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Friday, August 15, 2014

6 Secrets to a Brighter Smile

Brighter Smile
What’s the first thing you notice about someone when you meet them? According to a survey done by the Academy of General Dentistry, 40% of people notice a smile first and 96% believe that a smile is an important aspect of a person’s appearance. And it’s not just about looks. Lily Garcia, a dentist and a past president of the American College of Prosthodontics tells us, “A smile conveys confidence and professionalism.” A smile is important to our social and professional lives, as well as our own self-confidence.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Diabetes and Dental Health Connection

diabetes and dental health

If you follow our Brighter blog, you have probably read other posts concerning the correlation between good dental health and overall health concerns. As more research is done linking these two schools of medicine, this theory is becoming harder and harder to ignore.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Show Off Your Best Smile

best smile

Brighter Monthly Photo Contest


We here at Brighter want to celebrate your beautiful smile. Starting in August, we’ll pick a “Best Smile” photo winner each month from a follower in our social network – Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, and Pinterest. The winning photo will be used as our background photo on all of our social profile pages for a month.

The 6 Most Useful Dental Tools


Not all dentist practices are created equal. For many, this begins and ends with the dentists at the practice. Certainly the hygienists and support staff also play a large role in the makeup of a practice as well. But so too do the actual tools the dentists use in order to get the job done. The following is a quick look at some of the tools all dentists use on a daily basis.

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!