When you schedule an appointment with the dentist, typically you’ll meet with both the dentist and the dental hygienist. Together, they care for the entirety of your oral health, including education on the best ways for you to maintain dental health at home.

Dental hygienists, or “Registered Dental Hygienists (RDH)” are professional, highly-trained and dedicated to their patients. They focus on the prevention of gum disease and cleaning of the teeth during routine dental visits. Dental Hygienists are the first line when it comes to spotting tooth decay or other issues and assist the dentist during procedures.

Registered Dental Hygienists typically need an associate’s degree in dental hygiene to practice and every state requires Dental Hygienists to be licensed, (requirements for licensing vary by state). 

Dental Hygienists must also complete many hours of continuing professional development each year and be covered by insurance.

Your Dental Hygienist is available to answer any questions you may have and help you to understand your oral health, procedure options, cosmetic opportunities or anything else you may need. To make your next appointment, give us a call at 480-457-8600 here in Gilbert. Your team at Smiles at San Tan Ranch is here for you.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is abnormal pauses in breathing while sleeping. During these pauses, the brain, and the rest of the body, may not get enough oxygen.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
  • Central sleep apnea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center.

Affects of Sleep Apnea On Your Oral Health

Sleep apnea has been shown to have a negative impact on your teeth and oral health too. Issues that can be caused by sleep apena include:

  • Cracked or worn teeth: Grinding or clenching your teeth while you sleep—a condition called bruxism—is more common in people who have sleep apnea.  Over time, grinding of the teeth can can cause tooth sensitivity, and even cracked, chipped, or damaged teeth. 
  • Jaw pain: Sleep apnea is associated with chronic pain disorders, including jaw pain like TMJ or TMD. If it hurts to open and move your jaw bones, you may have one of these conditions.
  • Higher risk of developing cavities: People who have sleep apnea are likelier to breathe through their mouths—which can dry out protective saliva and lead to more tooth decay. As a result, you may be at a higher risk for enamel erosion and cavities.

Being diagnosed and treating your sleep apnea can reduce or sometimes even eliminate these dental issues. Talk to your dentist to find out the best treatment plan for you. 

Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Sleep Apnea is a serious sleep disorder and can be dangerous, but is treatable in most cases.

What Treatment is Available For Sleep Apnea?

Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Oral appliance therapy should be provided by a qualified dentist who has technical skill and knowledge in dental sleep medicine. 

Schedule An Appointment

Do you suffer from sleep apnea, or think that oral appliance therapy may be right for you? Make an appointment today for a consultation.

TMJ Diagnosis and Treatment

What is TMJ?

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or also known as TMJ, is acute or chronic pain in the temporomandibular joint that acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. Dysfunction can lead to pain and discomfort. Symptoms associated with TMJ disorders may be:

  • Blinking
  • Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
  • Dull, aching pain in the face
  • Earache (particularly in the morning)
  • Headache (particularly in the morning)
  • Hearing loss
  • Migraine (particularly in the morning)
  • Jaw pain or tenderness of the jaw
  • Reduced ability to open or close the mouth
  • Tinnitus
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Dizziness

How Can You Treat TMJ?

Your dentist will discuss your symptoms and examine your jaw. Your doctor will listen to and feel your jaw when you open and close your mouth, observe the range of motion in your jaw, and press around your jaw to identify any pain or discomfort.

If your’re suspected of having TMJ, you may need dental X-rays to examine your teeth and jaw, a CT scan of the bones involved in the joint, or an MRI to reveal problems with the surrounding soft tissue.

Properly diagnosing and treating TMJ can help ease the following symptoms:

  • Jaw noise
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Soreness
  • Fatigue

If your TMJ stems from teeth grinding or clenching, your dentist may recommend that you wear a custom mouth guard at night. This dental appliance will keep your upper teeth from grinding against your lower teeth. Along with helping to alleviate TMJ symptoms and pain, this guard will prevent wear on your teeth from grinding that can lead to other problems.

Schedule An Appointment

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, or have been told by another healthcare provider that you may have TMJ, give us a call for an appointment. Our Gilbert dentists can evaluate you for TMJ and offer treatment solutions.

 

If you would like to keep your pearly whites healthy this year, here are some simple dental tips that will brighten that smile.

Plaque buildup is the main culprit of any set unhealthy set of teeth. According to the Journal of the American Dental Association your teeth are covered with a sticky bio film known as plaque which contains bacteria that releases acids that attack tooth enamel. Here are some tips and tricks that will help protect and promote a clean and healthy set of teeth!

Brush twice a day and floss once a day

Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day are extremely important when it comes to keeping a healthy smile. Whenever you do these things you help clean your teeth out from bacteria, germs, and plaque. It can also help a lot with whitening your teeth and strengthening them for the future. Plaque can often be seen as a colorless biofilm which will actually grow into the crevices of your teeth.

Eat foods that are low in acidity and are high in calcium

There are a variety of foods and drinks that will easily rot your teeth more than most. The food can even be healthy or good for you such as pineapples or oranges. Although sugary foods and beverages such as soda which are pumped with added sugars tend to be the worst for oral health, even “healthy” foods can increase plaque build-up. However, there are lots of foods, that also can help your teeth such as dairy or leafy greens. It is best to avoid staining foods such as coffee, tea, or red wine, but if you do choose so it is always recommended to have it unsweetened and to rinse your mouth after to prevent staining.

Choose a quality toothbrush and replace the brush or head quarterly

A high-quality electric toothbrush will help remove plaque, but if you brush with a lot of pressure or very frequently, get a softer bristle brush to avoid wearing down enamel. Additionally, always make sure to rinse your toothbrush in hot water to kill whatever bacteria is on your bristles.

Drink more water!

Drinking water is always great for your health in many, many ways. Likewise, in oral care, it helps rinse and wash away all the acid and bacteria that lingers in your mouth. It is also significantly better than drinking acidic and sugary drinks such as soda or processed fruit juice.

Routine cleanings with your dentistScheduling an appointment for a routine cleaning has never been easier and it is highly recommended to come for a minimum of twice a year for a cleaning and checkup. If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of the dentist here in Gilbert, you can contact our office here. Your dentist will be able to clean your teeth and gums more thoroughly than your toothbrush will ever be able to. Additionally, your dentist will be checking for signs of cavities, gingivitis and even plaque buildup to help give you advice on specifically what you should be doing on a regular basis to have a healthy and winning smile.

Teeth whitening is the new must-have beauty secret. Amidst flashy ads, you should know what teeth whitening products works and what doesn’t. Keep reading to know more.

Teeth Whitening Products – What Works… and What Doesn’t

White teeth are healthy looking, and there is a big push from marketers and the media to promote “whiter teeth”. However, there are so many products on the market that claim to whiten teeth, it is hard to know what really works… and what does not. Let’s look at some examples.

1) Whitening gum – Whitening gum will not make your teeth super-model white. But depending on the gum, it could clean off some surface stains. Gum with 100% xylitol has been shown to help build strong enamel, which is good for teeth and can make them appear whiter. Gums with sugar and sugar alternatives other than xylitol can actually promote the growth of bacteria which causes tartar and have the opposite effect, and gums with sugars will certainly cause bacterial growth.

2) Baking soda – Baking soda will whiten teeth… however in order to get the effect you would have to use so much you would have likely caused gum erosion… and then tooth loss! We do not recommend you use baking soda on your teeth.

3) Whitening toothpastes – toothpastes are great for cleaning surface stains of teeth, and keeping them free of yellow tartar (which will make your teeth whiter). Use these toothpastes in addition to a fluoride rinse for greater effect.

4) In-home whitening kits – Grocery store whitening kits (or those purchased online) can be effective for some staining. They often have trays that can be molded and gel that is used for 15 minutes a day. It is important to follow instructions with these kits as they could cause sensitivity or gum recession if over-used. Some dentists offer a similar at-home whitening set which have a higher strength whitening gel and trays which are used for a few minutes each day for 2 weeks. The advantage to these is that if there are concerns, you have your dentist to consult.

5) In-office dental whitening – Many dental offices are offering a professional-level whitening. This is a very effective whitening process and it has amazing results. Your dentist will ensure that the whitening process is both effective and safe for you by making sure the product is left of the teeth the optimal amount of time and does not damage the gums.

If you are interested in what teeth whitening options are good for you, we are happy to talk through these and any other oral health concerns that you may have. Call us at 480-409-3548 to make an appointment with our Smiles at San Tan Ranch office. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Tooth decay is preventable with proper care. However, many people do not know all of the ways they can protect their teeth. We have compiled the most effective ways to keep your smile healthy and clean.

1. Don’t forget to brush! Brush your teeth twice a day, once before bedtime and at least one other time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste. Every day! If you need tips for how to remember to brush, or how to handle the challenge of brushing while traveling—talk to your hygienist at your next visit.

2. The whole tooth. All the teeth. Brush every surface if the teeth. Front, backs, biting surfaces and around any gaps should be brushed thoroughly. Using specialty brushes and dental floss will help reach between teeth. There are multiple options and shapes of toothbrushes available today, and no one said you need to use just one type. It is perfectly acceptable to use two different types of toothbrush each time in order to clean each tooth.

3. Go to your appointments regularly. Regular dental cleanings are important for every member of the family. The dental office has the ability to thoroughly clean and check teeth for the initial signs of decay.

4. Food choices matter. Be aware of the foods you choose. Sugary foods should be limited and low or no sugar healthy alternatives should be chosen. Note that sugars are sometimes hidden, so check ingredients. Sucrose, maltose, glucose, lactose dextrose and fructose are all sugars – so be aware what you are eating.

Root canal treatment  is very effective. However, the success rate is not 100% effective. And that means that unfortunately, sometimes the tooth gets re-infected, or the body is not able to heal themselves, and a root canal re-treatment is necessary. 

At times it is best to remove the tooth entirely, but sometimes there’s a still a chance to save the tooth and try a second root canal. This procedure is exactly the same as the first root canal.

There are several reasons why a root canal treatment may not be a success. Since the “canals” of the tooth are narrow passageways deep inside the tooth that some may be difficult to see or to get to completely. It is also possible that the canals might have become infected again because of a delayed or poor crown restoration, new decay, gum disease, or a cracked or fractured tooth.

What is A Root Canal Retreatment Procedure?

If a retreatment root canal is determined to be the best option for you, you can expect the procedure to be similar to the original one, with a few added steps.

Next, a microscope and light are used to search carefully for additional canals or unusual structures. When all the canals have been cleaned and disinfected, they will be filled again and sealed. Then a temporary filling will be placed in the tooth. A permanent crown will need to be placed at a second appointment after healing has finished.

Root Canal Re-treatments are not common, but they do happen. It is important to identify the reason for the need, and address any underlying issues along with re-treating the tooth.

Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars to come in for most people, and the begin to erupt in the late teens or early 20’s. Some people do not have wisdom teeth at all. For some patients, wisdom teeth fit well and provide an additional chewing surface. For many others, it’s common for wisdom teeth to be extracted.

Wisdom teeth are often misaligned, angled toward out or come in more horizontally—or get stuck completely. When the teeth are stuck, they are called “impacted” which means they are completely enclosed in the soft tissue or the jawbone, or they come out partially which can lead to bacterial infection. In these cases, extraction is best. Your dentist can take an x-ray to see if you have wisdom teeth and if they are aligned correctly to come in without issue. If your dentist sees any issues, you may be sent to an oral surgeon for an additional evaluation.  

If you do require an extraction, we can remove the teeth, unless there are some additional concerns. However, the complexity of this depends on the location of the teeth and how developed they are. You will be given a thorough explanation of what to expect in the procedure and post-op. It is important to note that removing a wisdom tooth can be a simple or very complex procedure. If the tooth has fully erupted then extracting it is relatively simple. If is impacted, the surgeon will need to make an incision in the gum and potentially break the tooth in order to remove it. Both types and variations of this procedure are very common, and pain medication is available. Some patients even choose sedation dentistry for these procedures.

Recovery after wisdom tooth extraction varies by person, however we recommend plenty of rest, soft foods, ltos of liquids, and pain medication as prescribed by your dentist. Following post-surgery instructions is very important, especially when impacted wisdom teeth have been removed.

You may not give it a lot of thought, however, there are several different types of teeth—and each one has a very different jobs in your mouth.

Your teeth are made of proteins and minerals. Teeth are one of the strongest parts of the body and help you chew and speak—in addition to holding the shape of your face. Most adults have 32 teeth. This includes the 8 incisors, 4 cuspids (canines), 8 bicuspids (premolars) and 12 molars.

Incisors

Incisors are the teeth at the front of your mouth. You have 4 up top and 4 on the bottom. The sharp edges of the incisors allows you bite into something (think apple). Most people get incisors first as babies and they are the first to fall out and be replaced by adult incisors at around age 6.

Canines

Canine teeth are the 4 teeth that are next to incisors and they have sharp pointed tips, perfect for ripping food. Adult canines appear on the bottom about age 9 and on top about age 11.

Premolars

The average adult has 8 premolars that sit next to the canine teeth. These teeth are bigger and have a flat surface with ridges that are ideal for crushing and grinding food into smaller pieces in order to swallow. Premolars come in around 10 and replace baby molars.

Molars

Molars are the strongest and biggest teeth. These 12 teeth come in in waves, roughly at age 6 and age 12. Molars are for grinding teeth and breaking it down so it can swallowed. Wisdom teeth are included in the molar count. These 4 teeth come in last around 18-25 and are sometimes removed because there is no room in the mouth for them.

Each tooth is important, as is taking care of them. Regular brushing and flossing, healthy food and good habits along with regular dental checkups will help ensure your adult teeth last your lifetime.

How often should I change my toothbrush is a question we wish we got asked more! The reason is,  you should probably be changing your toothbrush a lot more often than you probably are. The average toothbrush sits in a bathroom… where all types of airborne molecules of various “bathroom types”float around (ick!)

Now, there are various devices to cover and sanitize one’s toothbrush that work to varying degrees, however the American Dental Association (ADA)still recommends that you replace your toothbrush approximately every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed.

Besides length of time you have been using your toothbrush, here are a few reasons you should change your toothbrush regularly:

1) A cold or illness: If you had a cold or illness, it is important to replace the toothbrush to avoid re-infection from germs.

2) The toothbrush was used for anything other than brushing your teeth: This seems like common sense, but it happens! If the toothbrush was borrowed, or used for cleaning anything else besides your mouth, do yourself a favor, and invest in a new one!

3) You’ve recently experienced any cold or canker sores: Any mouth infections can spread to other parts of your mouth through your brush. If you’ve had mouth sores, it is time to retire that old toothbrush.

4) You left your toothbrush out: If you left your brush out on the sink when your toilet was repaired or the exterminator sprayed for bugs… you will want a new toothbrush!

5) The bristles begin to bend: Some toothbrushes show wear quickly for various reasons and become less effective over time. If your toothbrush bristles are bending, it is time for a fresh one!