Category: Checkups

Dental Anxiety? Have no fear!

dental anxiety

 

We’ve told you about Bruxism (teeth-grinding) and the broader effects of TMJ, but there’s another type of anxiety that can have unwanted impacts on your mouth. Dental fear or phobia is a very real condition. Between 10 to 15 percent of Americans experience some level of dental anxiety, according to an article on Colgate.com. In another study, one-third of adults who didn’t regularly see a dentist were skipping due to fear.

Fear is usually an irrational reaction that can be managed. But in the case of dental anxiety the consequences can be serious. Even those who brush and floss regularly may miss the early formation of cavities, which can lead to root canals if left untreated. Many of the periodontal diseases we’ve told you about have early warning signs that only our trained dentists and hygienists can spot. While they can be serious, these conditions are often easily prevented – but only if you know you have one (or more!) of them.

Signs of Stress

Recognizing that you have dental anxiety is fairly simple. Answering the following questions can help identify an unwarranted fear.

Do you:

  •   Feel uneasy, nervous, or sick to your stomach before your appointment?
  •   Have trouble sleeping the night before?
  •   Feel embarrassed to have someone looking closely at your teeth?
  •   Worry what problems your dentist might discover?
  •   Avoid seeing a dentist, maybe even for years between visits?

 

We Can Help

All of these situations are common for people who have some degree of dental anxiety. The first step is to talk to us about it. Whether on the phone, through a secure web message, or even in-person, we will do whatever it takes to make you confortable before you set an appointment. We have a variety of options for managing your fear, up to and including nitrous oxide and/or a mild sedative.

At Meyer & Johns Dental, we believe that your oral health is too important to ignore – whatever the reason. Connect with us today to start down the path of easing your dental anxiety, and getting back on track to a healthy mouth!

Focus on Kids’ Healthy Smiles!

Children's Dental Health Month

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. To celebrate the American Dental Association is encouraging good brushing habits activity and coloring pages, including a downloadable Brushing Calendar to help your little ones track the good habits they are developing.

We talk about it every year, but lifelong habits start early. The following guidelines can help parents make sure kids’ brushing habits are on track:

Babies – Under 1 Year

Babies don’t usually get their first teeth until around eight months, but they still need a clean mouth! Gently cleaning gums with a soft cloth, gauze, or a super-soft fingertip baby toothbrush can help remove food particles. But don’t press too hard – a very light pressure will keep from irritating sensitive gums.

 

Toddlers – 1 to 2 Years

When baby’s first tooth erupts, it’s time to begin to use a toddler-sized toothbrush for cleaning their mouth. Look for a brush that has very soft, rounded bristles that easily fits in their little mouth. As soon as they have more than one tooth and the teeth edges touch, you can begin using wide, flat floss. Again, make sure to only apply gentle pressure while cleaning all sides of the tooth. Making oral hygiene part of their regular bedtime routine is the first step in a lifetime’s good habits.

 

Preschoolers – 2 to 4 years

As their independence, mobility, and language begin to develop, so will their teeth. They’ll already be familiar with brushing and flossing, and the next step is brushing for themselves. You should tart by empowering them them to choose their own toothbrush. Making a big decision for themselves will excite them, and they’ll have their pick from a huge array of cartoon characters, TV show themes, and movie heroes. You will, however, need to make sure they’re choosing one that fits easily in their mouth and has soft bristles to protect their gums. Since they lack hand dexterity at this age, their toothbrushes are shorter and equipped with larger handles. You should still be supervising their brushing at this stage.

 

School-aged Children – 5 to 8 years

At this age, a good brushing routine and technique should be established. They’ll need to upgrade to a longer-necked brush with a larger head that still fits comfortably in their mouth while brushing. And they’ll still be choosing a style with bright colors and familiar characters. At this stage they can begin flossing on their own, but again with supervision. By the time they’re in 2ndor 3rdgrade, they should be able to brush and floss independently.

 

Beyond basic hygiene, dentist visits are something that should also begin at a young age. If your baby has older siblings, it’s a perfect time to get them used to the idea of visiting Meyer & Johns twice a year. We can do a pretend “Mouth Check” of toddlers, even if they don’t have enough teeth to clean! If haven’t already introduced your child to our friendly office staff, bring them to your next appointment.

Oral Cancer: What should you watch for?

 

oral cancer
Many warning signs of oral cancer can appear as other conditions.
Do you know what to watch out for?

Did you know? Each year in the U.S., there are 50,000 new cases of oropharyngeal (mouth & throat) cancer, broadly known as oral cancer. Of those, 10,000 patients will eventually die from it. April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and Drs. Meyer and Johns want to make sure you know what to watch out for.

Cancer Types

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are three main types of precancerous lesions; leukoplakia, erythroplakia, and mixed erythroleukoplakia. The first is the most common, and is visible as a white patch or plaque that does not go away. In the U.S., the incidence of leukoplakia has been declining, mainly due to decreased tobacco consumption. In fact, stopping all forms of tobacco use is the easiest way to cut your risk of oral and other cancers, as well as a host of other health problems.

 

Warning signs

The earliest symptoms of oral cancer may appear as a white or red patch of tissue in the mouth, or a small indurated ulcer which looks like a common canker sore. The easiest advice for evaluating skin or tissue irregularities is the 2-Week Rule: Any sore or discolored area that does not heal within 14 days should be checked by a professional.

Other than lesions on the mouth tissue, oral cancer symptoms may include;

    •   lumps or masses that you can feel in your mouth or neck,
    •   discomfort or troubleswallowing, speaking, or chewing,
    •   any wart-like masses,
    •   persistent hoarseness, or
    •   any prolonged oral or facial numbness.

 

We’ve Got Our Eyes on You!

Like other cancers of the skin, oral cancer warning signs are visible long before other symptoms occur, making early detection very important. Early identification of  lip, tongue, or other oral cancers improves control and cure rates to more than 90% and overall survival rates to nearly 100%, according to a study published on the website of the National Cancer Institute.

However, many instances of these cancers are diagnosed in their latter stages, only after metastasizing and causing secondary symptoms elsewhere in the body. In these cases, the 5-year survival rates are only slightly above 50%, according to the National Oral Cancer Foundation.

So if you’ve ever wondered why we look under your tongue during exams, this is the reason. Since early detection is key, we want to make sure we don’t miss a warning sign. Current or former smokers and users of smokeless tobacco should let us know at your next appointment so that we can be on the lookout for early symptoms.

Why Meyer & Johns Needs to Know About Your Heart Condition

dental care heart conditions
Heart conditions can impact dental care. Tell us about yours!

Since February is American Heart Month, you’ve probably heard a lot about cardiac health in the past four weeks. Our nation’s healthcare focus has been on the prevention, treatment, and awareness of heart conditions. But at Meyer & Johns Dental, that awareness extends throughout all 12 months.

We take special precautions for our patients with heart conditions, and may ask you questions about any new diagnoses, existing conditions or ongoing treatments. And it’s important for us to know, because there are numerous unexpected heart complications that can arise from routine dental procedures.

Heart Conditions

Sometimes during normal cleanings, minor bleeding can occur in the mouth. This could allow oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream, potentially making its way to the heart. In heart patients, this increases the risk of endocarditis, which is inflammation of valves or tissue within the heart. In some cases, an antibiotic may be recommended before any visit to the dentist, according to the American Heart Association.

Heart Attack

The general advice for heart attack survivors is a six-month waiting period before having any dental treatments or procedures. As always, it’s important for those patients to let us know about any medications they’re taking, particularly blood-thinners or other anti-coagulants. Even basic conditions that include irregular heartbeat (including some heart mumurs) can present problems unless your dentist is aware of them.

As always, out top priority at Meyer & Johns Dental is the safety and comfort of our patients. Please help us by keeping our staff updated of any changes in your overall health (especially heart conditions). We look forward to making sure your mouth – and the rest of you – stays healthy!