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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What You Need to Know About Kids’ Dental Health

Being responsible for the dental health of your child may seem like an intimidating task – but it doesn't have to be. These simple tricks should put you on the road to success in no time. Here is a quick reference guide for some of the most common questions parents ask about their child’s dental health.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Why Dental Plans Can Be More Tempting than a Cinnabon

That might seem like a bit of an overstatement, because let’s be honest – it’s pretty hard to beat a Cinnabon. However, changes in healthcare, shifts in the marketplace, and dental insurance alternatives have all altered the landscape for consumers like you. You might not know it yet, but dentists are working harder than ever to work on your teeth.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What You Need to Know About Periodontal Disease

Periodontal Disease

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is another term for gum disease. The severity of this problem can range from slight inflammation and redness of the gums (called gingivitis) to serious infections that can cause major damage to the soft tissue and bones in a mouth (called periodontitis).

So, what causes it?

Periodontal disease starts when plaque accumulates on teeth. This build up is typically removed with regular brushing and flossing, but it can regenerate quickly. Plaque that stays on teeth for more than a few days can harden into tartar or calculus. Calculus can also build up from minerals found in saliva. Tartar or calculus is very difficult to remove, and requires a professional cleaning from a hygienist to remove.

Without a good oral hygiene regimen and routine preventative care from a dentist, tartar and plaque can build up to the point that it irritates and inflames the gums. They become red, sensitive, and bleed easily. These are all the symptoms of gingivitis.

When gingivitis is not treated properly, inflammation causes the gums to pull away from the teeth –  creating spaces or “pockets” that can fill with bacteria and infection. The bacteria, as well as the body’s own response to fighting the infection, breaks down the soft tissue and bone around the teeth.  Because of permanent tissue loss, teeth too can become loose – and in some cases, they may even need to be removed.

What are the symptoms?

Some signs of periodontal disease include:

  • Persistent bad breath

  • Red or purple gums

  • Swollen or shiny gums

  • Gums that bleed easily when brushing or flossing

  • Sensitive teeth

  • Loose teeth

  • Pain while chewing

  • Mouth sores

  • A change in how your teeth fit when you bite together

  • Receding gums

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule a checkup with your dentist, or a specialist in Periodontal disease.

Who’s at risk for periodontal disease?

While we’re all at risk for developing gum disease, several factors can increase your odds including:

  • Poor oral hygiene

  • Smoking

  • Diabetes

  • Some medications

  • Hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy

  • Stress

  • Poor nutrition

  • Older age

  • Decreased Immunity

  • Family history of gum disease

  • Teeth grinding

The symptoms and side effects of gingivitis are reversible with professional care and good oral hygiene. While some symptoms of periodontitis may be permanent, it’s important to work with a dentist to create a treatment plan to address current symptoms, halt further damage, and restore a mouth back to a healthy state. A few treatments a dentist might suggest include a root planning and scaling (a deep cleaning performed by a hygienist), a course of antibiotics, or in some of the most serious instances – surgical options.

How can I prevent it?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported that nearly 65 million Americans suffer from some form of periodontal disease. While a staggering number, the good news is periodontal disease is usually preventable with a regular, oral health routine. Brush teeth at least twice per day, floss daily, and supplement this care with additional mouth cleaning tools such as – mouthwash, dental picks, and inter dental brushes. These efforts,  as well as scheduling bi-annual professional cleanings with a dentist will help stave off gum disease and improve overall dental health.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How to Find a Good Dentist

Let’s face it, going to the dentist can be a traumatic experience, but it doesn’t need to be. The best way to ensure you have a pleasant trip to the dentist’s office is by doing some research ahead of time. Selecting a dentist that makes you feel sensible, comfortable, and safe should be your top priority – but where do you start? Hopefully, we have the answers you need.

Dental Care Facts

It might seem hard to believe, but more than 100 million Americans fail to see a dentist each year. There are myriad reasons behind this statistic, but there‘s also some compelling evidence why good oral care should take some precedence.

Routine dental visits can reduce the dental expenses you’re bound to incur later on without the benefit of regular visits. In addition, some diseases and medical conditions have symptoms that can appear within the mouth. If these symptoms are caught in their early stages, it may reduce the likelihood of serious illness. And lastly, there are certain oral health problems only a dentist can diagnose. That’s why it’s always a good idea to check in with your dentist at least twice a year.

Finding the Ideal Dentist

Trust is the key word when starting this new relationship with a dentist, and the first and best place to start is by word of mouth. Who better to ask than your family, friends, and colleagues? After all, you already trust these people – why not ask them for advice? Plus, with the advent of social media – especially Facebook and Twitter – it’s never been easier to get quick feedback.

If you’d rather seek the unsolicited opinion of a stranger, Yelp is also a great resource. Filled with a variety of search selections, you can certainly find a dentist with the parameters most important to you. One word of advice when using Yelp, try and select dentists with more reviews. It’s easy to find a patient with an apparent axe to grind, but a dentist who receives several good reviews probably deserves them.

Other good resources are professionals already in the medical arena like your family physician, or if you’re moving – your current dentist. If you prefer, you can also visit the American Dental Association (ADA) website that searches for reputable dentists near you.

Brighter is an innovative platform that helps connect patient with the right dentists in their neighborhood. Currently serving Southern California, Brighter gives you ability to choose from hundreds of certified dentists, and if you schedule appointment with Brighter, you will have access to exclusive member shavings, completely free. Through Brighter, you can enjoy savings of up to 30% or more.

Key Factors in Finding a Dentist

Typically, there are five main criteria patients use when selecting a dentist:

  1. The first is price – obviously everyone’s economic threshold is important to them, but be careful not to make this your only reasoning for your choice.

  2. The second is convenience/location – depending on where you live, this factor might be the most important on the list. For others, a short drive for a dentist they love may be worth it.

  3. The third is services offered – if you’re looking for a dentist for typical check-ups and cleaning, the services offered might not be as imperative. However, if you’re the decision-maker for your family with many needs that have to be met, this very well could be the biggest reason in your selection process.

  4. The fourth is experience – typically the longer a dentist has been a proven asset to the community, the more respect they have garnered.

  5. The final reason is personality – like everything else, you want to like your dentist. Make sure their personality jibes with your own. Look for factors like friendliness, likeability, cleanliness, a positive attitude, or others that may be important to you.

Finally, a note about the kinds of dentists you may encounter. Don’t be confused by the different listing for dentists, there is no real difference between a “DMD” and that of a “DDS”. The DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) and the DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) are pretty much the same degree.

Both sets of dentists have the same level of education, the same clinical training, and the same years of study at an accredited dental school. When those factors are completed, both sets of dentists must complete various written and clinical exams – as well as obtaining their state and/or regional license.

You have choices when it comes to the dentist you select, make sure you’ve done the research ahead of time. Remember, your smile might be your best accessory – but it can only stay that way if you know and trust the dentist who keeps it looking good.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Physical and Oral Health: Are They Connected?

We all make an effort to stay on top of our medical needs. We regularly schedule child visits for our kids and annual physicals with our family doctors. We probably have the contact information for a dermatologist, an ENT, optometrist, OB/GYN, physical therapist and many other specialists saved in our smartphone (or at least have their cards hanging on the refrigerator.)  We understand the importance of having well-rounded medical care, so why is dentistry so often left out of our “medical mindset?”

More and more, research is showing the link between our oral health and our physical well-being. An issue that may have started as isolated bacteria and inflammation around the teeth can move to other parts of our body and cause serious problems even outside of the mouth.

For example, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently found that nearly 65 million adults in America suffer from periodontal disease. And, according to the Mayo Clinic, some complications associated with periodontal disease (gum disease) include:

  • Asthma

  • Respiratory problems

  • Low birth weight in babies

  • Stroke

  • Coronary Artery Disease

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Another very obvious overlap between dental and physical health is the detection of oral and pharyngeal cancer.  Cancer of the oral cavity and the pharynx is often initially discovered by your dentist  during a routine exam. Early detection and proper diagnosis are critical and can result in a much higher recovery rate.

The CDC also reports that dental caries (tooth decay) is still the most common chronic disease in children and adolescents.

There are many factors as to why dental care seems to be regularly overlooked or de-prioritized when it comes to our health: absence of dental insurance coverage, anxiety or fear of going to the dentist, and a lack of awareness of good oral health habits and the significance of seeing a dentist regularly are a few of these reasons.

Dentists and physicians are more commonly working together to promote the magnitude of both oral and physical health and show the significance of the connection between the two.  Doctors are being trained to examine the mouth, are providing patients and parents of patients with information regarding oral health and encouraging positive dental habits from a very young age.

It is important that we recognize that staying on top of our oral health has more advantages than just sporting a pearly white smile (though that it a great benefit!).  It is an essential piece of the puzzle in ensuring that our physical health is also top notch!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tips to Help You Conquer Your Dental Fears

We touched on this subject earlier this year. But now we have some great new tips in this post.

Is fear of the dentist keeping you from getting the oral health issues in your mouth resolved? Statistics show that about 15% of Americans experience dental anxiety and that it’s a major factor in why people put off having dental work done. If the thought of needles, drills, and probes makes you squirm, or you suffer from dental phobia, a more serious condition that can cause panic and even paralyzing fear – then read on. We’ve got six tips to help you overcome your dental dread and have a more comfortable experience with your dentist.

  1. Meet and greet.  Before you actually make an appointment for a procedure, ask if you can drop by for a tour of the office and to meet the staff.  Becoming familiar with the dentist, assistants and setting can help calm your nerves and set your mind at ease. You can also review Brighter's comprehensive dentist listings here.

  2. Do your homework.  Got a specific procedure in mind? Do some research online.  There are many video diaries, case studies and blogs out there (especially for major treatment options such as implants, crowns, bridges, orthodontics, etc.) The more you know about a procedure and the steps required for completion, the more comfortable and prepared you will feel. And, the less your nerves have to deal with unexpected news.

  3. Read Testimonials. Whether it’s about which dentist to pick or which treatment option to choose, let other patients give you a first person take. It can be reassuring to hear it from the mouth of a peer. Testimonials will give you a more relatable perspective. Brighter dentist profiles include patient testimonials as well.

  4. Listen to a referrer you trust. Ask your family, friends and coworkers how their dentists address anxiety and fear. Find a dentist who is sensitive to dental phobia and takes your concerns seriously.

  5. Schedule a Consultation. Most dentists, upon request, will schedule a no-charge consultation to discuss treatment options with you. Come prepared to this meeting to discuss any worries or questions you have regarding the procedure (this is where “do you homework” comes in to play again.) Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to also bring up your dental anxiety with your provider at this meeting! If he/she knows your concerns, you can work together to find a solution that creates the optimum experience for everyone involved.

  6. Sedation Dentistry. Sedation dentistry sounds more intimidating than it really is. There are several stages of sedation ranging from minimal to deep. The type of sedation you receive is dependent on the procedure type and the preferences you and your dentist discuss beforehand. It is usually as simple as using nitrous oxide (laughing gas) during treatment or taking a mild sedative (such as Xanax) beforehand.

Avoiding the dentist due to fears and anxieties can allow small, easily resolvable issues to develop into problems that require major treatment.  Brighter helps members find a great dentist using our comprehensive online dentist profiles as well as calling our member services team.

Try these strategies and work to overcome your dental phobia and stay on top of your dental health!

What other suggestions do you have that have worked to calm your nerves and put your fears to rest before a visit to the dentist? We would love to hear your suggestions!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How to Decide if Braces are Right for You

Are braces worth the investment of time and money? What does the process of getting braces look like, and will it be the right choice for you or your children?

These are all common questions that are worth exploring before making this big investment. Below are answers to some of the top concerns people have about braces, and the factors you should consider before taking the plunge. (Remember, it’s not too late to work on your smile at any age! Close to half of orthodontic patients are adults looking to improve their smiles.)

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Benefits of Braces - The benefits of braces are extensive. Braces can help fix crowded, crooked teeth and a misaligned jaw. Fixing teeth and bite alignment helps prevent other long-term oral health problems as well, including tooth decay, gum disease, and joint pain.

Money - The cost of braces varies due to extent and length of treatment.  Use Brighter’s Price Checker tool to view the typical cost of braces in your area and select the provider who fits your budget. If your dental insurance doesn’t cover braces, Brighter can help there too. We save you an average of 50% on this procedure, versus what you’d pay walking off the street paying in cash.

Time - Braces are typically a large time commitment - usually averaging between one to three years. Are you ready to put in the time needed to improve your oral health and appearance? Most people who have completed their time wearing braces say that the time investment was well worth it. Consider braces an investment in your future well-being and confidence.

Appearance - You may be worried about how braces will affect how you look while you wear them. Luckily, there are many different types of braces that you can discuss with your doctor.

  • Metal Braces: Metal braces are traditional braces and are the most commonly used type of braces. Metal brackets are glued to the teeth and are the most visible in the mouth, but they are very effective at fixing teeth properly.

  • Ceramic Braces: Ceramic braces are less visible than metal braces and may be a good option for people looking for a more discrete look.

  • Lingual Braces: Lingual braces are attached to the back of your teeth, so they are minimally visible and may be the right choice for certain types of adjustments.

  • Invisible Braces: Invisible braces most commonly come in the form of a clear plastic tray, and are popular because they are less painful than traditional metal braces and don’t interfere as much with eating habits, as they can be removed before eating. They also don’t impact the appearance of the mouth as significantly.

Remember to consult your doctor as you consider investing in braces. They have the experience and insight to help you make the right decision for your health and budget!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dentistry and Sleep Habits – The Surprising Connection

It’s hard to imagine, but sleep and dental health are closely related! Read on to see what options are available to you to improve your sleep and oral health.

Snoring a problem in your household? Keeping your partner up at night? Dentists can fit you for an anti-snoring device. Anti-snoring devices help keep your tongue from blocking your airway, reducing noise. These devices also help adapt the position of the jaw to open the throat and prevent snoring. Snoring can prevent one or both parties from having an effective night’s rest, impacting other areas of their life including overall health, immune system, and job performance.

Chronic snoring can also be a symptom of sleep apnea, a more serious condition that can be treated by a sleep apnea dentist. Sleep apnea causes breathing to become shallow or infrequent during sleep, and can be dangerous. There are many types of oral appliances available to improve sleep apnea, and are worth seeking out from a dentist if you suffer from this condition.

The act of sleeping itself is also essential to good oral health. During sleep, harmful bacteria are cleaned from the mouth and bloodstream, helping you maintain your overall health. A study revealed that among the most important factors impacting oral health, sleep was ranked second highest among factors affecting periodontal disease (after tobacco use). Those patients who reported 6 or fewer hours of sleep per night had more advanced disease.

While the connection between sleep and dental health isn’t obvious, it’s important! Make sure to visit a dentist if you have any concerns about your sleep patterns.

Friday, March 14, 2014

For Dental Providers: Five ways to delight your patients and grow yourpractice

Let’s face it: a patient’s satisfaction will have a huge impact on the overall health of your practice. Happy patients will stay loyal and will refer their friends and family. Read on to see how you can create the best experience for your patients and have them coming back for years to come!

  1. Warm welcome! Greet patients warmly when they arrive in your waiting room, and offer them water or other refreshments. Patients want to feel comfortable. Perhaps you can invest in some team name tags to encourage friendly interaction and familiarity, and consider improving the comfort level of your waiting room by providing reading material, playing soft music, and comfortable, clean furniture.

  2. We’re all busy. Acknowledge the value of patients’ time and explain any delays honestly and promptly. A 2009 study revealed that the fewer minutes a patient waits, the higher overall satisfaction they report – with patients waiting 0-5 minutes reporting a 93% satisfaction rate. Most patients wait an average of 24 minutes to see their healthcare provider, creating an uphill battle in the patient satisfaction game. Where do you stand on this significant driver of patient satisfaction, and what can you do to reduce patient wait time?

  3. Happy staff means happy patients. Regularly check in with staff regarding their own concerns, and set aside time to discuss patient feedback and the best ways to deal with unhappy patients. Patients who feel heard by their dentist’s office, even when they have a complaint, will respond more positively and are more likely to return.

  4. How are you feeling? Follow up with patients after their appointment to check in on how their experience was, how they are feeling, and to address any questions they may have about their treatment plan or medication. Thank them for visiting your office. A simple acknowledgement of their loyalty can go a long way!

  5. Living in a wired world. Stay competitive by adopting current technology to improve patients’ experience including convenient online scheduling, email communications, and text message reminders. 74% of patients cite immediate appointment availability as an important factor in their choice of a new dentist, and you can keep up to speed with these demands by offering same-day or next-day appointments online.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

3 Ways to Reduce Teeth Grinding

Do you grind your teeth? Have your children complained of mouth pain? Bruxism, or teeth grinding as it’s commonly known, is prevalent (especially in young children) and can result in teeth sensitivity. Teeth grinding wears down the protective enamel of the tooth and exposes dentin, which causes pain. Bruxism can also cause headaches and jaw & neck injuries, so it’s best to address the grinding before severe issues arise.

Teeth grinding can be helped, however – and here are three tips you can use to break the cycle!

1)   See the dentist – your upper and lower jaws may be misaligned, causing the teeth to rub together in unnatural ways. The dentist can work with you to find a solution to adjust your alignment or protect your teeth from further grinding damage. They may suggest a nighttime mouth guard or other tools to reduce grinding.

2)   Address stress – stress can be a major factor in teeth grinding. You may unconsciously manifest stress and anxiety by teeth grinding. From taking time to exercise or relax, to seeing a professional, addressing the stress in your life may help reduce teeth grinding.

3)   Avoid stimulating substances – substances such as coffee, alcohol, and cigarettes can increase teeth grinding, especially if you consume them before bed. Stick with decaffeinated drinks to reduce your risk.

If you have more questions about teeth grinding, visit today to schedule your dental check-up!