94% of patients stating they are ready to go back to the dentist or they have already have gone back to see the dentist, compared to August of 2020 where only 78% of patients had been back or were ready to go back to the dentist.

If you’re ready for your next dental checkup, contact us today to setup an appointment!

Continued Safety Protocols

As more and more people become fully vaccinated, the CDC has started to provide less-restrictive guidelines for these people. However, most recommended precautions, such as using personal protective equipment, have not changed for health care settings, including dental offices.

Even though we are seeing COVID-19 case numbers trending down, we still ask that you follow our guidelines for your safety and the safety of others, including:

  • Do not come to the office if you have any symptoms of COVID-19
  • Limit the number of people you bring to your appointment, if possible
  • Wear a mask until notified that you can remove it

Per the CDC, we are regularly consulting with our state and local health departments for region-specific information and recommendations, as they monitor trends in local case counts and adjust accordingly.

We understand that you may not feel comfortable quite yet, or you have questions about the protocols we’ve implemented in our office to keep patients safe. You can review our entire list of COVID-19 Safety Protocols or you can contact us and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

Best Practices for Kids’ Healthy Teeth

Once kids get their first tooth, parents start to wonder how they can help their child establish good dental habits. As a parent, you want to help your children develop good dental hygiene, since poor dental health is all too common and can lead to complications in adulthood such as more serious diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Below are simple tips for helping your children develop and maintain healthy teeth.

Lead By Example
Kids love to imitate those around them, so being a good role model is one of the best ways to show children how important dental health is. Demonstrate good oral health habits with them, brush and floss with your kids, rather than sending them into the bathroom on their own. Instead of treating it as a chore, make it part of the daily routine.

Keep Dental Appointments
Keep a regular routine of going to the dentist for regular checkups. Your child should have their first dental appointment within 6 months of their first tooth or their first birthday, whichever comes first, and then twice a year after that.

Eat Healthy Foods
Avoid sugary drinks and food. This can help with not only your child’s overall health, but it can also create a conversation about cavities. When sugar is allowed to sit on your teeth, it can create decay, and we all want healthy, strong teeth to enjoy the things we love.

Brush and Floss
Brushing twice a day for at least 2 minutes is one of the best way to keep your mouth clean and healthy, yet it’s not always achieved. Set a timer and use a tartar dye if desired to be sure all the teeth surfaces are cleaned and that brushing has happened long enough to be effective at removing plaque. There are also apps available to make brushing and caring for your teeth fun.

These are some great ways to help keep your child’s mouth clean and healthy. Give us a call today at 360-336-6193 to schedule an appointment with us. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have!

Trios 3Shape Scanner

Mount Vernon Smile Design is now offering the Trios 3Shape scanner. This scanner offers fast digital technology which provides detailed scanning results in just minutes. Our patients love the comfort of this scanner because it utilizes air cooling and suction to allow them to stay very comfortable through each appointment. The scanner also allows us to get cases back quicker from the lab and it’s more precise/accurate than physical impressions.

What is the Trios 3Shape Scanner

The Trios 3Shape Scanner is an award winning digital scanner that allows us to skip the messy impressions and take a digital impression of your mouth. This type of scanner can pair with our technology to provide our patients with new treatments, reduced chair time, and no hassle. It’s also wireless, so you don’t have to worry about getting tangled up in cords.

A dental assistant uses a Trios 3Shape Scanner to take digital impressions of a dental patient's teeth

Benefits of Using the Trios 3Shape Scanner

Time
This is a huge benefit to using the Trios 3Shape Scanner. The scanner helps make everything from taking the impression to getting the result back from the lab more efficient.

The Patient Experience
As previously stated, the digital scanner helps enhance the patient experience. No more messy impressions and the patient and doctors both get a full 3D representation of the patient’s mouth.

Accuracy
Digital scans are just as accurate-if not more accurate-than traditional analog impressions. With digital impressions, we avoid mistakes that could happen when creating the impression in the lab.

You can see that using a Trios 3Shape Scanner is a great alternative to traditional impressions. Here at Mount Vernon Smile Design, we do everything we can to make sure our patients are comfortable and get the best experience possible. Call us at 360-336-6193 to schedule an appointment and see what all the hype about our new digital scanner is!

Tooth Extractions: 4 Steps to an Easy Recovery

There are more than seven billion people in the world, and every one of them has a set of teeth—32 of them, in fact. Unfortunately, from time to time, some of them have to go. It’s not something anyone’s looking forward to. After all, your teeth have all been with you for years, reliably chewing anything you asked them to. Most of us are pretty attached to them!

Many patients dread the recovery period after an extraction, but as long as you know how to take care of yourself, an extraction can be one of the least troublesome medical events of your life. Today, we’ll tell you what you can expect, and what you can do to make your recovery as comfortable as possible.

The main concern in the period after a tooth extraction is the possibility of a dry socket. This is when a blood clot fails to form over the extraction site, or when the clot comes loose and exposes the wound, possibly even leaving the bone underneath exposed. Fortunately, it’s not incredibly common (it occurs in less than 5% of routine dental extractions).

The pain of a tooth extraction can be avoided by following these steps.

Step 1: Clear your schedule

The most important thing you can do to prepare for this procedure or any other is to make sure you’re ready for the recovery period. If you were thinking about going on a ten-mile bike tour or pushing a new one-rep-max at the gym, you’ll have to postpone it. Clear your schedule of strenuous physical activity for a few days after the extraction, so you don’t risk loosening the clot before it has a chance to heal.

Step 2: Stock up on soft foods

Avoid eating anything you’ll have to chew or suck. Stock up on soft foods like yogurt and applesauce. Or you could make a smoothie—but be careful not to use a straw. Sucking up any liquid may dislodge the clot and leave the wound exposed. Eggs can work too, if you’re craving something a little more substantial.

Step 3: Manage your pain

After the procedure, your poor gums are going to need a bit of babying. You’ll probably want a painkiller of some kind. The extraction site might not hurt badly right away, but you can manage the pain best by taking a Tylenol or similar drug early. The pain likely will increase for the first three days or so, but don’t worry, that’s normal. If pain continues to increase after the third day or doesn’t decrease, it’s possible you have a dry socket. Contact your dentist, and they’ll decide how to handle things from there.

Step 4: Be gentle with your teeth

Your nighttime routine will have to change, too. For the first two days, avoid rinsing out the extraction site so the wound can heal. After that, you should rinse gently with warm salt water to encourage healing. Brush your teeth gently, but avoid teeth right next to the extraction site for the first couple of days. Even after the first couple days, be very careful not to brush the site itself. When it’s time to go to bed, it’s best to prop your head up with an extra pillow or two.

Tooth extraction is a little uncomfortable for the first few days. But with just a little care, you can minimize the pain, and your teeth will be chewing reliably for you once again in no time. The key is to be patient with the healing process and gentle with your mouth for a few days. Putting up with the pain and inconvenience of an extraction is much better than living with the pain and infection risk of a cracked or impacted tooth!

 

Mount Vernon Smile Design is here to support you through extractions and all your dental needs. If you’re having tooth pain, or if you have questions about tooth extraction or any other procedure, give us a call at 360-336-6193, and we’ll do everything we can to help.

A Good-Looking Path to Better-Looking Teeth: Invisalign® Systems and Other Clear Aligners

Braces can feel like a bit of a contradiction. You want a clean, straight smile, but you first have to wear a highly visible device on your teeth for months on end. You want a well-aligned bite, but for a while braces make some day-to-day tasks, such as brushing teeth and eating some foods, more difficult.

Fortunately, for those who want to show off their pretty pearly whites as they go AND show off the results of their realignment as soon as possible, one option is clear plastic removable aligners such as Invisalign aligner systems.

The Benefits of Clear Aligners

Clear aligners, as their name suggests, are clear plastic devices intended to straighten your teeth over time. They are nearly undetectable by observers. Not only are they more difficult to see (getting you closer to being able to show off that perfect smile), but they can be taken out temporarily when needed, allowing you to brush your teeth or eat without distraction.

The Clear Aligner Fitting Process

For most clear aligners, including Invisalign systems, your dentist will take a mold of your teeth and send it in. From there, orthodontic experts will determine the difference in positions between where your teeth are and where you want them to be and will create several stages of aligners to gradually move your teeth into the desired position. You’ll have to wear the aligners most of the time—about 22 hours a day. At certain points in the process as your teeth change position, you’ll move on to the next device, switching them out until your teeth are right where you want them to be.

Alternatively, there are kits you can order to take a mold of your teeth at home. This is an overall less expensive process, but you aren’t likely to achieve the same results and you lose the benefit of your dentist’s expertise. Clear aligners may not be the best solution for you, so it’s best to consult your dentist beforehand even if you decide to go this route.

How to Pay for Clear Aligners

Depending on the degree of work your teeth need, an Invisalign clear aligner treatment can cost between $3,000 and $7,000. According to Invisalign’s website, your insurance may be able to pay as much as $3,000 of the cost. For the amount your insurance doesn’t cover, you have some options.

Many dentists offer payment plans, which allows you to split a large bill into smaller payments over time. This makes payment much more manageable for some people and can be useful in emergency situations when you don’t have time to save money for the treatment before you begin.

Of course, if you can save the money ahead of time, that’s probably the better option. If you’re planning to save up for an Invisalign clear aligner treatment or something similar, you may want to consider opening a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). Accounts such as these allow you to take a certain amount of money out of your paycheck, pretax, to pay for some expenses—including, in some cases, clear aligners. The types of accounts you’re allowed to open and the amount of money you can put into them will vary depending on your situation, so talk to your bank or another financial professional about your options.

For those who can use them, clear aligners such as Invisalign systems can be the least intrusive solution for straightening teeth. It’s nice not to have to worry about the looks and inconveniences of traditional braces! The initial cost of clear aligners may seem daunting, but options are available to help pay for them. If you have any questions about clear aligners or other methods of straightening your teeth, please give us a call at 360-336-6193. We’ll be happy to walk you through your options and help you find the best possible solution for your smile.

What is the Process of Smile Design?

Smile design is a dental procedure that creates straighter, whiter, and a more naturally beautiful looking smile. Smile design can do wonders to a person’s confidence by helping them love their smile again, but it can also help restore full dental health to a person.

So how does it work?

First, you’ll talk with your cosmetic dentist to customize and plan for your own personal smile design. We’ll work with you to discuss any underlying dental issues and help you achieve your dental goals, whether that be a better smile or all around better dental health.

Then, we’ll help you create a timeline to help plan for any event or social function you want your smile design done by. From there, any dental diseases are taken care of and a dental hygiene visit is completed. Patients are encouraged to bring photos of how they want their teeth to look, either from celebrities or photos from their younger selves.

The patient and cosmetic dentist then sit down to discuss issues like arrangement of teeth, teeth position, and the overall effect this procedure will have on their appearance. They then make an individualized plan before the teeth are prepared.

Treatments

Each patient is different and the plan of action is made specifically for that individual. Common treatments include veneers, crowns and veneers, bridges, dentures, or implants. With these treatments, you’ll have your dream smile in no time!

Who can get a smile design?

Any person who wants to look younger is a great candidate for a smile design. This process can help take years off your appearance. Anyone who wants to have more confidence in their smile is also a good candidate.

 

Talk with your cosmetic dentist today to see if a smile design is right for you. Everyone deserves to have healthy looking teeth and have confidence in their smile. Here at Mount Vernon Smile Design, we’re here to help give you that. Call us today at 360-336-6193 to set up an appointment to start getting your smile design plan made.

Scared of the Dentist? Don’t Stress- We’re Here for You!

If you get anxious about going to the dentist, you’re not alone. Not by a long shot. Some studies show nearly three-fourths of American adults experience anxiety or outright fear when they even think about visiting the dentist. About 1 in 10 Americans experience enough fear to classify it as a phobia. It’s okay. We know going to the dentist can seem scary!

But avoiding dental care as a result of dental anxiety can result in serious consequences for you and your teeth. Even if you’re nervous about going to the dentist, it’s extremely important to do what’s necessary to keep your mouth clean and healthy.

We want all of our patients to be as comfortable as possible when they visit our office, so we do everything we can to give our guests a comfortable, calming environment. But there are a few things you can do on your own to help make your visit a little easier.

1. Bring a friend

Bringing someone you trust to our office with you is one of the best ways to reduce the stress of your dental appointment. Not only will your companion’s presence be comforting, but that person can help make sure everything is going well and get you home safely if you’re under the effects of anesthesia. Pleasant conversation can distract you from your nervousness and help pass the time more quickly.

2. Talk with your dentist

If you’re stressed about your upcoming visit to our office, one of the best things you can do is talk with us about it. Having a clear understanding of what your visit will be like – even visualizing what will occur during your appointment – can do wonders. It’s possible we can make special accommodations to make things more comfortable for you. You’re not the first person who’s been worried about a visit to your dentist’s office, and you won’t be the last! We’re here to help.

3. Plan your appointment well

Yes, life is stressful. But you don’t need the stress of life to cause extra anxiety during your dental appointment. If you’re already nervous about your visit, it won’t help to carry in the anxiety of a bad day at work. Schedule your appointment for a day when you don’t have anything big going on outside of our office. If you have a dental appointment scheduled, try to keep the rest of the day clear. That way, your mind can be rested and fresh for your procedure.

4. Take deep breaths

We all know that deep, relaxing breaths can help reduce our stress, but sometimes we need a reminder. If you’re feeling anxiety about your visit as you drive to our office or you begin feeling fear as you sit in our waiting room, begin by taking a deep breath in, holding it for a second, and slowly letting it out. That’s the most basic start toward relaxation, and it works for almost any situation. Continue relaxing breaths throughout your appointment.

 

Whatever the cause of your anxiety over a visit to our office for your cleaning or other dental procedure, we can manage it together. We want all our patients to be as comfortable as possible, and we want you to look at your visit to the dentist as a good thing. If you have any questions about a dental procedure, or if there is something we can do to ease your worry, give us a call at 360-336-6193. We’ll work as a team to keep your next visit to the dentist stress-free!

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep: How Dental Sleep Machines and Oral Appliances Can Help Treat Sleep Apnea

When you think about services your dentist can provide, you’ll generally think of tooth cleaning, extractions and root canals. But did you know your dentist also may be able to help you with sleep apnea? “Dental sleep medicine” is a rapidly evolving field. One of the most prominent areas of dental sleep medicine is sleep apnea treatment.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea (sometimes spelled as “sleep apnoea”) is a condition where the inflicted person’s breathing is restricted while they sleep, causing short periods of time where their breathing stops entirely or becomes very shallow during the night, often after snoring. Many people suffering from sleep apnea are unaware they have it, but it can have significant effects on quality of life. Many people who suffer from sleep apnea will wake up after a full night’s sleep without feeling well-rested at all. Going a long time without treatment also can have dramatic medical consequences, such as increasing the risk of heart or respiratory disease.

How Mount Vernon Smile Design can help.

If you are familiar with sleep apnea, you might associate it with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines. These machines are often very effective in treating sleep apnea, but they can be loud, uncomfortable and difficult to travel with.

One effective method of treating sleep apnea is with an oral appliance. These are fitted to your teeth like a mouth guard and comfortably hold your jaw forward to keep your airways unblocked while you sleep. They may not be effective in every case of sleep apnea, but the appliances are silent, more comfortable, easier and more convenient compared to CPAP machines or other electronic breathing equipment.

Let’s find the device that’s right for you.

When you are looking for an oral appliance to treat your sleep apnea, it’s important to find a high-quality device and have your dentist professionally fit it to your teeth. Depending on the device, this can be done in a short period of time in a single visit, or your dentist may need to take the measurements and have it ready for you on your next visit.

Some oral appliances are available over the counter, but these aren’t FDA approved for treating sleep apnea—it is important to involve a dental professional. Non-fitted, unapproved devices may be uncomfortable and ineffective. In some circumstances, it may even make your symptoms worse.

Oral appliances are just one method of treating sleep apnea. CPAP machines, other breathing equipment, surgery or weight loss also might help return you to restful sleep. You may want to begin by consulting your primary care physician to explore your options first. Then, if it looks like a dental device might help, a dentist trained in dental sleep medicine can help fit an oral appliance and tell you the pros and cons of different kinds.

 

Everyone deserves a good night’s sleep. If you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea and your doctor determines an oral appliance is a viable option for you, Mount Vernon Smile Design can help. Give us a call at 360-336-6193 to learn more about oral appliances for sleep apnea or any other dental concerns.