Wednesday, October 16, 2019

What Are Dental Sealants?

While a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss are typically the first line of defense against cavities, they aren't completely effective in protecting teeth from cavities. The rough, uneven surface of molars (the back teeth) makes them prone to a buildup of food, acid, and bacteria, even in those with flawless hygiene habits. Many dentists recommend sealants as another way to protect molars from cavities and decay.

What Are Sealants?

Sealants essentially “seal” teeth to prevent food particles and debris from building up in the nooks and crannies of the back teeth. Made from a thin protective coating adhered to the teeth, sealants are almost 80% effective in reducing the risk of tooth decay, according to the American Dental Association. The Centers for Disease Control also stresses the effectiveness—and importance—of sealants, particularly in pediatric patients: on average, kids without sealants have nearly three times as many cavities as those with sealants.

Depending on the patient, sealants can last up to 10 years before wearing down, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. They can be applied quickly and painlessly, and they have no known side effects.

Why Are Sealants Necessary?

To understand why sealants work so well, it's helpful to understand how cavities form. After eating, leftover food particles and debris build up around the teeth. As bacteria in the mouth come into contact with this debris, cavity-causing acids are produced that begin creating tiny holes, called cavities, in the teeth. This can even happen to people who brush religiously because toothbrush bristles often cannot reach into the deep nooks and crannies of the molars. Sealants work to fill these deep spots so that food and bacteria can't become trapped and cause a cavity.

Who Can Benefit From Sealants?

Sealants aren't right for every patient, but many people of all ages can benefit from them. At Hanson Dentistry, Dr. Robert N. Hanson evaluates each patient to determine if sealants could help protect their teeth from cavities. This includes children with recent molar development in order to keep their chompers healthy and cavity-free from the get-go. However, many adults also use sealants—even those who have early decay—to try to prevent further cavity development. In addition, some people are more prone to molar decay because of the structure of their teeth, and sealants add another layer of protection against harmful cavity-causing debris.

If you believe you or your children could benefit from sealants, Dr. Hanson can clean and evaluate your teeth to make a recommendation. He applies sealants in-office at Hanson Dentistry. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer flexible payment options to provide all patients with access to quality dental care. Call our office in Independence, MO at 816-373-5606 to schedule an appointment.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Three Ways to Make Tooth Brushing Fun for Kids

Teaching children good dental hygiene techniques at an early age is a great way to keep their smiles clean and healthy; it can also help them develop positive lifelong habits. However, it can be difficult to keep them interested if they find it boring or punitive. Here are a few ways parents can help their kids have fun while brushing their teeth.

Let Them Pick Their Toothbrush

An adult and a child brushing their teeth together

Toothbrush aisles are full of options for children, including brushes with bright, sparkly handles and ones that feature their favorite TV or movie characters. Parents can select different sizes based on the child's age, and many stores offer both manual and electric children's brushes. Letting children choose their own toothbrushes can encourage them to use them and feel more eager about their dental hygiene routine.

Buy Special Toothpaste

Just like toothbrushes, kids have plenty of options when it comes to toothpaste, too. Many brands feature different colors and fun flavors like bubble mint and tropical fruit, a great alternative to the minty adult toothpaste that many kids find unpleasant. Some toothpastes even have special dyes that appear if plaque is left behind on the teeth—which can be easily brushed off—so kids can tell if they did a good job brushing or not.

Have a Dance Party

Dental professionals recommend brushing for a full two minutes. This may seem like a short period of time to an adult, but it can feel especially long to a child who isn't otherwise entertained. Parents can make those two minutes fun by setting a timer, turning on some music, and having a dance party until the timer buzzes. Kids may be surprised at how quickly the time went, and parents can appreciate a smoother morning or bedtime routine.

Making tooth brushing fun for kids provides a foundation to help them maintain a healthy smile. In addition to regular brushing, parents should take their kids to see the dentist every six months for preventive care treatments. If you're in need of trusted pediatric dental services in Independence, MO, the experienced team at Hanson Dentistry will provide your child with gentle, efficient care. Call us today at 816-373-5606 to schedule an appointment.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Don't Believe These Common Myths About Dentures

According to Boston Magazine, 69% of adults between the ages of 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth. It's no wonder that millions of Americans need either partial or full dentures. However, this hasn't stopped the numerous misconceptions about dentures that circulate the nation.

Only the Elderly Need Dentures

Dental professional holding a person's face and lips as they look in a hand held mirror

Tooth loss is more common among the elderly, but patients may require dentures at many stages of their lives. Younger patients often lose teeth due to gum disease, tooth decay, dental abnormalities, or injuries. Some patients may lose teeth due to digestive disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux. Dentures can offer a long-term solution to patients of all ages.

Dentures Last Forever

Many believe that dentures are a one-time fix and that one set of dentures will last forever. In reality, dentures can be expected to last for five to seven years (although, with attentive care, many patients can use them for up to ten years). Despite their longevity, denture should be evaluated and refit at least once a year, as they can fracture, deteriorate, or loosen over time.

It's Hard to Eat With Dentures

Although it's true that eating with dentures and eating with natural teeth are quite different, one is not inherently more difficult than the other. In fact, after a brief adjustment period, people with dentures can eat all of the same foods that they ate with their natural teeth, although it's safer to start with soft foods and work up to chewier foods.

Dentures Can Change the Smile

In the early days, dentures were mass-produced in a one-size-fits-all fashion. This resulted in some patients having completely different smiles while their dentures were in. Nowadays, dentures are carefully matched to the remaining teeth or measured to fit on the gums exactly, which can make the effect very natural.

With modern technology, dentures can be a simple solution to tooth loss. If you need partial or full dentures, Hanson Dentistry can provide a custom set with free adjustments for the first six months. For more information about our dental services, contact Hanson Dentistry at 816-373-5606 today.

Monday, July 22, 2019

First-Aid Protocol for the Loss of a Permanent Tooth

As a child, losing a tooth was a momentous occasion marked by a special visit from the Tooth Fairy and a few dollars’ reward. The loss of a permanent tooth as an adult isn’t quite so exciting. It can be a frightening, time-sensitive experience, but knowing what to do during this dental emergency can improve the odds of salvaging the tooth.

Seek Urgent Treatment

A small clear glass of milk
Whether the result of a ball game, fist fight, or dental disease, the loss of a permanent tooth requires an immediate trip to the dentist (as in, five minutes ago). It may be possible to salvage the tooth, but only with immediate professional intervention. Without prompt attention, the tissue connecting to the tooth will quickly die, making it impossible to salvage. The socket could also become infected and lead to further complications.

Follow Proper First-Aid Protocol

There are a few steps patients can take to improve the odds of saving their lost tooth after this dental emergency. It’s important to note that the roots should never be touched or scrubbed; this puts the vulnerable tissue at risk. Instead, the tooth should be picked up by the crown. If roots are dirty, they can be rinsed with milk, saliva, or a saline solution.

After rinsing, the tooth should be placed back in the socket, if possible, and held in place using gauze or a washcloth. Storing the tooth in the mouth exposes the roots to saliva, which helps with preservation. If it can’t be stored in the mouth, it can be placed in a glass of milk for transport to the dentist. Avoid exposing the tooth to water, which can make it harder to re-implant. Next, it’s time to get to the dentist as quickly as possible for the best chance at salvaging the tooth.

Contact an Emergency Dentist

Most emergency rooms don’t have the equipment to re-implant a tooth, so opt for an emergency dentist in your area. If you’ve accidentally knocked out a tooth in Independence, MO, Hanson Dentistry may be able to help you salvage it with same-day emergency treatment. If we’re unable to re-implant your tooth, we may recommend dental crowns, partial dentures, or another natural-looking replacement. Don’t delay—call Hanson Dentistry now at 816-373-5606 for emergency dental services.

Monday, July 15, 2019

What to Do If You Have Sensitive Teeth

Tooth sensitivity is a problem for millions of Americans, who often have to deal with pain and discomfort on a daily basis. A study in the Journal of American Dentistry estimated that tooth sensitivity affects about one out of every eight people in the United States. A person suffering from sensitive teeth may experience pain when drinking cold or hot drinks or from eating certain foods. Understanding the causes of tooth sensitivity and ways to lessen it may help sufferers manage their pain.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

What to do if you have sensitive teeth photo
The root cause of tooth pain is the exposure of nerve endings in the layer of teeth known as dentin. Normally, these nerve endings are protected by the tooth's enamel, the outermost layer of hard protective covering. Over time, this enamel can wear away, and when it does, it exposes the nerve endings inside the root of the tooth. This exposure means that highly sensitive nerves can come in contact with liquids, foods, toothbrushes, and anything else that goes into the mouth. Protecting this enamel before it wears away is the best way to avoid sensitive teeth, but patients can take steps if they already have sensitive teeth.

How Can I Relieve Tooth Sensitivity?

Relieving tooth sensitivity is often a matter of cutting out a few problematic behaviors that wear down tooth enamel. Cutting back on acidic drinks like citrus juices and coffee is a good place to start. At-home teeth-whitening products that rely on bleach or other caustic substances should also be stopped in favor of professional teeth whitening. Patients can also use toothpaste specially formulated for sensitive teeth, brush their teeth in a gentle manner, and switch to fluoride-based mouthwash.

If you follow these steps to help relieve tooth sensitivity but are still experiencing pain, it may be time to speak with a dentist to see what other measures can be taken. Hanson Dentistry offers comprehensive dental services that cater to the full dental needs of each patient. Our patients appreciate the focused, personalized, and attentive level of care we provide. Contact us today at 816-373-5606 to schedule an appointment.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Five Beverages That Damage Your Teeth

Sticky candy, hard popcorn kernels, and sugar-laden treats can all create dental issues, but most people rarely consider the oral health consequences of drinks. Here are five beverages that most commonly cause tooth damage. Enjoy these drinks sparingly and rinse your mouth with water thoroughly to mitigate their effects.

1. Sugary Cocktails 
Three cocktails on a bar

Sweet drinks with soda and juice combined with alcohol can increase the risk for cavities. Not only does the acidity of the alcohol wear away the enamel of the teeth, but the sugar in the beverage also feeds oral bacteria and causes it to multiply. This creates the perfect conditions for tooth decay. Choose cocktails made with seltzer water and other sugar-free mixers and rinse after every round.

2. Wine

White wine is another acidic beverage that can damage tooth enamel. Red wine, on the other hand, doesn't cause dental erosion and actually has phytonutrients that can protect the teeth, but it can cause stains. Staining is more likely to occur for those who recently had teeth whitening treatments or who have veneers.

3. Vodka

Less expensive brands of vodka tend to have a low pH, which means they are considered acidic and can damage teeth. Even those who stick to top-shelf brands should be concerned about the drying effects of alcohol. Without saliva, the mouth is unable to fight off cavity-causing bacteria.

4. Coffee and Tea

These morning favorites are often enjoyed with added sugar, which increases the risk of getting cavities. Coffee is just slightly acidic, while the pH varies among different types of tea. Look for varieties with pH of less than 5.5. In addition, just like red wine, coffee and tea can stain the teeth, an effect that is more obvious with veneers and recently bleached teeth.

5. Soda and Sports Drinks

These beverages are packed with sugar, making them a bad choice for those who want to avoid cavities. Even sugar-free and diet varieties contain phosphoric or citric acid, both of which cause enamel erosion.

Cosmetic dentistry can help whiten stains on teeth, while regular cleanings can help ward off cavities. Hanson Dentistry can provide care to protect your teeth and help improve stains. Contact us at 816-373-5606 to schedule an appointment.