210 Lincoln Way
Auburn, CA 95603
181 E 7th Ave
Chico, CA, 95926-3304
Cave Potente Hanson
4065 3rd Ave # 300
San Diego, CA, 92103-2184
Dr. Barry Vilkin, DMD
9735 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 200
Beverly Hills, CA, 90210
Shih, Weilin D.D.S.
1001 Sunvalley Blvd
Concord, CA, 94520-5802
Q. Why do you need to have regular dental care check-ups?
A. Regular check-ups are needed to monitor your overall dentistry health. In addition to checking for cavities, your dentist examines the health of your entire mouth and surrounding soft tissues, checking for pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions, oral sores, and gum disease.
Your oral health is connected with your general health. General dentistry check-ups can alert the dentist to other medical conditions that have symptoms in the mouth such as diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, and hormonal irregularities. Regular dental visits are vital to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other conditions affecting your mouth.
Q. What can you do to feel more relaxed during a dental appointment?
A. With the combination of modern anesthetics and new technology and techniques, many procedures only have minimal discomfort or are now entirely painless. Dental care providers want their patients to have maximum comfort and approach their treatments with a relaxed attitude.
There are a number of ways to increase relaxation:
Some dental offices are now offering patients new options for stress-relief: hypnosis, self-hypnosis instructions, relaxation tapes, soft lighting, warm gel-filled eye masks, scented candles, and massaging pillows. These are helpful in reducing stress and anxiety in dental patients. Be sure to avoid the use of stimulants such as caffeine prior to your visit.
Q. Aromatherapy has a relaxing effect for many people. Is this effective for patients undergoing dental treatment?
A. Research studies conducted at Case Western Reserve University have noted that the use of aromatherapy has a significant positive effect on anxious dental patients. Two-thirds of the patients receiving aromatherapy were more calm and relaxed than those patients without exposure to the scented fragrance oils.
Dentists are concerned about your comfort. Ask your dental provider if aromatherapy is available in the office, or if you can bring your own for your dental visit. Essential fragrance oils are available in health food stores, spas, and some grocery and drug store outlets.
Q. Are dental patients who are considered at risk for bacterial infections advised to take antibiotic medication prior to their appointments?
A. Certain medical conditions, such as heart valve problems or a recent total joint replacement, are considered at risk for infection at the site of the cardiac abnormality or joint replacement. This infection results from bacteria from the mouth entering the bloodstream and working its way to these vulnerable areas.
Consequently, dental care procedures likely to result in bleeding from the gums or mucous membranes will require patients to take antibiotics prior to that procedure. Such procedures could include, but are not limited to, extractions, implant surgery, incision and drainage for oral infection, and professional teeth cleaning.
Guidelines have been established by the American Heart Association and the American Dental Association to provide dentists and physicians with information regarding appropriate regimens for antibiotic therapy. It also outlines those situations when antibiotic therapy is or is not indicated.
There also are other medical conditions warranting antibiotic therapy prior to dental procedures. Be sure to update your dentist regarding your medical history. Your dentist and/or physician will advise you of any special needs.
Q. Where can you receive dental services if you do not have the money to cover the related expense?
A. If you do not have eitherdental insurance or the money to pay for general dentistry visit, you should inquire about financial aid from various sources within your community.
You may need to make several calls, but the local dental society, the local public health department, or social service agencies may be able to direct you to sources of assistance. Also, check local hospitals, dental schools, and outreach clinics that may be able to provide dental services at a reduced fee.
The term malocclusion literally means "bad bite." It is a generalized dental care term that refers to many different types of mal-relationships of the lower teeth to the upper teeth. In popular usage, any arrangement of the teeth that is at variance with a prescribed ideal is considered to be a malocclusion in dentistry. But that is an oversimplification because some occlusions that appear to be ideal may be in disharmony with the jaw joints (the TMJs). Such disharmony can be a source of many different problems with the teeth, the TMJs, or the jaw muscles. Even minute disharmonies of the bite can be a major factor in loosening the teeth, wearing away of the enamel, or fracturing off cusps. Other malocclusions can cause headaches or cause the teeth to be sore or sensitive to cold. Some malocclusions may be most noticeable because they result in an unattractive smile. Some severe malocclusions cause no discomfort whatsoever, while some minor bite problems can be a major source of pain.
Perhaps the best way to understand malocclusion is to understand what an ideal occlusion is. This understanding starts with a basic appreciation for how the jaw joints (the TMJs) function. The TMJs are important because they form the hinge for opening or closing the jaw. During closure in an ideal occlusion, the teeth should all contact simultaneously and with equal pressure when the jaw joints are fully seated up in their sockets. This harmony between the TMJs and the teeth is the most important requirement for a comfortable, stable bite. Any disharmony between the TMJs and the teeth requires the jaw muscles to hold the jaw joint out of its socket in order to completely close the teeth together. This type of malocclusion can cause many different problems but unfortunately the disharmony is easily missed unless the dentist is very careful in examining for it. It is commonly missed because the occlusion is examined visually without first verifying that the jaw joints are completely seated when the bite relationship is examined.
Depending on the type of malocclusion, correction of a bite disharmony requires careful selection from a variety of different treatment procedures. Even though principles of bite correction have been established with enough clarity to permit highly predictable results of comfort and stability, some dental educators claim that occlusal harmony is unimportant because the body can adapt. This viewpoint has resulted from a profuse amount of misinformation that has found its way into the literature. Patients with bite problems should feel free to ask the dentist to show them the problems that are resulting from the bad bite such as loose teeth, excessive tooth wear, or other visible signs, in addition to an understandable explanation of why the recommended treatment was selected.
The most common, and also the most practical methods for correcting most minor occlusal disharmonies is called occlusal equilibration. It involves direct reshaping of the biting surfaces by grinding and polishing selected tooth surfaces that interfere with comfortable jaw movements. When correctly done on properly selected patients, it is a conservative and effective treatment.
Some malocclusions may require more extensive treatment such as orthodontics. Teeth that are badly worn or that need the biting surfaces re-shaped may need dental crowns or other types of restorations. Surgical correction may be needed in some severe jaw misalignments to achieve the best result and appearance.
Most malocclusions can be corrected in a reversible trial approach by making a plastic appliance that fits over the teeth to change the biting surfaces so the jaw can close with even tooth contacts. These appliances are referred to as occlusal splints. A fancier name for them is "orthosis" but it means the same thing.
The important thing to understand about your bite is that you should be able to close your teeth together and squeeze very hard without causing any sign of tenderness or pain in any tooth or in the jaw joint. If you can't do this you probably have a malocclusion. You should know that the discomfort is almost always correctable with the right selection of treatment. Your dentist must also examine for other possible causes of pain that may exist in combination with your bite disorder. Nothing takes the place of a carefully made examination to determine the specific cause (or causes) for your discomfort.
By Peter E. Dawson, DDS