How Important Are Regular Check-Ups?
- Cavities can begin to form with no symptoms – your tooth doesn’t have to hurt to have a cavity!
- Plaque can build up and irritate and even cause infection in your gums before they begin to swell or bleed.
- Cracks and chips can happen while clenching during sleep and you never realize it until an infection sets in.
These are just a few of the reasons we really encourage our Alabama patients to keep up with their regular dental examinations. During your comprehensive exam, the Northcutt Dental team will:
- Check your teeth for cavities, cracked or leaking fillings, or other damage
- Examine your gums for any sign of gum disease and measure your gum pockets
- Scan your tongue, gums, and other tissues for the very first signs of oral cancer or other oral pathology
- Look for signs of sleep apnea or TMJ disorder
- Take x-rays when necessary
- Use an intraoral camera to take pictures of your teeth
Clearly, our exams make sure your mouth is in top shape so you can stay healthier and smile longer.
Oral Cancer Screenings
How Common is Oral Cancer and is it Really Something to Worry About?
Oral cancer is serious. While oral cancer is only part of a group of cancers referred to as head and neck cancers, oral cancer itself comprises 85% of the category. (https://oralcancerfoundation.org/facts/) Close to 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year and the death rate is surprisingly high – not because it is difficult to diagnose, but because it is most often discovered in late stages. In its early stages, oral cancer can grow without producing pain or symptoms that are easily recognized unless discovered by a trained professional. Worse, it can spread to other parts of your body and become nearly impossible to eliminate.
The good news is that when oral cancer is discovered early, it is easy to treat and can be eradicated in up to 90% of cases. That is why we perform an oral cancer screening on your mouth for every new patient and at every hygiene visit.
What’s the Best Way to Check for Cavities or Tooth Decay?
X-rays have always allowed medical professionals to get under your skin and see what is going on inside your bones or teeth. In dentistry, x-rays allowed your dentist to check for cavities, the first signs of abscess, failing dental fillings, and even check bone density. The problem was, traditional dental x-rays were black and white and not as clear as one might hope. In addition, they exposed our patients to more radiation than we would have liked.
That’s why Northcutt Dental always uses digital x-rays along with digital panoramic x-rays for full scans.
Digital x-rays are not only lower in radiation – a definite health benefit for your family – they are also larger, clearer and more detailed than traditional black and white film x-rays. Our digital x-rays give us a more precise look at the condition of your teeth almost immediately on a computer monitor, allowing us to diagnose problems earlier than ever before while also allowing us to save them for future reference in your digital patient files. What’s more, digital x-rays are better for the environment since they do not require paper or chemical developers. Digital x-rays are just another way Northcutt Dental invests in your health, comfort, and convenience.
Advanced Dental Hygiene
I Want My Teeth to be Their Cleanest. How Can Northcutt Dental Help?
There is nothing quite like the feeling of fresh, professionally cleaned teeth. Plus, don’t they just sparkle? Along with that fresh, bright feeling comes the assurance of health. You see, when teeth and gums are kept clean and free of plaque and tartar buildup, you are much less likely to develop cavities and gum disease. That’s why our dentists and hygienists at Northcutt Dental recommend that every patient have a thorough, professional dental cleaning every six months.
What’s more, six-month cleanings allow us to not only keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy, they also help us more closely monitor your oral health. They allow us to detect possible new problems such as tooth damage or oral cancer in their earliest stages, when they can be easily, conservatively, and affordably repaired.
We provide safe and effective alternatives to traditional teeth and gum cleaning methods. These methods include advanced dental technology such as the Cavitron and Piezo – ultrasonic scalers that use high-frequency sonic waves and water to gently clean away any bacteria, plaque, and tartar buildup on the teeth, as well as above and below the gum line. Your smile will feel cleaner than ever, your well being will be protected, and you will leave knowing exactly what is going on in your mouth.
My Gums Bleed When I Brush and Floss. Could I Have Gum Disease?
Gum disease can really creep up on you, starting even before you have any symptoms like bleeding or swelling. It is one reason we take cleanings and checkups for our patients so seriously and why, at every dental checkup, we monitor your periodontal (gum) health as well as deliver a thorough cleaning with ultrasonic scaler technology. If you do experience bleeding, please call us right away. Gum bleeding is not normal. Neither is redness, puffiness, swelling, tenderness, or receding of the gums.
Gum disease is nothing to disregard: Periodontal infection or gum disease has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, obesity, lowered immune system, pancreatic cancer, and much more. You see, the bacteria that are produced when gum disease is present travels through your bloodstream causing an inflammatory response that can lead to a whole list of issues.
If you have any level of gum disease, we will promptly treat it. Gingivitis may be treated with ultrasonic scalers, while more advanced gum disease will be treated with soft tissue laser therapy using the Epic Biolase soft tissue laser. The soft tissue laser will gently remove any damaged or diseased gum tissue and kill any bacteria below the gum line. The healthy remaining gum can then reattach to the tooth root, reversing the damage caused by gum disease.
I Want to Protect My Family’s Teeth from Cavities. What Can I Do?
We have said it before, but we think this is such important information it bears repeating: Everything you do affects your teeth – and their protective enamel. This is especially true when it comes to the choices we make with our food and drink. If you drink soda, sports drinks, or even juices, the acid in those drinks attacks and erodes enamel.
If you want to protect your family’s precious smiles, one way is to eliminate or reduce these types of beverages as well as sugary and sticky snacks. Another great way is to treat your teeth to regular fluoride treatments – we recommend treatments for both kids and adults at every visit.
Why? Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks, sugars in the mouth, and plaque bacteria. Some have called fluoride applications “tooth decay in reverse” because it helps redeposit minerals in areas where they have been lost.
And remember, fluoride treatments aren’t just for kids. Fluoride stops the progression of newly formed cavities in anyone who uses it, and adult root caries can be greatly reduced through these treatments.
My Kids Play Sports. I Clench my Teeth at Night. Do You Supply Mouthguards?
All of our patients appreciate the way we care for their teeth, offering the best in both preventive and restorative dental care. We also believe in protecting those teeth in the most comfortable, and convenient ways possible. That’s why we offer a variety of dental mouthguards from sports mouthguards for children to dental night guards to protect your restoration investments while you sleep.
Sports Mouthguards – Stock or over-the-counter boil-and-bite mouthguards just may not be good enough to protect your child’s smile. They are often ill-fitting and uncomfortable which makes wearing them a struggle. In addition, they may not be as protective as a mouthguard custom made specifically for your child. When you choose mouthguards from Northcutt Dental, you know your child is getting the very best protection available – and that’s important because mouthguards do more than just protect teeth and oral tissues. Custom-made mouthguards can actually provide twice as much concussion protection as boil-and-bite guards!
Night Guards – Do you wake up in the morning with a headache or aching jaw? You may grind your teeth at night – and that’s a problem. The teeth grinding and jaw clenching force is often 50% greater during sleep than it is during your waking hours. That can cause your teeth to wear down or crack. A custom-fit night guard can help protect your teeth from this damage and relieve many of the painful symptoms associated with clenching and grinding.
I am Nervous About Dental Visits and I Can’t Ever Seem to Get Numb. How Can I Get the Dental Care I Need?
Many of our new patients express just how nervous they feel every time they face a dental visit – even when the visit is just for an exam.
Some people are uneasy because of past dental trauma. Others feel their knees start to shake at the idea of needles. Others find it very difficult to sit still comfortably while holding their mouths open. Still, others can’t seem to get numb enough no matter how much novocain is administered.
For these and all the other reasons our patients share with us, we always treat our patients with deep compassion, an extra gentle touch, and emotional support whenever it is needed. When that is not quite enough, we also offer a range of dental sedation options to help our patients relax, find total comfort, and even take a little nap!
Our sedation options include:
- Oral Sedation – this conscious sedation option just requires that you take a mild prescription pill before your visit. You will need a driver to and from your appointment.
- IV Sedation – for those who need truly deep sedation, our Cottage Hill location offers IV sedation. This is perfect for special-needs patients, those who require oral surgery, or who have acute dental phobia.
- Nitrous Oxide – Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a gentle way to take the edge off for both adults and children. The gas causes a slight euphoria that is quickly reversed through the administration of pure oxygen. You can even drive yourself home after this sedation!
My Jaw Hurts. My Head Aches. My Teeth are Wearing Down. Do I Need TMJ Treatment?
When your bite is off, your teeth do not meet correctly, or you clench and grind your teeth, you may be at risk for developing a painful disorder better known as TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder. Some of the symptoms our patients suffer from with TMJ disorder include:
- Headaches or migraines
- Jaw and other facial pain
- Stiffness or soreness in the neck, shoulders, and back
- Tingling of the fingertips
- Sensitive teeth or loose teeth
- Ear congestion
- Ringing in the ears
- Limited mouth opening
Some patients even find themselves suffering from insomnia and depression!
Here at Northcutt Dental, we understand how difficult TMJD can be to live with and want to help our patients feel better and protect their teeth just as quickly as possible. That’s why we offer both custom-made night guards, corrective splints, and orthodontic treatment for malocclusion. If your TMJ disorder is severe, we may refer you to one of our trusted partners who specialize in the treatment and care of TMJ disorder.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
My Husband Snores and Neither of Us Ever Feels Rested. Could He Need Sleep Apnea Treatment?
While it may sound a lot like common snoring, obstructive sleep apnea or OSA, is actually a much more serious problem caused by soft tissue blocking your airway near the base of your tongue. The real sign that your issue is sleep apnea and not snoring is when the snoring – along with breathing – stops. Sleep apnea is so serious in part because it can cause patients to stop breathing for a minute or longer, hundreds of times a night. When your breathing stops, your body wakes itself up to gasp for breath. That means, not only are you waking up over and over again all night, often without even knowing it, you are also becoming oxygen deprived!
Sleep apnea can lead to all kinds of problems including:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Chronic fatigue
- Morning headache
- Impaired memory
- Mood disturbance
Many people obtain relief from sleep apnea with a CPAP machine, but some find it cumbersome, noisy, and difficult to sleep with. We offer a small, comfortable, and portable alternative for people who are struggling with mild or moderate sleep apnea or can’t wear their CPAP machine – the TAP dental appliance for sleep apnea. The TAP device fits comfortably over your teeth and holds your lower jaw forward, preventing soft tissues from collapsing back into the throat, keeping the airway open, and allowing you to get the restorative deep sleep you deserve.