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What Your Dentist Checks for During a Check-Up

Going to the dentist every six months is crucial for maintaining proper oral and overall health. However, for patients who are new to the dentist, haven’t had a check-up in a while or have any anxiety about visiting, it is comforting to know exactly what your dentist will be doing. To help you prepare for your next appointment, here are some of the basics your dentist will check.

TOOTH ENAMEL & DECAY

Through the use of x-rays and visual examination, your dentist will check to make sure you have an appropriate level of tooth enamel to protect against decay. Your dentist will look for cracks or chips that could leave you susceptible to infection. The x-rays will specifically tell your dentist whether or not you have any cavities that need to be resolved.

GUM HEALTH

Your gums say a lot about your oral health. Using a periodontal ruler, your dentist will measure the amount of space between your gums and your teeth. After comparing your current measurements to past numbers, this will indicate whether you’ve had bone loss. Swollen or bright red gums can reveal that gum disease may be present.

YOUR BITE

If your dentist places their fingers near your ears and asks you to bite down, they are checking your jaw alignment. A misaligned jaw or any tenderness in the surrounding area may be a sign of temporomandibular joint disorders. An examination of your bite will help determine if orthodontic or other treatment is needed.

PREVIOUS DENTAL WORK

Just as your dentist is checking on the status of your teeth, they are checking on the state of dental work you’ve already had. If old fillings or crowns break, bacteria can find its way in and cause infection. By making sure everything is holding up, your dentist can see if anything needs to be replaced or if further dental repair is necessary.

OTHER MEDICAL ISSUES

Your dentist can tell if you have more than just cavities. For example, sensitive roots of your upper teeth can be a tell-tale sign of a sinus infection. While not true for every patient, gum disease can sometimes be a symptom of diabetes. Another very important medical issue that your dentist can check is for signs of oral cancer. Your dentist will look for any abnormalities in the mucus membrane lining of your mouth, as well as any swelling or ulcers. Based on your dental exam, your dentist can discuss any treatments that you may need.

 

When you think about all of the important things that your dentist does during your check-up, it’s clear why it is important to visit every six months. Need a great dentist in the Salt Lake area? Give us at Allan S. Thomas Cosmetic & General Dentistry a call today!


4 Myths About Porcelain Veneers

Have you ever wondered how celebrities always seem to have the perfect smile? They sparkle, they shine, and they look enviously perfect. More often than not, Porcelain Veneers are the truth behind those pearly whites.

Simply stated, Porcelain Veneers are thin, porcelain casings that attach to the surface of teeth. Even if you have suffered from cracks, gaps, or chips in your teeth, this procedure can help to improve tooth color and shape to give you a stunning smile.

Regardless of the many benefits of porcelain veneers, some patients still shy away from getting them because of misconceptions they have heard. Here are 4 of the most popular myths about Porcelain Veneers.

Myth #1 – Veneers Look Unnatural

Veneers of the past did look artificially white and noticeable for the wrong reasons. However, thanks to advances in cosmetic dentistry, modern porcelain veneers can be customized to match the shape, thickness, and color of the patient’s existing teeth. Veneers can give you a beautiful, natural-looking smile.

Myth #2 – Application is Uncomfortable

Porcelain Veneers are applied to the teeth only after patients are put under a local anesthetic. Just like during any other dental procedure, we ensure our patients are totally comfortable throughout the appointment.

Myth #3 – Teeth are Excessively Filed Down

While teeth may need to be reshaped before veneers are applied, most patients only require a minimal amount of reshaping. Our team will only file teeth down as much as is needed to preserve tooth structure. This filing is painless and is done to guarantee that the veneers bond firmly to your teeth.

Myth #4 – Veneers are Purely Aesthetic

Although the main purpose of Porcelain Veneers is usually to improve the look of a patient’s smile, we see many other benefits to the procedure. Veneers can be used to fill gaps in your teeth and make your smile more symmetrical. Baggy cheeks and lips can appear fuller with the help of veneers and give you an overall more youthful look.  Worn down or misshapen teeth and molars can be rebuilt to their former glory with the help of veneers, too.

 

Want to learn more about how Porcelain Veneers can benefit your smile? Contact us at Allan S. Thomas Cosmetic & General Dentistry. After a free dental veneer initial consultation, you’ll be surprised to learn just how reasonable and practical Porcelain Veneers can be to beautify your wonderful smile.


6 Tips to Keep Your Smile White

Keeping your smile white takes a lot of work. Whether you have had your teeth whitened professionally or not, keeping your teeth looking healthy requires attention. To lighten the burden for a smile that lights up the room, check these six tips.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

One of the best pieces of advice for all around dental health is to brush your teeth at least twice a day. Here’s why: Brushing removes plaque and helps to prevent dental stains before they start. Flossing once a day is also recommended to remove food from in between the teeth and prevent cavities. Keeping your tongue clean is often overlooked as a component of dental health. But by scraping the tongue from back to front, you can decrease bacteria buildup and lessen the chance of teeth discoloration.

Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly

The American Dental Association recommends changing out your toothbrush at least every 3 – 4 months. If bristles are bent or frayed, replace your brush even sooner. Over time, toothbrushes become less effective at removing plaque from teeth as compared to new brushes. You probably already know your toothbrush can hold germs from any illnesses you’ve had and can still house bacteria and fungus even if you are perfectly healthy. Unfortunately, brushing with a germy and ineffective brush can leave teeth discolored and dull. Replace your brush and your teeth will thank you!

Have a Teeth-Friendly Diet

Fruits and vegetables are good for both your body and your teeth! Eating crunchy veggies and fruits can help you produce saliva, which helps to rinse your mouth of stain-causing bacteria. Be sure to rinse your mouth after eating citrus fruits to stop the acid from corroding your teeth. Healthy foods help your body keep tooth enamel strong, and strong teeth can better withstand staining. Some examples of teeth-friendly foods are apples, broccoli, kale, nuts, milk, cheese and chicken.

Avoid Stain-Causing Foods and Beverages

To keep teeth white, limit your intake on certain foods and beverages. The most popular offenders are coffee, red wine, tea and soda. However, other foods, such as berries, tomato sauce, candy and even strong spices can leave stains on your pearly whites. Smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco are habits that are not only bad for your health, but they can cause terrible stains and buildup on your teeth.

Rinse with Water After Eating

If you do choose to indulge yourself with anything that could leave stains on your teeth, don’t fret! The best thing you can do, aside from brushing your teeth, is to swish plain water in your mouth. Rinsing for 30 seconds can loosen bits of food, drink or germs that might be stuck to your teeth. This trick can help prevent staining and keep those teeth bright.

Visit Your Dentist

Visiting the dentist every six months is one of the simplest ways to keep your teeth healthy, clean and white. Dental cleanings are much more comprehensive than the cleaning you get from your toothbrush at home. Your dentist will professionally remove plaque and thoroughly clean your teeth while also checking up on your dental health.

 

At Allan S. Thomas Cosmetic & General Dentistry, we want our patients to be proud of their bright and healthy smiles. (They’re yours for life!) If you are looking to whiten your teeth even more, ask us about our professional teeth whitening services. We look forward to seeing you!


Sedation Dentistry for Pain-Free Treatments

While millions of people confidently visit their dentist regularly, some come with a level of anxiety. Because it is vital to ensure your teeth are healthy, Dr. Allan S. Thomas offers various services to make visits worry-free and successful.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

 One effective service is Sedation Dentistry, which involves the use of sedation by a specially trained dentist to allow patients feel calm and comfortable during a dental treatment.

Various kinds of sedations are available, depending on the patient and the level of discomfort. For example, mild sedation can be used for minor dental procedures, such as a filling or even a cleaning. Other procedures, such as performing a root canal, tooth crown or dental implants, may require heavier sedation.

Is Sedation Dentistry Right for You?

You should consider Sedation Dentistry if you have:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder;
  • negative or traumatic past dental experiences;
  • especially sensitive teeth or oral nerves;
  • easily-triggered gag reflex;
  • complicated dental issues that require long appointments; or
  • strong phobias related to visiting the dentist.

With sedation as a safe and federally approved procedure, your dentist will discuss tailored options with you. Be assured that while a patient is under sedation, the dentist and staff continually monitor the patient to ensure all is proceeding as planned.

Our Treatment

Dr. Allan S. Thomas offers both Nitrous Oxide and Oral Conscious Sedation. Nitrous Oxide, or “laughing gas,” is a treatment that helps you to relax during a dental procedure. The gas should wear off quickly, and most everyone is able drive themselves home afterward.  Oral Conscious Sedation is the use of a sedative that you take orally before the procedure. This kind of sedation allows you to get the care that you need without the discomfort or worry.

 

We hope this has helped you feel better informed on the options for a pain-free dental treatment. If you’re feeling anxious about an upcoming procedure, we are happy to answer all your questions. Please contact us so we can make your next visit to Dr. Thomas worry-free and successful.


Five Health Benefits of a Straighter Smile

The advantages of having a straight smile reach far beyond your mouth. From looking better to feeling better, a straight smile will help you be the best version of yourself. Although teeth that are naturally straight aren’t common, our team at Dr. Allan S. Thomas D.D.S. are here to help you get the smile you deserve.

HEALTHIER GUMS

Let’s start with the foundation. Gums are vital to the health of your teeth. They are made of soft tissue that forms a protective barrier around each tooth to keep bacteria at bay. If teeth are too crowded or are spaced far apart, gums may become inflamed and teeth may become exposed to infections. This can lead to gum disease and possibly tooth loss. Straight teeth allow your gums to fit properly around each tooth and protect against periodontal issues.

PREVENTS TOOTH WEAR AND TEAR

When teeth aren’t aligned properly, your bite could be wrong, which will cause unusual wear overtime. Over time, tooth enamel loss can lead to fractured teeth, jaw problems as well as ineffective chewing abilities. A straighter smile will keep teeth strong and allow them to endure the test of time.

EASIER CLEANING

Teeth that are crooked or crowded have less exposed surface area, making them harder to clean. Because of this difficulty, brushing alone is often not enough to rid the teeth of plaque. Flossing can also be more difficult because of the tightness between the teeth or the awkward angles at which flossing must be done. These factors can lead to plaque buildup and, after time, tooth decay. Straight teeth are easier to clean, which means fewer worries for patients down the road.

OVERALL HEALTH IMPROVEMENT

If your teeth aren’t healthy, it will affect your entire body’s health. The bacteria in your mouth will lead to decay and infections that can spread throughout your body. The ADA has done studies that show that oral infections can lead to heart disease, pneumonia, increased blood sugar and other problems. Straight teeth are easier to clean, which means it is easier to keep infections out of your body.

IMPROVES SELF CONFIDENCE

Your self-image and mental health are every bit as important as your physical health. A study by Invisalign has shown that behind weight, teeth are the second highest item people feel insecure about. Having a straight, healthy and beautiful smile has been shown to lead to higher self-esteem and lower social anxiety.

 

We want all of our patients to be healthy and confident. With our Smile Design services, we can help you achieve the perfect smile and all of the benefits of one! Ask us how we can help you during your next visit to Dr. Allan S. Thomas D.D.S. We look forward to seeing you!


How Invisalign Works

The days of traditional metal braces are numbered. Now there’s a way for adults and teens to get straighter teeth without worrying about painful metal braces. Invisalign aligners work similarly to traditional braces, but without the restraints of metal brackets and wires. These virtually invisible aligners are custom fit to your mouth and slowly shift your teeth into place. While your progress depends on how well you follow the guidelines to the product and the severity of your case, they’re still faster than traditional braces. With Invisalign, you can eat whatever you want and keep your confidence as your teeth just get better.

The Invisalign Process

Initial Consultation

Many good things start with a simple question. If you’re curious about Invisalign, all you have to do is ask your dentist or orthodontist during your next visit. With thousands of doctors across the US, including Allan S. Thomas in Salt Lake City, it isn’t hard to find an Invisalign dentist or orthodontist near you. The doctors who offer Invisalign have specialized training on the product, the process and basic care for the product. This consultation is designed to help you feel comfortable about the process and evaluate if Invisalign is the right solution for you.

Design a Treatment Plan

Invisalign has improved millions of smiles, all of them unique like yours. This means every case deserves a unique treatment plan. During this meeting, you’ll get a good idea of how long you’ll need to wear Invisalign and how often you’ll need to change your aligners. Depending on your dentist’s in-office resources, your doctor will create 3D images of your teeth or make physical impressions to create your new aligners.

Armed with a realistic model of your teeth, your doctor will know how to shift your teeth to a straighter position. These treatment plans take factors into consideration like treatment plan payments, movements of your teeth and the length of your treatment.

Get Your Aligners

After planning and prepping, you’ll finally get your Invisalign clear aligners. These light, clear aligners are made of SmartTrack material and are removable and virtually invisible. Once you have your aligners, you’ll need to wear them for 20 to 22 hours a day, only removing them to eat, brush and floss. You’ll change out your aligners once a week to continue shifting your teeth into place.

Get Straighter Teeth

When you stick to your doctor’s advice and the Invisalign regimen, you should see results in a short amount of time. Every week or two weeks, you change aligners.. As you continue the Invisalign program, your teeth will gradually shift into place without the need for metal and wires in your mouth. The process usually lasts about a year with checkups with your doctor every six weeks to make sure Invisalign is working as it should.

Cherish your New Smile

Next thing you know, your teeth will be straighter than ever. Once your treatment is done, you can get a Vivera retainer made from the same material as Invisalign. This strong retainer helps your teeth stay in place after the big shift with Invisalign. If you keep visiting the dentist twice a year with regular brushing and flossing habits, your teeth will healthy and aligned for the rest of your life.


Treatable Cases for Invisalign

It’s rare for someone to have naturally straight teeth that never require orthodontic intervention. For the rest of us, there is a range of common dental problems that can be solved with simple treatment from Invisalign.

Gapped Teeth

Gapped teeth can be caused by missing teeth or extra growth in your jawbone. While small gaps aren’t detrimental to your smile or oral health, they can increase the risk of periodontal disease. If your teeth are spaced far enough apart, your gums are left more exposed to bacteria. If you have gaps in your teeth, Invisalign is an effective solution.

Overbite

An overbite is simply overlapping between your upper and lower jaw. This issue is often genetic, caused by overdevelopment of the upper jaw. Occasionally, bad oral habits can cause overbite as well. When severe or left untreated after decades, an overbite can affect gum health and lower teeth erosion or irritation.

Underbite

Underbites come in different levels of severity depending on the cause. Most often, underbites are caused by excess growth in the lower jaw or a lack of growth in the upper jaw. In other cases, missing upper teeth, especially molars can cause this misalignment. Long term problems with underbites are similar to overbites. With a misaligned bite, those with underbites might experience faster erosion of the upper teeth or painful jaw problems.

Open Bite

You might have heard that thumb sucking as a child can affect your teeth. This is one of the causes for an open bite. This condition keeps the top and bottom teeth from touching each other at all. Bad habits as a child or genetics are the most common causes for this issue. If left untreated, an open bite can result in speech impairment, chewing problems and even Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ.

Overcrowding

Teeth crowding is a common issue for adults, kids and teens alike. Simply an effect of genetics, overcrowding happens when your mouth doesn’t have room for all your teeth. With the help of orthodontic intervention, aligning the teeth can make more room easily. If neglected, crowding can grow worse and cause issues like plaque buildup, decay and gum disease because of the many hard to reach spaces between teeth.

Crossbite

Crossbites are caused by misaligned upper and lower jaws. Like many of these issues, it is often caused by genetics and can be easily remedied. Those with crossbite are at risk for enamel erosion, gum disease and bone loss due to uneven wear in their teeth. Luckily, Invisalign can solve this problem and many others in around a year.

Learn more about Invisalign during your next visit to Dr. Allan S. Thomas D.D.S.


Oral Care as You Age

As you age, life begins to look different. You might appreciate your family more, dive deeper into hobbies or simply take things slower. However, just because you’ve grown wiser with time doesn’t mean you can stop caring for your teeth. Like other parts of your body, your teeth, gums and mouth will begin to show signs of aging. Find out some helpful tips to combat the health problems that come with this.

Common Issues

Dry Mouth

This condition comes from physical changes in your body as it ages. However, some medications can aggravate an already tough case. The CDC estimates that over 400 commonly prescribed medications have dry mouth as a symptom. Without normal saliva levels, your mouth has a harder time controlling bacteria and rebuilding enamel.

Attrition

After decades of chewing and grinding, your teeth will show signs of wear and tear. Attrition is simply a medical term for worn enamel and teeth. The less enamel you have to defend your teeth, the more prone to cavities you are. Similarly, as you age you become more susceptible to diseases of all kinds. With age may come a higher risk of conditions like oral cancer or thrush.

Root Decay

This issue is usually paired with gum disease, causes the roots of our teeth to become exposed as your gums recede, worsening tooth decay as you age. Root decay can be caused by neglect by a dentist, bad habits like tobacco use or a lacking diet. The best way to handle this and other problems is by talking to your dentist.

Combating Tooth and Gum Disease

While visiting your dentist is the best way to keep your mouth healthy, there are a few ways to keep your choppers in top shape. We recommend more fluoride to keep your teeth strong. Look for fluoridated toothpaste or mouthwash to use daily.

Tobacco is one of the big culprits behind mouth diseases. After decades of use, chewing tobacco or smoking can take a toll on your mouth. Beyond simple tooth and gum disease, these habits increase your risk of mouth and throat cancer as well as heart disease.

If you’re subject to dry mouth through medication, speak to your physician about switching the prescription. Dry mouth can impact your eating habits and harm your oral health. If a new medication isn’t an option, drink more water, chew sugar free gum and avoid alcohol to stay hydrated.


How your Oral Health Affects your Body

You’ve probably heard about the importance of oral hygiene all your life – brush twice a day, floss once a day, eat fruits and veggies, and avoid sugar. Easy enough, right? However there are deeper reasons to follow these guidelines beyond pearly whites. It’s no secret that gum disease comes from bacteria in your mouth, but the same bacteria that cause gum disease can affect other parts of your body such as your heart, brain, pancreas and more.

Saliva – The First Line of Defense

Spit may be gross, but it’s part of your body’s defense system. Chock full of antibodies and histatins to ward off viral pathogens, your saliva traps initial invaders that try to enter your system. This means your mouth is a good way to judge the overall flora inside your body. For example, 90 percent of systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms. Your spit is a powerful trap that clings onto bacteria as well as drugs, environmental toxins, hormones and antibodies. That’s how physicians test for data like Cortisol levels or bone-specific proteins for osteoporosis patients.

While saliva is useful for your body’s immune system, it can’t do everything. Bacteria that survive your mouth’s defense systems form plaque that clings to your teeth and cause problems like gingivitis, periodontitis and trench mouth.

When Gum Disease Spreads

When these microscopic pests build up in your saliva and on your teeth, it can affect your gums. If left unchecked, the plaque buildup they create can cause gum disease. Severe gum disease doesn’t just end in missing teeth. Oral infections are linked to poorly controlled diabetes, cardiovascular disease and preterm birth. Furthermore, the bacteria that cause these diseases can enter your bloodstream during invasive dental treatments and sometimes, normal brushing and flossing. Once these pathogens enter your bloodstream, they can affect your arteries and strain your heart and other organs.

Prevention & Care

Some diseases are linked to poor oral health, while other conditions make their hosts more prone to gum disease. If you have a poor hygiene routine for long enough, you might be prone to endocarditis, cardiovascular disease and, for women, risky complications during labor. On the other hand, conditions like diabetes, HIV/AIDS and osteoporosis can lead to gum disease without proper oral care. The best way to prevent these issues are the same methods you’ve heard all your life – brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss, eat healthy, replace your toothbrush frequently, schedule regular dental checkups and avoid tobacco use.


What to Look for in an Electric Toothbrush

Learn about what to look for in an electric toothbrush in Murray, UT.

Electric toothbrushes aren’t anything new on the market, but they’ve seen vast improvements over the last decade. There are so many choices available, it can be hard to know which features are bells and whistles and which are useful. Everything you need in an electric toothbrush can be condensed into three categories: design, features and portability.

Design

These categories go hand in hand in manual and in electric models. No matter what type of electric toothbrush you get, it needs to be comfortable to hold and easy to maneuver. Massage brushes with smaller heads are often better for mouth feel and can clean tight spaces more effectively. Most adults need a toothbrush with a head around a half inch wide and one inch tall. Soft bristle brush heads are also the dentists’ choice because they do not damage gums, especially for those aggressive brushers. Of the brush head types, look for models with a rotation oscillation. These round-headed brushes pulse and spin, allowing you to focus on one tooth at a time and rotate up to 8,000 times a minute. This makes them more effective than other styles.

Features

Not all electric toothbrushes are created equal, but in the end, a toothbrush is only as effective as your brushing technique. That’s why there have been new models sprouting up that help you improve your own brushing skills. Look for the two-minute timer feature that will help you get the minimum brushing time in and whiten your smile. Other common, useful features include charging stands, travel cases and different settings like massage or sensitive modes.

You should also remember to replace brush heads every three months. The less expensive, battery operated models last about two weeks with a normal brushing, creating a hidden cost in replacement batteries. Look for brushes with replaceable heads, you’ll need to replace your brush every three months or so.

Portability

If you travel often, portability is an important quality to look for in an electric toothbrush. Even if you aren’t a frequent jetsetter, you still need to brush your teeth while you’re away from home. Depending on the power source, a toothbrush can become unwieldy or come with extra components to pack. Many budget friendly models use batteries while those on the higher end usually use charging stands with cables. The rechargeable models are often better performers, but battery operated models are more portable and less expensive.