State-of-the-art technology has made a visit to the dentist easier and more comfortable than ever. And whether you need a simple checkup or a root canal, our list of the Valley’s finest dental specialists — as chosen by their peers — can help you find the one who’s just right for you
(page 1 of 11)
When was the last time you went to the dentist? If you’re like many Americans, you pass on your recommended biannual checkups and convince yourself that brushing (and maybe flossing) twice a day is good enough. But recent studies are bringing much-needed attention to the connection between the health of your teeth and the rest of your body’s systems. New research indicates that a number of potential health risks can stem from periodontal disease (the group of disorders that affect the gums, bones, and other tissues that support and anchor your teeth).
Still scared to make an appointment? You may be surprised to learn that the dentist’s chair isn’t the scary place it used to be. Advanced technology has made once-horrifying procedures relatively painless and noninvasive. Here are five good reasons why a dentist appointment should be at the top of your to-do list.
1. Teeth are like bones, you only get one set
Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Its mildest form, gingivitis, causes red, swollen, bleeding gums, and can be reversed with proactive professional and home care. Untreated gingivitis, however, can lead to more serious problems. The bone and tissue that support the teeth can break down, forming pockets between the teeth and gums that are highly susceptible to infection. While brushing and flossing are a good place to start in preventing gingivitis and symptoms like halitosis (bad breath), a dental hygienist’s thorough cleaning — which removes plaque and tartar in those hard-to-reach places — is essential for tooth health.
2. Viscera dentata
Your mouth is literally the gateway to your body. The bacteria formed by periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream and infect major organs. Research shows that poor tooth health can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. And those who suffer from asthma, emphysema, diabetes, or osteoporosis are particularly susceptible to periodontal-related complications. In its early stages, periodontal disease can be hard to detect; a trip to the dentist for a checkup is the best assurance. Better safe than sorry.
3. All in the family
We all know how crucial it is for pregnant women to take care of their bodies, but let’s not forget their mouths. Hormonal changes during pregnancy leave women even more susceptible to bacterial infections like gingivitis, and research has proven a strong correlation between poor oral health in mothers and low birth-weight babies. Periodontal troubles often occur in members of the same family, suggesting that your genes may play a role in whether your teeth stay healthy. And couples can easily infect one another, as bacteria is easily transferred through saliva. Safeguard yourself and your loved ones.
4. High tech
While it’s pretty likely that finding pliers in the dentist’s office is an urban myth, many people are still afraid of the pain involved in dental work. The good news: Vast improvements have been made in oral surgery and other procedures, leading to a much more comfortable experience for the patient.
- The introduction of a needle-free gum anesthesia called Oraqix® has eradicated the needle anxiety caused by anticipation of a Novocaine injection’s painful pinch.
- More than 80 percent of dentists perform one-visit root canals, some in less than 30 minutes, thanks to the refinement of rotary instruments, electronic apex locators, and obturation systems; quick and precise often means painless, too.
- The KaVo DIAGNOdent, a harmless laser light, allows dentists to scan teeth for hidden decay that goes undetected by X-rays. While fluoride is necessary to our tooth integrity (it’s what makes our teeth so hard), it can prevent early detection of decay. DIAGNOdent’s high intensity laser causes tooth decay to glow, allowing dentists to fully monitor periodontal health and be proactive in treatment.
- Digital X-rays not only expose you to 90 percent less radiation, but they provide more information to your dentist. Since they’re computer-based, dentists can magnify, zoom, and create 3-D images, all to better diagnose and treat you, but also to better illustrate to you what they see in your mouth. Need the images sent to your insurance company or another specialist? With a click of a mouse, the X-rays can be E-mailed for faster processing.
5. You’re never fully dressed without a smile
It’s hard to say whether it is cause or effect, but more patients are asking questions about periodontal health, and more dentists want to make sure their patients understand their periodontal health. A recent survey shows that 64 percent of dentists have noticed an increase in the number of patients inquiring about the link between periodontal disease and general health issues. And many dentists want to facilitate good communication, both for patient comfort and efficiency in treatment. They’re on to something there — the more you understand about what’s going on with your body, the better you feel. Now that’s something to smile about.