Where southern charm and warmth meets high tech dentistry.
Although we all know proper dental care is vital to good health, most people don’t know how to choose a good dentist for themselves. How can a non-dental person know what questions to ask before they choose a dentist? There are two main considerations that will affect your choice–how a dentist treats you as a person and how this dentist will treat your mouth. We suggest you consider these 10 questions to help you choose the quality dental care you need and deserve.
1. How can I directly ask the dentist questions?
If the dentist prefers that you usually speak to someone at the front desk or another staff person, then you should begin to wonder how important you are to this average dentist. An outstanding dentist who cares about you will be happy to answer your questions personally.
2. What is the dentist’s philosophy for performing dentistry?
An outstanding dentist will explain problems and options so you can take part in making decisions about your care. Rather than just telling you what to do, the dentist should explain the results of the exam and work with you to develop a total treatment plan based on the big picture of your oral health and wellness. The dentist and you should decide upon a plan that fits your timeline and your budget, that takes into account your insurance, and that is centered on your needs.
3. What sorts of dental materials does the dentist use?
The dentist should be using state-of-the-art materials accompanied with an understanding of the meticulous techniques required for the placement of these restorations. You want a dentist who can provide you with an esthetic, high-quality restoration using materials that will make your teeth look beautiful, comfortable, and long lasting.
4. What continuing education has the dentist had within the past year?
Outstanding dentists do not stop learning once they graduate from dental school. They keep up with the latest developments in their field by taking continuing education courses. While every state requires dentists to take a certain number of hours of continuing education every year, outstanding dentists take many more than the required number for licensure.
5. Does the dentist follow OSHA guidelines for infection control?
The answer should be an unequivocal yes. That means wearing gloves and a mask, as well as sterilizing hand pieces and all other dental equipment in the office.
6. Does the dentist seem genuinely interested in your general health situation?
The dentist should ask for a comprehensive medical history before beginning dental treatment. With a complete medical history, the dentist can determine allergies and possible drug interactions or intolerances.
7. Does the dentist do an oral cancer screening?
This should be routine at your initial exam and then followed up at every cleaning appointment. Your dentist needs to look not only at your teeth, but your entire mouth.
8. Does the dentist check thoroughly for gum disease, decay, and correct bite?
A thorough initial exam includes using a periodontal probe to probe for six points on each tooth–three on the cheek side and three on the tongue side–to check for the depth of possible bone loss caused by gum disease. A depth of over three millimeters indicates areas of concern. As a follow-up, the dental hygienist should perform periodontal probing at every cleaning. The outstanding dentist should look for decay using the dental pic and should maintain your Decayed, Missing and Filled Teeth record. At the first exam, the jaw and teeth relationship and the contact points in your bite should be checked. This is important because over time, changes in your bite can cause stress and cracked teeth.
9. How available is the dentist?
An outstanding dentist will have arrangements for handling emergencies that occur outside of office hours. You may also need a dentist who is available on Saturdays or during the evenings. When you make your first appointment, an outstanding dentist should get you in fairly soon, rather than having you wait several weeks.
10. Is it easy to talk about fees with your dentist?
An outstanding dentist should be sensitive to your budget and understanding about your insurance. Your dentist should be willing to discuss fees and payment plans in advance. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the dentist about fees because no outstanding dentist will begin treatment without consent or approval. For many dental problems, you should have a choice of treatments so that you can choose the best one for your needs and desires.
Finding an outstanding dentist is vital to your family’s oral health and overall happiness. Strong statement? Not when you consider that healthy teeth and gums are now closely linked to overall health, according to many recent studies that have found a connection between what happens in the mouth to diseases in other parts of the body.
Recent research findings have linked chronic oral infections to diabetes, heart and lung disease, stroke, and low-birth weight babies. In addition, serious dental problems in your loved ones can undermine their self-esteem, lead to long-term stress and depression and interfere with normal physical functioning, such as breathing, swallowing, eating, and speaking.
What this all points to is that optimal oral health points to a favorable future that includes overall health, high self-esteem, self-confidence, regular attendance at school, good grades, graduation, employability, success at job interviews, and perhaps more importantly attainment of satisfying personal relationships.
BG control and good oral hygiene seems to be the key to avoiding most dental complications. Everyone is at risk of developing periodontal disease, but all people with diabetes, regardless of age or type of diabetes, are more susceptible. There are several reasons for this.
For one, people with diabetes have more sugar in the mouth, which provides a more hospitable environment for hostile bacteria.
High and fluctuating BGs are also a big factor in the increased risk of periodontal disease. Poor BG control means higher degrees of periodontitis and more vulnerability to complications.
It also makes healing more difficult once an infection sets in. Just like diabetics with poor BG control have a hard time healing wounds and infections on their feet, their bodies have a hard time fighting infections and healing wounds in the mouth.
At the same time, on-going infections may make BG control more difficult. Inflammation and infection affect BG control no matter where they occur. But the mouth is often overlooked, because most medical doctors do not look in the mouth.
Once an infection takes root a vicious cycle ensues making metabolic and infection control a struggle. This cycle can have drastic consequences. If oral infections get out of control they can lead to BG control problems serious enough to land a person with diabetes in the hospital, to say nothing of the damage to the teeth and gums.
Gum infections can also impact insulin needs. Authors of a study cited in September’s 1997’s Practical Diabetology concluded that when an infection is rampant, patients with diabetes often have increased insulin requirements. If periodontal disease is treated and gingival inflammation is eliminated, these insulin needs often decrease.
Collagen, which is a building block of the tissue that attaches teeth to bones and the surrounding soft tissue, is also affected by diabetes. Diabetes’ effect on collagen metabolism may make an infection potentially more destructive.
There’s no need for pregnant women to worry about dental treatment or x-rays.
A U.S. obstetrician/gynecologist group stated that these dental procedures are completely safe. The group also recommended ob-gyns to perform dental health tests during a woman’s first prenatal visit. This helps spur patients to routinely visit the dentist during pregnancy.
Since oral health problems could lead to heart disease, diabetes or countless other problems, it’s essential for women to see the dentist during pregnancy.
May 5, 2012 Chad D. : Great service! I’ve been a patient of Dr. LeBlanc’s for a long time and each time I go they provide me outstanding service.
May 2, 2012, Great service like always!!! Everyone in the office is always so nice and pleasant to speak with. Sincerely, R.T. Delhomme
As with all diabetic complications, an ounce of prevention is worth its weight in gold. By far the most important step that can be taken is to brush and floss regularly. It is advisable to discuss proper brushing and flossing techniques with your dental team. Some of the fundamentals might surprise you. For example, it is recommended that you brush for a minimum of three minutes, which, when put into practice, is longer than one might imagine.
In the Chair
Prevention also includes making and keeping the often-dreaded dental appointment. See the dentist twice a year, or as often as necessary. If you are avoiding the dentist due to fear and or loathing, there are some strategies to make it a little easier to deal with.
It is best to schedule dental appointments, about an hour and a half after breakfast so that the appointment does not interfere with regular meal times. Test your BGs before you go to the dentist and test them while you are at the dentist’s office. Make sure to stick to your regular insulin and/or oral medication schedule to avoid BG problems. It is also important to discuss your diabetes with your dental team.
The dental team needs to know if their patients take oral agents or insulin because that means special precautions must be taken. Dentists caring for patients with diabetes should have a calibrated glucose meter, glucose tablets or fruit juice, and a glucagons kit available.
They should also be familiar with the common signs of hypoglycemia such as loss of coordination, blurry vision, palpitations, rapid heart rate, sweating and shaking. They must also know if a patient with diabetes has hypoglycemic unawareness, a condition in which they experience few if any signs and symptoms of low blood sugars.
A common situation leading to hypoglycemia at the dental office is a patient skipping breakfast before an appointment but taking the regular amount of insulin.
Severe hyperglycemia may occur as well, but less frequently. Acetone breath and dehydration dry mucous membranes and changes in mental status are signs that blood glucose is too high and dental procedures should be postponed.
The relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease is well established. Preventive oral health care, including professional cleanings at the dental office, is important if you are to control the progression of periodontal disease and other oral health problems.
The key thing to remember is that diabetes can cause additional problems so those with diabetes need to take additional care to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
Most people know they should brush their teeth every morning and evening, but surprisingly, many people do not know they should also brush their tongue to eliminate bad breath and harmful bacteria. Recent scientific evidence reports that in addition to tooth brushing and oral rinsing, tongue cleaning should be an essential part of oral health care.
An early 20th century researcher recommended daily tongue cleaning when it was found that the tongue was a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. A clean tongue should be a healthy pink color; a whitish haze on the tongue is indicative of bacterial buildup. To clean your tongue, you can use a toothbrush or specialized tongue brush. Start as far back as possible and then make brush strokes using an outward motion, toward the front of your mouth. Use some pressure, but not enough to irritate your tongue.
To further combat bad breath, schedule regular dental visits for a professional cleaning and checkup. It may be helpful to the dentist to keep a log of the foods you eat and make a list of medications you take because some medications play a role in creating mouth odors. Dentists are experts at treating bad breath, and you may be surprised at how quickly you can eliminate an embarrassing condition that you’ve had for years.
Bad breath (halitosis) can cause embarrassment, create social and psychological barriers, and even affect relationships. Some people with bad breath aren’t even aware there’s a problem. That’s because they probably used a mouthwash earlier in the day and the effects wore off.
The reason is that most over-the-counter products do not eliminate bad breath. They can only hide it temporarily. An independent study of fifteen mouthwash products showed that while they all masked bad breath after ten minutes, only a few were still working after a few hours. Additionally, most mouthwash products contain alcohol that dries soft oral tissue and ultimately leads to even faster formation of odor-causing bacteria.
Mouthwashes are generally cosmetic and do not have a long-lasting effect on bad breath. If you must constantly use a breath freshener to hide unpleasant mouth odor, your problem may be more serious. So if the mouthwash cycle hasn’t been working for you, and you’re still concerned about bad breath, see your dentist. He or she can help identify the cause and, if it’s due to an oral condition, develop a treatment plan to help eliminate it.
How to Save a Tooth From a Slow, Painful Death.
Have you been told that you have gum disease? Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection that destroys the gums and supporting bone surrounding your teeth. Bleeding gums, tooth movement, loose teeth, bad breath, or pain associated with brushing, are all symptoms of periodontal disease.
There is mounting evidence regarding the link between periodontal disease and a variety of other, possibly life-threatening diseases. Periodontal disease has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, miscarriages, low birth weight, osteoporosis, dementia and most recently pancreatic cancer.
The new standard of care for periodontal disease is LANAP. If you have been told that you need gum surgery or you have periodontal disease, this new technology eliminatescutting of the gum tissuewith a scalpel and does not require stitches.
This means you’ll have an easy recovery with minimal bleeding, which preserves gum tissue, reduces root exposure and sensitivity, and allows regeneration of gum and bone.
What is LANAP?
LANAP (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure) is used to treat periodontal disease and save many teeth that were previously considered hopeless. It uses the world’s first digital dental laser–the PerioLase ® MVP-7, which was specifically designed for treating periodontal disease.
A laser is an instrument that produces a very narrow intense beam of light energy. When laser light comes in contact with tissue, it produces a reaction. The beam of light produced by the laser has the ability to remove infected gum tissue in a periodontal pocket around your tooth and vaporize the bacteria.
The aspect of laser-assisted surgery that most people appreciate is its comfort.
Patients don’t hear or feel it – except for a little warmth. LANAP promises the patient a virtually pain-free method to zap away disease.
The procedure’s method of eliminating germs from the gums is very similar to lifting a stain from a white shirt. First, the laser uses heat to strip away the diseased gum. The laser only seeks out infected tissue, which is darker in color than healthy tissue, leaving healthy tissue in place.
Then, the dentist uses the laser a second time to heat the area until a clot is formed, protecting the newly lasered tissue by sealing it. This allows the body to heal naturally so that the gum pockets improve and the teeth become more stable.
Surprising as it may sound, many smokers need to be made more aware of the dangers of tobacco use. In fact, just 29 percent of smokers say they believe themselves to be at an above-average risk for heart attack compared with their nonsmoking peers, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in March of 1999.
Obviously, while information about the medical problems associated with smoking – such as lung disease, cancer, heart disease and low-birth-weight infants – is widely available, many smokers seem to have tuned out.
If you are a smoker who is concerned about the effects smoking can have on your health, congratulations! By accessing information about the negative impacts of tobacco use, you are taking the first step toward quitting.
The American Academy of Periodontology wants you to understand yet another good reason to quit: Tobacco use is harmful to oral health.
Recent studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease. In addition, following periodontal treatment or any type of oral surgery, the chemicals in tobacco can slow down the healing process and make the treatment results less predictable.
How does smoking increase your risk for periodontal disease? As a smoker, you are more likely than nonsmokers to have the following problems:
If the calculus is not removed during a professional cleaning, and it remains below your gum line, the bacteria in the calculus can destroy your gum tissue and cause your gums to pull away from your teeth. When this happens, periodontal pockets form and fill with disease-causing bacteria.
If left untreated, periodontal disease will progress. The pockets between your teeth and gums can grow deeper, allowing in more bacteria that destroy tissue and supporting bone. As a result, the gums may shrink away from the teeth making them look longer. Without treatment, your teeth may become loose, painful and even fall out.
Save Your Smile
Research shows that smokers lose more teeth than nonsmokers do. In fact, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 20 percent of people over age 65 who have never smoked are toothless, while a whopping 41.3 percent of daily smokers over age 65 are toothless.
In addition, research shows that current smokers don’t heal as well after periodontal treatment as former smokers or nonsmokers. But these effects are reversible if the smokers kick the habit before beginning treatment.
Not Just Cigarettes
Other tobacco products are also harmful to your periodontal health. Smokeless tobacco also can cause gums to recede and increase the chance of losing the bone and fibers that hold your teeth in place.
Other Oral Problems
Researches also have found that the following problems occur more often in people who use tobacco products:
Copyright: The American Academy of Periodontology, 2007
BBC reports: Smoking causes 50% of gum disease in the U.S.
Smoking may be responsible for more than half of the cases of gum disease among adults in the US, say researchers.
The study found that current smokers are about four times more likely than people who have never smoked to have advanced periodontal (gum) disease.
However, 11 years after quitting, former smokers were no more likely than non-smokers to suffer from bad gums.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed US government health data on 13,650 people aged 18 and older who had their own teeth.
Lead researcher Dr Scott Tomar said: “Cigarette smoking may well be the major preventable risk factor for periodontal disease.”
“The good news is that quitting seems to gradually erase the harmful effects of tobacco use on periodontal health.”
The researchers also found that the odds of developing gum disease were increased still further by heavy smoking.
Smokers who smoked less than half a pack per day were almost three times more likely than nonsmokers to have periodontitis.
But those who smoked more than a pack and a half per day had almost six times the risk.
Jack Caton, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, said: “Every day periodontists see the destruction smoking causes in the mouths of their patients.”
“I hope the staggering statistics from this study will compel even more dental care providers to get involved in tobacco cessation efforts.”
Smoking reduces the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the gums.
This damages the healing process, and makes smokers’ gums more susceptible to infection.
In addition to being a major cause of tooth loss, periodontal disease has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease and premature babies.
Chief Executive John Hunt said: “This is very useful research showing just how bad smoking can be for your gums. If you want to keep your teeth, don’t smoke.”
The research is published in the Journal of Periodontology.